Get ready to laugh! We've got another Brilliant Business Moms team podcast!
We’ve got Carlee, Ellen, and Victoria here, sharing how they’ve found work as Virtual Assistants and their thoughts on using VAs in your business. I know they get questions all the time about how they came to work on the Brilliant Business Moms team, and these ladies have a wealth of knowledge to share.
Listen to the Podcast
On the Podcast
1:20 – How Our Team Came To Be
14:02 – What About Competition?
17:07 – Meeting Your Online Team In Person
20:50 – Working Well With Clients
26:18 – The Question Beth Anne Has Been DYING To Ask
36:31 – Riding Big Learning Curves
41:18 – Standards in Service-Based Business
44:06 – Setting Limits in Service-Based Business
50:10 – When VA Relationships Don’t Work Out
1:01:45 – Boss Perks
1:20 – How Our Team Came To Be
Beth Anne: Ladies, I’d love for you to start by sharing how you got into work as Virtual Assistants.
Victoria: Sure, I can start! I got started a couple of years ago, and really out of necessity. I wanted to spend more time with my baby but I still needed to bring in an income. So I put together the work I had been doing professionally prior to having a baby and thought maybe I could do that same type of work as a freelance contractor.
We laugh about how easy this is, but I literally sent emails to a bunch of people! I sent about 25 emails in a week to different individuals that I followed online. (I do have a small blog; it’s not monetized, just a place on the Internet. And because of that, I knew of different mom bloggers out there.) My emails were along the lines of, “Hey is there anything I can do to help you? Let me know.”
My very first VA job was to make a media kit for someone. I didn’t know anything about media kits or graphic design, but I figured it out and did the job.
As far as my connection to Brilliant Business Moms (BBM), I was a long time fangirl of the podcast and the brand. I reached out to you, and Sarah at the time, and asked if I could be helpful, and eventually, that translated into the working relationship we have now.
Ellen, you started similarly, right?
Ellen: Yes! I had a blog but was really enjoying the behind the scenes stuff way more than blogging or creating things.
Through blogging, I knew a few others bloggers that I liked and got along well with. At first, I offered free (or super cheap) work because I really wanted to get experience. That work raised my confidence, helping me know I could actually do the more technical work and get paid for it.
I think I mentioned in the BBM group that I was looking for work, and either Beth Anne or Sarah reached out to me about doing a simple job. That’s how my work with Beth Anne started. I was copying and pasting names from a spreadsheet, and they were really happy with how fast I was!
A tip for when you get started: If you are doing free or cheap work, make a boundary for that, maybe 10 free hours or 2 weeks, so you’re both clear on expectations–but it’s a great way to get started!
Beth Anne: I think that’s a great way to get started, you two. When you reached out to us, Victoria, I remember reading your email and wondering if you were really offering to do things for free! We asked, “Is she crazy!? How is she this nice?!”
At that time we didn’t take you up on the offer to do things for free, but we knew because we had that relationship you were in the back of our minds for as soon as we could afford a VA in our budget.
One of your first tasks, Victoria, was helping format our ebook Time Management Mama. And then in the meantime, your clientele built up a lot and I remember thinking, “Oh no! I think Victoria’s too busy for us now!”
And Ellen, I remember Sarah finding your post in our Facebook group and reaching out. (And we still encourage moms to do that! Post in private Facebook groups. Share who you are and what you can offer. It’s a great place to get started.)
And Ellen did work so well and so fast Sarah and I quickly started to freak out that we weren’t paying you enough! What you were charging at that time was such a small rate, but it’s good that over time you’ve built confidence and increased your rate. It’s really important as a VA to value yourself.
Victoria: Beth Anne, this is so funny to hear from your side! I do want to add that, in that time of waiting for a job, or if you have someone you know you want to work for someday, in the meantime as much as you can be helpful, do it. Support the people and the brands you care about. It’s a good practice to give before you expect to get back. In life, that makes you a nice, moral person. But in business, it sets up the organic working relationship.
Beth Anne: And Carlee! You’ve been so quiet! I’d love to hear how you started!
