Ocean says: "keep a pipeline going, business can sometimes take months to close, so make sure you're nurturing relationships early enough that you don't reach a critical point."
Ocean is a freelance operations manager with a passion for making people less busy.
With experience delivering innovative solutions, successful project operations and effective integrations, Ocean offers specially tailored strategies to help businesses grow. Whatever industry your start-up, solo venture or agency may be, Ocean is a trusted pair of hands who can take care of day-to-day operations, administrative and financial responsibilities and oversee specific projects. Get back to doing what matters most and growing your impact whilst Ocean takes care of all the little things that keep business ticking.
Explain a little about your background. How you started doing what you are doing now, and your journey?
My background encompasses a whole host of roles, responsibilities and industry sectors. I started out as a CEO’s assistant straight after college at the age of eighteen. From there, I moved from office administration to project management, spanning charity, events and product companies. Working in multiple roles with a diverse range of people from different backgrounds gave me invaluable insight into how business works and all the people and processes behind it.
I’ve always had a real appetite for growth and innovation, combined with a natural flair for organisation and processes. I continued to move up through different organisations all the while learning new things, until it struck me that I no longer needed to be confined to just one company. I stumbled across the world of virtual assistants and realised that there was a whole community of people serving the needs of business owners, entrepreneurs and early start-ups and helping them to grow. The discovery gave me both the confirmation and confidence that I could offer my services and expertise to multiple organisations, and in turn satisfy my curiosity for new projects and passion for problem-solving.
What was it like in the first week or two of starting your own venture?
It was both exciting and liberating. I finally saw ideas I’d been pondering for a while come to life. I already had one client in place who I was able to model the service around, so once I was able to work out my capacity, the next phase was just winning more.
How did you fund your business in the initial stages and how has that changed as time went on?
It’s all been funded by income from inception till now. I knew I wanted to start a business for a while so I was careful to plan ahead. One thing about being a virtual assistant is there aren’t many outgoings, no commutes, no overpriced lunches, it’s a good industry for starting out!
Would you say your business is profitable? Are you happy with what you're making? Have you set any goals for 2021?
Yes, as my expenses are so low. I’m really happy and surprised at the income I've achieved in such a short space of time. I set quarterly goals rather than yearly, which helps me stay on track. I smashed my latest income goal for Q4 2020, so for me, Q1 2021 is focusing more on quality of service than income.
What's the most important thing you're working on right now, and how are you making it happen?
Creating a structure that removes me and my time from the service itself, in order to provide opportunities for others to work with great clients in flexible and diverse roles and industries. In doing so I hope to divert my time and attention to focus more on leadership and business direction.
Tell us about your support network - did you have the backing of your friends and family?
My life partner was pivotal in helping me set the wheels in motion and providing the motivation and encouragement when I had doubts. A few of my friends were quite surprised at the idea of starting my own business as it wasn't that common at the time, but they were all very excited for me. I’m pleased to see that more and more people are opting for the freedom and challenge of starting their own venture, but I appreciate that a little support goes a long way.
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
Dark chocolate – seriously! But also, knowing that I have the power and agency to do something new, creative or different with each day, and that I can connect with truly inspirational and innovative business leaders on the other side of a slack message (or whichever means of virtual communication) every day. That really does keep it exciting.
Tell us how you got your first few clients?
My entire client base (minus 1) has come through direct referrals. Some top tips on attaining new business: Be good at what you do so people are willing to put their name on the line to refer you. Also, let people know what you do and that you're open for business - nobody is a mind-reader! Finally, be clear about what you offer and perhaps more importantly, what you don't.
Tips on how to make it past the 12 months mark in business?
Keep a close eye on your cash flow. Make sure that your income and expenses are balancing and that your risks are measured. Ensure you are always looking ahead by about 3 months, this is to make sure you're moving in the right direction.
Finally, always keep a pipeline going, business can sometimes take months to close, so make sure you're nurturing relationships early enough that you don't reach a critical point.
What is your commercial marketing strategy and how do you plan to make even more money?
I plan to continue relying on my strong reputation, which has continued to win me new business over the past year. On top of that I’m trying my best to stay active, join communities and contribute to the conversation. It’s so important to be vocal and continually touch base with those you work best with. I feel it’s often best to allow things to grow organically. Looking ahead, my strategy lies within building and perfecting an agency model where trusted individuals look after each of my clients.
Where do you see yourself and your business in 5 years?
If I’m honest, I see myself with a small family, having sold my business to pursue a career in developmental psychology. I would still like to have a foot in the business-world, ideally mentoring young business owners who require some guidance to grow.
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