Episode 267 - Featuring Jemma Broadstock
May 20, 2020
When Jemma launched her VA business last year, she was not clear on who her ideal client would be. The first few months saw a range of clients and projects. These experiences and interactions highlighted the importance of niching to a particular client time and range of services.
Join us as she unpacks how:
Jemma share many lessons she learned along the way such as:
Website – https://www.collectivelydone.com
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/collectivelydone
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/collectivelydone
Website – https://www.virtuallydonevas.com
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/virtuallydone
00:08 Lee Matthew Jackson: Welcome to the Agency Trailblazer podcast. This is your host, Lee, and on today’s show, we are having a conversation with Jemma Broadstock. This episode is a recording of a video that we were collaborating on and unfortunately we had to cut it short due to some technical issues. However, the content is really, really valuable. So, it made complete sense to release this as a short episode. We go on a journey with Jemma through her starting her business just a little over a year ago, and she shares the lessons that she learned through that journey. I’d encourage you to listen to this episode, and see what you can draw from it and apply to your business, regardless of if you’ve been in business for 50 years, or for five minutes. Jemma came to real essential points within her journey where she realized she needed to make a change, and she went ahead and did it. So, we can all learn some valuable lessons. I encourage you sit back, relax and enjoy the show.
01:15 LJ: This is your host, Lee, and on today’s show we have the one, the only, you’ve all talked about her in the Facebook group, it’s Jemma Broadstock. How are you doing, Jemma?
01:23 Jemma Broadstock: I’m very well. Thank you. How are you?
01:25 LJ: I’m all right. What an introduction, hey?
01:27 JB: I know. I like that.
01:28 LJ: You’re famous already. If you’ve not heard of Jemma, then you should probably be reading the newspapers. Jemma, let us know a little bit about yourself. And then I’ll tell peeps how we met.
01:37 JB: Yeah, so just over a year ago now, last March, I started a virtual assistance business. I had been made redundant. I had wanted my own business for so long and just thought, “You know what? Now is the time to just jump in, I got nothing to lose.” And started my virtual assistance business, sold out pretty quickly, and was like, “Right, okay, I need to start taking on some associates to help them with the workload.” That developed into me running courses, and now I’ve just got this kind of business that runs and it’s a little bit crazy. It’s been less than a year, and I absolutely love it.
02:04 LJ: That’s amazing. So guys, I actually discovered Jemma through… I think it was a Daily Mail, I can never remember which newspaper it was, Daily Mail article talking about… I cannot remember how they phrased it, “Young woman launches business,” or something, or “Grows business really quickly.” And there was pictures of you drinking lots of coffee, a few people know this, that you like coffee, and you were essentially sharing the journey, which I thought was phenomenal. And what I really liked Jemma about your journey is that when you did, you were made redundant and you started your business, you started your business with a very clear idea of who it was you were gonna target, and the problems that you were gonna solve for them. And that’s something that we as agency owners in our industry often struggle with even though we may have established businesses with multiple staff, we may actually still have an identity crisis. So what I’d love to find out from you is when you decided, “Right, I’m gonna go for it, I’ve got nothing to lose and I’m gonna launch this business.” What went through your head? I guess first of all, how did you settle on virtual assistance and then how did you settle on the target customer avatar or the target audience that you were gonna go after?
03:09 JB: Yeah, so I guess, like I said, I’ve wanted a business for ages. It had always been in the back of my mind as something I wanted to do, and then I kind of fell into that trap of, “Oh, I need to get a proper job,” and all of that. And it just was always an idea because I never knew what I wanted to do. I knew I had the drive and the motivation to do it, but I had no idea. And then after I was made redundant, I quite literarily googled, “Work from home,” or something along those lines, and one of the things that popped up was virtual assistant. And I was like I have no idea what that is. But if it means I can work from home, then great. So, I started looking into it and I was like, “I can do that.” I’m a really organized person anyway. I organize everybody around me whether they like it or not. But I thought if I could make that something that is useful rather than just annoying to everybody, then that’s great. So, I looked into it, and I was like, “This is something I can actually do, I really believed it.” So, I was like, “I have nothing to lose.” And honestly, I did still look for the jobs to replace my old one and, my boyfriend actually said to me, “If you’re giving the job-hunt 50% of you and the new business 50%, you’re not giving anything a 100%. You’re getting nowhere.”
04:14 JB: So, I thought, “Alright, I’m just gonna pick this business, and I’m gonna make it work.” And I wanted to work with people who I felt I could understand and relate to. So, the way I kind of chose my target market was… There’s lots of online businesses who are maybe going into coaching or marketing or that kind of thing, that don’t have a massive staff team because they’re still quite small or maybe in the early days, but they just feel a bit lost, and a bit confused. And I knew how that felt. Because, starting a business myself, I was like, “I don’t have a clue what I’m doing.” You don’t learn that in school. There’s nobody to ask if you don’t know anyone in the same industry. And it was all just a bit confusing, and I thought, “Well if I can help other people get through that. Then, surely there’s a market for that.” It did develop a bit over time as well.
