Career Advice

How To Grow A Virtual Assistant Business with VA Coach Tracey D’Aviero | Ep #148

June 18, 2024

How To Grow A Virtual Assistant Business with VA Coach Tracey D’Aviero | Ep #148 In this episode of the Second Act Success Career Podcast, host Shannon Russell dives into the dynamic world of virtual assistance with virtual assistant coach and trainer, Tracey D’Aviero. Tracey has over 20 years of experience, and she shares her inspiring […]

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How To Grow A Virtual Assistant Business with VA Coach Tracey D’Aviero | Ep #148

In this episode of the Second Act Success Career Podcast, host Shannon Russell dives into the dynamic world of virtual assistance with virtual assistant coach and trainer, Tracey D’Aviero. Tracey has over 20 years of experience, and she shares her inspiring journey from a corporate office working as a system analyst in the hospitality industry to becoming a leading VA coach and trainer. Discover how she transitioned to remote work before it was mainstream, built a successful business, and now helps others do the same. Whether you’re considering a career as a virtual assistant or seeking to optimize your business with remote support, this episode is packed with valuable insights and practical advice. Tune in to Episode #148 to learn the essentials of thriving in the VA industry and how foundational business principles can guide your success.

Key Takeaway:

  • The virtual assistant industry offers flexible and valuable opportunities for both service providers and business owners, rooted in solid business practices and adaptability to remote work environments.


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How To Grow A Virtual Assistant Business with VA Coach Tracey D'Aviero | Ep #148

How To Grow A Virtual Assistant Business with VA Coach Tracey D’Aviero | Ep #148



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Second Act Success Career Podcast
Season 1 - How To Grow A Virtual Assistant Business with VA Coach Tracey D'Aviero | Ep #148
Episode - #148
Host: Shannon Russell
Guest: Tracey D'Aviero
Transcription (*created by Descript and may not be perfectly accurate)

[00:00:00] Tracey D'Aviero: went on the internet and found this amazing industry called the virtual assistant industry. And that was like, It's amazing. I can help different people. so I'm still doing this now.

I'm showing other people how to do it and do it a lot faster than me, but still using all the basics, pick the things that you do. Well, pick something that's valuable to a client to offer as a service, find a market that is viable.

business Foundations don't change. They don't go away, now I exclusively teach and train VAs how to open their business. And of course, on the flip side, work with business owners to help them find the best support that they can for their business,

[00:00:34] Shannon Russell: [00:01:00] Hey there and welcome back to the podcast. On today's episode, we are diving into the world of virtual assistance. Today I will be joined by Tracy DaVero. Tracy is a virtual assistant coach and trainer.

She specializes in helping virtual assistants. Establish and grow their businesses. She also helps business owners figure out where they could use a little extra assistance in their business.

Tracy is a wealth of knowledge and she's been in the virtual assistant space for over 20 years.

She is also the host of the ridiculously good VA podcast. Let's get started so we can answer all of your virtual assistant questions. . Tracy Daviero, welcome to Second Act Success. I'm so happy to have you here.

[00:01:49] Tracey D'Aviero: I'm so happy to see you, first of all, again, but also to be here and see your audience. Thank you so much for inviting me.

[00:01:56] Shannon Russell: I'm so happy we got to meet at Podfest in Orlando through a [00:02:00] mutual friend. Kathy and we just had fun hanging out and going out and learning.

[00:02:05] Tracey D'Aviero: Well, that's what it's all about, right?

You go to a conference and the things that you learn from the people on the stages, but there's so much more that you learn from the people that you connect with. And , that's why you go in person. I tell people all the time, go, go, go.

[00:02:17] Shannon Russell: Go, exactly. We've been trying to get together to record this podcast. Cause I really feel like what you do now is going to be so inspirational to my listeners, just all about what a virtual assistant does and really getting into your business. But first I want to start with where you began your career.

[00:02:37] Tracey D'Aviero: , it's like a lot of people, it was a long time ago. Now my son is about to be 26 and I was pregnant with him. And I only have one son, so I'm still a mompreneur, but you know, he still lives here. I'm still his mom, right? So I still do the mompreneur thing. , but yeah, I was pregnant with him and I was leaving a job , that I liked, but I didn't love.

, I was working for a restaurant, , head office, a corporate office, and I was doing corporate type of work. [00:03:00] I was doing financial work and I was also in charge of their, controllable expenses. We had 10, , restaurants and two catering divisions. And so it was really busy. And so , I was.

Basically tasked with helping them make sure that all their costs were in line for food costs, you know, , liquor costs, all that kind of thing. And I was doing major reporting every month and doing that kind of thing that the CEO had done before. He was the main guy who did it. I think he had a McDonald's background.

So I'm pretty sure that the way he did things , was, coming from that. So it was quite corporate, but he taught me and I was the only person in the company who knew how to do it. And then I was also doing training manuals, you know, teaching people how to, , Act when they came to work and all that kind of thing, all the things they needed to know about the restaurant the menus and that type of thing.

And so that I really liked as well, but then I was doing a whole bunch of other things because you have a job and you have to, well, here, Tracy does that. And so I was leaving to go on maternity leave, knowing that I didn't want to really go back to that job because it meant to commute, I didn't live in the city and I was 30 minutes away and I was going to have a baby and I thought, you know, I'll figure it [00:04:00] out.

I really didn't know what I was going to do, but my boss, who was the CEO said, when are you coming back to work? And I said, well, not soon, you know, sort of showed him my belly and said, we're going to be a while. And he said, well, let me know when you want to start working again, because I need to get that work from you.

It was valuable to him. And so I said, okay, , like, I'm not going to be coming back to the office. And he said, okay, so let's just make you a consultant. So you do that. we'll give away all the other stuff to people here in the office. You work from home, bill me once a month. We can communicate by email.