Carlee: I feel like the newbie and almost the imposter in this conversation! I think it’s funny how I started. I’ve always worked from home, but with jobs like grading papers and tutoring: on my time frame and pretty minimal because I homeschool my kids. But my youngest turned 10 last year, and has been doing well and getting more independent in school, so my husband and I realized that I could realistically take on more hours.
I actually applied to some jobs outside the home but had no peace about it. I didn’t want the jobs and I didn’t want to be out there and we are still homeschooling!
For those of you who don’t know, Ellen is my (little!) sister-in-law. She was hesitant to tell me about VA work because a lot of people don’t really understand it or get what it means. (And now I face that too!) But when she finally explained what she had been doing, she told me she thought I would really enjoy the work and would be a really good fit for VA work. So I gave it a try. I did the same thing and posted in our Facebook group.
I got a client right away who was excellent and paid me in courses for the first month. She knew what she wanted me to do and what classes would be helpful for that work. So I was able to work and learn all at once.
When Ellen’s husband was heading back to work for the school year and Ellen needed to drop her hours, there was a scramble to pick up the work that she couldn’t do any more. There was the problem of the inbox and a few other issues! And if I remember the story correctly, Beth Anne asked Ellen what she thought of me coming on.
Beth Anne: Yes! I think that’s right. Because Ellen, I don’t think you would have suggested it to me first.
For reference everyone, and I have to tell this story because it’s so funny, Ellen literally had “Be Brilliant” mugs in her house for an entire year and was shipping them for me – and it took an entire year for her to ask me if she could have a mug and could I take it off her paycheck!!! It’s like, “Ellen! You can have as many mugs as you want!”
So that’s very much Ellen’s personality. She wouldn’t have come to me to say I have this sister-in-law looking for VA work and she’s awesome. But the connection did happen organically.
Carlee’s daughter, Mckenna, actually attended one of our Pinterest webinars. And once I found that out I gave Mckenna the course to help with her Etsy shop. One day the lightbulb went off. I knew we needed to add another member, and I knew the team member would be primarily offloading tasks from Ellen’s plate and I knew I didn’t want to have to jump back in and be that person to explain to a new person how Ellen was doing everything! And I also knew Ellen, and that she would absolutely need to feel comfortable telling the new person exactly what needed to be done. So I thought, “What about Carlee?”
Carlee: Right, so it came out of those relationships. And to fast forward, Ellen does not have a problem bossing me around. I’ve known Ellen since she was in elementary school, and I have been the “boss” forever. So Ellen has SUPER enjoyed getting the chance to tell me what to do.
Ellen: Oh, I do. I do. 🙂
Carlee: I love it. And Ellen’s personality is so sweet and genuine. She wouldn’t hurt a fly. If someone told her no or had been incompetent, she would have just fixed it for them and not necessarily said anything. So it works well that she can tell me point blank, “That’s not right – do it again.”
14:02 – What About Competition?
Victoria: I feel like this is so fun to get Brilliant Business Moms history. And I think this is a good place to point out something Beth Anne has done really well in terms of building our team.
It’s stereotypical to assume that anytime you get a bunch of ladies together there’s going to be a bit of cattiness and jealousy.
This is such a good spot to say we have zero, no we have negative 50 million of that, on our team.
I would just imagine in other settings, maybe you bring a new team member and think, “Wait, what!? She’s related!? How did she get in here?” I’ve worked in places before where people had that negative outlook on life. What I love about our team is there is none of that. We were very much, “Yay! Carlee’s here!! We can get even stronger!”
And Beth Anne, I think that was good insight and foresight on your part knowing your team well, and knowing how we needed to operate together to be successful. We all play to our strengths. As we said in a recent episode, this past year was our most successful ever. And I think that's due in large part to putting the right people together.
For the business owner out there looking to put a team together, if you even see a hint of any negativity – stop it, cut it out. You want people who work so well together.
Carlee, I think you said that a win for one of us is a win for all of us.
Carlee: From the business owner end, I totally agree. As the team leader, you have to be aware of your team and foster good relationships. You have to pick the right team and shut down negativity.
From the VA end, and this is something Beth Anne shows in all her business practices, it is not about competition.
Victoria and I are not in competition, even though our jobs overlap all the time. There are times she does my job for me and I do her job for her. It’s not about if I do it better or she does it better, or who does more. We are a team.
