Jennifer: Today we have Erin Mortenson joining us. Erin why don't you go through and introduce yourself.
Erin: Great! So, my name is Erin. I started an online business as a virtual assistant earlier this year, and after you know going through the trials and tribulations of building my own business, I realized I could be helping other people do the same. So, I started coaching other people how to start or grow their own virtual assistant business.
Working With New Business Owners
Jennifer: That's fantastic! What's your favorite part about working with new business owners?
Erin: Oh my gosh! So, a lot of times what I've seen happen is people come to me just because it's kind of sad but a lot of times they will say I feel desperate. I don't really know what else to do. They are either stuck in their 9 to 5 or they are struggling to find time to spend with their families. I work with a lot of you know stay-at-home moms who are like I just want to help contribute and support to my family's income, but I just don't know what to do. So, my favorite part is really when people start discovering what it is that they actually love to do to help other people. So, some people, they are organization freaks. They love being able to go into someone else’s business and just get things straightened out. Some people are really great with graphics. They love going into Canva and creating cute little now graphic design for someone's social media page. Something usually happens where this light goes off and they are like, oh my gosh I've been stuck doing X corporate job or trying to make this multi-level marketing company work or I've been stuck trying to do all these things and I didn't realize that I can actually do something that I like and actually make money from it. So, I actually had a client one time say to me she felt like she wasn't putting in at her job and she felt like something was wrong with her and she always felt kind of depressed about it because she said that something was always off. She was in a job that was really good, she made good money, and something always felt off. She woke up one day and she said it's not that there's nothing wrong with me, it's that I don't belong in that job. I belong doing this. I belong working for myself and creating content and helping other people. That was one of the best moments of my career so far was having this person coming to me saying they realized that they finally found their place in the world.
Finding Your Place In The World
Jennifer: That's fantastic. So, it sounds like you view this is your place in the world, working and helping these women figure that out.
Erin: Totally, yeah, you know, I kind of had a similar transformation myself. I always had really good corporate jobs. I was kind of like a corporate ladder climber. I started as an executive assistant and then I was eventually the head of IT Investor Relations at my last corporate job and I always made a really good salary. I just wasn't happy. It was kind of frustrating to be making really good money and still be like I hate my job. I got a really good promotion at my last job and I was just like, okay, I guess that's what I do now... To then start this online business and transition into a coach and feel like every day my soul is lit on fire. That's something that I'm so grateful to be able to experience because I had never really felt that before. It's that feeling people talk about where they say, find what you love and never work another day in your life. I'll be up at 11:30 p.m. on a Friday or Saturday night doing stuff in my business just because it no longer feels like work. It feels like I am building something that's just important to me.
Jennifer: That's fantastic! It definitely makes a huge difference when you love what you do. I came from a corporate background myself and while I had the privilege of working for some great companies. I had some great jobs. I've made great money. To take a step back and say this isn't quite what I want. It's a hard jump! It's hard to give that up and that security especially to go into an online space where it's maybe not viewed as being, I don't know like the most legitimate. So, it's a hard jump to take but I think it's so worth it.
It definitely makes a huge difference when you love what you do.
Erin: Oh my gosh! Absolutely and yeah it's crazy because I think a lot of people just don't really know how deep the online business world goes. I think they kind of see the fitness influencers and the fitness coaches and people like that but there are so many people who have online businesses who actually need people like virtual assistants. There's business coaches, there's health and wellness coaches. I mean the coaching industry in itself is huge but there is also photographers and wedding planners and there are tons of online businesses that need people's help and so when people talk about how they have an online business, I think there is still a little bit of a stigma at this moment just because people don't understand how big the online world really is. But once you get in it yourself you're like, oh my gosh there are literally millions of people who have very sustainable online businesses.
Growing An Online Business
Jennifer: Absolutely! You also work with people who have already started their online business, but they need help growing. So, what tips do you have to share with our listeners for growing their business.