This was 26 years ago. And he said, you know, just kind of mapped it all out. And I said, well, I never really considered doing that. And he's like, yeah, and then you could get other clients. You could do whatever, but this is what you can do. So presented to me that way by a man, which I think is funny because I work mostly with women.

And I said to him, like, why would you, why don't you just show someone else how to do it? And he said, well, because you do it. really well. I'm not doing it again. And he said, I know that you have the expertise. So there [00:05:00] began my business and so I did it for a while on my own and I struggled through everything because I didn't know how to set up a business.

I didn't know how to market. I didn't know how to find clients. , I worked really hard doing it not very well. And , then just decided I can't work with hospitality anymore. There's such a slim profit margin that what can I do? And so I learned about transferable skills. I'm like, wow, all this stuff I know how to do, I can help different people.

And went on the internet and found this amazing industry called the virtual assistant industry. And that was probably four or five years later. It was quite a piece in, , and , discover this industry. And I thought it's amazing. Like, this is so incredible. And so I'm still doing this now.

I'm showing other people how to do it and do it a lot faster than me, but still using all the basics, like still. Pick the things that you do. Well, pick something that's valuable to a client to offer as a service, you know, find a market that is viable. If you listen to my podcast or any of my training, these are the things I teach all the time, because.

[00:06:00] foundations don't change. They don't go away, you know, so that's where I'm from. That's how I got here. And now I exclusively teach and train VAs how to open their business. And of course, on the flip side, work with business owners to help them find the best support that they can for their business, because it's a little bit more clear now about how to work remotely with somebody from the pandemic that taught us that.

but, you know, just trying to tell people this is, where are your valuable things and how can you find the best available support for that?

, 26 years ago, like you said, that was unheard of

[00:06:30] Tracey D'Aviero: to be

[00:06:30] Shannon Russell: working from home. What a progressive boss that could see that and really trust you and value your work.

[00:06:38] Tracey D'Aviero: Yeah. He was definitely from McDonald's and, , our restaurants were not, They were not fast food.

They were, they were dining in restaurants and like I said, catering and everything. But, , he had that knowledge that you can work from here and serve a lot of different stores case. And we were the same, like the business ran the same way I traveled every few months, I would [00:07:00] go to, you know, local cities where we had, , the other locations and we'd have meetings, we'd do trainings, , work on certain things if we needed to or whatever.

And so I was kind of always there just doing that. The reporting. So It's always been there. And I, still say it too, that, you know, men seem to know that part of business a lot more than we do as women. We're still learning because we're more far behind than they were in terms of, Oh, just get it done.

And we're like, but how are we going to do it? And we talk about it , forever. , the pandemic, I think really brought virtual working and connecting like this to the forefront because so many people just know you can't do it that way. And then we were forced into it and it's like, now I only want to do it that way, you know?

So , it's about seeing what that's going to look like. And I mean, I was not the first virtual assistant. I, , was Googling, it was internet at the time that we were doing it. And, you know, I'm like, wow, what is this? I've never heard of this. So the industry, I guess, is over 30 years old.

The one thing I do [00:08:00] a lot more of now is educating people about the industry. But when I was working solely as a VA, I didn't need to educate people because I just went to where the people. Needed VAs, people who were using VAs already. And so we just talk about how does it work?

There's so many people who are so curious about it and see if it's a good solution for their business.

[00:08:19] Shannon Russell: So when you were on maternity leave and you decided to go back, but you were doing it from home, was that consulting contract not enough, right?

That wasn't your full salary. So you had to bring on more business.

[00:08:31] Tracey D'Aviero: Yeah, I absolutely did. Yeah. And it was nice because I could decide when that was going to happen. Right. and so, I was crazy. set my desk up in my son's bedroom. nursery, because I thought I'll work when he's sleeping. I was not smart, obviously, right?

And I just thought, Oh, I'll work when he's sleeping. And that way I can watch him. And I don't know, we had a two story house. It's not like we had a big place. I don't know why I thought that was logical. And nobody around me told me that they thought it was not smart. of course [00:09:00] it didn't last long.

The first couple of naps, I'm tapping away on the keyboard and he's waking up. I'm like, this isn't working the way I thought. So the things we learn, right. The dumb things we learned. So that was what I started doing was, okay, I want to do this work for a lot of other people. And like I said, it was controllable expenses.

It was comparing, you know, costs. It was making sure that everybody was making things to the recipes and, you know, that kind of thing. And so what I did was I went out and I looked for the other chains. In my local area, and I tried to teach them that they needed this. So it's one of the things that I cautioned VA's against now is don't try to sell somebody something that they don't place value on, or they don't even know that maybe they need, and so here was me pounding down doors and sending out letters and, you know, it was all mail and everything by then, email, phone calls, whatever, cold messaging, everybody.

who I'm like, you need this. And they're like, we don't have the money for that. , that's not in our budget. We're fine kind of thing. So trying to sell somebody something they don't need [00:10:00] or don't realize they need is so much more difficult than finding the people who are looking for support and going, that's what I do,

For me, the profitability just wasn't there in a lot of places because of where I lived, right? When I went, I found the only way that I could profit was opening restaurants and helping people with documentation and getting all their structures and foundations in place. But that meant I had to travel to foodie places, you know?

So I was in Toronto, I was in Montreal. I mean, that's in Canada, but bigger cities. So you weigh those options, right? It's like, okay, I love to do this. This is really good, but I have to do this. And to go and work with them. And so you make a decision and say, doesn't really make a lot of sense.

You know, at least at the time it didn't to me with the little baby.

[00:10:42] Shannon Russell: No, absolutely. And I understand that. That's why I left the entertainment industry. I had two little ones and I didn't want that travel, so I totally get it. How did you figure out what would work and how to find your ideal clients?

