This week on the Wednesday VA Wisdom, we are featuring Judith Andrews of Hidden Gem Associates – I remember my first few interactions with Judith as if they were yesterday as I ended up cancelling our first meeting to fly to Canada at short notice.  It’s been an absolute pleasure watching her journey since that date and I love her raw honesty in this feature VA post.  So let’s meet Judith.

Meet Judith:  I launched my VA business, Hidden Gem Associates, in June 2016 after being made redundant in April that year.  I’d taken a part-time remote PA job after leaving my last company, but soon came to realise that I wanted to be my own boss.  I resigned from that role, and went full-time as a VA in October.  My business offers business administration/secretarial support, a board secretary service and social media management.  I love to work with driven people – all of my clients know exactly what they want to achieve and when – I help with the how!  My superpower is making sense from chaos.  I take the results of their creativity and turn it into an ordered process i.e. business development, effective meetings.

What or who inspired you to become a Virtual Assistant? I came across VACT in 2013 at Office and was intrigued by the thought that I could work as a personal/executive assistant on my own terms.

How did you go about establishing your business? I used the VACT training to guide the formation of my business.  The training challenged me to think of what I could do as a business not a hobby.

Did you have any savings or financial support in order to start your business? I had been told that I would be made redundant so was able to use those funds to support me in the first few months of trading.

Was there ever a point when you thought it wouldn’t work out? Yes!  The end of 2016 was tough – things went very quiet and I worried that I wouldn’t be able to meet my financial commitments.  My husband was also worried about losing his own job, so the pressure was on.

What support did you have around you to set up your VA business (family and friends, Coach or Mentor)?  I linked up with Clare Farthing during my VACT training as a success buddy, and that was so good, for both of us, that we’ve continued to support each other.  We met at the end of 2016 to review the year and set goals for 2017 and now have monthly accountability calls.  We are also planning to meet each quarter to review our 90 day goals.  Amanda has also been incredibly supportive and generous with her own experience and knowledge and this has helped me shape my own business strategy.

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

What is your best advice for someone who is just starting out or someone who is considering becoming a Virtual Assistant? Be confident!  There is plenty of opportunity for VAs, but unless small businesses and entrepreneurs know what you can do to help them, they won’t be able to contact you.  Going out and making connections is hard but being confident gives confidence to your potential clients in working with you.

Is there anything else you would like to add?  Be specific in what you offer to clients.  The term virtual assistant is so broad, so you need to be able to tell people what you do – whether that’s event management, email marketing, social media.

What is the best business book you’ve read and how did it impact you and your business?  My current read is Calming the Chaos by Jackie Woodside and it’s a book about managing your energy not your time!  Time is finite so how you fill it matters.

What do you love to do when you’re not working? I love to spend time with my horse, Seamus.

Tell us one thing you can tell us about you that not many people know?  My husband and I will be opening a cat hotel in April.  Setting up my own VA business has made me realise that I love being my own boss!

Learn more about Judith and connect with her on social media:

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