Do Your Homework
Where Are They Now?
Devin MillerThe Inventive Journey Podcast for Entrepreneurs
Do Your Homework
The Inventive Journey
Starting and growing a business is a journey. On The Inventive Journey, your host, Devin Miller walks with startups along their different journeys startups take to success (or failure). You also get to hear from featured guests, such as venture firms and angel investors, that provide insight on the paths to a successful inventive journey.
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do your homework do your homework um and be realistic um it's not for everybody but do your homework um contact these places talk to people um and just make sure you you understand what's going on and you understand everything that's out there because there's a lot going on out there and you just can't go into it blindly you just have to do your due diligence [Music] hey everyone this is devin miller here with another episode of the inventive journey i'm your host evan miller the serial entrepreneur that's grown several startups into seven and eight figure businesses as well as the founder and ceo of miller ip law where we help startups and small businesses with their patents and trademarks you ever need help with yours just go to strategymeeting.com they're always here to help now today we've got a where are you at or where are you at now episode for one of the expert episodes and so we get a we get a double whammy of where you at now and we get some more expertise which is uh excited to chat about um so the guest is uh trish so that way it's easier there you go um but just as a quick catch up so trisha we had her on about six months ago and we talked a lot about executive assistants and how you know having an executive assistant what it might mean for doing it virtually how you might think about pursuing it hiring them you know finding them you know what is the ways that you determine whether you need one and what error to find a good one and in all of that and we had a pretty good conversation so if you haven't had a chance to listen that episode definitely go back to and catch up on the original episode but today is kind of a follow-on and it's always kind of fun because with as with a lot of industries but in particular this one we have covet that's continued to come along you've had working from home this can be coming or a bigger thing people not wanting to go back in the office increasing a lot of times with competition and so we're going to chat a lot about that and how things have continued to evolve and for the kind of the virtual insistent executive assistant and those kind of roles and uh so with that much as an introduction welcome on the podcast trish thank you thank you very much good to be back again i just can't believe that six months has gone by already yeah i agree it seems to be that uh time or time flies are by quicker than we ever think it will so very true very true so now kind of just diving into the the area of expertise or kind of the update on the area of expertise but to talk you know and we chatted a bit before but it seems like wit with covet you know there was a originally when copen came out and we're now reaching back over here uh which time flies again there there was kind of that hey we're going to shut down temporarily people work from home because we need to and there was a bit of a question mark as to what that will look like when things start to open back up when people can go back in the office will employers have employees come back in will people love working from home so much that they'll stay at home and you know or will they'll be some sort of a hybrid so within the kind of the you know broad spectrum of virtual assistants and executive assistants and those type of things how are you seeing that evolution play out well um one of the the things about working at home is always being interrupted by cats this is fiona she never misses a zoom meeting by the way with some of my clients know her by name but anyway um you see more and more people um wanting to stay at home um and there's um if you look at um the job postings there's more and more people looking for remote not only virtual assistants but just people who will work remotely period and also one of the things that has come up a lot um or has started is there are a lot of agency now that um just will um specialize in those who work remotely so there's a lot of them out there i've checked out a lot of them um i actually have joined one so um there's there's a lot of expertise out there for people who want to work remotely now one question kind of followed because i i definitely hear that so you've had on the one hand people started working from home you do have interruptions but most people it seems like there's at least a portion now portion of the population not getting into what their employers wanted or not but at least for the people that are working from home saying hey i like this if you're in places where it's a long commute you're having to deal with uh going back and forth to work and then traffic and you know all that you're saying hey i'd love to recapture this time and love the freedom to you know not have someone looking over my shoulder always popping in my office so to speak and so i definitely get um the desired or at least for a portion of people and some people like the office and collaboration and seeing other people but there are people who want to do that but now is that you know how has that affected the almost a competition for you know before covet you've been doing working from home and doing it virtually for a while um you know how has that affected the competition as far as more people wanting those positions maybe there are more positions more people wanting them and it balances out or have you seen an adjustment in the competition well actually it's a little bit of both um there's more postings for virtual people but there's also more people going after those they've realized now that they can work from home um they can do it successfully they can be productive at it so you also have more competition out there the only thing a lot of them don't have you know like i have it'll be going on 13 years working virtually um in january so a lot of these are just coming on and and there are a lot of agencies out there who will hire people like that and then help them kind of build a portfolio so um there is a lot more competition out there so it goes back to sometimes i'm sorry sometimes it's um you get what you pay for so somebody who has who's just starting nationally won't have a degree of experience that someone like me or you know and there's others who've been working out there for many many years so you just have to accept away your options and be a little bit careful no i think that that makes sense now with the increase in competition how do you distinguish yourself in other words it sounds like you know yes there are more positions but overall there's probably more competition for those positions in other words there's more people wanting to work from or you know more people wanting to work from home than necessarily the positions or provide because you know not all employees here win full remote not all you know offer that and so as you've had the increase in competition how happy or you know you or you know people that are already in the industry how do you compete or how do you respond to that or how do you adjust to it and you hit on a little bit but maybe give us a bit more insight well when they look at my my resume they'll see for one thing they'll see the difference because they'll see my background and also if they check on um um like facebook or linkedin they'll also see the experience there that others might not have so um that's one way and a lot of times you know if they talk to me they'll they will they will kind of get that experience just in in talking to me that they wouldn't get with someone else so now now i'm going to ask the flip side of the question which is now let's say you're wanting to get it so i get on the one hand if you've been doing it for a while you can point to say hey i was doing working remote working and virtual assisting before it was cool so to speak and you know i had the experience and i've done it for a while and you can see my track record let's take the flip side of the conversation which is now you are on the side where hey i do like working from home i think it's a better arrangement it fits my lifestyle better whatever the motivation might be but you don't have that experience what are the best ways you can think of for people that are wanting to get into that and let's say their employer doesn't offer that and they're looking to maybe make a change how do you kind of start what are the best of their paths to start to get into it if you're coming off of cobed and wanting to do that i would say go with one of the agencies because a lot of times they will help you build a portfolio they will help you because a lot of these agencies also have they have like teamwork where if you have a question you don't know the answer to all you have to do is ask the rest of the rest of um their team and they will help you find that answer so i would say go with one of those agencies and there's a lot of them out there now that are very reputable um they're great people like i said i checked a lot of them out and um they're they would be very helpful for someone just starting out no i think that's a great advice so you know if you're starting trying to get or get going on it establish yourself and uh you know go with an agency that it's one that they have more experience they probably can get you better set up and uh and and help you to or gain experience in that realm so now one of the other things that we you know we chatted about kind of before the episode that was and i think an outgrowth of that is you know people are looking they're focusing on work right work life relationships which on the one hand working from home and being you know doing virtual assistant and doing those type of things it provides more freedom to not be in the office and to not have to commute and it does that on the other hand it can also remember sometimes detach you from human interaction in other words you're not seeing people in the office all the time you're not be able to you know pop some of your head into someone's office or have them there or bounce an idea because you still can but it just seems like when you're not there and you know in the same space or the same physical location it tends to create more of a distant feeling so how do you deal with that thoughts on that you know is that a an accurate assessment is it not accurate but if it is kind of how do you how do you balance that or keep those relationships well i think it's about not everybody could work at home successfully not everybody has the type of personality or temperament to work at home because it takes a certain amount of discipline because you're at home and you can see 50 million distractions other things that you would rather be doing so you have to be very disciplined to work at home and on the other hand um there are some people who who crave human interaction and there are some people who are perfectly okay being on their own not being around people um i'm one of the latter i i don't need to be around people um it's some people feed off that i don't um i don't know what that says about me but i don't need to constantly be around people but there are some people who do and i for working from home would be very difficult for them at least working on home on a full-time basis um sometimes with some jobs there are kind of like a hybrid where you can go into the office for a day or two and then work at home the rest of the week um they would probably be most happy in those kind of situations and i think that makes sense and that's seems like you know there's an ongoing evolution and i said i'm i love linkedin and it seems like it's an ongoing battle with linkedin it is whether working from home was it a hybrid is it all from home was it all at work and what about you knows and then it creates a tension between employers that