Life of a VA featuring Emma Bennett of Bush Telegraph Assist

Uncategorized Mar 28, 2021

Hi, I am Emma. Wife and Muma to 3 bush kids.

I grew up and lived in a small town on the south-east coast of England. But chose to move to Australia as an adult in 2006 and have never looked back.

I spent over 15 years working for other people, balancing their demands with my values. I worked my way up, starting in Real Estate and ending my full-time career leading a team of remote account managers in leasing and finance.

Ending my career came as a bit of a shock to me. 2014, I was a new mum. I took a year off with my daughter when the time was right, spoke to my employer about returning to work. The problem was their needs no longer balanced with mine. I didn't want to travel or work full time. The head office was in Sydney, so most part-time jobs were not available in WA, so I took a part-time role in a different division. But I became invisible, working remotely, doing a full-time job in part-time hours because the role didn't fit the brief. But I only had to put up with it for a year as I fell pregnant again, oh and then couldn't return to work as whoops pregnant again.

So career gone, three babies in three years. Shall I say- life was a blur!

Like many Mums out there, I loved being a mum but also wanted to contribute, grow and learn, and have something of my own. I wanted a challenge. I wanted a life where we could make the decisions.

So off we went with a 1,2, and 4-year-old to The Kimberley, Northern WA, to run a cattle and tourism enterprise. This was an amazing experience with lots of challenges but also lots of compromise for older children. So once school was necessary, we headed home, just in time for Covid.

Lost with kids at school, it was time to focus on me again. I started researching business ideas, studying, and seeing what opportunities were out there. I stumbled on the term VA. As I had worked remotely with teams in my career, I thought that I could bring my experience to small business, especially those geographically remote or regional. After numerous conversations with my husband trying to help him understand what a VA was and does, he was right behind me.

The next problem was the fantastic load of information from all over the world about being a VA, but all empty info, gimmicks, all pushy salespeople. Nothing out there was real, about the legals, the practical stuff, the actual methods used to connect to businesses. All the nuts and bolts. All I could find was the shiny stuff about creating a 6 figure incomes! I just wanted to build a genuine business to grow as I was ready but do it right.

Almost at the point of giving up, scrolling through Facebook one night as I couldn't sleep, Seed VA Start-Up program popped up. The whole program sounded perfect, a few messages with Amy, a real person and in Australia, and I was registered for the next roll out in August.

I gained my first client straight away after talking to a friend and saying what I was doing. I then used my learning to help set my husbands business up properly and take over all of his admin. This was enough for now, just so I could still have time with my youngest, take my learning and apply it to real-life and get experience.

December 2020, I launched my business officially!

Through the support of Seed VA and Seed Accelerate members, I have learned that nothing is fixed in stone. I am still learning my true niche; I am still developing and changing my focus. I am still developing packages. Nothing is static, but I am getting there.

But I launched!

My business was in no way perfect, but it was out there. I had the confidence to throw myself out there as I knew I had a network to help me out.

I work only 2 ½-3 days a week. I have learned, grown and am still doing so. I have new clients and have only about 3 hours a week available to take on more until next year when my little boy is full time at school. All my clients have come through telling people about what I do within my personal and business networks. I have learned not to be shy, be proud of my business and realise that perfection never comes, as we are our own worst critic.

I now have a fantastic new client. At times, her work is out of my genius zone, but that's when I asked another VA to collaborate with me.

No day is the same, but what is constant is our ability to have control. I switch off my computer from Thursday afternoon to Monday. My clients know how to leave important messages for me to look at on Monday when I return to work. I love my business. I choose whom I work with and what work I do. If I want to help at school, I can move my work. When children are home from school sick, I don't have to dread calling into a boss to say I can't come to work today. I have choices and I make the decisions.

I just wish I had found Seed Start-Up years ago.

I now realise that I want to grow my business. I love working with start-ups and small business and am learning that my strength lies in organisation and project management. I am passionate about partnering with business owners to achieve their goals through strategy and support.

I couldn't ever imagine going back and working for someone else. If you are thinking about becoming a VA, go for it. If you dream of a business of any sort, reach for the stars and take action.

"Dream big, start small. But most of all, start."

Emma x


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