What made you decide you wanted to become a VA and when?

In 2008 I left a job that no longer served my lifestyle or me. Two weeks after leaving I decided I would do what I’m uniquely able to do – become a freelance PA and the next three months were spent focusing on setting up my business – ‘essential pa’.

Were you concerned that there were already many VAs already out there and this would be competition?

Other Virtual Assistants ‘out there’ are our friends and our work colleagues. We have col?

laborated with other VAs since the birth of our business and now have a team of 11 carefully selected and accredited Essential PAs. There is plenty of work out there for all of us!

What gave you the confidence to give yourself that push to go ahead and do it?

I simply had to because I needed to earn money but I was then and still am a very determined person.

In order to succeed I invested in ME by:

  • Investing in Virtual Assistant training with the best virtual assistant training company VACT
  • Working as a temp’ for the first 3 months before gaining my first client at a network event.
  • I ensured the business was set up with the best systems in place from the start and put everything in place from Professional Indemnity, Data Protection, External Hard Drives, Client Charter, Terms and Conditions, Confidentiality Policy, associate agreements and procedures etc.

I made sure I was seen by the right people, networking in the right groups, optimising my SEO on Google, obtaining first class testimonials and engaging with new businesses through word of mouth.

When you decided to get started what made you decide to go for some VA training?

All my research lead to Carmen (previous owner of VACT). I wanted to ensure that I was going to set the business up correctly.

Why did you decide on The VA Coaching and Training Company and what was your experience of the training?

Again, all of my research lead me to Carmen and the VACT. I was determined to go through the course thoroughly, to carry out the modules, to get them marked and to get my certificate from the VACT.

What have been the highlights of your business so far?

The highs of running a virtual pa business for the last 6 years include:

  • Working with FANTASTIC clients.
  • Winning National VA of the Year in 2009.
  • Shouting loud and clear about essential pa service levels – as we deliver without fail, go above and beyond the call of duty and NOTHING is ever too much trouble. I can absolutely guarantee this. Guarantees are there to make you feel slightly nervous – this excites me and drives me forward!
  • The outstanding testimonials and recommendations received from clients – I LOVE what people say about us and this drives and motivates me.
  • I truly know that we walk the walk – time and time again we deliver, no matter how many extra miles we go.
  • Going Ltd Co on 1/7/14.
  • Having an awesome team on board.

What have been some challenges you have experienced and if you were to do things differently next time what would you do?

I found the below bumps in the road on my journey:

  • Many, many people dismiss start-up businesses. It’s important not to voice the words ‘start up’.
  • Controversially – many, many people are completely disinterested in what you do as a business – especially if you’re a female and under 5ft 3in.
  • Many people say they network but are not truly networking in the true spirit of ‘networking’.
  • I was perceived as the ‘typist from the typing pool’ and literally ignored by much of the corporate male world. I wasn’t seen, heard or accepted. It was like talking to brick walls and so incredibly shortsighted as VAs are of enormous potential benefit to these businesses and more importantly their own client base.
  • I spent £100s on networking with significant network groups only to gain £0 and was completely disillusioned by most network groups at the start of my journey.

As my business is now established and I persevered with the right networking groups, my male counterparts do now take notice of my business model and me.

What type of clients do you work with and do you specialise in a particular service?

We pitch ourselves as ‘the perfect business management partner for busy executives and owners’. This means that we offer a complete business management service.

We work with charities, ecommerce specialists, consultants, research companies, dentists, retail outlets, network groups, marketing agencies, yacht charter and, and, and!

What advice would you give to anyone just starting out especially in relation to training?

Invest in yourself and your business. Establish how you want to run your business in the early days and make sure your standards are sky high because you have to stand out from the crowd! Become a specialist.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years from now?

Running the business but hopefully close to retirement too!

Who in business would you love to meet and why?

Mr B of course! Richard Branson. He continues to inspire and he’s always telling us what he has learned on the way up. We can all learn a great deal from successful entrepreneurs.

Which book has influenced you the most in your business?

Here I’m going to let you down because I only read books for leisure. However, I read a great deal from influencers online!

What is your favourite quote and why?

‘If you think you can, then you can’.

Everything is achievable if you believe that you can achieve it. If you doubt yourself then you’ll set yourself up for endless doubting!

The other one I love is ‘Like attracts like’ learned from Carmen. It’s definitely true.

What do you love to do when you’re not working

  • Coast path addict
  • Live music gig addict
  • Travel – been to Canada and South Africa in the last 8 months. Heading for the Caribbean in Jan 2015.
  • I grow our veg
  • I’ve taken up running – first 10K July 2014. Second 10K on 3/8!

And lastly – what one thing can you tell us about you that not many people know?

I used to be Noel Edmonds’ PA!

You can visit Phillippa’s website here: