Gina Horkey is a professional writer and online business marketing consultant. She has a decade of experience in the financial services industry and enjoys helping other freelancers gear up to quit their day jobs and take their side hustles full-time. She also shares what she’s learned while building her online business through her 30 Days or Less courses. On a personal note, she self-identifies as a married, millennial mama to two precocious toddlers (and is thankful her husband has the patience of a saint as he stays at home with their children).
I had the pleasure of connecting with Gina recently and was fascinated to learn about her virtual assistant matchmaking business. I’m delighted to to share my conversation with her.
Who are you and what do you do?
I’m Gina Horkey, a married millennial mama to two toddlers from Minnesota (a lot of M’s, huh?).
I started freelance writing as a side hustle in 2014 and added virtual assistant services that fall. I was able to build my business up to the point where I was able to quit my day job (as a financial advisor/support person) and take my business full-time at the end of 2014.
Since then, I’ve grown my business and brand to include two courses to help others break into freelance writing and virtual assistance work:
- 30 Days or Less to Freelance Writing Success
- 30 Days or Less to Virtual Assistant Success
And my newest baby, is a Virtual Assistant MatchMaking Service. My aim is to help match uber qualified North American and European VAs with successful entrepreneurs that need help scaling their businesses.
I’m a natural “business matchmaker” anyhow, so I thought it’d be fun to turn it into a service to help others. If things pan out the way I plan, it’ll be the Care.com of VA matchmaking services (as opposed to nannies).
And I basically personally vet all of the students that take the course anyway, so it’s a natural way to pair people, help aspiring VAs find clients and entrepreneurs find good help. And from what I’ve heard/read, it’s a very much needed solution to a big problem for many.
What services do you provide?
I’m not really taking on new writing or VA clients myself, so I’m mainly focused on finding more students to take my two courses (i.e. aspiring freelance writers or VAs) and helping them to launch and grow successful businesses.
On the matchmaking front, there are two options for entrepreneurs looking for a VA.
- DIY Matching
- Custom MatchMaking
Option one is to do-it-yourself. I.e. you pay a fee for access to a directory of highly qualified (and vetted) VAs that have all gone through my VA course. You’ll see a listing of all VAs on one page with their name, photo, rate and bio.
If you want to learn more, you can click through to their individual profile page. On their profile page, you’ll find a video of the VA sharing how they can help, their top three service offerings, their bio, photo and rates and a link to get in contact via email.
Basically, it’s your job to look through the VAs listed to find the best fit for you. Then you get in contact, schedule an interview and make a hiring decision.
For option two (the custom matchmaking option), I’ll do all of the grunt work for you. You and I will hop on a Skype or phone call and I’ll learn more about your business, what you’re looking for in a VA and a bit about your style/personality.
Then I’ll look through the listings to find your top two matches and provide you with enough information to make a decision and get in contact. In both cases, your satisfaction is guaranteed.
Who are your target customers?
I would say that I’m looking for entrepreneurs that have worked with a VA and had a less-than-ideal experience or those that have never worked with one, but know that they need help. In either case, they’ll need to be open to delegation and giving up some control to let a qualified individual help them get more done.
Research shows the average North American VA earns $30-50 per hour, so the entrepreneur needs to have also have a budget for some help.
But before you think a VA is too expensive for you, keep in mind a few things:
- You’re not employing them, so your total cost is their hourly wage (i.e. no employment taxes, benefits, etc.).
- You won’t have the overhead of office space, equipment, etc.
- You don’t need to “employ” them full-time. I.e. Need just a couple hours of work per week? Great! Get started with that.
- These individuals are HIGHLY QUALIFIED. I.e. English is their first language, they understand the world of online work and many have at least their bachelor’s, if not their master’s degrees!
How did you get started?
The short story is that I (like 90% of US workers these days) was unsatisfied with my career. It had a ton of opportunity, but just wasn’t for me. And since I’m relatively young (31), I didn’t want to keep doing something I wasn’t passionate about for a few decades more (I’d already been in the industry almost a decade).
So I Googled around, found some great resources and got started. And learned on the fly. And then kept going!
What advice do you have for other people who are thinking about starting their own business?
I love this question. Here are my top three tips:
- Just start. You don’t have to know everything first. Take action, make mistakes and figure things out on the fly.
- Commit to two years. I think many people fail because they have a short-term perspective. Don’t hustle for a few months, not get enough results and give up. You’re probably right on the cusp of something big and it’d be a big mistake to bail early. Commit to the long-term instead – be the turtle, not the hare.
- Start your business as a side hustle. Don’t quit your day job until you know this new business can sustain you and is a viable career change option. That’s the other reason a lot of people fail, they don’t have a contingency plan or a long enough runway. I.e. they don’t give themselves enough time to succeed and have to go back to work at a day job because they’re broke.
Thanks so much for having me and letting me talk about my business. It’s been a wild and entertaining ride. And I wouldn’t do any of it differently. Because it’s all gotten me to where I’m at today. (And that equates to over $18,000 in gross revenue in November, 2015.)
For more about Gina, please visit her website at Horkey Handbook
For more information on virtual assistant pricing, see Virtual Assistant Pricing