This month, the American Chamber of Commerce in Estonia held a Women in Leadership Dinner event, opened by the Estonian Minister of Entrepreneurship, Liisa Oviir. Blu Mint Digital was in attendance and decided to focus on three amazing entrepreneurial women in Estonia: Anna-Greta Tsahkna, Berit Bailey and Piret Mellik. In a series of interviews our team continue with Berit Bailey, Founder of Hello Virtual Assistant.
What is Hello Virtual Assistant?
It’s as simple as the name suggests. I’m a virtual office assistant who takes care of all the mundane day-to-day tasks and draining processes that can get between entrepreneurs and their passion. I help entrepreneurs focus on what they love and outsource the rest.
Why did you choose to focus on female entrepreneurs?
I find women in business incredibly inspiring and am really motivated to help them succeed. My business offers a very personal service tailored to each entrepreneur so it’s really important that I connect with them and understand their mindset. I need to speak in their unique voice for example when communicating online.
In contrast, the male-dominated business landscape can be quite dull at times and I feel too many businesses play it safe with neutral and bland marketing attempts that all end up looking very similar. I love the way my clients are shaking things up and I think they have so much potential ahead of them.
What kind of clients do you have?
I’m fortunate to have a huge variety of clients, which always keeps things interesting. Most run online businesses, such as web development or e-commerce, while others provide services offline such as interior design. One thing they all share is a very positive and can-do attitude, which I love.
What’s the best thing about your job?
I’m not only inspired on a daily basis by the clients that I work for, but I also learn so much from them. All businesses go through ups and downs, but being their virtual assistant with a very personal working relationship means that we share these challenges together and both come out stronger. When they succeed, I can then feel very proud of the role that I contributed.
Their success also means that we have even more female role models in business who can inspire young girls to be the next generation of business leaders.
What has been the most difficult part of running your business?
It can be scary and a little overwhelming when you adjust from working 9 to 5 for someone else to being entirely dependent on yourself. It can take a long time to get past that feeling, but then it can return when it’s time to take your business to the next level. That’s why it’s really important to focus on the long term strategy and build lasting relationships with clients who trust you.
What were you doing before this?
I’ve always worked in roles relating to business administration and planning, from customer support at American Express to event and wedding planning, which really tested me to the limits.
Hello Virtual Assistant therefore brings together not just my passion, but all my best skills to keep the show going smoothly, no matter how much running around is needed backstage!
What advice would you give to new entrepreneurs thinking about starting up?
Start today. That was the recurring advice from many successful women in business at the American Chamber of Commerce in Estonia. Trust me, I’ve all heard that voice at the back of our head that made me doubt my abilities at first, but you’ll be surprised at what you can achieve once you get started.
I’m not suggesting you march straight up to your boss and quit, but you can start developing and testing ideas straight away. There will always be things you need, like new skills and finance, but you’ll find that valuable lessons and opportunities present themselves along the way. Many entrepreneurs don’t even write a business plan anymore as it can be more beneficial to stay flexible and adapt your business as you go.
What has been your biggest achievement so far?
Every day that I keep supporting inspiring female entrepreneurs and help them succeed is an achievement to me. I love the way many entrepreneurs are able to bootstrap their business while starting up. For me personally this was not an option because I have a husband and three young sons to think about so working long hours, sleeping on a couch or buying noodles for dinner has never been an option for me. Although there are times when this has happened! I’m so proud to be able to support my family, whilst juggling the demands of my business and keeping it growing.
You have a young family. How do you manage a full time business?
With a lot of organisation! My husband has his own business and together we share the parenting duties. Being an entrepreneur himself we both recognise that we need to support each other to fulfil our career ambitions. When you set out on the path to entrepreneurship, it’s vital that you have people around who support you.
Berit was speaking to Adam Rang