Sue Stott started SMS Typing Services in June of this year after being made redundant from a local construction company where she worked as a Learning & Development co-ordinator.

An extremely experienced Secretary / Administrator (over 30 year professional experience) and a fully qualified Learning & Development co-ordinator with the CIPD  (Chartered Institute of Personal Development), Sue attended a Virtual Assistant taster session before making the decision to set up SMS Typing Services.

To ensure her business had the greatest chance of success, Sue sought out a Business Advisor to help create a business plan, advise on start-up business grants and assist with their application via her local Business Innovation Centre.

Here’s more from our interview with Sue:

How did you find your first client and what was the first job?  My first client was my HR Manager from a previous role, who is now a HR/Training Consultant.

Have you developed a niche area and what is it? My niche is training, as I am CIPD qualified in Learning and Development.

How many clients do you work with now? Three at present, and a new client coming on-board in January.

Do you work alone or with other VAs/employ someone? I work alone.  I am a member of the North East VA group.

What strategies have you used to grow your business? I do a lot of networking with local groups and recently became a member of the North East Chamber of Commerce.

What has been most difficult thing about growing your business?  I am happy with how my business has grown, I haven’t really hit any brick walls.  It’s interesting when attending networking events, when people ask “What is a Virtual Assistant?”, I enjoy explaining what I do.

Tell us something about a typical day and what kind of work you do? I always start by checking e-mails and doing a to-do-list.  Then depending upon my clients requirements, I can be doing anything from basic typing to pulling together a quarterly newsletter, booking meetings, travel, hotels and updating calendars.  Or I could be attending an early morning networking event or an evening event. I have even been known to do gift shopping for clients.

What are your favourite applications/gadgets that you couldn’t live without? My Ipod. It goes everywhere with me, I love the ‘My calendar’ app. Dropbox is a tool that I also use daily.

What do you enjoy most about being a Virtual Assistant?  The freedom, flexibility and variety of work.  We have a new addition to the family, Sy a Border Terrier – 11 weeks old now, so I am enjoying his company at the moment, he sleeps at my feet whilst I am working!

What do you enjoy least about being a Virtual Assistant?  Nothing, I really enjoy what I am doing.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given / or you would give to others about growing your business? Networking, join as many groups as you can.

What do you think are the most important qualities a VA should have?  Reliability, flexibility and complete confidentiality.