Meet the #motherhustlers: Sara Lingenfelter
Sara Lingenfelter wants to live in a world where moms can follow their dream of working from home while also having time and flexibility for their family.
As the CEO of Virtual Biz Partner, she’s been featured in numerous mom outlets such as Hiremymom.com, Party Plan Magazine, Female Entrepreneur Association, The Work at Home Woman, The Boss Hat and Boss Babe just to name a few. Sara has a proven track record of managing and growing businesses while simplifying strategies, systems, and technology.
When she’s not supporting moms working from home you can find her spending time with her young son, watching movies, enjoying the outdoors and probably eating some chocolate or other tasty food!
Her latest project is a training to teach moms how they can work from home.
Tell us about yourself, your business, and how you got started!
I’m Sara Lingenfelter, CEO of Virtual Biz Partner, business mentor to moms.
But I did not start out this way. I first got started as a Virtual Assistant in 2011, but at that time it was just to earn some extra money. I hadn’t had a raise at my job in a few years and was getting bored.
One day on Facebook, I saw someone refer to themselves as a VA. I thought it sounded like something I could do and asked her a few questions that she happily answered.
For the next several months, it was just something extra so I wasn’t bored and making more money. Then as I learned more skills, I realized I was fast at learning software and the tech stuff!
I then started researching more information like crazy and started to realize the possibilities with online business! I was in love with the online business world.
After working as a Virtual Assistant for a couple years, I then went on to become a Certified Online Business Manager. I still do some business management but focus more on creating systems and strategies for growth in online businesses and training moms to start working from home by becoming a Virtual Assistant.
What inspired you to start your own business?
At the time, I really needed some extra side money. I hadn’t had a raise at my job for a few years. My husband worked but we had 3 kids, wanted to buy a bigger house, and so extra money was the only goal when starting.
One day online, I saw the term Virtual Assistant on Facebook and decided to look into it. I soon realized there was a huge online world needing help and I felt it was something I could easily do. From there it turned into Online Business Management and kept evolving over time. So initially I had NO clue about the potential.
Once I realized the possibilities I decided I wanted time and flexibility for my family, something a traditional 9-5 job wouldn’t give me.
My family now looks different. When I started, I was married with 3 kids. Now I am divorced and have my son full-time (the other two were my husband’s daughters).
Too many kids grow up without a parent being present. I didn’t want that happening to mine just so I could chase a career I thought would make me happy (working 50+ hours per week and commute time) just to have them raised in daycare and babysitters.
Around the time I started my business, I had taken the state test for probation and parole and thought I was going to go that route! It was what I went to college to do. In the end, time with my family was more important.
What struggles do you face when it comes to balancing your work and family and how do you deal with them?
My struggles have changed some since first starting my business.
When I first started it I was married with 3 kids, and the two older kids and my husband helped with the youngest.
But I didn’t set boundaries and my husband went through a few periods of unemployment. At one point he was unemployed for 6 months, we had bought a new house, not sold our other house, and had 2 house payments.
I started taking on extra work. I was working 60 to 70 hours a week just to pay all our bills.
In the meantime, our relationship was falling apart. I had no life, really, because I felt I had to work to pay the bills. He also had some problems I wasn’t aware of until later on: addiction to drugs.
So fast forward, I got divorced, and then the struggle was having less time to work because I was now a single mom with no family nearby to help out. I also had to now make more money because I went from 2 incomes to 1 and he didn’t / doesn’t help financially.
As far as dealing with these struggles, one help was just talking to a counselor because there was so much emotional stuff to sort through. I think mental health can get a bad rap but there is no shame in seeking counseling or therapy!
Then I did a budget to see what costs I could cut if any.
Once I knew what I had to make to support me and my son I made that happen.
My mom has also helped us a bit financially. If my family offers to help by buying clothes or shoes for my son or just taking us out for fun (even when I have the money for this), I say yes. It’s totally okay to let others help but it can be hard to accept that help sometimes.
And finally, setting healthy boundaries in my life. Things like not working at night. Doing a fun activity every weekend with my son.
Knowing your priorities and making sure those boundaries protect them is important in having a healthy balance.
What do you think is the secret to raising a healthy business and a healthy family?
I think the secret is knowing what a healthy business and a healthy family means to YOU.
Social media and society in general often tell us what we should have or want. But if it’s not what we truly desire we won’t be happy. And to have a healthy business and family we need to not just be happy but also content. And you can’t be happy or content if you don’t know what that looks like for you.
Think about a kid that moves out on their own for the first time. They have a lot of things to figure out for themselves. It’s the same with a business or family. What I want for mine might look totally different than my neighbor. But that doesn’t mean my business is any better or healthier than theirs, it’s just what works for me.
So the secret is, figuring out exactly what that healthy business and family looks like for you and then always working toward that.
What is one piece of advice you could give to help other mompreneurs out?
To learn how to say no!
You do NOT have to say yes just because you can do it. As moms, I feel we want to take care of others and have them be happy. But often it’s at the expense of our happiness.
Learning to say no will be one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself. It’s not always easy and it may take time, but it’s worth it.
What words of encouragement do you have for your fellow mompreneurs?
Always keep your focus on your why.
Remind yourself that the daily struggles, failures, and bumps along the way won’t stop you in your tracks. There will be tough times but you can get through it.
I do this for my son, and when it’s tough I remind myself of why I do this and what it means for his future and mine.
And if it is hard every day or you just don’t love what you are doing, then change it. You CAN make it work but if you aren’t excited you will burn out.
So find your reason why and do what you love and in the end, you will succeed. And your success can look totally different than the person next to you, and that’s ok! Life would be pretty boring if we were all meant to be and do the same as everyone else.
Do you have any great / inspiring stories from your own experience that you would like to share?
In short, I’m a normal mom with no exceptional background, no formal business experience. I come from a middle-class family, have always lived in small Missouri towns, and never had a plan of being a mompreneur.
If a normal mom like me can make something amazing, this business I have now, then other moms can too.
You don’t need anything special, just the willingness to learn and desire to succeed.
I’ve done all this by meeting a guy on a blind date, getting married, having my son, starting my business, eventually quitting my job, finding out I was married to an addict while in the middle of a court custody case for his two daughters, only to divorce a few years later, have one of his daughters live with me for a while, and raising my son all on my own. No family near and no income other than mine. And I have kept going through it all along with running a successful business.
One thing I have learned is that life doesn’t stop and you must find a way to keep going!
Where you can find Sara:
Click here to learn more about Sara and getting started as a VA over at Virtual Biz Partner!
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