Virtual Assistant In The Spotlight: My Interview In The Market Magazine

Virtual Assistant in the Spotlight

This month I had the privilege of being featured in the “My Business” section of The Market magazine,  a premium, UK news stand magazine. The “My Business” section is brought to readers by James Caan and Bev James of the Entrepreneurs’ Business Academy.

The Market magazine is targeted at people with aspirations and goals, and for people who want to be encouraged and motivated. It is also aimed at real people, who work hard in their jobs and in business.

In every issue of The Market magazine, you can find features on informative and inspirational editorial that cover the areas of investment, business, entrepreneurs, psychology, technology, environmental issues, property news and more…

Each month, The Market looks at topical subjects, such as investing in wine and art, or the next property hot spots and understanding commodities and ethical investments.

Please tell us about your business

My name is Claudia Da Silva.

I run a virtual assistance & remote business support service from my home in Warfield, Berkshire.

I help busy professionals & small businesses get things done at a fraction of what they would pay for a temporary member of staff. My services allow my clients to work on their business instead of in it.

What makes your business unique?

Virtual Assistance is by no means a unique business concept.

However, it is an indisputable fact that the demand for skilled virtual assistants of all kinds has actually sped up during this economic downturn which made it easier to get started.

As the recession forces businesses to streamline their operations, they’re discovering virtual teams are more efficient and effective than ever, so they’re hiring virtual assistants in record numbers.

In fact, telecommuting and self-employment are at an all-time high.

The demand for virtual assistance of all kinds and specialisation is BOOMING! When you have skills in a high-demand niche, you will have your pick of almost unlimited opportunities!

I guess what makes me different to other virtual assistants is that I work on a pay-as-you-go service with my clients and do not tie them in to any contracts.

My clients pay for my virtual assistant services as and when they need.

Please tell us about your background and why you’ve chosen to go into this sector

I started my career in the UK in 1999.

Prior to starting my virtual assistant and business support company, I had worked as a Procurement Specialist in private sector technology and communications companies; including Compaq (UK), Samsung Electronics (UK) and AutoPage Cellular (SA).

I also setup and ran my own import and distribution business supplying luxury imported lingerie from the UK to the South African retail market.

I decided to go into this sector because I wanted to use my wide range of skills to help busy professionals & small businesses get things done.

As a mom to two small boys, this sector also gives me the flexibility to be a full-time mom, as well as run my virtual assistance and support business.

A man should never neglect his family for business. – Walt Disney

Again, I also saw a dramatic increase in companies scaling down on full-time employees which left a gap for virtual assistants to provide from as little as 1 to 2 hours a day of business support.

With a virtual assistant busy professionals and small businesses don’t have to worry about paying for idle time, sick days, holidays or statutory leave. Add to that employee taxes, deductions, book-keeping and the cost of equipment and soon you’ll see just how much they can save.

Hiring a virtual assistant is really the simplest and quickest way to reduce your staffing costs in the current economic climate without any strings attached!

As an independent business owner myself, I am fully aware and appreciative of the challenges that running a business presents.

What’s been your proudest moment in business so far?

Getting started!

Instead of over-thinking the “who” and “how”, I opted to dive in to the deep end and just get started.

I was filled with self-doubt and concerns about how I could maintain the “routine” I had established for my kids and family, and even whether I would have the time and energy to balance both.

I found my first few clients via word of mouth and marketing my business via my social media networks. I was quickly able to snap up several clients in varied business sectors and able to support them even though my services for them differed greatly.

I am also proud of the positive feedback I get from my clients about how I am actively making a difference to the day-to-day running of their businesses.

Making your first few pounds proves that there’s a market for your business offering and definitely cements the fact that you’ve made the right choice.

And the hardest moment?

Being unsure about how you will go about getting to your first paying clients. Only through earning money do you get the tangible proof that you need to see if you can get your new business off the ground. Until you get to that stage, your business idea is nothing but a dream.

My business relies on me ensuring that I am able to sell my time. If my clients work load slows down or they take some time off for holidays, my earnings can dip which in turn does affect my monthly earnings. I am constantly marketing myself and my services to ensure that I can keep the “hard moments” to a minimal.

How have you adapted your business model to cope with the current economic downturn? If you haven’t, please explain why you haven’t.

I have maintained my pay-as-you-go business model since I started my business in 2011.

Again, if anything, the economic downturn has allowed me to build a client base quite quickly because virtual assistant services are particularly beneficial to growing businesses that need support in managing their time and tasks, but that don’t necessarily have the resources or budget to hire full-time support staff.

Who or what do you turn to for business inspiration / advice?

My husband has had a very big impact on helping me start my business and motivate me to make it work. He has sound business advice and helps me think out of the box.

A lot of reading and research about other Mumpreneur’s has inspired me greatly especially knowing that “you can have it all!”

And lastly but most importantly my two little boys have inspired me to make this work!

If you can raise a family, then you can build a business. - Michael Port

What advice would you give to a budding entrepreneur?

I know it’s a cliché but you should follow your heart and passion – it is vitally important that you enjoy what you do. Keep doing market research and keep up to date with the trends happening in your chosen industry sector or niche.

Seek outside advice. You don’t know everything and shouldn’t expect yourself too. Consult with others about their expert advice to build your business.

Don’t forget to develop a marketing mindset and to make technology your friend. Always be flexible and open to new ideas.


 

If you’d like to find out how I can help you manage your time-intensive tasks and day-to-day administration, get in touch with me for a free no-obligation telephonic chat.

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About Claudia Da Silva

Claudia Da Silva owns and runs a virtual assistant company. She ensures that busy individuals and businesses can focus on the important things while all their administrative and clerical tasks are dealt with professionally.

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