The Mears Collective
Siobhan Mears set up Vantage VA in 2018 after a 15-year successful career as an Executive Assistant in London, working for investment banks and large corporate firms and a global oil company based in Saudi Arabia.
“I wanted to develop more of a life balance for myself, particularly after the birth of my daughter. Although I had great childcare organised for her, I didn’t want to spend hours away from her commuting across London, when I knew that there was a demand for my skills and service, supporting business owners virtually” said Siobhan.
“I realised that the time was right to fulfil my dream of running my own business and helping other people to manage their time better and work smarter.
She added, “I realised that the time was right to fulfil my dream of running my own business and helping other people to manage their time better and work smarter. Many smaller businesses and entrepreneurs require the flexibility of having business support available to them without having to recruit and employ a member of staff. With Vantage VA they can potentially access a whole team with a wide spectrum of business skills including admin, research, social media, event organisation and copywriting.” The company mission is Bringing City standards to local business.
In preparation for setting up the business, Siobhan carried out research into the best tools and technology to use – some that we are all now more familiar with, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, with such as Zoom as well as time recording systems so that she could provide an easy and transparent billing system for clients. She also reached out to her network of contacts to find clients who needed her services as well as utilising social media and networking events.
“Initially my focus was to develop my client base and I fulfilled the work myself, but I soon realised that I was spending my time working IN the business rather than ON my business. It was at this point that I created my team of virtual assistants working with some Executive Assistant colleagues that I had worked with previously and also through networking, where she looked for Virtual Assistants with compatible skills and strong corporate backgrounds.”
It was participation in a Building Business Resilience & Future Prosperity Online Workshop organised by Outset Waltham Forest in April 2020, during lockdown, which enabled Siobhan to look at the best ways to grow her business.
The workshop gave me a lot of useful ideas which I have been busy absorbing and looking at how I can apply them to the growth and development of my business
Lead by Bev Hurley, a serial entrepreneur with a huge amount of experience in setting up and running small businesses, the course gave her many tips to help her reflect on her success so far and how she wanted the business to grow in the future. It also helped her to develop a business growth strategy which she is now busy implementing. She has now renamed it as the Mears Collective to reflect the wider range of services offered by the company as an online business management and virtual assistant agency.
“Bev was inspirational, and I could have listened to her all day. The workshop gave me a many useful ideas which I have been absorbing and looking at how I can implement them for the growth and development of my business” commented Siobhan. She continued, “It was great to look at the foundations of my business alongside other business owners and there were a few lightbulb moments for us.”
Siobhan added that the course helped her to consider the reasons why she set up the business in the first place, the mission and values as well as reviewing target clients.
“The workshop helped me to realise that I needed to break down my plans for the future into realistic milestones to make them manageable, then plan in the time to achieve them. Essentially, I have to apply the same discipline to block out time that I use in my daily work, where I have to be extremely organised and use a diary which is colour coded according to task or client.”
Siobhan plans include reviewing her service offer to see where it can be enhanced and potentially focusing more on clients in the financial and property sectors where they are most experienced. “At the moment, during COVID-19, I am keeping my target market quite broad to help clients to move their services online and utilise digital marketing such as social media more effectively.” Her company has also been working with digital marketing agencies for whom the demand for their services has increased dramatically during the pandemic.
Siobhan gives the following advice for other people thinking of starting their own business:
- Just go for it – there will never be the perfect time
- Do your research in advance of setting it up
- Networking is key to building your client base but also your support network either online or in person as it can be isolating as a freelancer
- Be disciplined with your time management to create structure and focus which will in turn keep you self-motivated
- Remember why you started the business regularly as it can be a rollercoaster of emotions
- Take advantage of the business support available such as the workshops organised by Outset Waltham Forest as they will help to develop your skills
For more information about The Mears Collective click here