Could apprenticeships be the answer to your prayers?

Emily, with Award sponsor Gary Neild – 2017.


Emily is now a professional and dedicated freelance PA, with vast experience from a career in Human Resources.

In 2017, whilst employed with Atlas Elektronik, Emily was recognised by the Dorset Chamber Business Awards for her company’s ‘Outstanding Contribution to Apprenticeships’ – a programme Emily single-handedly designed and managed in her role as Senior Learning and Development Officer. With full support from senior management, Emily developed a fresh talent pool for the company with some incredibly valuable results for all involved.

In this blog, Emily shares her insight and experience, bringing to light a real potential for YOUR business.

Calling all small businesses… have you realised that apprentices are for YOU?

Written by Emily Fuller, The Passionate PA for Weymouth and West Dorset

Throughout my extensive career in HR, I have developed a passion for people and employed many apprentices. Since the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy, I truly believe that it is small businesses that stand to gain the most from employing apprentices. With all the challenges small businesses face, you’d be forgiven for feeling a little overwhelmed and frustrated right now. But, there is a largely untapped resource available that you could benefit from.

In a nutshell, here are the facts:

  • As a small business, employing less than 50 people, the government will pay 100% of the costs of the apprentice training, up to the funding band maximum. This in fact means that you could utilise up to £27,000 worth of training for a member of your team for free!
  • If you hire an apprentice before the 31st January 2021 you can claim an additional incentive payment of up to £2000 if they are aged 16-24, and up to £1,500 of they are aged 25+, with an extra £1000 available if you employ a 16 – 18 year old or someone with additional needs. These payments apply even if you employ an apprentice that has been made redundant from another company due to the Coronavirus, so they would be joining you already with skills you can use.
  • Apprentice salary expectations are lower than those of people coming into your business that still may require training to get them up to speed. It is well known that you can pay apprentices a very low wage, but this really should be reviewed against the job they are doing, not just regarded as ‘cheap labour’.
  • You will develop skilled, home-grown employees that know your business from the ground up.
  • The training that your apprentice does is adapted to suit your company.
  • You will gain fresh, new approaches and opinions, especially if you recruit from the technology savvy ‘generation Z’.
  • You can use the recruitment of an apprentice to upskill other members of your team by completing knowledge transfers based on the training they are receiving, introduce reverse mentoring, as well as use the opportunity to allow someone with management potential to take the lead on managing the apprentice.
  • You will experience increased productivity from the addition of the apprentice, as 78% of employers asked by the government reported improved productivity after recruiting an apprentice.

In my experience, all apprentices that I have employed have benefited the organisation and all recruiting line managers have requested more apprentices to join their teams year on year. 90% of the apprentices that I have hired have secured full-time permanent jobs with the companies and the other 10% have benefited from identifying their next career step externally from the company which they completed their apprenticeship with.

The belief that it is the duty of big companies to employ apprentices because they have the capacity to do so, is out of date. Apprentices really do add value and the list of additional benefits outlined above highlights only a small number of reasons why small businesses really should be looking to employ apprentices to fill their skills gaps and build a resilient workforce for the future of their company.

If you’d like an exploratory conversation about whether apprentices could be right for you and your business, book a free 121 with me by emailing

You can find out more about Emily by clicking here!

Further blogs from The Passionate PA: 

Emily Fuller joins The Passionate PA


Dorset, we’ve got you covered!

The leading freelance PA business, The Passionate PA, welcomed a new face to the team in July which means they now have coverage across the whole county, and beyond.

Emily Fuller - The Passionate PA (Weymouth & West Dorset)Emily Fuller (nee Gollop) has been involved in business since she was old enough to walk as her family ran the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy. She is now a qualified and experienced Human Resources professional having spent 10 years with SMEs and global engineering companies, honing her skills in people management and business strategy.

She joins The Passionate PA as a franchisee covering Weymouth and West Dorset, fulfilling her own ambition to be a business owner but adopting the company’s very clear mission; to assist ambitious business leaders and entrepreneurs in their pursuit for business success. Working in partnership with clients, each Passionate PA offers a unique and valuable set of skills to help create the momentum and results their clients desire. Services range from Business Admin and Organisation to Event Planning and Project Management, right through to Marketing and Business Development activities… there is no end to the skills and commercial experience offered by the team at The Passionate PA!