[00:10:55] Tracey D'Aviero: You know, it was just a matter of really doing that research and,, starting to talk to [00:11:00] people for sure. and so what I ended up doing , and this is what I teach people now is I teach them to incorporate their hobby, you know, so what was they interested in? Cause I love hospitality.

My husband's a chef, my son's a chef. I was a chef. That's our business. That's our life. couldn't work in it, unless I was in a restaurant, which made perfect sense. And I just didn't want to do that anymore. But I was like, what else do I like? And I really liked I still really like to write.

And so writing was a thing that was just it really appealed to me. And I had experience in it, I had worked at our local community newspaper for a long time. So I had that kind of experience and you sort of think like, who do I want to work with? Right? That's the way I advise people now, too.

Who do you want to work with? Well, I want to work with people in publishing. So I found this amazing publishing consultant client who was in New York City. And she was super connected. and She was awesome. She was so helpful. I started small jobs for her, got my feet wet with a different industry.

I was doing stuff that I absolutely loved. I learned how to do new things with her. She says, you know, who needs you? is my [00:12:00] friends and they were a couple who were business coaches and she goes, they really need your help. And I'm like, yeah, but I love doing your work, you know? And she introduced me to the business coach industry.

And that's what I did. That's who I supported because. super viable, right? They're charging a lot of money. They're high volume. They have a lot of clients. They have a lot of stuff going on. They're constantly marketing themselves. And, and I fell into, you know, a few groups of, of, really successful coaches , who needed the kind of work that I was doing and I was able to really grow with them.

So , it kind of happened. through this one person, you know, which again , is sometimes all it takes.

The word of mouth and then were you writing marketing and social media for them? how were you working with them or were you just up for anything at that point?

[00:12:43] Tracey D'Aviero: No. Whenever I started working with my publishing consultant, I was taking courses.

I went to actually it was called VA classroom at the time. now it's called Freelance University. And I got into , their programs and started learning about what we called it internet marketing at the time. but I learned about that. I learned about social media. I learned about, [00:13:00] all the things that anything that we would call digital marketing.

Now I learned, I took, Certifications in it because I was just like, I don't know anything about the online world. And obviously this is what this is important. This is how, where I want to work. So I need to be able to work virtually. And, I just learned what I needed to learn. And then they're at FreelanceU.

They're amazing because they actually teach you how to put it together to. Talk to clients and, sort of sell yourself, which is really not all people who teach skills do that. So I think that that's a really good thing. , started doing that , and was able then to introduce new services to my clients.

I started with client care. started helping them with that kind of thing, taking payments for their clients or making sure that the payments were in May, doing reporting, all that kind of thing. And then moved into doing marketing and , just made that choice at one point. And I said, I'm a marketing VA now.

And let's hire somebody else to do your client care so they can do that and I'll focus on this. And then I got into, running virtual events for them, like online conferences and stuff. I loved it. I loved it. And it it kept me very, very busy with a lot of clients.

[00:13:59] Shannon Russell: So you [00:14:00] learned really quickly.

You got the education.

[00:14:01] Tracey D'Aviero: Yeah. You know,

[00:14:03] Shannon Russell: Let's think about it this way. You had the opportunity from your first boss and then you started reaching out. You started exploring, seeing what worked and what didn't. Then you got the education. You started, the word of mouth and you.

Figured out what niche you wanted to be in.

[00:14:17] Tracey D'Aviero: Yeah. Yeah.

[00:14:19] Shannon Russell: How did that work for your work life balance, you know, with your little one, your at home,

[00:14:24] Tracey D'Aviero: Yeah. Yeah. Like, I think, , I'm a very personable person.

I like being out and about and that kind of thing. I think I'm more of an introvert now than I used to be. I think I, I kind of never was before. but, you know, anything , that makes a difference for you, makes a change for you. One of the things I recognized really quickly was that, you know, that I, needed care for my son in order to work a full day.

You can build your business, At any pace that you want and if you only want to work half days, that's okay. And so what I did was I took him to daycare in the morning. I worked in the morning and then I would bring him home for his afternoon nap. And we had a wonderful caregiver. She's very close to us.

Still just looking after like [00:15:00] cousins of mine now and that kind of thing. , but she was wonderful and she really pushed me to just leave him there all day. Cause I would bring him home, put him down for a nap. I'm like, I'm not going to pay you to, you know, let him sleep. It's just the funny things we think.

Right., he was thriving there and he loved it. He went till he was like 11, So it makes a difference, , I made the conscious decision was that I wanted to work during business hours.

So it was like a job, but not a job. Yeah. And then when he came home at the end of the day, like the door closed and it was done, you know, and I think that that was the best way to balance it. If I had him home all the time, I would have had to, , probably move my schedule around a little bit more often.

And that was the trade off that I made. I'm like, this is better for him to be there. He gets, full attention, friends, everything like that all day. And I can get my work done. And then at the end of the day that, you know, that's, when we're together. So,

[00:15:46] Shannon Russell: best of both worlds, right? Really you've created this.

perfect scenario for the type of mother that you wanted to be.

[00:15:55] Tracey D'Aviero: That's right. Yeah. Yeah.

[00:15:57] Shannon Russell: That's what I think a lot of my listeners are trying to [00:16:00] figure out because they're our age. They're sitting here saying, okay, well, what I did for that first act just doesn't quite fit me anymore. I need to pivot, but how do I do it without disrupting my whole family and everything?

And I think that was what you were trying to figure out. That's what I tried to figure out. And we're able to make it, but it's hard.

[00:16:21] Tracey D'Aviero: Well, it is because what's the right decision, right? He didn't have anybody else to play with living here. We didn't have any more children.

