Hi, I’m Fiona and I’m the owner of Fiona-Your VA. Fiona-Your VA specialises in helping petpreneurs manage their businesses by helping them reduce their workload and maximise their time so they can achieve that all-important work-life balance. I am beyond passionate about all things canine and helping small, independent canine businesses to thrive.
My expertise lies in my knowledge and understanding of dogs, coupled with my background and experience of being a dog owner and a dog trainer previously. I have over 15 years’ experience as an executive support, and I am an avid dog lover! I started my business to allow me to bring my two passions together.
What or who inspired you to become a Virtual Assistant?
During the lockdown when everyone was forced to work from home, I had a lightbulb moment inspired by my Springer Spaniels Hollie and Kensi, I decided to setup my own business to future proof myself and the idea of Fiona-Your VA was born. I decided to specialise in supporting the canine industry as it’s my passion and I understand the struggles businesses within the industry face, and I could see there was a need in the market for a canine virtual assistant.
The canine industry is growing massively and there are lots of canine businesses out there that I could see that needed help, but they didn’t know where to turn, to get the support from someone who understood the industry. 4 years ago, Carillion collapsed, and I didn’t know what the future held for me, I continued to work as an executive assistant in other companies but never felt it was truly what I wanted. I’m passionate about working with businesses in the canine industry and have really found my home again.
How did you go about establishing your business?
I came across a VA mentor in an Executive Assistant Facebook group I’m in and booked a discovery call. I then signed up for her 4 week mentoring coaching program to get my business started. I continued to research and found Amanda Johnson’s VACT group which gave so much helpful information and subsequently joined the membership program. I set my business up alongside working full time which wasn’t easy as I wasn’t around enough, but I pushed on and found excellent pet business Facebook groups, where I started to become known and get businesses taking an interest in working with me. In January 2022 I made the leap and left fully time employment to be my own boss and working full time as a Virtual Assistant.
Did you have any savings or financial support in order to start your business?
I didn’t have much saved and still don’t, but my parents paid for my desk and laptop in order to get me going and I have the full support of my wonderful husband.
Was there ever a point when you thought it wouldn’t work out? Yes, and I still have moments where I panic thinking I won’t be able to make it work! However, I am also determined to make it work as I can’t bear the thought of working in an office for other people again, and one of the reasons for setting my business up was to allow me to spend more time with my dogs! This is what keeps me going.
What support did you have around you to set up your VA business (family and friends, Coach or Mentor)?
My husband Jon is my rock and has always truly believed I would be able to make it happen, without his support and belief in me I would never have made the leap. I also had the support of Amanda’s membership group which was and is invaluable.
If you could go back and change one thing that you did when starting out, what would that be? I wish I’d have done it sooner, but I didn’t think I could! Also, I wish I’d had a stack of social media posts ready and waiting as I still find it hard to create them for myself.
What is your best advice for someone who is just starting out or someone who is considering becoming a Virtual Assistant? Do your research, work out what skills you are good at so you know what services you can offer and get yourself a good mentor.
How would you describe the good, the bad and ugly of being a Virtual Assistant?
The good, being my own boss and working from home with my two canine office assistants. The satisfaction of really knowing you are helping people and them being truly grateful, not your boss paying you lip service.
The bad, I’ve always had a guaranteed set income and currently I don’t, and I guess this is something I still must get used to.
The ugly – I’ve not had any yet but I’m sure there will be something at some point as running your own business doesn’t come without issues.
What is the best business book you’ve read and how did it impact you and your business?
I’ve read both of Catherine Gladwyn’s books “How to be a Virtual Assistant” and The 20% Rule – I love her openness and bluntness and much of what she said felt like she was talking to me, I still go back to them to look things up.
How do you stay on top of your own professional development?
I try to attend as many of the VA training sessions via the membership and I’ve also invested money is doing courses with another coach.
What do you love to do when you’re not working?
I absolutely love to take long walks with my dogs and spend quality time with my husband. I also love my holidays in Rhodes.
Tell us one thing you can tell us about you that not many people know?
Rather than doing A levels I attend college and trained as an optical dispensing optician.
What does the future hold for your business?
To become the “go to” virtual assistant to the canine industry and to make that happen I need to get more visible with my social media!