Interview with Trivinia Barber from Priority VA

How many of you would love a virtual assistant? Good news! You can hire one today.

Trivinia is the owner of Priority VA, and she started her business to help overwhelmed professionals. While the struggle to balance life and work might not always happen, adding the right person in your life helps. 

Tell us a little about you and your small business. 

I left corporate America after my employer switched hands and my flexibility was no longer a bargaining tool. I decided to take my skills and experience and put them to work for people who needed what I could offer, while allowing myself the flexibility to work from home and keep up with my growing family. I’m a mom to four girls and a wife to an adorable husband. A full time job plus extended commute across the city was not how I wanted to support my family. I started Priority VA taking on some high-profile clients I could assist virtually. Soon, referrals kept coming in, and it was more than I could handle myself. I had a decision to make. I could try to take on more clients myself, or I could turn a corner in this business and pair clients with other VAs based on skill need, character, and availability. 

Priority VA has been doing just that, ever since. My job is to eliminate the overwhelming. I take a 30,000 foot view of the entrepreneur’s business needs, I help them strategize their next steps, and I pair them with a VA who is equipped to help them reach the next level in their business. I’ve met some of the most amazing people, and love what I do.

Why did you decide to start a business?

We adopted a child and she needed more therapy than a little person should, and she needed me. I had to make the decision to be home full time to tend to her needs. I started working for a couple of high-profile clients as an independent contractor. When things got busy, and people liked my work, I started to get inundated with referrals and requests. I had a light bulb moment. While I couldn't be all things to all people, I could find other people for these potential clients. This allowed these other VAs to be at home with their children or families, too. And that was an amazing discovery. 

What is the best and worst thing about owning a business?

Best: Creating whatever I want. I’m not tied to the bylaws and bureaucracy of standard run-of-the-mill businesses. I’m a visionary. If I see something I want to embrace, or a direction I want to take my business in, I can. I make the decision to do it. I love creating ideas, plans, and dreaming big, and I get to do all of those things without seeking the approval of a supervisor. I create content, partnerships, relationships, images, training material, or whatever I feel like. I love having the freedom to go in the exact direction my goals and ideas take me.

Worst: Not stopping. Always, always thinking about my business. Taking it too seriously, when I should just go play Scrabble. I fight for balance in the lives of my clients, and need to force the same fight for myself some days, too. Working from home means it’s a challenge to simply  'leave work at work'. Desiring my business to succeed makes it hard not to always think about the next step.

How does motherhood effect your business?

I'm more driven than I ever thought I'd be for this business to succeed. I look at my kids, and think six more years till college, (and 16 more years for the youngest) and I know that I'm working for something bigger than myself. Although I fail sometimes, I hope they see in me a work ethic that translates into character for them. They'll see that our word means something. When we decide to do something, we need to give it our best every day. For them, it's spelling words or math problems. For me, it's creating sales funnels or following up with event planners. The same dedication to excellence and continual growth applies. 

From a lighter perspective, it effects the way I get things done. I've been at Starbucks with a baby in my lap, and on a webinar with a house full of 12 year olds squealing. I've worked after a fussy toddler just wouldn't go down for the night. I have to roll with it as a mom, even though I'm not by nature an adaptable person. It's taught me to roll with it in my business, too. 

As a small business owner, what is one thing you cannot live without?
I think the standard answer should be my phone because I'm ever-connected to my clients and VAs. But, for me, it's actually my team of virtual assistants. They keep me centered. One makes sure I go to my dermatology appointments since I had cancer. Another helps me find and train the right VAs. I have a VA that writes and handles social media, but honestly, she's my prayer warrior most of all. So, I couldn't live without them. They are my lifeline when I want to cry. The same could be said for my husband, who co-owns my business with me. He saves me daily from myself. And also, coffee.
Any advice for someone wanting to become a virtual assistant?
Yes, two pieces actually: 
1. Don't undersell your abilities. Find out what you're good at, and go all in. I've talked to many a VA wanna-be’s and they don't believe in themselves. The clients I work with need someone who is capable and confident. If you're confident, you'll easily be capable of learning new skills or taking the reigns on a big project. If you're not confident, it doesn't matter how capable you are. The client will never see it. 

2. Never stop learning. Confidence mentioned in number one doesn't negate your need to expand and grow. The virtual environment is constantly changing, and we need to adapt to it. Don't be so sure of who you are, that you miss who you might really want (or need) to become. 

How do you find time for work and family?

This is terrible, but it's a constraint I've put in place that works well. I schedule it. I have my assistant literally schedule time with my friends and close family that I would frequently put off meeting with. It's not because I didn't want to see them. When I'm at my desk, I can get so laser focused on work that I drown out anything else. That can become a barrier to authentic relationships. So, my assistant has a list of friends and family and she regularly schedules time with them for me.

As for my four littles, I have cuddle time with them frequently. It took practice to turn off my brain from 'work mode' to 'mommy mode'. The joy that's found in those precious prayer time moments, or simply taking a walk around the block has taught me more about my 'why' in starting this business than any client call ever would. 

So I've got to always make time. I schedule it and commit to my family and to my work. If i'm being real, there is no balance. It's always intertwined. It might mean my home-schooled 12 year old is in my office next to me working on homework, or that I'm answering a client call while in line at an amusement park. My kids, for 'take your kid to work day', sent notes to my clients thanking them for partnering with us and made a video for social media to promote our business. It's always a part of what we do. The trick is to make it fun and teachable, so they aren't always feeling like I'm choosing work over them. It's not easy, but it is possible with consistency and commitment. 

We all have busy lives, but Trivinia has challenged us to keep life in perspective. Our businesses are important, but nothing can replace the hugs of our children. Thank you for sharing your story, Trivinia.

If you would like more information about Priority VA, contact them today. They are ready to help you.


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