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Meet Trailblazer Melanie Ammerman

Today we’d like to introduce you to Melanie Ammerman.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Melanie. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
My business partner, Lauren Gall, and I were both living in Los Angeles, CA, where we met at a Panera Bread one day to discuss the idea of starting a virtual assistant company. Lauren had worked with small business owners who needed support for their companies, but they either didn’t have full-time work or they didn’t have an office to have someone in-house. I had extensive experience in the administrative field and was looking for an opportunity for a new realm of work at the time. So, we decided on the name and took it step by step to start the company. We launched officially in September 2011. We initially started out with simple administrative tasks and some support for marketing. Lauren and I were doing all the work ourselves – for the business and for the clients – until we brought on our first team member, a website guru. That initiated the discussion about bringing on more team members that offered skills that Lauren and I didn’t have, so we could offer more specialized services to our clients and potential clients. We started to offer more administrative services, support for all social media and more marketing tasks, website creation, graphic design, content writing and bookkeeping services. Over the years, we started assigning all client work to our amazing team members who took very good care of the clients and could fulfill all their back-end office needs virtually. We then decided the next team member would be a manager to ensure the quality of work for clients, as well as create an internal team environment virtually. As we’ve grown, we continue to offer all those specialized services that are provided by experts in each field. We now have a Core Team of five that covers hiring, account success management, operations support, financial services, and sales. As we grow, we continue to add to our team as necessary and improve the client experience to make it as good as it can be.

Has it been a smooth road?
I do think Lauren and I have been very fortunate in how our journey with VaVa Virtual Assistants has gone thus far. However, there are always struggles to overcome and constant learning experiences. One struggle we have had is having a strong understanding and view of our finances. We did not see the importance of having a solid bookkeeping plan and budgets to follow since the start, and we have realized over the years how important that is to have in place. It’s something great to start when you’re small so you have it all along the way, and can just make adjustments as needed as things change. Another struggle is being confident as women in business, especially when it comes to financial information. We still have to constantly remind ourselves to charge what we, and our company, is worth because we do provide a lot of value for clients. It’s easy to want to bend for clients, and people in general, as generous women. We try to keep the business in mind though and stay strong to our prices as much as we can. Knowing who to bring on the team and when was an issue for a while as well, but we kept at it until we found a structure and team members that were the right fit for our company. It also helps to have mentors that know and understand our realm of business so they can help guide us with their knowledge as well.

We’d love to hear more about VaVa Virtual Assistants.
VaVa Virtual Assistants specializes in administrative, marketing, and creative support. Our clients mostly come to us for calendar/scheduling management, email inbox support, research, travel booking, social media calendars, graphics for posts, and website updates. We are very proud to say we have an all U.S.-based team and that all of our team members are very skilled in their area of expertise. Depending on what client needs are, clients are paired with the assistant(s) that can provide the best work for what they need support with, and they work long-term together. We are also proud that we provide a virtual office for our clients – we don’t just offer one service so if they need something different, they have to find a new company. If a client usually gets calendar support and all a sudden, they need a graphic created, VaVa can step in to help with that as well. We are here and readily available to support clients with as much as we can whenever they need it. We also have Account Success Managers on our team, who make sure the team is happy and providing the best work possible, as well as offering quality assurance to our clients.

Finding a mentor and building a network are often cited in studies as a major factor impacting one’s success. Do you have any advice or lessons to share regarding finding a mentor or networking in general?
Finding a mentor that is in, or at least highly understands, our business has been crucial to our success over the 8 years we have been in business. Connecting with professionals in the same field in social media groups or business events has been where we have found many of our mentors, and we still connect with them regularly today. Networking in general really depends on the ideal clients for the business. Finding out where your clients are hanging out, looking online, etc. is where your business needs to go. The type of networking events may change over time as you grow as well.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Melissa Hollingsworth, Worthwhile Media

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