How to Create Your Own Job and Work from Home with Kathy Goughenour | IT 035

Sep 2, 2020

Have you ever wanted to work from home but just didn’t know exactly what you could do?

On this week’s Imperfect Thriving Podcast, Kathryn speaks with Kathy Goughenour, who built a 6-figure business and teaches professional women how they could do the same as a virtual assistant.

Meet Kathy Goughenour

Kathy GoughenourAfter finding the courage to say “bye-bye” to her corporate marketing career, Kathy Goughenour built a 6-figure Virtual Assistant business from her tiny house in the middle of a forest. Today, she teaches professional women how to create their own work-at-home Virtual Assistant and Virtual Expert® businesses so they too can enjoy the freedom, flexibility, and financial security they desire and deserve.

Check out Kathy’s website, her Facebook community, welcome page to Imperfect Thriving listeners.

 

In This Podcast

Summary

  • Popular virtual assistant services to grow businesses
  • Steps to become a virtual assistant
  • How much you can make as a virtual assistant
  • Why hiring a coach can help

Popular VA services to grow businesses

One of the most efficient ways to begin utilizing a virtual assistant is to implement systems and processes. Getting organized in a work management platform like Asana or Trello can help visualize guidelines and streamline business practices. A virtual assistant can create various “cards” with step-by-step instructions, important links, and task-oriented timelines to ensure nothing falls through the cracks. Social media is another popular area of expertise a VA can take over by creating and scheduling posts. Being tech-savvy is not indicative of success as a virtual assistant as the need for support in other areas has grown. Now more than ever people are at home and many businesses have pivoted to bolstering their online presence. As a result, blog writing, email copy, and video scripting are seeing an uptick in demand. Overall, you should be focused on what only you can uniquely accomplish and let the virtual assistant handle other responsibilities that would otherwise bog you down.

Steps to become a virtual assistant

Identify what you think you might want to specialize in. Think about what you enjoy doing, what skills you already have, and where those areas might intersect. The next step is to be proactive. If you see something the business owner could do to save or earn more money, tell them. Virtual assistants can start by being a generalist and then hone in on a skill to specialize in. Another trait that would contribute to a VA’s success is problem solving. In the corporate world, there is someone to ask for help. As a virtual assistant, don’t ask a client to solve a problem, get resourceful. Use Google. Typically virtual assistants will charge by the hour, but after they increase their speciality experience, virtual assistants can begin offering packages so that it is value-based.

How much you can make as a VA

A general virtual assistant is a good place to start after which you can grow into your specialty.  They can can earn up to $25 an hour. Expect overhead to be $2,000 a year to factor in electric, phone, and laptop expenses. The sooner you can hone in on your specialty, the sooner you can increase the hourly rate to $30 or $35 an hour. Starting out at $35 an hour even if you’re an expert will get you clients, which can then get you testimonials. Always make sure there is a contract in place as a safeguard to both you and the client. In the contract, have the first 6 months start at $35 an hour with an automatic increase to $45 an hour after the initial term. That will put you at the average hourly cost of a virtual assistant specialist in the US. Working 20 hours a week at that rate can pull in about $40,000 annually, but the sky’s the limit to the amount you can make.

I changed nothing but my mindset, nothing else changed…getting that mind shift, that money mind shift, that risk mind shift and in one year, I went from $100,000 to $300,000.

Why hiring a coach can help

A coach can be a great way to recognize your value right out the gate so that you price yourself as a virtual assistant appropriately. They can offer private support as a coach and also provide a Mastermind group. The group support is great for feedback and can also encourage stepping outside your comfort zone that might launch you to the next level in your virtual assistant business. A coach reminds you that you’re not alone, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel, and helps shift limiting beliefs and mindsets that might be hindering your business from budding or scaling.  Hiring a coach is not a sign of weakness, it’s a great way to move forward and progress quicker. Aim to find a coach who is two or three levels above where you are and you’ll find the financial investment is worth it because you are ultimately striving to elevate your growth.

Free progress over perfection workshop

Do you ever procrastinate?
Do you ever beat yourself up with critical self talk & feel like a failure?
Do you or others often fail to live up to your expectations?

You might just be a perfectionist, my friend. I know because I’m a recovering perfectionist myself. Through my education and experience, I’ve learned how to let go of perfection and begin enjoying my life to the fullest and I want you right here with me.

Go ahead and sign up for my FREE Progress over Perfection workshop that I created to help you move from struggling with perfectionism to living a satisfying and fulfilling life.

And if you are still not sure whether you are a perfectionist, I have a free quiz at the beginning of the course. If you check any of the boxes “YES” in the quiz, then this workshop is for you. Click here to begin the workshop now:

https://imperfectthriving.com

Useful links:

Kathryn Ily

Meet Kathryn Ely

I’m Kathryn Ely and at age 50, I’m enjoying my very best life. I spent years as a lawyer and then stay-at-home mom helping others go out into the world and live their best lives. While this was very important to me, I did not realize that I was losing myself in the process. I followed all of the “shoulds” like “women should always care for others” and “taking time for yourself is just selfish”.

