Ever wondered what it takes to ditch the cubicle and become a full-time girl boss? Our Student Spotlight Series interviews our students who have made the transition from 9-5 to remote CEOs!
From what inspired them to start their own business, their favorite podcasts, go-to morning routine, advice to aspiring girl bosses, and so much more!
Today, we’re sitting down with our student Holly Smith, Founder of The Genie VA! Originally from Shropshire, England, Holly gives us a glimpse into her online business journey…
Q: What type of online business do you own and what services do you offer?
I’m the Founder of The Genie VA, where I provide extensive administrative assistance to wedding professionals and bloggers who are looking to expand their business, free up their time, or simply want an extra pair of hands!
I offer a variety of services including project management software setup and maintenance, blog maintenance, ghostwriting, SEO optimization, Pinterest management, lifestyle support, and so much more.
“I officially launched my business in November 2020!”
Q: How did you discover the Bucketlist Bombshells?
I discovered the Bucketlist Bombshells through a Facebook Ad! I had been searching for ways to start working online, be my own boss, and travel the world. The ad came up at the perfect time!
“I was super excited about the journey ahead and was eager to get started!”
Q: What inspired you to enroll in the Bucketlist Bombshells courses?
In the middle of the Coronavirus Pandemic, I realised that I had spent too much of my life not doing what I wanted to do and not travelling near enough! Being in lockdown made me realise that I needed to take action and make a change.
“The Bucketlist Bombshells Academy was the perfect opportunity to open new doors and dive into the digital world!”
Q: How have the courses helped you to become an online business owner?
I was very impatient when I first started the Bucketlist Bombshells Academy and wanted to know everything straight away! After I put a strategy in place and found an organised way to work through the lessons and implement them, the courses completely transformed my life!
The Tech Skills Course gave me inspiration and taught me the online skills that were crucial for offering services online. The Work Online & Travel the World Course helped me understand what services I wanted to offer and how working online ACTUALLY works.
“Five months ago, I heard the term ‘work online and travel the world’ and thought HOW?!”
The Bucketlist Bombshells Academy not only helped me understand what it meant to work online but also how I (yes, me!) could do it!
Q: What type of job were you working in prior to running your own online business?
Prior to running The Genie VA, I was an Assistant Wedding and Events Manager at a hotel in my hometown. I helped couples plan and run their big day!
I absolutely adored this job, which is why I decided to offer my virtual assistant services to wedding professionals and continue to work within the industry!
Q: How long did it take you to ditch your 9-5, and how much time did you dedicate in order to make it happen?
In about three months, I went from taking the Bucketlist Bombshells Academy to deciding I wanted to leave my full-time job. I wanted to make sure that I had everything figured out, set up, and ready to go!
“Like a lot of people, I was skeptical about making money online and if it could truly be done.”
While working full-time, I spent both of my days off going through the courses, as well as an hour or two after work. This was sometimes super difficult as I was often working 12-hour days!
Q: What was the final push in your story to get you to ditch that 9-5 job?
The final push that made me decide to leave my 9-5 (more like 9-9), was when I realised that I could actually do this. I started to make money, find clients, and realised that the Virtual Assistant world is huge. Due to COVID, everyone was moving online and I was moving right along with them!
My ‘aha’ moment was when I had everything set up for my business and landed my first client. I had successfully built my business from the ground up!
“I had come too far to not put my all into this now!”
Q: How long was it until you landed your first client online?
While working through the Bucketlist Bombshells Academy, I did some voluntary work to dip my toes in the water and try to gain some experience. This was actually so valuable because I realised something I thought I would enjoy doing, I actually hated!
I started really searching for paying clients when I launched my website, got all of my legal documents in place, and registered my business in December 2020.
“It took me just over a month to land my first official client!”
Q: What is your process for finding and landing clients online?
Starting out, my process was joining a TON of Facebook groups. There are so many free groups out there that you can join and contribute to! I would check the groups every day for potential clients and reach out to people who I thought would be a great fit.
“I found my first client through a Facebook group and I’m still working with her now!”
After I had a few clients under my belt, I made new connections via referrals. I also joined a few ‘VA matchmaking’ groups where people looking for Virtual Assistants submit their details and the members of the group have the opportunity to reach out to them!
Q: What has been your biggest setback and how did you overcome it?
Setting up my business was my biggest setback. I realised that I had no idea how to run a business, how to do invoicing, bookkeeping, or any of the other ‘business stuff.”
I had to remind myself that everyone starts somewhere and that if you really want something, you have to work for it! Now, I find invoicing super easy and have systems in place and think “God, what was I worried about?!”
I’m still working on the bookkeeping! 😉
Q: What’s the most challenging part about running your online business?
The most challenging part about running my business is having to do everything myself and wear all of the hats. Starting out, you’re looking after marketing, finances, HR, sales, content curation, social media management, training, and so much more.
“I try to overcome the feeling of overwhelm by breaking my tasks into manageable chunks and blocking out time to focus on one area of my business at a time.”
Q: Looking back on your online business journey, what is something that you’re most proud of?
Looking back on my journey, I’m so proud that I stuck it out!
“I’m proud that I took the leap and finally did something to start giving myself the life I wanted instead of just dreaming about it.”
Q: If you could speak to your past self, what piece of advice would you give her?
I would tell my past self to just keep going. Keep striving for what you want out of life and work hard to get there. I’ve started living by the saying “nothing changes if nothing changes.”
“You can’t expect a different outcome if you continue to do the same things.”
Q: How do you stay inspired and motivated to run your online business?
I stay motivated by remembering my Why. I remember why I’m doing this, why I took the Bucketlist Bombshells courses, and why I wanted to do something for myself. Whenever I have a single doubtful thought, I make myself think of that!
I also find it super motivational to read about other people in the industry that are smashing their goals! Podcasts are great for this. You can hear the excitement in people’s voices and can have it playing in the background while working!
Q: Tell us what a “day in the life” looks like for you now that you’re running your own online business!
After listening to an amazing podcast episode on The Virtual Hustle Podcast, I’m a 5:30am person!
I wake up at 5:30am, stretch for about five minutes, and drink a glass of water to get rid of that early morning sluggish feeling! Then, I head to my office and have a look at my tasks for the day, which I write out the night before. These are split into the following categories: must-do, appointments, goals for the day, meal plan, health & wellbeing, and a notes section.
Then, I check my emails and do about an hour of client work. I workout at 7am, have a shower, and then I’m ready to officially start work at 9am. Depending on my workload, I take a few breaks throughout the day to walk my dog, make some food, or watch Netflix. I try to finish work around 4-5pm every day, but it just depends on how I’m feeling!
Q: What’s the best part about being your own boss?
The best part about being my own boss is being able to work when I want. I can create my own schedule, book holidays without having to ask anyone for time off, and can travel and work remotely whenever I want to.
I also love being able to make my own decisions. Being your own boss means that if something needs doing or researching, you’ve gotta do it! You can also decide if it’s something worth investing your time in or something you’d rather leave.
“I love to be in complete control of how I spend my time and who I spend it on.”
Q: What do you love most about the work you do and the clients you work with?
I love doing work that is directly helping someone build their business or allowing someone to spend more time with their family, friends, or even pets! I find this so rewarding and love to see the difference I’m making in someone’s life and business.
“Sometimes I get more excited about my clients’ wins than I do my own!”
Q: What is your favorite destination to work remotely from?
Unfortunately, due to setting up my business in the middle of a global pandemic, I have yet to travel anywehere! I’ve mainly been working from home, moving into different rooms of the house for a change of scenery!
Once travel opens back up, I have A LOT of travel plans. I want to visit the United States (which is where most of my clients are), go back to Bali, and do several long weekends in European cities.
Q: What’re your favorite business tools that you’d recommend to other girl bosses? Why do you love them?
I absolutely love Asana! It’s such a great way to manage your work, your clients’ work, and everything in-between. It helps me visually see what needs to get done and by when. Talk about someone being there to hold you accountable!
Calendly is so COOL! It allows you to display your availability to other people and let them book appointments with you automatically. It then adds this appointment to your Zoom account and your calendar.
I store pretty much everything in my Google Drive. It’s my hub of documents, videos, images, PDFs… everything! It’s so easy to share documents and files with clients! I am SO glad I discovered Google Drive!
Q: What is one of your favorite business books that you would recommend to another girl boss and why do you love it?
I highly recommend Being Boss: Take Control of Your Work and Live Life on Your Own Terms by Emily Thompson and Kathleen Shannon. It’s so great for taking control of your life as well as your business. Just like a lot of business books, it reminds you that you’re not alone on this journey and that other people have been in your position before!
Q: What’re your go-to favorite podcasts that you’d recommend to other girl bosses?
The Virtual Hustle Podcast with Alicia Baldino! Alicia is so easy to listen to and has such a great variety of episodes and content. She’s super relatable, inspiring, and posts regularly enough that I can listen to an episode a week!
She Did It Her Way with Amanda Boleyn! Amanda shares so many tips and tricks about taking the leap from your corporate job to becoming an entrepreneur. She always has great guest speakers and shares really relevant information.
Women Taking The Lead with Jodi Flynn! This podcast is great for people with any mindset issues. Jodi talks about tools you can use to develop a success mindset, strive to earn the money you deserve, and create more time for yourself!
Q: What is your number one piece of advice for aspiring Bucketlist Bombshells?
Go for it! If you don’t want to do the work and put the time in to change your life then don’t bother because it will be a waste of time and money. However, if you know deep down that you want something different from your life, then dive right in!