Emily brings an added layer of knowledge with 10 years spent in the cut and thrust of growing HR departments. She has a passion for doing things exceptionally well, and bringing people together to achieve incredible things. She loves nothing more than helping ambitious businesses creating a full ‘Employee Lifecycle’, helping the owners/directors create structure for their people through selection, recruitment and retention.

Emily’s career highlights include completing her masters in HR Management with Bournemouth University and becoming a Chartered Member of the CIPD. She has led and managed various change programmes and been involved in takeovers. During her time at Atlas Elektronik, Emily developed a Leadership Programme to future proof the company and create a consistent, authentic and effective leadership style for current and future senior managers.

It was also at Atlas Elektronik that Emily was recognised during the 2017 Dorset Business Awards for the company’s ‘Outstanding Contribution to Apprenticeships Award’ and ‘Young Chamber Award’ – Emily was fundamental in both these wins.

Emily says: “I thrive on making a difference to people and the businesses I work within. The business world as we know it has changed hugely throughout the recent pandemic so businesses are having to adapt in order to survive. I believe that a number of those changes are opportunities for me too, now I am a freelance PA.  With my skills, experience and knowledge I can help businesses not just survive but thrive. I’m not simply an overhead to clients; I will add real value when I’m working with them, and when I’m not with them, there’s no cost to them at all. I don’t have to be a long-term, permanent commitment.”

Flexibility is key to the success in entrepreneurial businesses. 

Emily is joining a growing team of Passionate PAs, the most recognisable faces in Dorset are business owners Debbie Frith (Poole & North Dorset), Claire Bartlett (Ringwood & New Forest) and Jenni Bowman (Bournemouth & Christchurch). Each of them provides freelance PA services on a one-to-one basis, as well as to teams, delivering cost-effective solutions to help their clients grow. Dorset based clients include Shrinkwrap Machinery, Aspire Jobs, Hamworthy Heating, Dorset Business Angels, Chris Croft Training, Peer 2 Peer Boards, Alan & Thomas Insurance, Motivational Maps, Experience UX, Just Shutters Franchises and Vinyl Solutions.

L-R: Debbie Frith, Dominique Bailhache, Kate Chastey, Jenni Bowman, Laurey Buckland, Louise Cummins, Claire Bartlett
Gary Neild and Emily Fuller

Kate Chastey, franchisor of The Passionate PA still also works directly with Poole-based Blue Sky Financial Planning. Director Gary Neild awarded Emily with the Young Chamber Award at the 2017 Dorset Business Awards and at the time, recognised her dedication, enthusiasm and professional approach.

Gary says: “Kate has provided an extensive skillset and an ability to understand and support the future of my business. I would not have achieved some of the things I have in the last five years without her by my side. The team she is creating is nothing short of inspirational and I know Emily will offer clients just as much as the other Passionate PAs do. They are an unrivalled resource if you want to grow and prosper – and fun to work with too!”

Emily is now looking to build her business across Weymouth and West Dorset. If you would like to find out more, visit or call Emily directly on 07387 989 692.

You can read all about Emily’s skills and experience by clicking here!

Further blogs from The Passionate PA: 

How to delegate your to do list

There’s no shortage of ambitious business owners that feel they have too much to do, in too little time. Or, like most of our clients – just want to focus on key activities, with more efficiency, in order to fulfil their own potential and business goals.

As Passionate PAs, we offer a tailored freelance PA service to suit the needs of each ambitious business owner or entrepreneur we work with. To us, your industry, target market, business structure and growth model are important, but what we really want to know, in detail, is how can we help you?

When potential clients are asked this question, there are a ream of responses;

“Ah, I’ve got this one niggling task, let’s do that first!”


“I hate doing X, can you take that away?”


“Tell me what you can help with, we’ll start there?”


“Here’s my to do list – crack on!”

