Success Interview with Zita Lewis 

Welcome to success interviews. These are where I chat with fellow female business owner and find out more about why they started their business and how they measure success. 

Interview Transcript

In this post, I’m delighted to be joined by Zita Lewis, who’s actually my Virtual Assistant and I’ve known through VA networking for about 7 years.

Why did you start your business?

Unlike a lot of people, you’ve spoken to in these interviews, I didn’t plan on running my own business. I fell into it accidentally.

I worked within admin for a number of years and then when I came to have my children, I was finding it hard to find something like a lot of mums that fitted because I didn’t want to work full time. The whole idea of having children was to raise your children. I didn’t want to put them in a nursery Monday to Friday and only have weekends and evenings. That just wasn’t what I wanted to do. So, I had a couple of part-time jobs that tried to fit in.

My husband managed a 5-day week over four days so that he could have a day off and then I could work but nothing really fitted in with family life.

So, a friend of mine that I worked with in a previously employed position asked me to do a job for her, and unbeknown to me she was a Virtual Administrator. I didn’t even know it was a thing back then so I started helping other people in their businesses, which is how we got to know each other first and then slowly I’ve built up my own client base and do an odd bit of associate work for other VAs but mainly have my own clients.

There’s always that mum guilt there, especially when they’re younger and even now I’ve got teenagers but if you know you can’t do something or, attend something or take them somewhere,  after school clubs for example, there’s always that side of you that that feels guilty because you can’t go to everything that they want you to go to. I think us mums have that on a daily basis, even with teenagers.

How do you measure success?

Success to me and I know this is a common thread, is not financial, although when my kids were small, we did have money worries. My husband lost his job just as our second child was born. He was out of work for six months, which was lovely having him at home when I had two children under 2 but it was financially difficult. So, money did play a factor, in the beginning, it was almost like my extra money it wasn’t a big factor in starting the business. It was freedom and something that I could work around the children. Now I wish I’d done it and found it years ago because I did juggle it with other jobs.

I was doing a salaried job as well as doing the VA work on the side, so it took a while to build up and have the courage to actually leave a paid part-time position and go completely into my own business because I was always worried about whether it would be a success, whether I would be able to pay the bills, whether I would have the time. I did balance the two for a while, which was interesting and probably gave me less freedom in the short term than I wanted.

Now, I take Fridays off. When I first started, I wouldn’t dream of doing that but my coach said do you want to be working full time essentially Monday to Friday, 9 to 5? Even in your own business and I don’t. I’ve gradually cut back and now, on Fridays I do work in my own business if I choose to but I don’t have to and I’m hoping at some point to bring that in on a Monday as well.

What one tip would you give to your younger self?

I think that it’s ok to make mistakes as long as you learn from them. I think mistakes are there to teach us, I’ve made the same mistakes as a lot of VAs. Pricing too low, not having contracts, continuing to work with someone even though your gut says don’t. That’s another big one for me.
Always trust your gut. There’s been at least two or three occasions where I’ve not and then I’ve paid for it.

Mistakes are fine as long as you learn from them. As a small business owner, I’ve never worked so hard in my life but I’m doing something I enjoy doing. I don’t wake up on a Monday morning with dread, which is amazing and I’m learning every day.

There’s new things that I learn on a regular basis in business. I’ve got no formal training as a small business owner. I’ve got admin experience, over 30 years but running a business, I had no experience at all so it’s a huge learning curve and now I’ve had my own business for 10 years, it’s an amazing milestone.

I tell my kids anything is possible. My now 16-year-old started his own business at the age of 13 and that’s still going and still evolving. I think it’s a good example to show your children as well that we can be strong, independent women running businesses if we choose to and if you make a mistake, it’s ok to admit it. To take accountability for it. Everyone makes mistakes, learn from that mistake and do it differently next time.

Watch the Interview

Zita Lewis

Zita Lewis

Zita Lewis – Helping You Helping Your Business

Zita Lewis is a Virtual Administrator who offers services to business owners in Oxfordshire and further afield. She specialises in assisting business owners and companies within the health and wellness and training sectors with their day-to-day admin, social media and marketing needs.

She has been working in administration for over 35 years’ both as an employee and running her own freelance VA business. It’s more than just a job for her, it very much feels like a vocation as helping others with the tasks they find difficult lights her up inside.