The Freelancing Mama interview series features women who run their own businesses and balance working, often from home, with raising children.
Today I’m featuring my friend and former coworker, Flavia Logsdon.
Flavia Logsdon is one of the many talented people I met while working at Zirtual. It’s no wonder that when the company imploded, she used the rubble as a launchpad to start her own virtual assistant business, Oenaj. She has been successfully working as a VA for over three years and an entrepreneur for over two years.
In a previous life, Flavia was a high school math teacher, another field in which she was able to put many of the same skills to work. Flavia has a degree in Mathematics and a broad background that includes knowledge of Psychology, Real Estate, and Finance. This knowledge has come in handy in ways she could never have imagined.
She is easily the most organized person I’ve ever met. Besides being totally awesome at her job, Flavia is also a mother to three adorable girls. She is based in San Antonio, Texas and enjoys brain teasers, sunny days, and all things nerdy. She loves to read, especially science fiction, so if you have any good recommendations, tweet her!
I asked Flavia some questions about running a thriving virtual assistant business while balancing motherhood.
1) What’s your favorite thing about being an entrepreneur/small business owner?
Flavia: Entrepreneurship is exciting to me because you get out what you put into it! Running a small business and entrepreneurship is impossible without self-motivation. And your personal motivation directly impacts your results!
2) How has being a mother affected your business or drive to succeed?
Flavia: Being a mother has affected my business positively, for sure! Being a mother is part of my “why” for creating and growing this business. I wanted to build something up that would not only challenge me professionally but also allow me to be as involved in my children’s lives as I was while I was a stay-at-home mom. How amazing is it to make a comfortable income while also being able to walk your kids to and from school every day, to be challenged and excited about your work while never having to worry about being able to be there for sick children, field trips, and school parties? I am motivated every day to be better and continue to grow the business because I want to continue to be able to be there for them in the same way.
3) What challenges do you face as a mother and entrepreneur/small business owner?
Flavia: One of my biggest challenges, both as a mother and small business owner, is work-life balance. As mothers we constantly ask ourselves if we are doing the right thing. Are we spending enough time with our children? Are we properly dedicating ourselves to our work? What is needed to maintain a healthy balance? I personally believe that each person is different, every person/mother/business owner will need different things to feel like that balance is maintained. For me, I’ve found a balance that works well for where I am right now, both professionally and personally. When I started my company, I still had my youngest at home, and it was a challenge. But, with a little more effort on my part, we were able to fall into a pattern during the day that allowed for one-on-one time with her, and for adequate time for my work to be completed. My work is done entirely remotely from my home, and now that all of my girls are in school, my goal is to get as much done as possible while they’re at school so I can maximize family time in the afternoons and evenings.
4) Did becoming a mother change you? How?
Flavia: Yes, it definitely changed me. As an only child, I always wanted a big family. I knew I wanted my children to have siblings close in age to ensure they wouldn’t be lonely. But, having children close together is mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausting for all involved. As my environment and family changed and evolved, I couldn’t help but change, too. Becoming a mother taught me more about empathy, understanding, hard work, pushing through exhaustion, and so much more. Many of these things I directly apply to my daily work.
A specific example would be in the area of personal organization and time management. I’ve always been an organized person, but it’s a totally different ballpark when you are managing not only yourself, but a whole army of people you are related to. I expanded a lot of my organizational skills after becoming a parent. To this day, when I am trying out a new system, I try it on my family first — they are used to being my guinea pigs! If it works, I pass on the newfound knowledge about time management and organization to my clients, making it a win-win!
Flavia’s incredible office set-up
5) What is your favorite thing about being a virtual assistant?
Flavia: Beyond being able to pursue my career without forfeiting family, which is the main selling point for me, my absolute favorite aspect of this job is the opportunity to do business with people all over the world that are doing all sorts of different things. A few of my clients are overseas, and they are always a source of new and interesting tasks. I mean, how many jobs allow you to work with people from all around the world in the comfort of your own home? I love when my husband comes home, and I can say stuff like… “I made a new friend in a hotel concierge in Amsterdam today, learned a few words of Dutch, AND made money!”
6) What’s your favorite thing about working from home/working remotely?
Flavia: Does being able to stay in sweatpants count? Haha, I’m kidding… kind of. Anyway, I would have to say being able to essentially set my own hours. I can work any time of day, for however long. Even though I keep a pretty normal set of business hours, it’s nice to know that if something comes up in life, I can work on the move and at 2:00 AM if necessary.
7) What’s the most challenging thing about working from home/working remotely?
Flavia: The most challenging things about working from home are motivation and focus. When you’re at home, you have many distractions: cleaning, laundry, running errands, etc. You have to be very careful to draw a careful divide and ensure that your time is being spent properly. There are times when I catch myself getting sidetracked with personal/home items and I have to realign my brain into work mode. I’ve found that using the Pomodoro Method can really help me stay on task with work and also carve out time to flip laundry over or sweep the floor. If you haven’t heard of it, you should really check it out!
8) Which tasks do you enjoy the most?
Flavia: I really love creating itineraries for trips. Having a client say they want to go to Iceland, then finding and creating an amazing trip for them is awesome. I also really enjoy tasks where I can learn a new skill or do academic research on an esoteric subject. Over the last few years, I’ve planned and coordinated trips throughout Europe and Asia, learned how to do basic audio and video editing, and spent time researching obscure psychological phenomena and pouring through old psychology textbooks.
9) Which tasks do you dread?
Flavia: I think many executive assistants would agree with me on this one: scheduling. While it can be really satisfying to get a bunch of meetings booked and on the calendar, it can also be frustrating when there is a lot of back-and-forth or rescheduling.
10) Who could benefit from having a virtual assistant?
Flavia: Honestly, everyone could benefit from a virtual assistant. I have my own assistant that helps me, and the two of us also have a secondary assistant to help us both. It all depends on how much help you need. Oenaj offers one time consulting, or one time tasking, and that is something many clients find useful for help with big seasonal projects. Are you a stay-at-home mom who wants to provide your kids with fun awesome activities, but doesn’t know where to start or have the time to research? We can build you a calendar with all the local activities for the summer, broken down into free and those with admission fees, as well as commute times and peak hours of business so you can avoid the crowds. Are you in a start up and need someone to manage your calendar? We can help. Are you an overloaded employee who just needs help getting his work life organized? We can help with that. The list goes on and on. What I have found, is that many people haven’t pinpointed what it is they need help with — they just know that they’re overwhelmed and need help. We can help with identifying the pain points and making an action plan as well. If you’re a person who does a variety of things and would like to free up some time, there is definitely an assistant that can help you in some way.
11) Why should someone hire a virtual assistant?
Flavia: That is a good question. A lot of people remark on the tasks that we do for clients and say, “Well, isn’t this stuff people could do for themselves?”, and I have to admit they usually are correct. The difference between keeping these tasks on your own personal (and ever-growing) to-do list and assigning it to your assistant is this: with your assistant, you’re guaranteed to have it completed. And with our experience, we tend to do these tasks faster, and with a plan in mind. We think of the small things that otherwise would just become an inconvenience. We are methodical and therefore produce a better outcome. Plus, consider the peace of mind that is associated with handing this over to a professional, and just enjoying your life while the work gets done for you – that’s pretty great.
12) What advice would you give someone who wants to start a virtual assistant business?
Flavia: If you have never worked in the field before, in person or virtually, start by subcontracting with an existing assistant. I take in new assistants and teach them from the ground up by starting them as my own assistant and then delegating smaller tasks out to them. It’s a great learning experience, helps the existing assistant, and provides an invaluable learning experience. Plan on doing this while you learn the ropes, then branch out.
You can connect with Flavia here:
If you’re a mother with a small business and would like to be featured in a future Freelancing Mama interview, contact me!