About the episode
In episode of the Mom Owned and Operated podcast, Rita Suzanne and Amanda Engler discuss raising a family, running a business and remembering yourself.
Bianca Smith is the CEO/Founder of Simplified VA Services, a Social Media Management Agency, a Virtual Assistant coach and owner of The Virtual Assistant Journey.
She has been married for 16 years to her wonderful husband whom she met in the Air Force. She has 3 teenagers. She is a military spouse, Air Force Veteran, & coffee lover. She loves to travel, read, scrapbook and learn new things.
After 6 moves, 4 overseas, she needed stability in her life through each move. She has an MBA in Accounting, however, as a military spouse, she often had to leave her career or couldn’t work depending on the country.
Therefore, Simplified VA Services was born. She started working virtually in order to have a more flexible lifestyle through each military move.
Grab Bianca’s consistency strategy for social media on her website.
Listen to the episode
Rita Suzanne, Bianca Smith
Rita Suzanne 00:02
Hi, this is Rita Suzanne, this is Mom Owned and Operated. And today I have my guests. Bianca Smith with me. Bianca, thank you so much for joining us. Please. Please tell everyone all about you, your family and your business.
Bianca Smith 00:18
Yeah, well thank you for having me, Rita. So my name is Bianca, as Rita said, and I’m a military spouse permanently stationed in Madrid, Spain. And I have three teenages, two teenagers and the younger daughter he forgetting she hit 18. And they are 16. It’s 15, 16 and 18. And I run a marketing agency called Simplified Marketing Services. And I’m also a virtual assistant coach at the Virtual Assistant Journey.
Rita Suzanne 00:50
Yes, you are amazing. And for everyone, Bianca manages my wealth, the content for my mom owned and operated and she is amazing. So before you started this, what were you doing? Ah,
Bianca Smith 01:08
what was I not doing? So before I started my business, I had an Etsy shop. So I had an Etsy shop. And then we moved overseas and I had to shut down my Etsy shop. So then I have an MBA in accounting. So I started doing bookkeeping for Etsy shops. And then that’s when I found out about the VA industry. So then I did internships with a military financial company, a military spouse who ran a virtual assistant company, I was working for her. And so that’s how I found out about the virtual assistant industry became a VA myself. And then after doing general admin and social media and being a solopreneur, and then decided I wanted to run an agency because at some point, we do get booked out. And we have to find different ways to scale. And so I started my social media agency, it was a social media slash VA agency. And then this year, we just niche down even more to just marketing. And then people started asking me questions about the VA industry and I love the VA industry. So then I decided just to become a VA coach. So I can help other VR bas out there, learn how to start grow, and also market their VA business.
Rita Suzanne 02:23
I love all of that. So when you Okay, so I feel like one of the biggest mistakes I made in my business was not hiring help soon enough. So I’m wondering from you like what do you find to be like, the best reason that someone should outsource and their reason and their business?
Bianca Smith 02:46
Yeah, so I always say to outsource probably before you ready. And when you start asking that question, you know, what can it be a do for you getting a little bit burned out. That is when you start looking into outsourcing, what I see as people wait too long to outsource. So they wait into they’re just exhausted, and they’re burnt out. And then they don’t take the proper steps to actually, you know, do interviews, look into people, they just need somebody quick to come into their business. And so if you’re finding yourself doing a ton of like repetitive tasks, you’re doing the same tasks over and over and over, especially if it’s general admin, you can hire a general admin VA to take care of those tasks. Just record yourself doing that task. So you have your SOPs for that VA to come on. If you’re working all the time, all the time on your business on a weekend on weekdays and you’re working, I always say like 40 plus hours on your business, that you know that you want to take some time off, when you just don’t have enough time to work on things that you want to work on your projects, things that are actually bringing in money because you’re doing all the admin thing you have, you know, all these emails coming in. There’s all these like little admin tasks that you’re doing when you could be focusing on other things that are actually bringing in money in your business. When your business isn’t growing, you know, you feel stuck, because you only have so much hours in a day. And so that you feel like you can’t grow in your business and the toilet, you just getting burned down when you’re just tired and you’re exhausted and you just want to burn the business down. That may be a good time to actually start outsourcing.
Rita Suzanne 04:25
I feel like so I was one of those people who waited way too long. You know, I talk about a lot of times about how I was burnt out so badly from doing web design. I would work every day non stop even on the weekends. I just remember when I first started, I would roll out of bed looking like I hadn’t showered in days probably because I hadn’t showered in days. You know, I was on a mission to prove to everyone that I could actually have my own business as you know, and that I didn’t move my family across the country for nothing, right, because we moved from California to Ohio just so that I could start my business. And so I was really determined to do that. But I was also on a shoestring budget. And so I really didn’t even consider hiring any help, because I was barely getting paid myself. But I find that to be like, one of the biggest problems for people like one of the maybe like, why they are not hiring is because they don’t feel like they can afford it. What are your thoughts on that?
