How “The Happy WAHM” Became a Successful Work-at-Home Mom and Virtual Assistant Biz Owner

Marge Aberasturi_1

Marge Aberasturi, a.k.a, “The Happy WAHM”, our expert speaker and mentor this February 28 for the #SuccessfulWAHM WAHMderful Workshop. Want to learn her success secrets? Register here.

As momentum builds up for our WAHMderful Workshop this February, we’d like for you to get to know your WAHM mentor and instructor for the #SuccessfulWAHM event on the 28th! Meet Marge Aberasturi, an established owner of a virtual assistance business, VA Support Pro, a full-time work-at-home mom and homeschooler. What’s more, she has been able to build up her brand in the work-at-home niche and really capture a market that values her skills and expertise. Get to know more about our #SuccessfulWAHM, in this exclusive interview!

Who is Marge Aberasturi, the virtual assistant and entrepreneur? Please let our WAHMs get to know you better.

Everytime an interview questionnaire is sent my way, the most difficult to answer is always this question. Who am I? However much I want to give a profound answer, I simply can’t. Because I’m a Lotus123. Plain WYSIWYG.

My online brand, however, aptly describes me. I’m The Happy WAHM. I’m living my brand. I have built a career on my chosen niche, which is virtual assistance, and I have fully embraced the WAHM lifestyle, with homeschooling thrown in, too. This is my happiness. This is the niche that I want to build my tribe in.

Marge, the Virtual Assistant, is best described here. That’s who I am. That’s what I do.

Please tell me briefly about your VA business, VA Support Pro? What prompted you to start it and make it a WAH biz? 

VASupportPro is a product of my diligent research when I first decided that I need a domain name to create my online resume. From the early days, I have understood right on the need to have an online presence, so I wanted to get a domain name that 1) will successfully encompass who I am and what I do, and 2) can compete in the searches.

VASupportPro means Virtual Administrative Support Professional. Virtual assistant and virtual assistance keywords were already returning millions of result, so I wanted a keyword that would have a chance to compete, and at the same time, be totally descriptive of my niche. So after a long study, I bought this domain name.

Then in 2009, three years into WAHMing, I felt that I wanted to make it a legitimate business so I could hire people, or subcontract my spillover projects, so I went ahead and registered the business. My WAHM venture was supposed to be just for two years, the period that my son would be declared out of the woods, but I immensely enjoyed the new-found career, so on the third year, my husband and I decided that I would register the business and start to take on project management gigs, on top of my regular retainer account.

What kind of character qualities must a WAHM have, if she wants to move on from being a hired service provider to being her own boss, like you have done?

The can-do attitude for one. Acting on ideas. Acting on your passion. You have to find the source of your happiness. Your purpose. I’m admittedly ambitious. When I was in corporate, my goal was to be Vice President for Credit Management. But that was cut short when I had to resign in favor of motherhood. Did my dream end there? No. I moved on. I started a new career that welcomes hands-on mothering. I started out as a transcriptionist. I trained for it. I got certification for medical transcription. But I did not sense growth in that niche. I could think of a dozen ways I could have made it grow, but I didn’t see myself being happy with any one of them. So I explored some more, finding my core. Discovering possibilities. Creating opportunities.

MargeAberasturi site screenshot

I tried out to be a virtual assistant. And I set out to learn new skills. I enjoyed learning, and I enjoyed being exposed to the nuances of foreign businesses. So I studied other online businesses. What do they do? How do they grow? Where do they go? I learned that growth can stretch my processes, my time and my resources. So I decided to just expand my reach without having to add anything to what I already have. So I re-assessed myself. Realizing my strengths, acknowledging my weaknesses. That’s important. The willingness to acknowledge that you don’t have it all, don’t know it all. And I found me a partner, who has my weaknesses, and lacks my strengths. Collaboration. It’s a gem to be in. It allows you to do what you are great at, and let others do what you don’t know

Virtual assistance has one of the broadest job descriptions in the WAH marketplace. How can a WAHM make her offerings stand out in such a big pool of service providers?

Your value proposition, which in my case is the entrepreneurial mindset. Because you work alone, and you work unsupervised, there is always that danger of being complacent and lazy. And that will mean lower productivity and sloppy output, which can result to loss of credibility and loss of projects. Client feedback is king. Regardless of your skills and credentials, if one unsatisfied client decides to spread a bad feedback, you’re done. You can only hope that you can recover.

Another thing about being entrepreneurial is when you put yourself in your client’s position, think of the client’s business as your own, then you start to think outside the box. You start to think from the business owner’s perspective, not from the VA’s. So you examine the processes, you examine the effects of your productivity to expense and revenue, you think about growth. You don’t sit in front of your computer thinking about accomplishing your tasks. You sit there and work thinking of how your tasks affect your client’s business. And with that in mind, you do your best, you deliver more than what is expected. You are asked to create a document, and you add relevant images, or add clickable links, without being told. That is showing initiative, and that is your value proposition.

In our upcoming WAHMderful Workshop, you will be sharing your own “blueprint” for work at home success. Could give us some teasers on what we can look forward to?

I’ll be talking about the steps I took to get to where I am now. From a transcriptionist queueing for a project, to operations manager of a limited liability company thousands of miles away, and an entrepreneur. I’ve been a VA for almost nine years. I’ll be celebrating my 9th WAHM anniversary on May 26. And in all those years, I only had three major clients. So I’ll be talking about how in my almost nine years, I only had to apply for a position twice. Yes, that’s three clients, two applications. The one in the middle found my site, and inquired for my services. This is a funny experience, one that I will talk about lengthily during the workshop. It’s a good example of value proposition and at the same time creating opportunities.

You can sign up for Marge’s #SuccessfulWAHM Workshop on February 28: Real Ways to Be a WAHM: Set Up Your Virtual Assistance for Success!

DSC_5684

Marge’s workspace and “work-at-home central” in her home office.

I’ll talk about my source for long term engagements; how I managed to invest in a school just from my WAHM salary; how I stayed sane with all the pressure of online work and homeschooling; how to survive nine years without househelp. It’s going to be a long day, I believe. I’ll also do a demo of some of the tools I use daily as a VA. WordPress, Trello, Hootsuite, IFTTT, all things Google. How to set up your home office and manage to keep it separate from your household. How to create other income streams from your chosen niche. I’ve mentioned that I invested in a Science high school, so I think I’m also going to share how to invest your hard-earned money. Or how to manage your finances to have some left for investment.

Our vision for 2015 in the WAHMderful Life Community is #SuccessfulWAHM. Please tell us, in your own words, what this “success” means for you?

Success is being able to truly enjoy WAHM life, and when I say truly enjoy, it means not having to rant about how difficult WAHMing is, because in truth, it IS difficult. When you are spiritually at peace with where you are, emotionally stable to openly and warmly embrace all the difficulties and celebrate the small things, financially comfortable that you go to bed at night without worrying where the next rent money will be coming from, professionally confident that you can survive the stiff competition, and be completely present for your family, that’s when I say, I have succeeded.

To know more about Marge, visit www.thehappywahm.com and margeaberasturi.com. “Like” her updates on Facebook at Facebook.com/HelpforWAHMs. Sign up for the #SuccessfulWAHM Workshop on February 28, 2015: Real Ways to Be a WAHM: Set Up Your Virtual Assistance for Success!

WAHM life, this is my calling

calling

This is a guest post by Jennyfer Tan of The Techie Mom

I am writing this while waiting for my son to come out of his class.

