2019 Reflection, review and pivot


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The dream vs the reality

I wonder how many new business owners start their business as I did? With a rather exciting, guns blazing idealistic dream.

Upon reflection and review, I imagined sipping coffee while working with other people in a shared space. Doing what I love with versatile service offerings.

From contracts management, to project management, social media, admin, grants and blog writing.

I dreamt of this amazing flexible lifestyle. Taking the kids to the beach, watching them play, while shooting out a piece of work! I wouldn’t need to be around corporate politics or have meetings for meeting’s sake.
At the conclusion of my first full year in business, I have a confession to make.

I was WRONG. Being a small business owner is hard yards. Yes, there are amazing flexibilities. I’ve been there at the school assemblies and important events. But I can tell you, sand, laptops and young kids near waves while I try to focus on work instead of them…don’t mesh well. In truth, I didn’t know how much I didn’t know. I thought my law degrees and 20 years of business experience would be ample experience to run a business.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve loved the journey, but now realise it isn’t as clear cut as I imagined.

Here is my year in review:

1.  Purpose and vision

My purpose and vision remain, to support small business owners. So you’re not overwhelmed, having to wear all the hats that small business ownership demands. I love freeing up your precious time providing necessary marketing support.  This allows you to focus on your passion space and growth. After all, this is the reason you started your business.

Reflection: Do you think I stopped to think about how I would not wear all the hats while making this happen for them? Nup!  So now all the advice I am giving my clients, I am planning to take on board more for myself in the coming year.  I’ll increase focus on time management, increase automation, streamline processes and outsource where required.

2. Networking

This year I  started networking.  In the beginning, I was nervous and hated it. I thought I needed to have a sales ‘elevator pitch’. I had been reading on forums and group coaching about how important it is to sell your abilities. (Whilst I’m well aware I need work in this space). I have actually loved the fact that I haven’t had to do this. 

Instead, I’ve been building genuine connections with people. Getting to know them and their business. I love listening to their personal values and journey. The right people have and will continue to engage my services, as I come from this authentic space. Networking is something I look forward to now, it is more like catching up with passionate like minded friends.

I’ve been a bit of a networking flirt, due to family and work commitments. This year I have networked with:

  • Sydney Hills Business Mums
  • Hills District Business Empowerment Network
  • MIBA Hills District
  • Sydney Hills Business Chamber
  • I subbed twice for a BNI group too.

I look forward to continuing my networking in 2020. With my youngest now starting school, I know the time will still remain limited. 930-2.30pm is a short workday.

Reading at school, and turning off the computer at 3 pm is high on my priority list. As I strive to create a holistic balance in my life for next year too.

My clients are so important, their work will always be a high priority for me. As they come first, networking opportunities will be strategically planned around working commitments.

3.  Collaborations & contras

A new collaboration with Kym Thompson from Clear View Imaging has been wonderful. She is an amazing local social media photographer. who offers quality photography and social media video clips for all your social media content.

She creates the sets, shoots the pics and I add copy, hashtags, planning and scheduling on the various platforms. I look forward to this taking more shape in 2020.

An awesome contra deal with Rebecca Swanson. I provided the copy for a LinkedIn article, blog and press release. Rebecca gifted me with some amazing coaching.

Blog writing sub-contracting with the amazing copywriter and trainer Leanne Shelton.

I’m super excited for next years collaborations. They are being fleshed out with a couple of different businesses. So watch this space.

I’ve been in discussions with a Government organisation. This is relating to mindset, overwhelm and mental health for small business owners. It’s a space I’m passionate about and will see where this leads.

To that point, there was an amazing FB group I was going to start. Yet, it’s currently benched after several discussions with some very experienced business owners. I’m heeding their advice and for now, and pivoting.

Meanwhile, I’ll be transitioning the concept into guest blogs in 2020. Various business experts will useful and practical information, within their area of expertise. It will be relevant and helpful guidance for the small business owner.

Why? I’m passionate to provide you with tools to create a holistic balance and growth in your personal and business life.

4.  Subcontractors

I have an amazing growing team of Australian Sub-contractors, assisting to provide a second to none service. They assist in the following spaces:

  • Video editing
  • Social media and graphic design
  • Sales, project and admin support

There are two more VA’s (Marketing support and a copywriter), who’ve been screened. They fit the very stringent values and client focus testing. They will join the Versatile team as the business continues to grow.

5. Sydney VA group

I started a Sydney VA Facebook group called the Sydney Virtual Assistant Support Community, which now has 64 members. It provides a local support network for Sydney based virtual assistants.

Amanda Primrose is the other amazing group admin. We have arranged two meetups this year with many more to come in the new year. We’re looking at having marketing and sales support sessions.

