Up until November 2012 only a handful of people knew I had achieved six-figures by year three in my Virtual Assistant business. Those who knew were either family members or directly involved in my finances (financial planner and accountant).
The only reason it’s becoming more widely known is because Tess Strand pushed me out of my comfort zone (trust me, I resisted it) and asked to include it in my bio on the Virtual Assistant Business Jumpstart Class so potential students could be inspired with the income potential as a Virtual Assistant. I was more concerned with potential “haters” vs. inspiring potential students in my class.
She was right, I had a full class with 10 students and several of them mentioned knowing that piece of incredibly personal information about my business was a factor in why they signed up for the class. Even still, I am uncomfortable with it being “common” knowledge.
Why Am I Uncomfortable with People Knowing How Much I Earn?
- It’s PERSONAL: while I’m an open book with most aspects of my life, finances has always been one of those “don’t talk about it”
- The Haters: I care way too much what other people think
- Perception: six-figures must mean I have lots of money to burn
- The “compare” trap: I don’t want others comparing themselves to me
How I’m Trying to Overcome these Points:
- It is PERSONAL: inspiration comes from people, their struggles and how they overcome those challenges. I’ve received so many random texts, emails, etc. from others let’s me know my honesty has been an inspiration and made a difference in their life.
- The Haters: I know. I know. There will always be haters. I need to read Erika’s book: The Power of Unpopular. In her TedX Boulder talk she says, “Love Me or Hate Me. Just Don’t Be Indifferent.” I’m working on embracing this for myself.
- Perception that I must have money to burn: prior to starting my business I was debt-free (except for mortgage and car). I had a high-paying job with really great perks and a four-family property on Lake Winnebago. By the end of year one in business with gross revenues less than 25% of what I was earning in my previous job and said property being a complete money-pit I was soon in nearly $40K of debt. Then my son was diagnosed with liver disease, very shortly after I started my business, and we quickly hit $5,000 in out of pocket expenses. (and I get no child support). I was working so hard and although the money was coming in, it was leaving even faster; so when my accountant called me last April to say I owed the IRS $12,230 in taxes for 2011 I cried. And nearly threw in the towel. Over and over I asked myself, “Why am I doing what I do when I can’t seem to get ahead?” Nutshell: I don’t have money to burn.
- The “Compare” Trap: we all have different journeys and are at a different point in our lives. With some simple math on earning $115,000 at $40/hr. you can easily calculate the crazy hours I work. I am not dating, I have a son who is a teenager and fairly hands-off (unless it’s dinner time). My life allowed me to work myself to into the ground. I was not taking care of myself and I threw out my back (ahem, which meant I had medical bills that accumulated there!) and until December 2012 I had not taken a vacation since 2008. What has value to us and the support we have will impact our small business journey. My journey necessitated “fueling the rocket”.
I’m down to $17,203.80 in credit card debt and my IRA needs to be replenished the $12,000 I took out last year to pay the IRS. I’ve made progress financially but have a long way to go until I feel as though I can “breathe” again. I’ve taken up latin dance lessons. I’m walking most days with a friend and do two sessions per week with a personal trainer.
Most importantly I’ve hired a business coach to get me into the next stage of my business. I have run out of hours and now crave more “life”.
You can be a six-figure Virtual Assistant. I’m a live and breathing example. But realize there are stages a business must go through and your journey will be different than mine. Embrace the journey and know this, “Wherever you are, it’s OK.”
Photo Credit: PhotoExpress user ChrisHarvey