Is there life after a corporate career?

Claire is our Passionate PA based in Ringwood. She joined us in January 2018 after a very successful corporate career.

In this personal blog, Claire shares insight into why she felt she had to resign from her role with an investment bank, and the damage that transition did to her confidence. She also talks openly though about the “best decision ever” – joining The Passionate PA and building the flexible business she’d always dreamed of.

Our franchisor, Kate Chastey, said “In 2023, Claire is celebrating 5 years as a Passionate PA – and we are delighted to say she will be with us for at least another 5 too after resigning her Franchise Agreement! Claire is one of the most diligent, hard working and inspirational people I know. She’s a multitasker extraordinaire.”

Is there life after the corporate world?

Before having children, I had a great career with a well-known investment bank. I ran a fantastic team of people, worked with prestigious clients worldwide, I earnt good money – life was good and I loved it.

But, when my husband and I started a family, my whole world turned upside down… I returned to a part-time role with the bank, but I was not prepared for the lack of sleep and feeling torn in so many directions. I shifted between feeling very grateful and overwhelmingly guilty every single day.

I could no longer commit to the long hours (and nor did I want to) and most devastatingly for me, I felt that I was looked upon differently by my colleagues and some friends. My personal identity was so connected to my successful career, finding a ‘new me’ was very hard.


The Difficult Decision

This was one of the toughest times in my life, so making the decision to resign from the bank after my second son was born was the right thing to do but equally, truly terrifying for me. I’d been in the corporate world for nearly 20 years… what if no one else would employ me? What if I couldn’t find a fulfilling role to fit around my family life? What if my previous zest for life never returned?

So many doubts hung in my mind, but I had faith that this was the end of a chapter and, when I was ready, I could start something new. Resigning gave me time to be a mum and enjoy my children whilst they were really young – and also time to think clearly about what I wanted life to look like.


What could be next?

I took a few years out, more than I planned, and so I began to feel restless and unfulfilled. Don’t get me wrong, being a Mum is a privilege, but I wanted, no needed, to work. I need to be ‘Claire’ again – the whole me, not ‘just Mum’.

I knew I needed to feel valued and respected, to be able to use my skill set and experience but it seemed that at every option I explored meant I either had no choice but return to full-time employment or take a much lower paid, unfulfilling role.


Finding my sparkle again

As fate would have it, I was approached at school pick-up one day and asked if I would consider taking on the role of Chair of the PTA. No one else would take on the responsibility and that meant an important part of the school would disappear. I couldn’t let this happen, so I eagerly accepted the voluntary role and began to work hard organising and planning the fund-raising activities for the year ahead.

I threw myself into the PTA, resurrected my business brain and discovered that I loved event management, organising, analysing costs and expenses, and much more! This put fire in my belly again and I loved every minute of it. It gave me back my confidence and I was thrilled to significantly increase the profit for the events I ran which led to the purchase of iPads for the school which I am particularly proud of.


Fate strikes again…

Nearly a year in, at the end of one of our meetings, the PTA accountant told me that I must reach out to Kate Chastey from The Passionate PA, saying that I would be a perfect fit!

I was intrigued…

I’d never been a PA, I had a PA myself in my previous role but when I started looking into the franchise, I discovered that the possibilities were endless! My traditional view of a PA was not the same as a freelance Passionate PA. My goodness, the skill sets within the team were vast, the clients they were all working with excited me and the potential to earn great money whilst working flexibly was second to none!

After that first meeting with Kate, I knew that I’d found something truly special. The idea that I could start my own business, with superb experience, guidance and support right behind me, was something I had only dreamed of.

I’ve always had a passion for entrepreneurship and the idea of being my own boss was close to my heart. My Dad has always run his own business, very successfully, and I grew up admiring his work ethic and the sheer passion for what he does. I talked this franchise opportunity through with him and my husband and so my journey as a Passionate PA began!


That was 2018

I’m five years in now and I can honestly say that I LOVE my work! This was without a doubt the best decision that I have ever made professionally; I run a successful business that lights me up inside. I get to work with awesome clients who are now friends too. I choose when I work and with whom and I can use my corporate experience to help my clients grow and expand their businesses which is really fulfilling.

