1. What made you decide you wanted to become a VA and when?
I felt I?d got pretty much as far as I could go in my career and whilst I was happy, had always yearned to run my own business. So I took the plunge 3 years ago and haven?t looked back.
2. Were you concerned that there were already many VAs already out there and this would be competition?
No, not at all. There?s sufficient space in the market for all of us and if you define a niche that can really help. With the economic climate as it is, we provide the flexibility businesses need, without the overheads. I definitely see the VA industry as a community rather than direct competition.
3. What gave you the confidence to give yourself that push to go ahead and do it?
Having support from my family and just finding the courage to give it a go.
4. When you decided to get started what made you decide to go for some VA training?
I thought it would really help enable the transition from PA to VA, which it did.
5. Why did you decide on The VA Coaching and Training Company and what was your experience of the training?
From the research I?d done VACT seemed like the best option. I wanted to learn within a group of people, rather than by distance learning plus the course ran over a weekend, which was really helpful. The training was very specific and helped plug the gaps in my knowledge about starting out as a VA.
6. What have been the highlights of your business so far?
Definitely winning the award this year for Outstanding VA of the Year for over 2.5 years in business.
7. What have been some challenges you have experienced and if you were to do things differently next time what would you do?
Making sure I wasn?t too isolated was a really important element for me. Consequently I choose to support clients onsite occasionally, particularly at the start of a new business relationship.
8. What was the reason you chose to enter into the VA awards in 2012?
It was suggested to me that I enter the awards, which didn?t come naturally I have to be honest. I don?t think we?re very good at putting ourselves out there in the UK! I?m glad I did though.
9. How did you find the whole experience of entering the awards?
It was a very straightforward process ? perhaps it would be good to include some client testimonials too.
10. Have you had positive experiences since winning your award?
Yes, absolutely. I?ve had various pieces of PR coverage and I feel it?s helped raise my profile in attracting new business.
11. What advice would you give to anyone just starting out especially in relation to training?
Surround yourself with as much knowledge and support as possible, both on how to run a business and the industries that interest you. Do your research thoroughly into how you want to set up and run your business – and also your potential client markets of course.
12. Where do you see yourself in 10 years from now?
I would love to still be running my Virtual PA business with an expanded team and also running other businesses which complement my current one.
Helen has over 20 years of experience across a diverse range of organisations, from Board level in large plcs through to successful entrepreneurs and high net worth individuals. This experience has put her at the forefront and given her a deep understanding of what makes businesses ? and people ? tick, and what support works best in these different environments.
Helen hold the Diploma in Event Management with PR, accredited by the ICM, and the RSA Higher Diploma in Administrative and Secretarial Procedures.