Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hi, I am Julmar Grace Locsin, and I am the owner and co-founder of Filipino Virtual Assistance by FVA Business Consultancy. FVA offers online and offline training, coaching, consulting, workshops, services, franchising-related virtual assistance, offshoring, outsourcing, and remote work for brands and businesses, here and abroad.
Our very mission is to equip freelancers, empower marketers, and enable businesses. We envision FVA for global digital leadership that will impact the world through digitalization, one life at a time. FVA has three arms, namely FVA Online Academy- have trained 25,000 students from our 31 courses, FVA Services- from training to hiring programs, and FVA Franchising with 16 Coaches assigned from different territories. And we are fifteen in the FVA team, including FVA co-founder Jay Locsin and me.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
Ten years ago, my husband and I were working in an office set-up. Due to a mix of struggles experienced, my husband and I decided to quit our job and transition into freelancing. The transition phase was difficult since we didn't have the facilities needed like a computer and internet connection. We worked in an internet cafe for the first month of our freelancing career until we bought our personal computer and had our internet connection.
We had experience downtime in our new career at first, but we grow and learn from our mistakes as we go along. Freelancing changed the quality of our lives, our family, and so with our marriage. We embrace these benefits to realize that if mothers can work at home, they can earn while taking care of their family.
Another thing is the overseas workers. They have been working far from their family to make a living. Those who are exhausted and feel unproductive because of many circumstances like long hours of commute eat a lot of their time, endangering their work-life balance. These are a few of our realizations why we come up with putting Filipino Virtual Assistance. Because we know how difficult it is to work far from our family, we want to empower Filipino families, one freelancer at a time. We want to provide our graduates an avenue to earn dollars at their homes' comfort, without the hassle of traffic, toxicity of the environment, and an excellent opportunity for those who never got the chance to go to College.
FVA started in August 2016, and it will turn five years old this year. We have been training 25,000 students around the globe and still counting. And this 2021, we will leverage FVA where we go for the global market.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
We conceptualize FVA online academy to provide training to those who want to transition to freelancing. Because freelancing is a complex industry and is a portfolio-based one, we train our students through output-based coaching sessions. They can use their outputs in their portfolio and present their portfolio during their application process. Also, we provide apprenticeships where they get a chance to experience working as a Virtual Assistant to FVA and a real client for free.
Before, the FVA online academy provided training to aspiring and even seasoned freelancers. But, as we found out that others need training in boosting digital presence, we also offer training to marketers and business owners. We have started with the Freelancing Course because this is a one-stop course to start freelancing from scratch. Later on, when they can identify their niche, students can join in in-depth courses training to grow their skill sets. Along with the 30 other online courses, we can say that the Freelancing course is still relevant because it is an avenue for our students to learn freelancing basics.
A year after FVA was born, we started with our franchising, where we have trainers and coaches assigned in each territory, not only in the country but also outside.
Describe the process of launching the business.
Because my husband and I have been freelancers for over ten years, we have saved for the capital of FVA. We started FVA small, and it is through prayers and team effort where FVA blooms. I did not consider FVA a business that generates a lot of ROI but a mission that aims to equip at least one freelancer in every household. Because we believe that freelancing has a lot to offer, and as a freelancing couple, we want others to experience what we have now.
We conceptualized FVA through experience, books, podcasts, brainstorming, and a lot of strategic ways. We started from scratch, and along the four-year journey, we learn a lot, and we help a lot of freelancers globally. When our student enrolls, they will also receive tips and have a family to guide them until they become successful. Also, we provide our students with an apprenticeship to practice their learnings. We started with few students, like 20 per month, and right now, we have 500 or more students per month.
We are proud to share that FVA’s website was created and designed by one of our students. And today, she is now a Coach for our website design course.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
The key to FVA's success is through putting our students first. We make sure that aside from the competitive courses we provide, we understand their pain points. Plus, we are making sure that we are helping them be what they want to be. FVA is not about what we are and who we are, but about our students who aim to earn from their homes' comfort.
Part of our strategies is boosting our digital presence through SEO, organic advertising, and paid advertising. In growing our digital presence, we always make sure that we are visible to our target audience. We optimize everything in our social media accounts and website and make sure we are SEO friendly. Also, we provide value to our target audience through social media posts and blogs where they can find relevance from them.
As for organic and paid advertising, we do this for our Facebook page. We set a budget and pay Facebook to boost some of our posts. We started advertising with Facebook, and until now, the best-performing channel is our Facebook Page. As the competition has grown, I haven’t experienced any change in the ad prices.
In FVA, we always have promos like reducing our courses' price list, and we have the monthly giveaway for our page's top fan. Our students are forever part of the FVA family; thus, they always receive current and relevant freelancing tips. And when they encounter problems with their tasks with their clients, FVA will help. Our graduates have a forever family that they can rely on!
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
FVA's operation is in a good state, and I can say we are profitable. Through strategic planning, we re-structure FVA, and we want to go "global." To compete globally is not easy but, we believe that our team is dedicated enough to compete.
We conducted market research, and it is where we decided to make our target market into three different segments. From freelancers as the target market, we plan to target business owners and marketers as well.
Our new goal will be the top online academy in the world. And this is what we are preparing for. We re-brand, re-structure our organizational chart and then revise our strategies.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
Launching FVA is a good decision that I and my husband made. This is because FVA has been an avenue for Filipinos here and abroad to have the freedom to earn for their family. Actually, we have posted FVA success stories on our page where you can see how FVA changed their lives and families.
I can not tell any poor decisions we have made because we have been keen on this, FVA has been a student-centered one.
Because we are the living example of freelancing, we know our student's struggles and pain points. We address them by empathizing and providing relevance to their learning journey. And, it is the positive mindset that drives us to move further in FVA.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
Through these tools, we can leverage our business efficiently and effectively.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
My favorite authors are Seth Godin, Simon Sinek, Robert Kiyosaki, and podcasters John Maxwell, Michael Stelzner. Their exceptional talents are great in terms of having both the attitude and skills to empower me and FVA.
Also, the wisdom that I got guides me in finding the courage to face my fears and overcome difficulties, especially with FVA. And, they teach me to extract compassion within and through that compassion, I will be able to help people through Filipino Virtual Assistance.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?
Starting a business is tough, and you cannot see good results overnight. What I usually see as the entrepreneur's mistake is having a negative mindset which leads them to quit. Always have optimism and belief in yourself. And if ever things are not going the way you want it, look at the brighter side. Think of the good things about how you can provide excellent products or services that will not just earn profits but also help people to earn a living. Just move forward and learn from your mistakes and wrong decisions until you see positive results!
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
Right now, the FVA team is full, so we're not looking for some positions to fill in. But, if ever we need someone to fill in, we will post it on our social media accounts.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
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