I just love how Maria Vaccaro expresses herself in this interview! Becoming a Virtual Assistant is a business in itself, and therefore deserves to be perceived as one. Her passion for her expertise, and her focus have largely helped her succeed in her line of work. Best of luck to your VA Training, Maria!
Maria Vaccaro has over 20 years experience as an Entrepreneur, Bookkeeper, Business Manager, Virtual Assistant, and Administrative Professional in different industries. She has worked in both the private and public sector, including software, non-profits, and real estate. With such a solid and varied background as a virtual assistant, combined with what she has learned as a business owner herself, she possesses the knowledge, understanding and skills to help other business owners reach their business goals. As a Multipreneur, Maria is always actively involved in several projects with multiple business endeavors.
What made you decide to venture into Virtual Assistant career and Bookkeeping? How does this help you with your long-term goals?
I started doing virtual work back in 1998 when my oldest son Robert was 8 months old. I made the decision to venture into VA and Virtual Bookkeeping to have control over my work-life balance. I always took pride that I was able to maintain a successful business, avoid putting my children into daycare and contribute to my family’s financial needs. It helped me achieve a long term goal, which is to be available to my kids when they needed me and be more involved with the community by volunteering.
What is a typical day like for you?
Most of my clients are on the West coast so my office hours start at 11am but I am in my home office by 9am. I use the two hours to plan my day, get a jump start on my week’s goals and coordinate with my staff on project milestones and tasks in progress. No two days are the same and I love it. Each day I juggle client calls, networking meetings and my own business needs. I always stop each day for a break when my kids come home from school so I can connect with them on how their day was. My daughter, Tessa, is famous for walking in the door and asking “Soooo, how was your day?”
What are the toughest challenges of a virtual bookkeeper and how do you overcome them?
Letting go of FOMO! The fear of missing out. My toughest challenges is getting quality clients and having to say no sometimes to clients that do not understand the concept of virtual work. Although I work virtually does not mean I work 24/7/365. I have reserved office hours, take weekends off and holidays. I am a business and treat it as such.
What are your most favorite Bookkeeping tools and how have these helped you to become productive?
Coffee! No, seriously, I love my coffee but I reserve it just for mornings! I use Asana to keep my tasks on track. Gmelius is my go-to email too, to send recurring emails to clients on weekly reports and scheduling emails to be sent out during working business hours. Harvest to track my time spent on projects and client work. I work entirely off a GSuite and love how everything is integrated together and mobile for me. I am a QuickBooks Proadvisor so all of my clients are on the Intuit Platform that makes it easy for me to switch clients at a click of a button.
How do you keep things organised? Do you have any methods you follow to meet deadlines?
Asana helps me tremendously! I entered all my tasks and the milestones or deadline for each task by client. When I start my day it’s the first place I go to, so I can focus on what is due for the day. I visit it at the end of my day to complete my task list and review what was completed and what may need to shift.
What do you think are the most common errors a virtual assistant commits when trying to advertise and sell themselves to clients?
You are a business! Treat yourself as one and don’t be a one-stop shop for all services. Find what you love to do and focus on that. I have said for years I love two things professionally. Bookkeeping because I am an organizer at heart so keeping a client’s books clean and tidy speaks to my nature. Second, I love business and entrepreneurship. I have been fascinated since a young child the ever evolving world of supply and demand. Advertise you! Don’t advertise a perception of you. A quality client loves to work with YOU and what you bring to the table.
What advice would you like to share to aspiring VAs who would like to build a name of their own?
Start with a foundation. Create your business identity and brand. If the world of VA work is interesting to you, study and connect with other like minded people in the profession you choose but not just other VAs but VAs that are similar to you in personality. Networking is key in all things business. My colleague Terri and I are starting a new concept in VA training in 2018 and it will be called Muddy Megabytes Virtual Assistants. We are looking to create a networking arena where you can get trained at any level, help you build a foundation and help your new VA business soar!