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Hi! You are listening and watching The Business of Being a Virtual Assistant. I’m your host, Tiffany parson, and I have had a virtual assistant business for going on nine years now. This is my ninth year in business working full-time in control of my time and working with clients from all over the world. I’m so glad you found this podcast if this is your very first time watching. If it’s not your first time, welcome back.
Today, we’re going to talk about layoffs. Recently, I learned about a friend who got laid off from her job. I tell you, my mind started going, like I got excited for her because I know she’s interested in doing her own business and she has a variety of interests, and so I got excited for her. But I had to pull back some and not be like, “Oh, my gosh. You lost your job. What a blessing.” You know, because that’s not the first reaction.
I thought I would share it with you here on the podcast what happens when you get laid off.
I have been laid off twice and fired once, so I’ve developed a really thick skin around this whole situation. The very first time I got laid off, I was, you know, I was very naïve and just took it for granted, oh, I will find me another job. It’s no big deal. I was working for a contracting company, I mean, I was a contractor and they had just relocated me from Texas to North Carolina.
They paid for the relocation and everything, and here seven months later they were laying us off. There was a whole group of us contractors. They just didn’t have any contracts for us. Nowhere for us to go work and we had been sitting on the benches, what they call it, sitting on the bench for two weeks, nowhere to go, just surfing the web for two weeks. So we knew if they weren’t going to be able to place us somewhere, we were gone.
I was in the middle of buying a house and I had to go back and remember that, like, yeah, but I was really naïve, like I didn’t panic or anything and I was, you know, in the middle of the whole loan process and all that stuff and it could be long and tedious. But I was in the middle of that and I only had two bills at the time, my rent and car note. That was it.
I was splitting rent with a roommate so it wasn’t full rent. It was like, I think, it wasn’t even $400 for the rent, and so I was paying that. Back then, oh, my goodness, I was able to live off one check and save the other. It was awesome. I lived with my parents because I had just relocated from Texas to North Carolina and was paying rent in Texas until that lease was up.
Anyway, layoff came and I was like, okay, we’ll just find another job, no big deal. This was in 2000 and nothing major had happened yet. We were on the cusp of it, but we didn’t know. You know, and I’m naïve thinking, oh, no big deal. I’ll find something. The thing was it’s like as long as I find something – I think this was May and I was going to close in August. So I was like as long as I find me a job by August, I’m good, no big deal, easily find me another job.
Well, there weren’t a lot of programming jobs available because at that point they were just maintaining systems. They weren’t building new things. Usually, you know, at that point, companies would hire programmers when they were building new things. They weren’t hiring programmers to maintain what they already had because the programmers already working for them were doing that. It was really, really like, oh, boy, what am I going to do?
I finally found me a job, but not before closing. So at closing, I’m like nervous because I don’t have a job and I’m about to close on this house. Like at the closing table, no job in sight, just me. My crazy naïve self went ahead with it anyway. Didn’t even stop it, like I could have stopped it. I would have lost some money, but I could have stopped it, and went on with it anyway.
Not too long after I closed, I got a job. The job was like an hour and 15 minutes away from where I lived, but I took it because I needed a job. I just got this house and, hey, we’ve got to work, right, got to work, got to live, got to eat, so I took the job. It was great and, you know, was contracting for them and things were rocking and rolling. Here we go, doing it, ah, yes, this is wonderful.
Then 9/11 happened. Not too long after I got the job, 9/11 happened. I won’t ever forget because we were all standing in this little area where there was a TV at that office and we’re just all watching just unbelievable what was going on. You know, just didn’t think about the impact it would have beyond the fact of the tragedy or the country and the people and, you know, all that stuff.
But months down the road, I remember our supervisor telling us in a team meeting one day that, you know, this was a cigarette industry, and he was like, “The cigarette industry and the alcohol industry will be the last to be hit or the last to be affected by a tragedy like this because people are stressed out so they’re and they’re smoking, so we’re good for right now until all of that calms down.”
Well, wouldn’t you know it, I think it was like almost two years being there. At least is felt like it. I don’t know if it was or not almost two years, and whispering started happening around the office. It’s going to be time for us to get let go. I remember that day. My phone rang and the contracting company I was working through, they were like, “Go ahead and get your stuff. This is going to be your last day.”
Now, this is my second time getting laid off and I was crushed. Crushed! Oh, my gosh, because I’m thinking not again. Really? I had to drive all the way home an hour and 15 minutes and thinking about all this stuff. This time, I have a mortgage and everything that comes with having a home, all the bills in the house and whatever else and I, whew, didn’t know what to do.
Now, keep in mind, in the back of my head, I always want to work from home, but at this point it wasn’t a thing, like it wasn’t talked about. You know, there wasn’t social media. There wasn’t a way to, you know, follow entrepreneurs and, you know, follow your role models and kind of see what was going on, none of that. I just knew I needed to find another job.
I remember working a temp job at night from like 6:00 to, no, 10:00pm to 6:00am in the morning. I did that for a few months and I felt SO out of place. I tried to fit in, felt so out of place. I would even wear like the same clothes a couple of days in a row to try to fit in [laughs]. It didn’t work. I still didn’t – it wasn’t my place. I knew it was temporary.
