Spotlight: Time Etc Helps Entrepreneurs Like Richard Branson Find Skilled VAs

As a business owner, you’re most effective if you spend time on high-level tasks. But it’s not always possible to hire dedicated team members for all the daily work that goes into running your business.

That’s where Time Etc comes in. The business connects entrepreneurs with U.S. virtual assistants to handle all that extra work. Read all about the company in this week’s Small Business Spotlight.

What the Business Does

Pairs businesses with virtual assistants.

Founder Barnaby Lashbrooke told Small Business Trends, “Our VAs can help with anything from emails and data entry, to booking holidays and sending gifts and flowers to loved ones. Clients pay for a certain number of VA hours per month. Businesses are also increasingly including our service as an employee perk, giving members of staff dedicated VA time to help them better manage their work/life balance.”

Business Niche

Providing a quality experience.

Lashbrooke says, “We were one of the first virtual assistant companies, launching in 2007, long before remote working was in vogue. Over time, we’ve built up a strong reputation as a provider of the world’s finest VAs, all with at least five years’ experience, and personally vetted by Sir Richard Branson’s executive assistant of 32 years, Penni Pike. It’s the high quality of our assistants, as well as our user-friendly platform, that sets us apart from competitors.”

How the Business Got Started

After running another successful business.

Lashbrooke explains, “I launched Time Etc using the money I’d made from selling my first business when I was 24 years old. I had started that company (a web hosting firm) when I was 17 and still at school. While growing that business I’d noticed how much of my time was consumed by low-value tasks I felt that I shouldn’t be wasting time on but that I couldn’t avoid – things like invoicing and organizing files. So after my business sold, I knew exactly what I wanted to try next.”

Biggest Win

A successful US launch.

Lashbrooke says, “Back in 2013, I got bored one afternoon and decided to create a US version of our website and throw it on the internet to see if we got any takers. And we have literally never looked back. Almost instantly we were oversubscribed with demand from the US. And this breakthrough changed the course of history for our business forever. The US side of our company is now 80% of our revenue.”

Biggest Risk

Signing a lease and hiring before bringing in revenue.

Lashbrooke explains, “If it had gone wrong we’d have had to make those people redundant and would have been stuck with huge fees to pay to exit the lease or try and re-let the building. Looking back, it was a silly risk to take. But it also meant that I simply HAD to make Time Etc work as a business, because I had so much depending on it. I think having that pressure really helped us build revenue. And looking back, I’m amazed we hit £1M (GBP) in revenue and were profitable by the second year, from a standing start with no VC funding.”

Lesson Learned

Hard work isn’t everything.

Lashbrooke adds, “From school we’re taught by parents and teachers that the harder we work the more successful we will be. Now I know how wrong, and dangerous, that message is. Today I’m militant about how I use my 35-hour workweek. There’s no room for time wasting or procrastination and every half hour is accounted for. I’m happier and more fulfilled, have great relationships with family and friends, and financially we are more successful too. During the first year I made this change, revenue grew by 275%.”

How They’d Spend an Extra $100,000

Supporting the team.

Lashbrooke says, “I’d give it back to our team and our assistant partners to help them with the ever increasing cost of living.”

Team Tradition

Appreciation huddle.

Lashbrooke explains, “We start each day with an “appreciation huddle” where every member of the team picks someone else to appreciate and has to explain why. This simple idea is the glue that supports the incredible culture we have built.”

Favorite Quote

“If you want to do a few small things right, do them yourself. If you want to do great things and make a big impact, learn to delegate.” – John C. Maxwell.

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Find out more about the Small Biz Spotlight program

Image: Time Etc., Barnaby Lashbrooke

Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 12 years. Annie covers feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. She has a bachelor’s degree from Columbia College Chicago in Journalism and Marketing Communications.