Bianca Smith 05:37
And that’s another big thing I see is, oh, I can’t afford to hire a VA. And the thing is, you probably can, we tend to think that you have to pay $600 – $700 for a VA and the VA virtual assistant is the industry, right. So under this industry, we have different niches. So the you know, the more niche down you get, the more you are going to have to pay. So if you’re looking for a social media manager, if you’re looking for a Pinterest strategy, if you’re looking for a tech VA or tech strategist, those are going to cost a little bit more. But if you’re just looking for, let’s say, a general admin VA, to help you get your calendar, clean out your emails, if you’re a coach, maybe you have a court video, you just need them to download off the zoom, put it onto YouTube and put it into whatever program that you use, whether it’s Kajabi, or culture or member vault, and that’s a general admin VA and a general admin VA can cost you let’s say minimum of $15 an hour, it’s anywhere between 15 to $25 an hour, and if you hire a general admin VA for 10 hours at 15, you can expect to pay let’s just say $150, or two, maybe 250 for a general an MBA, and then there are executive MBAs who are maybe more scalable, that say Active Campaign and things like that. So they may start, you know, with 3035 40. So just do your research, because VA is charge different, right? Are we say, usually between 15 and $40? an hour for VA?
Rita Suzanne 07:06
Yeah, and I think that I mean, the, I think the answer is really that you you have to like make space for that. Because actually, by outsourcing a lot of your admin tasks, or even in any of your tasks, you’re gonna allow one more time for yourself so that you could probably bring in more money to the business, because what I realized, after so many years was I was burning myself out, like you said, on tasks that I didn’t really even need to do. And if I would have outsourced that, then I could probably have up level my business a lot faster, because I wouldn’t have been so tired from doing all of these things. You know, for my clients, and all of this other work that I thought I can’t I like I have to do this, like I have to like I’m the only one, right and I think that when you outsource, you are opening up your business to actually make more money. And and I think that it’s it’s actually super helpful.
Bianca Smith 08:10
And a myth where we feel like we are the only ones that can do it. But that’s why you create SOPs and aberrant procedures, and you outline what it is that thing that you do in your business day by day, record yourself doing that, because there are other people who can, you know, come in your business to help you in your business. And if you’re hiring someone, like a social media manager, they can probably do it better than you because that is what they do. And it gives you more time to focus on your coaching. So if you break down the numbers, and you hire a VA for let’s say, 10 hours a month, at $200 a month, and you’re a coach, you’re probably charging your coaching, you know, students a whole lot more, so you can take on more coaching students, you can actually make more money. Yeah,
Rita Suzanne 08:53
I think that’s, that’s true, then we just don’t realize it. I think especially as I think as service providers, it’s a lot different than like coaching, right, because as a service provider, when I get on a call and I talk to my clients, and maybe I’m coaching them through some things, but then I have eight hours still of work, the actual physical work that I need to do for the client. So it’s a lot more mentally draining, versus just coaching and I’m not, you know, minimizing it, but there’s so much more labor intensive work that goes into being a service provider, and it would actually help you because I would get burnt out creatively like I couldn’t think like, how am I going to design this thing when I’m so burnt out? I can’t you know, and I think also like having good boundaries will help you to avoid that burnout too
Bianca Smith 09:52
exactly I always tell people that there’s always these tasks. You know, you just talked about coaching and service providers and There’s so much to do in business. And I think when we start to become a business owner, we don’t realize all that there is to do. But we’re also capped on amount of hours that we can work. So bringing in somebody that has a specialized skill set is actually going to help you grow your business, it’s going to help you save money was gonna help you make money. And if you’re like me, family comes first, you have more time with your family, and I live overseas. So I love that while my clients are asleep, their businesses getting done, and then and then when they wake up, they can email me with any questions that they have. So sometimes I look at that as a pro, or a con, I look at that as a pro. Because that way, running an agency, my clients, you know, we have people from all over the world. So it’s almost like the business is running 24 hours.
