This week I am pleased to introduce you to Karen Broughton of KB Virtual Services.

Karen Broughton HeadshotHi, I’m Karen and my business is KB Virtual Services which I launched in August 2015. I live in Burnham on Crouch, Essex, with my husband of 26 years and our two daughters. Before being a VA I was self-employed in a couple of different roles working from my home office – I ran a franchise branch of a Nanny Agency from 2010 to 2013 and then worked with an Insurance broker until 2015. Prior to being self-employed, I was previously employed in the head office of a long-established, well-known major retailer for over 21 years in various office roles including procurement, finance and merchandising. All these roles helped shape my idea, and increase my confidence, for starting my own business and being my own boss! Although we can work for anyone, anywhere, as virtual assistants, I really enjoy getting to know my clients and their businesses. Most of my clients have come from networking and recommendations, and I love meeting them and having a chat over a cup of coffee if they’re fairly local.

What or who inspired you to become a Virtual Assistant?

I started networking in Essex around 2011 when I had the franchise, which at the time, was way out of my comfort zone. I learned a lot from having the franchise and then working with the insurance broker and feel these were great stepping-stones for my confidence. I realised I really wanted to have the flexibility to work with who I wanted to work with and when which started me thinking about what I really enjoyed doing. I only knew one VA then and she was very generous with her time telling me all about how she worked, and she even gave me some work as an Associate for her.

How did you go about establishing your business?

I was very lucky to already have one day a week through my accountant plus occasional associate work through the other VA to start me off. I found I kept my head down a bit for the first 6 months or so because I didn’t want people I knew from networking thinking I changed businesses every couple of years! Obviously, this was all in my head as everyone I spoke to about it was so supportive and encouraging, particularly people I had previously dealt with while in the other roles. After this initial period, I then visited some different networking groups to establish myself there and make new connections.

Did you have any savings or financial support in order to start your business?

Although I had goals in place regarding earnings, this wasn’t something that was a major factor for me. As I had already been self-employed for more than 5 years, I wasn’t trading a full time high paying salary to be a VA, my earnings have always been an extra for us rather than a necessity.

Was there ever a point when you thought it wouldn’t work out?

I’ve had a couple of points where I’ve thought, if I don’t get another client by x, or I don’t earn more than y this month, I’m going to give it up but I’ve never seriously considered it.

What support did you have around you to set up your VA business (family and friends, Coach or Mentor)?

I consider myself very lucky to have a fabulous husband who has never once said anything along the lines of “Don’t you think you should get a proper job?!” I also have met many fellow business owners along the way, mainly through networking, who have believed in me and encouraged me, I’m very lucky to now call many of these friends.

If you could go back and change one thing that you did when starting out, what would that be?

Maybe I should have been braver when starting out and believed in myself more (plus I know I should have charged more as my pricing was too low) – Imposter Syndrome has a lot to answer for! I don’t think I would change anything really though as it has all been a great learning curve.

What is your best advice for someone who is just starting out or someone who is considering becoming a Virtual Assistant?

Ensure you have a great support network around you otherwise working from home could be a lonely place. As well as family and friends, reach out online to great people like Amanda and fellow VAs (who are a fabulous, helpful bunch!) to learn from and ask questions.

How would you describe the good, the bad and ugly of being a Virtual Assistant?

There are too many things to list for the good – a few of which are the feeling of being your own boss, the flexibility of who you work for and when, and different clients and work which ensure you’re never bored. The bad is, of course, not having the regular set amount of income that comes with employment. The ugly? Well, there have been very few times for me but one client, who refused to pay my full invoice, was rather a pain… but again, it’s all a learning curve!

What is the best business book you’ve read and how did it impact you and your business?

‘The Power of Focus’ by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen. It has so many hints and tips about goal setting, planning, building relationships, confidence, etc. plus actions steps to work through on each chapter. I found it really useful when I read it 4 or 5 years ago, and recently downloaded it onto my Kindle and have been reading it again. I think it’s one of those books that can be useful whatever stage you’re at in your business, you can pick up helpful tips each time.

How do you stay on top of your own professional development?

I try to schedule in time for learning regularly and keep on top of various packages if I think it may be useful for a current or future client. I have been part of Amanda’s VA Membership for a few years now and there’s always great stuff there to learn from and revisit if necessary. Earlier this year I invested in the complete VA Hub of courses by Shelley Fishel of Tomorrow’s VA, which is fabulous for all things Microsoft. As I originally learned Word, Excel, etc. many years ago, there are many things that have changed so I wanted to make sure I had all the up to date knowledge. Plus, I’ve also recently bought a short introduction course on Xero from Udemy. It’s great to find things that you’d like to learn and play around with it, you may find something you really enjoy and can then add it to your range of skills.

What do you love to do when youre not working?

As an introvert, I love having quiet time on my own with a good book where I can recharge my batteries, but I also love relaxing in my garden with family and friends. Now our daughters are grown up, my husband and I have started to enjoy city breaks away for 3 or 4 nights at a time, over recent years we’ve been to Amsterdam, Barcelona and Rome. We were due to go to Florence in April but Covid-19 put a stop to that obviously…

Tell us one thing you can tell us about you that not many people know?

I have been involved in a naked calendar for charity, not once, but twice! Along with fellow female networkers, I stepped out of my comfort zone (and my clothes!) for the Farleigh Hospice 2012 calendar. Then as it was such a success, when we decided to do it again for 2014, I took part again and was featured in 3 of the months! The photos for the second calendar were shot the year before around Easter when it had been snowing… not the best time to be sitting on a barge on the River Blackwater minus clothes!

What does the future hold for your business?

I see myself continuing with the business for many years to come and maybe even having one or two associates at some point. I love my business, love continuing to learn, and I’m growing in confidence all the time.

Learn more and connect with Karen

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