As two of my children were getting ready to go out into the world I realized I was lost, without my next purpose, and it was scary. So I went back to school and over the course of several years, I not only found myself, but I designed the formula for women in midlife to achieve their most fulfilling lives. It is my mission to equip as many women as possible with this design and the tools to make this chapter of their lives the best chapter.

Thanks for listening!

Did you enjoy this podcast? Feel free to leave a comment below or share this podcast on social media! You can also leave a review of the Imperfect Thriving Podcast on iTunes and subscribe!

Imperfect Thriving is part of the Practice of the Practice Podcast Network, a network of podcasts seeking to help you thrive, imperfectly. To hear other podcasts like the Bomb Mom Podcast, Beta Male Revolution, or Empowered and Unapologetic, go to practiceofthepractice.com/network.

Podcast Transcription

Kathryn:

So I’m not going to make you wait any longer. Welcome to the show, Kathy. I’m so excited to have you here today.

Kathy:

Kathryn, I’m super excited to be here with you. Both of us Ks. We knew, our parents knew to name us with a K for Katherine, Kathy, Kathleen.

Kathryn:

I know. So growing up, I always wanted to be Katie and just never was. Did you ever have something that you wanted people to call you other than Kathy?

Kathy:

Yes. I, too, wanted a variation of Kate or Katie. Now I’m really, really glad I didn’t do that because my maiden name is Middleton. And nobody would ever be able to find me if my name was Kate Middleton, but Kathy Goughenour, oh my gosh, I pop up on Google immediately.

Kathryn:

That is sweet. So it all worked out for the best.

Kathy:

It did.

Kathryn:

So, we had a great conversation before we even turned on the microphones and hit record, but I want to know more about you. Can you tell me and our listeners a little bit about your story and how you got to be where you are today?

Kathy:

Sure, Kathryn, thanks so much for having me on here. I really appreciate it. And my story, the shortened version is I worked for a Fortune 500 company as a marketing manager for almost 20 years and I wasn’t getting promoted. And I went to my manager and asked him what’s going on? Why am I not getting promoted?

And he said, do you want to know the truth? Kind of like that. And I’m like, well, of course. And he said, you laugh and smile too much. And until you change that you’re never getting promoted in this corporation. You’ve gone as high as you’re going to go.

Kathryn:

Y’all can you can’t see me, but my jaw just hit the floor when she said that, like I’ve only talked to Kathy for a few minutes and she’s so incredibly warm and engaging, I could never possibly see that as a hindrance. To anything. So what was up with that? Did he explain it yet?

Kathy:

You know, corporate environment. I mean, this was 1996 and still had to wear nylons and high heels and if you wore pants, they were like, wow, you’re brave to wear pants suit.

So it was still that era of you got to fit into that box. And I still think there’s a lot of fitting into boxes going on in a lot of corporations.

Kathryn:

Oh, heck yeah. I totally agree. So what did you do at that point?

Kathy:

Yeah. So I’m going back to my first. I went back to my cubicle and cried because I thought, oh my gosh, I have to change myself.

And Kathryn, I’ve always been like this. I mean, I’m full of energy and I love to laugh and I love people, but I thought, well, I’ve been here almost 20 years. This is where I want to retire from. Cause I didn’t think I could do anything else. And fortunately I had been doing enough work on my mind set and realizing that I am perfectly imperfect.

And I was, yeah, I was able to begin to do research on what else is out there? What if I didn’t continue in this business? What could I do? And I was 40 at that time and 40 that’s that’s already getting up there, right. To change careers. A lot of people, I will tell you, that almost everybody in my life said, you’re crazy you cannot do this. I mean, literally they would say you can’t.

Kathryn:

Well you should have talked to me first and not them. I went back to school at 46. There’s nothing.

Kathy:

Oh, I love it. I totally agree.

Kathryn:

But I totally get it at the time. Especially after 20 years in one place, it’s seems so daunting. How do you think, you got from didn’t think you could do anything else to, what else can I do?

Because that is a huge shift. How did you get there?

Kathy:

Truly, I started getting physically ill. I started having migraines and throwing up and having to be rushed to the hospital and always, it was when I was at work and I literally thought I’m going to die, and this is all I’m going to now. And I don’t want that.

I want so much more. And once I began thinking about it like that, people at the corporation said, you only have 15 years to go until you can retire. Just stick it out. And I said, 15 years, no, that’s another lifetime to me. I’m going to go see what I can do. I want to create prosperity for myself.

I want to be in charge of my own destiny. And I did it and I will tell you, I’m so glad I did.

Kathryn:

I love that you decided I’m not going to change myself. I’m not going to conform to who they say I should be. I’m going to take what I have and hit the road and see what else I can do with it. That is awesome. How long ago was that?

Kathy:

So that I quit six months after he told me that, I quit. And when I gave him my notice, my letter of resignation, he said, this is the biggest mistake you’re ever gonna make in your life. You will never make this kind of money again.

Kathryn:

Sounds like a challenge to me.

Kathy:

That’s exactly how I took it Kathryn and I just looked at him and I hadn’t even thought about it.