A win for one is a win for all, and a loss for one is a loss for all.
So when a babysitter can’t make it and you lose work time, we all chip in. Or, in my case, I had a chicken emergency this morning (#WyomingLife)! When those things happen we gladly jump in and fill in for each other.
There’s only collaboration and not competition among a team.
17:07 – Meeting Your Online Team In Person
Beth Anne: I have to say I don’t know if I’ve done a great job of fostering this, but I think you all are awesome and do a great job working with one another! You two, Carlee and Victoria, especially have jobs that overlap all the time and you manage it and figure it out and work together so, so well.
One thing that definitely helped is when we were all able to get together in person at the Business Boutique in Nashville. That was the first time I got to meet Carlee and Victoria in person! All of us getting to be together really solidified the team.
We are all co-workers, but we’re all friends as well. We care about each other as people and that’s really important.
Carlee: I think it helped because we all have slightly different personalities than everyone expected from our online only interaction. Obviously, I’ve known Ellen forever…so that doesn’t count. But, Beth Anne was a little different than I thought, and Victoria was too.
But that was so good! We’ve talked since then about personality and communication styles and strengths and differences. Choosing to be friends and enjoy each other has helped us communicate better according to each other’s styles.
Victoria: Along those lines, choose conferences wisely, whether you’re building a team, working on a team, or working as a VA. I would even say look at the calendar of where you want to go, and check-in with your groups to see who will be there, then choose which events to attend that way.
It can be hard in the online world to know how to connect. If you're trying to meet people to put on your team, conferences can be a great way to meet a bunch of people in one location.
Beth Anne: I totally agree. I had only talked on the phone to all of you before working with you. For someone looking for VA work, if you can meet up at a conference and interact in person how great would that be!? It gives them a better sense of who you are and what you do.
I think I can know how a person communicates pretty quickly when I meet them in person. And doing online work you have to be a good communicator.
20:50 – Working Well With Clients
Beth Anne: So obviously, you all are rockstars and I love that you all work so well together. I would love for you to share with everyone:
What are your tips? How do you work well with clients? What do those relationships look like?
Ellen: It may be cliche, but communication is so big. Being able to communicate over email is essential. Don’t be afraid to clarify, or ask dumb questions. It’s better to clarify up front when you’re working with someone on a project, rather than move forward unsure and end up frustrating your client. Communication really is just such a key part, especially with online work, when you can’t just go down the hall and have a conversation.
Up front, you want your expectations to be clear.
And even something as simple as responding to emails with new tasks with, “That looks great, I’ll take care of it,” and offering a time frame for completion can be helpful.
Beth Anne: As a team leader, whenever you ask for clarification, I love it. It shows that you care about doing the job well and about my vision for things. There is no dumb question! I want you to ask as many clarifying questions as you need.
Carlee: And sometimes we’ll do a project knowing it’s not totally perfect or exactly right and submit the draft to you for feedback and tweaking or vision and direction. Sometimes it helps for us to take what you've said, put it on paper, and see what we’ve missed.
Victoria: I second the practice of sending drafts and getting concrete feedback. Something I’m consciously working on (not perfect at it!) is to take detailed notes as I work, especially when working with several different clients. It’s important to mark differences in the styles you need to keep track of between your clients and write notes about how a particular client handles a certain situation. Especially if you’re working with a bunch of different people, those details can get lost or muddled.
I can be a very creative, free thinker and sometimes I’m tempted to make up the answer to a problem for myself, which works in my life but not when I’m working for other people! Maybe this habit of keeping notes comes naturally to you, but for me, it for sure does not. But I’m making myself do it!
In the same breath as talking about communication, I think transparency is really important. Maybe you need to send a note to say, “Hey, I’m really struggling to understand how your sales funnel is working, but I’m taking notes and will ask you again if I have questions.”
I also try to be really detailed with my time records so people know how long a project took me.
Having strong communication and being transparent builds trust.
Ellen: Early on in my VA work I had to face the fact that I am very much a people-pleaser. Before I got started I read the (affiliate link) Bootstrap VA — and it’s an awesome book. It helped me learn to be okay with criticism. I knew going in that would be my big struggle, so I made a very conscious effort to prepare myself. Getting feedback isn’t bad, and you can’t take it personally.
