Clare Farthing won Best Newcomer in the VA Awards 2016 for her business Your Virtual Assistant and I am delighted that I have been able to catch up with her and ask her to share some Wednesday VA wisdom.
Hi, I’m Clare Farthing owner and founder of Your Virtual Assistant which I launched full-time, October 2015. I live in Lymington, Hampshire literally 5 minutes from the New Forest and 15 minutes walk to the coast, with my crazy Border Collie, Zak!
I believe in running a VA business where I add value, not just deliver the services each month. I like my clients to see me as part of their team, a sounding board and a decision maker, as though I am an employee but with the flexibility of a retained monthly package.
If required, normally the case – I also ask permission to kick their butt! Most business owners that I meet or that are referred to me, are looking for an experienced and organised PA who can go that extra mile and come up with solutions, connect them with others, as well as ultimately give them back their time freedom.
What or who inspired you to become a Virtual Assistant?
Having been made redundant twice in the first 6-months of 2015, I could not face updating my CV again and the disappointing lack of replies to job applications or the broken promises from the recruitment agencies. Thankfully I recalled a couple of friends had suggested, a year prior, that I set up my own business offering typing services from home. A fellow network marketer, at the time, had also kindly shared the VACT website link which I dug out in my Gmail account! It felt like the right time with nearly 30 years PA, Admin and Office Management experience to rise to the challenge and find out what a Virtual Assistant was!
How did you go about establishing your business?
I spoke to Barbara Marsh, a fellow local VA who had written a testimonial on the VACT website about a Taster Weekend she had attended. Barbara happened to live 20 minutes away, so I called Barbara who kindly offered to meet me for a coffee, so I could pick her brains about the VA industry and the VACT training. The result, I signed up for the VACT, VA Mastery Course in August 2015!
Did you have any savings or financial support in order to start your business?
Yes, I was fortunate enough to have some redundancy money to cover my essential outgoings for up to 6 months. Which is why I always highly recommend to those considering leaving employment, to have similar and/or consider a part-time job, as you cannot guarantee how quickly your business will take off.
Was there ever a point when you thought it wouldn’t work out?
No, I am naturally a positive person and didn’t want getting a ‘J O B’ again to be an option – “if it is to be, it’s up to me”, is my motto!
During the quieter times, I was open to Associate work which I learnt about during my VACT training and was fortunate enough to build relations with a few VAs that I was able to support, so it helped supplement my income.
What support did you have around you to set up your VA business (family and friends, Coach or Mentor)?
My parents and some long-term dear friends have been fantastic in their moral support and belief. Along with Amanda Johnson, during my VA Mastery Course studies (and continues to be via the VA HelpDesk) and also my Success Buddy, Judith Andrews.
If you could go back and change one thing that you did when starting out, what would that be?
Learn some of the CRM tools available, when I had more free time!
What is your best advice for someone who is just starting out or someone who is considering becoming a Virtual Assistant?
Have belief in yourself, listen and learn from those who are running successful VA businesses, network like crazy on and off-line, and set goals. Split time out in your diary into three areas; 1.) clients 2) working on your business 3) personal life; self-care/family time.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Treat it like a business, not a hobby; review your analytics and what does and doesn’t work and tweak.
Don’t make excuses, JFDI!
What is the best business book you’ve read and how did it impact you and your business?
‘Pilot to Profit’ by Lisa Larter.
It’s a great book with tips for new and established business owners and has lots of golden nuggets for all to take away – highly recommended. It changed the way I looked at my business and my focus.
My 3 takeaways were: –
- Focus on the big rocks, not the pebbles &/or the sand.
- Be SWIFT!
- Send out monthly communications to your clients, contacts and connections so you have control over who is seeing your content, rather than Facebook or Google controlling who gets to read it.
If you’d like to read my Blog about this book, click here: – http://bit.ly/1RF2drL
What do you love to do when you’re not working?
Spending quality time with my parents/family and friends, eating out, walking Zak along the plentiful walks we have on our doorstep but coastal being my favourite, reading personal development or business books and Pilates.
Tell us one thing about you that not many people know?
I worked in BP Oil’s PR department for 2 years, as part of my 8.5-year Oil Industry career. During which we sponsored France’98. Consequently, I got to attend quite a few events and met most of the England Team which was quite an experience. I have a lovely photo with my favourite, who has long since retired!
Meet Clare: If you would like to connect with Clare or follow her on social media, here are the important links:
Facebook URL: https://www.facebook.com/yourvirtualassistanthampshire/
Twitter ID: https://twitter.com/yourvahampshire
LinkedIn URL: https://uk.linkedin.com/in/clarelouisefarthing