05:00 JB: Initially, I was like, “Well I’ll just work with anybody who wants me,” and then I quickly realized that actually that’s not how I should be doing things. And I kind of started choosing people by personality more. I was like, “Right, I know that I get on with this certain type of person more. And we work better when we communicate in that way, and that sort of thing.” So I started looking for clients who were gonna work for me, in the sense that we were gonna get on, and I was gonna love what I did for them, and really enjoy working with them rather than, “Oh God, I’ve got to work with that client, I really don’t like working for.” Because then I might as well be working for somebody else, right?
05:34 LJ: Absolutely.
05:35 JB: So I definitely adapted over time, and now I’m really very specific about who I work with.
05:40 LJ: So there’s a gazillion lessons in there already. The first one, very wise of your boyfriend to say, if you’re giving job-hunting and your business 50% of each, then you’re giving… You’re not giving 100% to anything. So, you’re focusing on that one thing. The next element of that, where you said, “Right, I’m gonna focus on anyone and everyone who will work with me,” is pretty much where I think we all start. But very quickly, you then came around to the realization that actually you wanted to work with people that you resonated with and people that you could really help.
06:10 JB: Yeah.
06:11 LJ: And that within itself is the niche. I think people will often think that, “Oh, I must have to serve accountants, or I must have to serve CEOs of insurance companies,” or whatever it is, to get super, super specific, and that can and will happen over time. But what you did if I’m right, is just that you’ve actually looked for an ideal client avatar who happened to be business owners in most cases, but they have a specific set of problems, but equally they are a specific type of personality. Would that be correct?
06:40 JB: Yeah, and I get people all the time saying to me, “Jemma, people say I have to pick a niche. What does that mean? Do I have to pick doctors, do I have to pick lawyers?” And I’m like, “No.” Because you can have two doctors that are in the same job but they’re two completely different people and you love one and hate the other, and they’re also gonna ask you for completely different tasks as well. So I think for me, I was like, personality is the main thing. I wanna love my clients and I wanna love working for them, and if they send me an email, I wanna think, “Oh great, I can help this person”, rather than, “Oh God, it’s that person again, you know, that I don’t get on with.” So yeah, I definitely went more down the ideal personality route and that’s worked out really well for me because now I’ve got clients that I absolutely love and we get on really well and we talk all the time and it’s just a really nice relationship that we have.
07:24 LJ: Yeah, so it says on your website that it’s small businesses, entrepreneurs and CEOs. Does that generally mean it’s the owner-founder kind of CEO of… How are you finding those people? So you kind of established that I get on really well with this type of person and then amongst those categories there are obviously gonna be people that you’re not gonna gel with and equally there are gonna be people that you will gel with. How did you start to find those particular types of clients? What, did you go networking, did you do social media ads, what was your process for attracting people to your business?
08:01 JB: Yeah, so I’ve never been networking in person and I’ve also never paid for any form of advertising. So I used mainly Facebook groups and also Instagram. And what I found really quickly was, rather than me trying to figure out who was my ideal client, if I was just really me, like really myself and I really got my personality across, I kind of naturally attracted them. So on Instagram, specifically, like I’m always on my stories talking about something or sharing a photo of my life, and while it felt very personal, it took a while for me to get over that and just put myself out there. What happened was people started coming to me and being like, “You’re the person that I wanna work with. I know we’re gonna get along so say well.” I had a message from one client who said, “I know I wanna work with you because we’ve got the same values.” And I’d never even spoken about my values but she’d kind of taken that from my content, so it just sort of naturally started to happen in that way.
08:55 LJ: My gosh, that is such a perfect example. So often we think, “Right, I need to find owner-operators of businesses that turn over X amount of that. And they have this many children, and their life is like that, blah blah blah blah, where the hell do I go find those people?” What you’ve done and the lesson I’m gonna draw from what you said. Sorry, I keep doing this, but it’s the only way I can…
09:14 JB: No, definitely.
09:15 LJ: Learn from everyone and also help anyone else. The idea here therefore is that we are showing up as ourselves and showing, sharing content, so be that blogging, be that on social media, showing images of both work life and anything that we might be up to. It might be hobbies, it might be hanging out with family, it might be copious amounts of coffee that you drink etcetera, which features heavily on Instagram, ’cause I checked. And, I love coffee, too. Actually, I just finished mine. [chuckle] I’m on the AeroPress, maybe we should talk about coffee machines later. But you’ve shown up as yourself and people naturally will gravitate towards you. So there will be a range of people that will say, “Oh, I don’t like her, she’s always in coffee shops, she’s always… ” Whatever random silly things that people…
10:02 JB: Yeah, I do get that, yeah.
