Working virtually doesn’t mean you have to work for an employer. Check out some of our favorite Virtual Entrepreneurs in the VirtForce Network in our Entrepreneurial Spirit Series.
April Wilhem – Started as a Freelance Virtual Assistant and Launched her own marketing agency.
Ashely Metesh McCoy – Launched a virtual travel agency business after completing her active duty service.
Kristin Schreiner – Owner of a successful online boutique!
Not only was April Wilhelm able to find a full-time remote position, but she was brave enough to take her experience from that role and launch her own fully remote marketing agency.
Becoming a Virtual Assistant
April started working remotely by doing odd jobs here and there as a virtual assistant. She found the more work she did, the more she learned about what she did and didn’t like, as well as where she excelled. April evaluated her skills and strengths to find where she really shined and realized her niche is Online Business Management.
After researching, April found a certificate program in Online Business Management, that allowed her to step out on her own and take the scary step of leaving her full-time position. The fear of leaving her comfort zone drove her to hit the ground running and to do nothing but her best. After launching her company, The Intentionalpreneur Marketing Agency, April is now able to choose who she wants to work for when she wants to work. Going out on her own, has made her career experience much more flexible. From what we hear, she just signed three new clients this week.
By: Kendall King
Video Interview: Kimber Hill and April Wilhelm
Ashley Metesh McCoy
Veteran Ashley Metesh McCoy initially bounced around after leaving the Service, but finally found fulfillment in her Travel Agent business, Kinship Vacations. After her military service was complete, she knew she wanted to have her own business. She felt empowerment in the decision to take her career into her own hands, and she has now had her travel business open for two years! Her advice to other entrepreneurs is to surround yourself with support.
Kinship Vacations has multiple travel agents who all have different specialties, whether you are trying to do a Disney trip, a girls weekend, or to reconnect after a deployment, they’ve got you covered. Ashley’s Travel Agent business does some amazing work and they explain it best in their “About Me” on their Facebook page!
Kinship Vacations is a travel design firm that serves three very important needs: (1) We are a network of military spouses and veterans that help people plan unique travel experiences that create new memories and deepen connections; (2) We also provide fun, fulfilling, and long-term career opportunities to military spouses and veterans that provide them unlimited income potential in a portable business model that can go wherever life (or, the military) takes them; and, (3) We are a social enterprise, pledging 10% of our profits to the Fisher House Foundation to help military families stay together in their greatest time of need.
Ashley says having her own business has been one of the best personal development experiences and has made her face hurdles far outside her comfort zone. As both a veteran and a military spouse, Ashley encourages entrepreneurship because it allows you to be more flexible whether its with childcare or time management. As a travel agent and entrepreneur, she is able to work virtually and her clients are all over the world!
By: Kendal King
Video Interview: Kimber Hill and Ashley Metesh McCoy
Kristin Schreiner, owner of the beautiful boutique Calla Lily Lane, gave VirtForce a sneak peek into how she launched an online clothing boutique from her home. Kristin’s path into entrepreneurship started nine months after she had her first child. She became closely associated with a friend who had a successful online boutique and needed help growing the brand. Kristin jumped in and learned the business model. Soon, she launched a sister boutique from the spare room in her home and developed her brand, Calla Lily Lane.
Calla Lily Lane
Her business started in the comments of items being posted on the Calla Lily Lane Facebook page. Since then she has transitioned to a full website and integrated her social media platforms with Shopify which improved both the backend of the business and the customer’s shopping experience. Kristen still does a lot of social media work with Facebook and Instagram. She spends approximately 5 hours a day working with customers, but there is also a lot of work with accounting and ordering that she completes.
Advice to others
For those interested in opening a similar business her advice is to do things with the best intentions. While working with legality can be scary, with research and a little bit of bravery, everything will be okay. Kristin has an LLC in the state of Florida and she is a sole-proprietor. She also has a sellers permit that gives her a tax ID and authorizes her to collect sales tax, store it and then give that to the government quarterly.
When asked for her top tips in succeeding with an online boutique, Kristen explains that finding vendors can sometimes be a grab bag, much like shopping for your clothes online; however, her secret is to try to order from vendors where items are made in the United States. She also added that she sends her items wrapped in tissue with a thank you card to ensure her customers get the boutique feel even though they’re ordering from an online store.
By: Kendall King
Video Interview: Kimber Hill and Kristen Schreiner