So, , if you have two kids and they're, independent and they can do it. I marvel all the time at the women that I help open their businesses. They have their kids at home. I'm like, I don't know how you do it. And they teach me every day how they do it. They homeschool their children.

That's why they want to run a business. I'm like, Oh my God, could I have done that? Yeah, I could have done it because I would have figured it out. I didn't need to figure it out because I made the choice for me and then when your kids go to school, , you do have , your daytime free as well, that's the beauty of it is you can do whatever you want.

I have colleagues who love to work before everybody gets up in the morning and [00:17:00] after they go to bed at night, that's when she likes to work. I'm like, see, I didn't like that. I didn't like feeling. I was. on all the time and never getting the rest that I needed. And so, you know, but, you can make it work.

You can make anything work , if you put the boundaries in place , and, you know, kind of get, get everybody on the same page for sure. And in terms of disrupting, I think that you make those choices about what it's going to look like, it's always why you're making the decision, right?

When I'm working , with virtual assistants , to do their time management or to set their rates or decide who their clients are, anything like that. We talk about why, why are these people the reason? Because if you know the why, then you projected a lot more confidently whenever you're talking to people.

, if you're just like, I hope I can work with clients and I hope I can make a lot of money and I hope my family Doesn't worry about it, then you're not basing it in anything factual. And that's just the way my brain works. Cause I'm not a creative. you know, I'm that numbers person who did the financial reports and stuff like that.

So , that's the way my brain thinks is very linear. And so if I know this is the reason I'm doing this, right. , [00:18:00] that's my reasoning. , and that's it. I remember I would take my laptop and my husband and I watch TV, . Whether my son went to bed or it was just in the evening and I take my laptop and I'd be doing a little bit of research or this or that or whatever and I would just be typing while we would be watching something, you know, movie or whatever we were doing.

And he just said to me one day, you work all the time. And I was like this isn't work. I'm not doing any work for anybody, but that was the perception. So those are the things that I think whenever you're looking to transition to something that, you know, may or may not disrupt your family life.

Those are the things I'm like, I don't want to be the one looking at my laptop all the time, you know, so how can I change that? What can I change? And sometimes that means a rate increase. So you can work with fewer clients. Sometimes it means automation so that you are not having to, type your invoices into word documents.

Like I did when I first started out, like boom, hit a button and your monthly stuff is done or whatever. So all of those things, what can you do? Because that's a concern that you have, how is it not going to [00:19:00] do this? Or how can I do this? , look at the tangibles and kind of put it all together that way.


[00:19:04] Shannon Russell: I can relate to that. Cause I feel like , and maybe you do too. We enjoy what we do. So it didn't work. Yeah. Right. And so my kids will say that to me too. And then I'm like, okay, there's that guilt. Yeah. Like you close the laptop. That's why I could never run my business with my kids home because I have guilt of Yeah.

Being with them constantly. Well, yeah. Why are they there?

[00:19:26] Tracey D'Aviero: Right? Yeah. It's like, okay. So you guys are three, like, cause you're not going to do that. I remember I did a talk years ago in Las Vegas and, I think it was one of my first speaking gigs that I did. I was talking and I said, you know, run your business like a job.

\ have business hours, take your lunch break. don't go to the grocery store in the middle of the day because you're going to lose that time. Go to the grocery store, after work or on the weekend, whenever.

[00:19:50] Tracey D'Aviero: You're going to cut into your family time to go and work because you went and got groceries. And one of the ladies in the audience said, what I thought the idea was that we were [00:20:00] supposed to do whatever we want to do.

, and I said to her, you know, You can do whatever you want. You're absolutely right. If that makes more sense for you, for me, it made sense to start and stop business day.

That's it, you know, and most of the time, right? I'm like, you can go throw the load of laundry in. But I'm like, if you find , you're working all the time, these are ways to sort that out and go, okay, this chore needs to be done later. It's taking me out of the house.

I'm losing an hour that I then have to recoup. Maybe you need to raise your rates. Maybe you need to work with fewer clients. Maybe you need to change the service offerings that you're offering. There's ways to make all of that work. If you want to go to the grocery store in the middle of the day, you know,

[00:20:40] Shannon Russell: and you're right, because you're building the business around your life. You're trying to make it fit. so let's talk about your business then. So you were a VA for many, many years. What made you want to make that shift again to now help others become virtual?

[00:20:55] Tracey D'Aviero: So it was my business coach, to be honest.

I started teaching very part time a long [00:21:00] time ago. And I think it came, Because when the clients that I was working with, like I said, I was specializing more and I was saying, let's move this to somebody else. And there was a struggle of who is a VA that we can hire.

Who can we give this to? So I kept stacking up. I had subcontractors that like I filled their businesses. , there was a, another woman that they met at a conference. We filled her business. So we were, using up all our resources.

And he said, You need to teach this. You can teach people how to do this., , 2010, I started teaching. Your VA Mentor was, how I sort of branded myself. My contact stuff is , Tracy Daviero website.

And you can go to the Canadian Association, you can go to Your VA Mentor, you can go to me for speaking. But that was what sort of started it. We ran out of people to refer business to for the people that either couldn't afford my rates, or that didn't need the services that I offered and that kind of thing.

All of these colleagues of theirs. We would go to conferences, Kathy and I actually, we went to a few conferences together and there were three or four hundred people at these and they all needed us. [00:22:00] And we were the only VAs that were there. Like there was, VAs don't pay to go to these big events, but we did.

And that was how we got our clients and our businesses thrived, you know?

[00:22:10] Shannon Russell: You start Your VA Mentor, that's your business. And so how did you get your clients or were they already coming to you through your subcontractors? How did you find new people? Was it these conferences?

