606 Kathy Goughenour:

The world of work is increasingly virtual – and I don’t just mean working-from-home during the Pandemic. Remote … work was a fast-growing trend before Coronavirus hit, and as more and more businesses move online, it’s hard to imagine growing a business without Virtual Assistants.

MELINDA

I’m Melinda Wittstock and today on Wings of Inspired Business we dig deep into the world of virtual work and meet an inspiring entrepreneur in a tiara who is teaching professional women how to create their own work-at-home VA businesses so they can enjoy the freedom, flexibility, and financial security they desire and deserve.

Kathy Goughenour is the founder and CEO of Expert VA® and Virtual Expert® Training, where she trains and coaches women who want to build their own Virtual Assistant home-based businesses – and yes, all while wearing a tiara.

If you are trying to grow your business and need help – we all do – then listen on. I can’t wait to introduce you to Kathy! First…

After finding the courage to say “bye-bye” to her corporate marketing career with a Fortune 500 company, Kathy Goughenour built a 6-figure virtual assistant business from her dream home – a tiny house in the middle of a Missouri national forest. Kathy not only teaches professional women how to create their own work-at-home VA businesses, she also offers VA Matchmaking sessions to business owners interested in working with Expert VAs® and Virtual Experts®.

Kathy’s Training programs have been featured in Forbes, The Huffington Post, Good Housekeeping, All You, and The Wealthy Freelancer. She is a global leader in the VA industry.

And like I said, she can be found sporting a tiara 98% of the time. And she wears PJs (not gowns). Yes, you got it. PJs and tiaras because that’s the type of kingdom she’s ruling. And why not? She knows that when you become a powerful woman, you can make your own rules.

The most important thing you need to know about Kathy is that more than anything else, she believes, sees, feels, and models that what one woman can do, another can do.

Today we are going to talk about how virtual assistants can help you grow your business, and what to look for when hiring a VA.

Let’s put on our wings with the inspiring Kathy Goughenour.

Melinda Wittstock:         Kathy, welcome to Wings.

Kathy Goughenour:        Melinda, thank you so much for having me on here today.

Melinda Wittstock:         Well, I’m excited to talk to you. I’m really curious about your journey. Let’s just start at the beginning, what made you make the leap from corporate into becoming yourself initially as a virtual assistant?

Kathy Goughenour:        At the age of 40, after having worked for a Fortune 500 company for almost 20 years, I found myself not getting promoted at all anymore and just very, very few raises. So I went to my boss and asked, “Why?” And he said, “Do you really want to know why?” I mean, he was like mad at me for asking. And I said, “Yes, I really want to know why.” And he said, “You laugh and smile too much. And until you change that, you’ll never get another promotion in this company.”

Melinda Wittstock:         Oh, my goodness. What a horrible culture. Wow. That’s crazy. I mean, wow.

Kathy Goughenour:        I know, but that is what-

Melinda Wittstock:         It’s not the right company anyway, but that put you off corporate altogether.

Kathy Goughenour:        Well, quite honestly, I really, really tried to stay. I did. I mean, I thought, okay, well, I just need to get more serious and really buckle down. And what happened was I just got sick. I was really stressed out. I started getting migraines, throwing up, and ended up in the ER. And I was like, okay, I can’t do this. I can’t not be who I am. I’m a joyful person. Then I put a plan together to leave and I really … Before I started putting the plan together, I was one of those people that thought corporate is the only secure job there is. These days we know better than that. So I did, I quit and I started my VA business. And within three years, I had doubled my income from what I have been making at the corporate job.

Melinda Wittstock:         So what was it like? Take me back to the beginning, because you help people become virtual assistants as well. So what did you learn along your own journey perfecting this yourself? What were some of the problems that you faced and how did you overcome them?

Kathy Goughenour:        Well, for me, one of the biggest problems was I had never been my own boss. I’d never started a company and I’d never worked online. This was back in 2001 and everything was pretty new back then. And I had to learn everything. The biggest mistake I made right away was I let my ego get in the way. And I didn’t even think I had an ego, Melinda, but I had an MBA. I’d worked in marketing at a big corporation for almost 20 years. And I thought I’m just like a genius here. People are going to be lucky to have me. And little did I know that I did not know at all what I was doing, running a business.

So I had to find somebody that I could hire to teach me how to market, how to sell, how to build a business, how to scale, all of those things. And that’s when things turned around. I was able to very quickly get lots and lots of clients and more than I could handle. I was a real estate VA and I ended up with 70 clients of my own and I had a team of five VAs that worked with me. It was very difficult to find VAs that were really good at what they did. So I began training them and then one day I thought, I think I should be charging them to train them. And that’s when I started my training business for virtual assistants.

Melinda Wittstock:         Right. So what makes a great virtual assistant?

Kathy Goughenour:        Well, I think there are three P’s. It’s professional. And what I mean by that is they know how to run their business. So they know they need a contract with the client. They know how to onboard a client and all of that. Then the next P is proactive, which is just the opposite of how people want you to be in a corporation. In a corporation you’ve got your job description, you stick within those lines, don’t rock the boat, all of those things. Well, as a virtual assistant … you’re working with business owners who are moving fast and furious and they want you to be proactive.

So if you see a problem or if you see something where they can earn more or if you see a way that they can save money, speak up and give them those ideas and they will love working with you. And then the third P is ‘problem-solve’. Do not go to that business owner and ask them, “Hey, I can’t figure out how to do this. Can you tell me?” Oh no, no, no. I call that giving me homework. If I have a VA who gives me homework, she is not going to be with me for very long. So those are the three things I look for and the three things I train on.

Melinda Wittstock:         What about character or the sort of, I guess, DNA of a great virtual assistant, because the qualities you’re describing- they are kind of entrepreneurial qualities as well, being a problem solver, being proactive, all of these things.

Kathy Goughenour:        Yes. Yeah. Melinda, one of the things that I’ve discovered is that women really do not think much of themselves a lot of times. If they’re like I was, I was beaten down at that corporate job. I mean, I made it sound like it was just that one thing that happened, but there were lots and lots of times when things would happen, like if you don’t like it here, there’s the door, don’t let it hit you on the way out. So by the time I left there, I was feeling like a little piece of dirt on somebody’s shoe and that’s a lot of what I find with women these days, too.

Kathy Goughenour:        A lot of women, millions have been let go from their jobs in 2020 and they’re not feeling good about that. A lot of them had to go because they needed to be home with their children and a lot of companies struggled to keep people in, but women were disproportionately released. So when they first come to me, when I first meet a woman who’s considering starting a VA business, confidence is usually the first thing I have to help her build. And a lot of times, they’re moms and they don’t even realize that one of the traits that they have as a mom is managing their household.

Sometimes we just start with that and let’s talk about that and that you’re the CEO of your household. What does that feel like to you, to allow them to know how that feels to be a business owner, the owner of their home. Do they take charge there? And then a lot of times it’ll click for them. Oh, yes. Yeah, I do that. You’re right. Oh, that’s what it means to be a business owner. And it’s a little less scary for them then. And they feel a little more confident in getting started. And then we grow their business one client at a time and each new client they get, they feel a little more confident.

And usually within 12 months of working with me, they have, if they want to work part-time, they’ve got about three clients and if they wanna work full-time they have 11-ish clients and they love working from home. So the personality type is someone who really wants to be in the background of a business and support the business owner. Melinda, somebody like you, who’s on fire, who is setting the world on fire and just rocking it. You would be a great person to have virtual assistants.

Melinda Wittstock:         Well, I do. I have my wonderful VA who’s kind of my MacGyver and she’s very operational and detail-focused, which is a great counterpart to me because I’m a visionary, 30,000 foot, that kind of thing. As the company grows, we’re going to need more VAs and I’m thinking there’s such a huge opportunity here too, because so many businesses, necessarily because of the pandemic, are remote. Our team is all over the world. We don’t have an office. So there are so many companies that need people to come in and as you say, problem solve, be proactive and really focus on a lot of those operational aspects.

When you think of VAs, that can be doing the administrative stuff, financial, others operational sometimes social media VAs, where is most of the demand coming from for VAs right now?

Kathy Goughenour:        Let’s see, it’s kind of all over the place. Let me just mention a couple of the top areas. Bookkeeping for example is one area. Well, all business owners need bookkeeping done, whether they do it themselves or have somebody else do it. So bookkeeping. Then social media, as you mentioned, that is really hot. And how quickly social media changes, oh my goodness, they have to really stay on top of that. Podcasting, what we’re doing right now is so hot. That’s actually something that has really grown in the last year, VAs managing, helping to do the admin work and managing the podcast on the backend.

Melinda Wittstock:         Yeah. That’s something that Priscilla, my EA, does for me and she’s great at it.

Kathy Goughenour:        Yeah. I have a VA who does … For example, on here today, I will have my VA promoting this so that we get heard and seen. I have another one who goes out and does research for me to find podcasts for me to be on and that find people to be on my podcast. Then there’s also graphic design. So all of those images that we need for social media, for PowerPoint presentations, any of that, people to do that. And writing, writing is a huge one because we blog, we have social media content, PDFs, lead magnets, all of those different things that we need written. So that’s just a few.

Melinda Wittstock:         For entrepreneurs in a startup business, there is a stat that says that if you don’t hire someone within the first six months of your business, you’re more likely to fail because if you, initially as the solopreneur, initially, before you can really afford to hire full-time people, if you don’t have help, you’re going to be stuck. It’s going to be really difficult to grow your business because you just can’t. Nobody can do it all. And a lot of women fall into that trap of thinking that they have to do it all.

So a VA is a great first hire to take some of that stuff off you that someone else frankly can do, because no one’s going to be the expert at every single thing in their business. I found a lot of entrepreneurs are very successful initially by bringing in VAs to take a lot of the day-to-day busy work off them so they can focus on the thing that is their true genius and double down on that. In terms of placing VAs, I just want to talk about the other side of it, because sometimes women are too slow to hire. What’s that about?

Kathy Goughenour:        Yes. You’re absolutely right, Melinda. Hiring early is really good because when you don’t do that, then you are not going to grow nearly as quickly and you’re going to burn out a lot faster. So my recommendation is to hire before you feel you need to, because if you wait until you need to, then you’re in a panic and you will hire too fast. Now, I really believe in the hire slow, fire fast. But don’t hire slow because you want to wait to hire somebody, just make sure that you do your due diligence to make sure that the person really knows what they’re doing, is trustworthy, meets deadlines and has those three P’s of professional, proactive, problem solving. And they’re going to be in really good shape.

And the wonderful thing about VAs is that they are independent contractors. So you can literally use them like if you’re getting ready to have a big launch, you can bring in additional support from virtual assistants and pay them during that time. You can have them do a project base instead of ongoing and like you, if you have an EA that you want to work with, then you can have them ongoing, but you can modify how many hours they work for you based on your actual needs. So the flexibility of working with a virtual assistant is wonderful. And also, like you mentioned, if you want somebody who does something specific, like for example, I use a software program called Kajabi. So I have a virtual assistant who specializes in Kajabi. She stays on top of what’s happening with that. I don’t have to worry about it.

Melinda Wittstock:         So there’s all these different tools and things that we use to manage our business, whether it’s our CRM, in my case, managing and building out Zoho say or whether it’s Salesforce or something like that, or on the graphic design, the person who’s the Canva maven-

Kathy Goughenour:        Exactly-

Melinda Wittstock:         … really understanding what are those gaps in your business and bringing in folks who are like domain experts and they do one thing and one thing really, really well. I want to get into the hiring piece though, in terms of the questions that people should be asking to ascertain whether this person is the right VA for them. Are there some great questions that elicit your three P’s?

