Welcome to another Flourish Friday!
If you’re new to How I Flourish in Des Moines, this blog series shares the stories of local women in business. Get ready to learn more about these passionate women, how they started businesses in the Des Moines area, and advice they have to share.
Today Madison Fichtl brings a new business area of focus to the blog: virtual assistance. As a virtual assistant and lifestyle blogger, Madison has crafted a creative career here in Des Moines. Continue scrolling to learn her small business journey, including how living outside of the U.S. and growing her Instagram following helped her turn a fun hobby into a full-time job.
Introducing Madison Fichtl
1. What is your business, and what do you do?
I am a Virtual Assistant for Creative Entrepreneurs and a Lifestyle Blogger.
As a VA, I do a number of different tasks for my clients in order to assist in running their businesses behind the scenes. My main tasks include: social media management and growth, email newsletter creation and blog creation.
As a Lifestyle Blogger, I focus on sharing my love for fashion and travel, on a budget, with millennial women.
2. How long have you been in business?
I started Madison Fichtl about 2.5 years ago.
3. What sparked your interest in becoming a small business owner?
Honestly, I sort of fell into it. I never expected to start a business.
In order to fully share the story, I have to give you a bit of background. A few years ago, I was working in Milwaukee, WI as an HR manager when I met a German man. We stayed in Milwaukee for a year until we made the decision to move to Germany where his family was.
Upon arrival, I wasn’t able to find an HR position because I couldn’t speak German. I set out to find a different profession and ended up as the Executive Assistant at an International School. This role was a bit different for me because I was used to being on the leadership team, making decisions daily. Where now, I was in a support role.
What shocked me the most was that I actually loved it! I really enjoyed being the person behind the scenes, helping run my bosses schedule and doing whatever she needed help with. The only downside to the job was that I was driving about 1.5 hours each way to work.
At the same time that I was working here, I met the owner of a wedding blog. She had seen my engagement pictures and wanted to feature them on her blog. I, of course, followed all their social media so that I could see when the feature was posted. A few weeks after the feature went up, the blog announced that they were looking for some help managing things.
Since I was planning my own wedding at the time, this seemed like the perfect hobby! Luckily, I got the job and was able to help them out on nights and weekends.
Fast forward a few months, I had grown a decent Instagram following on my own so I was having people contact me about how I did it. And I was also having creatives contact me through the wedding blog to see if I could assist them as well.
I was having so much fun doing this that I started to “take on clients”. Again though, this wasn’t a business to me, it was a fun hobby. However, this fun hobby quickly exploded. Within three months, I was able to replace my full-time income and quit my Assistant job.
This is when I started considering it a serious business and worked to get everything in order. 2.5 years later, I am so happy that my path took this route!
The Lifestyle Blog has sort of evolved out of that as my creative outlet.
4. What gap does your business fill?
Business owners, especially entrepreneurs, can’t always do it all. They either don’t have the time or the skills to accomplish specific tasks within their business. I help fill those needs, working with them to grow the best business possible.
For my lifestyle blog, I realize that as millenials, we are constantly on the move. We don’t always have the time to shop for the best deals or find the greatest travel locations. I help provide those to busy millennials so that they can focus more on their career and personal lives.
5. What do you enjoy most about operating a business in the Des Moines metro?
The community! I feel so welcome here, it is incredible. We have only been here for a few months and already the people make me want to stay. There are also so many creatives here, that it is really fun to see what everyone else is working on.
6. What is the best business-related advice you’ve received?
“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” My Dad always said this to me growing up and I wasn’t entirely sure I ever believed him. I knew I needed to be well educated to make it. Which is why I have a Masters degree in International HR Management.
But honestly? My career has benefited wayyyy more from the connections I have made, then the knowledge I gained going to school. And as an introvert, it can be hard for me to put myself out there to make connections. However, when I do it, I see huge benefits (both personally and in my business).
7. What tip do you have for other women in business?
Never give up. Running a business can be so hard and people who aren’t in the same situation might not understand what you are going through. Keep pushing and find yourself a few business besties – people who know what it is like working long hours and trying to make something of themselves. You can do anything you set your mind to, if you don’t give up!