Since the beginning of the work-at-home mom boom, thousands of women have carved out their own niche in the business world. No matter how many stories have been shared, they have never been the same. Sure these women wanted to be home with their children, but as an individual each woman found her own unique path to success.
As someone who has been able to carve out her own path as a legal assistant and paralegal, Laurie Mapp is now taking on a new adventure by starting up her very own legal virtual assistant business, Halo Secretarial Services. Like many other moms, this venture means she can stay home with her children but that does not deter from the dedication she has for her business. Just as much a mom as she is an entrepreneur, she has the dedication and determination needed to succeed in an industry that isn’t always easy to break into.
Laurie is offering one of our readers a chance to win 2 hours of free virtual assistance. If you have been looking for a legal VA to help you with some of your needs, this is your chance to get that assistance!
Email us at [email protected] with the subject “Halo” to be entered for a chance to win.
The giveaway starts today and ends on October 13th, 2008 at 11:59pm. All giveaway rules apply. Only qualifying entries will be counted.
What is Halo Secretarial Services and how long have you been in business?
Halo Secretarial Services is a virtual assistance business that provide administrative and paralegal services. We just launched this summer!
In what services do you specialize? What previous experience do you have?
I specialize in legal assistance services, which directly relates to my previous experience. I worked as a legal assistant and paralegal for over 10 years. I worked for a sole practitioner, a mid-size law firm and then the federal government.
Why did you decide to start your business? Was it always a goal of yours to go into business for yourself?
I decided to start my business as I wanted a way to work from my home doing challenging and interesting work. I actually never thought of working for myself until after I had children and wanted to find a way to have an interesting career and maintain some flexibility to allow me to parent my children in the way that seemed best for our family.
Did you stumble upon any roadblocks as you were getting started? What were you able to take from those experiences?
I definitely have had some roadblocks! First, even as a home business there is the need to have some start-up capital to have the right equipment, register your business properly and do some marketing. Second, lawyers seem to be a tough target market to crack, but I’m working on that! Also, I started my business with three kids at home (7, 4, and 1) and that has been quite challenging, but it is getting much easier as we develop some routines. I think the challenges are great though, as they help me really see how important being an entrepreneur is to me. I am sure it is something I really want and will make it happen!
How did you come up with the name Halo Secretarial Services? Were there any other potential names you considered before deciding on this one?
I wanted a name that would be relatively unique, easy to remember and had some meaning to me. My mom and sister used the nickname “Lo” when I was younger and often in calling out would say “Hey — Lo” and we all thought it was cute. The phrase stuck in my mind and I thought it would make a distinguishable business name but looked weird spelled Heylo, so I switched it to the more recognizable “Halo”. I did consider other names but many were too similar to other virtual assistant businesses operating already.
How many clients would do you generally have at one time? How do you manage your client list?
I have a pretty small list right now, but only because I’m just getting going. I manage my list by carefully tracking my available hours, keeping good track of my personal and work commitments in my calendar and screening clients to see what kind of time commitment they anticipate needing. I do not limit how many clients I will take on, but I will be sure to only take on as much work as I have time for, especially as it’s extremely important to me that the quality of my work be excellent. When I grow to the point I have a full client-load, I am planning to expand to a offer services on a team basis.
Are there any specific goals you would like to reach within the next couple years?
Definitely! I would like to expand my va practice to a full-time basis in the next year and within 3 years I’d love to be able to run a multi-va practice. I know several people in my life who would love the opportunity to do similar work from home, but aren’t necessarily interested in marketing themselves, so if I could build a business that would allow me to hire them on that would be great!
How have you been able to manage your time when it comes to family and business? Do you have any special tips you’d like to share with other women trying to do the same?
I fit my work hours around my family life. I am up-front with my clients about the fact that I have children and other commitments. I work in the early morning, early afternoon and several hours in the evening. I also am able to do a lot of work on weekends generally. I think the most important tip I can share is to be careful to prioritize each day and week. Plan ahead, look at the school calendar and your other commitments before planning your work, so that you can always meet your clients’ expectations. Don’t forget to really enjoy your children when you take a break from work. Oh and please remember to get help when you need it — whether from your spouse and family, or from paid help when you need it! Don’t let your work be too low of a priority or you will not succeed.
What do you enjoy most about working within the legal field? Why did you choose it over many of the other options available?
I’ve always loved the law, since I was in junior high! I think it’s because I have a deeply ingrained sense of right and wrong and how important it is that there are rules and regulations in our world. I believe in justice and that the law is one of the best tools we have to keep our world safe and enjoyable.
What is the first thing you’d recommend someone to do before taking the leap from in-office Legal Assistant to the virtual world?
Definitely do your research and understand what is involved in being a business owner. It’s very, very different from being an employee. There is less sense of job security but also a wonderful control over your destiny and the type of work you will be doing. I’d also recommend that you be sure you are comfortable with all types of technology as there is more expectation of that in the virtual world, that in a typical law office setting. Lawyers who are open to virtual workers are more cutting edge and they expect you to be right there on the edge with them!