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Meet the VA - Laura Brown of Brown Owl Legal Support

My name is Laura Brown of Brown Owl Legal Support.  I provide legal secretarial support to lawyers and expert witnesses.  My business started in April 2023.  My business is blooming with a roster of loyal clients.  


Who or what inspired you to become a VA? 

Lockdown showed me that I can do the same work from home that I do from the office.  In reality, I can do more work and to a higher standard from home.  I realised I don’t truly enjoy working in an office with other people.  I realised the commute was exhausting and I wondered how I had done it for so long.


The main trigger was my mother being diagnosed with dementia.  It became apparent that she needed me in a different way.  I needed time to figure out what was best for her, and it just wasn’t feasible for me to work a 9am-5pm job anymore, let alone the idea of going back to commuting to a city based office. 


I was inspired to be a VA because I loved the idea of being my own boss, deciding my own annual leave, deciding my own pay, going after prospective clients and securing them.


Have you had any support starting up as a VA?  

My partner, Darren, has been and continues to be instrumental in every decision I make.  Darren is a procurement manager.  His role involves bullishly and confidently negotiating and locking down deals daily.  


I can lack confidence in marketing my services at a higher price, reflective of my skills and experience.  He gently pushes and supports me to do that.  I feel very anxious if I get pushback on prices but his “business is business” attitude buoys me up.  


What has been your highlight since starting your business?  

Realising that I can create delight for my clients.  The feedback I receive indicates that I can lift the load from solicitors and relieve them of a lot of admin stress and worry.  That’s my goal and I love that I can do that with ease.  


What was your biggest challenge?  

When I first started, I was terrified of cold emailing prospective clients to let them know about my services.  I sat on the idea for about two weeks before I finally got the confidence to just do it.  


The first emails I sent were okay.  Not terrible but not brilliant.  I just had to start though.  If I didn’t start, I would have gotten nowhere.  Even with those mediocre first emails, I attracted my first couple of clients, and that was all I needed to get going.


What advice would you offer other new or aspiring VAs?  

Just start.  Make some mistakes and get better as you go.  The freedom and flexibility are worth every uncomfortable moment.  Not having to get permission to take a holiday, or pitifully hope for a pay rise or a bonus, only doing the work I enjoy doing – you cannot put a price on that.


What tools/apps/software can’t you live without?  

My Apple Reminders app on my phone.  Very simple, but I use it to log every little thing I need to remember to do. As a carer and business owner, I manage my personal schedule, my business schedule, and my mother’s schedule of medication, her grocery shopping, outings, personal care, housework. 


I carry a heavy load, and so it’s important for me to get things out of my head and down onto Reminders, so that it will crop up again and remind me to do the task at the right time.


What is next for you and your business?  

I am bringing in other legal secretaries to work alongside me.  Brown Owl Legal Support is showing lawyers and legal secretaries alike that admin support does not have to be full time or even part time, and it does not have to be in-house.  It can be flexible, on demand, and with a surprisingly speedy turnaround.  


What is the ultimate goal for your business?

I am working a lot in my business, doing the client work, returning it, doing all the admin surrounding my business.  My goal is to be the one who works on securing new clients, onboarding them and delegating the work out to other secretarial professionals like me, who would like to be working for themselves.  I have realised how much I enjoy nurturing client relationships.  I’d love to secure work on behalf of others who don’t fancy that aspect quite so much.


Were there any times you wanted to give up? What kept you going?  

I’ve never wanted to give up.  My partner is very supportive and lets me know that if I have a tough month, he’ll look after us.  I know he would, but I always want the financial independence that my business gives to me.


What three words would you use to describe yourself, and why?  

Determined, focused and upbeat.


What has surprised you about becoming a VA?  

That running a business is not as complicated as I thought.  You really can just give it a try and see how it goes.


What is the biggest misconception you had about being a VA before you became one?  

That I needed to be an expert in every type of software, every sort of VA service such as social media management etc.  In reality, I can be an expert in one niche area and do just fine.


Is there anything you would change about your VA journey?  

I’d have set my prices higher at the very beginning, rather than going in very low and having to do price rises later to make it sustainable.


What do you enjoy doing outside of work?  

I enjoy running in all terrains, going on road trips with Darren and spending time with my two cats.


Who would you most like to meet, and why? What would you tell them? 

 I was adopted and when I searched for my father, I found his grave.  I’d love to have him sitting in front of me, to look at him, see his face and hear his voice.  He is one half of me and, despite having never met him, I’ll always miss him.  I’d tell him how much I loved him, not in spite of, but because of every single one of his imperfections.


Other




This blog was prepared or accomplished by Laura Brown in her personal capacity. The opinions expressed in this blog are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Kayleigh Johnstone, The Business-Savvy VA, or COZ PR.


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