This post is as continuation of the cross blog conversation that I’m having with Marya Mesa of SunCoastMomma.com. We’re talking about balancing families, our online businesses, illness and everything in between. You can read the first post here.
In Marya’s last post, she told us about how she started working online, a little about her family and her “why” for doing what she does. Then Marya sent it back to me and asked:
“Alicia, can you tell us how you got started? What have been some of your struggles?”
I actually got started online quite unexpectedly. In 2007, I can remember sitting down and having a discussion with my husband about my career. I was in a management position in a printing company. I was really good at my job, but I just didn’t love it. I felt like something was missing and that it wasn’t what I was meant to do.
However, the rest of that conversation was about how we were ready to have a baby. I decided that I’d stay in my current job and make a five year plan. I’d take the first five years of our little one’s life to research and figure out what I really wanted to do with myself while still keeping my current job so that we had steady income and insurance.
Well, you know what they say about the best laid plans, right? In 2009, the economy tanked and the company I worked for closed its doors for good. I found myself permanently laid off and seven months pregnant. I was scared and stressed, thinking about my income that was now gone but very much needed. And I didn’t want to be stressed during my pregnancy—I wanted to enjoy all the planning that comes with getting ready for a new baby!
At first, I attempted to look for work and interviewed for offline management positions. But my heart wasn’t really in it, the job market was scarce and employers weren’t exactly jumping at the chance to hire someone who would soon be going on maternity leave.
I prayed, looked within and talked to my husband about things. I decided that the five year plan was out the window and now was the time that I needed to figure out what I really wanted to do for a career. Something inside me told me that it was time for a change. I also had a huge desire to be home with my soon-to-be-born baby while I worked. So I scoured the internet for legitimate work-at-home jobs. I found scams, piece-meal work and a lot of dead ends. But I didn’t give up.
Finally, I came across the virtual assistant industry and learned about general transcription. This whole concept was so right for me that I couldn’t believe it! I did more research and then bought a book about general transcription and a book about becoming a virtual assistant. Then I took action.
In May of 2010, I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. By October of that year, I had my website up and running and my marketing plan in place. Starting a brand new online business from scratch with no leads or clients was very hard. But doing it with a newborn made it that much harder. Regardless of the struggles and hard work, it felt right. I knew that this is what I was supposed to be doing.
I landed my first client within six months and kept things steadily moving from there. As I progressed, I started getting emails from other women who saw my website and wanted to know how I got started. Then those emails became quite regular. That’s when I had a light bulb moment and knew that I had to create a site with resources for women just like me, to help them do what I do. I created newVAadvice.com. This is where I truly found my passion. One of my greatest gifts is the ability to help others. Women quickly found me relatable and approachable—and they were taking steps to change their lives just like I did.
What I do at New VA Advice makes me beyond happy. I love that I create my own schedule so that I have time to spend with my husband and son on my own terms. And mentoring other women is so rewarding to me that it truly doesn’t feel like work. I think I could have made some very different decisions back in 2009 when I was laid off. I certainly didn’t take the easy path—but I took the one that was right for me and my family.
I want to send this back to Marya now.
Marya, you’ve told us how you got started online as well as a glimpse into your family life, having children with special needs, homeschooling and dealing with your own illness.
First, let me just say that I commend any woman who decides to take things into her own hands and start her own business. You rock! How did you create a schedule that works for you in order to fit in everything you need to do with your family as well as your online business?
(Click here to read Marya’s response)