Anyway, then I ended up getting out of IT because I couldn’t find any IT jobs and found something in healthcare and, eh, it was all right. But what that job did for me was get me back in mode like, you know what, I really want to get back to computers, back to IT. I was at that job, and I’ve totally blanked out as to how long it was, maybe three years, maybe almost four. I don’t remember. It’s been forever ago.
But being laid off twice helped me to develop a thick skin, like the worst has happened aside from death. The worst thing that you feel like could happen is you lose your job. When you’ve lost your job not once, but twice, you tend to get like, you know what, I mean, y’all can’t do nothing else to me. I’ve already lost my job. I’ve already been at a low, I mean, okay.
But I didn’t quit the job to go start my own thing. Guess what happened with that job? I got fired from that job and that was probably the kick in the pants that I needed to get going and start doing something on my own and that’s what I eventually set out to do.
This is why – I’m coming full circle around. This is why I got excited when I learned about the friend getting laid off because I knew that she has these dreams and goals inside of her that have been lying dormant because of working a job.
Now, here is the little asterisk at the bottom, and that is it’s always good to start something while you already have something.
But things are out of our control. We don’t have control over that. If you know you’re not the kind of person that would just quit and not have anywhere to go, then sometimes we need that kick out the door to get us moving for ourselves.
The key is not letting outside people, outside voices, meaning people outside of who lives in the house with you, tell you how you should feel, what you should be doing, or anything like that. Even if they start asking you about your job search, just let them know, “It’s going great. It’s going great,” as you work to build your own thing.
I know if you’re watching this podcast, you want to have your own business. I would guess maybe it’s not even a virtual assistant business, but some type of business where you’re in control, where it’s yours. It’s your baby. Yes, as a business owner, you do have a bunch of other bosses who are your clients, but at the core of it all is you. You get to choose who those people are that you want to work with. You could say yes or no to anybody that you want.
I am going to pull up my notes. As soon as I learned about the layoff, I started, you know, I text myself different messages and notes and stuff so I can remember, and I’m going to read to you what I wrote. Excited when someone tells me they got laid off. I do. I get excited. Ah, you got laid off, especially when I know what their goals are and things like that for their life, you know. I did do a little check to make sure she was okay before I poured my excitement on her. Here’s the thing:
It’s an opportunity to go for what you’ve been scared to go for because you were afraid of losing.
I talked about that in a previous episode. You were afraid of losing. Well, here, you lost. Now, you’ve got a chance to go for what you know. Again, aside from death, losing a job is like the worst thing that can happen. So, okay, it happened. You’re here.
When you lose your job, you get to think about all the other things that you’ve been wanting to do. But because you lost, you start thinking about all the other stuff that you owe, people you have to pay. Well, don’t think about that. Don’t worry about that. You know, God will take care of you. He really will.
If you’re a believer, you believe in God – and when I say I am a believer, like I believe in Jesus Christ. I believe he died for my sins. I believe that right now as I’m doing this podcast that the angels who have been assigned to me, that they’re right here with me, they’re around me. I know in my heart God is with me. The Holy Spirit lives inside of me.
I know that I am not here just cause. I’m not a floating, you know, element or whatever. I am purposed to be here. I am purposed to do this podcast and I am purposed to tell anyone that’s listening about being laid off and to give you some comfort and know you’re not by yourself. But to encourage you to do what you’ve been wanting to do but have been afraid because of what people will say.
Once you’ve faced this fear, you’re at it, you’ve lost, it’s out of your control, nothing you can do about it. But guess what? You’re gaining thick skin. You’re gaining a thick skin. You can’t be hurt by it anymore. You can’t be afraid of it anymore because you’ve been there, done that. For me, it was twice. Been there, done that. Been there, done that, twice, thicker skin.
It will help you in the long run once you get started with your business because now clients come and go for whatever reason and a lot of times it’s a reason that’s out of your control. It’s not about whether you did a great job or not. Maybe their business is just not taking off like they thought they would. Maybe they’re not making as much money as they thought they would or the clients aren’t coming fast enough or they’ve had a death or a sickness or a layoff.
We don’t know what happens on the other side of our client’s life unless they tell us, and a lot of times they’re not going to tell you. When you lose a client, you can’t take it personal, especially if you know it’s something that’s, you know, out of your control, when you know, hey, I did the best job I could. They, you know, gave me complimentary emails. I know I did a great job. We just don’t know what’s going on, on the other end.
See, when you come into your business as someone that has been laid off or fired before, you’ve already got that thick skin to know don’t take it personal.
Now, yes, it sucks because now you’re got to make some adjustments. You’ve got to figure out what’s important, what’s not important. Is cable important or is it not important? You need Wi-Fi so you can’t let go of that. So you’ve got to figure out a way, or if you have to go sit in Starbucks until you’re able to afford cable, go do that. I’ve been there before too. You make sacrifices. I’ve been there before.
I’ve sat in my car at Dunkin’ Donuts using their Wi-Fi because I didn’t want to sit inside. Dunkin’ Donuts, sitting inside is not as comfortable as Starbucks, but at the time I liked Dunkin’ Donuts coffee. I would get their coffee and set up in my car close enough to the building to use their Wi-Fi. Yes, I did [laughs.] You do what you have to do, right. Look, I loved every minute of it because I love doing what I was doing for my clients.
Here’s the deal, and I’m making sure that I don’t miss it because when I wrote this message to myself I was just like I was typing so fast, I knew, I knew I had to come share with you on the podcast, so I don’t want to miss anything. But it’s okay if you have to make these adjustments.
Can’t do cable? Can’t do Wi-Fi? That’s what the other places are for – Panera, Starbucks, whatever it’s called in your area. Everybody has got free Wi-Fi nowadays. Buy a drink. Sit there. Do what you need to do. Do your client search on Upwork.com during that time. Then once you get your projects, you’re building up your fund so you can get your own Wi-Fi, right.
If you’ve got your phone, you’re got unlimited data on your phone, if you could use your phone as your hotspot. You know, at the time I was going through this, I was not using my phone as my hotspot. I’m not sure why. Maybe I didn’t have an iPhone then. I didn’t have an iPhone then. It was all about BlackBerry then [laughs]. That’s how long ago it’s been. It’s all about BlackBerry.
Okay, now, for those of you that’s wanting to get started in your VA business, you’ve watched this several episodes or maybe this is your first one and you’ve experienced layoff, that might have been the missing link to get you going, right, because now you’re like what do I have to lose? What do I have to lose? I’ve already lost and I’m getting thick skin, right.
Now, you know what it feels like to be rejected, to be told no, to be told your services are no longer needed. It doesn’t take away your value as a person.
Here’s where all of that becomes helpful in your own business. It’s helpful when you lose a client, but it’s also helpful when you’re given feedback about something. If you’re doing something creative, maybe you’re creating a graphic, maybe you wrote an article, maybe you edited an article, maybe you’re posting social media, whatever it is, your clients may give you their thoughts and opinions about what you did.
Well, now, you have thick skin. You know I don’t take this personal because that’s from their perspective. It is important. You want it to be right for them. But it does not take away who you are or your character or your value or anything like that.
Here’s something interesting about being a business owner. You can hang up your sign. Say, you’re open. Guess who determines whether what you have is valuable? Your clients. Are your rates a rate the clients would pay for? They’re going to let you know. But your thick skin is going to help you be okay with whatever the answer is.
There are people out there that are looking for someone to do projects for $5. You are not a $5 VA. There are people out there that are looking for a $10 VA. You’re not a $10 VA. You live in the United States. You’re not a $5 VA. You’re not a $10 VA. If that’s who they want, that’s okay. It’s just not you.
If you have ever experienced a loss of a job in whatever capacity, they let you go, you left under, you know, circumstances that you didn’t want to leave, or there was a big layoff, you have thick skin to handle being a business owner.
What’s important from this point forward is that you turn on your entrepreneur mindset. You turn on that business mindset to get the job done.
What else will it take to move you forward? You’ve experience the big kick. You know you’ve hit the ground. There’s nowhere to go from here but up. I’m a living witness. One step forward. One step forward. When I started in 2008, I didn’t think about nine years down the road. I didn’t even think about three years down the road. I just thought about the next day and the next day and the next day, and before you know it, days turn into months, months turn into years, and then there you have it.
It will always be changing, always evolving. That’s the fun part about when you’re in control and you own your own thing versus that job that let you go. That job is going to be the same. It’s not going to change. But your business can evolve and change right along with you as you grow and learn and develop.
Now, I could go on and on and on and on and rambling with you, but I won’t do that. But I do want to encourage you to attend the free webinar on November 29th. I’m going to talk about what is going on in the VA industry right now. What are clients looking for? It doesn’t matter whether you have the skill today or not.
I’m also going to share with you about the Virtual Assistant Inner Circle and what it’s going to be called is the Virtual Assistant Business Owner Circle. It’s a mouthful, but that name came to me in the shower. The VABOC. The VABOC. That’s what it is. I can’t wait to get it started.
But the free webinar is November 29th at 7:30 Eastern. I keep saying the wrong time. 7:30 Eastern. 7:30 Eastern. My notes aren’t in front of me for that time, but that’s the time because a lot of VA business owners, you either work full-time or you’re working with clients during the day, whether full-time or part-time. So we’re going to get together in the evening. It’s going to be a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to being able to have a little back and forth with you and even more once our Virtual Assistant Business Owner Circle gets started.
Anyway, I’ve said enough. I’ve chatted enough. This episode has gone way longer than I anticipated. But come on over to my Facebook page. Post, “Hi, I listened to the episode.” Let me know you were here. I can’t wait to hear from you.
Thanks so much for tuning in. If you like what you heard, stay tuned. We’ll be back. Tell me what’s going on with you. Come on over the Facebook page: facebook.com/tiffanyparsonbiz, or if you prefer a little shorter message, come on over to Twitter: @tiffanydparson.
See you next time!