It just came out of my mouth. And I said, you know what? I’m not only going to make more money, I’m going to make twice this amount.

Kathryn:

Ooh, chills.

Kathy:

Yeah. And within three years, and if I had known more, if I had found a coach and trainer faster, I would have done it in one year. I’m telling ya. But it took me three years to double that income in my own business.

Kathryn:

So I definitely want to go back and ask about the coach and trainer part. I want to like stick a bookmark in that and see if we can get back to it. Cause I have so many questions for you. How did you get on the path to a company with virtual assistance?

Kathy:

Yeah. So when I quick, my new husband at the time, he and I had just gotten married and a year before, he was at the same company, that’s how we met. And he liked the idea so much that he quit too.

Kathryn:

Oh, that is exciting yet scary.

Kathy:

I know it was, but we were both just so motivated and he indeed actually got a contracting job, working for the same company, just in a contracting role. And that took us from Nova Scotia, Canada for six months to California, for two years to Kansas, to Missouri, to other places in Missouri.

So we moved a lot. And what I did during that time was I would buy and sell houses for us to live in and I would do it online. And as I was doing that I would tell the real estate agents, hey, I have been looking at all these real estate websites and you really need to up your game on yours. Cause I almost didn’t hire you because of your website.

And one of them finally said, Hey, why don’t you get to work and help me with that. And I said, Oh yeah, I could do that. And I started doing marketing for this real estate agent in Kansas City. And then my husband lost his career. Telecommunications is the industry we were both in and telecommunications dried up in 2001 and he couldn’t get another contracting gig.

And I said to the real estate agent, Hey. We got this little tiny room and we’re going to move there and it’s like five hours from here. Do you think I could just work for you virtually? And he said, that’s what you’re already do. You’ve been working from home this whole time. That’s called being a virtual assistant.

Right. I was like, what? So yeah. And so I talked to my husband into moving to our tiny home 500 square feet. It’s 24 feet by 24 feet. Most people have a room in their house that big, that is my whole house.

Kathryn:

I’m obsessed with tiny homes, like the efficiency of it all. The little space that you have to clean. Like there’s so many reasons I can see why somebody would want to have a tiny home. How did you make that transition?

Kathy:

Well, I don’t know what it has been inside of me my whole life. I have always loved small spaces, so I loved tiny before tiny was popular.

We moved here in 2001, tiny hadn’t even been used. Yeah. My in-laws built this home on property that had been in their family for decades, for generations. And that’s how we live in a national forest. We live in the Mark Twain national forest, and nothing commercial can be built in the national forest. So it takes us an hour to drive out of the national forest to get cell service, to go to a grocery store, to do anything like that. So not only do we live in a tiny home, but we also live in the middle of a national forest and it’s beautiful.

Kathryn:

Oh, may I come see it sometime?

Kathy:

Absolutely come on down or up for you.

Kathryn:

That is super cool. Okay. So let’s get down to it. I have so many questions about your business and in the climate that we are in. I can’t think of a more timely issue than being a virtual assistant when unemployment rate is over 10% when we’ve got this economic unrest and uncertainty, really.

So why is now such a good time to become a virtual assistant?

Kathy:

Yeah, well Kathryn, you really just nailed it. It is because we need to stay isolated in order to get the virus to begin decreasing. And it is safer to be home. It is easier to be home now. A lot of businesses have discovered that they can actually make it more money by going online than they could even in their brick and mortar.

But in order to do that, they usually need help. Because most of them, they don’t know enough about working online yet. And virtual assistants and the women that I train, I call them virtual experts because they’re that next level higher up who specialize in helping particular people, like for example, E commerce is a specialty.

So if you have a store where you’re selling baby clothes right now, and has been brick and mortar. And you want to put that online, you can hire a virtual expert who specializes in e-commerce and she can get your website set up and hook everything up so that you can make your sales, your shopping cart, connect the credit card information, and then all of that get you up and running quickly.

So you can begin selling your product that you use to sell in brick and mortar online now. In a nutshell, that is really why. This industry it’s been growing for years already, but now it has just absolutely exploded. In fact, the women that I have trained that already have their businesses, they have had their highest revenue months ever since March.

Kathryn:

Well, it totally makes sense to me. I have recently hired a virtual assistant before I knew you, or I would have talked to you first, but shout out to Andrea because I absolutely love her. And what virtual assistants can do for your business is really endless, especially if they are an expert in the area that you don’t know anything about because you should be spending your time on the things that are unique to you. The things that you can only do for your business. Right. And be farming out to an assistant, all of the other things so that your business can grow and thrive. So I love Andrea, my virtual assistant. She’s the bomb.

Kathy:

What does she do for you, Kathryn?

Kathryn:

So, yeah, I want her to do more and more. Like right now we’re creating systems. Right. So she helps me with my podcast. She helps me with my social media, helps me create posts for social media. But right now what we are doing together are creating all sorts of systems to systematize and automate whatever area of my business can be systematized and automated so that I can do what I think I do best and what I love the most, which is create content, see my individual clients. Cause I’m a licensed counselor. So yeah, all of those things that I’m not good at. And I know I’m not good at.

