The days of corner offices with floor to ceiling windows and a daunting secretary as royal guard are far gone for the solopreneur and nouveau startup successes. Many startups realize the importance of building a solid team of dedicated professionals in a global and virtual business environment – hence the virtual assistant was born.
- Founder: Danielle Julia Cuomo
- Company: Virtual Assist USA
- Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Danielle Cuomo’s Savvy Startup
A million people in the US start new businesses each year and only 50,000 of these businesses survive the first formidable year. Those were the odds I faced at age 23 when I left my job in corporate America and set out to start my own company. Lucky for me, I have never really cared for odds. I was fearless. I decided that if I could not find gainful employment, I would create my own.
The company I created on the dining room table of my apartment, Virtual Assist USA, merges a high-tech approach with personal attention by using specialists who facilitate customized support solutions for business owners. We do every back-office task a business may need, including accounting, social media management, public relations, administration and web design.
Starting this business has been one of the most challenging obstacles I have had to overcome. I had to learn to be the accountant, marketing manager, sales associate, human resources representative, designer, receptionist and president. Since I started the business with no reserve cash, I had to rely on selling myself.
In its first four months, Virtual Assist USA signed both Fortune 500 clients and small businesses, and 95 percent of those clients found us through referrals. I went to every possible event that I could fit into my day. My car became my mobile office, complete with a laptop, supply of business cards, energy drinks and a suit jacket to throw on as needed. It all paid off . . . Virtual Assist USA grew to 32 clients and five employees in just six months.
Two years later, I now have a wildly successful business with a dedicated staff and thriving clients. I experienced 40% growth month after month, and my income became many times over the salary I made at my IT job. I enjoy an international presence with clients in Canada, Australia, Israel, England and Ireland. My clients range from CEOs to soccer mom-preneurs, bestselling authors to small e-tailers.
It has been a wonderful, weird, crazy, demanding, lovely two years gone by. What’s next? I intend to franchise my business model, which will allow me to leverage rapid growth without having to rely on outside investors or other funding sources. But ultimately, I want to continue helping would-be entrepreneurs to realize their dreams, even if at first that means working from their dining room table.
Learn more about Virtual Assist USA.
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