Hi I am Kascha Clarke, a Virtual Assistant and Founder of Clarke Virtual Assistant Business Services. In a nutshell I provide administrative and creative support to busy business owners across the UK on a virtual basis. Some of you are probably thinking ‘virtual’? What do you mean ‘virtual’?….well first of all, I am a human being and not something out of cyberspace or an app you download to let you know when your next meeting is, last time I checked I was a 29 year old female! So I am human and I help busy people from my own, now fully equipped, office in Whitstable.
From audio typing to invoicing, the list in endless. With today’s technology and the ever so useful cloud storage, I am able to support individuals and businesses anywhere in the world and the best part about it is that I can be wherever I want to be too. For example whilst writing this, I was on a Virgin train to Edinburgh with my chromebook in front of me, and have already cleared a few client’s inboxes for them and booked a flight for another.
Clarke Virtual Assistant – How did it all start?
I have always had in the back of my mind that I wanted to start a business, but just never really knew what or how. I started my career as a Post Room Operative for Oxleas NHS Trust, organising, sorting and delivering post and medical records around their headquarters in Dartford. It was this job that made me realise I was an ‘organiser’.
After Oxleas I worked in London as a Secretary for a large construction company, until I moved to the Kent coast and took on a position as Company Secretary and Finance Assistant for a farming day centre for adults with learning disabilities. As much as I loved my job and the environment I worked in, In May 2015 I was ready for a change and decided to look in to starting a business. Knowing that if I was going to do it, it needed to be something I was passionate about and good at, to make it a success.
I can’t quite remember how I came across the term ‘virtual assistant’ but the moment I read about them I instantly knew it was what I was going to do. I had 12 years’ experience, a supportive partner and family, so what was stopping me. Why wouldn’t I want to do what I was good at, but for many businesses rather than just the one. After 3 months of spending my evenings and weekends researching online, I thought what the hell I am going to do it.
When I think back now, it seems so crazy to think that I built my business, Clarke Virtual Assistant from literally having a laptop whilst sitting on the sofa in our 1 bed flat. I wasn’t quite brave enough to hand in my notice straight away, so I spent endless evenings setting up a website myself, signing up to various forums and speaking to other already successful VA’s in order to get a feel for what I was letting myself in for. On August 15th 2015 I left my full time employment and started working for my first client on the following Monday….one year on and I now have 11 wonderful clients that I work with every month, an office, and another associate VA on board.
Business networking, it’s not that bad really…
Running a business is a rollercoaster of a ride, there are many lows but also lots of highs. I would say that I have learnt more about myself and my capabilities in the last year than I have in my whole career. The biggest hurdle for me was walking in to a networking breakfast meeting and standing up in front of lots of strangers, telling them who I was and what I did. So many people told me that in order to pick up clients I would need to network network network! Yes, I understand that you need to get yourself out there in order to let others know about your services, but when you aren’t the best at talking about yourself, it is seriously hard. I struggled to be myself and feel good enough, I was always conscious that someone may ask me something I didn’t have a clue about, although I am sure most people have had to overcome this to begin with. How did I overcome this barrier? I was myself, I relaxed and spoke with honesty.
I believe honesty is what has made the last year a success, if I don’t know something in particular or have never done it before, I am honest about it. My clients need to trust me with their business and honesty is the best policy!! I am now lucky enough to say that the majority of my work comes from recommendation and word of mouth. That is not to say that I shouldn’t still get myself out there, I just do it in other ways, like marketing, social media and attending business events, which are a lot more relaxed and less pressurised.
Clarke Virtual Assistant – Future Plans
Since recently hitting my 1 year milestone, I have been reviewing the past 12 months and planning for the next year. My Kent Foundation mentor, who, may I add, has been a huge help during this time, will tell you that my long term vision 6 months ago was completely different to what I envisage now. I remember saying to him that in 5 years’ time I want to have a commercial office with at least 3 full time employees, as well as managing and working for client’s full time as well. Now I realise that Clarke Virtual Assistant has been built in to a lifestyle business… no one wants to work 12 hours each day, 6 days a week and I have now realised that I don’t have to do this to run a business. I can have a family, become a mother and still run a business. The beauty of it is, that I can work from wherever I want, give other working mums an opportunity to work around family life and still do what I am passionate about – by supporting my clients with managing and growing their businesses.
That I didn’t do it sooner!!
My Business Tip
Work with people you like (wherever possible), if a business relationship doesn’t feel right then there is a good chance it isn’t. Go with your gut instinct. When one door closes, another opens with other, sometimes better, opportunities.