[00:22:21] Tracey D'Aviero: , not so much the VA conferences, but you know, you become a part of a community, right? And that's the advice that I give to anybody who's looking to find clients is go and find those people and become a part of that community. did a lot of networking, but definitely , it's about the community that , you're a part of.

Even today, like this morning, I'm on a virtual assistant group on Facebook, and somebody's asking a beginner question because they're just getting started. Well, I can answer that question. And now I can send them to my podcast. I can send them to blog posts. I can send them to programs that I have and that kind of thing.

, you have to get in with the community. I happen to be part of it already because they were my colleagues. And also, you know, like I say, , all of my clients that I had, I had a very large network [00:23:00] of clients. That, some of them I worked with and some of them I just knew.

They were sending me referrals for my VA business. Well, now they could send people to me who they said, , she needs to learn how to do this so she can be my VA, you know, so it's just the people that you know, and it's the effort that you put into it, that helps create that kind of flow of people to you.

[00:23:19] Shannon Russell: So you completely stopped being a VA. I did

[00:23:22] Tracey D'Aviero: recently. Yeah, I got I did. A few years ago, I stopped doing most of the VA work that I do just because, it's very difficult to promote. Multiple things, people get confused, right? The whole confused mind says no.

When I'm talking about being a VA and helping, a VA then I'm trying to reach a different audience of people who want to be VAs, and then I'm trying to reach another audience of, you know, business owners who hire VA, like it's a lot. And so when you split your focus like that, whether it's in your day to day conversations or whether it's in your marketing, you know, that kind of thing, , your content that you're creating.

It's really difficult to be [00:24:00] focused on it. And so I made the choice to say, I want to go all in on this because this is something that I know that I'm going to do for a long time. Speaking of second acts, you know, is I can do this long term, not that I can't be a VA long term, but it's really easy to create programs and host events and do teaching and that kind of thing for people who are constantly coming into the industry, you know, looking for that kind of support.

[00:24:23] Shannon Russell: Were you finding that when you switched over more so to be teaching, newbie VAs that you were finding business right away and that was kind of supplementing what you were making as a VA? Was it that quick for you?

[00:24:38] Tracey D'Aviero: I wouldn't say that it was that quick, but you know, with any strategy but I was very lucky to have worked with these business coaches and learned a lot. The way they do things, you know, so I was doing the launches and all that kind of thing. And , so yeah, the harder you work at it, the better off everybody just wants referrals, right?

Everybody just wants someone to contact you and say, so and so said I should reach out to you or [00:25:00] click and buy, your product. That's what we all want, but it's not really always realistic. And so when you're trying to build something, actually, it was just doing this with a private client of mine this morning, she's looking for a certain amount of business every month, dollar wise. And I'm like, okay, let's break that down. What does that look like with the prices , you're going to be charging and who are those people who can afford that? So we break down that kind of stuff and say,

so you need to learn how many clients you need, how much they need to pay you. Roughly, you know, if you have packages, you can sliding scale, and then you need to find where those people are and talk to them because that's how you're going to build yourself into that community of all these people that need to write like any of us have to do.

, that's kind of the way business works. And so,, that's kind of what I had to do. And if I didn't do it, then, the income certainly was not where we wanted it to be, but then you decide I'm also Working very differently than I did before, I was up and working steady [00:26:00] when I was doing VA tasks.

At my busiest. I had 13 clients. some of them , were very, very busy. Some of them were not very busy at all. I kept my publishing consultant client right till the end. As a matter of fact, and she was doing like an hour a month. Like it was crazy. She was so independent that she just did things on her own, you know, but I, kept her right till the end because I liked her and I wanted to work with her.

[00:26:18] Tracey D'Aviero: She was not using me for very much at all, , but you get to choose who you work with , and you get to decide that, but Managing expectations of 13 people every single month is a lot, so going from that to selling, a VA program.

That's what I did in 2010 and I ran it live for, it was like a six week program. And so we met every week and I, , walked everybody through the stuff and now it's a self study. So you can click on it and you can go and buy it just like that. So , we changed the way we do things, you know, , as things go, but certainly, six weeks of my time, all of a sudden it doesn't take any time at all.

So my business is very different than it used to be.

[00:26:53] Shannon Russell: It's evolving. And I think as you're explaining this to me, someone who doesn't know the VA world, it [00:27:00] sounds like when you're working as a VA, you are really still on the clock for your clients. So you're held accountable now as a business owner and being in Your VA Mentor, you're really choosing what you want to do.

You're out there marketing yourself. You're not as beholden to These clients you're beholden to your VA student,

They're different. They're students. And it is different, right? Because sometimes, you know, , we place ourselves , on this ladder with our clients where here's the client I'm the assistant.

[00:27:33] Tracey D'Aviero: Cause it's always been like that. I sit at the desk outside there. Corner office, that's the way it is. And I'm constantly telling our VA's you're here. You're on the same level with them. You're a business owner with expertise. And so are they they don't have your expertise That's why they need you.

So it's really important, right? You can specialize your services so that you are not beholden to them, as you say, if you are a proactive VA and you say, like I always did, I had [00:28:00] production calls on Mondays and I'd say, okay, this is what we're working on this week.

What else is coming down the pipe? You know, that kind of thing. I was always in charge of what we were doing. And there's a lot of years that are not like that. And it's okay, you can be a task taker. It's totally fine. You can build your business any way that you want to. , but I think that when you learn to make those kinds of decisions in the same.

This is the way we're going to do things together. clients are sometimes more inclined to be in charge or feel like they're in charge and students are completely the opposite. They're like, I'm here. I don't know anything. Please teach me. And I'm like, you know, so much, you know, way more than you think you do.