You have to be able to take critiques, learn from it, and work with it.
But this tendency is probably something a lot of people struggle with; I knew for me it would be a particular weakness and I wanted to be prepared to work on distancing myself from my work so I could take feedback well.
Beth Anne: That is true – and I give all of you all tons of feedback!
Which brings me to my next question that I’ve been dying to ask you all!
26:18 – The Question Beth Anne Has Been DYING To Ask
About 6 months ago or so, you all confessed to me that when you first started working for me, the first couple of months, you thought I hated you.
But when you guys made this confession to me, we were obviously past that point, but I still want to know:
- Why did everyone think I hated them!?
- What made you feel that way?
- And why in the world did you keep working for me!?
Victoria and Ellen: *Not it*
Carlee: Okay, Okay. I’ll start. When I came on the team, we pretty much jumped right into a Kickstarter campaign – and then straight into our gigantic FB Brilliance course launch.
I was hired to handle our inbox. I had been around about two weeks, and suddenly I was writing a refund policy. I think the policy was for our planner.
Side note: If you’re going to do VA work, don't think you’re going to do only do one thing. That doesn’t actually happen.
In my draft of the document, I used lots of formal wording, which defaulted to my love of English grammar.
Then I got an email from Beth Anne that said, “Never use the word ‘therefore’, ever again!” I was like, “Okay then. Sure.”
Needless to say, we didn’t end up using what I had written! It was comical.
Early on I did lots of screen share hangouts with Ellen as she was handing off tasks to me and teaching me how to do certain things. During one of our conversations I said, “Ellen, I don’t think Beth Anne likes me! I don’t think she’s happy with me.”
And I kid you not, Ellen’s exact words back to me were, “Oh I’m so glad you think that because you’re one of the most confident people I know, and I feel that way half the time too, so if you’re feeling that way then I feel better”
It was great for me because I knew Beth Anne loves Ellen! Beth Anne thinks Ellen is the best thing ever. So if Ellen is thinking that about Beth Anne, but Beth Anne totally likes her, maybe she totally likes me!
So we just worked through it. Ellen and I helped each other through it. And when Victoria hit that same spot, Beth Anne told her, “Go talk to Carlee.” And so she did. (And Victoria made sure I knew Beth Anne told me to talk to her. It was not gossip!) We talked it through, and I was able to help Victoria see how to not take the feedback personally.
Why did we stick around? Because we’d all rather have the person who says, “Never, ever use the word therefore!” than someone who will dance around and not give a direct answer.
I don’t want to deal with the game and fluff; I want to be told what’s great and what’s not, and be done. It’s a waste of time to do it any other way. It’s a respect level. Because even when I questioned whether or not Beth Anne liked me, I knew I liked Beth Anne and I liked Brilliant Business Moms, and I wanted to stick around and get better.
Beth Anne: I feel like the mean head cheerleader or something! And my team is all, “We like Beth Anne but she doesn’t like me!”
Ellen: For me, because my feelings happened very early on, I knew I was learning how to handle criticism. I learned that I do like the direct feedback. I’d rather know exactly what you want, and move on with that. That’s just part of the working relationship–we have to learn to deal with criticism!
Victoria: Okay, guys. I would not hate it if you threw a fluffy pillow to me and then gave me criticism. Just saying.
But yes, at the end of the day, we all pursue excellence in our personal and professional lives. And it’s good to get it straight and know how to move on.
I also feel I need to be the voice of practical necessity here. In addition to what you guys just mentioned, part of me is like, “Well, I still need a paycheck, so this is going to be worth it.” On a very real level, there’s a sense of knowing that it may be hard, but it’s going to be worth it.
Man, this is getting very deep quickly.
I’ll just say that I’m painfully extroverted. I’ve been noticing in my life that I like to work really hard, but as soon as the work gets challenging, I want to sprint on to the next thing.
The best things come from more of the marathons and not the sprints.
I also realized in myself that it’s a sign of maturity to believe it’s worth sticking through the hard things, and having an uncomfortable conversation or two to get through the tough spot – and, in our case, preserve the team and progress we’re making.
