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Meet the VA - Nic Gray of Nic Gray PA

Nic is the Owner of Nic Gray PA. She grew up in East Sussex and lives with her husband and two children in Hailsham with their small dog Minnie the ‘Mexican Hot Dog’.

Nic worked for several companies over a 20-year period, predominantly as a Credit Controller and over the past 10 years as a bookkeeper and producing management accounts.

She wanted to be able to support more businesses on a flexible basis, to be able to be there for her children growing up, so being a Virtual Assistant ticks all of the boxes.

Who or what inspired you to become a VA?

Before I became a VA, I was on maternity leave selling Scentsy and had joined my local Mums in Business networking group. When it came to the end of my maternity leave, I was telling others in the group how I didn’t want to go back to being employed as it had been great to have the time to support local businesses and the flexibility had meant I had been able to do a lot more with my children. One of the members knew of my history in accounts and admin and suggested I start up my own business as a VA. I hadn’t even heard of it at that point, but within a couple of weeks I had a website, logo, and social media pages.

Have you had any support starting up as a VA? (mentor/family/network/financial)?

I received huge support from the Mums in Business group with everyone helping me share my posts on social media and my first clients were part of the group too. I hadn’t heard of any VA Mentors at that point, so I did research online and learnt to set up as I went. I had built up rather a large network of local businesses by the time I started trading so the support was huge by the time I had started officially advertising.

What has been your highlight since starting your business?

Apart from the fact that I’ve been able to support so many wonderful small businesses within the past two years, I’ve also been extremely proud of the awards and nominations I’ve received in that time.

I won Virtual Assistant Service of the Year two years running at the South England Prestige Awards (2022/23 and 2023/24), I was an official winner for Theo Paphitis’ Small Business Sunday in 2022, Best Social Media & Email Marketing Virtual Assistant - Southern England in the Media Innovator Awards 2022. I was shortlisted as Best Newcomer VA at the UK VA Awards, 2022 a finalist at the Women’s Business Awards 2022.

This year I am a finalist for Overall Business of the Year 2023 at the Female Business Awards in Manchester and The Client Champion category at the Eastbourne Business Awards 2023.

What was your biggest challenge?

My biggest challenge was realising that I shouldn’t have one big client amongst small ones. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. My biggest client had to end my contract early on in my business and that contract was my main source of income. I wondered if I would be able to continue at that point. Luckily, the networking and social media marketing I had already done came through for me and I was able to take on smaller contracts and have kept it that way ever since.

What advice would you offer other new or aspiring VAs?

Although it’s easy to do when starting out, don’t accept work if you get a bad feeling about it, or you’re unsure that you know how to do all tasks asked of you. Ensure that your clients pay you in advance of you doing any work. Trust your instincts.

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

Canva is the biggest app for me. I use it to promote myself, create graphics for my social media clients and have also designed leaflets for clients there. Calendly is great for time tracking. Business Suite for scheduling Facebook and Instagram posts. OneDrive is where I keep all my files.

What is next for you and your business?

Once I’m at full capacity I intend to start hiring associates to start growing my business and putting on some basics workshops online and in person for things such as Canva, Mailerlite and Mailchimp.

What is the ultimate goal for your business?

The ultimate goal is to set up my own office locally. I’m looking at achieving this by September 2024.

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

I’ve had a few times where I’ve wanted to give up. In this line of business clients will come and go. When a few go at the same time it starts to knock your confidence. I suffer with anxiety so it made me feel like I was an imposter and that I shouldn’t be doing what I’m doing. Luckily, I have a strong network of people behind me who helped me regain my confidence, who believe in me and who recommended and referred me to more businesses. A positive attitude and plenty of marketing and networking will see you through.

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

The biggest misconception that I was given at the beginning was that it would be easy. As we all know nothing worth having is ever easy. There were long nights and anxiety at the beginning. I am so glad I stuck at it though as it’s very rewarding.

Is there anything you would change about your VA journey?

If I had known about VA mentors before I started it would have been very useful to have used one. It’s always great to receive support from someone in the same industry, you can learn from their mistakes and take their advice knowing that they have been there.

This blog was prepared or accomplished by Nic Gray in their personal capacity. The opinions expressed in this blog are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Kayleigh Johnstone or COZ PR.

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