This week it is my pleasure to introduce you to Stefanie Davidson of Allied Business Support Services.
Hi, I’m Stefanie and I am an admin specialist. I have worked hard over the last 20+ years to learn and gain experience in all aspects of administration including filing solutions, transcription, video editing, social media content creation, proofreading and editing (to name just a few). I enjoy supporting health and wellbeing practitioners because I am passionate about supporting positive mental health. I help my clients to offer the best possible service that they can by giving them an extra pair of hands with their fiddly and time-consuming admin which gives them the time to concentrate on doing what they do best. I love all things spiritual and a bit ‘out there’ and I thrive on a challenge! I provide honest, reliable and efficient admin support with a positive and cheerful attitude, always.
What or who inspired you to become a Virtual Assistant?
I was inspired to become a Virtual Assistant by the lovely Amanda Johnson of VACT. Amanda has been a good friend for many years and when I mentioned to her that I didn’t want to put my little one into childcare when he arrived but still needed to work she suggested that I look into becoming a VA. I had never heard of a VA and didn’t really understand what they were or how it would work but after talking to Amanda and some other friends, I decided to do some training and see if it was a good fit for me.
How did you go about establishing your business?
For me, it was all about networking and showing up. When I first started out, I went to every networking event that I could fit into my schedule. After a few months, I narrowed that down to the networks that worked for me. I also started to learn about social media and made sure that I was present every day. The mixture of the two is what has gotten me noticed and all my clients have been from networking or recommendations.
Did you have any savings or financial support in order to start your business?
As a family, the bills were covered but there was no wiggle room, so the plan was for me to continue working part-time whilst working on the business in the evenings and at weekends. As with most great plans, that didn’t quite work out. When a family illness hit, I was left without childcare and had to give up the part-time job so that I could be there when my family needed me. This meant that I had to hustle and get my act together quite quickly.
Was there ever a point when you thought it wouldn’t work out?
Absolutely! Every couple of months! I am not going to lie – the first few months were tough. Work was really hit and miss, regular clients were difficult to find and I was worried about the impact that it was having on my family. One of the things that I have learned is that there are HUGE ups and downs when you own your own business. For the first 3 months, I only had a little work coming in. Then I signed my first retainer client, and I was on top of the world. Then the pandemic hit, and everything stopped. I lost all my clients and had nothing coming in at all for nearly 2 months. This was probably my lowest point BUT I used the time to update my website, social media and to narrow down my niche and the business has come back far better than it was before.
What support did you have around you to set up your VA business (family and friends, Coach or Mentor)?
I have been really lucky in the fact that I have a hugely supportive partner, I have a good friend who is a VA, I am part of an amazing network of VA’s (VACT membership) and I have an Amanda. I have to say, everybody who is starting out as a VA needs an Amanda! Without her, I would have given up! We have had many conversations over the last year when my confidence was low, and she has helped me to see things from a different angle and keep moving forward.
If you could go back and change one thing that you did when starting out, what would that be?
I don’t think that I would change anything. Every stumble…every block in the road…every confidence hit… it all taught me something and helped me to get me where I am now, which is running a successful business as a Virtual Assistant and loving every minute of my work.
What is your best advice for someone who is just starting out or someone who is considering becoming a Virtual Assistant?
You do not have to know everything! Be honest about what you do know and make sure that you have a network of supportive VA’s around you. You do not have to say yes to every enquiry! Trust your gut instinct – not every client is the right client for you and that is ok. A day off isn’t a luxury – it is a necessity. It is far too easy to keep working every day but you can only maintain it for a short period of time before things start to fall apart so have protected time for self-care.
How would you describe the good, the bad and ugly of being a Virtual Assistant?
This is a difficult one because it all depends on your perspective! For me;
The good. I love how varied my work is. I have my regular day to day tasks, but the majority of my work is varied. I can be editing videos one minute, transcribing a report the next and creating a basic website after that. I love how different each day is.
The bad. I don’t think there have been any bad parts as such, but I do find it frustrating that a lot of people don’t see admin as a speciality because it is ‘just’ admin. I mean, it’s not like it’s difficult…right?!? It has never been ‘just’ admin. It is true that anyone can do admin but not everyone can do it well…
The Ugly. I think the only ugly that I have come across is when your values are not aligned with your clients. When I first started out, I accepted every client that came along because I wanted to grow my business and become a success. I should have trusted my gut instinct because that lesson was a difficult one to learn.
What is the best business book you’ve read and how did it impact you and your business?
The one that had the most impact was ‘the go giver’ by Bob Burg but I have a huge list of books that I want to read… I love learning about other people’s experiences.
How do you stay on top of your own professional development?
Oooo…good question! For me, I always have development ideas within my goals but it is a challenge to keep on top of it. I know where I want to be in 5 years and to get there, I have some learning to do so I try to make sure that I set time aside every week for my own development (even if it is just half an hour to catch up on training materials or blogs).
What do you love to do when you’re not working?
I love to be on the beach. Walking my little old collie, digging in the sand with the terror tot or just walking along the beach in the moonlight with my other half…I love to be next to the water. It’s the one place that I can always take time out to just breathe.
Tell us one thing you can tell us about you that not many people know?
I love to sing, write songs and do nail art (this is where the creative part of my personality comes to life).
What does the future hold for your business?
My business is in the very early stages but my aim is to be the No 1 VA service for Health and Wellbeing professionals in the North East and for my brand to be recognised as one of quality, integrity and efficiency.
Learn more and connect with Stefanie:
Website URL: alliedbusinesssupport.co.uk
Facebook URL: facebook.com/PAServiceUK/
LinkedIn URL: linkedin.com/in/alliedbusinesssupportservices
Instagram URL: instagram.com/stefaniedavidson_abss