Lana Midgley is owner of Mountain Chickadee, Virtual Assistant Solutions.
What is Mountain Chickadee and what does it do?
Midgley: Mountain Chickadee is a virtual assistant company that provides remote administrative solutions to a wide variety of organizations that require support but not on a full-time basis; and organizations that need additional support for special projects.
At the risk of giving away my age, I’ve been using Microsoft Suite since it was released in 1990 and the administrative services that I provide range from editing, proofreading and formatting business documents and children’s storybooks to event planning and creative design.
A virtual assistant provides you with the benefits of receiving administrative support without the expenses of hiring an employee. You simply pay for the services that you need, when you need them.
Why did you start this business?
Midgley: I’ve been an administrative professional for 35-plus years (there I go giving away my age again) and I used to commute at least two hours every day – four hours every day for five years when I worked in Toronto and lived in rural Ontario.
One day I decided to calculate the number of hours that I commuted over the years and it totalled more than 25,000 hours – almost three years of my life sitting behind the wheel of a car going back and forth to work!
I had a little cry over all the time lost commuting and decided it was time to make a change in my life. I resigned from my executive assistant position the next day and started up Mountain Chickadee.
That’s not exactly how it happened but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!
Where does the name come from and what’s its significance?
Midgley: I am very fortunate to live in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains just southwest of Calgary, where there are picturesque mountain views and an abundance of wildlife, and I wanted my company name to be representative of my peaceful surroundings.
I tossed around different ideas and landed on Mountain Chickadee. There are three different species of chickadees in the foothills, one of them being the mountain chickadee.
I researched the symbolism of the chickadee and this is what I found: “The chickadee symbolizes cheerfulness, playfulness, starting new projects, modesty and the simple joys of life. Its song reminds us how good life is and that the greatest beauty is in the simple things. It chases away dark thoughts, turning them to a good mood, and filling our hearts with love and joy.”
In that moment, I knew I had found the perfect company name!
The chickadee in my logo is one of a kind, hand sketched by a dear friend. That makes the company name even more meaningful to me.
What’s the toughest thing about being an entrepreneur?
Midgley: I’m a very social person and the toughest thing for me about being an entrepreneur is the isolation and loneliness of working solo, especially working in such a remote location. It’s a love/hate thing for me. I love the quietness and uninterrupted peacefulness, but I do miss having colleagues to get their opinion or their advice on something. It’s also nice to have someone around to pick you up when you need it – like when you don’t get the contract with a client you were really excited about working with.
I have an adorable little dog to keep me motivated and he seems to understand everything I say to him, but for the life of me, I can’t figure out his language!
Answering this question made me realize that I’m not alone and that there are probably thousands of entrepreneurs in Calgary who are willing to provide advice to support each other. Thank you for that realization!
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received about being an entrepreneur?
Midgley: “Just do it!” is the best piece of advice I ever received about becoming an entrepreneur. Having the courage to take the leap and embrace the risks involved in being an entrepreneur is difficult and I considered it for many years until I received those three simple words of advice; and there is no looking back now!
I like the way Wayne Gretzky put it, “You miss 100 per cent of the shots you never take.” In other words, you can’t succeed unless you try and that means you have to take action – “Just do it!”
Interviewed by Mario Toneguzzi, a Troy Media business reporter based in Calgary.