It's true. In June of 2020, I announced that I was closing my Virtual Assisting agency.
I've received lots of emails and text messages from our clients with their condolences when in reality, they should be congratulating me.
My agency opened a few years ago when I was letting other people's opinions and advice influence me.
“Oh, you should open an agency and make even MORE money!”
I heard it all the time and always replied with, “I DO NOT want that kind of management”.
I had an incredibly bright student in my course at the time who had a dream of opening an agency. I decided to approach her to see if she wanted to partner and it was a resounding YES!
My VA Place opened in 2018 and our agreement was that my student would do all of the management and I would strategize, grow the business and bring in clientele.
It all worked well until it just didn't anymore.
My student, let's call her “Karen”, started giving me red flags. You know, the kind where your stomach sinks and you're thinking to yourself, “what have I gotten myself into?”
She was an alcoholic.
It all began when we went to a business conference in Arizona along with several virtual assistants from my school. She got wasted at dinner and began yelling at everyone. I'm not talking a little wasted either. It was the lose your wallet and your phone while needing to be babysat all night kind of wasted.
I had resolved it to she was just away from her family and kids for the first time in a while and let a little too loose.
The second incident happened on a voxer thread. Now, if you're not familiar with what voxer is, it's a walkie talkie app that a lot of business owners use.
We were on a voxer thread with a client and Karen was drunk. She had an open voxer saying bad things about the said client to a friend of hers. To make matters worse, two of my virtual assistants were on that thread and began frantically calling me. We aren't sure if that client heard what was said, but she left shortly after.
I was incredibly embarrassed.
It happened again the day Karen was moving. We had lost a full-time client because Karen took 3 days to get back to her. I reached out to Karen expressing my concern and she lost it on me.
Later that night she called me, incredibly intoxicated, telling me she was going to get a lawyer. I immediately took control of the situation and changed all of our passwords until I could figure this whole thing out.
She began calling me over and over again at 7AM the next morning when she realized the passwords had been changed. I spoke with her briefly and told her to take the weekend and we would chat on Monday.
That Monday I expressed my concerns, she was deeply embarrassed and we moved past it after a thoughtful conversation.
Karen was better at hiding her frequent drunkeness, but I noticed our business was not doing so well. It came to a head when we lost four clients in one day. I had a new assistant and asked her to find out what was going on deep within our agency (at the time, we had a rather large My VA School class that I was teaching).
If I'm being 100% honest, it was a shit show.
Karen was showing up to agency calls with our VAs with gigantic cups of wine (which she disclosed to everyone). Not like a glass of wine, like a big 711 cup — do you know the kind that I'm talking about?
I decided it was time to confront her. We had a difficult conversation, but one that was necessary. I told her that I needed to come in and overhaul the agency and suggested moving her to an hourly rate and taking down her percentage in the partnership. I also expressed my concern over her abuse with alcohol.
She decided to leave the agency after an hour and a half of deliberation.
I was in support of her decision and excited to have my company 100% to myself. We signed all the contracts and she was out of my business for good. She was also out of my life since she blocked me on every social media platform there is. When I had asked her about it through a text message she said “it was too painful” to stay connected with me which I completely understood. It came out later that her real reason for blocking me was so that she could poach my VAs and clients (a VA sent me the email she sent to everyone just two weeks after leaving).
The further I dug, the more problems I saw within the agency. Poor bookkeeping, favoritism among the VAs and one client had confided that Karen “screamed” at her. When I asked why no one came to me I was told that they were scared to because she was my business partner.
I literally cried as I sat down and tried to sort out our books and finances. After a month in, things started to look up. By March our agency was booming and we hadn't lost a single client since I took over.
The truth is though, I hated my agency. It wasn't at all what lit me up inside and what's even worse is…it took me away from my passion, My VA School.
I was so tied up doing client work from VAs who would drop the ball that I couldn't even find the time to write to or encourage my community. Many nights I was up until midnight working trying to take care of everyone.
I began to resent my clients, my VAs and the agency as a whole. I was becoming a person that I didn't like because of the stress, headache and monopolization of my time that it took.
On paper the agency was successful, but inside my heart was breaking. My love, my school and my passion were going to the wayside.
I always tell my tribe that everything in our lives we allow to be there. Why was I not standing up for myself?
I decided it was time. Time to close the agency and stand up for what I really wanted — without caring about the opinions of others.
So, it happened. I announced the closing and surprisingly my VAs were thanking me for leading by example. Wow! It was so unexpected and reminded me of why I was doing this.
My VAs were released from their contracts and had permission to take their clients with them. So many people have joined my school because I had an agency, but here's the truth.
My VAs don't need me to be successful. My school gives them all of the tools that they need to soar on their own. I want my students to feel empowered. The entire purpose of working for yourself is so you can be your own boss, right?
I don't want to be in charge of anyone, but rather I want to encourage them, mentor them and love on them. That's what I'm called to do.
What's in your life that you don't want and you're allowing to be there? Who's influencing your path?
Listen to your heart and take action.
I feel a thousand times lighter this week and actually wake up excited to step into my office. I'm so grateful that I get to sit down and write this email so I can pour into you.
We are in control. We can change the trajectory.