Exclusive with Melissa Smith, Founder of The PVA
Melissa Smith is the Founder & CEO of the Association of Virtual Assistants & The PVA (The Personal Virtual Assistant), a virtually-based firm that matches clients with the right virtual assistants.
Melissa is also the best-selling author of two books, Hire The Right Virtual Assistant: How the Right VA Will Make Your Life Easier, Create Time, and Make You More Money and Become A Successful Virtual Assistant: Learn the Business Side & Ditch 9 to 5 which is an integral part of the College of Western Idaho Administrative Specialist Program curriculum. Additionally, she mentors for Remote-how Academy, the first global, online education and individual certification program about remote work, and is a passionate teacher and consultant for those looking to grow their business remotely.
In 2013, Melissa began working remotely, and in 2017, became location independent. This transition gave her a newfound sense of freedom, affording her the opportunity to travel to 16 countries in 12 months, all while running successful virtual businesses.
Drawing from her experience while working on five different continents and numerous time zones, Melissa truly understands the challenges of running a virtual business and uses her knowledge to serve clients all over the world. She knows firsthand how and where to get the best work done and she passes her insight on to her clients so that they can create the life they love — on their own terms.
Melissa has been featured by ABC News, Forbes, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, U.S. News & World Report, and USA Today. Most recently Melissa was named Top Virtual Assistant Consultant of the Year, one of the top 100 dynamic leaders in 2021, and a trailblazing female entrepreneur to watch in 2021.
For more details, visit their website here.
Here we sit down with Melissa, to know a bit more about her journey as a virtual assistant.
Q. What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
Melissa: After the sudden death of my husband in September 2012 I needed more freedom and flexibility. I had always said I would never own a business because everyone I knew that had a business was married to it. They had little freedom and flexibility.
When I started remote working it was my first real taste of freedom and flexibility and I wanted more.
Q. How did you get started?
Melissa: Remote working as an executive assistant I knew it was possible to become a virtual assistant.
When I first decided to start my business the very first step was making up my mind. I made the decision that I was going to make it work no matter what. My mantra became, I didn’t start to stop.
This may seem like an obvious step but it’s not. I consult with new business owners every day who have not mentally committed to their businesses and it shows. They are constantly one foot in and one foot out of their business. One bad day or one bad failure away from throwing in the towel. No amount of training, coaching, or reading countless books can take that first step for you. Until you take this step you haven’t opened the doors of your mind to what is truly possible.
However, once I made up my mind and hit those inevitable struggles I hired a business coach. Immediately turned things around and I found solutions for my struggles. I also joined an association and dug my feet into business so deep I wasn’t going anywhere even if I tried.
Q. What was your biggest startup challenge? What steps did you take to overcome it? What did you learn?
Melissa: My biggest challenge was not understanding how to run a business on all cylinders. I knew how to do client work. Running a business was a completely different challenge. Without getting this down I knew I would never truly enjoy the freedom and flexibility I desired.
Hiring a coach was the first step. I didn’t have any real, long-term clients yet and on paper, I couldn’t afford to hire a coach. My thought was that I couldn’t afford not to. If I was going to fail I had to know I had done everything in my power to succeed.
I learned more than I could have ever imagined working with a business coach. First and foremost, I learned how to let go of my employee mindset which was holding me back.
Q. What is the Most Memorable Thing You’ve Done Since you Started your Business?
Melissa: My most memorable times have been the time spent with my family. Picking up and going wherever I want for however long I want. It was the driving force to becoming a VA and remains the driving force all these years later.
Others remember 2017, which is the year I traveled the world. I was in 16 countries in 12 months. All while running my business. It was a fabulous year.
Q. What is one book you recommend, and why?
Melissa: The Long Game by Dorie Clark.
So many people start a business and begin with these quick business sprints. Sometimes you need to do that. However, you can’t keep that pace for the life of your business. Without a long game mindset work doesn’t pay off.
For instance, when I write I ask myself if what I’m writing will be relevant a year or two from now. If not, I ask myself if it’s truly necessary. If the content won’t be relevant in the future what will be?
Focusing on your long game forces you to future proof your business.
Q. In terms of legacy, what is the mark you’d like to leave on the world?
Melissa: I want my family to know how much I love them and that nothing is more important to me. It wouldn’t matter what the world thinks of me if my family doesn’t remember me in a positive and loving way.
For the rest of the world, I want to be the person who coached them to spend time with their families or doing what they loved. Whether it’s a client hiring the right virtual assistant, or the VA who is able to create the lifestyle of their dreams.
Q. In one sentence, what’s the best advice you’d give to someone just starting out on their entrepreneurial journey?
Melissa: Make a commitment to the long game of your business.
To keep up to date with Melissa and her journey, connect with her on LinkedIn.