I’m also continuously learning and so the challenges and opportunities are super. To date, I’ve worked in the manufacturing sector, with coaches and trainers, with charities, wellness ambassadors, private clients in Dubai, peer groups, marketing and SEO and many more. A true highlight was with a client in the beauty industry – helping with collaborations with Marie Claire and L’Oreal! I love how varied my work is and how much I can help clients achieve their dreams too.


Best decision ever!

Being a franchisee gives me the best of both worlds. I have the unwavering support of my franchisor, Kate Chastey, who not only believed in me but has encouraged and supported me every step of the way to build a business on my terms.

Team Passionate PA has an impressive selection of commercially savvy and ambitions women. We all have different types of expertise and experience and work together to support and encourage one another, whilst having a lot of fun too!

Being able to offer my clients the experience shared across the team is priceless and enables me to offer an exemplary service which I am incredibly proud of.

So, is there life after the corporate world – hell yes! And it’s better than you can imagine.

You can find out more about Claire by clicking here!



Further blogs from The Passionate PA: 

Business Automation with Louise

You know you want to add a powerful all-in-one sales and business management platform to your business, but the tech is a bit scary. Are you looking for someone to implement the system and make it work hard for your business… if so, Louise is your perfect partner.

If not automatically redirected, please click here.

Further blogs from The Passionate PA: 

From humble beginnings to Business Owner

Kara is our Passionate PA based in Southampton. She joined us in August 2022 and, after her first 6 months in business, has decided to share her story in the hope it may inspire others. With a 30 year career in Hospitality, Kara wondered whether there would ever be life beyond the sector for her and whether a franchise really was the springboard she needed…

Grab a cuppa, in this blog Kara shares her personal story in her own words.

From humble beginnings to Business Owner

My World of Work

My career started early, at the age of 14, washing dishes at a local hotel. Not long after starting this role, I was promoted to a weekend waitress which was when my love for hospitality started.

I went to university to study Hotel Management, where I learnt the fundamentals of running a business where success is dependent on hitting margins.

Throughout my career, I learnt far more than my university qualification covered though; the complexities of recruitment and HR, marketing, rate strategies, property management and compliance, to name but a few.

I worked my way through the ranks to eventually become a Hotel General Manager, and finally, the pinnacle of my career as Head of Operations for a group of hotels. If I am honest, my love of hospitality dwindled towards the end. I was running out of challenges, something that I thrive on. I was earning a good salary, but had no experience in any other industry, how could I find another career, with similar earnings, with such a specialised CV?


Seeking New Challenges

I had looked at franchises in the past, but none appeared to offer the challenge I was seeking or offered a comparable take home pay. They looked to me like they were recruiting for another ‘number’ – I have too big a personality for that sort of role!

A post from The Passionate PA popped up in my social media and sparked my interest, so I took a further look. The bespoke services offered, along with the ethos to ‘go above and beyond’, really struck a chord with me.

I booked a Discovery Call but, unfortunately, it was at a time when my team at the hotel needed me the most. Sounds crazy, I know, but my team were like family to me. We were in the process of adjusting to a post-Brexit/mid-Covid world and the ship needed a captain!

I cancelled that call with Kate to stay where I was needed.

A year later, and the time had finally come for the career change I had been craving. The Passionate PA had remained in the back of my mind. I am a people person, but I wanted to be self-employed. I didn’t want to ‘go it alone’, especially in a business I had no experience in, I wanted to be able to share my highs and lows with understanding colleagues. More importantly, I still wanted to learn, especially now that we live in an ever-evolving digitalised world with so many remote and hybrid options.


Getting The Full Picture

After further research into The Passionate PA, I sent another enquiry to Kate for more details. What I really appreciated was how there was no quick sell, quite the opposite in fact. She tells me now, she got very excited as she’d remembered my CV from a year earlier – but I didn’t know that at the time!

My Discovery Call with Kate finally took place, and she gave me a clear picture of what taking on this franchise would entail – both as a business owner but also on a personal level. I loved how easy Kate was to talk to, down to earth but incredibly informative. I felt I would be in very safe hands!

Kate suggested I researched other options and that I spoke to her Franchise Advisor, Ian Bradley too. He also suggested I be thorough in my research not just about this particular franchise, but about what becoming a franchisee would entail.

At Kate’s invitation, I also spoke to a couple of existing Passionate PA – the longest standing one and the newest, a great mix for honest feedback. The longest standing franchisee had a similar start to her career as I did. She assured me that my skills in hospitality management were easily transferable to this new career… she has since been proven right!

The ‘recruitment process’ was reassuringly thorough, it wasn’t just about whether I wanted to join this franchise, it was also about Kate learning about me to be 100% sure we could work together to build the business I desired.

This was a huge leap for me, I understandably had reservations and endless questions, all of which were answered fully and promptly by Kate.

We then met in person for lunch and it was like I had known Kate all my life! I imagine it was almost an interview process, but it felt far from that. We talked and ate yummy food. We even hugged at the end!


The Awaited Offer & Starting Training

A few days later, I was delighted to receive a franchise offer – I was going to join THE team of savvy business professionals! Woohooo! And what a relief it was to receive this news as I had already made my mind up that this was definitely the right move for me.

Once I was signed up, the online training started. This was broken down into easily digestible modules, with weekly Zoom calls with Kate to discuss any questions I might have.

The highlight of my onboarding was my Launch Retreat at a beautiful AirBnB. As much as this involved many 121 masterclasses and a professional photoshoot, it certainly didn’t feel like ‘work’ as it was fabulous to get to know Kate better, sample her delicious cooking and I got to meet a few of the other Passionate PAs too as they joined us for a training day.


Time For Clients

And then it was down to business! Getting started in my new career was nerve wracking, I was worried that I wouldn’t find clients quickly enough and I even considered getting a weekend job. But Kate assured me that I didn’t need to worry… “hold your nerve” she used to say, and she was right!

There were soon enquiries from potential new clients, and Kate initially joined me on my introductory Zoom meetings for reassurance. It wasn’t long before I was at capacity with Kate drip feeding me leads over the next few weeks.

Kate quietly let me learn to fly solo, but she continues to be there when needed, always checking whether I need more clients, whether I need any support, along with listening and advising on my journey as my current clients develop. I actually call her my Fairy Godmother – she’s just ‘there’ whenever I need her and always seems to have the right answer or question for me.


Team Spirit

I really enjoy our monthly ‘Biz Dev’ team calls, seeing the full team together, hearing how they are getting on, along with our continual training from Kate. I also love the special face to face masterclasses with overnight stays – the team spirit is just wonderful. Such a fun bunch of ladies to socialise with, and learn with, I feel truly honoured to a part of this team!

It is fabulous that we all have our own individual skill sets and personalities, which Kate fully appreciates when dealing with client enquiries. Her role is to match the client enquiry with the right Passionate PA. But, she also relishes the opportunity to really help each Passionate PA create their own version of success too. I, for example, want a full-time business with project work in the financial arena. Other Passionate PAs want part-time, others focus on completely different skill sets to me. That’s what makes The Passionate PA so unique for clients and for franchisees – there is no one size fits all.


Looking Back

I genuinely thought I would miss my previous career, it had been my life for over 30 years but, I honestly haven’t once looked back. I have a thriving business, clients that challenge me every day (in a good way!) and I’m earning more than I was in my last employed role – with scope for more as my business grows and develops.

I am eternally grateful that Kate has given me this opportunity, I never thought work could excite me this much… oh how wrong I was!

You can find out more about Kara by clicking here!



Further blogs from The Passionate PA: 

Making numbers simple for business owners

Kara Birrell is our Passionate PA based in Southampton. She joined us in August 2022 after a 20+ year career in Operations Management and Hospitality.

Kara has always had a passion for numbers… more specifically, profit! In all her previous roles, she has been responsible for margins and, in the hospitality sector where margins are notoriously tight, Kara relished the challenge of not just knowing the numbers herself but inspiring those around her to care about them too.

In this blog, Kara shares her top three tools for making the numbers in your small business simple and meaningful.


Making numbers simple

Everybody knows it’s vital to have a handle on their business’s numbers, but why? How can a small business owner with responsibility for everything from service delivery to marketing, IT to strategy planning, be expected to know one end of a P&L from another?

I get it. And here’s the truth… a lot of people do not understand their numbers.

However, getting a handle on them at an early stage will be the difference between a profitable business that allows you to live the life you desire, and a self-employed “job” where you become trapped.