Kathy:

And that you don’t want to do.

Kathryn:

Don’t want to do, would take me way too much time to do.

Kathy:

Oh yeah.

Kathryn:

Right.

Kathy:

Yes. So you have really hit the nail on the head with the best way to use, especially in the beginning, when you have your first VA, the best way to use somebody is have them begin setting up those systems. You know, a lot of times people will say, well, I have to get all of the systems set up first and then I’ll bring somebody on.

No. No, bring somebody on and have them set up because they’re good at that. That’s what they specialize in.

Kathryn:

Yes. And have a Trello board or Asana or whatever you use. We have a Trello board and whatever she learns and systematizes or automates, she creates a card on the Trello board to share it with me.

It’s just, it’s revolutionizing my world. I’m slow when it comes to finding the technology to make my life easier. And that’s another thing that she’s doing.

Kathy:

Well Catherine, so am I, by the way, I am terrible at technology. Like a lot of people are under the misconception that you have to be techie, if you’re a successful VA, I’m not techie at all.

I’m just like you. In fact, after all these years, and I have 24 virtual experts who work for me by the way, 24. Yeah. So one of ’em just said, yes, we’re getting on Asana now and I will teach you how. That’s how bad I was at technology. So you don’t have to be techie to be a well paid virtual assistant because there’s all kinds of different specializations.

Kathryn:

So what are some of the hottest services that people were hiring VA’s to do for them right now?

Kathy:

Well, you have mentioned two already. One is the SOPs, and by the way, Kathryn, I don’t know if you know this, but stats show that when you go to sell your business, there are two things that make your business more valuable. And the number two thing is SOP. If you have systems in place, your business can sell for a lot more, it’s a lot more valuable. So this isn’t something that it just makes you, yeah, it does make your life easier, but it also makes your business more valuable. So writing the SOPs on any level is always a good thing and podcasts they’re so hot, but as you know, they really are like admin intensive.

Because you do have to do a lot of different things. There’s a lot of different steps. So that’s one of the people that I have working for me too, is somebody to support doing all of my podcasts. You also mentioned social media. That’s another hot one. I mean, social media can take up your whole day.

If you let it. It is a time suck. So having somebody who does social media now, as my business grew, I began getting more and more specialists on that. So for example, I have somebody, a virtual assistant who does my Facebook ads. I have one who does LinkedIn marketing. I have one who does Pinterest. I have another one who does Instagram so that they can really specialize in those areas and dive deep into those. And I don’t even have to think about it. They’re already be an expert when I decide, I want to go into LinkedIn marketing, organic, LinkedIn marketing. I just hired somebody who already had that expertise.

Kathryn:

Makes so much sense. It really does. So I’m also interested in like, what are some of the most unusual expertise areas of VA’s like, okay, those are the most common and the hottest like, yeah, I’m trying to think right now there are so many listeners out there who might find themselves needing to work that weren’t working before that aren’t sure that their skills are marketable. But everybody has something that they can do that is marketable.

So what are some of the most unusual areas of expertise?

Kathy:

Well I want to answer that two ways. One is a lot of people say to me, like you were just saying, they need a job, they might not want to go back to the job they already have. They might not be happy, but they don’t want to start over.

I hear that a lot. This is not starting over. This is taking all those skills, like you said, that are already marketable already monetized and turning them into your own business. So please don’t think of this as starting over. This is using everything that you’ve already done in your life and now creating prosperity for yourself rather than somebody else.

Kathryn:

Yes. So anybody out there that’s saying I’m too old to try something new. I don’t really know anything I’ve been at home raising kids. I don’t want to hear any of that. And if you are stuck there with those limiting beliefs, come see me and we will get it straightened out because you have skills.

Kathy:

That’s exactly right, Kathryn.

Kathryn:

Even if you’re having trouble uncovering what they are, you have skills that other people need.

Kathy:

Yeah. If you don’t mind, I’d love to tell a story about one lady who came to me just as you just described, her name is Kate. And she came to me. Because a friend of hers had already gone through my program and already had a successful business.

So she came to me, we had a conversation and she said, I have been a homeschooling mom of three for 12 years. I have nothing to offer to anybody. And she had so little confidence in herself, but as we began to talk and I asked her more about what she enjoyed doing, what her education was, what her past careers had been.

I found out she’d been an engineer and she is incredibly intelligent, learns incredibly quickly. And she has been a virtual expert four years now. And she has taught herself how to create websites, how to code. She absolutely loves it. We had a conversation this week and, you know, my opinion is you raise your rates until you get to the point where you have 50%. Yes. 50%. No. And you know you’re kind of at that perfect rate for what you’re charging for your services. Kate said, what do you think I should be charging? And I said, well, how many people are saying yes when you talk to them? And she said a hundred percent. And I said, Oh my gosh. Yeah, we gotta up those rates.

Kathryn:

Well, not only does she have all sorts of skills when it comes to engineering. She has another skill that I’m hearing. If she could, you know, how many parents want help with homeschooling right now?

Kathy:

Exactly.

