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Today I am very happy to chat with fellow VA entrepreneurs, Julie Taylor and Louisa Stewart from Blue Ninja Business Support where they share their experiences of starting a business together here in the Netherlands.

Tell us about Blue Ninja and why you both decided to start your own business here in the Netherlands together?

blue ninja busines support

Louisa Stewart

In 2013, Louisa was looking for a change from her administration role in a large organisation and this is when she decided to start her own business as a consultant administrator and owner of Blue Ninja UK. Over the course of the next two years, her interest grew in the direction of the Virtual Assistant world, where she completed her Virtual Assistant certification and started to build her business. A change in circumstances led to moves from the UK to Germany and then to the Netherlands. Louisa continued trying to grow her business but found working on her own very lonely, she likes to bounce ideas and did not have the network at the time to do so. This is when she met Julie via a Facebook networking group.

blue ninja business suport

Julie Taylor 

Julie had moved to The Netherlands and was seeking work, she was a contractor at a bank but wanted to become more settled and embrace her new life in Holland. Julie and Louisa connected and after chatting and getting-to-know each other, they had built a trust in each other, their skillsets had complimented each other really well and so they decided to go into business together. The gaps are filled with each others strengths and areas of development and they give each other more flexibility in managing their time, tasks and any pressures in a much easier way.

Please share with us some of your struggles running your business and how you both overcame them

Identity

Trying to define how they speak about their business was a big struggle, they knew together where they wanted to be in respect of procedures, processes but then trying to articulate this was very difficult in the beginning. They have also used the time during 2020 to its maximum to get things done. They continue to grow their business with receiving great marketing advice, coaching and turning what they did not know into an opportunity of knowing what is needed to make their business a success. Louisa and Julie are not Dutch but have realised that the importance is in being themselves and continuing to share their story.

Finances, Establishing their Brand and Deciding their Niche

Louisa and Julie have conversed about their business finances openly from the beginning and continue to do so. This is an essential requirement, to keep communicating on all the areas of finances, what is going well, what needs to be improved or worked on. It is key as a small business to keep a close eye on finances.

Establishing their brand is also another essential ingredient that they have had to master, as well as identifying their niche which can be a difficulty for a lot of businesses in the beginning. Unless you are targeting a specific group or industry, it gets too broad. So, by capturing what they talked about with their clients this has helped them in identifying their niche.

What do you think could really help your business to move forward?

Clients

They would like to have Dutch clients but since they do not speak the Dutch language (yet) they are only targeting the English speaking / international market for the moment. They use a practical, hands on, value added approach and treat their clients money as if it’s their own, with care. They talk a lot about the tools they use, they offer a lot of free advice, they are invested in what they do and will not offer a money drainer to potential clients.

Also, finding the clients that need their help is a struggle, there is no telephone book you can just pick up to find your clients. They have the skills and experience to offer but it’s a challenge getting clients to know, like and trust you. Until now their recommendations and referrals have helped with this in a positive way.

They are also looking as to how they can support their community, they are embracing their networks, offering support and advice as part of this. Especially now during these times of uncertainty. Talking to people and sharing helps a great deal. They are getting really involved with a lot of online events that are happening now.

Business Coach

And finding a business coach has been helping them a lot in the last 6 months. It has brought them support, opportunities, new ideas, continuous learnings, a chance of having the right conversations and asking the right questions.

Louisa and Julie are looking to grow internationally, to build an international network as well as grow an additional support network in other countries.

What advice would you like to give other entrepreneurs who are experiencing the same? What is your golden piece of advice for them?

Network, Network, Network

Sometimes you don’t think it will help but all the people you meet and chat to, you are building relationships which eventually leads to new contacts, new possibilities and opportunities. You don’t network to find your biggest client, its about communicating and helping people as well. Sharing your knowledge and offering advice. Taking the initiative to make the contact.

Do the things that are out of your comfort area

Acknowledge that there are things that you don’t like doing but do them anyway. For example, they started a vlog and have become much more confident in front of the camera now. They have built a lot of content learning at the same time. Another example, Louisa started video editing as a hobby a few years ago but now she works on video editing for her clients and for their business.

If you love doing something, just do it!

Thank you to Louisa and Julie for sharing their entrepreneurship journey until now. I know we will be keeping in touch from here onwards.

If you feel you would like to reach out to the Blue Ninja’s, here is their contact information:

Website: https://blueninja.eu/

Email: admin@blueninja.eu

Social networks: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram