If you run a business in the center of London, it’s pretty easy to find workers to support your day-to-day operation. But what if your business is dozens of kilometers away in the countryside? That’s a bit harder. Luckily that’s where Blue Ninja Business Support comes in, providing virtual business support to rural businesses across the UK. Billy had the opportunity to speak with CEO and Founder Louisa Stewart about how Blue Ninja Business Support came to be, what they do, and how they use Billy to grow.
BillyApp: Tell us how Blue Ninja Business Support started.
Louisa Stewart: I got my degree in Information Management and ended up working on a grants program funded by the then mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg. After working on that for a few years, I decided that I needed more flexibility in my work and transitioned from an employee to a consultant, eventually setting up Blue Ninja Consulting (5 years ago this month!).
Setting up my own business helped me manage my work environment a lot more. It was a challenge, but I had the support of the organization I was working for which helped me expand to work with other clients. Eventually, the business migrated from consulting to business support. I found that the term “business support” was closer to what people understood in the UK, which helped position the business on a national level.
Today, Blue Ninja Business Support works with a wide range of industries across the UK, with a focus on rural companies who need the help of virtual admins the most.
BA: What sort of services does Blue Ninja Business Support provide?
LS: It’s about working with the business closely and anticipating the team’s needs. For example, there’s a business in England that does rural land surveyancy. We assist with some of their admin support: transcription, research, writing letters, etc. We come in and help them as required to run their business well. We take care of the small stuff so they can focus on the big stuff.
BA: Yeah, we can see how that’s a huge need for businesses operating outside of major cities.
LS: We relieve the time pressures on business owners so they can deal with the high level. It’s all about added value to these businesses, relieving their burden. We give back their time so they have more time to do their work, and it saves on their overhead as well. These companies pay an agreed rate, and we cover our own training, the equipment, research new products to facilitate the business (which is how I found Billy); and we pass all that on to the clients.
Our VAs [Virtual Assistants] pay their own taxes, and we handle holiday requirements internally. Our clients don’t have to worry about any of these details. And instead of hiring someone for the long term, they can hire us for as little as an hour. We work hard to pair our VAs to our clients for the best fit, making it seamless.
BA: Virtual business support sounds like something that will catch on quick.
LS: There are about 1600 VAs in the UK. I think the way online businesses are changing, more and more people are learning about how online support businesses can help. But we’re still getting the message out! That’s why I started a “VA in Scotland” group to raise more awareness about us. It’s a very collaborative industry. We’re not competing against each other. I’m also a member of WIRE, Women in Rural Enterprise, which supports women working in rural businesses.
I’m also continuing to improve my own skills so I can provide the best virtual administrator support I can. I completed my CPD certification for a VA mastery course. I was fortunate enough to win Scotland’s “VA of the Year” award in 2017, and I was a finalist in the Business Services Award at the 2017 Farm Business Innovation Show. This year, I’m excited to be a finalist for UK Outstanding VA!
BA: That’s amazing! Congratulations! So how did you come to use Billy?
LS: I’ve looked at online financial systems before, but they weren’t clicking for me. I’m not financially inclined so I wanted something simple to use and structured in a way where it made sense. I saw Billy on an AppSumo deal and I couldn’t resist. When it comes down to it, £40 a month is a lot of money for a small business! I’m so glad Billy doesn’t cost that much, like other accounting software.
BA: How has Billy helped your business grow?
A lot of other systems get overcomplicated with features you don’t need. Billy is easy to use and powerful enough to do what I need it to do.
LS: The simplicity of Billy is great. A lot of other systems get overcomplicated with features you don’t need. Billy is easy to use and powerful enough to do what I need it to do. Even my accountant really likes Billy. It delivers what she needs from me without all the faff and drama. I’m able to attach all my receipts and spending evidence so she can see them all in one place.
It also has the flexibility to be used internationally, which makes it even more easy to use. I used to do all my processing in Excel and in another product, and that didn’t work with international exchanges (it kept converting my figures to some other figures). My bottom line wasn’t matching up as it should be. With Billy, I don’t use my spreadsheets anymore. It saves me so much time.
Billy and Joshua [Billy’s CEO] have been honest about expectation and delivery of features. It’s a developing financial system, and I’m quite excited by what it already does, and what it can do in the future.
Thanks Louisa! For more information about Blue Ninja Business Support, check out their website at https://blueninja.co.uk/