- Welcome to “Founder Finances,” an Insider series discussing founders’ monthly budgets.
- In this story, a virtual assistant and mentor shares her $5,000 monthly budget.
- She prioritizes outsourcing tasks like taxes and admin to save herself time and money.
Lauriel Mathis didn’t learn about finances growing up: She was never taught how to budget, file taxes, or grow a business. But less than two years since launching her virtual-assistant business, she’s ready to teach others what she’s learned.
Prior to starting her business, Lauriel Arkeah Co., Mathis studied at the University of San Francisco. To pay for tuition, Mathis worked for a leasing agent at a nearby apartment complex and made $20 per hour. When she learned there was a pay disparity between herself and a coworker, she sought a new career with more upward mobility and a higher salary. That’s when she found a TikTok about virtual assistants.
She looked into the industry’s success rate, signed up for a master class, and quit her job at the complex. “It probably was impulsive,” she said.
Since launching her business in November 2020, she’s turned typical virtual-assistant responsibilities — like administration and managing Instagram and Pinterest accounts — into a mentorship program geared toward aspiring virtual assistants called “Goal-Getter Academy.”
Now, as a full-time mentor, Mathis spends nearly $5,000 per month on her business — $2,000 more than she would as solely a virtual assistant. In January 2023, she booked $17,000 in sales, continually growing her business month over month, she said.
Mathis shared her budgets, both as a virtual assistant and as a mentor, with Insider to show the importance of founders investing in themselves and budgeting for growth.
Here’s the budget breakdown:
Mathis’ June 2022 budget shows her spending as a mentor — which came out to $4,885 — while the November 2021 budget reflects her costs as a full-time virtual assistant and equals $2,833.
When she decided to become a mentor, she knew it would cost her more money. She’d have to hire a virtual assistant of her own, build online courses, and hire experts in other fields to speak with mentees. But she also knew that creating this experience for students would result in a higher income, she said. Now, she books around $5,000 more per month as a mentor.
She’s also continued to expand her offerings and suggests other founders, especially coaches, should consider doing the same. “Be sure to have some affordable one-off projects to offer to businesses who need help but cannot afford a monthly commitment,” she said in a follow-up email. Even if those seem less lucrative initially, they will pay off in more customers and a wider audience.
Investing in yourself with education
It was a big decision for Mathis to leave a steady job and bet on her own skills, she said. As a result, she spent $3,000 on a 10-week mentorship program in November 2020 to learn as much as possible about the industry.
“It was a lot of money, but it was the best decision of my life,” she said.
Mathis continues to educate herself to build her own business today. In fact, in June, she spent $1,047 on professional development. This included hiring a business coach, who she started working with when she decided to become a mentor.
“I’m very big on investing in my business and on gathering knowledge,” she said. “Because if people are going to come and work with me, I want to give them the best of the best.”
While it can seem nerve-wracking to go all-in on a business, she’s confident about the future of the virtual assistant industry and her ability to grow, she said.
“Jobs are starting to lay people off left and right which means people are going to start fending for themselves by starting up their own businesses,” Mathis said, adding that it’s a great time to invest in starting your own services.
Save money by outsourcing to accountants
When Mathis started her business, she didn’t know how to manage her entrepreneurial finances, such as how to allocate the money she earned. She hired an accountant, which she said remains one of her most worthwhile costs. In June, Mathis paid $654 in accounting and consulting fees.
Along with ensuring Mathis had enough money saved to cover her taxes, the accountant guided her on tax deductions. For example, she learned that she could write off T-shirts for mentees and subscriptions to platforms like Canva and Zoom for tax purposes.
Along with the accountant, Mathis has also hired a virtual assistant, whom she pays $1,545 monthly. Having the extra set of hands helps Mathis complete the necessary administration and marketing tasks for her business.
Spend to build a cohesive brand
Mathis provides an 11-week coaching program: Goal-Getter Academy.
Mathis is a proponent of being an outward-facing entrepreneur — which means sharing details about herself to personally connect with viewers and prospective customers. To create a sleek and professional online brand that attracts clients, she invests in professional photography sessions.
“If you’re not showing your face, you’re not showing people who you are as a person,” Mathis said.
When Mathis shifted from full-time virtual assistant to full-time mentor, she needed to reshoot her brand images.
“I have changed so much as a business owner, so I don’t think those photos really represent who I am anymore,” Mathis said. “That’s what the photography budget is, making sure that the photos that I’m promoting my business with are up to par with who I am today.”