Kathy Goughenour:        Melinda, I actually recommend that if you’re going to hire somebody to do something specific like Zoho, for example, that you give them a little test. Ask them to do a task for you that will require them to use Zoho and ask them to do it at no cost so that you can see number one, do they meet deadlines? Number two, do they actually know how to do it? Number three, can they understand and implement anything that you ask them to do? Let me give you a specific example. You mentioned Canva. I wanted to hire somebody to do branded images for me. I like to use inspirational quotes. So I gave three different applicants, I had narrowed it down to three that I felt like would work with my personality.

You want to think about, do you want somebody chatty or not chatty? Do you want somebody more fun or more dry or does any of that really matter and where are they located, what time zone are they in if that matters to you? And then once you narrow it down, have them do a little work. So I gave them the inspirational quote. I gave them my brand logo. And I asked them to create an image using canva.com and I wanted an image properly sized for Facebook. And I copied and pasted the instructions into an email, sent it to all three of them, and gave them a deadline. The difference in the three results were shocking. And the person who was actually at the top of, “I think I’m going to hire this one.” before I had them do that task, was the worst. I mean, she did not understand my brand at all. It was so off.

Melinda Wittstock:         Right. So she did well on the interview and you would have hired her, but that test really showed that-

Kathy Goughenour:        Yes.

Melinda Wittstock:         It’s so true. It’s really smart to do that. I mean, we do that in our hiring processes as well. And that’s so, so good. Because a lot of people think they can do things or they think, oh yeah, like I’m-

Kathy Goughenour:        Right.

Melinda Wittstock:         … going to do this. And then there’s a cultural fit too. Are they a good communicator? Are they able to really listen to what you’re requiring of them and whatnot?. On the VA side of things, what are the challenges that a lot of VAs face working with employers from their perspective?

Kathy Goughenour:        One of the biggest challenges, Melinda, is the client actually giving the VA the materials needed to get a project done. For example, I’ve got VAs in my program who do a WordPress website set up and they need content or they need the logos or whatever it is they need they’ve asked for. And the client just never, ever gets around to it and they keep following up and they keep asking for it and they don’t get it. And as somebody who works … I work with Vas. VAs are on my team now. I can tell you that I’m challenged with that periodically. So I work with my VA’ and have them help me make sure that I meet those deadlines.

And that’s what I recommend for clients, is if you’re struggling because you’re busy and getting all that material together is the last thing you need to do, think about how you work best. What keeps you from procrastinating on things? For me, it is actually getting on a zoom call with my VA and instead of me filling out a form or answering questions, just have her ask me right there. Here’s a question. Here’s this. Where’s this? Where’s that? And in 15 minutes, we’ve got it done versus her waiting two weeks or a month to get it from me. So that’s the biggest challenge.

Melinda Wittstock:         Right. And then being proactive for the VA to really ask for what they want, but to be able to contextualize it for the business owner about why they need it, because sometimes that can be a block as well. Because often we’re hiring people to do things that we don’t either like to do or we’re not very good at doing.

Kathy Goughenour:        Right. That’s one of the really good things about a really professional virtual assistant is that she’s going to have a lot of different ideas. She’s going to really listen to you as the client and use different methods to help you grow and get the material she needs without being a burden to you. For example, this one I’m talking about, her name’s Melissa. And she’s just so good at what she does. And at first, she would try one thing, like she tried emailing me to get the material and I wouldn’t even read the emails. Because I’m like, I know what she wants and I don’t have time to get it. And then she tried getting on a phone call. She tried calling me. That didn’t help. And then she said, “Let’s get on Zoom.” And that worked. So now we just have a monthly meeting to go over anything that she needs from me and we get it all done really, really fast.

Kathy Goughenour:        You want to find somebody who’s willing to do that.

Melinda Wittstock:         Yeah, that’s super smart.

Melinda Wittstock:         So You’ve got two programs. You’ve got an expert VA and a virtual expert training. And you’re training and coaching all these women, not only to become great VAs, but also to build their virtual assistant home-based businesses. How many people do you run through your programs? How long do they take? What are they learning? And when they graduate, what’s the kind of before and after?

Kathy Goughenour:        Yeah. Well, first of all, Melinda, let me just mention that there are a lot of different VA training programs out there. And mine is unique in that I don’t teach skills. So I don’t teach them how to use Canva. I don’t teach them how to do bookkeeping. Because what I’m looking for are professional women who have already been, for example, a teacher or a manager or an executive assistant, and they come into my program with those skills and with that great work ethic already intact. So what I teach them is how to start a business and then how to build a business. So how to start it, how to market it, how to price, how to get clients, onboard them and then how to work long-term with clients. The average virtual assistant who’s really good at what she does will have a client on the average for seven years.

Melinda Wittstock:         Wow. Wow. That’s fantastic. So the pricing is kind of an interesting thing too, because women tend to under-price themselves, and kind of over-deliver. So how do you help them with the pricing and what is the price of a good VA? What should you be paying?

Kathy Goughenour:        We’re going to talk in US dollars and first-world countries. Because if you go to a third-world country, you’re going to have a much lower price. Five to $10 an hour is a third world country price, just FYI. And we’re going to just kind of talk hourly rate for right now also just to make it easier, although there are packaged prices and things like that, but this will make it easier to compare. So the expert VA program you mentioned, that’s my beginning program for women who want to be general admins. They’re not yet ready to specialize. And as a general admin VA, you’re going to make $15 to $25 per hour. And it’s really capped at 25 because that is the perceived value by all the business owners I have ever interviewed over all these years. They’re like, “I’m not going to pay more than $25 an hour for a general admin.”

Then when you begin to specialize, whatever you specialize in and the more experience you get in that specialization it’s going to dictate how much you can charge. For example, WordPress website design, it’s an average of $65 per hour when you’re experienced and good at what you do with that. Software programs, the tools that you use, like Zoho and things like that, usually about $45 an hour. And if it’s a more complicated software program, more difficult to learn like Salesforce or Infusionsoft, which is now Keap, that’s going to be more of the $75 per hour.

Now, a lot of the people who haven’t worked with VAs yet, they go, “Oh my gosh, that’s so expensive. I could get an employee.” What they fail to realize is as an independent contractor, you don’t have any employee overhead expenses. You use them on an as needed basis. They are not even part-time. It’s not 20 hours a week that you’re using one VA. It might be 20 hours a month. And you really get a lot of value because statistics show that Vas, independent contractors of any type, freelancers, any of those, have three times the productivity of an employee. And that’s because the clock stops and starts when they’re actually working. And with employees, that’s not the case.

Melinda Wittstock:         Yeah. And this is so important as well, given that most people are not experts at everything. And if you need deep domain expertise of just one thing and just do that one thing really well and you have peace of mind that it’s getting done, that’s better and more efficient use of your capital, your resources, your revenue, knowing that-

Kathy Goughenour:        Exactly-

Melinda Wittstock:         … that is just going to get done rather than expecting someone to be a genius at all things and being disappointed.

Kathy Goughenour:        Yeah. Can I go into Canva and create something? Yes. It’s not going to look as good as the person who’s really good at that kind of stuff. And it’s going to take me an hour piddling around in there. I don’t know how many of you’ve gone in there, but it is a rabbit hole you go down and I charge $1,000 an hour for my coaching services. So imagine if I pay a VA $45 to create an image and I can spend that hour getting a new client or working with a client. I’m making a lot more money.

Melinda Wittstock:         Absolutely. We talk about this a lot on this podcast, and I’ll tell the story again, of a mentor of mine who was really coaching me through my own value several businesses ago and said, “Okay. So Melinda, what would be your hourly rate if you landed a big strategic client that was worth a couple hundred thousand dollars to you a year? Is that $50 bucks an hour? Is that $1,000 an hour? Is that worth $10,000 an hour of your time to land that client? What is it? What’s the value to the business? Okay, what’s your value if you were just fixing broken links on your website? And what would you pay yourself?”

Kathy Goughenour:        Those broken links, man, they’re everywhere.

Melinda Wittstock:         Right. As a founder of a business, your value, you’ve really got to double down on your own value, where you’re driving the value of the business. And if you’re doing all those things yourself, you’re actually, and he was very forceful about this, you’re actually stealing from your business.

