I believe everyone has a ‘North Star‘ which is a sense of purpose in our lives and also acts as an inner compass to discover our own goals and big dreams. Once we are aligned and on the path to our place of happiness and true contentment in life, it can be a fulfilling and rewarding adventure. This is why I wanted to interview as many inspiring female entrepreneurs as possible, including my good friend and client, Kate Browning.
Kate Browning is the Founder and owner of Cherry Blossom Management. She genuinely loves to support people, to see them grow, to empower them and witness the transformation that comes with outsourcing and delegating.
Kate has over 15 years of experience within the industry and has worked in roles such as a personal assistant, office manager, regional manager, executive assistant before launching her own business in August 2019. Kate also has a business management degree and has experience in project management, administration, organisation, event management, HR, finance, marketing, social media and fundraising.
Please read on to discover how Kate turned her business, Cherry Blossom Management into a dream client magnet. 👇✨
Hey Kate! Please could you tell me three fun facts about yourself?
Okay, 3 things are;
- I am a full on crazy cat lady, 🐈 I adore all kitties and can often be found in the street talking to and cudling random cats.
- I am a volcano geek, I studied Geology at college and use to want to study volcanoes 🌋 which is why I can’t wait to visit Iceland next year and go into a volcano.
- I’m most happiest when I’m outside in nature, either in a forest or by the sea 🌊 I find it calming and helps me recentre.
Why did you decide to launch your business, Cherry Blossom Management?
I had always wanted to own my own business from a young age, which was the basis for me doing a degree in Business Management, to give me the tools to be able to do this, but there was never a right time to take that leap and give up the security of a salary.
However, I got to a point where I had a string of poor Managers and was facing the politics and restrictions that working for someone else brings and I made the decision that I wanted more flexibility, to be my own boss and to design a lifestyle that had a good work-life balance and that’s when I took the leap just over 2 years ago and set up my business.
I love the name of your business – is there a story behind why you chose it?
Yes, there are two reasons as to why I chose Cherry Blossom Management. The first was cherry blossoms are my favourite tree and I used to seek them out as a child, sit under them and draw for hours, it was my escape from reality. The second reason is the cherry blossom tree in Japanese culture means renewal and enjoying the fleeting nature of life. And that’s what we do at Cherry Blossom Management, we give our clients back time, freedom and choice so they can focus on the aspects of their business they love and we will take care of the rest.
Have you always been a Virtual Assistant? .. If not, what other jobs have you done that lead you on this path?
I consider myself an entrepreneur and therefore can put my hand to many things, which is why my career history has been so varied. I started my career in finance working for a large investment and pensions business, I then moved on to being a PA, Office Manager, EA roles for many years.
After that I decided to pursue my passion for weddings and events and I became a Wedding and Event Planner for a number of years and I loved every second of it, but it was by far the most stressful job I have ever done and you work 70+ hours a week during April to October so there is no work-life balance there.
The final role I did before launching my business was as a Regional Manager of a National children’s charity. I wanted to do a role that gave back, that made a real difference in the world. So when I decided to set up my business, I cherry-picked my favourite aspects from each role and turned it into a business.
What do you love most about what you do?
I genuinely love to support people, celebrate their success, lift them up and be a part of their journey, seeing the real change I make in their lives. You can see that from the previous roles I have done, I have always supported others. I love it when a client emails me saying I’ve got my evenings and weekends back, I get to spend time making memories with my family again or I’ve grown my business beyond what I had wished for thanks to your help. There is no better feeling than making that difference.
You are my Wonder Woman that keeps my business thriving .. but how do you find time for yourself when you’re not busy managing client’s to-do lists?
I have a small team of associates who support me and my clients and that means I can take more time for myself. I always keep my ‘why’ in the back of my head when I get super busy and feel like I’m losing the work-life balance a little as part of my why is to work less, have less stress and more time for me, so if I’m getting busy I delegate more of my workload to my team. I am obviously a huge fan of outsourcing and delegating and think it is the key to success.
I know you are a huge fan of self-care, which I really admire. Do you have any tips on how to include more “me-time” in our diaries with feeling guilty?
I am a massive believer in self-care, having a good work-life balance and having strong boundaries within your business, not just to protect yourself, but also to manage your clients’ expectations and create consistency. I have now got to the point after 2 years of trading where I no longer work Fridays, I build in time each day to take a walk outside and to have an hour lunch away from the screen each day.
I try and ensure I build self-care into my routine with my walks, my breaks and ensuring I celebrate each small win. I might finish early one day, or start my day with a bubble bath, go for an extra-long walk outside, indulge with food or drink or something else. I have seen when I focus on self-care more, take more breaks and listen to what my body needs I am more productive, gain more clients and my marketing messages are much clearer.
I think the key is making it a habit, building it into your routine and really listen to what your mind and body needs. Self-care is not selfish, it’s essential.
What would you say to someone who is thinking about starting their own VA business?
Do your research before launching. I did lots of market research online, via FB groups, online communities etc. I looked at what services were on offer, where similar businesses in my area were based, what they were charging, online presence, insurance and everything else. I was lucky I had lots of business besties to offer me advice and guidance from day one.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt in business?
One piece of advice I wished I listened to when I started was to find your niche. I was afraid of niching and then alienating potential clients, however by niching you attract your ideal clients, can become more of a specialist which means your rates reflect this and you will work on more projects you really want to. Also, find a mentor – I have worked with coaches and mentors from day 1 and what they have given me is invaluable. I now myself, mentor new VA’s and I am working with a couple of new ones as we speak, it’s such a rewarding part of my business.
What do you accredit the success and growth of your business to?
There are several things I accredit to the success and growth of my business and they are;
🌟 Grit and determination
🌟 Having a supportive community around me
🌟 Sharing the burden – outsourcing and delegation
🌟 Remembering my why
What does having a beautiful & aligned brand mean to you and your business?
When I launched my business it was under a different name and brand and it didn’t feel me. It was corporate, straight-laced, a bit vanilla. I was afraid of being me which was a cat obsessive, glitter loving, unicorn believing, sarcastic, bold, colourful and fun-loving person.
I thought I needed to fit into a specific box and I did for almost a year and then I rebranded to Cherry Blossom Management, which felt like me. I built my whole brand (with an expert) and not only designed the logo and chose colours, but created my brand values, discovered my brand voice, the feel, the vibe, the ideal client and now I have a brand that not only represents me, but also attracts my tribe.
Describe how your services support your ideal clients.
Every business will get to the point where they need to outsource and share the workload, whether that’s admin, marketing, accounts, website or any of the other massive tasks that are part of running a business. When a business owner gets to the point they are ready to outsource and delegate it can add huge value to their business.
Picture this, you could delegate 3 hours a week of admin and marketing work to me and then what could you do with those extra 3 hours a week? You could focus on self-care and take more time for yourself, or spend more time with your family making lifelong memories knowing the tasks are taken care of. Or you can focus on growth and increasing your sales and revenue, which allows you to create the lifestyle and business you have always dreamed of.
The luxury is, the choice is yours.
What benefits have you seen since having your branding and website done?
Since investing properly in creating a stunning brand true to me and investing in having a website that reflects that I have seen a huge difference. Not only do I attract more of my ideal clients and the projects I love, but it resonates with people more, it feels more authentic to me and therefore creating content for social media, newsletters, blogs come more naturally. I have also been invited to guest blog for several businesses, been a guest speaker at global summits, been interviewed for podcasts and invited to write articles for magazines. Without a strong brand and website, none of this could have happened.
What would you say to someone in business who might be considering rebranding but isn’t sure?
If your brand doesn’t feel quite right to you, or you want to lead your business in a different direction then absolutely go for it. It was the best decision for my business and without it, I’m not sure I would have survived. A strong brand will resonate with your tribe, your ideal client and build consistency.
What is your favourite business tool and why?
Canva! I do a lot of design work for clients and for my own business and the freedom and creativity Canva gives you is phenomenal.
What is your favourite inspirational quote/life mantra?
“Courage is not the absence of fear, it is knowing that there is something more important than fear itself.” Starting a business is scary, rebranding is scary, niching your services is scary, there are lots of scary decisions with running a business, but you can’t be afraid, you need to take leaps of faith, see what happens and not be afraid to fail. You never fail, you just learn how not to do something.
Have you read an amazing business book or podcast that you can recommend?
I love to read but I am a fiction or autobiography woman all the way. When I was at university I had to read dozens of text books and my love of reading disappeared for years as I was forced to read things I didn’t want to, so now I only read for pleasure which is why I don’t tend to read business books, although I do see the value. A podcast I love is The Brand Lounge with Shadowcat Creative.
Who do you admire in business? This can be a celebrity or a person you know.
Sir Richard Branson & Jacqueline Gold (CEO of Ann Summers) are two people I really admire. They have built their businesses from scratch, not been afraid to take risks, do things differently, build a supportive community for their team and make a difference along the way.
What is your ‘North Star’ mission in life? (The ultimate goal you wish to achieve)
My ultimate goal is to make a real positive difference in peoples lives, in my community and with the environment. I want to be the change, the positive action and leave a legacy.
What advice would you give someone who is looking to turn their idea into a successful business?
Go for it, take a leap of faith and don’t think about ‘what if I don’t succeed’, think about ‘what if I do succeed’.
Thank you, Kate. Where can my audience find you?
Email: [email protected]