After gaining experience inside a range of different companies, Ruth Bruce knew she had the tools to help business owners focus on winning work and growing their companies. Ruth talks to The Industry Leaders about setting up her VA business and tells us how investing in yourself should be a priority.
How did you end up sitting where you are today?
I've got a lot of experience in administration and the back office, from large businesses to one-man bands. I'd been temping for a few years, and then over time, it gradually occurred to me, well, "why can't I do this for lots of different organisations and do it for myself?".
I'll be creating a business for myself, doing what I love, and helping people build their own businesses. Helping them to realise their own dreams and take away the stress from doing all those back-office things that they really don't enjoy doing at all.
What kind of work does your role involve?
I'm a Virtual Assistant, kind of like a freelance PA. I'm a data nerd with a background in project administration with a passion for numbers that helps business owners fulfil their needs. I have a genuine interest in helping small business owners by giving them more time to focus on growing their business and bringing in new clients.
What gets you excited about your industry?
As a VA, I provide back-office support, helping you manage your business administration and organisation, giving you time to focus on new business and bring in more clients!
What's the best advice anyone ever gave you?
One of the best pieces of advice was to take time for self-care and that investing in yourself is a priority.
What, or who inspires you?
My VA mentor, Jo Munro, motivates and inspired me to start my VA business and is a constant source of good advice and guidance.
How do you keep up to speed with what's happening in your industry?
I network with other Virtual Assistants, hosting a local VA networking group and being a member of Jo Munro's VA Rock Stars group. I also host a ladies business networking group, and I'm a member of EVO networking. This helps me to keep up to date with the needs of my clients and my potential clients.
What was the most challenging project or situation you've overcome?
It was working with a Civic and Social Organisation, looking at an IT system to manage properties and tenants. There was no existing database, so all the information had to be located and put onto spreadsheets. I compiled and collated information for the initial tender, importing data stored in many different locations, formats and with several versions.
The client subsequently asked if I could become a member of the implementation team. The spreadsheets I created in preparation for the new system became known as 'The ONE List' and were used as a management tool, using Pivot Tables and Charts to analyse the data.
You finish work today and step outside the office to find a lottery ticket that ends up winning $10 million. What would you do?
I'd take time to consider my options as that's a life-changing amount of money that needs a lot of thinking about! I'd take advice and set up a way of looking after my family and donating to charities. But first of all, I'd have an amazing holiday of a lifetime with my family - post-lockdown, of course!
How do you switch off after a day at work?
I binge-watch TV shows — for instance, The Big Bang Theory, The Good Place, and Brooklyn 99. During lockdown, we pick up a special meal every couple of weeks from a local restaurant or pub and watch a movie. I switch off my mobile and laptop and put them in another room.
I'm also a Black Sheep Harmony Ladies Chorus member, a Bristol-based female A Capella group helping singers gain confidence whilst meeting friends. We have Zoom rehearsals on Thursdays at 7pm (UK time) https://www.blacksheepharmony.com/.
If you had one wish for the future of your industry, what would it be?
I wish more people would be aware of the benefits of using Virtual Assistants and working virtually, something that has been an unexpected benefit of lockdown. For example, using a VA eliminates the need for renting office space, internet subscription services, and other expenses involved in maintaining an employee workforce.
What book or podcast should everyone know about?
I'm a co-author of The Bounce Back Journey of Women's Health, 26 inspiring stories of women bouncing back from life's challenges and thriving.
How should people connect with you?
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