InnovaBuzz Episode #48 – Lisa Wells

Lisa Wells

Lisa Wells : Virtual Assistant Trainer

In this episode number 48,  Lisa Wells talks to us about systems, processes, leverage through online training and her virtual assistant training business.  Listen to the podcast to find out more.

Listen to the Podcast

Your business is a baby, you have to give it so much attention at first. And it does take time – You have to nurture it; nothing happens overnight.

Lisa Wells

Show Highlights

Some of the highlights of this episode include:

  • With the money she made from her first client Lisa then invested in her own education and acquiring new skills, learning how to do things better. Then added more value to that client and of course more value to other clients. And the business grew as a result.
  • Everything you can think of you should have a process for – conference follow up, online marketing, running a webinar for example. Processes and checklists for everything!
  • Having processes documented and used in the business gives creative freedom and allows the business owner to take time to do other things while the business continues.
  • Keep focused on the outcome and determine the best solution to achieve that, once you understand the desired outcome and what it looks like.

if you do anything twice, it needs to be documented

Lisa Wells

The Buzz – Our Innovation Round

Here are Lisa’s answers to the questions of our Innovation round.

  • #1 thing to be more innovative – Don’t be married to a solution up front – determine and understand the desired outcome first and find out how you can be of service.
  • Best thing for new ideas – Synergy, surround yourself with good people and learn from them.
  • Favourite tool for innovation – Meet Edgar
  • Keep project / client on track – Set clear expectations up front and keep communications open, keep everyone accountable.
  • Differentiate – Focus on what you are doing right, be more of who you already are and just OWN that!

To Be a Leader

Don’t assume that everybody is at your level – be a leader, you are good enough.

Reach Out

You can reach out and thank Lisa at the her website, the Virtual Assistant Trainer website, on Twitter @LisaWells, or on Facebook

Suggested Guest

Lisa suggested I interview Michael Mapes of Graveyard Innovation on a future InnovaBuzz podcast.  So, Michael, keep an eye on your inbox, for an invitation from me to the InnovaBuzz podcast, courtesy of Lisa Wells.

Links

Full Transcript

Click to Read…
Intro:
Hi, I’m Jürgen Strauss from Innovabiz. Welcome to Episode No 48 of the InnovaBuzz Podcast – designed to help smart businesses with an interest in innovation become even more innovative.In this episode, my guest is Lisa Wells an operations and marketing consultant who works with Virtual Assistants to help them build successful businesses.  She is also a certified Infusionsoft partner.  In the interview she speaks to me about systems and processes, leverage through online training programs, having a mobile business and much more.

Despite some technical glitches, this is still a fabulous episode with a lot of great information from Lisa, so without further ado, let’s fly into the Hive and get the Buzz from Lisa Wells.

Interview
Hi, I’m Jürgen Strauss from Innovabiz, and I’m honored to have here with me today on this episode of the Innovabuzz Podcast from Whispering Pines, which is in Raleigh-Durham in North Carolina, in the US of A, Lisa Wells, who is an operation and marketing consultant. She supports entrepreneurs working online to improve their business systems, and she’s also an InfusionSoft certified partner, and she runs Virtual Assistant Trainer, which is a website providing training and resources for virtual assistants. So, welcome, Lisa. It’s a privilege to have you on the podcast.

Lisa:
Thank you, Jürgen, for having me.

Jürgen:
And this is take 2 because we actually got about 20 minutes into the interview without me recording it, so my bad. I really apologize, Lisa. But never mind. Hopefully, we’ll have lots of interesting stuff for the audience because I know what’s coming up. So, before we start talking about digital marketing and innovation and InfusionSoft and virtual assistants, let’s find out a little bit more about you as a person. Where did you start off? What ambitions did you have when you were a young kid, and ideas of what you wanted to be when you grew up?

Lisa:
As I was just telling you …. I was telling Jürgen that it’s very uninnovative in that when I was little, I was a child of the 60s, I loved office work. So, I would follow my grandmother to her job, I would follow my mom to her job, and loved to fill out paperwork and do filing and type labels, and even hanging out in banks to fill out the deposit slips and things like that. So, I truly loved office work, so all of my jobs started off as working in office – word processing and then working all of the way up to the IT industry. So, I loved it. Didn’t want to leave.