may not line up with what the employees want or vice versa so i think that but you know to that question of work like balance i think that they're you know that while maintaining relationship you do have to want to be self-honest and you know i i'm probably in the more of the uh the camp that you are that i work from home for several years of my career and i tended to like it just fine now my wife was home and if i wanted to go and complain about something i'd just go complain to my wife but i think that you do have to be realistic that while you think hey this will be all positive you do have to also say will i miss a human interaction am i a people person do i like to bounce ideas off of others because it is a bit of a different arrangement so right or am i one of those who are easily distracted um which would cause a lot of problems if you work from home yeah no i think so so now shifting gears yet again but one of the kind of follow on to that is the other difficulty i think kind of the the flip side of the coin is that there becomes a less of a boundary with work work life relationships are guarding your time in other words because you're working from home and it doesn't it's not like you're interrupt it doesn't feel like you're at least for some people you're interrupting your home time because you're always at home and so it's in the middle of dinner or it's later in the night or it's earlier in the morning it seems to be those boundaries that were once a bit more established of hey when i'm home from the office i'm home from the office now i'm at their home is the office that i'm not here you know that you have that bleeding in of there isn't those clear boundaries so how do you deal with that if you are working from home how do you set up so that you can guard against your free time or that you're not always having that intrusion well when i take on a client that's one of the first things i do i do set boundaries i do not work past five o'clock i don't work um on the weekends um i will not answer my phone after five um i might look at it but i won't answer it if it's an emergency that's one thing but if it's just day-to-day work i will not answer it and i make sure that the clients know that if you text me or email me on a friday i won't get back to you until monday and weekends are absolutely off limits so you you have to be strong enough to set those boundaries up front and i think you also have to be strong enough to actually enforce the boundaries in other words you can tell clients that and then the first time they they need or want to reach out to you at that point they'll do it anyway and so sometimes it feels like you have to cement that in by actually sticking to your guns well actually i did that with one client um very nice lady um i worked with her for a while and she texted me something after five o'clock on a friday and i said and i i wrote her back i see this but i'm not going to do anything about it um as we talked i do not work um after five o'clock during the day and i will not work on the weekends so and she said okay i realized that and going forward there was no problems but i did have to kind of reinforce it and you do um and of course there's an exception to every rule there have been times um when i've i didn't have to but i did it um for the good of the job um there was a problem with an upcoming event that we had planned um a caterer had pulled out one week before the event so i spent the weekend trying to find someone that would be available in a week um i didn't spend my whole weekend doing that but you know you know five minutes here five minutes there but we did get someone it worked out terrific the food was awesome everybody loved this caterer so there are you know exceptions but it has to be a clear emergency for me to do and i'm right there with you i mean there's always exceptions to the rule but you can't make you don't want to make the exception the rule in the sense that you're always making so many exceptions that they're it obliterates that that boundary you know one of the things that i found and not naming any names by any clients because i don't wanna they're still quiet they're great clients but you know we had some that they will they would it was on the weekend and i'm i was similar i know i don't i work from an office uh but you know i work remotely in the sense a lot of my clients barney are in different states or in different locations and so while we have i have a physical office space it still has a lot of that same remote feel to them because they're not coming into my office specifically and we i'd have some clients that will they would call me on the weekend and i usually saturdays that is 90 of the days with kids sports and sundays are for religious worship so i just don't do i don't do anything unless it's an exception and something is urgent and can't be waiting i'll usually ignore it and they would just they would call and then if i didn't pick up with a call they would text and then when i didn't write texts back they would email and so i'd get hit three times and i'd ignore all of them and then they would you know then then they would wait a couple hours to start it over it so one of the things that i actually started doing that seems to have helped as well in this kind of as a thought is i actually set up just with outlook that i will on the weekends it automatically responds and says hey i received your message i don't work on the weekends you know family time on saturdays religious worship on sundays definitely will jump on this as soon as i get in the office on monday and that way kind of helps to give them a response reinforce that so that they know hey okay they they have received it they they're not going to respond but they are aware of it and that one kind of and i i also went as far as i have it on my phone automated texting as well that will kind of give them the same thing of hate it's a weekend i don't respond on the weekends i definitely value and you're an important client but i also have to have that boundary and i think however you know whether it's