Describe your “aha” moment. When did your business idea first come to you?
My “aha” moment came when I reached out to a solo business owner for a coffee. Very soon after she became my first client. I was temping at the time because I wasn’t having much luck finding a part-time admin job, which I wanted so I could get back into work after having my first child.
We told each other our stories and she said to me, “What on earth are you doing, your skills are way too good to be in a temping pool!” And while she didn’t have the capacity to give me any full-time/part-time work she asked me to come into her business and help give her existing admin person some guidance and support. She wanted to improve efficiency and start documenting processes, as that hadn’t been done before.
It was then that I had my light bulb moment; if this business owner needed help with these things, there had to be others out there that also needed ad-hoc support. And that’s when I really started to push ahead with developing my own business.
Despite many years in the corporate world I hadn’t even heard the term “Virtual Assistant”. That business owner I first met is now one of my biggest, ongoing clients and mentors and I will be forever grateful to her for opening my eyes to the possibilities out there.
Describe the “why” of your business…
My work at Encore Admin Consulting is all about helping people to be organised. My clients want to know that the admin side of their business is under control so they have more time to work on things they’re good at, and help their business grow. Whether I’m formatting documents, building websites, or colour-coding files, I always keep the big picture in mind—this is making someone else’s life easier. And I thrive on that!
Describe your customer/client. Why do you want to help them?
Fellow soloist or small business owners who have a passion for their business but don’t necessarily have their admin sorted. I like to know I’ve made a difference and helped a fellow business owner reach their business goals. Collaboration not competition is a great way to achieve things in life, so that’s why I still enjoy administration after all these years.
List your three biggest business goals? Which of them scare you the most?
- To build my business enough that I can match my previous corporate income, while working around my kids.
- Build a small team of virtual assistants to work alongside me.
- Create alternative training and mentoring solutions for small businesses whose admins need practical support.
The goal that scares me the most is building a team. I’ve always been the admin support person so the idea of being “the boss” and letting go of some of the control makes me nervous. It’s something that I’m going to have to face down the track because there’s only so much I can do as one person!
What’s your biggest challenge right now?
My biggest challenge right now is finding the right balance between spending the time on my business and being a mum. My two year old is hitting the very inquisitive and needy stage and therefore any chance of me getting work done with him home is pretty much zero.
Has anything surprised you about working for yourself?
The biggest surprise for me has been my ability to run my own business. Having spent so much of my working life being the admin support to other people and managers, I’ve always seen myself as the support person, not the person running the show. It’s been a huge boost to my self-confidence and also made me take stock of my skills and strengths.
Once you became a soloist, what about your life changed almost immediately; and what changes have been slower to come?
Immediately I regained a sense of myself and control over what I was doing. I had spent almost a year sending out job applications on Seek and attending interviews with employers and recruiters and was starting to apply for jobs that I never usually would have considered because I wanted to contribute financially. Starting my own business brought back the fire in my belly; I wanted to make a difference for my clients and for my family.
The change that has been slower to come is getting out of the employee mindset. Even though I’m doing very well I still find myself reverting to old behaviours and habits every now and again. I have to keep reminding myself that I’m not an employee anymore and I need to stay consistent with that.
Another slower change has been finding the right balance between work and being a mum and wife. Becoming a business owner is all-consuming and with childcare not being cost effective, trying to push all of my work into daycare days has been a real struggle. It’s a work in progress but we will get there!
What’s the best part of the life you’re living now you’re a soloist?
Having the ability to make a quick decision if something needs to happen in my family’s life is the best thing for me. The last two years have been very up and down with the passing of some close family members and my family going through Cyclone Debbie in the Whitsundays. Because I’m now a soloist there’s been three occasions in the last 12 months where I’ve been able to say to my clients that I have to travel urgently. I’ve taken my laptop with me and gone, but still had the ability to service my clients while away. Having that flexibility has been a complete game changer for me and my family.