Jürgen:
And so what prompted the change then to moving into your own business?

Lisa:
It started in 2005, and my husband was … he’s a Marine. So, in the Marine Corp you get transferred a lot, so even if you’re in the same, on the same base, you’re jumping from job to job. And so we were there for 16 years, and we thought that he was going to finish up his career, we wouldn’t have to really move, but he got orders across the country. So, it was somewhat of a shock. So, moving from Southern California where I was working, I was an IT specialist at that time, and I was literally two classes away from graduating college and kids were in school, everybody was great, I loved my job; I’d been there for eight years. And so the orders kind of came out of the blue, and it was Surprise! we were moving to this small, very rural area in North Carolina. And this point it was in Camp Lejeune, which is on the coast. And so I started searching around for jobs, and there just wasn’t any jobs. It’s very … it’s a mid-sized city, and I think the highest paying job I could find was making a third of what I was making in California. And like I was saying, your bills … a lot of the bills don’t change. I mean, living on base, you’re now living off base. Your car payments are the same, insurance is the same. So, I thought now is the time, this is the … if there’s no better time than now, let’s do it. So, I came upon the virtual assistant industry. And just ate it up, just learned all I could. And that’s how I got started. And it grew from there. And that was 11 years ago, so it’s been awhile. I’ve been doing this for awhile.

Jürgen:
And we talked earlier that’s not on the recording about the challenges faced by somebody starting out a business when they’ve come out of the corporate world, because in the corporate world you tend to have support for all kinds of different specialties. So marketing, for example, if you’re trying to get the first customers as a new business might be a big challenge. So, how did you deal with those challenges?

Lisa:
Oh yeah. It is quite a change. You’re there by yourself, and you want to turn around and ask somebody a question, like your co-worker, and there’s nobody there. So, you’re learning everything in a vacuum. And this is pre- … WordPress wasn’t really out, social media was not really existing in 2005. So, I learned how to create an HTML website and did that all myself. And I just started …. as soon as the first client came in, and I got the first client by learning search engine optimization, taking a free class. So, I got that first client, and then I started … and that’s when the picking and the choosing starts. I would get that first client, and then I thought I really don’t like working weekends. So, I started changing my specialty, my niche, and that’s when I came upon the coaching industry. And working with coaches, they, believe it or not, were sort of more advanced than the other industries. They were using auto-responders, shopping carts, and I had no idea what all this was, and I started working with them. And buying books; they had books like Multiple Streams of [Coaching] Income by Andrea Lee. And I just thought this is exciting; I really like it. And I learned that. And then I started supporting coaches. And that … It was after that point, this is year … maybe two, two and a half years down the road. Everything became so much easier. So, then I was able to afford more training classes and webinars and books and coaching. So, it does … We all start off the same. We all start off kind of not knowing what to do, then getting so overwhelmed and busy, we want to bring somebody in to do the work. And luckily I knew a lot of that; I knew how to do the tech and somewhat the marketing. And when something new came down the pike, coming from the IT industry, it’s really easy for me to pick up things. So, I picked up WordPress over the weekend. And learning a new program was very easy for me. So, I felt like I had a big advantage when it came to working in the online world.

Jürgen:
Yeah, that definitely sounds like you had an advantage, but also the mindset thing. And I like what you said before we were actually recording, when we got to this stage. You said that if there’s a problem, I’ll figure it out and Google is my friend. So, doing the how to search in Google or in YouTube.

Lisa:
That’s right. That’s right. And it’s … Yeah, the mindset of … You can figure out anything if you just know where to look. So, yeah, Google’s my friend. Especially YouTube now, where I just sit back and show me how to do it. I am there. So, we’re good on that.

Jürgen:
Yeah, and I like the philosophy too, because I think a lot of small businesses forget this that you make money from the first client perhaps and investing that back into your own education to then – upscale yourself; bring in new services as a result of that. That adds more value to the clients. And then keep reinvesting some of that money all of the time to improve skills and capabilities and provide more value to clients. So, I really like that whole philosophy and starting off with that.

