(News Update: 20/10/2017)
Earlier this week I had the pleasure of attending the Big Bolton Business Conversation; a new business conference and networking event organised by the Best of Bolton, with keynotes presentations froom Ben Kench and Brad Burton.
Ben Kench was one of the key note speakers; his presentation was about being Authentic; being who you are in how you present your business; and having the passion and not being afraid of showing it.
That really hit home to me, as I do 'wear my heart on my sleeve', and I do often feel that I'm not supposed to be so honest. As a business owner we're always expected to be big and successful even on the days when it is a struggle.
I am very passionate about my business and the support I provide to other small business owners, but being self employed is a very vulnerable place to be. I run this admin support business called AdminAnywhere... Yes, I'm a virtual assistant... Yes AdminAnywhere is just me... And yes, there's a lot of ebb and flow with the workload and finances. So there's a limit on how much you have available to spend on making it all look shiny and professional.
I've nurtured this business for 5 years now, after building the core experience in my field since leaving school far too many years ago. So while I exude the passion I have for my business and the support I can provide, that passion can very easily go into over-protective mother mode, and it did later on in this event.
During some of the networking time I was chatting to someone I'd met recently at another event. He mentioned that he'd referred me to one of his friends, and relayed a little criticism about something on my website which had given his friend a negative impression of my ability to deliver my service.
BANG! That 'over-protective mother' mode kicked in.
My automatic reflex was to defend my child, without looking at all the angles. I'm not proud that I launched into that mode and my tirade of the excuses of why my website isn't a professionally designed creation, and the financial limitations of being self employed etc. And how could that be any reflection on how I support my clients anyway?
The first thing I did when I returned from the event was to check my website out. I couldn't find any problems, and was about to head down that self-doubt route; but instead I looked at what I had created and thought back to what Ben Kench had said earlier in the day and some of what Brad Burton had also said in his presentation too.
Be Authentic... Be You... Your USP is YOU!
For that brief moment earlier in the day, I had lost sight of the most important part of the conversation I was having that triggered my vulnerability. I'd lost sight of the most important piece of the discussion; the fact that this contact, who I'd only met on one occasion previously, had referred me. That first meeting had given him the confidence to share my details with another of his contacts. On that first meeting I was my regular self, exuding the passion I have for my business; and being honest that there are quiet weeks as well as busy ones. I'd also asked about his business and listened to his passion for the type of client and work he prefers as well as the work that he prefers to avoid. We were being authentic and passionate about our businesses.
Yes AdminAnywhere is me! TOO RIGHT!
I've mothered and nurtured it and I'm proud of what I've achieved so far. It's not a clone because I am unique, as are all the other virtual assistance businesses out there. They have their own USP's too. My website is different because I made it myself. To me it shows my creativity and flexibility in what I can do. It fits with how I handle other aspects of my marketing too, as I definitely like to think outside the standard box. As well as providing a bespoke service to each of my clients. One size definitely does not fit all.
AdminAnywhere will continue to evolve, just like the whole of my life. Learn from misjudgements and grow with experiences. Be proud of what you achieve.
Keep the passion alive, and don't be afraid of showing it... although maybe it's best to keep an eye out for that over-protective mother though.
And I may not meet your stereotypical image of what a personal assistant should be like. No I'm not that perfectly groomed & manicured secretary in a sophisticated business suit and high heals. That's definitely not who I am.
But, can I do your admin?