In my many years of working in hotels and restaurants, and running my own hospitality consultancy, it was very common to find business owners who ran their business finances from their bank account. But this is just a daily snapshot of where your business is, it doesn’t give you a full picture or a forecast for what’s to come.

It is vital that all small business owners have their finger on the financial pulse to:

  1. ensure that they can afford to pay their bills when they are due
  2. ensure they can pay staff and freelancers for the value they are adding to the business, and
  3. (most importantly) ensure the business is actually making a healthy profit.

As a small business owner or sole trader, you might well be thinking I don’t need big profit margins – just enough to pay yourself is plenty?

But, hold up… what about planning for your future and the growth of the business, paying taxes and saving for a rainy day – that will require investment and nobody wants to be a busy fool!

As much as financial reporting may well be seen as ‘over kill’ for a small business, it can be a doddle. I promise 😉

Here’s a simple guide to a few basic financial reports that are easy to produce in excel yet essential for the success of your business.

TOOL #1: Sales Forecasts

This is a simple projection of what business you currently have secured on your books or in your sales pipeline, and then what further sales you hope to make.

‘Secured’ means deposit paid, full amount paid or purchase order received.

‘Hope’ means exactly that; you think it’s going to happen based on an intelligent estimate, but there is absolutely no guarantee yet.

A simple excel spreadsheet with the months listed at the top, and then your projected sales figure underneath is all you need. All your figures should be excluding VAT, if this is applicable to your business.

Top Tip: It’s great to look back on your forecast at the end of the month to see how close your forecast was. This review, which should only take a few moments, will give you a good guide as to how much you understand your sales pipeline. If both figures are very similar, you’ve nailed it!

TOOL #2: Cashflow Forecast

Simply put, your cashflow forecast will give you an indication of how much you should have in your bank at the time when bills need to be paid.

Again, a simple excel spreadsheet will suffice with your outgoings and actual/anticipated income in different columns.

Top Tips: Your sales forecast will help with your income figures, but you also need to take into account the following:

  • If you don’t take payment at the time of the service/sale, put in strict credit control procedures and make sure that your customers are fully aware of your payment terms before the service/sale is agreed. Make sure you have a procedure for chasing payment when it’s overdue!
  • Negotiate good supplier terms. Make sure there is no big difference from when you pay your suppliers, to when your customers pay you.
  • If you need to hold stock, it is vital that this is tightly controlled with regular stock takes. Cash in the bank is far better than products in your stock room. It’s a fine balance to get stock in at the right time, at the right price, while avoiding having cash tied up in it.

TOOL #3: Profit and Loss Account

You can easily produce a basic monthly profit and loss account for your business. The point of this is to understand your profit margin. In simple terms, it is your turnover less all your expenses and you want it to be as high as possible otherwise your business may not be viable.

A simple guide:

Once you have the above reports in place, it should give you a far better understanding of how your business is performing on a weekly or monthly basis. Doing this review yourself also means there are no nasty surprises at the end of the year from your accountant.

Making margins matter

Now that you have a way to track your numbers, you can ask yourself whether your margins (gross and net profit as a percentage of turnover) are close to your industry’s recommended margins.

A quick Google search will tell you roughly what these are, but a great accountant will also be able to advise.

If your margins are far higher or far lower than your industry’s recommended figures, then it’s time to dig a little deeper into your numbers…

  • Can you control your spending?
  • Can you cut supplier costs?
  • Is it time for an efficiency review?
  • Can you increase your selling price, without over pricing yourself against your competitors?

Numbers are the life blood of any business. People only really find them boring when they haven’t fully understood their importance. It is essential for any successful business owner to know where their numbers are likely to be at any given time and these tools should help you do that.

If you would like help in setting up these financial reports for your business, or digging deeper into the numbers to determine what they really mean for you, then please get in touch. Profit is my passion so I would love to help!

You can find out more about Kara by clicking here!

Further blogs from The Passionate PA: 

7 steps to happy, productive OUTSOURCED team

Steph Taylor is our Passionate PA based in Christchurch, Dorset. She joined us in November 2021 after a 20+ year career in Human Resources and Change Management.

In her role as a Passionate PA, Steph helps her clients manage their people through associate models i.e. where one or two directors grow their business and develop their client offering by outsourcing work to trusted consultants, associates or freelancers.

Today, we thought we’d share her top tips for creating happy, productive outsourced teams.