I don’t know if that’s a VA thing or a work thing.
Carlee: It’s a work thing. I’ve worked a lot of jobs and they all come with great parts and hard parts. I can honestly say at this point, even if I couldn’t have those first few weeks, I’m living my dream. This is my dream job. I’m so happy to be here, but it doesn’t mean it’s always easy.
The other day Ellen and I had to redo a project we spent a lot of time on, but that’s the nature of the job! It’s the nature of the fact that we’re all moms, working in the margins, doing our best. It can’t be personal. And it can’t be all fun and sunshine and rainbows and then when it’s not I’m out of here. That’s not any part of life–not marriage, or parenting.
And that’s the best part of our team! On the hard days (and hard because they’re busy, not because they’re bad; they are hard because our to-do list is longer than the number of hours we have) we talk to each other and pick each other up.
What’s great is the other day I was having a very hectic day and Victoria reached out to me and said, “What can I do for you?”
Victoria: See? Here’s a fluffy pillow! The fluffy pillow is valuable sometimes!
Beth Anne: Victoria you’re such a nurturer and I love that about you. You pick up the slack for others.
Victoria: And vice versa! It happens to me as well.
Beth Anne: I am learning more and more as a team leader to get better about knowing how my team likes to be led. So, Victoria, I know in some cases it would be better to pick up the phone and have a conversation with you than just send an email – which is my default. That’s part of my responsibility as a team leader.
When it comes to all that hard stuff, it’s the same for me too! There are days that I don’t want to get up and do the work I need to do that day, even though I run the show. Assembling a team that cares about the mission makes a big difference.
36:31 – Riding Big Learning Curves
Beth Anne: And Victoria, I know that the podcast has been one example of how you pushed through something that was harder was working on the podcast. I’m sure there were times you were tempted to say it’s not worth it! But everyone is so excited to have it back and you’ve created a great system for us.
Victoria: Yes! I can talk about that.
But first I do want to say, we all do care about the higher mission. We have all bought into Brilliant Business Moms. And if someone is having a bad day, the other has a good day.
If you run a business or work in a business, you make a commitment. That basic level commitment is, “This work has to be done because it’s what I agreed to do,” and sometimes once you work through that basic level, then the higher level love feelings come back about why you’re doing it.
I hope it didn’t come out crass to say working for a paycheck is sometimes what keeps you going, I didn’t mean it to!
Beth Anne: No, it didn’t!
Victoria: Right, it’s just that sometimes you have still put one foot in front of the other.
Speaking of that, the podcast is a good example of what we’re talking about.
Around the time of our San Diego trip, we had a team growing experience. We had a show due on Monday, and in my mind, I had it basically complete and ready to go, but it was not that way.
Carlee and I proof for each other so I sent the transcript to her for proofing. Since we were together in person, Carlee looked over at me and said, “Victoria, these show notes are awful. They’re not done at all.”
At first, I was mortified. Then I went through the stages of grief–getting angry then accepting what I had to do. This all occurred late at night, pressing up against the deadline. We worked through it and we hurried to get the show finished on time, and I swore I’d never work that late again!
And you guys still heard a great episode that day, having no idea what happened behind the scenes!
It was good for me to see that Carlee didn’t hate me, she just made a judgment call on the work.
Carlee: And that’s it. My thought process was, “You usually do this fabulous job, and this is not up to your own standards.” I wasn’t mad, it wasn’t personal, they were just bad notes. There’s no hidden meaning with us, and that’s how Beth Anne is, too. Beth Anne and I are similar in that, we really shoot straight but there’s no deeper, read-between-the-lines insult.
Victoria: We really learned as a team that we’re all here for the listener. We’re here for the community, to put out good content. It’s time like that the bigger mission does help.
41:18 – Standards in Service-Based Business
Victoria: I think anytime you’re in a service-based business, it’s so hard to not directly tie yourself to your service. I feel like with product-business ladies, it’s kinda nice to be able to hide behind the product. With a service-based business, it’s just you. You’re providing the service and you have to work extra hard to separate the value of the service from the value of you as a person.
As a BBM team, we will always fall short in some way, but we have a lot of grace for each other.
Carlee: And you’re making such a good point for anyone looking to be a VA or be on a team.
