Interview with LaTosha Johnson of TargetStars

VAF Newsbot

New Member
[fimg=left]http://www.virtualassistantforums.com/images/interviews/latosha.jpg[/fimg] LaTosha Johnson created TargetStars because she is extremely passionate about making sure small companies have the resources they need to be successful. She has broad-based marketing experience with special emphasis on research; planning, design, and implementation which enables her to provide companies with the necessary techniques to differentiate themselves from the competition.

She created TargetStars because she enjoys assisting small companies with the task of being able to anticipate and satisfy the needs of their customers (she calls her own clients "stars"). She is dedicated to making sure small companies are able to give the 'big guys' some serious competition and effectively elevate their brand.

LaTosha has been an active member at Virtual Assistant Forums since early 2009 and in that time has contributed much to the community. In 2010 she took on the role of Book Reviews Editor for VAF, providing her insight and opinion on a new title each month.

You can catch up with LaTosha via the company website and blog, on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.


How long have you been a virtual assistant and what drew you to start up your practice?

I have been a virtual assistant for almost two and a half years. I started my practice because I wanted to be in charge of my financial freedom and to do work that I enjoyed.

What was the startup phase like for you? Please share your biggest triumphs/hurdles from this time.

I was working a job that I was not particularly fond of but knew that I was not in a position to quit. Therefore, I funded my business based upon the paychecks I received from the job. I would make sure to allocate funds to things that I needed in order to get my business off the ground (i.e. website, marketing materials, networking events, etc.). It is extremely tough to simultaneously start a business and work full time, but my hard work paid off when I started getting requests for my services off of Twitter, Facebook, and my blog.

What is your specialty/niche and how have you established yourself as an expert or leader in your field?

My background is in marketing. I have worked various jobs (even through college) which helped me to learn and grow into an entrepreneur. When I was working these jobs, I was always looking for knowledge and wisdom that I could utilize; therefore, I was constantly reading business books. I would analyze this information and take notes on how I could improve these ideas and apply it to my business.

Simply stated, I think that my prior work experience (in various industries), attending conferences, and seminars to make sure that I stay on top of what is happening within the marketing industry has all played a role in helping me become a leader. I have always had the mind set that one can learn from everyone and within every experience—even if the situation is bad–you can at least learn what not to do. This methodology of learning from my surroundings has helped me to grow as a person as well as an entrepreneur. I still do not think of myself as a expert because I am always in a learning mode. There are always new innovations to conquer. My driven personality of always wanting to learn, create, and seek new challenges will not allow me to take on the title of expert.

What’s your definition of success?

My definition of success is being able to spend time with the ones I love as well as perform work that I am passionate about while assisting others in their endeavors.

What are the top five tools or resources you use on a regular basis in running your own business?

I love Google docs, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Word, Skype and Zoho.

What’s your number one source for new clients?

This is a tough one! I would have to say I have made most of my connections off of social networking sites Twitter and Facebook. I realize a lot of people do not see the importance of participating on these sites, but you truly can form meaningful relationships with people online.

Who is your ideal client? Has your ideal client profile changed at all since you first started your business?

My ideal client is a self-employed individual that is primarily seeking marketing assistance. Although I perform administrative work, marketing is still my core. This has not changed since I have started my business.

What is your most important business policy and how did it come to be a part of your operations?

My most important business policy is my free 30 minute consultation. I know this may sound odd, but when I first started my business, I was spending so much time on the phone with prospects only to find out that I was sharing too much information trying to “prove” myself to them. I now have a form that I go through in order to make sure that we stay on topic and I hit the highlights of my capabilities. I feel that 30 minutes is more than enough time to determine whether we will be able to work with each other.

What was the most recent local networking event you attended and how did it go?

I try to attend two networking events a month and the most recent local networking event that I attended was actually one that I hosted :)! Prior to the event I threw, I mentioned that I wish we had more networking events in the suburbs and somehow I got drafted into hosting one. The event was a success and everyone had a great time. I met a lot of great people and was able to gain more exposure for my business.

What is the one thing you ‘wish you’d known’ when you first started out?

I wish I would have known how to be patient and relax whereby I did not just focus on making money. In other words, I wish I had enjoyed the ride of success (so to speak) and not focused on being a success. Focusing on being successful made me to be much too hard on myself. With this mind set, I had to learn the hard way that everything takes time, regardless of one’s vast amount of expertise. It takes time to see results. That’s life and no one can change it; trust me I tried :)!

What’s the biggest mistake you’ve ever made in your business and how did you fix it?

Not putting a time limit on my consultations! I felt like I had to go overboard in 'proving' myself to people, so I often found myself on the phone much longer than I intended. I soon realized that the longer that I stayed on the phone increased my chances of giving away information. I implemented a 30 minute consultation and make sure to stick to the form that I created. This covers a myriad of questions I need answered to in order to provide a quote.

How many hours a week do you work? What is your schedule like?

My schedule varies. I typically work about 30 hours a week and the projects vary from working on email campaigns to copywriting. Each day is different and presents a new challenge which is definitely something I enjoy!

What question do you get asked most often about your business and how do you answer?

I am forever being asked, "What is a Virtual Assistant?" I then tell them that we are small business owners dedicated to providing top notch administrative and/or creative support to small companies and solopreneurs without being located in their office. I then provide them with a link to my Squidoo lens so they can learn more about our profession.

Looking ahead, what’s your five year plan?

First to master patience so that I can enjoy the ride of success; then, pick up more clients and hopefully have enough to delegate more projects out to other VAs.

What do you love most about being a virtual assistant /self employed businesswoman?

I enjoy challenges and being able to help people. I love the freedom and flexibility that I have in being able to perform projects that I am passionate about while assisting others in their endeavors.

What’s your best advice for aspiring VAs thinking of starting a new practice?

Be patient and realize that you will not experience success overnight, but your hard work will eventually lead to success.
 

Your Virtual Wizard

Community Leader
Very nice interview, LaTosha!

I related well to your 30-minute consultation deadline as I too made that mistake (giving away the store) early on in my VA business. Just thinking about that I shutter...so draining and so discouraging if the client doesn't sign despite all the great 'free' information given away!

You make a great point and this will help new VAs not to make the long-consultation-mistake.

Congratulations on your role at VAF as Book Editor! Thank you for your selfless contributions here!

Best wishes...

Janine
 

PamH53

Member
Great interview, LaTosha! I love that you provide "creative support". What a great way to describe what we do. Thank you for sharing your story.
 

LeeDrozak

Community Leader
Great interview LaTosha. I loved how you shared to importance of the "30" minute consultation. Looking forward to the next book review.
 

SuperstarVA

New Member
Great interview, Tosha! I just got off the phone with a perspective client regarding creating his blogsite and I instinctively knew I needed to keep that conversation at a 30 minute timeline. You're right...it's important!!
 
Thank you for the helpful interview, LaTosha. I appreciate your words of wisdom regarding the initial consultation. It is also encouraging to hear of how you succeeded in transitioning from full-time worker to business owner. That can be a very overwhelming time! So I will remember your comments when I become discouraged :)
 
Fabulous interview, LaTosha! I met LaTosha on Twitter and she still remains one of those tweeps who's input and info I value. Wishing you continued success, LaTosha!
 

Agnes

New Member
Great interview LaTosha!

I so agree with the consultation concern...I've seen situations where the potential client takes away all the valuable information from a consultation and finds someone to do the implementation at a lower rate.

Wishing you the absolute best in your business:)

Warmly,
Agnes
 

Tess

Administrator
Staff member
LaTosha, you're one of the most professional VAs I've ever had the pleasure of working with and a you're super nice person to boot :)

Thanks for the interview and the insight into your business philosophies and success!
 

yourstory

New Member
Great interview. I'm just getting started in this business and am having family and friends constantly asking me just what is a virtual assistant. I liked your answer --
we are small business owners dedicated to providing top notch administrative and/or creative support to small companies and solopreneurs without being located in their office.

thanks again for this interview!
Vicky
 

emoreno

New Member
Your interview was so inspiring! I love the idea of a 30 minute conversation. You're right that it insures that you don't spend to much time to giving away "free" information. But I think it also projects a certain confidence.

Eris
 

TargetStars

New Member
Thank you all so much for your kind words! You have no idea how much I appreciate the encouragement! :)

I am so glad and I often share the importance of putting time limits when providing consultations with potential clients. I cringe when I think of how much time and energy I wasted in "proving" myself to other people. I pretty much gave away the kitchen sink-LOL!

I am a stickler for making sure that I am making the best use of my time. Let's face it--not everyone that we speak to is going to be a client, so we need to make sure that we are also fair to ourselves in making sure that others do not take advantage of our time and knowledge.

Please feel free to use the Squidoo Lens I created for your websites as well, but please make sure to credit me.:)

Again, thanks for all of your kind words and you have no idea how much I thoroughly enjoy being apart of this community. I may not always comment, but I am always checking in because I learn so much from you all! :)
 
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Masterspieces

New Member
LaTosha, you're an inspiration. I love your idea for the 30 minute 'scripted' consult, and just know that I'm going to appreciate you more as I start my business and spend time on the forums.
 
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