Kathy Goughenour:        I love that. Yes, that is a great way to look at it.

Melinda Wittstock:         It’s cheaper actually to hire somebody at the sort of hourly rates you’re talking about than to do it yourself. And for some reason, we think it’s cheaper for us to do it. It’s not. It’s a little counterintuitive, but you really have to think about how you’re using your time as a founder, as a CEO, because your time literally is money. What’s the best use of your time, your expertise to grow your business? It’s more strategic, it’s more … So this is something that I know a lot of women struggle with and it comes back down to that mindset issue of knowing your own value.

Kathy Goughenour:        Yes. Absolutely. Most women who come to me, they really sometimes think it’s a scam if they don’t really know anything about virtual assistance and working online. Because they’re like, “I’ve never …” Like teachers, “I’ve never made that kind of money and I’m a teacher.” And I say, “I know, I wish you teachers earned more. You definitely are worth it, but this is really what you can earn as a virtual assistant when you are very good at what you do.” And they begin their business and they see those clients coming in, they love working with the clients and they are then so surprised and thankful and then raising their prices as they get more and more experienced. Of course, then that becomes a challenge.

And Melinda, here’s the term I’ve heard lately several times that just broke my heart and they say, “I don’t want to let my clients down.” And I’m like, “How would you possibly be letting your clients down?” And they’re like, “Well, if I have to move on to another client because they’re not willing to accept my price increase, then I would let them down.” Isn’t that an interesting way to look at things?

Melinda Wittstock:         Well, we’re so acculturated to put other people’s needs ahead of our own.

Kathy Goughenour:        Exactly. Yet, if you’re growing a business, it wouldn’t exist but for you. So you’ve got to kind of put yourself first.

Melinda Wittstock:         But we think that that’s selfish.

Kathy Goughenour:        Are you a charity? I say, “Are you a charity? No, you’re not a charity. Okay. Then let’s talk about this mindset.” And Melinda, I sound now like, oh, I’m so confident, I have this great mindset. Believe me, I have had to work on this consistently. My business got stuck at $300,000 and I couldn’t grow it. And I was doing all those things, all that marketing, all those things that I thought were right. But I hadn’t shifted my mindset yet. And I had decided deep inside my soul that I was only worth $300,000.

Melinda Wittstock:         Right. We all have these upper limits of what we think we’re worth. We’re the architects of our own glass ceilings in that case. What changed for you to get you beyond that $300,000? So many businesses grow … It’s funny that’s such a common number where a lot of women get stuck, about $300,000.

Kathy Goughenour:        Is it? I’m actually relieved to hear that because I thought, how could I get stuck there?

Melinda Wittstock:         A lot of people get stuck there. And then there’s a mindset shift that then gets them to a million. And then-

Kathy Goughenour:        That’s exactly what happened with me.

Melinda Wittstock:         And then there’s a stuckness in a million. And then there’s a mindset-

Kathy Goughenour:        That’s what I hear-

Melinda Wittstock:         … that gets them to 3 million. And then the next mindset shift is from three to 10. It’s almost predictable because who-

Kathy Goughenour:        That’s what I hear-

Melinda Wittstock:         … who you’re being in your business has to change at all those different milestones.

Kathy Goughenour:        Well, and the other thing that I hear is that, and by the way, this happened to me too. I thought, again, my ego was in the way, I have been a virtual assistant. I train virtual assistants. I have a staff filled with virtual assistants. My team is not going to break. And I hear that your team breaks at a million because the team that gets you to a million can’t take you from there. And my team broke at a million and I’m repairing it now.

Melinda Wittstock:         That’s so interesting because, yes, you do need to be continually changing that up because the business needs are different. So it’s a constant evaluation of like, are the right people in the right seats? What does the business need now? At Podopolo we’re always thinking a little bit ahead. We’re always hiring ahead of what we need right now because it’s about anticipating that. So you’re not in a situation, especially with a business model that is a kind of rapid scale model where you’re going from say five people, to 20 people, to 50 people like that.

