This morning we’re saying hello to another new member of the interview group – Sherry Blythe, Virtual Associate. I “met” Sherry in the photo-a-day group that we’re both in on Facebook, which just goes to show that it’s always worth mentioning that you run your own business (while obviously not labouring the fact) in case there are opportunities for cross-promotion or otherwise working together – these things don’t just come about in specific business groups. Sherry is a virtual assistant (and a lot else) in America, and like so many of my interviewees, her primary reason for working for herself is to do with allowing herself to be flexible for her family. Flexibility and family are two major themes that have run and run through this series, aren’t they. Let’s meet Sherry and find out what she’s up to …
Hello, Sherry! What’s your business called? When did you set it up?
My business is Sherry Blythe, Virtual Associate and within that solopreneur business, I also run Shout It Out Studio for audio/video production. I set up in July of this year
What made you decide to set up your own business?
I needed an income while still being able to schedule my days around helping my elderly parents and playing taxi to my 8 year old son.
What made you decide to go into this particular business area?
I wanted to do something I could be proud of and love, so I naturally leaned toward work I was comfortable with and had plenty of experience to draw from. I have worked as a project manager and in many forms of administrative management over the years, so my strengths are in organization and implementation. Social media and audio/video media were a natural extension for someone who always has something to say! My husband has come in as my partner, bringing 14 years of broadcast media experience so that, in addition to social media management, I am able to offer video and audio production.
Had you run your own business before?
I have worked as a freelance office manager and book keeper, but I worked exclusively for two people, so never considered it my own business.
How did you do it? Did you launch full-time, start off with a part-time or full-time job to keep you going?
I was not working at all at the time due to the demands of family. When I decided to do this, I jumped in with both feet and have been working 7 days a week to get clients and grow my business.
What do you wish someone had told you before you started?
Believe in yourself and your abilities! Don’t wait until everything is perfect, just take those first few steps and before you know it things fall into place.
What would you go back and tell your newly entrepreneurial self?
Just keep plugging away, everything happens when it’s supposed to and hard work DOES pay off!
What do you wish you’d done differently?
I wish I had started sooner! And I wish I had opened a separate business banking account from the start. All the advice I read said to but I was trying to keep things simple as I started out. In reality a separate banking account would have been the more simple way to do things.
What are you glad you did?
I’m glad I just took a deep breath and jumped … there really is no better time than the present!
What’s your top business tip?
Use social media! And if you aren’t confident or don’t have enough time, hire someone to do it for you. Social media is no longer optional for businesses!
How has it gone since you started? Have you grown, diversified or stayed the same?
In the short time that I’ve been in business I have continued to gain clients and have already branched into offering audio and video productions to my services.
Where do you see yourself and your business in a year’s time?
I hope to continue to grow my client base to the point that I need to enlist the help of other virtual assistants so that I can give people just starting out that chance to get their feet in the door. I have had people help me and I would love to be able to pay it forward.
What a lovely sentiment to end on! That’s why I started this interview series, in fact, all those years ago – to help other businesses gain exposure and to help them learn from each other. I’m glad other people see things in the same way. I’m pretty sure that Sherry is going to make a success of things: she’s obviously offering services in which she has experience already, and that’s a massive advantage. Bringing in her husband’s complementary skills is also a very good move, again with that wealth of experience. Oh, and that point about a separate bank account: it’s vital.
You can find Sherry online at www.sherryblythe.com and of course you can email her or call her (in the US) on: 540 404-1476. Sherry’s Facebook page, where she recently ran a very useful Q&A session is a useful resource, too, and finally, she has two Twitter accounts, one for her virtual assistant work and one for Shout It Out Studio.
If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured (I have a full roster of interviewees now so am only taking on a very few new ones). If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my books, all available now, in print and e-book formats, from a variety of sources.