This week it is my pleasure to introduce you to Melody Sadé Abeni of MelSa Productivity. Reading back this interview with Melody, I found myself smiling because I can literally hear her talk me through the words – one of the things I love about Melody is she is “an action taker” – you can be on a coaching call and if the idea is there to tweak something on her website – she is not scared to tweak it there and there, or adapt if things are not quite going the way she would like. I love this – business is never set in stone, we have to be prepared to do a little trial and error to make it successful. So I am excited to share this interview with you.
I’m Melody, the Chief Engineer of Calm® at MelSa Productivity, and I started my VA business in April 2019. At the moment, our main service offering consists of minute taking and board administration services for limited companies and limited liability partnerships within the professional services sector – and we primarily support Company Secretaries and governance professionals, particularly those with small teams who don’t necessarily have any additional support at an administrative level.
What or who inspired you to become a Virtual Assistant?
I was growing restless at the lack of progression and/or new learning opportunities within my office management role at the time, so I thought about potentially trying something new rather than jumping into a new role that would bring more of the same feeling. At that point, I started researching freelance opportunities and came across the VA world – and the rest, as they say, is history!
How did you go about establishing your business?
I was very fortunate that my employer at the time agreed to transition into becoming my first client on a retainer. Whilst continuing to support them, I started reaching out to old contacts within my network to spread the word that I had become self-employed and I refreshed my LinkedIn profile to show that I was available for new opportunities.
I also tried out a few networking groups, which were very helpful in building up my confidence in presenting myself as a business owner.
Did you have any savings or financial support in order to start your business?
I used my savings to get the basics in place and then re-invested my first few months of earnings back into the business.
Was there ever a point when you thought it wouldn’t work out?
About 6 months in, I had a brief period where I became overwhelmed and lost quite a bit of my confidence in myself due to a difficult situation in my personal life, which had more of a personal impact on me than I originally assumed. I gave myself a break and it then took me about a month or so (and lots of support from friends and family) to build back up and to get back on that proverbial horse.
What support did you have around you to set up your VA business (family and friends, Coach or Mentor)?
When I initially set up, I received lots of wise words of advice from senior leaders at previous employers when I was spreading the word about my new venture.
I also joined a few different VA communities via social media and eventually became a full member of the VACT community.
If you could go back and change one thing that you did when starting out, what would that be?
I would be bolder about trusting my instinct, rather than second-guessing myself – there were definitely a few key learning moments in this regard…
What is your best advice for someone who is just starting out or someone who is considering becoming a Virtual Assistant?
Do as much research as you need to feel comfortable but, ultimately, there is no perfect time to start and no one is ever truly ready, so feel the fear and just do it anyway – there’s no need to make it more complicated than it needs to be!
How would you describe the good, the bad and ugly of being a Virtual Assistant?
The good: being in control of your time and the people with whom you choose to work.
The bad: you can end up quite isolated if you don’t take the time to build a proper support network – social media is your friend here, especially as a homeworker!
The ugly: the treadmill of client acquisition can be painful if you’re not clear on who you serve and where to find them. Also, the “wrong” clients will do more damage in the long run if you’re not able to identify why you’re not a good fit for each other.
What is the best business book you’ve read and how did it impact you and your business?
Most recently, I really enjoyed Chillpreneur by Denise Duffield Thomas – it was a good reminder to give myself permission to work on my own terms rather than working how I think I’m supposed to be working, based on all of those productivity podcasts and articles out there.
How do you stay on top of your own professional development?
I invest in coaching, professional courses and books.
At the moment, I’m studying some additional corporate law modules to add to my understanding of the types of clients we work with (who tend to be international, multi-entity businesses with lots of moving parts!) and how they function at the top-down level.
I’m also a student member of the Chartered Governance Institute (ICSA) so I get sent a copy of their monthly journals and I’m invited to various webinars, both of which help me to stay informed.
What do you love to do when you’re not working?
I’m a bit of a foodie and art nerd so I spend lots of time exploring the London restaurants and galleries with my friends, as well as going on lots of overseas adventures to do the same (during normal times!). You can find some of my adventures on my Instagram.
Tell us one thing you can tell us about you that not many people know?
I originally trained as an Occupational Therapist and had a keen interest in working with people with neurological conditions and acquired brain injuries. I realised fairly on in my career that continuing down that path wasn’t for me, for various reasons, but I really enjoyed working with patients at that level and also learning about the magic of the human body in terms of recovery and adapting.
What does the future hold for your business?
More adventures! MelSa likes to pivot so we could either continue growing or add a new specialism in the near future – or both… watch this space.
Learn more and connect with Melody:
Website URL: melsaproductivity.co.uk/
LinkedIn URL: linkedin.com/company/melsa-productivity
Instagram URL: instagram.com/melsaproductivity/