Tell us about your business. We provide marketing and social media support, training and consulting on an as needed basis as a Multi-VA practice. Although we service clients in many industries our main expertise is in the support of solopreneurs, like REALTORS, coaches, speakers, and consultants.
Please tell us what being a business owner means to you and why you became an entrepreneur in the first place? I became an entrepreneur by accident. I had received a small inheritance when my Aunt passed away and was looking for a business opportunity for my husband since I was the main bread winner and had access to benefits, including healthcare. I ended up finding the virtual assistance industry and started the business myself for ‘fun money’ so my husband and I could travel. Five years later he was laid off and I needed to expand and grow my business to be the main bread winner again. I never imagined that I could be a business owner and support my family as I now do. I can’t believe I didn’t figure this out sooner in my career. I spent way too many years working for other people!
What or who has been your greatest influence in business and why? Really, my mentor, the late Don Earl took me under his wing and helped me to understand what it takes to be an entrepreneur and led me in some volunteer directions, as well as, key insights on how to build my business.
What would you say is your greatest professional accomplishment to date? Being a mentor to women re-entering the workforce through a program at Jefferson Community College. It was extremely rewarding to me. I have also been honored as the recipient of numerous awards. The two I’m most proud of are the Small Business Administration’s (www.sba.gov) 2009 Home-Based Business Champion for Eastern Missouri, and the 2009 Thomas Leonard International Virtual Assistant of Distinction.
What’s the best advice you have received in business that you wish to pass on to our readers? The expectation is that you have the expertise to perform the service you provide, to truly succeed you need to provide the BEST customer service and build a business based on good solid business ethics. It’s what will differentiate you from your competition and allow you to excel in your field.
What has been the most effective marketing initiatives or programs you have used to promote your business? Word of Mouth and networking. While my marketing programs do bring me new clients, my best clients come by referral from others in my network who support me as I support them.
What one thing have you learned as a small business owner that has served you well over the years? To be a good listener. It’s not about me or what I need, it’s about the client’s challenge or problem and how I can solve it. Coming to that understanding has made all the difference in the world.
Do you have any new projects coming up? I just finished serving my second term as the President of the International Virtual Assistants Association (www.ivaa.org). it’s the premier VA non-profit organization serving our industry and it was an honor to be able to serve the association and be a part of moving it forward in many capacities.
What do you do for fun/relaxation? Reading, getting together with family and friends, and traveling.
What is Number One Business Goal you plan to accomplish over the next year? Another 20% increase in sales and continuing to look to expand my service offerings through the talented team members I contract with.
You want to write a book on ….. Business Ethics – I’ve started it, but haven’t been able to complete it –is on my radar to be completed by spring of 2012. A big part of my speaking career is based on business ethics, completing the book will help me better establish my level of expertise in this area. Small business, I believe, especially need to embrace ethics to remain competitive in their industry. (fill in the blank and feel free to explain).
Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers? Make sure you have an entrepreneur’s mindset. I’ve seen too many really talented providers go out of business because they didn’t take the time to establish the business – it’s not so much about your skills, but how you manage the business and wear all the hats.
What’s the best way for our readers to connect with you? Toll free 888-547-5392 – Twitter: http://twitter.com/JeannineClontz ; Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jeannine.clontz ; or LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/vaprofessional