IAM290- Virtual Assistant Supports Small Business Owners With Online Office Support Services

Podcast interview with Melissa St. Clair

Certified Virtual Expert™ Melissa St. Clair, is the owner of Paper Chaser, a virtual-based company established in 2006 providing a wide array of online office support services for small business owners. She made a beeline to entrepreneurship in order to thrive professionally alongside her active duty service member, and then made a seamless transition as a USMC retiree spouse.

Melissa has been a featured speaker, has shared her small business expertise on multiple media platforms, and she was quoted in Julie Perrine’s book, Become a Procedures Pro™.

  • CEO Hack: (1) Google calendar to plan and manage my time (2) Dropbox to share documents
  • CEO Nugget: 3Bs- Be present, be persistent, be positive
  • CEO Defined: (1) Helping others  (2) Doing the work you love on your own terms



Full Interview

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Intro 0:02

Do you want to learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales and grow your business from successful entrepreneurs, startups, and CEOs without listening to a long, long, long interview?

If so, you've come to the right place. Gresham Harkless values your time and is ready to share with you precisely the information you're in search of.

This is the I AM CEO Podcast.

Gresham Harkless 0:29

Hello, hello, hello. This is Gresham from the I AM CEO Podcast and I have a very special guest on the show today. I have Melissa St. Clair of Paper Chaser.

Melissa, it's awesome to have you on the show.

Melissa St. Clair 0:39

Thanks so much.

Gresham Harkless 0:40

No problem. Super excited to have you on and what I want to do is just read a little bit more about Melissa so you can hear about all the awesome things that she's doing. And Certified Virtual Expert™ Melissa St. Clair is the owner of Paper Chaser, a virtual-based company established in 2006 providing a wide array of online office support services for small business owners.

She made a beeline to entrepreneurship in order to thrive professionally alongside her active duty service member, and then made a seamless transition as a USMC retiree spouse. Thank you. Melissa has been a featured speaker, has shared her small business expertise on multiple media platforms, and was quoted in Julie Perrine’s book, Become a Procedures Pro. Melissa, are you ready to speak to the I AM CEO community?

[restrict paid=”true”]

Melissa St. Clair 1:29

I sure am. I couldn't be more ready.

Gresham Harkless 1:32

Awesome. Let's do it. So I want to start everything off with what I call your CEO story and what led you to start your business.

Melissa St. Clair 1:38

So you got a little snip snapshot of that in the bio. As a military spouse, I've wanted to have a career and work alongside my active duty service member. But you know, moving from place to place, it's difficult for a spouse to start and stop all the time.

So I discovered the virtual assistant industry back in 2006, and said, How can I make this work for me 13 years later, it's been a tremendous portable career for me. So using my executive assistant and management skills, and then the technology was becoming available at around that time to make those kinds of innovations possible for the work workforce. So

Gresham Harkless 2:24

Yeah, absolutely. It kind of sounds like you were definitely ahead of the curve, I would say, you know, in 2006, being able to start offering all those virtual assistant services, like you mentioned that technology was just starting to emerge and could do cool things like this. So definitely, it seems like you did at the perfect time.

Melissa St. Clair 2:40

Yeah, it was great timing. And again, it's been an ideal portable career. So

Gresham Harkless 2:46

Absolutely, absolutely. So I know you touched on it a little bit. But could you tell us a little bit more like how you support the clients and some of the things they can expect to get from working with you?

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Melissa St. Clair 2:55

Sure. So as a virtual assistant, I primarily help solopreneurs in all areas of their small business operations, communication, and administration. So some examples of that would be business-to-business, or business-to-customer correspondence, such as press releases for a special event or new news within your growing business. Or if you're speaking or writing some of that support to go along with research or presentation planning.

So in the operations area, those standard operating procedures, are not spicy, but they certainly are a necessity really starting even before day one I feel as a small business owner, and developing and helping to develop that Operations Manual. And then in administration, just some of those general administrative office functions that the business owner doesn't necessarily have to dedicate their time to the back office functions.