Kathryn:

That is another industry, right? Yeah. Extremely marketable skill right now. She has so much to offer. Yeah. I love that story.

Kathy:

And one of the things that I do to help people  try to think outside the box on what they might want to do. And again, I emphasize what they want to do, because if you have always done for example, bookkeeping, and you’re like, you know what, I really don’t like bookkeeping. And in fact, one of the ladies in my program, she had been stuck in bookkeeping in her corporate job and they wouldn’t let her out of it and she hated it. And she was a really good writer. And they wouldn’t let her write. And now she is writing. So that’s not really an unusual skill, but a lot of times people don’t think about that as something a VA does. Now, she is a ghost writer of books.

She writes sales pages, she earns $100 an hour and she turns clients away.

Kathryn:

That I love. Yeah. I mean, copywriting websites, right?

Kathy:

Blog writing, video script writing, on and off, email writing.

Kathryn:

Yes, exactly. Yeah. Something that for some is very difficult. Right. And oftentimes I think what happens, the reason we don’t recognize that we have other skills is because they come so easily, easily to us we overlook as a skill. Right.

Kathy:

Kathryn, you have nailed it. That’s exactly right.

Kathryn:

If I’m good at something, everybody must be. If I’m good at something, it must be easy. No, that’s not true. Some people struggle for minutes to hours to create a very short email that woman could do in seconds beautifully.

Kathy:

That’s right. That’s right. That’s exactly right. And, for example, Kate, she at first thought that she should be a writer and I said, sure. Write. And she did, and you know, Kate can do anything, a brilliant person can just do anything. And she didn’t really like it that much. So that’s when she switched to doing the websites, it just like you were saying, she said, yeah, but everybody can do that.

And I said, are you kidding me? I don’t even know how to log into my own website. There’s no way I could set one up and that clicked for her. And she went really? Yeah, really? Yeah.

Kathryn:

It happens with my clients all the time. So now that hopefully everybody listening has their juices flowing about what, you know, some skills that they’ve overlooked or things that come easy to them. What are some of the first steps that they can take to become a VA if they’re interested?

Kathy:

Yeah. So we have actually been talking about exactly what that first step is, which is to identify what you think you might want to specialize in. And what I recommend doing is thinking about what you enjoy doing.

And what skills you already have and then see where those two things might intersect. So for example, I had someone else in the program who really enjoyed bookkeeping. He really, really, really liked it. And he also, as a volunteer did dog rescue. And so he came to me and said, you have any ideas how I might combine these two?

And I said, yeah. There are a lot of pet professionals out there who need bookkeeping. And I said, would you rather work with, bigger companies like vets or would you rather work with smaller business owners? Like. Pet walkers, dog walkers. And he said, Oh, I want to work with dog walkers. And he, within a year, had 50 dog walkers that he did bookkeeping for.

Kathryn:

So one of your special skills I’m hearing is almost like you’re a guidance counselor. You are able to take what people like and what you know, and their skills and where that intersects and merges. You help them find a way to make money doing that. Isn’t that the ultimate way to live anyway?

Kathy:

Yes.

Kathryn:

Shouldn’t we all be doing something that we love to spend our one life on this earth doing. That sounds amazing.

Kathy:

Yeah, and I really, really am good at that. You’re right. You have picked up on that and I enjoy it. The very first thing people actually do when they join my program is they take an assessment. And they tell me what they love to do, what they don’t like to do, what they’re proud of in their personal life and their business life.

And then I can read through that and just go, boom, boom, boom. Here’s what you should do.

Kathryn:

Oh, that’s awesome. So, you’ve told us of a couple of real success stories of people making like a hundred dollars an hour doing what they’re doing. And it does sound, I get why you call them experts, versus virtual assistants because you really helped them hone in on their expertise. What kind of income are we talking about in general? What’s the range?

Kathy:

Yeah. Thanks for asking that. And I love sharing this information because you know, not a lot of people it’s still sort of an uncomfortable conversation for a lot of people to talk about income for me, it didn’t at all.

Let me tell you, I know exactly how much people earn in this. I keep my finger on the pulse of that.

Kathryn:

Yeah and I don’t know how to sugarcoat anything. So I want to know.

Kathy:

Me, I’m direct. Don’t tell me like, somebody will say, well, write an email. How do I write? What’s the email. You can make this exactly. What can I make? So I’m going to tell you exactly what they can make.

If you want to remain a generalist virtual assistant, which those are needed also. Okay. And some people do want to start out at that level of generals. Generalist virtual assistant is a good spot to start and then grow into your specialty. If you want to, they’re going to earn $15 to $25 per hour, and they’re going to be capped at that $25 per hour, because the perception that business owners, entrepreneurs, the people who hire virtual assistants, that’s their perception of the value of an admin is $25 per hour. Now, $25 per hour it’s nothing to sneeze at. It’s a nice income. And it’s difficult to earn a full time income at $15 an hour. A little easier at $25 an hour.

Kathryn:

You have no overhead, right. And you’re working from your own home. So when you’ve got a, not having to affect figure in gas or anything else into that $25 is pretty good.

Kathy:

Yeah. What I tell most people on the overhead is it’s about $2,000 a year. And how I come up with that is your computer does wear out. Your phone does wear out. So you do have to replace those, but quite honestly, these days who doesn’t have a phone and a computer.

Kathryn:

Yeah, exactly. They’re going to be replacing it for their other use anyway.

Kathy:

Right, right. And then of course, there’s the electricity in your own house, the, you know, all of those things. And so I round that up to about $2,000 a year. I don’t think there’s a business you can start, that’s less expensive overhead than $2,000 a year.

Kathryn:

Totally. But I didn’t mean to interrupt you. So go ahead.

Kathy:

Oh, no, that’s okay. That’s okay. So then as you begin to specialize, right, and you can specialize immediately again, I really help people hone in on those specializations as fast as possible that most people don’t realize what they have, but they have a goldmine. Start out about $30 an hour, move up to $35, move up to $40 moves up to $45.

If you’re already really good at what you do. Like the person that I talked about who already does bookkeeping, who already is a writer, they can start at $45 an hour. Okay. If you aren’t already good at that, or if you really do need some experience working online, which quite honestly, most people do need a little bit of that experience.

Start out, even if you’re already an expert, get your first couple of clients in at $35 an hour, get testimonials from them. Make your little mistakes with them on, I’m not sure how to do this. And then, always use a contract, Kathryn, that’s a big tip. Always, always have a contract between any two clients because that safeguards both of you. And in the contract, I recommend, putting $35 an hour for the first six months, and then automatically goes to $45 an hour on this date because in six months, you’re going to have that all figured out.

And they’re going to have gotten you at a discount for that time. And that is about the average in the U S. for a specialist, $45 an hour is an average. Okay. So working 20 hours a week, for example, you can earn about $35,000 to $40,000 working 20 hours a week. So you can earn what a lot of people consider full time income working part time.

Okay. If you want to work more. Yeah, I’ve helped people who want to, they want to jump in and work full time right away, because they don’t have jobs or they’ve been a mom or whatever. Within the first year they’ve made $80,000. And then you just go from there depending on what you want to do.

So as your skills grow. Depending on the area that you specialize in, every area has a different cap or a different amount that the market will bear, but the better you get at something, the more you can charge and quickly when you are really good at something you go from working per hour to creating package rates or different things like that. So it’s more value based than hourly based, but I’m getting way into the advanced part of that now I just want people to realize you can make an unlimited amount. So I have taught women who are now making $150,000…$300,000.

Kathryn:

I might have to quit my day job.

Kathy:

You know, I always say, here’s what I say.

So I don’t do VA work anymore because I’m totally focused on coaching and training them because that is my passion, but it was really hard for me to let go of that because I called my VA business my cash cow, because I could generate money like crazy doing that. And it really supported my coaching and training business while that grew.

Kathryn:

Yeah, that is so awesome. So if one of our listeners wants to become a VA, what traits, or is there anything that he or she should focus on for that?

Kathy:

And these, these hopefully are these hopefully are traits they already have, but they might have been squelched by the corporate environment that they’re in.

That’s why I like to talk about these. So one is being proactive. Okay. You’re going to be paid more. And you’re going to enjoy your job more your business more too, if you are proactive. And what I mean by that is when you see something that the business owner could do, that would save them money.

Or when you see a way the business owner could earn more money, you tell them. And that might be something that increases their productivity. My VA Laurie, she saw I was using Active Campaign to run my emails and it was costing me a $1,000 a month and it was just going to increase because, you know, my list was growing and she said, you know, you’re using Kajabi also.

And they just launched email. So why don’t you move there and save that thousand a month? And I was like what?! Yeah. Okay.  So that’s that’s being proactive. So now in the corporate world and I apologize my phone is ringing.

Kathryn:

That’s all right. We’re imperfect here.

Kathy:

I have a landline right here on my desk cause I don’t have cell service.

So most people are like, what is that noise? That’s a landline for anybody that hasn’t had one in a while. So in the corporate world, they don’t want your opinions. They don’t want your advice. They’re like, here’s your job description. Stay within that. Yeah. So when you have your own business as a virtual assistant, you have to let go of that.

When you see something, mention it, ask your client, Hey, I have an idea on how you could save some money. Would you be interested? Guess what they’re going to say? Yes. Money and time. Right? That’s right. That’s right. Absolutely. I’m so proactive. That’s a big one. And then problem solving is the other one.

Again, I feel like in the corporate world, there’s so many people there that you can reach out to you and say, how do you fix this? How do you fix that? How do you do this? How do you do that? That a lot of times you don’t think about solving a problem on your own. As a virtual assistant, the more you can take off your client’s plate,

the better. So don’t go ask them to solve a problem. You get resourceful and figure it out. Google is a great place. A community like mine. We have specialists in every arena. So if there’s anything you can’t figure out, if something goes wrong with a shopping cart or something, you don’t know how to spell a word or anything in between, you can post in our group and ask the question and somebody is going to be right there to give you the answer.

So solve the problems yourself. Don’t go to your client and ask them to help you.

