This week I am pleased to introduce you to Fliss Murdoch of Your Virtual Angel. Now, those who have been following me for awhile, will know that I don’t normally have new Virtual Assistants post their Wednesday Wisdom, but Fliss shares some great lessons that both new and experienced Virtual Assistants alike will benefit from and so actually I am hugely excited to share this post. I think just reading this post, you will get a true sense of her energy, passion and resilience. Fliss is not scared to admit what she doesn’t know and instead of admitting defeat, will roll her sleeves up and go get stuck in to learn that thing she didn’t know and in my opinion, that’s a much better position to be in and an skill that Business Owners would rather see. Sit back and enjoy this guest blog post – the energy buzzes from it.
I’m Fliss of Your Virtual Angel – The Administration Angel For The Everyday Entrepreneur! I’m Little Miss Helpful by nature and a rabid problem solver. A big smile with a dash of tenaciousness and I get my highs from helping people succeed. I get a real kick out of finding ways to improve other peoples lives professionally or personally and with far too much energy for my own good I like to be busy. I started as a synchronised swimmer turned swimming teacher and as I started to get more hands-on in the swim schools and businesses I worked for, I went from rubber ducks and splashy toes to KPI targets and national venue relations. However, my heart always goes back to the little businesses with big dreams and I firmly believe everyone needs an angel on their shoulder.
What or who inspired you to become a Virtual Assistant?
I had spent 15 years working for various small businesses from the grassroots stages up to those that had gone national. I was a bit of a jack of all trades, having gone from the practical upfront service/product delivery to management, getting involved with recruitment, health and safety, venue relations, social media management and customer service but I started to see that I was happier when I felt my values aligned with those of the companies I was representing. When it became apparent that I was having to compromise my ethics to hit targets and meet goals I decided to break away from employment and go self-employed. I had all the skills and wanted to support other business owners but on my terms – as the best version of myself. I left a situation where I felt that I was having to be the “bad guy” at every turn and had days when I felt that I was losing the best of myself in order to be what cutthroat higher management needed me to be. Since becoming my own boss I can categorically say that “Your worst day self employed is still better than your best day employed”. Best decision I ever made.
How did you go about establishing your business?
I had to understand the type of people I wanted to help – not those who were in it for the £££ but those who simply had something they loved doing and it had turned from a hobby or a skill into a business. They might be fantastic at the practical delivery of the service/product but not everyone can make that jump to handling all areas of a budding business. I needed a brand that was clean, easy to understand and instantly recognisable so my first step was to tap into the most positive element of how helping people made me feel. Hearing “you’re an angel” or “what would I do without you” was something I got a real glow from so it became my business identity – The Virtual Angel – to make this more personal it became “Your Virtual Angel” because every fledgeling or overwhelmed business owner needs to feel like there is someone there to give them a little gentle guidance and support.
Did you have any savings or financial support in order to start your business?
I was fortunate enough to be able to resign from the role that was burning me out, and with savings, I had from employment and property sales allowed me to take 3 months off to do a little travel, study the VACT course under Amanda’s guidance and really get to grips with what I wanted my business brand to be. I had planned to go back to part-time work in April but with the current pandemic, things haven’t exactly gone that way!
Was there ever a point when you thought it wouldn’t work out?
Aside from the every now and then 3 am wobbles?! Yes, the current climate has made everything a bit uncertain but I’m looking at this unexpected time off as an opportunity to find my areas of weakness and work on them. I’m looking for skills to improve such as my software understanding and I’m a lot more active on social media than I have been in years! It’s just learning how to make that activity relevant to my business.
What support did you have around you to set up your VA business (family and friends, Coach or Mentor)?
First off, when I was having a real feeling of “I don’t want to be here anymore” with my previous job my mum was the one who flagged up the Women In Business Expo to me. I was feeling low and a bit defeated but I shook out my shoulders, put on a suit and went along. A bit of that gut feeling, follow your instincts good stuff. I found the bright pink exhibition stall for VACT and of the 50 opportunities there that day, that one SANG to me. In the next 72 hours, I’d spoken to the lovely Amanda, done my research and booked myself on the VACT Mastery Course. My own Virtual Angel was definitely on my shoulder the day I went to that expo! As well as Amanda being in my corner every step of the way I’ve been lucky to have an incredible team of cheerleaders in my family, my friends and my partner – it’s worth noting that it was being his support Angel for his karate club that first made me realise how much I enjoyed helping business owners grow. I think one of the important things here too is knowing who in your circle will be positive and who perhaps can be a bit negative. We all know we have days when we need to have a vent or be given a lot of reassurance – make sure you know who to talk to for practical advice and who will just listen if that’s what you need!