All are valid responses that we, as freelance PAs, will happily work with. However, at the beginning, we encourage all of our client to assess their working patterns, task lists and priorities to understand where we can add real value, remove stress and anxiety, increase efficiency and profitability – and also inject a little fun! Who doesn’t want more fun in their work life?

So, at our first discovery meeting, we’ll always ask new clients if they have the time to do this exercise. It usually takes about 40 mins (but depends hugely on the size of the to do list and the new client’s propensity to go off on a tangent 🤪).

The result of this activity usually brings about a clear set of tasks and responsibilities that can be handed over to their new Passionate PA.


Request your free Delegation Tool today to help you take control of your to do list. 

Meet The Team

Each of our Passionate PAs has an extensive skill set and varied business background. We are all business owners and come together as #TeamPassionatePA with a shared ethos; to make a difference to our clients’ lives through our unwavering motivation, striking efficiency and remarkable ability to simply ‘make things happen’.

Meet the Passionate PAs


Further blogs from The Passionate PA: 

Compartmentalise and Conquer!

Being organised and productive is a choice. That choice is the difference between being a busy fool and a successful business person.

The one trait really productive people share is the ability to compartmentalise their activities. So, in this blog, we share our top tips from over a decade of working with inspiring business leaders:

  1. Write down your personal definition of success i.e. are you wanting to be the world’s greatest parent, a caring employer or a successful business owner. OR, are you trying to create balance – if so, what does balance actually look like in reality with the values and responsibilities you have?
  2. Write a daily To Do List of the things that must get done in order to achieve your overall success goal. One sheet of A4 – no more.
  3. Be ruthless, if the task in your head doesn’t “make your boat go faster” or serve your personal values, do not write it down – scrap it.
  4. Create barriers to all distractions – physically and emotionally. Set times to turn off your phone, get off social media, step away from the news. Create space in your day for the important, critical To Dos.
  5. Allocate time to each ‘compartment’ on your To Do List, and a set time target to achieve each individual task. Remember ‘done’ is better than ‘perfect’.
  6. Multitask with cautions. Only do this on the things that don’t really have an impact on your success.
  7. Share your planned way of working with others and set clear boundaries for them i.e. between 8am and 10am every day is your Business Development time so you cannot be disturbed or between 5pm-7pm is exercise and healthy food prep. Explain to others why this protected time is so important so they become advocates, rather than distractions.

Here is a tool we use to help clients get started with this new ‘compartmentalise and conquer’ approach.


Further blogs from The Passionate PA: 

Sharing the secrets to our success…

Countless people dream of leaving employment to become their own boss, yet few have the courage. For those that do take the leap, becoming a business owner is no mean feat. It’s a path fraught with challenges and the statistics are not in their favour – a high proportion of start-ups fail within their first 3 years.

Whether it’s issues with funding or financial control, a lack of business planning or an unclear value proposition, or simply poor marketing or an overreliance on one or two customers – it’s so easy to ‘fail’ when it comes to running a business.

It isn’t easy, particularly in the freelance world, building a resilient, valuable business that makes a profit and fulfils an individual’s potential. As any freelancer or sole trader will tell you – it’s oh so easy to work 70 hours a week, never see your family, or do the things you love, and end up not making a great living from it anyway. 

Three of our Passionate PAs are celebrating a very different story! Having each decided they wanted to embrace the challenge of becoming self-employed, they chose to invest in a franchise opportunity with The Passionate PA. For them, this was the peace of mind needed to ensure their gamble paid off. 

Debbie is celebrating the start of her 5th year in business, and Jenni and Claire are each celebrating the start of their 3rd. As they reach these important milestones, they are reflecting on the secrets to their own success and sharing some valuable advice for all business owners at the beginning of their journey.  