That to anticipate those things, it takes a while to find the right person and you don’t want to be in a situation there and that kind of a model where gosh, okay, so we know where the minute something really hits and there’s tremendous demand, you don’t want to be caught flat footed without the right people. Because if you’re trying to hire in chaos, it’s easy to bring in the long people. So always think a couple steps ahead of where you want to be and who are the people who need to be there? What kind of results do they need to be driving? And how to tie them to the results, not just the doing?

Kathy Goughenour:        And another mistake I made with my team was I over-promoted people because I thought, oh, they’re so good and I just want to keep moving them up and I know they can do this. And I was wrong. I wasn’t really paying attention to where they were really happy and if they were ready to grow. So I moved a couple of people up into more of a management position and they really did not want to be there and they were not successful there. So thank goodness I was able to pivot on that and rearrange my team. And we’re back to growing again and everybody’s happy again, but there for a little while, there was some drama.

Melinda Wittstock:         Yeah. So that often happens in these big transitions. The one thing about entrepreneurship, it is a great way to break down any kind of mindset issues that you have. It’s quite a journey of personal growth because it’s a constant change. And the one thing that I’ve really learned along the way is that change is inevitable. Change is just something that at a certain point you just take for granted and you embrace as good, but if you’re resistant to change or afraid of it in some way, it is very difficult to grow a business.

Kathy Goughenour:        Yeah. I like the quote, “Become comfortable with uncertainty and your business is limitless.”

Melinda Wittstock:         Yeah, it’s constant uncertainty. I like the sailing metaphor, like, so say you have your vision, you know where you’re going and where you want to be. And you cannot sail in a direct line. It’s impossible because the winds are always changing and the currents are always changing. So you basically zig-zag there. You know where you’re going, but you don’t actually know exactly when you start how you’re going to get there, but if you know your why and your purpose and where you’re going, you will get there. But it might be a very different journey than what you thought.

So it means being really open, open to things and being curious and constantly learning and constantly focusing on the people, because the people are the business. It’s the people that make the product or deliver the service or sell the service or sell the product or market it or whatever. It’s the people. What you’re doing is so important for folks. Taking it back to the VA, if someone’s looking for a VA, are there certain places to best advertise for VAs? Is there a certain market? How do you source them best?

Kathy Goughenour:        Well, Melinda, let me tell you first the number one worst way to do this. And I see it all the time and I feel sorry for the people who make this mistake because it ends up getting them very frustrated. And it is to just post out there on Facebook, “Hey, I need a VA.” You will literally get thousands of people just saying, “Hire me. Hire me. Hire me.” So the best way to do it is first of all, think about if you want to work with an individual or do you want to work with a VA agency because you have options there.

A VA agency is one where they are actually hiring the VAs. They are working with the VAs to make sure that they’re good at what they do. And then when you come in as a client to the agency, they help you get the best VA for you. And then you do work directly with the VA, but it’s through that agency. And the agencies typically guarantee if that VA goes bye-bye for any reason or you’re not happy with them, then they’ll replace that VA. The other option is working directly with a virtual assistant herself and that’s what I do. And the way to find them the best is well, of course, I’m going to say, “Come to me.” And Melinda, I offer a free VA matchmaking service.

Melinda Wittstock:         Oh, you do? I didn’t know you did that as well.

Kathy Goughenour:        I do.

Melinda Wittstock:         Okay. That’s cool.

Kathy Goughenour:        Yes. So the reason I do that is because I know these amazing women that have gone through my program. And we do have a directory. So if anybody wants to go look at the directory, they’re welcome to do that and they can search in the directory based on skills and you’ll learn a lot about the VA. They’ve got their information written there and you can link to their website and their LinkedIn page, but then still, you’re searching on your own trying to figure it out. If you just come to me, I have someone on my team who actually has been a recruiter in the corporate world for years and she’s now doing the VA matchmaking for business owners who come to me and want to be matched with somebody that I’ve trained.