If you’re not working in person, you have to over communicate. Honestly, at this moment I should have explained what I was actually thinking, “These are not up to your own standards, did I miss something?” And really I was wondering, “Are you okay? Is there anything going on?
Victoria: And on my end, I was thinking, “Nope, I just didn’t get them done as well for whatever reason this week.”
Carlee: You’re so honest, Victoria. I love it. This is the real deal, guys.
Victoria: Aren’t we calling these BBM Confessions!? It fits!
I think you have to be honest and call each other out, but also give grace and be willing to move forward together. That’s why we’re all here, Beth Anne.
Beth Anne: As a team leader one of the things I can improve on is communicating when I need to give feedback or ask for something to be done to another standard. I always feel really, really bad when I want you guys to change something last minute. I don’t want to be that boss who controls every hour of your day. But because I’m such a work under pressure and last minute person, and I know I drag you into that.
44:06 – Setting Limits in Service-Based Business
Beth Anne: So I want to ask: how do you set boundaries on your time?
For example, I know that Victoria has set work times with childcare. Ellen and Carlee’s worktime feels more fluid.
How do you make sure I don’t take over your life!? Sometimes I know I do! That really concerns me.
Carlee: But you..so…okay *laughs* You do and you don’t. Especially for Ellen and me, you do take over our lives sometimes – but we know that in advance. It’s not a daily thing. But we are aware of an upcoming big launch or big webinar and during those times Ellen and I structure our time around work.
On the days when we have a work event at 6 pm at night, my crew knows we’re going to eat at 4:30 and then Mom is going to lock herself away.
That’s a choice we’ve made and we don’t have to make it.
Ellen: And it’s not every day. It’s rare.
Carlee: Yes. But what people should know too is we can literally say, “Hey, I’m leaving town for three days.” And while our tendency is to follow up with, “But I can still work!” Beth Anne says, “No! Take time off!”
We have crunch time, go time, all hands on deck — but we also get the rest time. It wouldn’t be possible without the rest time.
Ellen: Plus there are times Beth Anne sends me a task on Friday night but she says it can wait til Monday. And often I will do the task that weekend, only because I usually work Saturdays, but there’s no pressure.
Victoria: Communication is good. My tendency is to do everything, but because my kids are little younger and I have very structured work days, I’ve tried to get better about projecting when a task can realistically be done instead of saying, “Sure I’ll get that done tonight!”
Early on as a VA, I tried to do it all right away, and it wasn’t healthy! When given a job I would say, “Sure, sure! I can do it” but I really couldn’t, and it was resulting in stressful moments for our family. But now, we have clear times – This is when I work, and this is when I don’t work – and planning in advance has been helpful.
We haven’t talked about working with a bad client yet, but in my bad client experience, it was expected that I could drop and do whatever this person needed right away. But setting realistic boundaries and communicating them clearly is good. Now I try to answer, “I’m done with work for today, but I can do it first thing tomorrow.”
Beth Anne: Carlee and Ellen, I would totally understand and appreciate if you want to be more structured! I want you to be happy with your work and stick around for a long time and I would have no problem with you telling me what works for you with your life.
Carlee: We are happy! And we promise it’s working. We as a team assign tasks according to those schedules, too. For example, I homeschool from 8 to 11 am, so I don’t have tasks that have to be done at 9 am. Victoria’s jobs are things she can do ahead of time.
Ellen: For me, the late-at-night stuff isn’t good, but early morning is my time.
Beth Anne: And let me say what I love about Ellen’s early morning time is that I can go off to bed with a wishlist of items I’d like done, and by the time I wake up and have actually logged into my email Ellen has them done!
Carlee: Me too! I’m a late night person and just recently I sent Ellen a few corrections to a landing page at like midnight or 1:00 am. I was worried I had woken her up with all these crazy messages! She wrote back first thing in the morning and said, “Hey thanks! Those were great. Changes made.” It had only been five hours since I sent the corrections and they’re done!
50:10 – When VA Relationships Don’t Work Out
Beth Anne: So let’s start talking about when the relationship is not working out. And this still cracks me up, because I’m still confused about the warning signs! You all thought I hated you but kept working anyway!