Let's just put it in line so that you can, yeah, I did that. I did that. I did that. Let's kind of move on. So , it's just the perception of what people think of. We're all the students, me, the VAs and the client, we're all here. We're all exactly the same level of the playing field. You know, it's just a matter of how you work together.

And I had clients. Who were very bossy and, , were very insistent about how things got done. And those people I didn't want to [00:29:00] work with, and you get to choose that. You're like, nah, this isn't really working out for me. And I had other clients who just, some of them would never send me any work and they were still my client.

And I'm like, Oh, you know what? , that's fine. And you'd push them sometimes to say, let me help you with that, you know? And, Oh, I did it this weekend, you know? So , that kind of thing. But. But I think that that's the way it is, is that sometimes people feel that they are more in charge, and I'm like, nobody's in charge, you work together, everybody's working together, I'm working with students now, and we are working together, because if they don't buy into a program that I'm teaching, and if they don't do the homework, or you work together, Ask the questions when they need to, when they don't really understand something, then we're not on the same page.

We have to, we have to figure that out.

[00:29:43] Shannon Russell: Right. You want them to succeed. You want. Absolutely. I do. Yeah,

[00:29:47] Tracey D'Aviero: for sure. Yeah.

[00:29:48] Shannon Russell: Let's talk about transferable skills. You brought that up earlier and I talk about that with my clients and I think it's interesting because , you do so much.

I don't know if I was writing a blog or doing a podcast where I was talking about [00:30:00] how you can say, this is my job title or was my job title, but underneath that, there's so many jobs that you did. And so I'm sure for someone who wants to start a VA business,

[00:30:12] Tracey D'Aviero: Yeah.

[00:30:12] Shannon Russell: You're looking at your skills and do you find that people want to throw everything out and offer everything before they niche down?

[00:30:20] Tracey D'Aviero: Oh yeah. Yeah. And it's really funny because one of the things I do is a very, very preliminary thing , with anybody who either wants to learn from me or work with me is my skills inventory. I call it that. Because what people do, it's very, very common is. I think you talked about titles earlier to job title.

, we look at the last thing that we did, like whatever our last job was. And we think that that's what we need to do. Right. Like me leaving my job, that I had, and I, they called me a systems analyst and I'm like, so I need to be a systems analyst someplace else. I need to be that I need to do all the things, right.

you don't, you don't have to do all those things, but also I had jobs since I was [00:31:00] 17. I knew how to do so many things and I was doing this in my job. I didn't love everything about that job. Why do I want to build a business around something where I didn't like half of what I did or didn't care for it?

Maybe I wasn't even skilled at it, but I was doing it. So I think that for transferable skills, the skills inventory takes you into. Like, what do you know how to do? What was your first job? , I mean, that's the way I tell them to go through it. Write down everything you did. Well, I worked in restaurants.

I had a paper route. I worked at , the local community newspaper. Well, what did I do there? Not my job title, but what did I do? Oh, I had to manage all , the incoming calls, the advertising budgets, that kind of thing. , I was 19 years old and I was doing that stuff, but , it's still in here.

I know how to do that. So that's what I teach too, is, you know, take what you Do best. And to your question about, , do people just want to do everything a hundred percent because they want clients,

What do you need? I can do it. You know, I don't, I can do anything I can do and you can do anything.

And I tell everybody, you can do anything, but you can't market anything. And everybody's not your [00:32:00] client, right? I don't know whose quote that is, but I use it all the time. I really should look it up, it's somebody famous, but everybody's not your client. Go find the people, like I say, who need you, who value you and who have the budget to pay you, because that's, what's going to make your business easier.

You can work with people, know, startups. Oh, I like to help people. Virtual assistants are very much like that. And I'm not mocking them. I feel like that was a little mock, but you know, I like to help people. So do I, I love to help people. But at the end of the day, you're running a business.

You're trying to live that lifestyle where, you can. do the things that you want to do with your family , or pay for the things that you want to pay for. So you have to be able to understand that you have to build a profitable business, because if you don't, you're going to be back to a job, you know, which again is totally fine, but you can build it part time if that's what you want to do.

Lots of my colleagues , and my, clients, my students who, Just work with a couple of clients. I have one who works 10 hours a week and she's absolutely thrilled. She loves it. You know, , that's the way she built it. And if somebody comes along and says, do you have space for [00:33:00] this?

No, I'm sorry. I don't, but I'm perfectly happy. But you can still make that decision that, she's just got a few small clients and , she gets to travel when she wants, she gets to do anything, but she still has enough revenue for what she wants to do.

So yeah.

[00:33:12] Shannon Russell: I love that Skills inventory, like you said. Mm-Hmm. because, yeah, and, and I'm certified in YouMap® and in YouMap® is kind of similar. it's a career assessment, , you look at the things that you might be really good at, but if you don't like that, you don't have to do it again. And it's very similar.

Yeah, you can be really good at numbers, but you might never want to work with numbers again.

[00:33:31] Tracey D'Aviero: That's right. And

[00:33:32] Shannon Russell: I think when you're building a business, like you're teaching your students to do, they should be able to build it around what they love, because this is what they're creating for themselves.

Otherwise, they're going to be stuck doing that thing they didn't like when they worked in corporate.

[00:33:47] Tracey D'Aviero: That's it. And it's not fun, right? I get so many inquiries., legal assistants coming and saying, I want to be a virtual assistant.

Great. No problem. but I don't want to work with lawyers. I'm like, you're a legal assistant, you know, [00:34:00] so transferable skills, massive for these women, because it's like, what do you do? And that's, exactly where we get you. Okay. So here's what you know, how to do scratch off the things you hate or that you're not good at just because you know how to do it.