Erin: Yeah! Absolutely! So, a lot of times people, and I give him a lot of credit for this. They will start their business just through Googling and research and I think that's amazing. I opted for a business coach as soon as I started because I was like I need someone to hold my hand or else I'm never going to get any of this done. So, a lot of times people will come to me who have started an online business as a virtual assistant or even as maybe a copywriter or an online business manager, a graphic designer, something like that. I call them all online service providers. If you are online and you are in the business of serving others. A lot of times they will come to me and they will have been in business. I have had people who have been in business for years and just barely made a couple hundred bucks. So, some of the tips I tell them are:
Get Clear On Your Pricing Structure and Packages
1. Get really clear on your pricing structure. A lot of people change hourly and that is not the way to do it. You can come up with packages in which people pay you upfront. For example, if you are going to work with someone for maybe five hours per week, you would get paid for those 20 hours per month on the first day of your work. That way you know how much you're working; you know how much you're making, and your client has expectations as well. Otherwise, if you are working for someone on an hourly rate you know one week I need you for 2 hours. Next, they could say I need to bring 12 and that's just really unsustainable. So, that's my first tip is always to get really clear on your pricing structure.
Jennifer: It's definitely a hard thing to do at first but I agree it's totally worth it. That's why I do all packages at this point and it's for both people because I always say the reason why is because you know you've got me for those 10 hours or whatever it is. You know that that time is set aside.
Jennifer: So, I'm not going to take too many jobs or overbook myself because I'm putting these hours aside for you at the beginning of the month.
Jennifer: It definitely works both ways.
Erin: Yeah. Exactly! At first, a lot of people, they want to work for anyone who will pay them, but you are a business owner and you run your business a certain way and just because you have a person of interest in working with you doesn't mean that you need to take them at an hourly rate. You can come to them and say this is how my business is run. Not like I'll do whatever you need me to do. This is how it works; you are either in or you are out. The people who are going to pay you are out there, so you don't need to just take the first person at an hourly rate just because you're desperate to be working with someone.
Jennifer: Absolutely. I like to tell people when you say yes to bad jobs it means that you're filling up your time...
I like to tell people when you say yes to bad jobs it means that you're filling up your time...
Jennifer: ...working that bad job that makes you not happy and maybe not being paid what you should be paid...
Erin: Oh, totally.
Jennifer: ...instead of finding that ideal job and that person who's happy to pay you what you're worth to do the right job.
...instead of finding that ideal job and that person who's happy to pay you what you're worth to do the right job.
Erin: Yeah, you're better off spending that time actually building your business and finding your ideal client then you are getting paid at a lower wage or by a crappy client, yes, I totally agree with you.
Jennifer: So, what other tips do you have?
Erin: I would say definitely and there's a lot of back and forth on this, but I am a firm believer in niching down meaning like you figure out the exact type of person you want to serve, and you look for that person. Like I said like minute or so ago a lot of times at first everyone wants to work for anyone who will pay them and that's okay but when you do niche down you are able to serve a greater purpose and also you're able to make more money because. Let's use Virtual Assistants. Let's say you are a general VA and you charge $30 an hour. Okay well is the health and wellness coach going to want to work with you? Is the business coach going to want to work with you? Is the wedding photographer going to want to work with you? It's kind of all over the place whereas is if you say, for example, I said when I was a virtual assistant. I am the virtual assistant for Rockstar business coaches meaning of you're a business coach and you've already been hitting those 10k months and you have a booked out client list, I am the person who will come into your business and make sure your systems are all running properly. I will make sure your clients are being managed properly. I will take off all those crappy things off of your plate so that all you do is coach. Then word spread that I was the girl for the business coach, and I became booked out immediately. I doubled my prices. I was making about $65 an hour at that point because I went from a VA to an Online Business Manager. So, niching down is really, really important to get those high paying and ideal clients.
Jennifer: Absolutely and part of that too is you were niching down to business owners who were already making money.
Jennifer: I see that so often where people pick niches that are just not profitable. It's great to work with new business owners and it's great to do that but when you're struggling to start your business you need to make sure that they're able and willing to pay you...
Jennifer: ...because if you're going for those people that really just aren't in a place where they can or want to pay you for your services then you're not really going to be able to grow your business the way that you want and it's just going to lead to frustration.
if you're going for those people that really just aren't in a place where they can or want to pay you for your services then you're not really going to be able to grow your business the way that you want and it's just going to lead to frustration.