Rita Suzanne 10:48
Yeah. And you know, what I liked the most is, and this is really important for me is that having a VA or multiple VAs, like, they keep me on my toes, right? Because I know, you’ll send me emails and say, oh, I need this. And I’m like, Oh, shit, I gotta get this together. Right? Like, it makes me actually, you know, pushes me forward. And I think that that’s another thing that’s beneficial to having a VA is that you know how we were talking about before, we’re overwhelming ourselves with trying to do all the things and when a VA comes in, and they start to take that load off of your plate, then they also can help push you forward, because they’re reminding you, oh, you you need to give me this. And in order to do XYZ,
Bianca Smith 11:36
our VA is going to hold you accountable. Because they can’t do their job. Saying that we can’t do our job, and we can’t get certain things we need from you. So for us, when we do marketing, we focus primarily on social media marketing, you have until a certain day to look over your content, if you don’t get that to us, it holds everything else up, and then your contents getting out late. But we do really good with setting reminders. And because we work with a lot of moms, we don’t mind sending you those reminders, even though we we tell you, hey, put this date on your calendar by the 25th of every month, which is today, make sure you look over your content, and they just go into airtable They quit one thing. But sometimes they don’t do that. So we do a two day reminder. And then we check in after like right now I had a client that said oh, I’m sick. I’m like, You know what, take care of yourself this weekend, just casually gonna look it over, get it to us by Monday. And we we try to you know, work with our clients, and understand that they’re busy their moms just like I’m a mom. And so it gives them gives us a little bit of leeway with the clients.
Rita Suzanne 12:35
Yeah, and I think that’s the most helpful part for me is like really being unlike Oh, shoot, I have to be on my toes, right? Because I am the type of person who needs that little bit of push, because I’m being pulled in so many different directions. So how can people find newbie, like a VA that would fit within their budget, you know, it’s like you I find I see people like all the time in Facebook groups, I need a VA and then like 1000 people are replying, right?
Bianca Smith 13:06
So if you’re looking for a VA, I always say to do first thing is to do a job out form and to really know what you need in a VA because sometimes like I said, we’re so burnt out, we just want somebody to come in and be that magic unicorn VA and there’s no such thing as a unicorn VA, but we want them to come in and be the savior and to do all the things. So I always say first do your job out form really sit down and think about what you need help with. Do you need help with general admin? Do you need help with marketing? Do you need help with you know miscellaneous tasks do you need help with you know just whatever you need help with so actually have outsourcing guy carboy your business to outsourcing and we have to write down everything you do in your business as far as administrative and they you circle yes or no to what you can delegate. And then we have you write down everything you can do in marketing and that can be you know, social media newsletters, content blogs, and then we have you circle yes or no to what you can delegate to someone else. And then we have you write down and miscellaneous thing whether that is let’s say tech, podcasting, bookkeeping, copywriting, and then you circle yes or no, because there are things in our business that only we can do. But there’s a lot of stuff that we can actually outsource. And then we say look at it. And if there’s a lot of yeses on general admin, just stop there because it may be easier for you to bring in somebody and just start off slow. Or if you know for sure you like I hate social media. I hate it. I don’t like it. If that’s the one thing that you feel like it’s holding you back in your business. This start with social media. So start with what you don’t like doing. And then write down every single task you do and start writing the list and get a list together what you can delegate, so do a job out form. You could put it into va gutu. There’s a lot of VA groups out there that you could put it into, like I have a BA group called the Virtual Assistant journey. So you will articles, job apps in there, put it on your own social media channel. You can put it on your Facebook page on your Instagram, you can also ask people that’s in your circle, do they have a VA that they can recommend? Because they’ve been working with that VA. So that might be a great way for for you. So there’s so many ways to find VAs LinkedIn, I mean, just different platforms, but just be very strategic on who you’re going to bring on onto your team.
Rita Suzanne 15:27
Right. And I think the another important thing is to have those SOPs in place. And a lot of people don’t do that, right? Do they have like they VAs come in? And maybe do that for them? Or like, how do you handle that when they they don’t really have a process in place already?
Bianca Smith 15:47
Yeah, so I think people get confused with a virtual assistant, which is the person that implements and they get confused with the OB, and a lot of people don’t know what a OBM is, which is the online business manager, and they’re gonna come in and do the strategy part of your business, so they may come in. And so if your business is just a mess, and chaotic, you might want to hire an OPM first, they a little bit more expensive, but they will come in and help you streamline your business, they will actually help you set up SOPs, that is not a VH job, they can come in and get you organized. And then you can bring in a VA to help you with those tasks. I think people tend to intertwine the two, which really, like I said, you want to focus on people that that’s that’s their zone of genius. So if you don’t have SOPs, that’s exactly what OBM do. They come in, they set up all your SOPs, they get to streamline and let’s say something like, click up, and they can even help you manage your team, they can even help you hire. Because you know, they understand the industry well, and then they were going their merry little way, or you can keep them and then your VA will come in and they will start doing the implementation part.
