- What do you do?
I run the virtual assistant agency Get Ahead VA. I started the business in 2010 after recognising a gap in the market for virtual assistance services that offered the flexibility, value and performance that small businesses and start-ups need in the 21st century, digital economy. Now my team of over 30 virtual assistants support small to medium sized businesses with a whole range of tasks including marketing, social media, admin, business development, graphic design and more. We love to take on the tasks our clients don’t have the time to do, don’t have the skills to do, or simply don’t want to do.
- Why did you want a more flexible career?
I was looking for something that I could do flexibly around my three children. Having grown up with a successfully self-employed mother, I saw that it was possible to be able to contribute financially to the family and to do school drop off and pick-ups too. My mum was a great example and I knew that one day I wanted to run my own business just like she did.
- What were you doing before you had children? I worked in corporate buying for major retailers including Superdrug and Sainsburys. I ran the first ever live online supplier auction which was very exciting!
- What was the trigger point that made you switch?
When my youngest daughter started school I knew the time was right to start something new.
- What’s a typical day like for you? Every day is different. Some days I am out at networking meetings. Networking is a big part of my role now and is something I love doing as I love meeting new people. Other days I am meeting with clients or virtual assistants to discuss current or upcoming projects. Although we are a team of virtual assistants we also like to meet face to face when we can as it helps to build relationships and complement the work we do online through social media.
- Do you work every day, or is it different each week? I do work every day as my children are in full-time school. I try to ensure I have time off at half term and holidays to spend with my three girls. Thankfully I have an excellent team of virtual assistants to look after things for me while I am away.
- What advice would you give to anyone wanting to give up a 9-5 job?
Don’t be afraid to follow your dreams. Do your research up front and then go for it! Be prepared to learn along the way. If things don’t turn out quite as you thought first time don’t panic – just think about how you could do it differently. Keep evolving until you get it right.
- How do your earnings compare with when you were working full or part time in a 9-5 job? Compared to my corporate buying career in London my earnings are currently less, however the lack of commute, flexibility and quality of life make it so much more worthwhile. I simply don’t think I could have done the job I did and been the kind of mother that I wanted to be. My earnings have the potential to increase significantly over the next few years as the business grows. By running my own business I am much more in control of my earnings and can work more hours as the girls get older and more independent.
- What do you think is the biggest challenge for working parents? Finding meaningful part-time employment is still a huge challenge. That is why so many people apply to join our team of virtual assistants. Many of them are highly experienced women who have found it still incredibly difficult to find part-time work, enabling them to use their skills but also be there for their children too. Being a virtual assistant can work so well as it allows them to work from home as and when they have time available. For our clients, it means they have access to an amazing pool of highly talented people on a flexible hourly, project or ongoing basis.
- If you weren’t doing this job, what else would you be looking in to?
I was always keen to be my own boss. I still love retail buying so possibly something along those lines- creating and branding new products.
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You may also be interested in reading our other success stories of parents who have left their full-time jobs to work more flexibly.