10:02 LJ: Do you? [chuckle] Sorry…
10:04 JB: Yeah, I do get that, yeah.
10:04 LJ: I don’t mean to say I’m judgy, I’m just imagining that that’s what someone might say. And then on the flip side, there’s another group of people that are like, “Oh, she looks like the sort of person I can meet up with in a coffee shop and we could share all the stuff that I’ve got on my mind and she might be able to help me and I like her values and she’s family first and she loves her boyfriend, ’cause you put like stuff… ’cause she posts about him which are really cute.” I’m the same way with my wife. I’m always going on about it. So, and that ends up attracting the right sort of people without you really trying, which is awesome. A few years ago, Jemma, you wouldn’t know this, but I used to wear a suit and tie and I published a video, I’ll send you a link after this and I published a video of me in the suit and tie, trying to attract my target audience of agency owners, five years ago, and I’m stood like this.
10:46 LJ: “Are you a design agency that is struggling with your code?” ’cause I was trying to be really professional as well and it’s the biggest cringe I ever did. But about maybe a year later, I learnt what you said, which was, I actually said that, “I’m gonna show up as myself, I’m gonna create content as Lee Matthew Jackson, I’m gonna wear my goofy shirts and my hat and grow my beard out and just do whatever the heck I want.” And I have since been in business meetings with really important looking suited and booted people who don’t blink twice at the fact that I’m in a flowery shirt and I’m just, we’re signing a contract, and we’re having a laugh and cracking jokes at the same time because people are attracted to your personality, to your values. Was that an accident or was that on purpose? Like, did you discover that by accident or was that…
11:31 JB: I think it was a bit of an accident. Yeah, I think I had heard people say, “Be yourself” and all that stuff. And it’s one of those things you just sort of roll your eyes at, isn’t it? Like, “Yeah, I get it. I am. What do you mean?” But I think I just thought, “Well, if I can talk a bit more about what my life is like, then maybe people will find it more interesting,” I don’t know, yeah, it was definitely an accident that I sort of fell into and I really enjoy writing, so I enjoyed writing content but it’s quite difficult to constantly write every single day about being a VA. There’s only so much I can really say about that before people are gonna be like, “Okay, this is boring”. So I started talking a bit more about the wider business world and how I got into things, my story and stuff like that. And people loved it and I also noticed that pictures that I put up of myself got a lot more engagement than pictures of anything else. So I kind of just followed that and thought, “Okay, well, I’ll give the videos and stuff a go.” And the response was so positive that I knew I’d be an idiot to ignore it. So I kind of, it was very uncomfortable and I guess my first videos were, I wouldn’t even wanna watch them back.
12:34 JB: I dread to think, but it definitely worked and the more it works, the more you think, “Well, I’ve gotta do it now”, and now, well, I show up all the time and it just feels quite natural, but I know so many people struggle with it. I get messages all the time that are like, “How on earth do you do it?” and it just, it gets easier, doesn’t it? Like it really does, and I think…
12:52 LJ: Absolutely.
12:52 JB: The more you see that it works, the easier it is. Does that make sense?
12:56 LJ: Absolutely. In fact, we had our event just a few, just a week ago and one of the attendees made a joke about us because there was me and Tristan, and we were saying one of the best ways to get into creating content and videos, etcetera, is to just do it, which sounds like the most lamest advice ever, but you’re absolutely right because when you show up as yourself which sounds like you said, a bit cheesy that’s why everyone says, and you just have a go. Yeah, it’s actually gonna get better. My first videos were awful, my first podcasts were pretty boring, but over time it’s developed. It’s kind of become addictive. And also like yourself, you’re growing an audience, which means you’re growing a whole group of people that now interest you and probably wanna work with you as well.
13:40 JB: Yeah, and I think people like seeing that you’re not perfect, as well.
13:43 LJ: Oh yeah.
13:44 JB: I know that some people delete their old Instagram posts and stuff, but I leave mine there and I’m like, “Go and scroll through and you’ll see that my first posts were a disaster.” And people kinda like that. Sometimes I’ll go on my Instagram story and be like, “I’ve got no makeup on, I’m in my pyjamas, I’m stressed.” But this is the reality. And people love it because they see that it’s real and that you’re not just being really fake and perfect almost.