Rita Suzanne 16:49
I love that. Okay, so Oh, my gosh, so many things to talk about it. So because your schedule is so kind of like, wacky, I guess you would say it’s different, right? But you’ve made it your own because of the time changes and all that other stuff. What are you able to like do for yourself, like, you know, things for Bianca, remembering more about you as a mom and as a person versus as a mom or a business owner? Oh,
Bianca Smith 17:21
yeah, so I teach my coaching students a lot about time management. So time blocking and task batching. Because I think it’s so important. So you really can see where your time is going. So you can see how many hours a week you have to work where you are as far as a mother or as you know, even a spouse. And, you know, everybody wants a piece of us as moms and as business owners. And so every Sunday I sit down, I look at my schedule, I have gone for the week. And I was like I stopped for me first. Okay, I’m fine. I’m finally at a stage where I can sit down and say what does Bianca have going on? Okay. I think sometimes we pretend to put everybody else ahead of us. And it’s like what self care like so today I have Spanish class and I’m about to go get my notes then because it’s Friday and you know, things like that. And I look at you know, any appointments that we have going on, what do we have as a family. And then I sit down and then I plan my work schedule. But for some people, they may plan over schedule first, my work schedule kind of comes last. And then based off of you know what I have as far as availability for work, then I will go ahead and plug in what I need to get done. But I get everything done because I do theme days like today is my CEO day and my self care day. Thursday’s is my client work day, Monday is content creation for the agency, Tuesday is content creation for the coaching business. And then Wednesdays is a training day. So having those theme days time blocking tasks about chin really helps me only work about 25 to 30 hours a week if that.
Rita Suzanne 18:54
Yeah, I think that that’s super important to like, I love that you’re saying that you do your stuff and your family stuff before you even schedule your work stuff. Because it is most of the time, you know, we’re putting our work and our family first and then we’re putting ourselves last. And so I love though that you’re making yourself and your family a priority over your business because your business can you know, people are gonna survive right without their their social media scheduled or you know, or whatever. That’s why you schedule is so that it’s already pre batched and that’s why you’re outsourcing as well. You know, you have helped that helps you.
Bianca Smith 19:40
Especially social media is one of those social media one of those things where people really struggle with they struggle with their strategy where to rate this creative part and that’s where we can come in and help you with that. So we can come there and create the strategy for you. We do the copy that has to autograph you can be completely hands on But the good thing about it is you can be completely hands off completely hands on, you don’t really care because it is your business. But yesterday I was coaching my students on a difference between a glass ball and a rubber balls like what are those glass balls in your business that are in your life that if it breaks, it shatters, and for me, that’s my self care because we can’t pour from an empty cup. That’s my family. And I would say, you know, when it comes to business, my clients because whatever client you don’t have a business, but then we have those rubber balls and social media doesn’t get done. That’s why just doesn’t get done this week. Right? If I can’t clear up my email just doesn’t get done this week. But that also doesn’t mean that you know, we just can’t do it. We just got to prioritize.
Rita Suzanne 20:37
Yeah, I think that’s super important. I’ve never heard that analogy before. I love it, though. It’s, it’s really timely. So since you deal with a lot of new business owners, what is one of the things that you tell them? Like I always ask the question of, you know, if a another mom came to you, and she wanted to start her own business, what would you tell her?
Bianca Smith 21:01
Another fine new person came to me say, hey, Bianca, I wanna I always say, start with your why. I think that’s really important. I know, we hear that a lot. And because it’s so important, because there is not when, not if but when, when that time comes, when you are wanting to burn your business to the ground, and you’re tired, and you’re exhausted, and you don’t want to do this business anymore. Just remembering why you started your business can just give you all the motivation you need, you know, you maybe just need to take a break, take a break step, take a step back from your business. So sit down and really write down your why you want to start your business, it’s up to make more money, but then go even deeper. Why do you want to make more money? Well, I want to be able to take my family on vacation, there you go. So more than just less make more money. I want to, you know, more time to myself, Why do you want more time yourself? You know, because I’m a hot mess right now. So really dig in deep into your why? And then look at your skill set. What did you bring from your nine to five, I come from the banking industry. So I very much started with bookkeeping, but now I do bookkeeping for the financial industry. And then we started doing social media for the financial industry. And then we also do coaches because I’m a coach, too. So I very much understand both of those industries. So right in your skill set down, what is it that you actually enjoy to do? Because just because we had an honor five, when we can do it doesn’t mean we enjoyed it. So what can you do? What did you enjoy to do? And then see if there’s a service for that, you know, a lot of people come from marketing. And for Bas, they feel like they have to start with general admin. I’m like, No, you can’t for marketing, you can automatically go straight into marketing, there’s some things you have to learn because the online is different. So just your why and then figuring out what do you want to do and do a lot a lot of market research and a lot of networking. I believe in the power of networking.