7 steps to creating a happy, productive OUTSOURCED team

You’re running your business and it’s going well. You’ve started to build a team around you using the associate model – choosing people for their skill and knowledge, adding value to your end clients. Things should be getting easier, right?

Ahh… but what if they are not? Creating happy, productive outsourced teams seems like a lot of hard work, and a spoonful of magic sometimes. In this blog, Steph sheds some light on the 7 things you need to consider when building the right associate team for your business.

TIP 1: Invest your time in your people

There is no CRM in the world that can replace the value of your time – so invest it in your people. Get to know them as humans, as well as for the skills and experience they can bring to your business. Setting time aside to collaborate and discuss long-term visions and relationships will lead to improve understanding and rapport.

TIP 2: Be clear on roles and responsibilities

You know exactly what you want these humans to do, but do they? Being clear from the outset (and as you progress) what skills and know-how your business needs will ensure there are no niggling feelings on either side. We advocate going so far as having a Team Handbook so that all the ‘rules of play’ are written down and easy to understand. If your team members know what’s expected, they will find it easier to deliver – and if they don’t, because you were clear, you’ll find it easier to manage their exit! When everyone is clear on what ‘good’ looks like, it’s also easier to see ‘exceptional’ (see point 7 below).

TIP 3: Don’t skip the legals

It’s all too easy to get swept away with the hubbub of the day-to-day business but contracts and Letters of Engagement are vital and should be done before any work actually takes place. These set the boundaries, ensure understanding and give everyone peace of mind. The timely production of contracts also sets the tone for the level of excellence at which your business operates.

TIP 4: Culture doesn’t happen by accident

The culture of your business is a direct result of your communications and behaviours. If you want an autonomous, responsible, proactive team then micro-managing isn’t going to get you there. Encouraging all team members to make time for each other, learn from each other and seek best practice not just motivates your people, it creates great results for your business too!

TIP 5: Clarity of communication

Whether it’s an internal 121 email, a company-wide announcement or a quick conversation, being clear, consistent and honest at all times will allow your team to trust you, even with the not-so-good news. Being open about the direction of the business is also key to building a happy, productive long-term team.

TIP 6: Know your weaknesses

A good leader will know where they are not so good. Get the right people in your business to support in these areas. For Passionate PA clients, we are often the conduit for great comms – never instead of the business leader, more a buffer/filter/positioner. There really is nothing more valuable that a seriously great PA who understands your business vision and works with you to achieve that (but we might be biased, of course!).

TIP 7: Feel good factor

Showing appreciation and recognition goes further than just paying your teams’ invoices on time. Kind words, constructive feedback, referrals for other work are all ways in which people can feel valued. And, back to Tip 2 – if you have been super clear what a good team member looks like, recognising excellence and building further on that relationship is easy.

If you’re not natural leader of people, outsourcing the task of bringing your team together through a people-centred project manager or business support professional can be an ideal way to reap the countless rewards of the outsourced team. If you’d like to have a chat about how this might work for you, book a call with Steph today.

You can find out more about Steph by clicking here!

Further blogs from The Passionate PA: 

Claire’s Project Management with Julia’s House

Claire Bartlett, our Passionate PA based near Ringwood, Dorset, is currently working with children’s hospice charity, Julia’s House. The charity provides clinical, practical and emotional respite care and support for families caring for a child with a life-limiting or life-threatening condition.

The charity’s CEO, Martin Edwards (pictured above with Claire), has been a long-term supporter of The Passionate PA and when the opportunity arose for him to find a Project Manager to assist with their office move, Claire jumped at the chance to partner with him.

Bournemouth-based interior design company, KTM Design, are also working on the project and have shared their news here!

Claire commented; “Workspace needs have shifted since the beginning of the pandemic, as many people have become more accustomed to certain ways of working to suit their personal needs. We wanted to carry this flexible mentality through to the new office and believe KTM Design’s ideas effectively capture what we’re trying to achieve. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working closely with KTM Design on this project and I am very much looking forward to seeing the end result. Julia’s House is excited to introduce the new space to its staff and I hope it will help them continue doing a fantastic job for hundreds of Dorset families in need of their lifeline of care and support.”


You can find out more about Claire by clicking here!