Victoria: Honestly, what we just described is more of a challenge of working online. Working in-person you can joke around at the beginning of the day, have a conflict in the middle, but end with a joke. I think the barrier of the screen means you have to overcompensate. It’s just hard! I still contend that online is what makes it weird.
And on a blog or business, you can always put the best version of yourself out there. But when you’re working with someone online you don’t always get the time to polish in between.
Beth Anne: Okay, that makes me feel a little better.
Victoria: And you’ve done well at helping us compensate! Getting us together at the conference and again in San Diego, that was huge.
Carlee: Oh Victoria! You are such an extrovert. This won’t be true for everybody.
Victoria: That’s true.
Carlee: For me, I haven’t worked for a bad client. But for me, the product is my big determiner. I have to believe in something. I have to look at the product and believe there is great value going out into the universe. I have to get behind something, so I guess I work at a philosophical level that way. I’ve said no to and had a hard time working with a product that I just wasn’t able to personally endorse.
Whereas, Brilliant Business Moms is totally a brand and business and community I can get behind.
Ellen: If you feel uneasy at all about something–and uneasy is different than having hard times. There’s going to be hard times–about the client or the work they’re doing, it’s better to say no and back out than put yourself in that situation. It’s better to be 100% confident about the people you say yes to.
Carlee: So true. And sometimes the uneasiness might come later. We talked about boundaries previously, and if someone doesn’t understand or respect your boundaries it won’t work. And maybe it’s as simple as time zone problem, where the times they want you to work you’re putting dinner on the table. But everyone has to be on the same page.
For me right now, I just don’t have the hours to work with additional clients. I’ve had to drop clients because I simply don’t have time to give them what they need.
Ellen: That’s usually the issue for me, too. It’s not a matter of not wanting to work with them, I just don’t have time. In fact, I’ve had to fire a few clients because my plate has gotten full and I literally didn’t have the time to do the work.
Victoria: Being realistic with what you’re able to provide is key. And be okay that you’re not the right VA for everyone. The case when I had to end a working relationship, the client wasn’t a bad person or anything. It was just that the things I needed to do I wasn’t able to do. There was a big task that had to happen every morning, very early. I tried so hard to make it work for a long time, but with two little kids, it wasn’t possible.
As we were talking I just pulled up my breakup email with this client. I wrote, “I don’t think I’m the right VA for you. I’m not able to give you the support and assistance you need on a daily basis. I’d love to keep working until you find a replacement.”
Peace out. (Just Kidding!)
I do worry if I say no to a job, I’ll never get another client, or that they’ll think badly of me. I often worry about my name or reputation, and that if I end a relationship will I ever work again? But truthfully, the sooner you realize it’s not working out the sooner you can prevent those unrealistic fears.
I think as women we want to do everything and be good at everything, and that person doesn’t exist.
Beth Anne: Right. No one is good at everything all the time! So much of what we’re talking about comes back to honesty. I give you honest feedback about the work, and you give me honesty back with your schedule or a job you can’t do.
Carlee: And we’re getting so much better at saying No right away!
Ellen: I love Beth Anne’s video feedback. I get giddy and tell my husband, “Hey Tim, Beth Anne sent me a video!” It’s so great to be able to watch one of her videos and know exactly what she’s thinking.
Carlee: Ellen I don’t know if Beth Anne realizes that our entire families watch her feedback videos with us!
If you haven’t had the privilege of meeting Beth Anne in person, she is exactly who she seems to be: strong, a spitfire, kind, genuine. So her videos are seriously so funny. She tells us everything good about what we’ve done, and everything really, really not good.
Ellen: Tim will ask why I’m laughing, and it’s because Beth Anne sent a video.
Carlee: Ellen and I will watch your videos at the same time and just message back and forth and we laugh so hard.
Ellen: It’s my favorite thing. It’s great to see the video because I can go fix exactly what needs fixing.
Beth Anne: It really is the next best thing since we don’t have an office. And working in different time zones is a struggle, so it’s much easier to give feedback via video. We can’t constantly schedule a Google Hangout to go over things! I try in my screencast videos to pretend you’re right there.
Carlee: And usually in these videos, she tells us stories or something that’s going on, which are always hilarious.
