After launching her own virtual assistant business a few years ago, Leanne Farrell, founder of Leanne Farrell VA, has never looked back since. Here she explains why she needed to make the jump and stop thinking ‘what if, and why she just can’t live without her phone.
How did you launch your business?
I started off by doing my research. I spoke to a business mentor and read books on how to run a business and how to make a VA business work. These helped me to build a short-term and long-term business plan. I joined VA Facebook groups and went to a couple of networking events to meet like-minded people and get advice. I landed my first client relatively quickly and after almost seven years working as a PA for business owners directly, Leanne Farrell VA was born.
Did you discover a gap in the market for a new VA business?
Having worked directly with a number of business owners, I have witnessed first-hand the challenges of running a successful business and how much time goes into maintaining success and generating growth. With this, I also saw a huge demand for virtual support, particularly for SME owners and entrepreneurs, who don’t require full time support and don’t have the budgets for a full time PA.
It was becoming more apparent that SME owners and entrepreneurs are increasingly spending too much of their precious time on their own daily admin; they don’t have the headspace to focus on tasks that will grow their business; they have become overwhelmed because they are juggling too many tasks and they do not have a work/ life balance because they simply don’t have the time to. They need to be able to spend more time on growing their business.
Can you tell me a bit about your company and the services it offers?
I work with companies to look at the gaps in their business that require additional support, identify those tasks that are demanding too much of their time in order to allow them to focus on growing their business. I have been fortunate to have spent my entire career to date working for SMEs directly with founders and managing directors, which has given me the knowledge and expertise across various sectors of business. These include executive assistance, marketing & PR, website maintenance, event management, HR, finance and lifestyle management. This has allowed me to offer an enhanced service to clients, which I have divided into business support and lifestyle management.
“Setting up your own business is one of those scary life decisions that you think about for so long and one day you suddenly realise that you just need to take the jump and stop thinking ‘what if’.”
I believe that clients need more than someone who can simply assist with administration, which is why I therefore fully integrate myself and invest my time in each business to support across business development. It is my aim to reduce an SME owner and entrepreneur’s workload, free up their time and allow them to focus on the tasks that will help them to grow your business or simply step back and take time for their personal life.
What makes a VA stand out from a PA or EA?
The main benefits of a virtual assistant are that it saves business owners money and hassle and provides flexible support, with them only paying for the hours they require. Business owners are able to choose as and when they need support and how they would prefer to divide their hours each month. It provides them with the assurance that they have their much-needed support, without the HR headaches, such as tax, national insurance, employee benefits, holiday, sick pay or pension.
A VA works with more than one client, which really gives a VA the opportunity to broaden their expertise and continue learning new things, which may in turn help another client.
Was it a daunting process going out into the business world alone?
The idea of launching a VA business was something I had considered for almost a year. Setting up your own business is one of those scary life decisions that you think about for so long and one day you suddenly realise that you just need to take the jump and stop thinking ‘what if’. It was daunting at first, however I knew I had to push myself out of my comfort zone if I wanted to have my own business. You have to have a positive mental attitude and truly believe that you can make it work.
Where would you like to see your business in the next five years?
In the space of a very short period of time, I have realised just how much potential there is with developing a VA business. I would love to have a small team of fabulous VAs working with me in the future. I would also like to consider offering one-to-one and group mentoring for those wishing to pursue a career as a VA, offering support and guidance.
What’s your favourite piece of tech?
I couldn’t live without my phone. Working virtually means I can work from anywhere at any time and it wouldn’t be possible without my phone. Plus, when I’m not on emails, I’m scrolling through social media.
Nothing beats a Saturday night in with a good film, PJ’s on, a bottle of wine and a pizza (Domino’s is my guilty pleasure)! You’d think working from home I would want to get out of the house but nope, it’s my dream Saturday night.