Interview with Sandra Lewis, founder of Worldwide 101
In 2015, we shared the story of how Sandra Lewis launched a VA business, Worldwide101, to create her own work-life balance.
18 months on and Worldwide101 continues to grow, and has even been named one of America’s most entrepreneurial companies. Sandra tells us what has happened since.
What’s changed since our last interview with you?
It’s an interesting question because at the core I would say that nothing has changed as such!
We have continued to diligently focus our efforts on growing our talented team of professionals to support more and more successful and thriving businesses, organisations, and entrepreneurs – with the personalised care that we are so passionate about.
And it’s been an absolute pleasure to watch our team grow in responsibilities as they have fostered long term partnerships with our clients.
We are also very proud that our efforts for providing a premium virtual assistant service has been recognised, and that Worldwide101 was named by Entrepreneur Magazine as one of the “Best Entrepreneurial Companies in America” in their 2016 Entrepreneur 360™ List.
You’ve created a new VA network – why?
The virtual assistant industry is very dear to my heart and since we started Worldwide101 in 2009 we have tried very hard to change the perception of what a virtual assistant is.
In the early days most people either didn’t know about virtual assistants or virtual PAs – or they had a preconceived idea that all that a virtual assistant could do was data entry and menial tasks and that all virtual assistants were located in India or the Philippines.
At Worldwide101 we have always believed that working remotely is going to be the new norm and that we are blazing the trail for accomplished, successful, and skilled professional to find rewarding and long-term work while working from a remote location.
This past May we created We Are Virtual Assistants to galvanise our VA community to join us in promoting and elevating the virtual assistant industry as a serious career path for talented professionals.
It’s a website where we celebrate our achievements, and where we support talented professionals in making the leap to transferring their talents and skills to a remote position.
How do you help your members?
We Are Virtual Assistants is a very dynamic website, which serves our members in multiple ways.
First, there is phenomenal content uploaded daily. Topics range from highlighting new tools and online software, to promoting free skill classes that we know would be most beneficial to our readers and their work, to providing inspirational articles from veteran virtual assistants who share their journey and tips for how they succeeded.
We also provide a free start up kit to support new or aspiring virtual assistants in getting started in the industry with videos, guides and templates.
For virtual assistants who require a little bit more personal support, we have a whole section that highlights our “pro-connect” coaches. These are professionals who have established virtual assistant businesses or who specialise in supporting professional in making a shift in their career – and they are available to share their knowledge or to provide training and mentorship.
Our members can browse through the list, read some of the articles that our coaches have written and get in touch with them directly if they are interested in working with them!
And lastly but definitely not least – we help our members by providing new and curated virtual assistant jobs on a daily basis. Members can login to apply for jobs directly with employers who are looking to hire.
We are pretty proud of how the site has turned out and very grateful to our great members who are promoting the industry as a serious career path for talented professionals.
How has Worldwide 101 grown?
I wrote a Medium article about growth because it’s a hot topic for every company, and we have learnt a lot about what not to do!
What has made the biggest difference to your business?
Our ability to recruit talented and skilled professionals has made the biggest difference for our business. I can’t say it enough – our team is amazing, and our reputation and the premium service that we offer is very dependent on how committed our team is to the success of our clients.
We are currently actively recruiting at a rate of three new professionals a month, and our ability to make these recruits is key to our growth.
What’s your vision for the next five years?
To continue to grow and excel at what we do! And to continue to raise awareness of the virtual assistant industry so that more businesses understand the value of hiring a virtual assistant to support their business growth.
What’s been your proudest moment to date?
I am always so proud when we I get an email or a testimonial from a happy client.
And what have you struggled most with?
Not to sound like a broken record but we do struggle with finding the right talent to join our team. We are very stringent in our application process!
How does your business today differ from your vision when you started?
When we started we didn’t have a clear vision for “who” our ideal customer was. As the years have gone by, we have refined our branding to speak to customers who are looking for a premium service.
What have you learned most as an entrepreneur?
I think it’s really important to keep a positive outlook. There are going to be challenges and many times when you are not quite sure of the best course of action. Keeping a positive outlook will make your life so much sweeter!
You can find out more about Worldwide101 on their website.