While working as an executive assistant, Lisa Regester realised that she could do just as good a job on her own. While saving small businesses money at the same time.
She went on to launch her virtual personal assistant business, Lisa Loves Admin. She explains how she’s getting on.
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What gave you the idea for the business?
I had the idea a couple of years ago, when I was retrenched from a PA job. I went to another role, as the EA at an export company.
My boss was in Perth three out of every four months and I’d do a lot of the work over the phone, on email or hard copy. They were basically overpaying me for pretty simple tasks.
I felt I’d almost tested out the idea in that job, as I was working apart from my boss so often.
So, when did you get the business off the ground?
In April this year. There wasn’t too much rationale to it. The Australian dollar soared and the export company was in trouble.
I thought I could launch the business on a part-time basis, but I couldn’t afford to do that. It was the right place, right time, I suppose, so I went for it.
What were your first steps?
The first thing I wanted to tackle was the website. I contacted three different people about building it and two of them had their own pre-conceived ideas of what it should look like, but the third one was brilliant.
I met him at a function and he worked on what I had envisioned. It was something that had my personality in it, which is important as the website is basically my business.
How much has it cost you to start-up?
It cost $3,000 to get the site up and running. I’m working from home and had costs around printing and couriers, but a computer was all I really needed.
What does the business offer clients?
If a job needs doing – anything from a Powerpoint, typing or sending emails – I can do that. I find out what needs doing, work out if I can do it and use a courier to get documents to a client. I’ve also taken minutes of a meeting.
I charge an hourly rate for high-end admin that’s aimed at start-ups. It suits small businesses with not much cash.
I tier costs from basic data entry at the lower end, up to things such as HR documents at the higher end.
There are quite a few businesses like this around. How, exactly, do you offer a point of difference?
There are a few virtual PAs around, so I’ve needed a niche market. I realised that start-up businesses often need their own PAs, like larger businesses, but they can’t afford it.
I worked out a tiered system rather than a retainer so that it is more ad hoc for start-ups. I’ve found that they have come back time and again.
How have you marketed yourself?
I put it on my Facebook page and my friends did the same, who sent it onto their friends. That is how I got my first client – that paid for the site the day after I launched.
At the moment, I’ve relied on word-of-mouth and Facebook. I am still working part-time until I’m confident that it will take off, where I will probably use Google Adwords.
What are your plans for the business?
I’ve been excessively lucky in getting clients so far. I’d like to slow it down as I didn’t expect so many clients until early next year, when I will look to hire someone.
Long-term, I want to hire stay-at-home mums who are flexible with their hours. I don’t want to grow the business to the point where I can’t manage it myself, though.