I’ve brought him to school, went back home, fed my three year-old daughter her breakfast, helped her with her “homework” (tracing, coloring, etc), bathed her, put her down for a nap, gave her lunch, brought her to school and then went straight to my son’s school to fetch him, and it’s just 1:30 PM.
I still have to bring him to the barber shop for his haircut, go home to check his assignment notebook, tutor and help him with his assignments. Then I leave him to work on it while I fetch my daughter from her school.
Good thing it’s just three minutes away!
The few minutes that I have “free” will be spent answering email of clients, the urgent ones first, then start on my “to do” list, hoping to get some work done. My “to-do” list may consist of cleaning up excel spreadsheets, troubleshooting errors on websites, or starting a WordPress migration project

By the time both kids are sleeping tonight. I will normally finish my work around midnight to 2 AM, depending on the difficulty of the projects/tasks that I have pending.

Tomorrow, I will wake up at 5:45 AM to do the same things again; some days with my son’s piano lessons and other extra curricular activities that our kids need to attend to.

This is the typical day of a full-time work-at-home parent. I AM a working parent, too.

We might not have the physical offices to go to, a boss to report to, but we are working just as hard as corporate parents do, oftentimes more.

I want to break the misconception that we have the luxury of time and just lounge around and enjoy coffee breaks any time we want. These precious minutes are actually our “time to get our sanity back”. We actually NEED these times because we would really go insane without that precious break, but actually having those breaks is another story. (Good luck to us most of the time.)

Compared to other parents, I actually have it easy. I have a supportive husband who’s also a work-at-home parent. He prepares our breakfast, acts as my “reliever” every other day so that I get the chance to sleep 30 minutes longer while he gets to do the chores that need to be done. We have an agreement that whoever has the higher priority project gets to stay at home and actually work on that project while the other parent is the driver/yaya/slave of the day.

I salute those who are full-time, stay-at-home parents who are homeschooling their (three or more) children, whose husband/wife needs to leave for work, who does the household chores because they don’t have household help while they also work so that they can help out in the family’s finances, like my friends TheHappy Wahm, Michelle Padrelanan, etc.

Many people think we are living the good life. We are.

We are doing the best that we can with what life has given us, and, although sometimes I feel like I’m actually standing between sanity and insanity, if I was given a second chance in life, I would still choose to be a full-time, work-at-home mom.

This is my calling. This is what I am supposed to be.

I have to go. My son’s is now beside me, waiting for me to send this so we can leave the school premises and start on his homework.

I’m Jennyfer Tan, wife to a freelance graphic artist/art director, full-time mother to two kids, age 10 and 3 and a multi-tasking, tech-oriented Virtual Assistant and WordPress Migration Consultant, online friends lovingly call me “The Techie Mom”. Connect with her: www.thetechiemom.com. “Like” her on Facebook: www.facebook.com/thetechiemom

Sayonara, Steady Income! (Part 1) – WAHM Survival Tips

4055645909_50d9ab4aec_b

Photo Credit: ahans via Compfight cc

The following is a post by WAHMderful contributor, Patricia of Mrs. C’s Sugarcoated Life.

Being a WAHM is something that I do by choice. Becoming a WAHM, meaning leaving my job and actually taking the plunge, was something that I had to do by chance. Let me explain.

A few days before my son turned a year old, back on 2007, I started working for a top telecommunications company here in Manila. Four years after starting that job, I moved on to work in a shopping mall that was close to home, but followed a 6-day work week. I was beyond burned out, and seriously missing important moments with my kid. His well-being was never something that I needed to worry about, because I had my mom at home caring for him, taking him to school, making sure he was clean, fed and happy. At that point, I wanted to focus on motherhood, and maybe find something that I could do from home, more for myself than for him. I wanted the opportunity to be a mom.

I was lucky because my husband was all for it. He saw the value in one of us being at home to help mold our son into the kind of person we know he has the potential to be. And he agreed that it was gonna be me. Thing is, I was scared about so many things – losing my steady income, not being a good enough hands-on mom, making mistakes, getting bored at home. I knew I had to try before I would know for sure, but just the thought of trying scared me. Then one day, I was forced to do it. [Read more...]