Doesn't mean you have to categorize them. Right. And that's what I teach is. Are they organizational? Are they tech? Are they communication? What role can you fill for somebody? And then who needs that? Like, who really needs it? Because that's who you're going to go and have a conversations with

[00:34:29] Shannon Russell: Oh, amazing. And so are you just so happy running this business and seeing your clients, your students succeed

[00:34:37] Tracey D'Aviero: Yeah, for sure. I love it. And that's the thing , and I say it all the time on my podcast. I'm like, I'm here to help. It's the only reason I'm here at all is to help you become a ridiculously good virtual assistant because that's what my show is. And. That's what I teach them is not just to start a business and just do whatever anybody asks you to do, but really be good at it.

Be sought out and , professional and be proud and be [00:35:00] successful, If you want to work from home, then I can show you how I can help you, figure it out. .

I tell every single business owner, you will eventually outsource. The top three things that you should outsource are, I always say a house cleaner, , a bookkeeper and a virtual assistant. And I'm like, VA isn't even number one on that list. It's number three.

But you know you're going to need that eventually if your business does what you think it's going to do. Outsourcing is just like hiring a housekeeper. They do a certain number of things for a certain amount of money and it takes x pressure or x, , time off of, of you and your family.

So not rocket science to figure out. outsourcing. It's about what the value is, why you need it and what each of you is going to get from it.

So if someone is listening right now, Tracy, and they're saying, this is what I've been looking for. I want to work from home.

[00:35:49] Shannon Russell: I want to be a present mom. I want to build my own business. What. Is the first step that they should start doing to figure this out aside [00:36:00] from going to your podcast?

[00:36:01] Tracey D'Aviero: , I think the key is if you're going to decide to work from home, I think that you need to first understand that it is a business and it's not going to run unless you put the work into it, but it's not always about working super hard.

Learn what you don't know is what I always tell everybody and that that is the thing but they're like oh so I have to learn social media and then I can be a VA. No, learn what you don't know if you don't know about numbers, you have to learn about numbers. If you don't know how to have conversations with people about anything but about business.

That's what you need to learn to do and there's so many aspects of it, but just figure out why you want to do it. What you need it to look like, what kind of revenue you need to have from it, and then figure out, you know, who can help you or how you can find the help. I didn't have help until I had a business coach, quite late on, not late on, but in a few years in.

and I still tell people every single day, you don't need a course to learn how to be a va. You don't need a coach. And I teach and I [00:37:00] coach so for me to say that is like I'm honest you don't need those things. Some people do because they do need to be shown the way or given examples or exercises like I do with my clients to, , you know, send them something to go through like the skills inventory and say do this, you might know right off the bat.

I'm a bookkeeper and I want to offer bookkeeping skills. Well, boom, you don't need a skills inventory because you know what you're going to do. So what don't you know, maybe you don't know where you should network to find the best clients. That's what you need to learn, right? So that's kind of what I say is, write down what it is you want, why you want it and what the steps are going to be for you to get there. There's YouTube, there's lots of podcasts, obviously. there are people that maybe, you know, there are lots of business, events I think getting together with, with business minded people and not thinking that your family and friends are going to be your clients because they're not learn, meet people and have conversations with them.

All of that is one thing. That's my one thing, but the next thing is map it out and look to see. If you need to replace your corporate [00:38:00] salary, you need to figure out how to do that. If you don't need to, I didn't need to, I didn't need my salary. I was very lucky whenever I first went off, but I knew I had to make this amount of money because I paid for these things in the house and I needed it was 600 at the time.

I had to make 600 a month and I figured out how to do that. And then you build from there. So, figure out how it's going to work for you and get help if you don't know how,

[00:38:23] Shannon Russell: that's great. And you're right. You can figure it out on your own.

[00:38:26] Tracey D'Aviero: Oh, yeah, you can.

[00:38:27] Shannon Russell: And what I always say is cut a check to go faster, right?

Join a program, get yours, get a coach. And then you just get there without as many struggles, maybe. That's right. You get there a little bit quicker.

[00:38:37] Tracey D'Aviero: Well, and sometimes it's about deadlines, right? Like if you're working a corporate job and you're like, I would love to work from home by this time next year.

Well, that's an awful lot of time to figure out what you need to do. Then there are some people who get downsized, they lose a job and they're like I don't want to go back into it or I can't physically go back into it. Or it's just as simple as, you know, my life is going to change or my life has [00:39:00] changed.

And this is what I want to do. And I need clients by, three months from now, cut the check to go faster. A hundred percent.

[00:39:07] Shannon Russell: And I love that you offer your coaching. You offer your programs, your courses, but you have free resources and you have a podcast, which I think we said the name of it really quickly.

[00:39:18] Tracey D'Aviero: It's

[00:39:18] Shannon Russell: The Ridiculously Good VA Show That's a great place to just go and connect with Tracy and listen to the podcast and get some good stuff.

[00:39:26] Tracey D'Aviero: I love doing it. I started it two years ago, same time as Kathy she's my accountability partner as well as one of my besties.

And so, Kathy Koliakobo, Pepper at Marketing, anybody, she's how we connected obviously, but,we just pushed each other to the other, to do it because it just made sense for our business. But when you're creating a lot of content for even multiple audiences, , like the two of us do, and I'm sure you do too, you have a big audience. It's a great way to do it. And I just continue to love to do it and to, find things that are interesting , to address conversations that are happening in my networking situations and cover them on [00:40:00] the podcast.

And I point people there all the time. There are very few people that I get onto a zoom call now with who don't know about my podcast. They're actually there because of it. To me, that's a good thing.

[00:40:09] Shannon Russell: It creates that community for people to go to get to know you first.

And you're a great example because you made the shift to a VA now to your VA mentor. Like you just really have done it all. So for someone who wants to get into this. You're a prime example.