Lisa:
Yeah. And … Oh yeah, I almost forgot about the blog post I was telling you about. The blog post …. And I put out there all my expenses. So, the money that I spent on software, the money that I spent on coaches. What I paid in affiliate commission. Every expense I had, I put it in a super long blog post just to kind of show people what it can look like a few years into your business. Because when we all start off, it’s all expenses, you know, for the first year or so. I think I made $250 my first year. And I spent more than that getting my taxes done for them to laugh at the fact that I had made $250. So, I like to show that to up and coming people, online business owners, virtual assistants, to kind of show them that this is what it’s going to look like down the road; maybe not your first year or your second year, but by the fifth, sixth, seventh year, this is what it’s going to look like. And a lot of the money I do pour back – coaching.

Jürgen:
You’re breaking up a little bit on the end there, but I’m hoping that the recording is actually continuing, so as long as I’m making sense because I didn’t hear some of that. But I take it that you’re talking about the blog post we talked about earlier where you spend your money and being very transparent about that. And we’ll have a link to that in the show notes underneath as well. Okay, so tell us about your business then; what is it that you do?

Lisa:
I always have this split focus going at all times. So, I have the InfusionSoft side of the business, which is consulting, and implementation projects. Nowadays it’s short-term projects for clients. And then the other side of the business is the virtual assistant. So, it’s working with virtual assistants, coaching, training, volunteering, creating online programs. And no matter what I’m doing during the day, I’m usually working on one program for virtual assistant and maybe another online program for the online business owner side of the business.

Jürgen:
Now, unfortunately, we had a few technical issues there in the middle of the interview, which was a shame, because there’s just so much brilliant stuff that Lisa shared with us. Luckily, we probably only lost about three or four minutes of the interview. In that time, Lisa talked to us about the transition from the corporate world where there’s a lot of support structure in place for all the various different things that one needs to deal with, for example, marketing, which she didn’t know a lot about when she first started her business. And she talked about how she tackled that, which was essentially if there’s a problem, you figure it out. She talked about searching on Google with the phrase “how to,” which is one of my favorite searches as well. She also talked about searching YouTube for the same thing. And the fascinating thing was when she got her first client and made some money, she then invested that in her own education and acquiring new skills, learning how to do things better. Then adding more value to that client and of course more value to other clients. And the business grew as a result. So, that was essentially the snapshot of the section that we ended up losing the audio recording for. Now we’ll transition back into the live interview.

Jürgen:
Alright, so we were talking about your business. So one of the things that I’m interested in is what do you consider the biggest challenges that you have in the business and how are you tackling those?

Lisa:
I think that because I felt like I had early success as a VA, and then I would evolve or transition to … say I wanted, at one point I transitioned to becoming an online business manager, what they call an OBM, and it wasn’t as easy. So, I would get kind of down on myself because you … it’s very easy to see everybody being successful or you’re always going to see somebody else’s highlight reel, you don’t see the years of sweat and money that’s going out. So, I think that I realized that your business is a baby, and you have to give it so much attention at first. And it does take time. And so whenever I would evolve the business, which I’ve evolved gosh four times over the eleven years where I would shut it down. My son got really sick, so I had to shut it down for a few months, and then start it back up. And then I wanted to move from a VA to the online business manager, so I let go of my VA clients. And then the OBM clients weren’t coming in, so I would go back to being a VA. And then I would try to figure something else out. So, it was just understanding that things take time. And it’s not always going to be easy like it was being a VA. You have to nurture it; nothing happens overnight.

Jürgen:
That’s right. So, is your focus on VAs again now or are you doing online business management? It sounds like a lot of it now is around training for other VAs.

