Pip’s Story: How I became a VA with a team of Associates
Do you ever have those moments when you stop and ask yourself if you’re happy?
If what you’re doing day in, day out is bringing contentment and a smile to your face?
Three and half years ago, I had one of those moments and the answer was a resounding ‘No’ 🙁
With over 20 years’ experience as an Executive Assistant (EA) and Personal Assistant (PA), and a quick foray into the world of marketing, how was I going to put my skill set to best use whilst stepping away from the corporate world I’d become so disillusioned with?
I’d love to say it was a spark of inspiration, an epiphany, that led me down the VA route.
But it was, in fact, the result of a watercooler conversation; a conversation that still to this day is as clear in my mind as if it had taken place yesterday.
Finding my path out of the corporate world
I’d just moved back to Leicestershire to be closer to my family, and was offered a transfer through work. Quickly though, I realised the new role wasn’t for me. So, the job search began.
After six months of fruitless job hunting, it was a watercooler moment with a colleague that led to the start of my VA career.
A Virtual Assistant. It was a completely new concept to me but, oh boy, did my heart sing when I Googled it!
My top criteria for any new job was flexible or part time hours to give me time to spend with my mum, who was recovering after Ovarian cancer treatment, and my utterly adored dog, Millie. A Virtual Assistant ticked that box and lots more.
In December 2019, I made that leap of faith and handed in my notice.
Before leaving work in March 2020, I attended the VA Conference in the February (for anyone looking to become a VA this is a step in the journey I wouldn’t miss). I took copious notes, met the incredible VA trainer, Amanda Johnson, chatted to lots of VAs, and came back knowing I’d found my calling.
In July 2020, I landed my first client.
Given my corporate background, my comfort zone was traditional PA work, but I quickly found myself in the midst of the creative world. In place of email management and minute-taking, came social media and community management support, newsletters, sales pages, memberships, and programme launches.
I realised I could still put my PA skillset to good use and it’s a skillset widely appreciated by clients. You can never be too organised!
From that first client in July 2020, the business grew steadily and in March 2021 I onboarded my first associate. By April 2022, I had three team members in place.
Know your Why
If you talk to any coach or mentor looking to help you get the most out of your business, they will ask you this question: What’s your Why?
When you’re having one of those days where everything’s difficult and it feels like wading through treacle just trying to get the simplest of tasks done, what gives you the motivation to keep going? When it’s hard to pick up the phone or write that email because you’re fed up with never-ending setbacks and you just want to throw in the towel, what stops you?
A strong ‘Why’ will help you succeed. It’ll help you, push you, when you feel like quitting. And it’s the number one thing I recommend anyone looking to establish a business understands.
My Why was, and still is today, my beautiful darling dog, Millie. She was the reason I wanted to work from home, the reason I wanted to be my own boss, and choose when and how I worked.
She transitioned from this world two years ago and I’m eternally grateful to her for opening up this path for me. Her legacy is my VA business. I know she’s still with me, looking down, cheering me on, and reminding me why I do what I do.
Identifying my core values was a fundamental step in my business journey. Honesty, kindness, respect, and quality underpin everything I do personally and in business.
It matters to me that I get on with the people I work with; that we share the same values and work ethics. Because if someone’s behaviour goes against your own values, it feels wrong. There’s a misalignment and no amount of conversation or hard work on your part can resolve that.
Three years on
The team and I work with heart-centred entrepreneurs, who know where their focus needs to lie if they’re serious about sustainable growth.
We love working behind the scenes to help clients succeed.
We step in to lighten the load and support when things go wrong.
We’re that reliable business friend when life gets in the way and they find themselves needing to be somewhere else.
We’re a sounding board for ideas and an accountability buddy to ensure things get done.
We believe in pulling together to get the job done for our clients because their success is our success.
“From the very first day we met, I knew that whatever Pip did, she would use a very personal approach to doing it well. You certainly don’t feel like just another client. Pip takes time to find out what it is you’re trying to achieve in your work, your brand and with your clients and then tailors her approach to fit. This is brilliant for me because she helps me with course materials as well as social media …. both areas where it’s essential to have the ‘Jane Hirst’ voice.”