This week I am excited to introduce our Wednesday Wisdom VA – Ellen Williams – Ministry VA. Ellen has recently graduated from the VA Mastery Course and I delighted to share a little more information about her with you today.
Hi! I am Ellen creator of Ministry VA. I love to support people to make sure they have time to have fun! Whether that be fun at work, fun outside of work, skiing, juggling, eating, hiking, fishing or just Netflixing! I strongly believe that we are not put on this earth to work and pay bills and continually try to get to the bottom of a never-ending to-do list. Ministry will take away the pain, either monthly or just as a one-off. We are like a cleaner but for your head and lists rather than the bathroom and kitchen. Everything will be done and dusted so you can do whatever makes you smile.
I have 15 years’ experience in various roles and industries that all involved juggling plates, workload and working across all functions, teams and locations usually as part of a people team. I specialise in learning and development and events (as I usually find the two come hand in hand) and am happiest when seeing people grow as a result of learning. But at Ministry, we also want to help individuals. I started the business as a direct result of noticing that myself and my family were missing out on our fun stuff because of everything above and beyond the day to day that needed to be done. So on mat leave, I started to sort everything out myself and look after our family business with more care and attention that I had done before, saw the business grow, whilst our family had more time together and knew this had to be able to help others too.
What or who inspired you to become a Virtual Assistant?
I met Amanda at a ‘mums’ career event in July 2018 when I was 8 months pregnant. I was very happy in my career at House of Fraser where I worked nationally as a learning and development advisor so I wasn’t looking for a career change but I wanted to do something for myself with my mat leave so I was looking for a training course. I spoke with Amanda as until that day I hadn’t formally heard of a VA and definitely hadn’t met any so it was more out of curiosity I had a chat. When on mat leave it quickly became clear that I was unlikely to have a role to go back to as the company went into administration and through a take over practically the day I was giving birth! So I revisited my options, had a bit of time to think about what might I do if I don’t have my job? I remembered Amanda, the VA idea and I got in touch. I wanted to do some development anyway so where better to start than with her highly recommended VA course! And here I am, business launching (or launched) on the 14th October and some clients already in the bag before that!
How did you go about establishing your business?
As I am still in the early stages the first steps I took where to take my time and complete my mat leave whilst setting up the business. I have rushed into ventures before being ‘sold’ MLM opportunities and my heart hasn’t been in it as I didn’t have any goals or a vision for those businesses. So I set the wheels in motion, completing the course and as I went along a project planner to ensure I wouldn’t miss anything of the info! I started to share on my personal Facebook that I was changing career etc. and got lots of messages and comments which I think led to getting clients pre-launch. The 4-week launch campaign definitely did. I drip-fed some info across Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn so that when I officially launched my profiles wouldn’t be empty!
Did you have any savings or financial support in order to start your business?
My redundancy money supported in some of the set-up costs but I already had a laptop etc. and I am not about physical equipment I wanted to focus on me! So I bought the course with my last maternity ‘wage’ and started to invoice my husband for the work I was already doing for his business to get myself some funds for networking, training, travel, parking, meetings, SVA survey, books etc. But there is so much free stuff out there. Podcasts, SVA website, VA Helpdesk support facebook group the list goes on. I just wanted to make sure I had funds to be able to be out and about, getting known, meeting others and I am faithful the rest will come!
Was there ever a point when you thought it wouldn’t work out?
I don’t think there is any point in having these thoughts anymore. In a ‘corporate role’ I have always made everything work out but in my personal life and the pre-mentioned MLM type things they haven’t. I genuinely believe that’s because in the back of my mind somewhere I knew they wouldn’t work for me, my heart wasn’t in it so I didn’t put the required effort in. I had no goals so I didn’t do the work needed because I didn’t know where I was going. Taking the time to prep for Ministry VA properly, including the time to look at myself and what I want from it I did not and will not let myself think this won’t work. I want to help and support others, I love to go out and meet and chat to people so put them together mix them up and point them towards my goals and vision and I don’t see why I would have to think it won’t work out!
What support did you have around you to set up your VA business (family and friends, Coach or Mentor)?
My family and friends are awesome when it comes to this business as they have seen first hand the results of me helping and supporting them and basically sorting shit out! (delete if too rude ha-ha). They sing my praises, will become my clients and share share share on my social media platforms. Obviously also Amanda has been a great help with in-depth course feedback and super speedy responses to my questions. I hold my hands up and admit I sometimes ask what people would see as ‘stupid’ questions but any good coach will tell you all questions are viable. Don’t waste your time wondering-just ask!
If you could go back and change one thing that you did when starting out, what would that be?
I honestly might just be too new but at the moment I am impressed with my structure, process and to-do lists that a great course has given me a good basis for. But this is all because I had a list of things I would change from other projects in the past. The main thing from those is, HAVE A VISION AND GOALS. If you don’t how do you know where you’re going when you have got there and if it is even where you want to be!
What is your best advice for someone who is just starting out or someone who is considering becoming a Virtual Assistant?
Plan properly! Don’t rush into it, build it, take care, plan and focus on your goals, big small and all in-between. Use help and support, free and paid for. There are lots of experts out there happy to lend a hand, some advice or a listening ear. Network!! But network with consistency and purpose. I know some people don’t like the idea of this but working for yourself can be lonely so get out and meet people, not with the sole aim of getting paid work but just to get known and liked! Leads may come of it and they may not but nothing bad will ever come of networking.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I think it is so important to spend time on what you love, what inspires and excites you and what you’re good at! There is nothing worse than wasting time, energy, effort and that last nerve!! Pick your battles and outsource the rest!
What is the best business book you’ve read and how did it impact you and your business?
I like to keep things simple and I genuinely think one of the best sentiments ever is eat that frog!
What do you love to do when you’re not working?
How long have you got? On the surface of it, I am simple, I love to cook, host and spend time on my local high street (we have a new gin/wine bar to die for which also happens to run a mum and baby group and monthly networking!!!). Eating out is a must and I actually have a new restaurant per month as a goal and it sits on my vision board above my laptop on my desk so I am always hungry when working! I love holidays, from city breaks to skiing, from Kalkan to the States. I try to never say no to something that is new, I haven’t done or is with new people. Why would I? If I haven’t done it before how do I know if I like it or not!! I drive my husband insane with my inability to lie in, sit still on a weekend and always have people around the house! I know he secretly loves it!
Tell us one thing you can tell us about you that not many people know?
I wear my heart on my sleeve! Most people will know everything about me. What they probably don’t know however is to keep my one year old happy while he waits for his meals to be cooked I full-on perform!! We pick a song, play it through Alexa and I perform away! Or I take him through the cooking process like we are on Masterchef!! One day I may vlog it for a laugh!
Learn more and connect with Ellen:
Website URL: ministryva.co.uk
Facebook URL: https://www.facebook.com/MinistryVAServices/
LinkedIn URL: https://www.linkedin.com/company/ministry-va-ltd
Instagram URL: @ministryVAservices