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Case Study – Ruth Steggles, Coach for Parents of Children with an Eating Disorder

Q: What is your business?

I’ve worked with Megan in two businesses, actually. I have an established business called Fresh Air Fridays, and Megan has been working with us there for best part of this year.  And then my own business, which is as a coach of parents who have a child with an eating disorder.

I guess it’s really relevant because from a situation where I very much worked as part of a team and I’ve clearly got some skills and my business partner has other skills, and we really complemented one another. And when I started working on my own, I was really missing having a team and having that person with an eye for detail. I think that working with Megan has just enabled me to still have that team to fill in the missing gaps in my own expertise.

Q: What stage were you at before working with Megan?

I guess experienced in running a business in the wrong context and had clear ideas about what I needed in my new business. I knew that it wasn’t effective for me to spend my time doing the stuff that isn’t in my strength.  I know that when you build a business, when you stay in your own strengths and do the stuff that I’m really good at, but there’s still other tasks that need doing. It’s just been brilliant having Megan come in and do all that stuff that drains me because it’s not my strength or doesn’t feel like it’s my joy.

So having her pick up the stuff that I don’t want to do is amazing.

How did you make the decision to work with Megan?

So I guess this is often the case with these things because there are loads of VA’S around but somehow, we’ve got to choose. The truth is, I was seeing her doing good work with the people I was working alongside and in the wider community within which I move. I was seeing she was doing great work with other people. People I know I can trust were using Megan, and she was obviously positively impacting their businesses, so I already had the trust factor. I already knew that she would do a good job.

I think one of the things that’s really great about Megan is she’s really clear. She’s really got defined boundaries, she says, this is when I’m working, and this is what I can do for you. I think as a business owner, when you hand over work to somebody else, there can be ambiguity in it. And it’s not always obvious who’s taking responsibility for what and where the boundaries and the edges are.  I think one of Megan’s skills, one of Megan’s many skills, is that being bounded and saying, this is what I’ll do and by this date, I’m doing it. So, I know what’s being done and I know it’s taken care of, and I don’t have to think about because I just know it’s taken care of in an efficient manner.

What’s it like to work with Megan?

It’s really easeful. And it’s funny because I obviously like to talk and my natural reaction with people is to pick up the phone, with Megan, we don’t quite work like that. I’ll drop an email and I generally get pretty fast responses to that. She’s very responsive to email, but because she’s really good at her job, if we want a long conversation, she’ll put me into a time slot. And whilst there’s part of me that could find that really frustrating, what it actually means is I know my time is being taken care of in order for me to have my work done.

Actually, I think her organisation skills really shine through and that makes her really good at supporting me. Also, I can see it works for all her clients. I think she’s got a real balance between being very responsive, doing what I need when I need it, and protecting her time so that she can show up for everybody.

What impact has working with Megan had on yourself and the business?

It makes everything so much eaiser.  I wouldn’t be at this stage in my business, I wouldn’t have been able to achieve as much as I have if I didn’t have Megan in the background.

I’ve just taken on a master’s degree at university and there’s is no way I could fit that in my life as well as running a business and all the background stuff that Megan does for me, I’d have had to choose.

Having Megan work with me means I don’t have to choose between the things that I want to do.


Q: What do you see for the future, for your business, with support from Megan?

Well, I think as a business, expansion is always more work and more admin that comes in. I see her as part of the team. In the long term, I have the flexibility of having a VA who I’m not her only client, so it gives me freedom because it’s a big deal to employ somebody and being able to freelance VA services just gives me freedom.

I think the other thing about it is sometimes I’ll ask her a question and because she’s working with a number of other people, her experience is much wider than if she were just working for me. She draws on her experience with a wider client group, which helps to inform my practice, I think that’s really helpful.

So as long as Megan is happy doing the work she does, which I hope she is for a very long time, I can’t see myself not working with her because it makes such a difference to my business life.

Q: Are there any standout moments of collaboration when you realised you worked well together?

 I think there are sometimes that I just haven’t wanted to make decisions about stuff. So for some of the technical decisions, for instance, she’s made decisions about the platform I use. In the early days, you need a presence somewhere, you need a platform of some sort. And I had that question about, do I create a website?

Megan and I discussed this, and she just quickly set up something on Membervault, so I had a presence really quickly, so there was none of this lead time.  I think some of her decisions from her experience in working with people like myself has just been really helpful. I’m an action taker, and Megan’s support has enabled me to take action pretty quickly. There’s been no long lead time getting into my business. If I’ve got a new product, let’s say I’ve got a new coaching course that I want, I can make a decision one day, and three days later it’s up and running for people to be able to access and buy it. And she’s allowed me to work at the pace I like to work.