Cartoon by Judy Nelson with Virtual Cartoon Partner, John Junson

When I launched my coaching business, I wasn’t looking for a team. I didn’t know I needed one. I knew I might have some stress about things like billing, taxes, etc., but until I started, I had no clue just how much help I would need. To make this venture fun, profitable and worth doing, I needed an assistant. Enter Kathy Hadzibaijric.

Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning for the last six years, my executive assistant, Kathy and I spend an hour and a half focusing on the projects we work on together. The work she does depends on the needs of my business as a coach, public speaker, leadership trainer, and author—as well as the duties of a wife, mother, and grandmother.

What I didn’t tell you is that I’ve only seen Kathy in person once over these six years. All of our work is by phone and computer. Kathy is a Virtual Assistant, a growing field of talented people skilled in providing business support services, but who prefer to work at home. Most executives never meet their V.A.s but find, as I have, it would be next to impossible to run a business without them.

How did I find Kathy? Partly by total accident. We met when I sat next to her at a meeting with 800 other professionals in Baltimore. The speaker introduced her to the audience.

“I live in New York,” said the speaker. “Kathy lives in Florida and she assists me virtually by phone, fax and computer with preparing for conferences like these. She is one of 3 V.A.’s on my virtual team.”

This sounded too good to be true. A full complement of business support services for projects and business development with flexible hours based on my needs? No pay for breaks, vacations, sick time? No costs normally associated with an administrative assistant such as computers, phone, electricity or rent? And all of that for a reasonable fee?

Kathy takes care of my administrative matters. From invoicing to tracking deadlines, ordering supplies, and managing my schedule. She drafts correspondence for me. She designed and maintains my website, my blog, and at least once a week, fixes something I’ve messed up on my computer. When it’s time for a presentation, she becomes my thinking partner, not only producing PowerPoint presentations, but also rehearsing with me as the drafts take shape.

To my great fortune, Kathy is also a skilled travel agent. She manages all of my travel needs. She’s also helped me track children’s, grandchildren’s, and great grand children’s birthdays, ordering gifts and sending cards.

Here’s a list of her services from her website: VirtuallySolvedNow.com.

  • Infusionsoft Strategy, Training and Implementation 
Marketing Campaign strategies and development, Data Transition services from other systems, Setup of Ecommerce, Affiliates, Templates. Training on effective use of Infusionsoft.
  • Technology and Online Marketing Consulting 
Autoresponder and shopping cart setup and management, website maintenance, audio editing and posting, online video marketing
  • Social Media Management 
Set up of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn accounts and management of posts, Blog setup, management and support, YouTube setup and video editing and posting
  • Information and Data Processing
, Contact management, transitions of contact data between online marketing systems.
  • Travel Services 
Research on destinations, travel arrangements, group bookings

Without Kathy figuratively by my side, I could not have a successful business. You see, I have nearly all the traits good leaders need, such as resilience, extraversion, creativity, and assertiveness. It’s the fifth trait, however, that is my greatest challenge: Organization. I am not naturally focused, organized or a planner. I can do those things, but the time and energy it takes is daunting, stressful, and even painful. Organizing detracts from the energizing and creative things I prefer to do.

Kathy sells me “focused time”. She keeps me on task. We accomplish more together in one session that alone might take me two to three days. I’ve given her permission to ride hard on my creative mental and verbal wanderings during our sessions. She does, always using her delightful personality and sense of humor. That is not to say that all we do is pure work. I frequently have new hardware or software that I’m trying to learn. Occasionally we’ll play with it together, learning as we go. In addition, since I am alone in my home office six days a week and many nights, Kathy provides a friendship and companionship. We keep learning more about how the other thinks and how we are both stronger in our roles because of the other. Our personalities, talents, and joys are complimentary. What’s great, we can both avoid commuting, office expenses or even getting fully dressed. We use Skype’s screen sharing function but rarely use the video capacity!

I have a philosophy for working with people: find their talents, play to what challenges and energizes them, compensate them fairly, value them and give the work they don’t like to someone else! There are areas where neither of us has expertise. I’ve brought on other virtual team members to address specialty needs such as branding and publishing. We now have the greatest team anywhere—virtual or real.

Kathy’s motto for her business is “Above and Beyond” and does she ever do that and more! She provides me “with a long-term partner in the success of my business” and so much more. Kathy will always be at the core of why I have a successful business—and have never been happier or more fulfilled.

Thank you, Kathy! You are the best!