This week I am delighted to introduce you to June Whiteman of Virtually There, based on the Isle of Man. June and I have known each other for a number of years and I am glad that we are now featuring her here – she was the first VA to set up on the Isle of Man, and its been a pleasure to watch as her business has morphed and changed slightly over the years. June is consistent in her delivery of excellence to her clients. June shares a lovely analogy about building a business and growing a garden – I hope and think you will see exactly what she is talking about. Also, although not specifically stated in the blog, you will see that it has taken time for June to develop a niche – in my opinion it was there – she just hadn’t labelled it as a niche but it’s interesting to see that when we believe we have one everything feels easier!
From my office window, I look out over the fields towards Castletown on the Isle of Man. Through the summer, under normal circumstances, I can see the steam train as it chugs its way between Douglas and Port Erin. This has been my view for the last 4 years. It was at a PA Conference in London towards the end of 2014 that I learnt more about the life of a VA and was introduced to Amanda. I remember very clearly our first conversation when she led me through the pros and cons of being a VA and the training she offered. I signed up for the VA Mastery Course in 2015 and stepped out of my corporate shoes as PA to the Finance Director of a Life Assurance Company and into Virtually There in 2016. My first client has determined the direction I want to take the business and my focus now is on supporting Independent Directors and Non-Executive Directors.
What or who inspired you to become a Virtual Assistant?
The process of becoming a Virtual Assistant began on our sailing holidays. It was my husband Martin, who had the vision. Whenever we moored up, we found the closest taverna with wifi access and made contact with the family and checked in on our ceramic studio back on the Isle of Man. I have endless pics of me on the little netbook we carried with us, settled in the shade of a grapevine on whichever Greek island we happened to be on that day.
How did you go about establishing your business?
In my usual fashion, I took a leap of faith. I started Virtually There with our youngest daughter Jo and through her network, we found our first client. Word of mouth works every time.
Did you have any savings or financial support in order to start your business?
I had £5000 set aside and received a government grant from The Small Business Support Scheme
Was there ever a point when you thought it wouldn’t work out?
No, and I still support my first client. Working with her has introduced me to a sector I knew very little about and has determined the direction I want to take my business.
What support did you have around you to set up your VA business (family and friends, Coach or Mentor)?
I had Jo’s support as my business partner and I had Amanda’s support as my VA Coach and Mentor.
If you could go back and change one thing that you did when starting out, what would that be?
To make the most of what the company I worked for was offering in terms of training and to upskill whilst still employed.
What is your best advice for someone who is just starting out or someone who is considering becoming a Virtual Assistant?
Know your strengths and establish a niche early on.
How would you describe the good, the bad and ugly of being a Virtual Assistant?
I think we need to manage ourselves carefully in order to enjoy what we do. Being disciplined and creating boundaries creates the space I need to do other things. I’m very conscious of becoming insular and the popularity of Zoom networking over the last 2 months has proved to be enlightening and entertaining as I have met teams that would otherwise remain faceless.
What is the best business book you’ve read and how did it impact you and your business?
“Storybrand” by Donald Miller. It puts the customer at the centre of the story. It resonated with me as I hadn’t been able to put my finger on what was wrong with my story until I realised what the mechanics of a good story are.
How do you stay on top of your own professional development?
Podcasts (the best way to learn about people whilst doing something else), LinkedIn Learning and YouTube tutorials.
What do you love to do when you’re not working?
My garden is my sanctuary and I am creating a cut-flower garden. There is an analogy in creating a garden and growing a business.
Tell us one thing you can tell us about you that not many people know?
I’ve had a hole-in-one on a golf course in the Drakensberg, Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa and have my name on the board to prove it!
What does the future hold for your business?
Now that I have identified my niche, I would like to build my Associate network and grow…
Learn more and connect with June:
Website URL: www.virtuallythere.im
Facebook URL: facebook.com/june.whiteman
Twitter ID: twitter.com/june_whiteman
LinkedIn URL: linkedin.com/in/june-whiteman-virtuallythere