Co-working catch-ups within LCA’s will be a focus in the new year, as it can be quite isolating working from home. It’s nice to bounce ideas off someone else and have a laugh and some company too.

6. Perceptions realised

With the experience of stating that I have law degrees, versus stating I’m a VA or I own a VA business. I’ve come to a rather uncomfortable realisation. There’s a perception around the (under) value of VA work. Particularly because people instinctively think $12 p/hr offshore or basic admin.

As such, I’m re-branding slightly in 2020. I still own Versatile VA. However, they’ll be a soft change with the addition of a tag line:

your outsourced marketing support

This will remove the assumption of only admin and make it clearer the value and service offering I’m providing.

As I further niche and refine my services over the years, my long-term clients and new clients alike will reap the benefits. The desire to provide an amazing customer-centred, professional experience will be unaltered.

Another exciting change: I’ll be creating packages for blogs and socials and these will be available early 2020. This is to further streamline and simplify the offering to my clients.

New offerings

Social media and blog writing planning coaching sessions are now available. It starts with a free discovery call where we connect via zoom and nut out a quarterly strategy together. This is still in its infancy and I look forward to providing this service to many more clients in the coming year.
I will also be offering a free social media audit for all new clients. Many more offers to come too including incentives for continuing a retainer agreement.

7. Clients

What a blessing to work with such incredible businesses this year. I work with a variety of industries. From Finance and property sector, recruitment, marketing, coaching and health and wellness.

A huge thank you to you, my clients, for continuing to choose Versatile VA! Thank you for your clear concise communication, your passion for business growth and trust in me with your babies (your business). It’s lovely to feel a member of your team and I love working with each one of you. I’m so lucky to have scored such really lovely people!

Thank you also for the amazing reviews, they mean the world. It has been such a pleasure to provide vital support for your business growth and help to reduce overwhelm.

I am excited to say many of my project clients have indicated they intend to utilise my services again for their next projects.

My target: 5 new retainer clients by June 2019. My sub-contractors sitting in the sidelines can show what they’re made of. I too am looking forward to sinking my teeth into some new projects.

This year I had a client call from another State who was referred to me by someone I didn’t know. This is exciting news for me. She retained my services for a project and I hope to hear from her again in the future.

Growth space

Next year I intend to phone my clients more frequently, to add a more personal touch and check-in. Emails don’t cut it and I always intend to but time gets away. Upon reflection, this is now an important part of the service and is being allocated to the process.

There are some incredible new prospects I’ve recently met for coffee and fingers crossed. So excited by these prospects who are ethically aligned and their passion for their business is abundantly evident. Watch this space. I’d be honoured to work with them.

8. Public speaking

This year I lead one networking group session on time management and goal setting. I received brilliant feedback and gained benefit from it myself.  Read more about the benefit here.

I decided to up the ante and push myself further out of my comfort zone. So I’ll be doing 4 public speaking engagements next year.

9. Continuous learning


I have participated in workshops for:

  • SEO
  • Basic bookkeeping
  • Social media marketing
  • Marketing
  • Facebook Ads


Having completed a full copywriting course via UDEMY earlier this year, I am currently completing a Social Media Management Course via Freelance University. I want to continue expanding my knowledge in all things SEO, social media and copywriting, along with learning about the inner workings of several systems.

I’m now well aware business ownership is a learning journey, a journey of growth, and refinement.  I’ve made my share of mistakes. I have laughed, connected with some absolutely inspiring, supportive and incredible business owners. Collaborated, cried, felt imposter syndrome 1000 times, doubted my abilities and questioned my decisions, felt excitement that I took another step in the right direction. I love my client’s, the challenges and the journey.

Mindset and business are super connected…what a rollercoaster it’s been. Bring on 2020. I have set myself challenges, am excited to continue to grow the business and myself.

Wishing you a Happy restorative new year!

Thank you for listening to my self-indulgent reflection, of a year that was. And after a short break, I look forward to serving and connecting with you next year. On that note, I hope you all enjoy a short break too.

We all deserve a break, to spend time with loved ones, to allow ourselves. In fact, we all NEED a break.  Taking time out helps you get back to the reason and mindset of when and why you started the business in the first place and gives you the mental energy to pivot and change when needed.

Support leads to success


About the author – Deborah Ricketts

Hello, I’m so glad you dropped in to read my blog articles. I’m Deborah Ricketts, founder of Versatile VA, a virtual assistant (VA) business, launched in July 2018.

My team and I are passionate about supporting small service based health and wellness businesses within Australia, who are experiencing the juggle to stay on top of it all! We want you to know, you don’t have to go it alone.