Kathryn:

Okay. Cool. So really, if someone is even thinking about becoming a VA and interviewing for jobs to become a VA, they need to be really making those two things selling points for them.

Kathy:

Absolutely.

Kathryn:

They need to showcase those skills as they are trying to find the job.

Kathy:

Yeah. And by the way, you’ve hit on a really good point, which is I don’t teach the virtual assistants how to sell themselves. I teach them how to ask questions, be curious about the person that they’re talking to, that they might want to work with. Get curious about their business and what challenges they have and if they can help them solve that problem, that person is telling them about, they’ve demonstrated right there that they’re a problem solver.

Kathryn:

Yes. Exactly totally makes sense. I love that. I love that. Okay. So there was one thing that like bookmarked earlier in the conversation that I wanted to go back to. How long have you had this business? When did you start.

Kathy:

So I started my VA business in 2001, and I did that until five years ago.

I started my by the way, I started another business in between all of that, um, and sold it. So I’ve had four, six figure businesses, and now this one is going to a million, this year. And I got really close to a million last year, but not quite. And this one, I started in 2008 while I still was running my VA business.

So 2008 till now I’ve been training and coaching.

Kathryn:

Okay. And so you mentioned that everything would have gone even faster and been successful faster if you had had a coach and a trainer. Can you tell me more about that?

Kathy:

Yes. So back in the pioneer days when I started, there was nobody. I mean, there were, a handful of VAs, maybe a hundred in the world.

So nobody was teaching that nobody taught how to be a VA. Nobody taught that. But fortunately I found a woman who was a really good teacher about how to market and sell yourself. Right. And at the time I was charging $15 an hour and I was struggling to get clients. And she said, are you you’re really good at what you do?

And I said, yeah, I’m really good at what I do. And she goes, Raise your prices to $75 an hour, because you just told me that you’ve got competitors who are at $65 an hour. I want you always $10 an hour higher. And I’m like, what? And she taught me the perception that when you price yourself the highest, if you are really good at what you do and you can back it up, that you really are good she said, people will hire you because they want to work with the best. And so I learned first how to do this, the psychology of doing bring it from her. And then I also had the support from her and I was in a mastermind group with her also. So I had her private support as a coach and a trainer. And then I had the group support that helped me begin to take more risks because that’s the other thing that held me back. I wasn’t taking big enough risks.

Kathryn:

And you don’t take bigger risks because you have self-limiting beliefs. Right?

Kathy:

Exactly.

Kathryn:

And the self-limiting beliefs pop up and tell you, you can’t do that, or, you’re thinking too big. That’s not reasonable. It’s not realistic. Right. Realistic is a real big limiting belief that we have.

And that is what I do with clients so often is help them figure out what those limiting beliefs are and how you can separate from them. Because you can’t think big while you’re having those limiting beliefs right in front of you.

Kathy:

That’s right. And in fact, Kathryn, I got stuck in this business and the business coaching and training business at $100,000.

I couldn’t break through for three years. I was stuck is there. And I had been working with one coach, during that time. And they really didn’t focused on what you were just talking about. That wasn’t one of their things that they emphasized. So I decided to try a new coach who really did emphasize that.

Getting that mind shift, that money mind shift, that risk mind shift. And in one year, working on exactly what you were talking about working on, I went from a $100,000 to $300,000 and the next year from $300,000 to $700,000. And that was last year that I did $700,000.

Kathryn:

Holy cow.

Kathy:

I changed nothing but my mindset, nothing else changed.

Kathryn:

So this wasn’t, none of this was planned, any kind of a testimonial to hire coaches, right? That’s not even anything we talked about.

Kathy:

No, and we haven’t talked before.

Kathryn:

But it’s such a great example of we don’t have to do this alone. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel and that a counselor or a coach is not a sign of weakness.

If you have one, it shows that you are ready to move forward, right? You are ready to get where you want to go quicker and sooner. I have a coach. I have a business coach who is helping me. I can’t imagine going about it any other way.

Kathy:

No. And in fact, once I got my first coach, I realized I will never be without a coach again.

And the other thing that I I feel about coaches is in my opinion one year with a really good coach, that’s not enough. Because you haven’t gotten everything yet that you can get from working with that coach.

Kathryn:

And why would you stop? You just keep exactly exponentially growing. I mean, if it’s working yes.

Kathy:

On the average, I find that I’m with a coach that I’ve chosen. That’s really good. And by the way, I like to choose coaches who are like two to three levels higher than where I am right now, but where I strive to be. Right. Who’ve already done that so they can help me get there. Cause once again, back to not taking enough risks, I was not paying enough for my coaches.

Cause I was like, Oh my gosh, I’m going to have to pay that much for a coach. And so they weren’t helping me grow, you know, like I almost got to the point with one of them where I was like, well, I think I’m coaching her and I’m doing it. So yeah. Yeah. So after that I was like, okay, I have to pay more. I literally took out a loan to pay for my next coach.

But guess what? That’s where I went from a $100,000 to $300,000 is $700,000. So it wasn’t worth it? Hell yeah.