[00:40:25] Tracey D'Aviero: Yeah. And we say, that anything , that you have done previously, you can teach.

Right. I don't know everything. I don't want to know everything. I know what I know. I know what I teach and I do it really well. I'm very proud to do it and pleased to do it. but I'm also really happy to share. The free stuff that I don't think you need to jump on a call with me to learn about.

I don't think you need to pay me to learn about. Some people will just gather all of the information. They'll go through all the training and they'll be up and running you can do that. It's totally okay. And if you don't want to do that alone, , then there are , lots of places that you can go for that as well.

So, and I just always tell [00:41:00] everybody, I don't teach VA skills. If you want to learn how to do something to offer as a service, that's not me, but I know people who will teach you that. And I'm not the best at this and this and that. These are the things , that I can show you , and I think that that's how we get better at what we do is to really specialize in one thing and stick with it,

[00:41:16] Shannon Russell: great advice.

[00:41:25] Shannon Russell: So name one thing that these different chapters in your life have taught you.

[00:41:30] Tracey D'Aviero: for Me, it's just, you're never too young or you're never too old to make a change. Thanks so much. And I think whatever that change is, if you know why you're doing it, then you can stand behind it.

But I think anytime is a good time to make a change and,, the VAs that, are moving into retirement mode and still want to have a little bit of an income. , you can do it for a really long time. , and if you've only had one admin job, you can still be a VA.

You don't have to go and work in an office. So, never too young or [00:42:00] never too old, I think.

[00:42:01] Shannon Russell: All right. Would you recommend taking a leap into a big life change to your best friend?

[00:42:05] Tracey D'Aviero: Absolutely. Again, if you know the reason you're doing it and you know that it will theoretically make your life better, then go make your life better.


[00:42:14] Shannon Russell: So what is one piece of advice that you would give to someone who's about to start on their path to being a VA or on their path to second act success, however it is, whatever it is.

[00:42:25] Tracey D'Aviero: in terms of my stuff, I would say, get comfortable with business. get comfortable with understanding that it is a business.

If you're trying to run a business because you want to be around for your, family, your family is definitely a priority, but the business has to take priority or you're not going to get that lifestyle. So. Do the boundaries, , do the daycare if you want to, whatever it is, but figure out how that business model will work to bring you what you want without, , going and volunteering at your son's school all day and not being able to get revenue in [00:43:00] from clients.

You have to prioritize the business so that it fits your lifestyle.

[00:43:04] Shannon Russell: All right, Tracy, what is the next act look like for you?

[00:43:08] Tracey D'Aviero: More of the same, I've recently made the change , to just teaching and coaching. I still really, really enjoy it. I think the reason that I made that change at the time was knowing that it's something that I could sustain long term.

And if I want to work less, I work less. you know, if I want to travel and work, I can do that., I don't take many coaching calls from my, car, but I'm sure I could do that. I don't take many from the beach, but I promise you someday I'll be doing that too. So,


[00:43:34] Shannon Russell: Where can my audience connect with you?

[00:43:36] Tracey D'Aviero: So the podcast for sure. the ridiculously good VA show. and, on yourvamentor.Com. Which is where I house my podcast, the Canadian association of virtual assistants, that's the association. And my hub is tracydaviero. com. So just my name. com and you can get information about, all three things that I do,

[00:43:55] Shannon Russell: I'm going to list everything in the show notes as well.

And we talked [00:44:00] for so long. I'm such a talker. We are catching up. And I just, feel like everything that you shared is just such excellent advice and makes me want to go out and be a virtual assistant.

[00:44:09] Tracey D'Aviero: Well, there you go. My job here is done.

[00:44:11] Shannon Russell: Yes. Made it seem so doable and really, laid it out so nicely.

I suggest that anyone who's thinking about it get in touch with Tracy. And, I just thank you for all that you shared. It was really fascinating.

[00:44:25] Tracey D'Aviero: Well, thank you so much for having me on. I know I get wordy sometimes, but I think sometimes it's necessary. It's not easy, but it's simple.

It's very simple. If you want to do it, map it out, you know, get to, where you want to go and, and learn what you don't know or get the support with what you don't know. And I think that that's, that's just the one thing that I would tell anybody. I think it's, it's fun to be able to do what you love to do.

And, and certainly from a virtual assistant perspective, we're a support professional, right? A , service based business. We love to help people. That's what we do. It's, it's What we did in our careers and it's what we want to continue doing. And for me, it's just the [00:45:00] natural extension to, to, you know, to help people be able to do that, if that's what they want to do, if they want to work from home and I think now it's so much about balance about family and, , you know, , less commute, less, all that kind of thing.

But I think certainly we're, we're looking for more. balance with our mental health and our family and our work. We're not working to live anymore. We're building, we're building our lifestyle because we want to, we want to have things, available to us and we want to be able to be in charge of our decisions and our mental health and all that kind of stuff.

So I think it all rolls well into itself for sure.

[00:45:32] Shannon Russell: Yeah. Yeah. And you're taking control back and, and I think that you, you saying that it is a simple, right? It's simple. And so many women, especially who are thinking about a career change, they think it's so, so hard and it's not easy, but I love that you said simple, like it can be done, but it can be done and it's.

Yeah. , in a stress, stress free maybe less stressed way. and I love that you're out [00:46:00] there serving people and teaching people how to do it and that it can be done and that you can have that control. Yeah. That's it.

[00:46:08] Tracey D'Aviero: I'm happy to love it. Yeah.

[00:46:09] Shannon Russell: Yeah. Well, thank you so much, Tracy.

[00:46:12] Tracey D'Aviero: Thank you again. It's nice to see you.

Really nice to see you. And, I really appreciate you having me on. Thanks so much.

[00:46:17] Shannon Russell: I've loved it.


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