I still remember to this day, my very first conversation with Penny Redman of Redman VA, this weeks Featured VA.  And, I can honestly say it has been an absolute pleasure to see her build and grow, her fairly niched business but also her confidence and her skill set.  So I am delighted that she was happy to be interviewed for this Wednesday VA Wisdom.  Penny shares some great lessons about how starting up doesn’t have to be expensive and there are a lot of free resources/webinars available to help you get started – you just have to “want” it big enough to put the research in.  On that note, I am going to hand you over to the interview:

Tell us a little about yourself, your business and what stands you out from other Virtual Assistants please Penny: 

I’m 36 live near Weston-Super-Mare and had a career in Corporate & Private banking before having my Daughter. Before setting up I had been a stay at home mum for 4+ years. I set up RVA in March 2016 as I couldn’t find a role where I could give it my all and still be able to do the school run.

I specialise in offering administration and paraplanning services to sole practitioners and small firms of independent mortgage and insurance providers based in the UK.

I’m really passionate about helping my clients to cut through the paperwork, their compliance and keep their back offices running smoothly. My aim is to help my clients grow their businesses by getting them on the web, on social media and get their admin and back offices sorted. My usp is that as I’m qualified and have worked in the industry, everything I do is done with compliance in mind so my advisors can focus on their clients.

What or who inspired you to become a Virtual Assistant?

I stumbled on the concept of VA’s when researching part time job’s that I could do from home. My daughter had just started school and traditional employment was not going to be an option due to school holidays and not having a local support network. Once I read more about what a VA was and what kind of tasks they performed I realised that it would be the perfect fit for my family.

How did you go about establishing your business?

Once I realised that being a VA was the way to go I read everything I could about becoming one, including how to set up, what services I could offer and how to target clients. I had very limited savings so couldn’t afford to do a full blown VA course. I decided to put my savings into purchasing a VA contract, T&C’s and into a build your own WordPress website course and a domain name and hosting. I set up a Facebook page and joined LinkedIn and started to connect with my old colleagues whilst building my website. I also went on every single free webinar from VA trainers that was available. That’s when I came across VACT for the first time. Whilst completing all my research I was doing a few hour’s admin for a local mortgage adviser and their local business development manager asked if I would be interested in more work. That’s when I realised that I had found my niche and that I had all the experience needed. I just needed to work out “the how of doing the work remotely piece.”

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

I was lucky in that I had been at home for 4.5yrs so my husband already used to supporting our family. I had a 6yr old functional laptop that I had been given, my personal mobile and I had saved £150 to get started.

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

No there wasn’t because I was desperate to be working again on my terms and using my brain! I love learning and challenges and saw it as one of my biggest challenges yet. I never quit as I’m very stubborn and my mantra is ‘If at first you don’t succeed then try, try and try again’.

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

My main support has been from my husband who has never pressured me to go back to traditional employment. Lots of our family were sceptical about me setting up my business as no one is self-employed. Otherwise I just spent every hour possible learning new things to help get me started.

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

If I could start over I would have found a way to work with Amanda from the beginning. Since engaging with her via her VA Helpdesk programme my confidence and therefore my business has soared. When I started out I felt like an imposter playing at being in business. Now I feel like and therefore act like a business owner. With Amanda’s advice, help and encouragement I have gone from having zero confidence and having one of the lowest rates in the UK to charging my worth and being shortlisted for UK Best Newcomer VA 2017.

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

Work with a VA trainer from the start. If you can’t afford a full blown course look for other ways to engage with one be it through their free webinars or through some form of group mentorship.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Only that If you think that being a VA is what you want to do then go for it. You only get one short precious life and it can be over in an instant. So make a change and make yourself happy. It’s hard work and it’s not for everyone but it’s so worth it.

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

I’ve honestly only just started to read business books and so far have read Tim Ferris’s ‘The 4-hour work week’. It has made me question the way I work and helped me to realise that even thought I work from my home for myself I was still working like an employee. It’s helped me to take advantage of different ways of working and different locations!

The next book on my list is Get Rich by Denise Duffield-Thomas.

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

I love learning so am currently taking a 10-month computer coding course to enhance my business offering. I’m also training for a 124 mile charity bike ride so when I’m not working studying or being mum I’m on the bike.

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

I’m obsessed with the Suffolk coast. It’s where I’m from and all my family are still there. I miss the sea so much and listen to the sound of waves and storms to help me get to sleep. Every time I visit home I bring back a memento. My house is swiftly becoming an ode to Suffolk.

I hope you enjoyed meeting Penny, I love watching all my VAs achieve their goals but I can safely say – I have felt very privileged to watch Penny achieve her goals over the past 12 months – and to feel that I have played a small part of that achievement.  This is where you can meet Penny on social media:

Website URL: http://www.redmanva.com

Facebook URL: facebook.com/RedmanVA

Twitter ID: @redman_penny

LinkedIn URL: linkedin.com/pennymredman

Instagram:  Instagram.com/penny_redmanva