Further blogs from The Passionate PA: 

6 lessons learned to celebrate 6 years in business

In 2022, Debbie celebrated 6 years in business as a Passionate PA. When she reached 5, her amazing clients did a little video but this year, she decided to celebrate the milestone by sharing some of the lessons learned over her whole business journey as a franchisee with The Passionate PA. Debbie shared these lessons with the intention that they may prove useful to anyone embarking on their own journey as a business owner.

Lesson 1: Be yourself…

I was new to The Passionate PA, I was new to the Dorset network and business scene. I was scared of being myself in case no one liked me. So I was, I guess, holding back. Holding back from letting the full me be on show. Was Dorset ready for me?!

Well, yes, it seems it was. It took time and a pair of big girl pants, but gradually, being me seemed to be ok. There were lots of other people like me out there, as in, there were lots of other people in the same new to business boat, some of them with less confidence and experience, so hell yes, I could put myself out there if they could!

What it took was time. Time to understand, to listen, to appreciate, to experience, to learn.

One of the biggest things I learned is that people inherently don’t want you to fail. People are generally bigging you up, wanting you to succeed, cheering you on.

Once you realise this, the world is a far less scary place. Embrace it. Throw yourself in wholeheartedly and enjoy!

Lesson 2: Think like a business owner

Prior to being a business owner, I was a senior manager for years with significant responsibility for people, profits, quality, service and standards.

Though I was a senior manager, I still had a boss, and I was still an employee. We were given a high level of autonomy and held responsible for it, this encouraged a sense of ownership for my work which remains deep-rooted in me. Ultimately though, there was always someone else above me who had more accountability than I did and a greater degree of responsibility.

When you’re running your own business, I have learned that the buck stops with you and no one else. I may work within a franchise, but it’s up to me how I implement that successfully within my business. The franchise provides a framework, within which I must operate. That framework is created from valuable experience and is tried and tested for success.

With my business owner mindset, I must make that framework work for me, drive my business forwards, seek out opportunities, learn and develop – to innovate and create new value.

A business owner mindset is a fundamental tool I use to improve, grow and strengthen my business. It’s so much more than achieving the daily to-do list.

This mindset must not get complacent though, it must be kept sharp to keep up with the demands of an ever-changing marketplace.

Lesson 3: Be consistent

Life is a rollercoaster; you’ve just got to ride it! Sang good old Ronan Keating back in the day. He wasn’t wrong, was he!

But, notwithstanding the ups and downs of life, the sharp turns and sometimes total upheaval faced (and my goodness the last 2 years has thrown a goodly amount of that our way) being consistent is key:

  • Being consistent is habit-forming. Habits that almost become second nature. And when that happens, you don’t feel like you’re even trying, you’re just doing what you do. Showing up consistently.
  • Consistency will help you to create your own accountability. You can adjust your actions and behaviours and progress towards what you want to achieve.
  • Consistency doesn’t take masses of effort. Small things done consistently can add up to big things over time. They will also differentiate you from others who are not being consistent.

My experience is that being consistent builds trust and momentum which in turn helps me feel positive about what I’m working towards.

Lesson 4: Act decisively

This means that decisions can be made, and action taken quickly for maximum impact. I’ve got a great support network to help if I want to bounce an idea around, or check that I’m not completely off track – I use that network frequently to do just that:

  • Decisions as a sole trader will often revolve around finances, health, and family
  • Work out what’s important to YOU and act promptly
  • Indecisiveness consumes energy

That saying ‘be the change you want to see’ is bang on point!

The decisions I have taken over the last 6 years have all contributed towards making me happier and more fulfilled in work and in life. Ultimately that’s my goal.

Lesson 5: It’s not all about the money

Recently I was asked to reflect on my previous year of business and talk about 3 achievements that I was particularly proud of.

One of those highlights was achieving a record turnover in one month; the highest turnover in a single month in my six years as a Passionate PA.

I keep a close eye on my finances, so it was no surprise to me what would be achieved by the end of the month, I had plenty of work to do, in actual fact, it was almost too much. The lure of £££ was attractive and spurred me on, but the cost to my sanity was also high.

This experience taught me a valuable lesson and as a result, I reorganised my client mix and workload into a position that was far more manageable for me, my business, my family and my health.

So, whether you’re a plate spinner, a serial list-maker or a fly by the seat of your pants kinda gal/guy, my advice to you is to find a balance that works FOR YOU, not for anyone else.