Gresham Harkless 4:02

Yeah, and I find that you can definitely correct me if I'm wrong, I'm basically just talking about myself. But sometimes you don't like doing all the paperwork and all those things. And you get the opportunity to really focus on where your strengths are when you know you have somebody on your team just like yourselves to be able to do that.

Melissa St. Clair 4:17

Absolutely, yes, there are some people that like paperwork, and I happen to be one of them.

Gresham Harkless 4:24

Absolutely, so it's kind of like a match made in heaven. So now I wanted to ask you for what I call your secret sauce and they can be for you or your organization, but what do you feel kind of makes you unique?

Melissa St. Clair 4:35

So I feel like I offer the advocacy and building an alliance with my clients because I want to see their small business grow and you know, anything I can do to help them further their journey and their business and, you know, make life as easy as possible for them becoming that collaborative partner. Because my mission is to You know, help my clients save time and money by reducing their workload.

And like you said, focusing your energy on the parts of business that you're passionate about, and maybe delegating some of those things that you don't necessarily want to do or have to do. .

Gresham Harkless 5:15

Absolutely. And I think that you know, the sooner that you're able to kind of figure that out and get somebody that's trustworthy, like yourself, you know, under and working with the business definitely helps out a tremendous amount, because you get to stay in your zone of genius, so to speak, and work out where you're really good at work, and I can't help but you know, continue to have the business to grow and be successful.

Melissa St. Clair 5:37

Exactly. And small business owners might find themselves working with more than one independent contractor in those areas, your special niches, web design, graphic design, things that they really need to be taken care of, but they may not necessarily do or struggle with.

Gresham Harkless 5:57

Yeah, absolutely. So yeah, I definitely think it's something that like I said, you know, something that is definitely changing a lot more. And it has changed you, I think you were definitely, you know, ahead of the curve, because I didn't necessarily even hear about virtual assistants before that. So being able to kind of transition from your executive assistant role, and then being able to start a business and then of course, be able to travel as well to with your husband helps out a lot.

Melissa St. Clair 6:21

Yes, definitely.

Gresham Harkless 6:25

I wanted to switch gears a little bit and ask you for what I call a CEO hack. And this might be like an app or book or a habit that you have, but it's something that makes you more effective and efficient.

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Melissa St. Clair 6:35

So I couldn't narrow it down to just one. So I have to share to even Absolutely, first and foremost, my Google Calendar, because I can access it anywhere. And calendar management is key for me because I often work with half a dozen to a dozen different business owners each month.

And it helps me to really plan and manage my time personally and professionally. Because I like to get a workout in when I can. So I definitely believe or block that out too. Because you have to stay healthy as a CEO. And then number two is Dropbox because I use it to share everything in the cloud with my clients. So I would definitely emphasize the calendar and some kind of cloud share mechanism. Mine just happens to be Dropbox.

Gresham Harkless 7:24

Yeah, cuz I can imagine, you know, for me, I started to try to make as many things as digital as possible, because sometimes I'd write stuff down. I couldn't find it. So I was like, if I just put everything, make it a practice to put it in the Dropbox, you can always find it, make sure it's organized. And of course, I swear by my calendar as well. So I think that's a great hack.

Melissa St. Clair 7:43

Yeah, thanks.

Gresham Harkless 7:44

No problem. And now I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO nugget. And this is a word of wisdom or piece of advice. Or if you can happen to be a time machine, what would you tell your younger business self?

Melissa St. Clair 7:54

Oh, my goodness, okay. So I think I'll share my three B's for success. The first B is to be present. And that is so hard to do with so many distractions in life. So be present. And then the second B is to be persistent. You know, staying focused, don't give up, you know, keep your eye on the prize.

And you know, keep your eye on the five o'clock and get as much done as you can. And then the third B of the three B's for success would be positive because attitude is half the battle. So that's just my words of wisdom.