Rita Suzanne 22:59
And then I think it’s important to for them to like hone it down, especially when you first start instead of trying to do all the things right, because just because you can do all areas of let’s say marketing, I think that it would probably be overwhelming for a new person to just start in and be like, Yeah, I can do email marketing, I can do social media, I can do this, I could do that. If you’re new, and you’re as a solopreneur, like niching down and saying, Listen, I’m just gonna focus on email marketing to start and then master that skill and move forward, I think is probably going to be the better thing because I’m working with somebody right now. And she even though she has a target in mind, she says she writes like a little thing and sends it over to me and says, you know, I’m going to work with small business owners. And I’m like, why I’d really think it would be better if you hone it in back into who your target audiences, like, you know, like, let’s say their real estate agents. She’s like, you know, instead of saying real estate agents, she says small business owners, and I’m like, No, that’s way too broad, like you need to hone it in and who you’re actually wanting to serve. And that took me forever because I used to say, I worked with female entrepreneurs, even though 90% of my clients were coaches, you know it and then even deeper than that they were health and wellness coaches, but I just did not did not want to say that I work with health and wellness coaches, even though I teach other people to help find their target audience. I just don’t even know why I was so resistant to that for years. A lot
Bianca Smith 24:35
of people are resistant to that they think it’s going to make them less money. And it’s actually going to make you more money because I always tell people if when you’re doing social media marketing, who are you talking to? You are marketing, you don’t even know who you’re talking to. You know, for example, we work with financial experts. So starting in about September, October, I do a lot of marketing to the financial experts because guess what’s coming up January tax season, so I can hit on their pain points. And then during tax season, they are so bombarded with taxes that you know, then they want to really outsource. And so if you really know who your target audience is, if you know who you’re talking to, it’s going to be so much easier to actually market your business.
Rita Suzanne 25:18
Yeah, I agree. And I always when I teach my clients, I always am teaching them to focus on one person, you know, like, having that one target person in mind. But then, like I said, when I would put it on my website, it wouldn’t have it would have that one person in there. But they it would be in a broader sense for the website for some reason, but I’m clear now I’m good. But you know, it took it took some time for me to learn that. And I think that that’s an important lesson for new business owners that that that they need to, the sooner that you can do that. I think the better. And so yes, that is my little tidbit on top of yours.
Bianca Smith 26:00
And it doesn’t help you you know, as somebody who owns an agency, when we are hiring, and we ask for our social media manager, and you come in and your website or your portfolio has 20 million things, I’m not even going to consider you because I want somebody that knows social media like the back of their hand, because that’s what we do. You are going to work with one of our clients, I need you to live and breathe social media like we do. I don’t want you doing general admin and tech and all these other things. And it’s, it’s too it’s too much. So when you niche down and actually does help you.
Rita Suzanne 26:31
Yes, I agree. So, Bianca, where can everyone find you online?
Bianca Smith 26:39
Yeah, so I am heavy on Instagram at simplify marketing services. You can find me over there. And then I have another Instagram called the Virtual Assistant Journey on Instagram. So either one of those Instagram platforms.
Rita Suzanne 26:51
Yeah. And then you have your free Facebook group and your beautiful website that was made by me.
Bianca Smith 27:01
Yes, my beautiful website I’ve Bianca www.biancamsmith.com made by yours truly, Rita. It is beautiful. I know if I can’t say so myself. For those of you that are multi passionate that have you know two businesses, I didn’t know how to merge the two. We were talking about a marketing agency and coaching vas. And so to find someone who can take both of your brands and merge them into one on one platform, the website is remarkable. You guys gotta go see it. So Bianca M. smith.com.
Rita Suzanne 27:35
Thank you so much. And thank you for being a guest. It’s always a pleasure chatting with you. Yeah,
Bianca Smith 27:42
thank you for having me read. It was a pleasure.
Rita Suzanne 28:00
And there you have it. I want to encourage you to remember that being a mom who runs her own business is not easy. We all struggle, but just keep moving forward. And don’t forget to make time for yourself. As moms, we are usually the first thing to go to the bottom of the list. If your business is overwhelming you and you need real solutions, not just some sugar coated suggestions apply to work with me at ritasuzanne.com/apply.