Debbie Frith

I’ve always loved helping businesses to grow, it’s been my job for 28 years in various guises. I love the cut and thrust of business. I love the highs and the lows that make us work harder and push ourselves further. I love the learning and development that comes with a growing healthy business. 
The new challenges faced daily provide opportunity for both personal and business growth. As a Passionate PA, I get to support not just one business, but many businesses in varying sectors. This makes for a diverse and engaging schedule, I can tell you!
My personal strategy is to focus on using my strengths when partnering with clients; to do what I enjoy doing and what I know I’m good at so I can deliver tangible value to their businesses. This is the ‘not very secret’ to my success. Spending time wading through tasks that don’t float my boat, makes for a very dull and unhappy me. As a Passionate PA, I get to choose who I work with, what I do with them and when, giving me the balance I need in life. 
There’s always a challenge, but then that is what drives and motivates me. Knowing The Passionate PA team are there to celebrate the highs and support me with the lows makes all the difference and why I know for certain that choosing a franchise for my self-employment was the right thing to do.

Debbie Frith Passionate PA Poole

Jenni Bowman

There have been many highs and lows for me over the last two years – and many lessons learnt! It’s definitely not all been plain sailing. However, there is one piece of advice that I try REALLY hard to adopt and it is something that I tell my clients all the time; “Just Be You”.
Life as a Passionate PA means that I am very fortunate to garner close working relationships with my clients. I get to see the best and the worst of them, and this is one of the many aspects of my work that I love! A common theme I have found amongst all the business owners I create relationships with, whether they be networking contacts, my clients, my friends or my colleagues, is that we all feel vulnerable at times. It can be really hard trying to sell yourself and your service in the big wide world – hence why being You is just so important. 

The secret to my success has been personality! People buy people. I may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but that is ok. In business, I want to form relationships with people who understand me and who I can understand too – that goes way deeper than just getting things off their To Do List! There is simply no point trying to be liked by everyone or appeal to everyone – and even less point trying to tell everyone how you can help them ‘do everything’ which is so common in our line of work. That’s what I love most about my business as The Passionate PA; I am allowed to be me and play to my strengths. My clients love that too.  

Jenni Bowman Passionate PA Bournemouth

Claire Bartlett

My first two years as a business owner have been a huge learning curve. Coming from a corporate background, it took some very strong determination to carve my own path. The secret to the successful growth of my business, and myself as a businesswoman, has been complete clarity and confidence in my own USP. It’s been so important to me from the outset that my clients understand the skills and expertise I bring to their business, and the value that creates for them. 
Having a strategic marketing plan is critical too – and this really is why a franchise was right for me. I knew nothing about marketing when I started, but now, I am confident I have the skills to drive my business from strength to strength. Knowing what to do, and when, particularly at the beginning, was mind blowing! My advice for anyone launching a business would be to have really clear goals and a routine approach to Business Development, try different networking events in your area until you find those that fit with you and your business. Grow your circle of trusted resources and confidants, and don’t be afraid to ask for feedback, in fact, insist upon it (both good and bad) as this is the only way any of us grow. 

As a parent with a crazy busy home life, I would also say it’s important to know your personal limits and created positive boundaries. Be known for being reliable, trustworthy and honest – but never over promise. Integrity is everything in our business but so is passion. I love what I do, and I believe it shows. Do what lights you up inside as this keeps your own motivation levels high but also inspires others to be the best they can be too.  

Claire Bartlett Passionate PA New Forest

Collectively, Debbie, Claire and Jenni provide freelance PA support to 18 ambitious business owners across Dorset and West Hampshire, clocking up over 300 hours a month of support to the region’s finest entrepreneurs, directors and business owners. With their expertise in Business Development, Operations, Process Management, Marketing, Project Planning, Event Management, EA support  and so much more being shared on a daily basis – these three women are valued additions to the management teams within their clients’ businesses.  

If you’d like to learn more about having a Passionate PA in your business, please visit our Team Page or call 03 3000 20 200.

Further blogs from The Passionate PA: 

A compelling, heart thumping vision for 2030?

Ancient Romans named the month of January for Janus, their god of gates, doors and beginnings. Always pictured with two faces – one looking toward the future, the other back at the past — Janus is a fitting symbol for the turning of a new year.

As we step through the doorway from one year to the next, it’s natural to do as Janus does: look back and ahead in order to set new goals and plans for ourselves. It is predicted though that 2020’s quitter day will be Sunday 19th January; the day most people will give up on their new year’s resolutions.

