Today’s post is a little out of the norm for me, in that it’s a post written entirely by me, rather than the typical article, resource or information you usually find here at Virtually This and That! Writing is not something that comes easily to me, so I don’t do it that often. I figure there is so much valuable information out there that will benefit my intended readers that it makes sense to pull from the experts that really know what they are talking about, and to whom writing does come easily, but Sunday is a very special day for me. In fact, I consider it a rather big milestone for my business.
October 1, 2006, marks the 15th anniversary of Fastype, now known as Fastype VA Services, Inc. Earlier today; I posted on a very popular forum for Virtual Assistants. We were talking about the things some of us were going to celebrate while attending our VA Conference in Dallas in about two weeks, and I mentioned that I would be celebrating my 15th year in business. A little later in the day, I received a private message from one of the members, who congratulated me and then asked me the following question…
She said, “What the heck were you doing 15 years ago? I mean, I know I had my first computer then, but…I was on CompuServe and email was brand spanking new and we were all on UNIX with 5500-baud modems. Well, I was.
So…how did you do business 15 years ago?”
The short answer would be … “very differently.”
The person asking the question suggested I answer the question as a post in my blog and send her the link, so that’s what I decided to do.
When I first opened my doors on October 1, 1991, Fastype was a secretarial and resume service serving local clients only in a small, rural village in Central Ohio. It didn’t take me long to discover that the small town I lived in wasn’t quite ready for a home-based secretarial service, so when the offer to move into a small office in the same building as our local temporary agency became available (about three weeks after officially opening my office), I made the move. Armed with my one client and all of my shiny new computer and office equipment, I confidently moved into my new office, sat patiently behind my desk, and waited for the phone to ring and the clients to start knocking down the door. It took a while, but eventually, the phone started ringing, the clients started arriving, and I was in business.
I won’t bore you with all of the details of the past 15 years, but I must say that doing business in 2006 is so very different than it was back in 1991. I had a brand new computer with all of the bells and whistles available at that time. It had a big hard drive…a whopping 40 Megabytes. It had the standard stuff, like a 5 ½” floppy disk drive, and even had one of the new 3.5” drives that had just recently come out. Way cool! The Internet, still being touted as the “information highway,” had barely come into existence, so operating my business virtually, was not even an option. That’s right, no Internet. All of my clients were local, and most of them were small business owners needing secretarial or resume service. I did a lot of word processing, desktop publishing for things like print newsletters and flyers and brochures, wrote and typed way too many resumes, and even did transcription for a local doctor for about 10 years. I also had a few “senior” clients that needed a letter typed here and there. My clients would find me in the yellow pages, at a local networking event, or by word of mouth. They would drop by unannounced, or call and make an appointment to come to my office. I would do the work, and then they would come back and pick it up when it was finished. Sometimes they would even sit and wait if I was just typing a letter. As time passed and my client base grew, I eventually moved my office back home again and have been home based ever since. That was how I did business 15 years ago, and for the next 13 years after that.
When I finally found out about Virtual Assistance in early 2004, everything changed. It was a completely new ballgame with a very different set of playing rules … and I must say I was very excited about the possibilities. I’d had email and played around on the Internet since about 1996, but even as the Internet got bigger and bigger, it never occurred to me that I could be running my business virtually, with clients all over the world! Nevertheless, I am, and Fastype is now a home-based Virtual Assistance practice specializing in supporting professional speakers and coaches worldwide. Because of that one missing ingredient, the Internet, my entire client base changed, and my clients now span the globe from across the United States to as far away as New Zealand, Antigua and Singapore.
Operating my business virtually is so much better, and so much more enjoyable than it was when I started back in 1991. I love working with speakers and coaches, and I enjoy the services I provide so much more than I did as a secretarial and resume service. Now, all but one of my clients are “virtual.” They don’t come to my office anymore, and 99.9% of what I do is Internet based. Instead of providing the typical secretarial services like word processing, desktop publishing and a little transcription here and there, Fastype now partners with professional speakers and coaches to provide services in the areas of executive assistance; proofing & editing services; shopping cart management; event listing, registration and follow-up; speaker kits and presentation packages; preparing speech handouts and one-sheets; article submission; ezine maintenance and distribution; blog maintenance, design and formatting of e-books, special reports and tips sheets … and so much more! We truly are ‘Your Virtual Office.’
If you’d like to see some fun photos of Fastype and how we’ve changed over the years, visit http://www.bizeasesupport.com/about/in-retrospect/
The year 2006 has been, and is continuing to be, a great year of growth for Fastype. As I mentioned in a previous post, we incorporated at the beginning of the year and hired an assistant about six months ago. We have been working on some new and exciting plans that we hope to unveil in the very near future, that are sure to make 2007 an even bigger and better year.
I want to take this time to thank every one of my clients … from my first one way back in October 1991, to every one since then up to my most recent. I’m thankful for every single one of them, because they are the only reason I’m here. Without them, I wouldn’t have a business. I feel truly blessed, and can’t wait to answer the same question that started this post, fifteen years from now in 2021 (God willing) …
“So…how did you do business 15 years ago?”