If you could go back and change one thing that you did when starting out, what would that be?
I actually wouldn’t! I try to work on the principle that everything is happening this way “just because” and besides, curveballs make us better catchers. Take notes but keep looking forwards.
What is your best advice for someone who is just starting out or someone who is considering becoming a Virtual Assistant?
When it comes to the course – don’t force yourself through exercises – the best thing about VACT was that it made me identify who I was and what I want. There is no room for filler when answering questions like that so tackle the exercises with passion, excitement and honesty. Don’t slog through giving generic answers – your business will grow from an idea to reality as you do the course but only if the work comes from the heart. I had some of my most inspired eureka moments that shaped Your Virtual Angel from conversations with Amanda and often from feeling a bit drained and stepping back for a cup of tea and going “oh!” and racing back to carry on a module with renewed vigour because of that lightbulb moment. What Your Virtual Angel is now, is very much shaped by the soul searching I did on the course.
How would you describe the good, the bad and ugly of being a Virtual Assistant?
For me personally, I’ve always loved problem-solving so facing a potential issue wasn’t my kryptonite but the 3 am think-tank is my Good & Bad! I can be lying there wide-eyed and freaking out with doubt but the next night I can have a killer idea and be feverishly writing notes ready for something I want to try in the morning. I would say, embrace the Good and the Bad head-on and the Ugly won’t matter.
What is the best business book you’ve read and how did it impact you and your business?
Excuse my French and it wasn’t necessarily a business book BUT The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F**k was a turning point for me in realising that I WANTED to “give a f**k!” I wanted to work for and ONLY for people whose ideas I really cared about. Whose ethics made me feel content and to be able to put my hand up and walk the hell away from any business or employed position that made me feel like I was losing my essential self for someone elses warped ideas. You are born with a limited amount of f**ks to give so don’t throw them away on situations that make you feel less than your essential self.
How do you stay on top of your own professional development?
One rule – if I don’t know what something is, I put the words in my google calendar as a 30-minute research task. For example “Trello” what the hell is this? I’ll set aside time to find out. If I think I can do it, I’ll learn it. Tada, now I can do it…#ProfessionalDevelopment
What do you love to do when you’re not working?
I am a Pinterest cooking addict. I set a goal to try one new complicated recipe a week at least. This can be a meal, dessert, cocktail – whatever! I also love surfing, camping and scuba diving – counting down the days till I can hit the road for Cornwall and get back on a board!
Tell us one thing you can tell us about you that not many people know?
Remember The Beast From The East storm where it snowed heavily in April? I did my Open Water Scuba Course in that. On a day where it was 4c air temp, I was in a drysuit doing my exam dives. When the six of us got in the water, it was so cold that within 5 minutes two people got out and went home. I was bordering on panic at the surface, couldn’t catch my breath and my teeth were chattering and every time I looked down all I saw was dark green and somewhere 20m down there was the storage tanker I was supposed to be going to sit on! I sucked it up, found some grit and got through my six dives. Girl power. However, my first open ocean dive was off the coast of Florida during Storm Anton (I seem to attract storms…) and we’d been made to sign a waiver before getting on the boat in case anything happened. 6 foot high waves coming over the sides and I was lined up penguin shuffling to the end of the boat, so scared I could hardly think straight but I hurled myself in, found that grit again and saw turtles the size of coffee tables, eagle rays and barracuda and came up with the biggest smile on my face. Then found out I was the only diver with less than 50 logged dives – eep. Whenever I have moments of fear or doubt, I remember times I was scared shitless and still did the thing anyway. Always do The Thing!
What does the future hold for your business?
The “Right Now” is that there is just one angel at Your Virtual Angel but down the line, I want a team of angels and I have one big condition – you have to believe in the client you represent because nothing feels as good as helping someone succeed when every fibre of you is rooting for them.
Learn more and connect with Fliss:
Website URL: www.yourvirtualangel.co.uk
Facebook URL: https://www.facebook.com/YVA2020
Twitter ID: https://twitter.com/YVA2020
LinkedIn URL: https://www.linkedin.com/in/fliss-murdoch-34577ba3/