Tina Hilton is a survivor of the real estate melt down. In 2007 she was working for a local title company as a title processor. When the real estate market plummetted, the doors slammed shut on the company she was working for. At that time, the industry was falling fast and Tina’s job prospects were slim.
Luckily the Maine Department of Labor had a suggestion for her. Tina recalls, “I received a notice from them pretty much saying ‘So sorry you’re not going to find a job, but we might have an idea.’ They said that if I had an idea for starting my own business they had a program to help. They would continue to pay my unemployment benefits while I worked on getting my new business up and running. The notice came just days after I’d done research on virtual assistance, something that I felt would allow me to use my experience, background, training and love of computer technology. And that’s how my virtual assistance business, Clerical Advantage, was born.”
But she wasn’t flush with cash. Like many small business owners bootstrapping was her only start up option, so she decided to put her knowledge of the internet and blogs to use. Here’s what she did.
Started a blog and began visiting other blogs of business people in her target market, leaving comments when appropriate. Within four months she had her first retainer client (who is still a client), and she added a second client by the time she’d been in business nine months. At that point her business was supporting her and itself. At the end of her first year in business she had six clients. Her business was growing — even when the president announced the country was in a recession. All but one of these clients were in some way the result of her blogging and guest blogging. She’s also active on Twitter (follow Tina here) where she can keep her finger on the pulse of the needs of prospective clients.
Now, 17 months in business, Tina is optimistic about where her business is heading. She’s beginning to get more inquiries about her services each week. She’s written an e-book, become a regular contributor on a great blog for home office professionals, and continues to provide her clients with valuable services to help them become more successful. She’s confident that virtual assistance is going to become more popular as businesses become educated on the benefits of building a relationship with a virtual professional. And her plan for 2009 is to make Clerical Advantage one of the most recognized names in the industry.
“There really is good news in the small business arena,” says Tina. “I’m building a successful business doing something I love to help others succeed. I believe that anyone can succeed no matter what the economy if they have passion for what they’re doing.”
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