the way i did it or the way you do it or anything else i think setting those clear boundaries as to this is not all the time is work time and i do have other things and this is how you know here's the boundaries that we have which is the reason why i left the office in the first place was because i was working 60 70 hours a week and still bringing work home with me and i wanted to get away from that and that's why i started doing this almost 13 years ago so i mean you have to set the boundaries and then you have to be strong about it yep no and i think that if you have you're the one that has to be strong because others won't be unless you unless you're now they get i think one the one positive is after you've reinforced a few times they tend to be much more respectful and i found you know this is my tangent but if i explain why i don't work on sundays hey that's my religious worship that's when i take a day aside they're usually pretty respectful same thing with families hey i have a family i have kids they have sports while work is important to me my kids and my family are more important to me and so don't make me choose because you're going to lose but you say it in a nice way but i think people get it because they also have life and they also have boundaries themselves and so just helping to reinforce them tends to go a long way and i think you make a good point too because what i do you know i explain well you know i took a horseback riding a couple of years ago so i take horseback riding lessons but this place is a christian farm as well so i also teach bible study on saturday so you know i'm at the farm like four or five hours on on saturday that's my time and i love the time with my girls there um with the bible study and then of course sunday is is church and god and and i prefer not to do anything on sunday so i mean when they understand that um this is what i do on that time they tend to be much more um careful about bothering you you know they start to think that if all it feels is hey i'm blowing it off because i don't want to work then they're like well this is an emergency this is important to me you're gonna you need to do the work i think if you establish hey here's why i'm doing it and here's the reason why my i don't work on these days or why i guard against those then they're a lot more understanding and that's just my my soap boxer what has worked for me yeah yeah while you as a client are important to me this is also very important to me in a different part of my life you know and there's this balance and i appreciate you understanding that and for the most part they do yeah i think 95 and they always have the exception of the rule they don't care they want it done now and yeah then you have to decide if they're worthwhile as a client or if you're just going to have to say it's i'll deal with it as if they don't like it then they'll have to find a different way to deal with it and sometimes you just have to you have to allow that to happen as well so shifting gears just a little bit so one of the other things we and there's a whole bunch of things i think this is a big pandora's box of a lot of things especially when we get into working from home but one of the things i think you would mention if i'm wrong because there's also been a growth of platforms for replacing virtual assistants in other words as the field is expanded as more people are looking to do it there are more platforms if you were if you were starting today and i know you've been doing this much longer but how would you go about figuring out which platforms are good platforms or if you know of any specifically or even more generally what should you be looking for if you're in the position of looking for a platform looking to get started and how you should decide hey these are great platforms that will work well with me and i'll be happy and these ones are ones that are just looking to take advantage of me any ideas uh check out the websites uh give them a quick call talk to somebody there talked about um talk about how they do things um what they're looking for and you see them all the time on job posting sites um indeed and zip recruiter and all those other ones you'll see those different companies on there and um just you know or do a search do a search on on a search engine and um just call them up check check out their website see how they do things see see what kind of things they're looking for and um because not every company is looking for the same kind of of type as a virtual assistant some might be more technical some might be general so um check them out you know give them a call give them a quick call and just ask them questions and and see what they're looking for is it something that's compatible with what you're looking for will they help you will they offer um some kind of guidance there's some in particular that will help you build a portfolio of clients there's some where you know that you they start out very small you know just like maybe five seven hours a week and then as you get more experience you can go after more clients in their their database so i mean there's all kinds of things out there now so if i almost kind of encapsulate that it's almost do your homework and and look into a bit rather than just going with the first one that comes along or the first one is check them out look into them a bit see what they what they offer as far as support ask them questions and make sure it's a good platform rather than the first one that you find right right and it would have been so much easier had those kind of companies been around when i was starting out but you know virtual work was still so new back then that um they weren't you did everything on your own or by word of mouth and talking to all your friends hey do you know some somebody who could use a few hours work a week and i like to um somebody want some people want somebody a client that they can get a lot of hours from i'm one of those that i like diversity and i don't like putting all my eggs in one basket so i like clients where i might work 10 hours here 5 hours