Up until a few years ago, women trying to start a virtual assistant business struggled to find credible resources that could be tapped for advice and support. In an economy where most small business start-ups never see their fifth birthday, the “virtual” start-up is often viewed with skepticism. Moreover, the dot-com boom-bust left many brick and mortar loyalists with the feeling that doing business on the ‘net is just bad news, period. However, a cutting edge group of female entrepreneurs is changing all that. The executive suite may still belong to men in corporate America, but these pioneers don’t covet the ivory tower. They’re too busy staking out Internet empires and six figure incomes that would make any member of the Boys Club swoon.
Many view the virtual assistant industry as one fraught with misunderstanding, infighting, and female stereotypes—especially the work-at-home-mom or “WAHM.” Tawnya Sutherland, founder of Virtual Assistant Networking, VAnetworking, decided to raise the bar. Well-networked in the virtual world, Sutherland has rallied together the best and the brightest of the Internet. Aptly named the VA Virtuosos, Sutherland’s elite team of virtual professionals are prolific posters on the “VAN” forum. The Virtuosos also moderate VAN subject matter sub-forums where they proactively seek opportunities to set the record straight about what it really takes to create and sustain a profitable online business.
“These women have been in the trenches like any other successful entrepreneur,” states Sutherland who herself earns six figures a year working from home as an Internet marketer. “They’ve also achieved unusual success—often without the support of local business organizations that don’t fully grasp the VA concept. Virtual assistance, as a profession, remains largely misunderstood by both aspiring VAs and the business community at large. The Virtuoso team, however, is willing to let the world see how it’s done. These VAs are caring, dedicated, and willing to share their trade secrets. They are also willing to reveal their failures. That kind of real-world insight is invaluable to anyone seeking success online, but especially to the aspiring VA.”
Karri Flatla, principal of snap! virtual assistance inc., is one such Virtuoso. Together, Flatla and Sutherland spearheaded VAN’s ever popular Website Review Forum. Says Flatla, “Our VAs get an informed look at what it takes to attract qualified leads via the web. ‘Making it’ as a VA takes more than a nice looking website. It’s about strategy. It’s about purpose and forethought.” Flatla’s passion is unmistakable as she goes on to state that “Tawnya and I live and breathe Internet marketing, and our clients get big returns for the insights we are providing to the VAN membership. But we love every minute of it, so it’s a win-win.”
Information that would normally take months, if not years, to accumulate, costs nothing but a friendly introduction and a bit of time convening at what has been deemed the “warmest place on the web.” Sutherland concludes by saying that “Our goal is to maintain a quality community that helps female entrepreneurs earn both wealth and respect while maintaining the lifestyle they desire. Of course,” Sutherland adds with a Cheshire grin, “men are welcome on the forum too!”
Visit the VA Virtuosos online. The Virtuosos are available for consultations, bookings, and speaking engagements in their respective fields of expertise.