Melinda Wittstock:         That’s wonderful because hiring people is a very expensive process because it’s very time consuming and you can easily make mistakes. One of the things that I learned in my business is to not do the first rounds of that myself. So we work with a really great talent agency for our executive and management positions and they go through a whole elaborate, like not only headhunting, but also skill tests and behavioral tests, and understanding someone’s intrinsic personality versus extrinsic. They weed out hundreds of people before I’m even part of the process. So to have that also on the VA side seems to make a lot of sense.

Kathy Goughenour:        Melinda, one of the things you’d mentioned earlier on in this conversation is how things have shifted since COVID. And companies are definitely more open to hiring remote and virtual workers now. In fact, I have had huge recruiting companies come to me and consult with me to find out how could they begin recruiting and placing virtual assistants. And I just love doing that because now I’m sending virtual assistants to those recruiting companies and just making everybody happy all over the place. So it’s just really shifting and it’s exciting how it’s shifting.

Melinda Wittstock:         It certainly is as we wrap up, Kathy, we’ve got to talk about your tiara. I mean, you’ve built this business. You don’t have to be in a big city. In fact, you live in a forest and you wear a tiara. That’s just awesome. So tell me about that.

Kathy Goughenour:        Yes. Melinda, when I was in the corporate world, I had to wear suits and nylons and all of those things.

Melinda Wittstock:         Nylons, oh my God.

Kathy Goughenour:        Yes. This is back in 1996. That’s when I left the corporate world. And I think back and I think, how could they think I laughed and smiled too much? I didn’t even wear a tiara back then. So when I decided to leave, one of the things I vowed to myself is if I’m going to leave these good benefits, good retirement package, all of that, I am only going to do something I absolutely love and I’m going to have fun every day. And I don’t even know where I got that first tiara. It was just a little toy that I had stuck on my head and I did a Facebook live in my pajamas. And they were real … Did you see the Golden Globes where one of the actresses and her wife wore pajamas on-

Melinda Wittstock:         I didn’t.

Kathy Goughenour:        … as they got the award?

Melinda Wittstock:         I didn’t. I barely have time for anything like that at the moment, but it sounds intriguing.

Kathy Goughenour:        Well, they did. And that’s what I did on a Facebook live. I had a tiara and my pajamas on. And I thought, I’m just going to be myself and people said, “We were scrolling through and we stopped to say, ‘Who is this and what is she doing?’ ” And since then everybody has just been like, “Where’s your tiara?” If I don’t have it on. So I wear it all the time now and I love it. And I feel so much prettier and happier and fun just by having that tiara.

Melinda Wittstock:         That’s great. I mean, this is the power of entrepreneurship or setting up your own businesses because you can really just be yourself and the right people, the people who appreciate you for who you are, are going to find you and be attracted to you. I think that’s just so, so powerful because I think a lot of women and men too try and squeeze themselves into what they think other people want them to be and that is not a recipe for happiness. And that goes back to the experience you were having in corporate, where it was literally making you ill. So we have to be ourselves.

Kathy Goughenour:        And I just so love that because authenticity is so welcome, nowadays especially, because we don’t get to be together in person as much as we want to. At least when you’re authentic and you can let your crazy fly as I’m pretty crazy and I have a lot of fun doing it. Then people can say yes or no to me more easily. And I love it. Both when they say yes and when they say no, because when they say, “No, you’re not professional enough for me. We would never want to work with somebody who wears a tiara or somebody as old as you.” I’m 64, Melinda. Then I say, “Thank you. Thank you for letting me know you’re not my ideal client.”

Melinda Wittstock:         Exactly. Oh my goodness, Kathy, I could talk to you for a lot longer. I want to make sure that people know how to find you and work with you, whether they’re sourcing a VA or whether they want to become one and go through your training.

Kathy Goughenour:        Melinda, I have a special link set up just for your podcast and it is virtualexperttraining.com/wings.

Melinda Wittstock:         Wonderful. Well, thank you so much for putting on your wings and flying with us today.

Kathy Goughenour:        Oh, this was delightful. Thank you so much for starting my morning off so brightly.

Kathy Goughenour
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