Kathryn:

Okay. Well, I just absolutely love that and I’ve had so much fun and in our conversation, I hate for it to draw to an end, but I want to make sure I ask you. Where can people find you? What is the best way to get in touch with you?

Cause I just have a feeling that so many people are going to be interested in finding out more about what you do.

Kathy:

Yeah, Kathryn, thank you. And this has been so much fun. I feel like I just made a new best friend.

Kathryn:

I think you did.

Kathy:

So I have you on Facebook live the week that this comes out. Cause we just have to talk further and y’all have to see, Kathy’s tiara that she has on.

She’s kinda known for this now. And it is cutest funniest thing. So, although I love the one you have on today, bring a couple different ones for our Facebook live that will do.

Kathy:

Absolutely. I will do that.

Kathryn:

Where can we learn more about you?

Kathy:

Okay. So I have a special page set up just for your listeners.

It’s virtualexperttraining.com/imperfectthriving. And on that page, the minute you go there you’ll know because it’s got your logo and everything on it, Kathryn. And if you scroll down on that page, I’ve got two free things. It’s training materials, one’s a webinar, one’s a PDF.

And by the way, the PDF, both the PDF and the webinar will begin to help you understand how you might want to specialize. And then I also have a greatly discounted five day training program that is available for your listeners for only $17. If they want to take a little bit more bigger step into finding out if this is right for them.

Kathryn:

Oh wow. Thank you so much. I will make sure we have all of that in the show notes to make it really easy. That is great. So, okay. I like to wrap up every podcast with the same question, which is what is one imperfect action that you recommend everybody do today to get closer to our best lives. Those lives that we really want to have.

Kathy:

I’ll tell you something that really drastically changed my life and helped me begin to take more risks. And I don’t know how scary this is going to be for other people, but it was absolutely terrifying for me because I’m 63 years old. I look, every second of it, I had been hiding for years.

And as a result, my business wasn’t growing because I literally had a picture of myself from 20 years ago with dark hair and about 60 pounds lighter. And my coach told me, I want you to go on Facebook live, and I want you to do that today, no matter what, this is your challenge. And that’s really where the tiara came from was I think, okay, I’ll do it, but I’m going to do it my way.

I had my pajamas on and there were obviously pajamas and I had this crazy tiara on. I got on Facebook live. I talked, I was terrified. I talked about being a VA and it just went crazy. Everybody, no makeup, no nothing. Just like I am today. And they were like a real person. Listen, this is awesome. So I challenge anyone who hasn’t already done it just to get on Facebook live, talk about yourself, your business, your life, whatever it is you want to talk about and no matter what you look like, no matter how you sound, no matter what you’re worried about. It will open you up. And believe me, if you’re anything like me, you’ll be very imperfectly perfect. And I constantly am imperfectly perfect.

Kathryn:

I love that so much. I’m always telling my clients that you have got to reach out of your comfort zone and do what’s scary. If you want to really feel alive and really start growing, you can’t grow in that bubble that is your comfort zone. In fact, the longer you stay in it, the smaller and more claustrophobic it’s going to get, and the less fulfilled you’re going to be.

So. I second, that motion, Kathy, that everybody needs to get out there. Put your real self out there. We want to see you and everything that your beautiful self has to offer. And I have enjoyed our time together so much today. So will you come back and do a Facebook live with me in a couple of weeks when it’s out?

Kathy:

Absolutely I would love to.

Kathryn:

Awesome.

Kathy:

And you know, what else, Kathryn, would you mind if I just say, if you do this, if you post to Facebook live tag me, Kathy Goughenour and I will come on there and cheer you on.

Kathryn:

Oh my gosh. Well, I mean, I want to have you on it with me, so cool. Yeah, we’ll do that.

Kathy:

I’m talking about that challenge I just gave, if anybody actually does that.

Kathryn:

Okay. Tell me what to do again.

Kathy:

If anybody wants to do this and you’re willing to go on there and do your Facebook live, and just tag me Kathy Goughenour you know how you just do that on there, on those tags, somebody and I will come on there as soon as I see that tag pop up. I’ll come on there.

I’ll like it I’ll comment on it. And cheer you on.

Kathryn:

Tag me too. We’ll have a party.

Kathy:

I love a party, a virtual party. Woohoo.

Kathryn:

It’s on Kathy. Once again. Thank you so much for coming on the show today. I’ve had a blast.

Kathy:

Oh, you are very welcome. Thank you.

Kathryn:

And I just want to say thank you all for listening and until we get back together here next week, go out and take daily imperfect action towards your best life.

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About Kathryn

I’ve created Imperfect Thriving to help you get back to who you really are, and live your best life possible, imperfectly.

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2 Comments

  1. Kathy Goughenour

    Kathryn, Thank you for a wonderful interview! I will be listening to all your podcasts.

    Reply
  2. Tonya Moore

    Hi Kathryn. Thanks for sharing Kathy with us. I really enjoyed this show. Kathy sounds like a wonderful human being. It’s funny how life works out. We check all the corporate boxes and we’re still not a good fit for them. I say, continue to do you and be who you wanna be! You rock Kathy and Kathryn.

    Reply

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