When It’s Time To Outsource
Erin: Right. I've also seen people who have hired way too early in the new business owner realm and then they just don't really have anything for their assistants to do. So, I'll be talking to a client whose like I have this client and they just don't have any work for me. A lot of times new business owners will outsource a little bit too soon just because they are really nervous, and they want someone in there with them. So, when that happens, then you are kind of sitting there twiddling your thumbs thinking okay this person paid me but now I don't have anything to work on and that's a really uncomfortable situation to be in as well.
Jennifer: Absolutely! It's something we don't talk about enough. I think there is such a thing as too soon.
Erin: Yeah, oh yeah. Absolutely. Yeah, you should definitely be hitting consistent, higher-income months and be really pretty booked up before you start outsourcing I think.
Jennifer: Yeah. Absolutely. Is there anything else that you think our listener should hear today.
Get Really Clear
Erin: You know I would say definitely just get really clear on what it is you want to do in this world. Not to get too deep or anything but a lot of times we spend so much time stuck in a box just because we think that's how we are supposed to be. A lot of people have learned and been conditioned and it's no one's fault. It's just kind of the way the world was for a while. But, we've been conditioned that you go to college, you get this job, you work for 40 years then you retire and then you have fun. But, I decided I wanted to have fun now. I don't want to wait all these years in order to do all those things. I want to be living my life every moment that I can. So, if you are in a position where you feel really stuck and really unhappy make the leap. Most likely you will land on your feet. If you don't you can always find another job. I definitely think just really figuring out what it is that you want and just going for it.
Jennifer: That's fantastic advice. A lot of times I think people forget if it doesn't work out you can go back to do what you were doing before.
A lot of times I think people forget if it doesn't work out you can go back to do what you were doing before.
Erin: Yes. Yes.
Tea or Coffee
Jennifer: All right. So, I have to ask tea or coffee?
Erin: Oh, coffee, but I drink decaf.
Jennifer: That's awesome.
Erin: I drink decaf every day. I'm that weirdo.
OSP Training Academy
Jennifer: That's fantastic. Do you want to share anything with us, any programs with us?
Erin: Yeah, of course! So, I have my program is called the OSP training academy and that stands for Online Service Provider that helps people start an online business as a virtual assistant, a copywriter, a social media manager, all those great things or grow their existing business. So, it's a 12-week program. You get bi-weekly calls with me. My clients typically are able to quit their jobs within the 12 weeks of working together...
Jennifer: That's awesome!
Erin: ...yes, or replace their income that they have been making elsewhere. So, I get a lot of stay-at-home moms. I get a lot of people who are just trying to leave the workforce to get back to their families so it's a great program.
Jennifer: That's awesome.
Erin: The next round starts in late January 2020 and I'm running a very special promotion through the month of December. If you are interested definitely reach out!
Jennifer: And where can people go to get more information about that?
To wrap it up....
Jennifer: Fantastic. I'm sure I definitely have listeners out there that would benefit from your program. So, I'm really excited for your program. It's great that it's launching in January, start the new year...
Erin: Thank you.
Jennifer: ...hopefully people can leave those jobs that they don't want and get back to their family sooner so, that's fantastic.
Erin: Yes, absolutely. It's so nice having moms who say I can't believe I can finally spend time with my family again and that's what makes my job so special is being able to create that for someone else.
Jennifer: Yeah. It's fantastic. As a mom it's been frustrating for me at times when I was working that corporate environment to just feel like I couldn't do what I wanted to do, and I couldn't be with my daughter when I wanted to.
Jennifer: Now having my own business is fantastic because as long as my client work gets done it doesn't matter what time it is. So, if she's sick or if she needs me or, for example, this week she's got like a potluck at her daycare.
Now having my own business is fantastic because as long as my client work gets done it doesn't matter what time it is.
Jennifer: So, I can go to the potluck and I'm not like, oh, somebody's watching the clock waiting for me to come back. So, it's just nice to have that freedom.
Erin: Yes! It's so important.
Jennifer: Thank you so much for talking to us today.
Erin: Of course. Thank you for having me.
I'm a software engineer with nearly 10 years of experience in software and website development. I help women entrepreneurs with their website and technical business needs. I specialized in user experience and conversions.
I empower moms like me to run their website with confidence and feel in control of their business, all while juggling #momlife at the same time.