Quitting happens because we do not create a compelling enough vision of a future reality we want to aim for. So, I’m inviting you this year to try something different. Instead of just reflecting on the past year or making ‘just’ New Year’s resolutions, why not consider using this first part of the year to look beyond the horizon and create that compelling, heart thumping vision for the next decade for yourself and those you want to take with you. Whether it is a vision for your business, your leadership, your life – you need to know what you really want to aim for, otherwise you just might end up somewhere else!


Well from a business perspective this should go without saying: Leaders are only leaders if they are leading somewhere. Unfortunately, there are many people in positions of leadership who want people to passionately and fully devote themselves to their business and yet they themselves have no clear sense of where they are going. Sometimes, what’s missing is the ability to inspire a shared vision. This is a core leadership capability in today’s world.

Kouzes & Posner, two academics turned business leaders, conducted extensive research in this area by asking followers: what matters most in your leaders? 

The ability to inspire a shared vision was the number 1 attribute that most distinguishes leaders from non-leaders. And yet it continues to be the practise where leaders score least effectively, both according to themselves and their followers.

You can take the concept of leadership into your own life too and have a vision for an integrated, flourishing and well-balanced life. After all you are the leader of your own life! Having a shared compelling, heart thumping vision is how positive change occurs, people coming together united for a common cause and greater good. It generates energy, excitement and passion.

If communicated well, everyone has a sense of where things are going and their part in it, smart choices are being made with the end in mind.

So how to create your 2030 vision? 

According to Gainpiero Petriglieri and his wife, INSEAD professors who have done extensive work in this area, they found two things to be present and essential for greatness in this area:

• Painting a vivid picture of a future day that is better than today
• Articulating a clear plan and show signs of progress no matter how small

Sounds simple, right? So how come it is not common practise? Well, two key mistakes: Some are getting on with it, but no one knows where they are headed but the number one reason for failure is, we are not dreaming of a future that is big enough, bold enough, audacious enough to excite and inspire.

The key is to take time to uncover, connect, communicate, execute and review your vision for business and life. Vision provides direction and helps your business prepare for the future. Vision provides guidance for decision-making, it shapes strategy. Vision guides the types of people you hire and promote. Vision defines what you will and what you will not do, in business and life. Vision helps set priorities and guides planning. Vision aligns people and activities. Vision provides purpose and a source of inspiration. Vision reflects a person’s or business’s core values and beliefs. Vision empowers people and helps focus their efforts. Vision brings change and hope for the future.

Let’s start 2020 a different way. It takes effort to distil big ideas and hopes into a simple picture of the future, but it’s worth the effort. Too often we say we’re too “busy”, but more likely to be busy in our business not on the business and other times that is simply an avoidance strategy. Every successful person is “busy” but they achieve exceptional results… why? Because they have a compelling, heart thumping vision.

As a leadership coach, one of my passions is to partner with clients through the process of creating a compelling Vision that propels them to greatness, running thriving businesses and flourishing lives.

Sharon is currently running an offer for all contacts of The Passionate PA: Vision and Goals Leadership Coaching 
Complimentary session when you buy 4
Worth £250
Click here to learn more

Further blogs from The Passionate PA: 

Time Management Tips for Business Owners

Recently, Laurey Buckland has done a series of talks at local networking events on the topic of Time Management. Here she shares her top tips for being the most effective business leader you can be. 

Laurey Buckland

Time management is always a hot topic amongst The Passionate PA team, and a conversation that comes up regularly with our clients too. Everyone wants to know how to manage it better but, the concept itself is impossible. You cannot and will never be able to manage time. It is an abstract concept. 

You can, however, manage yourself. You can take responsibility for how productive you are in the time you have available.

All great business people have exactly the same number of hours in the day as you – so what’s the difference between their success and yours? The answer is simple; how they choose to use their time, and how productive they are as a result. 

So, how can you manage yourself, and therefore your time, more effectively to live your best life, help your business thrive and, in turn, ensure your clients get the best service you can offer?

