Business mentor + systems guru and CEO of Virtual Biz Partner, Sara Lingenfelter’s life changed in 2011 after a bit of soul searching. Sara realised that she wanted to work from home to have time with her son and be in control of her future. The world of virtual assistance opened up a real passion for online business, systems, and technology.
In no time, her business was fully booked, and she went from being a VA to become a Certified Online Business Manager, helping busy entrepreneurs organise, run and grow their online businesses. Sara is now dedicated to providing work-from-home opportunities through an accessible online educational course that teaches all the much-needed business skills, software basics, and connects women to an online community for direct access to success strategies it takes to get started. The training empowers women to start their journey of becoming a virtual assistant.
Hey Sara, can you introduce yourself to us?
I am a mom and an entrepreneur. If you’d told my younger self I’d at one point be a single parent also running a successful online business I’d of thought you were crazy. I never set out to do this but I am so glad I am. I was originally going to be a probation and parole office so I took a bit of a different direction. I’ve always lived in rural Missouri but love traveling and have now met amazing women all over the world due to the work I do. As much as I love my business I also love my free time with friends and family. Enjoying the outdoors, eating yummy food, attending concerts, or having new experiences like watching bull riding (which I recently did) all make me happy. Actually, the list of things I love to do in my free time is long and I have set my business up to give me the freedom to enjoy life. If you were to meet me on the street, I’d give you a big smile and genuinely hope you were having a good day. I think we all have something special to give the world, just some of us need a little more help finding out what that is that others do. And what lies beneath all I do is a desire for people to figure out what makes them happy.
Can you take us through your journey to where you are now?
Well, this could get long but I will try to keep it brief. Like many people I went to college thinking that was the answer to having a job, I loved and making decent money. During college, I was set up on a blind date and met my now ex-husband. I moved away to a tiny town when he and I got married. At the time, I did bookkeeping and my boss decided I could do my job from home and just make the 180-mile round trip 1 day a week. I eventually got bored and there was nowhere to advance too. This is when I thought it was time to pursue my degree for a job in probation in parole. At that time my son was 3 and I had no family near. Taking a job in P&P meant him going into full-time daycare. I asked around and found out I would be working 50+ hours a week plus driving time. Most of my time would be spent on the computer doing paperwork. But I went on to take the state test, scored well, and not long after received letters there were 2 openings I could interview for. I had 7 days to respond, either accept or decline. If you didn’t reply you were then banned from applying again. It only took me a couple of days to decide this potential job wasn’t worth putting my son in full-time daycare so I turned them down. But this left us with a job I was very unhappy with a no raise for over 5 years! I knew there HAD to be another option. It wasn’t long after this one day on Facebook I saw someone talking about being a Virtual Assistant. I asked her a few questions and thought this might be a possibility for me too! I then learned of a site called hiremymom.com and signed up. It’s a site to find work from home jobs for Virtual Assistants. Within 2 months I had 2 clients, I was only trying to get one but landed both in the same week. During this time I learned fast and loved the online world.
This all happened late summer of 2011 and by Jan 2013 I could no longer do the VA work and my job, one had to do. I decided to quit my job and have been running my business full-time since then. In 2013 is when I officially started Virtual Biz Partner ending the VA work and transitioning to Online Business Management. That has continued to grow as well as my training academy where I train women how to get started online as a Virtual Assistant. I now do a mix of business management, consulting and training. I just love empowering women to build something they at first didn’t even know was possible.
How much research did you do on the market prior to launching Virtual Biz Partner?
Haha good question, I did spend a lot of time back in 2011 researching online business and how to be a Virtual Assistant which is how I got my start. I spent about 2 to 3 months but got frustrated by all the conflicting advice I found. I eventually gave up and went with my gut and just figured things out as I went. Then I made LOTS of mistakes but look at them now as valuable lessons.
Can you tell us more about the brand DNA and ethos of Virtual Biz Partner?
