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How I became a VA

Guest Post Series

Today’s guest post is from Jo Brianti of JLB Support Solutions -continuing my series of posts by VAs for VAs. In today’s post Jo tells us how it all began and what she does. You can get in touch with Jo by visiting her website JLBSupport Solutions or emailing her I became a VA

Over to you Jo

Hi, I am Jo Brianti, Small Business Support Consultant based in Ealing West London. I have over 30 years commercial experience in industries as diverse as hospitality, travel and tourism to car manufacture and banking.

Where it started

I started my first job at 14 during school holidays and at 19 was running a restaurant and a small team of waiting staff. This experience led me to college where I trained as a chef and aspired to work in a Michelin starred establishment.

At 21, due to a change in my personal circumstances I retrained through the Youth Training Scheme as an Administrator. I worked onsite in a foundry which was a huge learning experience. I learnt not only the administration and basic office management skills but how to procure a wide range of metals including gold, silver and platinum for castings that would go to Scandinavian power stations and train brake pads.

Career Growth

After a range of administration roles, I became a Training Advisor working with long term unemployed adults and supporting them to secure employment. My role encompassed mentoring, advising and training. Included in this role was solutions focused to help them overcome barriers to returning to employment.

Another redundancy offered a new opportunity working in an IT recruitment firm which was an exciting change of direction and more self-development. After another redundancy I joined forces with 2 colleagues to establish our own agency which we then sold out as our interests changed.

I then joined a dotcom start up delivering a platform for managed house pub companies. The platform provided a one stop shop for Landlord or Managers to acquire stock, equipment and energy deals. I increased my tech skills and was promoted to my first Project Management role.

20 years of project and programme management roles followed in both public and private sector organisations, the majority in a self-employed capacity.

And now

After a return to work involving long hours and a long commute, I established JLB Support Solutions 6 years ago to enable me to work flexibly around my twin boys. During this time, I have learnt a huge amount – mostly about the dark art of marketing, an area in which I had no experience.

Using skills from my 30-year business career I help sole traders and small businesses simplify, structure and streamline their businesses with tailored solutions. Some recent projects:

Excel – a client was using several spreadsheets to track and monitor various aspects of their business resulting in duplicate effort and copy/paste errors. I merged the different sheets into a single workbook using formula to calculate cumulative values and create a dashboard with graphs.

CRM – a client had set up a CRM system but was not maximising the tool. As a result, she had missed leads and potential work. We reviewed the way she worked, streamlined the steps in her prospect/client management processes and reconfigured the CRM so it now meets her needs.

Email Marketing – I provided 1:1 support to a client using MailChimp for the first time. We created a template, sign up form and I demonstrated how to send her first campaign. Supporting this was regulatory guidance on the GDPR, DPA 2018 and PECR to support compliance.

Fascinating reading Jo. I am already looking forward to the next post from you.

How I became a VA