there so that if something happens to them i still have other clients to fall back on that might just be from 2008 um when everything kind of went under and you really had to scramble for work or it just might be the mindset that i have i don't know but um some people prefer you know like 20 hours a week 30 hours a week from one client where i prefer a lot of littler clients that that i can put together it and and these companies will help you do that too well i think that that's definitely some some good takeaways and you know it is definitely an evolving build and figuring out how or how it works and where you if you if you've been into it where you fit into it definitely is is a a lot to figure out so one of the last things uh before you wrap up the podcast that we had talked about i thought it'd be worthwhile too is it seems like and i think that you mentioned that is that now working from home where sometimes it was a bit broader as far as what people are looking for is tending to get more specialized and maybe gets a bit of an insight as to where it's trending and kind of how that specialization works and where you see things going well i think um really to be honest i think all this covid has kind of shown the way of the future um i don't really like to talk about kova because that's that's a pandora's box in and of itself but i think it's shown people that um bosses in particular that their their employees can work from home and be productive whereas there there was this mindset before that if you work from home you were just playing around you really weren't going to get any work done but i think that's shown that that's not the case so i think everything going forward little by little um is going to be going more remote so it's not just virtual assistants it's technical people it's ip people it's um i've even seen ads for lawyers and and that um on a remote basis so i think going forward just about every industry is going to be start going remote more and more um where sooner or later they're going to be very few people in an office um there might be just like a skeleton crew in an office setting or none at all um but i know more and more people are are working from home and looking for that work so um there it's all across the board industry-wise interesting well definitely and insightful it'll be interesting to see how it all plays out and i i still don't know if everybody knows exactly it seems to be trending in that direction but do you would have asked somebody a couple years ago they wouldn't have thought it would have trended that direction so all you have to do is take a look at the job sites and you'll see remote remote remote remote so you just it's there well i think that that there's definitely a lot of truth to that and that's always interesting i even look at the the job sizes to trying to keep an eye on how the legal industry is evolving and even beyond remote or not remote i think just seeing where the salaries are at where people are at whether you know what is it demand up high and there's a ton of posts or is it very low and not a lot of you know a lot not a lot of people looking and kind of gives you a better idea of the work industry in general so do the same thing just to keep abreast of things so well as we wrap up if you know we've we've chatted about a whole bunch of uh i think at least for me very interesting and fun uh fun areas of uh of the industry but if you were to take you know one la the the one last question um which is you know with all those things and there's some it will take the person that is looking to get started with their as their to shift their their career their job to something that's more remote and wanting to live that lifestyle be given one kind of takeaway or one their key to get started on today or to start to prepare for that or to get into that industry what would be that one piece of advice do your homework do your homework um and be realistic um it's not for everybody but do your homework um contact these places talk to people um and just make sure you understand what's going on and you understand everything that's out there because there's a lot going on out there and and you just can't go into it blindly you just have to to do your due diligence that's a great piece of advice and i definitely think do do doing due diligence before you're making a shift and also making sure it's what you want because you know leaving it or it is a transition and it can be a great thing or it can be something that you don't enjoy but making sure that you do your due diligence to to avoid the the downside if there is one or if you don't it doesn't it isn't for you or it is for you that you can make sure to know so i think that's a great takeaway well as we wrap up um if people want to reach out to you they want to contact you they want to bend your ear they want to get more advice they want to hire you as a as a an assistant virtual assistant they want to be your next best friend any or all of the above what's the best way to reach out to you contact you find out more um they can reach me in my email which is my name trish llewellyn which is l-e-w-e-l-l-y-n 7-7 at gmail.com all right well i definitely encourage people to reach out and make connections so well thank you again trish it's been fun it's been a pleasure and to have you on the podcast now now for all of you the listeners if you have your own expertise you like to share or you have a journey that you'd like to share on the podcast feel free to go to inventiveguest.com and apply to be on the show we'd love to have you um also make sure to like subscribe or share the the podcast so that both you and others can continue to get these great episodes and we're able to continue to share a lot of expertise a lot of journeys last but not least if you ever need help with patents trademarks or anything else with your business feel free to go to strategymeeting.com grab some time with us chat we're always happy to help thank you again trish and welcome wish you the next lego journey even better than the last thank you you too you [Music]