Here are my top tips:

Complete the most important tasks first.

This is the golden rule of effective business management. Many call it ‘eating the frog’ in reference to getting the ‘worst’ or largest job done first. But really, it is all about identifying the most crucial tasks.

Identify two or three tasks that are the most crucial to complete and do those first. Once you have done these, your day is already a success. 

Block out distractions.

Prioritise yourself and your business. If you have a lot to get through, it is useful to close the office door for a set amount of time and put your computer’s ‘do not disturb’ function on. Put your phone on silent and allow yourself to focus. Be strict with yourself (and others) and channel your attention by using only one device. 

Don’t strive for perfection.

Always keep the bigger picture in mind; contrary to popular belief, perfectionism is not a positive mindset. Do the job to the best of your abilities, in the sensible amount of time allotted, and move on. 

Have a ‘jobs to-do’ list every day.

As a Passionate PA, I have an endless ‘to do’ list for myself and my clients and there are four classification of job type:

  • Important and Urgent (do these immediately)
  • Important but not Urgent (block time in your diary/schedule to complete these)
  • Urgent but Not Important (delegate these tasks if possible, do during allotted admin time)
  • Not Urgent and Not Important (Make a note of these so you don’t forget they need doing at some point – they may well become Urgent and then they move around the grid!)

It is also important to always leave yourself buffer time in your diary every day and not fill every second. You need wiggle room if Important and Urgent tasks arise.

Organise your inbox.

People with cluttered inboxes spend much more time on their emails than needed. Or, they don’t spend any time whatsoever and as a consequence, miss things or annoy people that are trying to work with them by not responding efficiently. 

I recommend diarising two slots each day for email management – no more than this and certainly do not have it open all day as this allows it to step your attention when you need to be focusing on other tasks.  

Folders and sub-folders are crucial, as is using the flagging tool for items you need to come back to or are waiting on a reply to.

Diarise a monthly time to clear the inbox – if an email is just sat there waiting for you to respond, question why. If you really don’t want to deal with it, DON’T. But take ownership of that decision and either delegate or tell the sender (nicely) that they are not on your priority list. 

Sleep, exercise and take time to relax.

Tired people procrastinate more and get distracted easily. Allowing yourself downtime between tasks can be a breath of fresh air for your brain. 

Go for a walk, a run, meditate or perform whatever mind-clearing exercise works for you. I often have my best ideas when out running. Like my feet, my mind wanders and arrives at some truly fantastic revelations… my present business included!

Be assertive and don’t be afraid to say no.

Every time you decide to do something, you are effectively deciding to NOT do everything else. So, are you certain that what you are doing is the best use of your time?

Be assertive about interruptions. It takes courage and honesty to do this, but people will respect you for having a ‘no crap’ policy in your life.

Outsourcing could be the answer.

As a business owner, question whether you are spending time on tasks which can be done by someone else? You know, the jobs you dread, are inefficient at or those that simply do not increase your profit margin? Knowing how much your time is worth and how much of it you are spending on things that are not bringing in new business or helping it develop and grow will dramatically change your mindset – get calculating! 

Every business can outsourcing something, and there is a wealth of skilled and talented freelancers and specialists out there that can add to your business (and life in general!). Talk to us to find out more – if we can’t help, we’re sure to know someone that can from across our incredible network. 

Let enjoyment be the goal.

Business owners often get so caught up in the ‘busyness’ of our work, that we forget to enjoy what we are doing. Even when we focus on working SMARTER, we are still often too focused on simply getting things done. If you love your work, it doesn’t feel like work – and as a result you will be more productive and dedicated. 

Think about reshaping your business to spend 80% of your time on the bits you enjoy. We’ve seen clients do this and they have achieved incredible results in everything from personal health, staff happiness, client orders and profit margin! You have to be brave to push beyond the norm and your own limiting beliefs, but that’s where the magic happens. 

To conclude, time is not just money. 
Time is family. 
Time is friends.
Time is happiness. 
Time is recovery. 
Time is precious and we only get each day once. 

Be brave, use your time wisely.

Further blogs from The Passionate PA: