Welcome to another incredible Student Success Story here at Horkey HandBook! In this post we’re featuring yet another amazing solopreneur working hard to build a career around their life (not the other way around).
We’re publishing these interviews to feature people who took Gina’s 30 Days or Less courses and actually got serious about working on their freelance careers. Every story in the series is a little bit different from the others, and there are always nuggets of wisdom to take away!
Today’s guest, Mallory, is as positive as they come. She’s inspired by people going out and making their purpose a lifestyle because of the vulnerability, courage and resilience that it takes. And, by following her passion and putting herself and her business out there, she’s joined the ranks of those she admires.
Read on to find out how Mallory has turned her life philosophy into a thriving business – and agency! – and is leveling up even further with some very cool projects.
Ready? Take it away, Mallory!
Name: Mallory Harte Underwood
Course enrollment date: July 28, 2017
Business launch date: September 10, 2017
First client: November 2017
Launched VA Agency: June 2018
Hours worked per week: 30
Average monthly profit as a single VA (Jan-May 2018): $1,735
Average monthly profit as an agency (Jan-May 2019): $4,385
Top three services: Business and systems operations and project management
Hi, Mallory! Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am a 30-something mother of two little souls and a wife to one not-so-little soul. I love human connection, going deep with those I meet and the magic that cultivates from being vulnerable with one another.
I’m also up for new life experiences, travel, reading (both fiction and nonfiction), and I enjoy an active, healthy lifestyle with a balancing dose of french fries and wine.
What about your business?
I believe human connection is one of the pillars of happiness in both personal and professional settings. I also believe quality customer experiences are the key to creating and fostering those connections.
Exceptional interactions with clients should challenge the status quo and become the norm. This goes for those we work with as well as the customers we engage with on their behalf.
I applaud and am inspired by those going out and making their purpose a lifestyle. It takes vulnerability, courage and resilience, and these are all truly admirable traits.
I’m striving to work with entrepreneurs and small businesses who share those beliefs by supporting them with my virtual assistant services.
A fun fact about my business name – Hartewood is a combination of my maiden name (Harte) and my married name (Underwood).
How did you decide to start freelancing online?
I was already working from home for a large, national nonprofit, and I knew I could never go back to an office setting even though I had good experiences in those environments.
I didn’t want to give up the work-from-home perks and upset the culture it had created for my little family. But, I had a constant tug on my soul telling me there was something else to pour my energy into.
After a lot of ideas and time, I came upon Gina’s 30 Days or Less to Virtual Assistant Success, and I knew I had found my “what”. I immediately started implementing the steps to build my business one-by-one.
And how long did it take you to earn your course investment back?
I got paid for a two-week trial which ended up covering the cost of the course (even though that client didn’t end up hiring me – ha!). That was three and a half months after I bought the course.
What was your biggest fear before you started your business?
Getting clients! I was confident I could build the business and do the work but actually getting clients was my fear (and still is if I’m being honest). I didn’t want to invest my time and energy into something and tell my entire network about it just to have it fail.
But, here is what I figured out. I would do whatever it took to make it work, so if I failed, it would be a sign to alter my path a little.
Instead of worrying about being perfect, I choose to put on my brave hat and just put it out there. It’s amazing the support I have received so far, and I believe opportunities will continue to open themselves up as I continue to pour into my business.
What was the most challenging part about getting started?
Simply finding the time to work on the business was my biggest challenge. I was working full time, had two small kids, a husband, and a home to keep up on. Plus, it was over the holidays!
How did you overcome this lack of time?
I carved out a few hours every night after the kids went to bed, and my husband gave me a few hours or more on the weekends, and little by little things got done. I also used my time wisely over the holidays when I was off from my 9-5 and while I had family around to hang with the babes.
What has been your biggest success since you’ve started?
I landed enough clients to max out the time I wanted to work. This led me to starting a VA agency.
This not only allows me to spread the love by offering other women a chance to work from home on their own schedule, but to support more go-getter entrepreneurs so they can inspire and help more clients. It’s a winwinwin!
I currently have five VAs who work on the team part-time (one is on maternity leave) and we support 10 clients; eight of these clients are on a monthly retainer and two are pay us hourly.
I love the diversity of the industries our clients are in – from executive leadership coaching to a marketing agency and even a composer!
Can you tell us about your highest paying project?
I’m on a monthly retainer for 10 hours a month serving in two roles for one client. She also pays me per project to project manage the vendor relationships for her client’s marketing campaigns. We have quite a lot of projects a year. I continue to manage this client contract even though I also now run the agency.
For the retainer, I’m handling customer experiences (think hospitality for onboarding and offboarding clients), and systems management (billing, invoicing, system backups, etc.).
On the project management side, I work with our fulfillment house to quote and order all the customized promo items for direct mail prospecting kits, assembly and shipping and ensure everything goes out correctly. This client is very organized and uses Teamwork for her entire team, so it was an easy transition to work with her. She is a dream client … if only I could clone her.
What are you working on right now?
A few intentions are my primary focus right now. I’d like to max out the hours each of my team members would like to work with the right clients. I’ll likely need to add on 2-3 more quality clients to do this.
Secondly, I am hosting my first live event under the HWP brand! Since HWP is all about connection, what better way to do this than in person?
The event, Calm & Connect Weekend, is a 3-night women’s retreat in November 2019 in Scottsdale, AZ all about connecting back to oneself while they step away from their routine and focus on themselves.
And finally, Gina and I are launching the Virtual Assistant Agency Course* so we can help more VAs scale their business to the next level. We want to teach VAs how to reach their business goals and help more clients do the same.
*Update – the Virtual Assistant Agency course is one of the six skills courses now included within our VA training program, The #FullyBookedVA System!
What are you looking forward to most over the next 12 months?
Connecting my team to one another. Once I build up my buffer bucket of funds again, I plan to organize bi-monthly or quarterly team calls where we can focus on personal and business goals, professional development, and building a true team culture.
And I know there’ll be so much more. I am ready. For all of it!
Thank you for sharing your story with us, Mallory!
Mallory is a wife, a mommy to a little boy and girl, a believer in the power of human connection, an avid read-for-fun enthusiast, a wino with wanderlust and now a business owner. She was born and raised in Michigan, met her Canadian husband in Western Australia, has lived in five states as a adult, has visited 14 countries and has ventured across the U.S. and Canada. She spent 12 years working in the nonprofit sector before leaving to pursue Hartewood Professionals full-time and has a public relations major and a journalism minor to back up her experience. Connect with her on Facebook or Instagram.