Here’s a sneak peek at my interview with Micala:
What you were doing prior to starting your business? What do you do now and how did you get to where you are today?
I was a high school English teacher. I was one of those weird people who knew exactly what they wanted to be when they grew up, but when I had my daughter everything changed.
After she was born, I started thinking about how I could work from home and make money. I wanted to be at home with my daughter, I wanted to work on my own time, my own schedule; I wanted to work less but make a good income.
So I started telling anyone and everyone what I was looking for. A lot of people would just laugh at me but then finally, I think I just told the right person.
She told me about how she got started as a virtual assistant working for a ceramics store in New York City doing their admin work. So I started looking into it and realized this was exactly what I was looking for.
While I was still at my teaching job, I spent all of my spare time applying for anything and everything I could get my hands on. I was hoping that I would land a client and wouldn’t have to go back to school the following year, but that didn’t happen, so I had to re-sign my contract.
I felt like I had failed. I decided to go part-time at my teaching job, but that summer I took a break and really enjoyed the stay-at-home mom summer that I had with my daughter. By July, I started to realize that year was going to be my last year as a teacher. I decided to reevaluate, really buckle down, and get serious about landing my first freelance client.
Then in August, the first day back of professional development, I landed my first client.
How did you find that very first gig? What kind of work were you doing for that client?
Back then, my husband’s cousin told me about a website called hiremymom.com. It was a website that would post flexible work from home contract positions for women. These businesses didn’t need a full-time person, they just needed someone to help with a specific thing.
I would go to that job board every day, look at all of the latest postings, and apply to openings. Initially, I was sending standard applications to everyone but that just wasn’t working. So I started customizing it to each person. It took a lot more time, but then I started getting on calls and hearing back from people.
For that first client, I worked as a virtual assistant and supported her with anything and everything she needed help with. I helped with her blog and social media content; I helped her revive her Facebook group and did a lot of research for her; she even had me take a course she had purchased to help her with that Facebook group and I essentially spearheaded that project.
Up until that point, I had no idea all these Facebook groups existed. I had no idea about the online business world and I felt like I won the jackpot with this online business coach. She was paying me $20 an hour to do everything, and I loved it. That project was a game-changer for me because I joined a lot of different Facebook groups full of entrepreneurs.
In working on that project, I started to see a lot of entrepreneurs were looking for virtual assistants, so I started putting myself out there again. I started building relationships with all of these people who needed what I was offering. By February or March, I had tripled my teacher take-home pay working just 15 hours a week.
Then I started creating packages, strictly focusing on social media. This was all happening while I was still teaching. I had one baby at home, and I was pregnant with my second. I went on maternity leave in April and then I left my teaching career for good.
You tripled your teaching salary, you now have four kids and are teaching other people how to do this. How has your business evolved?
While I was building my freelance business, I didn’t really have a big network of mom friends that I could relate to. So I joined a lot of local mom groups and Facebook groups. There were a lot of moms there who were going through what I had gone through — they wanted out of their jobs, wanted to be at home with their kids; they didn’t want to join an MLM but their family needed more income.
So I just naturally started helping them. I quickly became known in my local Kansas City mom groups as the lady who can help you work from home without joining an MLM. There was one day where I had 50 people wanting me to help them get started.
So I started a Facebook group and was just going to start helping everyone there. Then I just had a moment where I realized I had the skills and the experience to teach this audience of people how to do this, so I decided just to go for it. I pre-sold a course and I delivered it live through our Facebook group. I dropped weekly modules and held weekly coaching calls; I had 10 women sign up for that first course and I only charged $50 just because I wanted to prove to myself and validated my idea.
From there, it just grew and grew and now I’ve had over 2,000 women go through that program. I’ve revised it a couple of times, updated it, added some things, and increased the price.
What does your week look like now?
I still like to work about 15-20 hours max. I typically sit at my desk and have work from nine to about one. So four hours, four days a week, and mandatory Fridays off. I’ve got a team of amazing moms, independent contractors, freelancers supporting me and helping me grow my business so that I’m able to have part-time work hours, still hit my goals and do all the things that it takes to run an online business.
What are your top three tips for people who want to make the jump from a corporate job to stay at home, but don’t have that skill set?
Number one, start with your current skill set. If you don’t think you have a skill set, you do — you just need to uncover it. You need to look at your natural skills or your natural talents and start your business with that. Don’t think you need to go learn all of these different skills to get started! I see a lot of people do that and they never move out of the learning phase; they get overwhelmed and never actually take action to apply that to working with clients. So I think the best way to beat that perpetual learning is to just start with your current skill set. Once you get started, the opportunities to grow are limitless.
Second, I suggest doing some work to build your portfolio, your confidence, and. your testimonials. While that is technically free work, you’re getting paid with the experience of actually doing tangible tasks, which is going to increase your competence and show you that you can actually do this.
Then lastly, if you are doing testimonial work, I say no more than three testimonials and then you have to focus on getting paying clients. Put yourself out there, and let people know you’re for hire. You’re never going to feel ready, but you just need to start putting yourself out there and rip off the band-aid.
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