The buzzing and boldness of entrepreneurial life with a calm tranquil state. Meaning the life of an entrepreneur is often exciting and fast-paced. When they work with me I went them to feel calm and like they are in good hands.
Can you give us 3 reasons why any entrepreneur should hire a virtual assistant?
- Because no one great has done it alone, we ALL need support.
- We all have strengths and weaknesses, no need to do those things you don’t like. Just hire a VA.
- It’s the only way you can truly free up your time no matter what level of business you are at.
Where can you see yourself within the next 5 years?
With my business, I see having 1000’s going through my academy each year. I will have expanded my training from just business training but also a mindset, balance and how to find yourself again. Women really need this type of support. And without it, they cannot build a business they love. I will have written my first book and be doing lots of speaking. I will have also built my business up enough I can take time off to travel with my family whenever I like.
What outlets do use to promote Virtual Biz Partner?
I use social media and focus on Instagram and Facebook but am starting to now use Pinterest. I also love doing podcast interviews as well as some written guest blogs. Then I often connect with others with complementary businesses and I will provide free training for their community related to online business.
What gives you ultimate career satisfaction?
This is a mix of a few things for me. One is knowing there are no limits, I can create whatever I want with my business. Second, is the freedom it gives me. I no longer have to choose between a job and my son. I can make choices where both get my focus when needed. And last is knowing I am making a difference in people’s lives.
What challenges have you seen to have been presented during the growth of your career?
How much time do you have? I am grateful for the challenges I have had, they have taught me so much. And I can be rather stubborn, I guess I just need a bit more convincing sometimes. But let’s pick my 3 biggest challenges with the first one being early on in my business, I said yes to everything! I thought I had to and I did want to make clients happy. But this led to frustration doing things I didn’t like and working all the time learning new things. It became so exhausting. No, I love saying no, but it took me some time to learn it’s ok and necessary.
The second biggest challenge was learning I was married to an addict. And there are many parts to this because it seeped into all areas of our life. The irony was when I found out, we were in court for him to get full custody of his daughters because of the situation they were in. His addiction led us to divorce. It was a long road and I am stronger now but was a VERY hard time. In fact, at one point I only did what was necessary to maintain my business. It’s all I had in me at that time in life.
Then the third challenge has been more in recent times and it’s overcoming doubts of who am I to be doing this work, to be leading others. I know we all deal with this at times but I want women to know it’s ok to feel this but don’t believe it. Especially since getting divorced I questioned a lot due to all that happened and I’ve had to learn who I am again. It’s been a long road but worth it. I can say that now lol. I spend a lot of time building myself up and am in a good place now where those doubts leave as quickly as they arrive.
Which other leading entrepreneurs and pioneering game changers do you also admire and why?
There are really many people I admire but the two that have impacted me in a life-changing way are Amber Annette and Natalie MacNeil. These two ladies have mentored me and in such a real way that I value. My life has truly changed because of their support.
Top 3 go-to Podcast channels?
- ‘Being Boss.’
- ‘Entrepreneurs On Fire.’
- ‘RISE Podcast.’
How do you define your own success?
I define my own success as having a business that gives my family the life we desire. This means not just the financial means to have what we want but the time and freedom to spend with each other. It’s really as simple as that. So the freedom to do what I want when I want.
What does #BEYOUROWN mean to you?
It means finding that thing that makes you, you and sharing that with the world. I have a quote by my desk that says “The life you live is the lesson you teach.” The life I have lived has given me a unique story, my own story. And it’s my job to share that with others so that they might learn from it.
Finally, what are you working on throughout 2019?
My focus on building up my training academy and teaching more women how they can start working from home as a Virtual Assistant. I know doing this will help so many of them to have the life they want. And I want to guide them! I am focusing on partnerships this year to help spread the word about the academy as well as social media marketing. I feel it’s best to focus all my energy into one main area then to spread it thin in many directions. And by helping these women have their own business and more freedom, then it, in turn, helps others like their families and for that I am grateful.