Lisa:
Yeah, at this point, I’m doing … I love, I keep saying if I could just do online courses all day, I’d be so happy. Or if I could just be doing implementation all day, I’d be happy. But I’m just kind of being open. I’m taking off some … I volunteer a lot with IVAA, being the president. And so there’s about two hours every day devoted to that. So it is working, and trying to make the industry better. Oh, by the way, I want to give a shout out to your VA, Elena; she was awesome. So, it’s kind of giving back to the community, putting in my dues so to speak. And building that up to where I want to continue with the Association; so give back to that. I give a lot to the military community. So this year’s been a time of giving back, volunteering; kind of taking a breath from the ten hours a day I was working doing implementation projects for clients, traveling a lot, going to conferences. And in addition to running my own site, writing blog posts, doing the marketing, all of the social media, doing the training. So, it’s kind of just taking a breather and kind of putting it to more of how I want to run the business. So, if I want to take off a month, how am I going to do that? Well, online courses for me seems to be a really good option and taking short-term client projects when I can. So, I’m still kind of split between the two. So, I’m working with online business owners. So, for example I have a client right now who wants to make sure that her payment, when she’s taking payments online, she’s doing it the right way. She’s just never sat down with somebody who can show her what to do. And then that led to well what reports are you running each month? Are you keeping everything tidy? Let me do that for you. So, I kind of sit down with clients, make sure that their processes are clean, they’re doing best practices. I show them gaps where I think they can maybe fill in some gaps to make more money; stop leaving money on the table. Using all of their opportunities. And then on the VA side, my program is launching next week, it’s profitable packages. So, I show them how to package up their services to get away from charging hours for dollars. So, that’s kind of my thing; that’s kind of what I’m known for in the VA industry. So, I’m relaunching that program. It’s very successful, and it’s all online, so I’m super happy about that.

Jürgen:
Yeah, that sounds exciting. And we’ll post a link to that one as well in the show notes. So, I’m definitely … helping people to get away from trading time for money trap is of enormous value, so we’ll share that. And I like … you mentioned that you give a lot back to the military. You mentioned earlier, and I think it might’ve been before we were recording, about speaking on having a portable career, which is all part of what you’re doing here, isn’t it?

Lisa:
Yes. There is new term for … First of all, I heard portable career; I thought that’s a really good, I like that, it’s really catchy and short. And now they’re coming up with mobile income, and I think people get confused because when they hear that, they think Tupperware parties or Etsy, candles and things, and I’m like, no it’s all about being a service-based business using your administrative skills or graphic skills or customer service skills. Whatever you have skills in, you can parlay that into a full-time virtual assistant career. So, it’s just kind of showing them what that can look like. So, I love telling people … I get contacted by the bases around here and I go in and tell them all what a great, what they can do. Sometimes they’re receptive, sometimes they’re not. They’re a very skeptical crowd, which I can’t blame them for because we get pitched a lot of things in the military. But I’m always there to lend a … this is what it can look like for you.

Jürgen:
Yeah, and because you’re living that life and you’re building that business, you’ve got credibility and you’ve got the track record.

Lisa:
Right, right. Yeah, it helps to be … Say, I started 11 years ago, and I’m still going strong. So, yeah, that definitely helps.

Jürgen:
And it sounds like you have some sound processes in place that helps you replicate things across the different parts of your business as well. I mean, as an InfusionSoft certified partner, you’d be very into processes in particular.

Lisa:
I do. I do have everything set up. And I’m very much a stickler for processes. So, I have a process for when I go to a conference. I know what to do with every business card I get and every person that I meet, there’s systems behind all that. Online marketing, I have checklists, I sell forms. That was the first product I ever created was forms and checklists. So, I love having my checklist for how to do the webinar, what to set up pre, during, and post the webinar. I’ve got processes for social media. Everything you can think of I have a process for. So, yes. That’s why I thought this was normal. I thought everybody had these things, and when I started figuring out that this is not something that inherently comes to business owners. They kind of look to other people or somebody on their team to do it for them, and I thought it’s usually not the business owner. So, once I started figuring that out and doing it for them, that’s the fun part of my job.

Jürgen:
Yeah, well there’s a couple of things around processes. I mean, clearly …. I’m a real big process person, but clearly our podcast process needs a little bit of work. We’re terribly off today. But people kind of are down on processes sometimes, and particularly because I know I’ve put together processes for creative people, the creatives say we can’t be creative if we are restricted by a process. But the thing is everybody uses a process, it just might be an ad hoc process, and it’s not documented and it’s not the same each time, which makes it very inefficient. So, it’s really about having something documented that you repeat each time and you improve on it when something isn’t working as well as it should. And so when it works, you know you just need to do that the same way each time.

Lisa:
Exactly. It actually …. Instead of restricting them, because I work with creative types all day. I say it creates freedom. I go how would you like to be able to go on your vacation without your laptop. That is the only way that that’s going to happen is if you have systems in place, you know, what to do when this happens. So, I tell them if you do anything twice, it needs to be documented. And once they start to see how easy it is, because I think they feel that it’s this big binder manual that they’re kind of stuck with. But I like to do the easy ones, you know, when you go to a conference, when you come home, would you rather have your systems in place where it takes you ten minutes to do what you need to do, or you come home with this big thing and you kind of shove it in your drawer and you don’t worry about them. And then who knows, you could’ve got clients out of that, you could’ve made money. So just having it just one time setting them up creates for them.

Jürgen:
That’s right. That’s great advice. And the idea … Actually I like the idea of the things that you do more rarely, that’s where it adds a lot of value as well because there’s things that I do maybe once every three or four months, and I don’t remember how to do that. So, without a process, I’d be totally lost.

Lisa:
That’s true. Yeah, we do have … I do have daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, annually. So, I kind of break them up that way because online businesses are cyclical. They sometimes do a promotion calendar and then three months later they’re doing a launch, and then three months later they’re on events or whatever they’re doing. So, yeah, they forget what they did three months. So, really good point.

Jürgen:
And also you talked earlier about training programs being one of the best assets in your business. I think processes are … documented processes and systems are a really high value asset in the business as well.

Lisa:
And it never really comes up for me, but if you think about it, your exit plan, if you plan to ever sell your business, you have to have that in place. The buyer’s going to want to know that you have everything documented and stats are in place and everything. So, it is, it’s very valuable. And plus what happens when if you had to take a leave of absence and you want your business to run without you for awhile. So, it might be the difference between you losing $10,000 a month while you’re dealing with a sick family member, like me, when I had to shut down the business, it was for four months. So, no one come for four months. But if I had something at least set up to where I could have my VA do customer service or hire somebody to maybe create some products for a passive income; something would’ve been better than nothing. But I didn’t have anything.

Jürgen:
That’s a really good point, too. And as you said earlier, having a portable career and being able to take a month or so off here or there, that becomes possible when you have those processes in place as well and the systems that will run independent of who’s actually doing things. Of course, if you can automate a lot of stuff, that’s great, but some of the things can’t be automated but they can be done by somebody else if they’re well documented.

Lisa:
Right, right.

Jürgen:
Alright, so…. Yeah, sorry, go ahead.

Lisa:
Oh, no. I was going to say there’s really … There’s not a lot of things that you can’t automate. So the only things that I would recommend not automating is the personal stuff. You know the decision making, content creation because it kind of has to be in your voice, long-term goals, maybe personal responses and replies. I really don’t like it when somebody takes over somebody else’s social media. You can kind of tell. So, I tell people try not to do that. Queuing up posts, that’s great, but the … and don’t do the automated replies; I don’t like that either. But when somebody emails you and saying hey, I need help on this, I respond to each and every one on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter. I just think it’s important because people are going to know, and that’s the first, maybe only, impression they’re going to have of you. Don’t make it seem that you got back to them a week later and it’s their assistant. So, those are the only few things I say don’t automate.

Jürgen:
That’s great advice. I was actually on a webinar this morning before we got on this call, and it was about automating social media posts going out from your blogs. And it was really excellent. I’m doing a little bit of that, but this took it to a whole new level, and I thought that’s brilliant. But it occurred to me that there’s actually two elements to that social media … what’s the word that I’m looking for … basically working in social media, and the first thing is posting information on there that’s of value to your audience, which you can automate in that when you publish a blog post, it goes to the social media and people come back to your website. But the second is the engagement. And like you say, that’s the bit that you can’t automate because if you’re getting responses from your audience, asking questions or posting comments on the content you’ve originally published, then the engagement part is really important as well. And I think that’s where you’ve got to be present and it’s got to be your voice and it’s got to be personal.

Lisa:
Totally agree. Yes.

Jürgen:
Alright. So, let’s talk a little bit about innovation. What’s the most innovative thing you do in your business?

Lisa:
The most innovative thing I do … Hmmmm….. I think that I don’t try to approach everyone already married to a solution. I think I have an open mind so that I can come to it with a fresh perspective, get to know what their problems are, and then test my ideas, figure out a way, a solution, without automatically going right to the most expensive solution. So not everybody that comes up to me says, “Hey, I need some automation,” and I’m like, “InfusionSoft is going to be great for you.” I always come not married to the solution, very unattached to the outcome, and kind of think listen to what they’re trying to do and come up with the best solution for them at that time.

Jürgen:
That’s terrific. I love that because I take very much the same kind of approach. Now InfusionSoft is an awesome product, but it’s probably a little bit beyond the budget of a lot of very small businesses. And it may not be the best fit for everybody. And likewise other products. So, the idea of finding out what’s the real issue, what’s the need, and defining that need, and then looking at what outcome do you want to achieve in place of what you have right now, and then figuring out, okay how do we best do that. That’s my approach as well and I don’t necessarily … Well, I haven’t seen that as innovation, but then you look at how a lot of small businesses operate and they kind of say well, we have this product, so that’s what we’re going to sell you regardless … The answer is the same regardless of what the question is.

Lisa:
Right, because if you think about it, problems rarely change. And the solutions to the problems change all the time. So, a lot of the things are temporary. But when you come … So, for me systems are never going to go away; you’re always going to have to have some type of system. So, I like that part of it. But the technology is always going to change. So, yeah, I’m very not married to the outcome.

Jürgen:
Alright, this is great. Well, I really appreciate you taking the time with us today, Lisa, and also putting up with all of the technical glitches we’ve had. So, I think it’s time we moved on to the Buzz, which is our innovation round. It’s designed to help our audience who are primarily innovators and leaders in their field with some tips from your experience. So, I’m going to ask a series of five questions, and hopefully you’ll give us some really insightful answers. Not that you haven’t already done that in the interview so far. But, ideally this is going to inspire people to go out and do something awesome.

Lisa:
Oh good. I like that.

Jürgen:
So, firstly, what’s the #1 thing anyone needs to do to be more innovative?

Lisa:
Ooh, I would say, tack onto the last question. Kind of go into it with the expectation that you’re not going to be married to the solution, but rather get to know, build that relationship beforehand so that you can come at it and provide a solution that’s more, that’s going to help the client. Very results oriented rather than your own thing. I don’t go into it saying, well this is my process and it’s more about how can I be of service to you, because I want you to win. That’s what I want for the clients.

Jürgen:
Yeah, and I think that last couple of phrases you said there, how can I be of service to you because I want you to win, I think that really encapsulates it. So, that’s really great. So, what’s the best thing you’ve done to develop new ideas or new products?

Lisa:
Oooh, oh, because we all work alone; we’re all kind of loners. I like synergy, I like to surround myself with a … You know, Tamala is really good at that. We get online, because we’re kind of equals in that, so we can get on and we come from it from a completely different mindset perspective but synergy I think is the … that’s what I love to do for new ideas.

Jürgen:
Okay, that’s great. So, get out and talk to people and learn from others as well as sharing with them. So, what’s your favorite tool or system for improving productivity and allowing you to be more innovative?

Lisa:
And going off of your social media, you were just talking about social media, I’ve used a new program this year, it’s called Meet Edgar, and it is the best social media program I’ve ever …. It’s a database. So, you fill it up with your posts and it goes out there and posts for you, and when it gets to the end, it restarts again. And I’m always putting in …. They make it very easy for you. I can click, if I like a blog post, I’m reading it, I just click on the little tool bar and it adds it to my queue, my library. It can hook up to my feeds so that I’ve got two different blogs. So, it’s always feeding blog post to the criteria that I’ve already set up. So, I don’t need a social media VA anymore because I use Edgar. So, I love that program.

Jürgen:
Yeah, that was mentioned this morning. I’m not familiar with that one. I use Buffer. I sounds like it does similar things to Buffer, but I need to have a look at that. And we’ll have a link to Meet Edgar in the show notes as well.

Lisa:
I have a little demo, like a free demo, where I kind of show people around, so I can always give that link to you too.

Jürgen:
Okay, that would be great. Alright, so what’s the best way that you know to keep a project or a client on track?

Lisa:
Oh, set clear expectations for sure up front and keep communication open. I think that too many times, especially when it comes to the VA client and things start to break down, it’s because the communication wasn’t open; they assumed somebody meant this or said that or felt this way. So, in our world of you can’t walk in and talk to the person in person, communications are the most important. And then of course keep everyone accountable. You can’t take responsibility for others, when they didn’t get something to me, then I’ve got to come back with well, here was our milestones and you didn’t meet that. So, making sure everybody kind of understands expectations, communication, and accountability.

Jürgen:
Accountability. Yeah, that’s great; three clear bits of the puzzle there. Alright, and what the #1 thing anyone can do to differentiate themselves?

Lisa:
Well, I think everybody says choose a specialty or choose a niche, and I agree with that totally. But I think so many times we get caught up in becoming so specialized and becoming different and what’s our unique value this and that. But I tell people focus on things you already are doing right and do more of that because that’s what drew that client to you or that’s why people are following you. So, I tell people to focus not on things you aren’t. I’m not the most innovative person; that’s actually like the opposite of me. I liked tried and true and systems analysis. And instead I just …. be more of who you already are, because you already are different, so just own that I guess.

Jürgen:
That’s great advice. And the other thing I might add to that because if you are in business, it’s a good idea to ask clients what they value with your service or product or the relationship that they have with you because you might be surprised at what they do value. And I’ve done this in the past, and what has come back are things that I take for granted. So, to pick up on your advice in terms of focusing on those things and doing more of those, if I’m taking them for granted, then I’m not aware of that that’s what people actually value, I can’t do that.

Lisa:
So true. So true. I do that a lot with the clients. You know, what do you value that I give you. And I am surprised. One of them was telling me I love the fact that you get back to me, even if it’s a quick acknowledgment, email, you get back to me right away.I love that. And the other client was like I don’t really care if you talk to me or not. So, I can’t really approach every client the same way. So, you’re right; that’s a good point. Survey them, ask them what they find of value.

Jürgen:
Alright, well this has been really great. So what do you see as the future for your business then, Lisa?

Lisa:
I’m having so much fun right now creating the online programs, so I’m going to continue with that and do more short-term projects so that I can have more interaction with the students. I want to build in more access to me and so the only way I can do that is to start leveraging. So, that’s kind of the plan for the next year.

Jürgen:
Okay, and the industry itself, the virtual assistant industry is really booming, isn’t it, so I can see there’s got to be a big demand for training for virtual assistants and more training course opportunities for you to build.

Lisa:
I think so. I think showing them … Because a lot of times coaches are outside of their budget. My coach, I wouldn’t think twice about spending $5,000 or $10,000 on a coach. A lot of VAs are just starting out. So, I want to, you know, building up IVAA, the International Virtual Assistant industry, and getting more programs in there that are member benefits so that they’re not having to go outside and spend thousands on what they could get from inside their association. So, yeah, I probably could take that on as an income stream, but I just feel like I want them to win too. So may as well help them out.

Jürgen:
Yeah, it’s good to give back to that community as well. I mean, there’s a part of every business that if you’re in a community that’s mutually supportive of everyone, then it’s good to give back to that community.

Lisa:
I agree. I agree.

Jürgen:
Alright. So, what the #1 piece of advice you’d give to any business owner who wants to be a leader in innovation and in their field?

Lisa:
Oooh, that’s a good question. I would say that don’t assume that everybody is at your level. I did this a lot throughout the years. I sort of assumed that everybody was an expert at InfusionSoft, so why would they need me. Or everybody already was doing this, why would they need my service. But I think don’t assume that because chances are they’re not. So, if you … there’s a saying that the fifth grader is just a guide to the fourth grader, even though, you know, you can always provide value to someone, no matter what level you’re at. So don’t, I think just don’t get caught up in the well, I’m not good enough, or maybe I don’t know enough. You are, right where you are, you’re good enough.

