This week it is my absolute pleasure to introduce you to Louise Mackie of LM-VA & Co Ltd.
I have known Louise for a number of years now – she did the Kick Start Your VA Business Course, (which has now been retired from official sale and is a bonus of the VA Membership). People often tell me that they want to leave their day job and that they will do anything, work evenings and weekends in order to do it, but none of them have ever been as dedicated to doing it in this way, as Louise was. She was not only employed while setting up her business, but she was (and still is) a mum who was juggling a young family. However, she was diligent in her approach and I cried the day she told me that she was in a position to give up the day job and run her VA business full time. I am proud of the progress she has made and i am still proud at the growth of her business.
I’m Louise and I run LM-VA & Co Ltd. I am married to Andrew and we have 2 children Alex 10 and Hannah 6 and we live in North Wales (at time of writing this in June 2020). I started my VA business at the end of 2016 after training with Amanda over the summer of 2016. At the time I was employed and worked day and night to complete my course and build up my business. I was able to hand my notice in a work in June 2017 and I have been running my business ever since.
My clients are mainly females (not intentionally!) with a great mix of businesses which means no two days are the same! I also work as an associate for another VA, which I love. I pride myself on being a very friendly and easy-going VA. I like to build relationships with my clients, and find that when we have our catch up calls we spend 10 mins catching up on family life – that kind of relationship is extremely important to me.
I also like to work on a very flexible basis. Having two young children means that I work around their school hours and need to be even more flexible during the school holidays (lockdown and homeschool have taken flexibility to another level!!). This means that I don’t work a strict 9am-5pm and that most weeknights I switch the laptop back on once the children are in bed. My clients understand that they won’t really catch me between 3pm and 8pm, but if they need to send something my way in the evening then I am happy for that to happen – the balance works two ways and I love it.
What or who inspired you to become a Virtual Assistant?
I was introduced to the VA world through a chance conversation with a friend whilst going through a rough patch at my place of work. My friend ran a business and had just taken on a VA and so she put us in touch. This VA had trained with Amanda so I joined Amanda’s free VA group and over the next few weeks I saw lots of VAs chatting, asking questions, sharing knowledge and bits of their VA lifestyle and I just wanted it – all of them inspired me!
How did you go about establishing your business?
I purchased a course with Amanda and spent 6 months, whilst still working, going through each module and soaking up everything Amanda had to offer. Before I started my course I thought that I had a good idea of how I would set up my business and run it – how wrong I was! At the end of my course, I had a much better business model than I ever could have established on my own!
Did you have any savings or financial support in order to start your business?
When I started my course I didn’t have any financial support except for my earnings from my job at the time (most of which went on bills!). Not long after completing my course and for the few months before I was able to leave my employment I was taking on a little associate work here and there. I kept that money aside knowing that once I did take the plunge to leave my job, that money would be a nice buffer to start with!
Was there ever a point when you thought it wouldn’t work out?
Right at the start, I wanted to become a VA and run my own business so much that I worried it would never happen! However, once I started the course and started to walk before running (a very good piece of advice from Amanda!) I could see everything coming together and I knew it would happen for me eventually with Amanda’s support.
What support did you have around you to set up your VA business (family and friends, Coach or Mentor)?
The support from Amanda was and still is, amazing. Anyone that approaches me about becoming a VA I straight away send them to Amanda. I was also very lucky in that I had a very supportive husband, family and friends. I think it was helped by my support network seeing how miserable I was in my current job and then as I learnt about the VA world and they learnt with me, the support grew and grew.
If you could go back and change one thing that you did when starting out, what would that be?
I find this a really hard question because following each of the modules in my course meant that I had covered every step that I needed to take. Maybe with hindsight when I was starting out and a little quieter with client time I would have spent more time creating a social media plan for myself – I have been slightly rubbish at keeping up my own content!
What is your best advice for someone who is just starting out or someone who is considering becoming a Virtual Assistant?
Don’t rush into anything. Take a step back, research and learn whatever you can. Take a course, but if you can’t take a course then make the most of the freebies on offer in most of the VA groups. Speak with other VAs and build relationships. Ask for advice.
How would you describe the good, the bad and ugly of being a Virtual Assistant?
I honestly love my VA business and haven’t yet had an ugly day! Sometimes there are bad days when tech lets you down or you make human error mistakes. The good is a long list – flexibility to work the hours that suit me, lovely appreciative clients, varied amount of work, being able to work from wherever I am (soft play in school holidays included!), job satisfaction like never before and the pride in building a successful business – I could go on!
What is the best business book you’ve read and how did it impact you and your business?
Amanda recommended The Go-Giver series by Bob Burg and John David Mann. I think I read it and then read it again very quickly. This book definitely resonated with me, and I’m sure it is where my love for building relationships with my clients stems from. Whilst reading the book that is exactly how I envisioned I would run my business.
How do you stay on top of your own professional development?
I am a member of Amanda’s Membership programme, so I get monthly training through there – and daily nuggets and hints and tips. There is always something to learn from that group! I also have invested in a few software related training courses to try and keep myself as up to date as I can! I currently have an Instagram training course and a Microsoft Teams training course on my list ready for the next quarter.
What do you love to do when you’re not working?
Well with 2 children, a husband and a dog, there isn’t much time for myself! In normal times, the children both race BMX, so we spend a lot of time at the side of race tracks cheering them on, or taking them to coaching sessions. I do enjoy stealing some time for a bath and a good book when I can though!
Tell us one thing you can tell us about you that not many people know?
I am a terrible singer, but I once sang for the Queen and I can sing the whole of B*Witched’s Cest La Vie word for word – it’s my party trick!
What does the future hold for your business?
Before the Covid-19 crisis, I was building up a good stream of new clients and was on the verge of taking on an associate to start off my own team. Some of my clients have slowed down and new ones put on pause for a little while, so my team plan has been put on the back burner slightly, but I will get there. I’m getting better at my own social media and my biggest goal for this year is to keep that up and to start blogging more regularly! Keeping on top of training and learning new skills that will mean I can offer more services. More clients and a team behind my by this time next year, and meeting my financial goals.
Learn more and connect with Louise:
Website URL: http://www.lm-va.co.uk
Facebook URL: LMVALtd
Twitter ID: LMVirtualAssist
LinkedIn URL: louisemackievirtualassistant