14:05 LJ: Well, if you go to mine, mine is just full of cookery that I did for months, and then eventually I thought, “Oh heck, I better actually post some of the content that we publish.” So we kinda tried to get a bit serious, but it’s still a hot mess. Now then, I’ve got a question on your, the products and services that you decided to start selling. And thank you again for just hanging out with us for a bit longer. I’m going on a bit longer than I normally do because I think there’s a lot that we can draw from this. And the journey so far has been… Alright, I need to start this, I’m gonna go 100% all in, I’ll serve anyone. No, actually, I’ll serve people that I get on well with, I’ve grown an audience naturally, because I’m showing up, and now I’m growing this business, etcetera. How did you decide on the products, sorry, the services that you were gonna offer to the people that you enjoyed working with? Has it been the same packages as it was since the very beginning or did you have one thing at the beginning and then evolved? How has that done over the last 12 months?
15:00 JB: Yeah, it’s definitely changed over time, I think. Initially I just… Similar with the clients I work with, I offered everything because I wasn’t sure what people wanted from me. So I thought, “Right, well I’ll just offer everything.” But I kind of realized that actually, again, that can be a bad thing, because people don’t like too much choice, because then they don’t even know what to ask for. And I think people like to know that you’re a specialist in certain areas as well, ’cause if I just say, “Oh yeah, I can do everything.” they think, “Well, how well can you possibly do everything?” So what I now offer is kind of what I call general admin, which is your typical VA, email management, calendar management, that kind of stuff.
15:37 JB: But then I also specialize in social media too, because I find that businesses quite often need both. And I think a lot of the VAs offer social media but don’t really understand it. So I’ve put a lot of effort into learning more about Instagram in particular, that’s my kind of area of expertise. And then I can help clients with their social media, as well as their admin and they don’t have to hire two separate people. And I think having my own Instagram account as well, is really useful for that, because I can say, “Look, I’ve done it myself, so I can help you do it.” And they kind of… They have that trust there with that, but anything outside of that, I don’t really offer. If someone says, “Can you do Pinterest management?” I’ll say, “No.” Because it’s just not my area and I know someone can do it better, and I would rather be honest about that rather than disappoint somebody.
16:20 LJ: Again, something else we can draw from that. Agency owners, I know I’ve made this mistake that when somebody says to me, “Can you do such and such?” In the past, when I wasn’t confident on what I did, who I served, what my superpowers were as it were, then I would basically say, “Yes” to anything and everything out of fear. Because I would bring that client on, I would go and then Google the crap out of it and work out how to hell to do it, and I would do it and it would be alright, but it would also have taken me absolutely weeks and be so ridiculously unprofitable that even if the client loved it, I’m weeping because I just bled myself dry to produce whatever it was that I agreed to produce. I remember once, spending weeks developing an iPhone app back in the early days for 500 quid, and I think it took me three solid weeks of work. It was ridiculous and not a fun time whatsoever. But I love that you are sticking your stake in the ground and you’re saying, “Right, I offer these services and I do them really well, and I’m gonna show up and I’m gonna specialize. I’m gonna offer those to you.” You said that you started serving anyone at the beginning and tried to offer everything initially. How long did it take you to go, “Oh no, I need to stop this and focus.” Was it a week, was it a couple of months? And then when you realized, how long did it take you to make that change?
17:36 JB: It probably took me a few months to realize because people were saying to me, “Oh, you need to niche down and stuff.” But I was like, “Surely, that means I’m gonna lose people.” But it took me a while to get my head around the fact that, I’ll only lose the people that I don’t wanna work with anyway, and I’ll attract more of the people that I do wanna work with. So, it probably took me a few months, and I would say it’s been an on-going process to actually implement that because, like you said, it’s really difficult when someone comes to you and says, “I wanna give you this amount of money to help me.” And then for me to say, actually “No, I don’t want that.” Because I know they’re not the right fit or I can’t quite help them as much as they need. It is really difficult. Even now, when I think… It’s an ongoing process for me, I am quite good at saying no now, but for a long time, I would just say yes because I felt good. And then when I did say no, I felt guilty. But I’ve gotta remember that, if I’m saying no, it’s because I know that they’re not the right fit for me and I don’t want them to be disappointed. I don’t want them to ask me to do something, and for me to do it with 50% of the effort, because I just don’t know what I’m doing.
18:30 LJ: Jemma, thank you so much for your time as well as bearing with us during the few technical glitches that we’ve had recording this because of, hey, the internet. Folks, if you wanna find out more about Jemma, you can check out her website over on jemmavirtualassistant.co.uk. We’re also gonna link into the show notes to the Daily Mail article as well to both encourage and inspire you. And I also encourage you to follow Jemma over on Facebook and on Instagram. Again, we will leave the links so that you can go ahead and check those out and just follow what she’s up to, follow her journey. And if you wanna work with Jemma as well, obviously reach out ’cause she sounds like an absolute rockstar. Jemma, thank you so much for your time, have a freaking awesome day, and we’ll speak to you soon.