Jürgen:
That’s great advice too. And often somebody who’s an expert, who’s kind of seen as a world leader and a world authority on a particular topic, others see as inaccessible to them, so having somebody much lower down, if you like, in expertise and authority but still more knowledgeable than you are perhaps might be more approachable, so yeah, it’s great advice, talking about providing value no matter at what level you are.

Lisa:
Yeah, I love that. I love the way you phrased it better.

Jürgen:
Alright, well, thank you, Lisa. Thank you for your time today. I really appreciate it, and also putting up with all of the technical hitches we’ve had. Hopefully we can get all of the audio edited together and in a way that is going to be a great interview for the audience. I’ve really enjoyed it. I’ve learned quite a bit. Where can people reach out and say thank you to you?

Lisa:
Well, first thank you. It’s been my pleasure to be with you today. They can reach me on Facebook at Lisa Wells Automates and on Twitter @LisaWells, I was lucky enough to get that one right away. And then my website is LisaRWells.com and for the virtual assistants in the group, it’s VirtualAssistantTrainer.com.

Jürgen:
Okay, and we’ll put links to all of those in the show notes as well so that people can get in touch with you and give you some feedback or if they want to find out more about the things that you’re offering, then they can talk to you as well. So, finally then, who would you like me to interview on a future InnovaBuzz podcast and why?

Lisa:
Oh, one of my coaches, Michael Mapes of Graveyard Innovation. He was my coach, and he is brilliant at marketing. He created a whole video marketing concept with me in about five minutes one time, and it was amazing. So, in a nutshell, he feels that marketing is broken; that entrepreneurs are paying too much for too little and cookie cutter approaches that don’t work, so he’s different. He has a results-oriented marketing firm. And he works with his clients in real time using a custom approach, so he’s very receptive. They can turn on a dime. He’s very lean. He’s just starting out; I don’t even know if they have a website yet. But we’ve been working on that for the last few months, kind of getting systems up to date, up to speed, and kind of testing out the marketing idea. But he’s just got such a different, very, very cool, unique way of delivering what I, what we all feel that is just missing right now, which is the custom approach and getting that client to, you know, having the one-on-one with them and kind of co-creating their business.

Jürgen:
Okay, that sounds fascinating. So, I’m looking forward to learning more about that, so Michael, look out for an interview from us at InnovaBuzz at the InnovaBuzz Podcast, courtesy of Lisa Wells. So, Lisa, again, thanks very much for sharing your time and your insights with us so generously today and putting up with all of the technical difficulties. It’s been fun. I’ve really enjoyed it, and I’ve learned a lot, …

Lisa:
Me too.

Jürgen:
… so I hope it’s great for the audience as well. So, I wish you all the best for the future, and let’s keep in touch.

Lisa:
Alright, thank you so much, Jürgen. Have a great day.

Jürgen:
Thanks, You too.

Wrap Up:
I hope you enjoyed meeting Lisa as much as I enjoyed this interview and there were plenty of ideas and lessons to learn in this episode for you.

All the show notes for this episode will be at innovabiz.com.au/lisawells, that is L-I-S-A-W-E-L-L-S, all lowercase, all one word, innovabiz.com.au/lisawells, for all of the links and everything we spoke about in this episode .

Lisa suggested I interview Michael Mapes of Graveyard Innovation on a future InnovaBuzz podcast. So, Michael, keep an eye on your inbox, for an invitation from me to the InnovaBuzz podcast, courtesy of Lisa Wells.

Thank you for listening.  Pop over to iTunes or Stitcher or Pocket Casts and subscribe so you’ll never miss a future episode.  While you’re there, you might leave us a review, because reviews help us get found and your feedback helps us improve.  If there is anything you’d like us to cover, guests you’d like us to interview, or questions you want answered on a future podcast, please send them to us.

Until next time, I’m Jürgen Strauss from Innovabiz.

Remember, if you don’t innovate, you stagnate, so think big, be adventurous and keep innovating!

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Jürgen

Jürgen is the chief innovator and founder of Innovabiz who partner with innovative, exceptional business coaches to enable you to acquire more leads and more business by reaching your ideal target prospects with your message, so that you will achieve growth and be able to make a difference to more ideal clients. You can find Jürgen on LinkedIn, as well as on Innovabiz' Twitter, Facebook and Google+ Pages.

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