Movers and Shakers | Sarah Najjuma | Founder| Virtual Assistant Diary
Sarah Najjuma is the founder of Virtual Assistant Diary a consultancy that supports businesses and entrepreneurs with primarily Executive Assistant Support, Operations Management and Project Management. She launched her business two and half years ago.
What inspired you to start your own business?
Starting a Virtual Assistant business was never in my plans, even with an extensive background in supportive roles while working in the corporate world.
My business found me, and I was inspired to pursue the opportunity because I realised I could use my skills to help others in a way that gives me more agency over my life.
What were the first few steps you took to get the business up and running?
The moment I realised this was a business I wanted to pursue, that same day I registered my business, created my service outline and built my website. This was all within one day!
How far ahead do you plan and what keeps you on track and motivated?
When I started my business I hadn’t planned as far as the next day or week, as I was still adjusting to my new normal and learning who I am in this chapter of my life.
Fast forward to now, two and half years later, I’ve started reflecting on the goals I want to achieve and the legacy I want to build.
I don’t necessarily set goals based on a timeline of 2, 5 or 10-year plan, what I do is create a vision of the kind of life I want to live, the impact I want to create and the kind of people I want around me.
Focusing on that vision keeps me on track and motivated because I know everything I’m doing now will be another step closer to that.
Are there any sacrifices you’ve had to make as an entrepreneur?
Many sacrifices, one being time spent with loved ones. I’ve had moments of not being able to be as present for things I would have liked to be present for which was very difficult, but I’ve come to terms with knowing some seasons may demand more of me.
What has been the most amazing day in your entrepreneurial life so far?
Wow, this is a hard question to answer because I’ve had so many!
I feel like I’m always having pinch-me moments and days. I think one of the most amazing days in my entrepreneurial life so far is a tie between the business trip to Uganda that I project managed and the Foundervine award ceremony and being named Business Woman of the Year.
That night was special, not just because of the award I received, it was also the people I had around me, and the energy of the people in the room. I truly felt that all the hard work until this point has been worth it, as I get to experience moments like this that I never want to end.
What has been your scariest moment?
It was losing a client unexpectedly when they had a change in their circumstances. At the time I hadn’t made a contingency plan for when something like that happens, especially with a big client.
Navigating that hurdle was definitely very scary as I carry a lot of responsibilities, but i made it through.
How do you work on making your business grow?
By taking every opportunity to learn, and never assuming I know enough. Even though this is my business, the people I have around me play a big part in its growth through the belief they have in me, so nurturing relationships is key for the growth of my business.
I also work on making my business grow by creating a team of people around me who are aligned with the vision I’m creating and can help build with me.
What is the best thing about being your own boss?
The best thing about being my own boss is being able to make choices for myself that reflect my truth. I work with whom I want to work with, I can choose when and where I want to work, and I get to have a direct impact on how big my vision can get.
What are the challenges of working for yourself and how do you tackle them?
The responsibility you carry when you work for yourself can be very overwhelming, from needing accountants to knowing your legal duties as a business owner. It’s a lot to take in when you’re just starting out.
How I am continuously tackling this is by seeking support and counsel from the wise people around me and taking the initiative to keep learning and knowing it will get easier if keep doing my part.
Who do you admire or look to for inspiration as a business owner?
Every client I work with has been a massive source of inspiration and I truly admire how they show up in their purpose.
My clients all have a big focus on legacy building, and the majority of them are focused on what they can give instead of what they can take which I truly admire.
What piece of advice has had the most impact on your business? And who was it from?
“All this time you spent focusing on the problem, you could have found a solution. You should spend less time on the problem and more time on the solution because one brings you closer to a positive outcome” -My mum said this to me two years ago and it has stuck with me and influenced the way I approach everything.
What are the three books, websites or resources (professional or personal) that you would recommend to other business owners?
What other passions do you have away from your business? How do you relax?
I’m passionate about a lot of things, I graduated in Film, Literature and Creative Writing, so I occasionally step on set to do production management or directing. I’m very passionate about working with young people, to help provide them with the tools they need to help them understand themselves better and navigate their journeys more confidently.
I like being active, although I don’t always have the time to do these things as consistently as I’d like to, I love kickboxing, netball, pilates and most recently I discovered I enjoy hiking.
I relax by staying indoors either alone, or with my partner. Going for a massage, getting my nails done, binge-watching a series and any moment like this where I’m not thinking about anything other than the moment is relaxing to me.
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