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How a virtual assistant used the pandemic to launch the business of her dreams

How a virtual assistant used the pandemic to launch the business of her dreams
Cherrelle Stewart-white
Cherrelle Stewart-white
Virtual Assistant
CSW VA

Posted: Thu 8th Apr 2021

With time on her hands during the COVID-19 pandemic, Cherrelle Stewart-White decided to start the business she had always dreamt about. With a decade of experience as an executive assistant, she set up virtual assistant company CSW VA.

As a first-time business owner, Cherrelle looked for advice on how to start her new venture. She found what she needed in the Amazon Small Business Accelerator e-learning programme.

Cherrelle shares her story.

**The free Amazon Small Business Accelerator e-learning programme is advice from more than 30 business experts in 218 bitesize videos.

If you're already an Enterprise Nation member, log-in to your member dashboard to access the e-learning. If you're not an Enterprise Nation member, you can join the Amazon Small Business Accelerator for free here.**

How did you come up with your business idea?

"I always wanted to set up my own business and had over 10 years of experience as an executive assistant. I decided setting up a virtual assistant company is what I wanted to do as it's what I had a passion for and most importantly it was what I was good at. Helping and making the working lives of busy individuals easier is what I love to do. The pandemic and working from home allowed me the opportunity to really think about my idea and stop putting it off.

"A post on LinkedIn led me to getting six months of free mentoring from a business coach which was instrumental in helping me think differently and really identify my key clients and what I wanted to provide.

"An ad about Enterprise Nation that appeared on my Instagram feed also helped to turn my dreams into reality by increasing my knowledge on different business areas such as marketing and finance via the articles, Lunch and Learn webinars and Amazon Small Business Accelerator e-learning videos. All of that helped me to finally get my business off the ground."

What start-up challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?

"My biggest challenge was not knowing where to start! As a first-time business owner and running it while in a full time job everything is such a mind-field, such knowing what to register your business as, promoting yourself and keeping track of your finances.

"I found the process of reaching out to potential clients in the right way daunting and making sure my prices were competitive, but I didn't sell myself short. I quickly learnt that that if you reach out to a potential client and they don't respond or say no, that's ok. Don't let it discourage you and keep going as there will be someone who says yes. Trust me, I had a lot of knockbacks, but after the first yes, they just kept on coming. With pricing, I realised that you must be confident in what you are bringing to the table. I know I have the experience and know I provide a top-quality service for my clients; therefore, my prices should reflect this."

How has the Amazon Small Business Accelerator e-learning programme helped you?

"The 'Build a presence online' module really helped guide me when setting up my website. Having not done one before and working with a limited budget I really struggled when deciding on the best template to use and how I wanted it to look. This video helped me narrow down the look I wanted, the ratio between images and written content and guided me through the process of building a website.

"I also enjoyed the 'how to master social media' videos. I knew I wanted to set up an Instagram page for my business, but the world of hashtags, algorithms and social media analytics were foreign to me. Now I know when to post to maximise the engagement from my audience."

What are your plans for the future of your business?

"My plan is grow my business to a point where I can focus on CSW VA full time. I also want to be able to expand my business and take on associates. I want to be able to provide other females in the administrative industry the opportunity to work for themselves doing what they love and are passionate about. By taking on associates, I will be able to increase my service offering by having experts in different fields on my team."

How has COVID-19 affected your business?

"The pandemic has allowed me to work from home full time and given me time to get my business up and running. My clients are entrepreneurs and busy business owners who were suddenly forced to work from home, take on more work or make difficult decisions such as job cuts. Things like this have led to a rapid need for virtual assistants. There is a need for someone who can work remotely and can take on a variety of tasks. This is where I have been able to step in and provide the same loyal high-quality service as a personal assistant but without the full-time cost commitment."

Which other entrepreneurs inspire you and why?

"I love female bosses who are killing it in their respective industries and don't just show you the glitz and glam of being an entrepreneur but also the hard work and the pitfalls that can come with it. They really inspire me, show it is possible to achieve success and to keep going when things get tough. That includes people like Jamelia Donaldson, founder of natural hair product discovery box company Treasure Tress. She keeps it very honest when she shares her start-up journey and making the switch from corporate life to entrepreneur.

"I also love content creators such as Patricia Bright and Melissa's Wardrobe who have built up businesses by always being unapologetically themselves and showing the reality behind the Instagram glam life!"

What are your top tips for business success?

"Find a mentor. If you can find someone who has their own successful business and experience that they can share with you, it's a massive help. They don't necessarily need to be in the industry that you are looking to create a business as they can give you a different perspective on things.

"Also, don't be afraid of getting out of your comfort zone. Whether it's reaching out to potential clients, putting yourself out there for feature opportunities or showing your true self on social media, you never know who is watching and it could lead to amazing opportunities."

**The free Amazon Small Business Accelerator e-learning programme is advice from more than 30 business experts in 218 bitesize videos.

If you're already an Enterprise Nation member, log-in to your member dashboard to access the e-learning. If you're not an Enterprise Nation member, you can join the Amazon Small Business Accelerator for free here.**

 
Cherrelle Stewart-white
Cherrelle Stewart-white
Virtual Assistant
CSW VA
 
Virtual Assistant with over 10 years of experience supporting Entrepreneurs, CEO's, Business Owner and Founders to run their business efficiently. I free up time by taking on a wide range of administrative tasks allowing the free time to be spent focusing on the more important things in business.