Victoria: And my favorite is when you comment on your environment, like a car driving by, and it tickles me.
Carlee: You know, I hadn’t put it together with that whole “walking down the hall…” but you really can’t email us to say, “There’s a line with the wrong shade of pink here.” It just wouldn’t make sense in an email. The videos are great and they do reveal your personality.
Beth Anne: Ellen sees the most of my videos because she also sees my raw course videos – and there are some where I go off on a rant where something isn’t working and I am so frustrated.
Ellen: My favorite is when I talk back to you and say, “Oh gosh! You just have to click the button, Beth Anne! CLICK THE BUTTON!” My husband will ask what I’m doing and I’ll just respond, “Talking to Beth Anne.”
Carlee: In one of your recent videos Beth Anne was concerned that we hadn’t published a pretty important page. We actually did have the page published, she was just looking on the wrong screen. Beth Anne was saying, “We’re at crunch time, guys! This needs to be done!”
Ellen: “Just click the button, Beth Anne!”
Carlee: And that just reminds us that there are things we do more naturally than you, and vice versa.
Beth Anne: It’s an ego boost for you guys! You get to see me at my best and worst. You know I’m a flawed human, and that’s good.
1:01:45 – Boss Perks
Beth Anne: One benefit of being the “boss” is that I get to collect a team who all have strengths different from me. We show this face to the world, and it all looks pretty and fabulous and polished. And I feel like I get credit for all of that! And, not only that, but I don’t have to do the things that aren’t my strengths, hardly ever, because I’m the boss and I just get to tell someone else to do it. And sometimes it does feel unfair! I do acknowledge that. There are lots of things I totally stink at.
Carlee: There has been a shift in the last couple of months. You’ve said more often “you and the team” are doing a project. And you’re asking us to put our name on the work. There’s more of a shift to ‘us’ rather than ‘you’. None of us want to be the face of Brilliant Business Moms or to be Beth Anne. It’s not a competition. But it is fun that you’ve started putting, “Beth Anne and the Brilliant Business Moms Team” because we are a team and it takes all of us to get all of these crazy things done!
Victoria: And it’s nice of you to admit. I imagine it would be tempting and easier to just speak in the first person always. It’s nice to share the credit. It’s tricky to walk the line and preserve the brand that you’ve built up and who you are and how you help people and acknowledge the team.
Beth Anne: You don’t want to work for someone who takes all the credit all the time.
Victoria: But I’m saying you could, though, if you wanted! It’s your brand. But it’s so nice of you to include “and the Team’.
Carlee: And it’s practical. Because we get emails, addressed to us, in the inbox that you’d just pass along to me anyway. It’s more efficient. And it’s good that people know who to talk to. It doesn’t all have to come from Beth Anne all the time because you can’t be everything to everyone.
Beth Anne: It does set expectations up in a better way. This is a total team effort. I like that we get emails addressed to the team, like, “Hey, Carlee!” or “Hey, Ellen!” or “Hi Beth Anne and Team!” because it means they don’t expect email answers only from me. And I’m not setting people up for disappointment.
Ellen: And it fits really well with the BBM brand. How it started was a podcast that is all about the community and these women who are building businesses; it’s always been about that. And it’s neat to see the community come about as a team, too. Our team is a small part of the community, and we are also part of the bigger community, and we’re all working together.
Beth Anne: Yeah, I have no intention of being a weird internet celebrity where people care about what I eat for breakfast. That’s totally differently than saying, “We are Brilliant Business Moms.”
I would never want to be BethAnneSchwamberger dot com. That would be stupid long, for one. But it goes back to the brand always being about a community of moms, not one person.
Carlee: It’s not even just the four of us, it’s the four of us and these incredible women in our community. We learn from them every day too, and they know things we don’t know.
Brilliant Business Moms as a whole is not about celebrity. We’re about community.
Beth Anne: Well thank you, ladies, for hanging out with me today. I feel like you each have a lot more to share because you’re all fabulous employees and I love having you on my team. And just an aside, this is seriously how much fun we all have together. We literally just got off topic for 30 mins talking about childbirth and labor because these ladies are awesome. Thanks for listening.
If you missed that last BBM confessions, you can listen in (or read all about it) right here: