[quote style=”boxed”]Keep trying. Don’t give up, and don’t allow yourself to get discouraged. There are a lot of ups and downs to owning a business. When you hit a sticky spot, reevaluate your methods and customer needs, and push forward. Those tough spots will happen; just keep going.[/quote]
Laura Spawn is the CEO and co-founder of VirtualVocations, an online job compilation service that helps job-seekers find legitimate, human-screened, telecommute opportunities, while also providing useful and educational resources for remote workers.
VirtualVocations is one of the few Internet job search sites that has a team of trained researchers who sort through a multitude of online jobs every day to find genuine listings, skilled managers who verify the authenticity of each position, and quality-control summary writers who ensure every position adheres to the company’s guidelines. This triple-check system ensures all jobs posted to the VirtualVocations site are real, paying, telecommute opportunities.
Laura Spawn created VirtualVocations in 2007 after spending several frustrating months trying to find a legitimate work-at-home job of her own. Realizing it took an average of five hours a day to weed through hundreds of websites, only to find a handful of jobs relevant to her skill set, Laura saw the need for an online job compilation service that would help telecommute job-seekers find current opportunities in their area of expertise.
Over the past five years, Laura Spawn has assembled a team of customer-focused telecommuters who are passionate about helping others find their own virtual jobs. Laura believes that by embracing a 100% telecommute environment within the company itself, VirtualVocations is uniquely poised to understand and meet the needs of its subscribers.
What are you working on right now?
We just established a freelance writer pool for the upcoming release of our telecommute blog. We aim to provide useful content for anyone interested in virtual work, while also providing accessible telecommute resources for all visitors. We believe in providing the telecommute community with accurate and entertaining information to help them succeed in their work-at-home endeavors.
On the technical side, we are refining our job search features so job-seekers can easily filter and find opportunities relevant to their particular skills.
Where did the idea for VirtualVocations come from?
The idea for VirtualVocations was created out of frustration. I started looking for a work-at-home job after giving birth to my daughter. After repeatedly spending 25 hours per week just looking for a job, I found myself daydreaming about an easy-to-use job board that only listed telecommute positions. I knew I couldn’t be the only person wasting time sifting through jobs, so I started researching the topic.
My researched confirmed I was right–the average telecommute job-seeker spends at least 15 hours per week looking for a job, with the majority of that time spent weeding through scams or positions not relevant to their skill set. I realized the only way I was going to see my fantasy job board come to fruition was to create it, so I contacted my brother, who is a computer programmer, about creating a website that complied virtual job opportunities for everyone trying to find a work-at-home position. Within a few months, the VirtualVocations website was live.
Today, VirtualVocations subscribers only have to invest a few hours per week to find quality leads, enabling them to focus on the important part of job hunting–applying to the job.
What does your typical day look like?
My day usually starts with me hitting the snooze button at 5:00 a.m. before I finally drag my laptop across the nightstand and start working. Around 7:00 a.m. my three children, husband, and dog wake up, and I switch gears to mom and wife mode. A couple of hours later, after everyone is fed and out of the house, I go back to work.
I have created a flexible schedule during the day so I can accomplish things like grocery shopping, helping my children with their homework, cooking dinner, and the joyous task of cleaning the bathrooms. Later in the evening, after the children are tucked into bed, I go back to work for a few more hours.
How do you bring ideas to life?
By talking with my team and actively listening to their feedback. I surround myself with people who have varying strengths to help ensure we address different approaches and solutions before fleshing an idea into a reality.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
The growing number of telecommute jobs in the marketplace. The number of virtual jobs we find every day continues to steadily increase. It’s exciting knowing that we’re helping more and more people realize their dream of working from home.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
The worst job I had was working at Taco Bell. I learned that not everyone is cut out to work at Taco Bell.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
My brother and I started VirtualVocations with limited job board creation experience and zero money. While this has made building the company a fantastic adventure, having a little more money and experience probably would have helped us avoid some of the rough spots we hit with along the way.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Keep trying. Don’t give up, and don’t allow yourself to get discouraged. There are a lot of ups and downs to owning a business. When you hit a sticky spot, reevaluate your methods and customer needs, and push forward. Those tough spots will happen; just keep going.
What is one problem you encountered as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
My greatest challenge has been learning how to achieve a balance between working for myself and having quality family time. I finally came to the understanding that I need to honor both aspects of my life: wife/mom and entrepreneur. I find that I am most effective when I’m only focused on one area at a time. If I divide my time wisely (and stick to it), I am able to spend quality time in both areas.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Create an effective, easy-to-use website that meets the needs of your customers. It’s no longer a luxury to have a company website–it’s a necessity. If you don’t take advantage of all of the tools available to your business, you’re missing opportunities.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?
As silly as it may sound, I would encourage people to smile more. Smiling is a contagious activity; when you smile, it helps improve your mood and has a positive effect on those around you. To accomplish this goal, I help people find their smiles by providing a service that allows them to find jobs they love.
Tell us a secret.
I can eat an entire box of Girl Scout Samoa cookies in one sitting.
What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
MyFamily.com: I love connecting with members to share photos, events, and more personal updates than I would post on other more public social networking sites.
Google Products: Gmail, and all the tools you can access within Google’s framework, makes connecting with others and managing my business so much easier.
YouTube: I have learned so much from YouTube videos. I am so excited about this resource. There are tutorials and information on just about anything you want to learn. It is especially helpful for questions related to small businesses; there are a lot of altruistic people out there willing to share their expertise.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“The 4-Hour Work Week” by Timothy Ferriss. I haven’t quite mastered the four-hour work week yet, but Ferriss’ book has helped me eliminate several business-related activities that aren’t an effective use of my time.
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
This past Mother’s Day, my five year old innocently noted that my hair “looks like it has silver in it!” What can you do but laugh?
Who is your hero?
I don’t have one particular hero. I am motivated and inspired by people who persevere through difficult times to reach their goals.
What is one of the best ways to grow your business?
Listen to your customers. Their feedback is the most valuable information you’ll obtain in order to grow your business. Work to deliver the products and services they expect, and they will keep coming back.
What do you like to do in your spare personal time?
I really like to run, read books like “The Hunger Games” and play the piano.
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Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.