1. Hello! Who are you and what is your business?
Squared Away officially launched on Veteran’s Day 2017. Since then, we’ve grown our team of military spouses from Hawaii to New York. Our spouses come from all types of backgrounds. Marines to Air Force, enlisted to officer.
When we launched it was a whirlwind. I was so excited and ridiculously nervous at the same time. We had our military ball that evening and the whirlwind of getting ready and launching was overwhelmingly fantastic. My husband, Sean was as excited as I was and we couldn’t wait to share with our friends and unit members. I never expected the outcome and growth that we’ve had in a year and a half.
My virtual assisting journey began shortly after we got married in 2013. We had just moved to Jacksonville, North Carolina from Corpus Christi, Texas after Sean earned his wings. I had previously been a personal assistant in Washington D.C. and was unemployed after moving to Texas. I was anxious to get to work once we move to our permanent duty station. However, despite my qualifications and background, no one wanted to hire me. I was either “too qualified” or I wouldn’t “be around long enough”. I was heartbroken.
That’s when I stumbled upon virtual assisting. I already knew how to be a personal assistant, but I could do it from home now – in remote Jacksonville, North Carolina. It was such a relief to have something to call my own once again. Let’s be real, I love working and being a bit OCD and a planner just go hand in hand.
My friends and acquaintances started asking me about my job. Most of them had no clue what it entailed but they were intrigued. The more successful I became as an individual assistant, the more the opportunity for growth presented itself. A very dear client suggested the idea of Squared Away in the Spring of 2017. In all honesty, I thought he was nuts.
We had just PCSd to Hawaii a few months before and I was still figuring out working in various time zones. Plus we had a looming deployment – and a 1 year old. But we made it happen. There were so many factors for why then wasn’t the best timing. We prevailed. Deployment curses and all.
Our yearly revenue for 2019 is about $525,997. In 2018 we were at $217,713.
2. How do you attract and retain your customers?
Our customers are mostly referrals from other clients. They are our biggest and best marketing tool to date. The chat about things their assistants handle for them and inevitably how much less stressed they are working with us.
The mission of Squared Away is beloved by all of our customers – to employ military spouses. This is a model in which clients are able to gain more time in their day AND contribute to a powerful cause. It’s a win for everyone!
We have amazing retention due to our dedication to our clients. The unfailing customer service and dependability make people want to stick with us as clients AND as assistants for the long term.
3. What were your challenges and obstacles of growing your business?
Being unheard of and in competition with other remote assistant firms was difficult. But our mission is what we are centered around as well as providing elite level services from dedicated assistants.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned is to be flexible and empathetic. No mold fits every client or every assistant. My mantra has always been ‘be kind’ but being empathetic to someone takes on a new light as a CEO. Not everyone will understand (or be happy with) every decision that I make but I’m always happy to hear their feedback.
4. What has been helpful to help you to grow your business?
First and foremost perseverance. It hasn’t always been the easiest of roads with 2 little ones and a husband who is deployed.
My team has also been instrumental. Their skills and drive are unmatched and we compliment each other well. Their badassness when working with clients speaks volumes when it comes to marketing. Our clients are our best marketers because they’ve seen us first hand.
Some of our favorite tools are the trinity of remote work: Google, Trello/Asana, and Slack. We’re also currently loving Pipedrive and Notion.
5. What is your advice for those that are starting productized services?
Get to know your clients and your team. Learn the strengths and weaknesses of both. Your clients will tell you who to market to and your team will show you the skills to market with; value these qualities.
Also, don’t expect perfection right out of the gate. Some systems we first implemented have been changed multiple times. Be flexible enough to accept change to your ‘perfect’ idea.
6. What are your plans for the future?
Our mission is to employ as many military spouses as possible. This time last year we had 7 assistants and now we have 70. I would love to see that number double in the next year.
Squared Away is growing very steadily on the assistant and on the client side. We would love to maintain this over the next year to better perfect systems for our team and clients.