This week I am very excited and proud to introduce you to the pocket rocket Natalie Andrews. Although only small in height, she is a force to be reckoned with. Natalie has been in business for several years and it’s been a pleasure working with her and watching her business flourish.
I’m Natalie and at a massive 4’ 10” some call me the pocket rocket! I’m a trained dancer but was born to be a VA. I first became self-employed in 2002 when I was conveniently in the right place at the right time and negotiated a role as a freelance PA to an International choreographer. I would visit her house once a week and have never looked back since. NA Business Services officially launched 10 years ago but I had to take a break when I discovered I was pregnant with my second child. The business is growing at a pace and now have some of the most amazing Associates I could wish for!
What or who inspired you to become a Virtual Assistant?
Myself! I never knew the term VA even existed when I first started out. When I relaunched officially as a VA, I was looking to America for inspiration as this was the only place that really had a lot of information.
How did you go about establishing your business?
When I first launched it was about reaching out to people I knew. I had volunteered at a lot of events and had already managed to get myself a reputation for being organised, efficient and a very smiley face. After some quiet time within my business, I officially re-launched after my second child but things were much harder than before. Not only had the credit crunch forced a wave of new people doing the job I had been doing and therefore creating a mass of competition but I also suffered severely from postnatal depression. My trusted phrase of ‘it’s not what you know it’s who you know’ could certainly have not come in to play. I could not leave my own home for fear of having to speak to someone. I knew I had to take action. It took some time to gather every ounce of confidence and to re-build my network but that’s exactly what I did. Each day was a challenge but I knew that every time I got to the end of that day I knew I was one step closer of getting back to being ‘me’.
Did you have any savings or financial support in order to start your business?
No. I started with the laptop and printer I used from university. I printed my own business stationery at home and created my own website. Even when I re-launched I had most of the tools I needed to get going again. I did invest in some business cards. A designer friend of mine traded my logo for some of my time helping her administratively (now I wouldn’t be without my Angel – she knew exactly what was needed). Another friend of mine created a landing page for me – that saw me through for 4 years I think it was…
Was there ever a point when you thought it wouldn’t work out?
Yes. In fact most days – still now. We do have a saying in our house though – being self-employed we are the master of our destiny. If I need more money I work a little harder. If I have a bad day, I know I can make it up another day. I have hit some very low points in my time but have learnt over the years to surround myself with people that will lift me when those times are coming.
What support did you have around you to set up your VA business (family and friends, Coach or Mentor)?
In the beginning, it was just me and my sheer determined nature. I knew I could achieve my dreams if I put in enough effort. Last year I finally invested in my future and had Amanda as my Business Coach. I have also made some amazing VA friends along the way. Now my family and friends have seen what I can do they fully support my ventures.
If you could go back and change one thing that you did when starting out, what would that be?
I don’t know that there is anything. Maybe learn to say ‘no’ a little more often? That way instead of being on a rollercoaster I may feel like I’m riding a slow and steady steam train?
What is your best advice for someone who is just starting out or someone who is considering becoming a Virtual Assistant?
Just get out there. The more people you know and speak to the more your web of a network will grow. Meeting people (physically and virtually) in a number of different places will make you memorable.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Just be you! We say it often enough but people buy from people they know, like and trust. Build a brand and a reputation that people want to be a part of. I have some of the crudest clients (in the nicest way of course!) but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I have a wicked sense of humour and so the people I am reaching out to support, need to be able to match that!
What is the best business book you’ve read and how did it impact you and your business?
I have started to read more business books as time goes on and would love to mention them all here but the one that impacted me the most was ‘Start Your Business Week by Week’ by Steve Parks. I read this when I was at my lowest. I already knew how to run a business but having lost all confidence I needed some reassurance. This book helped me deal with life one step at a time.
What do you love to do when you’re not working
I’m still a theatre girl at heart. I am a self-confessed workaholic but nothing will stand in the way of a rehearsal for the latest show. In my local town, I am usually in at least two shows per year. As the long, cold nights draw in during the Winter months, I have to shove my bottom out the door for some physical activity – but more importantly – some of the biggest laughs all year as i can normally be found doing panto. There is nothing that can help lift a mood more when you’ve had such a tough day than some time in the rehearsal room.
Tell us one thing you can tell us about you that not many people know?
I once worked as an Agents Assistant for the likes of Rory McGrath, Paul Whitehouse, and Cat Deeley.
Learn more and connect with Natalie