Interview with Catherine Gladwyn, Delegate VA, Virtual Assistant and VA Trainer

Find out how a brain tumour led Catherine Gladwyn from Delegate VA to create a working life that doesn’t ever feel like ‘work’, and how she helps people just like you create it too.

What’s a Virtual Assistant?

Good question! It’s someone who is self employed and provides support to business owners on a freelance basis.

VAs used to be thought of as virtual PAs but we cover a multitude of services now, from bookkeeping, diary management, social media, marketing, website support, content writing. I think I’m going to start a saying soon ‘There’s a VA for that’ – you read it here first!

Why did you start your own VA business?

Long story short, I couldn’t hold down a normal 9-5 – no I wasn’t getting sacked regularly! Haha.

I had a pituitary tumour removed in 2012, then the bugger grew back and I had Gamma Knife Radiotherapy, which resulted in kicking the tumour out but also destroyed my pituitary gland.

Now have Addison’s disease, which is a chronic fatal illness that needs regular medication and naps, and I found office chairs weren’t great for dozing in.

There was NO way I was going to give up work so I looked at working from home and found I could use all my previous skills as an EA/PA and admin manager.

So, I started my own business and left employment as soon as I could.

What can you potentially earn as a VA?

You can earn a lot more than you do working for someone else! I advise the VAs I work with to charge £30 an hour minimum, regardless of where they live or what services they provide. We’re virtual so we can support anyone anywhere, so charging more in London and less in a rural town doesn’t come into play.

What quick tips would you give someone who’s contemplating starting their own VA business?

Do it! I put a line in my book, How to be a Virtual Assistant, about being wheeled into a nursing home in later years shouting ‘I was going to be a….’. Instead I want to say, ‘I did this’ and have some great stories to share.

You are good enough!

Don’t compare yourself to others. Everyone’s goals and circumstances are different, if someone seems to be where you want to be see it as a goal and know that it’s achievable.

But why do you now also train the competition?

There are enough people out there running their own business that need support, and I want other people to enjoy their working life like I do. Work shouldn’t be depressing, stressful and downright unenjoyable. Sunday nights shouldn’t be full of dread for the working week ahead, with only Saturdays being full of joy.

We all deserve a good life!

What’s your USP as a VA trainer?

That I am still a full time VA, so the advice I give is relevant today and is always up to date.

How do you spread the word about what you do?

I use social media and try and get as much press coverage as possible. I’ve so far been featured in Forbes, The Guardian, The Independent, Metro and also do a newspaper review every few weeks for BBC Wiltshire.

Many of our readers are mums. Can you resonate with them?

100%. I am a Mum too! My daughter is just finishing her third year at Bristol Uni and just going on to Oxford Uni to do her Masters (an MSc in Clinical and Therapeutic Neuroscience). I think she may have been swapped in the hospital nursery!

I brought her up on my own for 11 years, and that was tough. It’s hard having no one to come home to, no one to share your fears and frustrations with, or to have someone reassure you that you’re doing okay.

It wasn’t until I met my partner six years ago and had the blasted tumour removed that life started to feel nice.

This, culminated with having a wonderful working life, I feel utterly blessed and is another reason why I want to share how others can have it too.

You can find out more about being a Virtual Assistant here, or get in touch with Catherine the VA on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.