Gresham Harkless 8:37

I love that it could be three B's or three P's because you said persistent, present, and positive. So absolutely love that. And things like that helped me to remember, but I think it's so important, especially, you know, the everyday quote, unquote, grind of running a business and all the things that can pop up that you have to make sure that you're persistent sometimes to fight through to get to your goals, and you have to be present and making sure that you are, you know, looking ahead and have one I had, but you definitely want to be in the here and now and take care of those things.

And of course, you have to be positive or you know, you kind of forget why you're doing some of the things you're doing.

Melissa St. Clair 9:12

Exactly. And you know, the trend used to be to kind of multitask. But now I think that single-tasking and you know, being present and focused is just really the way to go.

Gresham Harkless 9:24

Yeah, absolutely. Because I've heard that, um, you don't actually get as much as you think you get done. And I'm talking to myself, basically. All these tabs and stuff open that, you know, being able to laser focus for even if a short period of time take a break and stuff can make you even more effective.

Melissa St. Clair 9:39


Gresham Harkless 9:41

Yeah, that makes sense. So now I wanted to ask you my absolute favorite question, which is the definition of what it means to be a CEO. And we're hoping to have different quote-unquote CEOs on the show. So, Melissa, I want to ask you what being a CEO means to you.

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Melissa St. Clair 9:53

Okay, being a CEO to me means helping others do the work that I love with freedom and flexibility on my own terms. So again, helping them grow, but growing and learning myself, and having that flexibility during the day too, you know, balance personal and professional.

Gresham Harkless 10:20

Absolutely, that makes sense. And I imagine just because you have so many different types of clients, and probably different stages as well, too, you probably have to be somebody that's very flexible and gets to experience and work with a lot of different types of businesses, a lot of different types of personalities as well, too.

Melissa St. Clair 10:35

Yes. And that's what I love, I get to work with so many great small business owners. So

Gresham Harkless 10:40

Yes, absolutely. Well, Melissa, I truly appreciate your time, what I wanted to do was pass you the mic, so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional, you want to let the readers and listeners know. And then of course, how best they can get ahold of you.

Melissa St. Clair 10:51

Okay, so I guess my final piece of sage would be if you only write one standard operating procedure, write your ice that in case of emergency, to be sure that you can direct the disposition of your business, either on a short or long term basis in your absence. So write, write, from day one, know how to handle any kind of emergency. And eventually, you're going to want to take time off. So knowing how to incorporate that into your planning. So that's what I would say is my final feather in the hat.

Gresham Harkless 11:33

Nice. I absolutely love that. And that's something that, you know, you never really think about, you know, as a business owner, if emergencies happen, and they always happen, but you never really prepare, but have an opportunity to as you said, you know, write that SOP so that you can understand that if something does happen, then A, B, C, D will happen as an effect of that.

Melissa St. Clair 11:53

Exactly, yes, unfortunately, I have two colleagues that have had some personal crises and one is just completely stalled. And people are just, you know, hands up wondering what's happening. And if you can do that forward planning, you know, please that that's, I can't stress it enough to write that ice in case of emergency.

Gresham Harkless 12:14

Absolutely. Make sure to write the ice and then for people that want to reach out to you and contact you, what's the best way for them to do that?

Melissa St. Clair 12:21

Can connect with me through my website, that's make a beeline.

Gresham Harkless 12:32

Awesome. That's make a beeline and we'll make sure to have that link as well in the show notes so that anybody can follow up with you. But Melissa, I truly appreciate you and I hope you have a phenomenal rest of the day.

Melissa St. Clair 12:41

Thanks Same to you.

Outro 12:44

Thank you for listening to the I AM CEO Podcast powered by Blue 16 Media. Tune in next time and visit us at I AM CEO is not just a phrase, it's a community. Be sure to follow us on social media and subscribe to our podcast on iTunes Google Play and everywhere you listen to podcasts, SUBSCRIBE, and leave us a five-star rating grab CEO gear at This has been the I AM CEO Podcast with Gresham Harkless. Thank you for listening.


Mercy - CBNation Team

This is a post from a CBNation team member. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand. We are focused on increasing the success rate. We create content and information focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(, podcasts, ( and videos ( CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

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