Liz at a Glance
Profession: President of Your Third Hand
Contact Info: email@example.com
Personal Motto: “Don’t take it personally.”
Why she chooses to cowork: To be amongst others who also seek community while working remotely.
Virtual Office Management
For more than 20 years Liz Van Brunt has made helping small businesses run smoothly her profession. She describes what she does as being that extra hand so that business owners can focus on what they really need to do. As a virtual office manager Liz does a little bit of everything. From bookkeeping to administrative work to website management, her tasks vary from company to company, but her mission remains the same: to help small businesses thrive.
Starting Out as a Virtual Office Manager
Before she founded Your Third Hand Liz worked full time as a meeting planner. She was looking to make a change in her career when a friend who runs a consulting firm mentioned how overwhelmed she was by the size of her to-do list. As Liz was soon to discover this was a common problem for many small business owners.
Liz points out that people often struggle to delegate tasks, feeling that what they do is too specialized to hand off to another person. What she discovered is that most work can be broken down into tasks, some requiring specialized knowledge and others that are more administrative. The later tasks are the ones Liz takes on, freeing up small business owner’s time to do the work they’re passionate about.
Growing Her Services in Virtual Office Management
After 20 years in the industry Liz has an impressive range of services to offer, but she didn’t start out with all of that knowledge. Much of what she learned came out of the needs of her clients. When one client needed someone to manage their blog, Liz researched HTML and learned how to use WordPress. When another wanted her to start a foundation, Liz leveraged her existing knowledge and asked questions to figure out each step in the process.
She points out the internet makes it possible to learn almost anything saying, “All the information is out there.” This openness to continual learning has resulted in gaining experience in areas like proofreading, online survey tools, website maintenance, foundation management, and bookkeeping with software like Quickbooks. As she points out, a willingness to always be learning is an essential part of being a successful virtual office manager.
Of course there have been times when a client wants something beyond the services Liz is comfortable providing. She considers knowing when to call in an expert an important part of her job. This openness is also foundational to the trust she has built with her clients. When a project is beyond the scope of Liz’s expertise or she recognizes that an expert could get the task accomplished at less cost to her client Liz is happy to direct her clients to the appropriate person for the job. For her the team of professionals she can provide to a client is just as important as her individual skills.
What’s Next for Liz
Since her first client, Liz has never paid to advertise her services. Instead she has let her client list grow organically, finding new work either from client recommendations or through conversation. By happenstance this resulted in her having a number of clients she works with remotely. Recently though Liz has begun taking on local clients. The change to working with local small businesses is a welcome one and has brought a renewed sense of life to her work.
Additionally, becoming a member at Cowork Frederick has impacted her sense of work/life balance. Getting more separation between her work and home life has allowed her home to become a place for play, rest, and creativity, and belonging to a community of small business owners and telecommuters has helped solidify her own identity as a small business owner.
Liz’s Tips for Starting Out in Virtual Office Management
- Stay organized.
- Turn to others when you have questions.
- Educate yourself, but know when to call in an expert.
- Learn Microsoft Office and Quickbooks.
- Don’t fear unfamiliar tasks. Treat them as learning opportunities.
- Develop a network of professionals with similar and supporting skills.