Lesson 6: Build a network

Being a sole trader can be a lonely existence. Actually, being a business owner can be a lonely existence full stop.  When leading a team or working on your own, it can be a similar feeling.

People often ask me ‘what do I get out of networking?’ they mean what clients have I won through networking, or how much business revenue can I attribute to the time I spend networking.  I surprise them by saying this ‘I don’t network to win business; I network to grow my meaningful connections’. Those new to networking are often taken aback, those that are more experienced get it.

Of course, it’s great when someone in your network becomes a client, this gives you a financial reward for your networking endeavours. But personally, I’m looking for something more.  I’m looking for, and have found, an absolutely brilliant bunch of people from all walks of life, doing all sorts of things, located all over the UK and overseas.

Ask me do I know someone who can…. and I probably do. These people have opened my eyes and my mind to all sorts of different perspectives, they inspire and motivate me every day. If I need a little pick me up, a swift scroll through my LinkedIn feed will generally throw something up that helps. If I’m feeling lonely working on my own, book onto an online networking session (or even one in person!) and those couple of hours will give me an emotional and mental boost that delivers real impact.

I’ve been able to refer countless people to each other, someone said to me recently – you’re a connector Debbie, a connector of people. Yes I most certainly am. I love putting people together and seeing it work!

Give it a go yourself, stick at it (see a previous lesson about consistency) and enjoy!

So, that’s a wrap, my 6 lessons learned over my 6 years as a business owner shared with you. I hope at least one person found at least one post useful, and it made a difference to their day. That’s enough for me.

To find out more about Debbie, click here. 

Further blogs from The Passionate PA: 

Let’s talk about the cost of delegating…

Is there a risk that delegating tasks or responsibilities in your business will cost you more than if you did it all yourself?

Let’s explore with Chris Croft, one of the world’s leading trainers who provides a wide variety of courses. To date Chris has trained some 87,000 people face to face and eighteen million online.

Chris regularly delegates to his Passionate PA, Claire, click here to read his blog!



You can find out more about Claire by clicking here!

Further blogs from The Passionate PA: 

Choosing the right CRM for your business

In this blog, systems specialist and Passionate PA, Louise Cummins (pictured) shares her top 5 tips for choosing the right CRM system for your business.

There’s no shortage of business owners who want to be more efficient and provide their clients with an awesome client experience. Are you one of them?

But, do you feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of work in your business and it’s growing faster than you can keep up with?

Implementing the right CRM system into your business is a gamechanger.

As Passionate PAs, we work with our clients to decide on the system that suits their needs and not just to sign up with the latest system to hit the market. As, let’s face it, what one person is using is irrelevant to the next! It’s all about identifying what YOUR business needs, implementing that system effectively and ensuring it’s embedded in your daily routine forever more.

We know it’s a challenge. You might well be thinking…

  • How do I know what I need?
  • Will it connect to my other systems/apps?
  • Will I have to change everything I already have in place?
  • Will the free version fit my needs?
  • How long will it take to implement?
  • Who can help me with that?
  • and most importantly… Will it actually do what I want it to?

Firstly, you need to know where you want to take your business. Then, follow Louise’s 5 simple steps to choosing the software that’s right for you and your business to create a seamless customer journey for your own clients and ultimately more efficiency and profit!

  1. Brain dump a list of the essential elements your CRM system has to include and then a ‘would be nice to have’ list too (such as integrations with mailing and accounting software, video hosting, branding etc).Don’t start with Google – it will throw up thousands of suggestions which just creates noise and confusion! Start with your own head and your knowledge of your business.
  1. Ask for recommendations and pros and cons of each system. Liaise with clients, suppliers, networking buddies etc and ask the same questions so you can make a comparable list.Then do some Google research and see what other systems match your spec.
  1. Create a short list of the systems that fit best with your requirements including the price of each level of access.You’ll now need to strike off the list those that aren’t of interest or giving enough value for the investment. Ensure you look at all price points to ensure you do a true comparison.
  1. Trial the system you think most suited and make use of all the features. We’d suggest this trial is done over a month! Things change in business and doing just a week’s trial won’t really give you a good indicator as to whether the system will suit your business in the long term.Ensure you keep all your ‘must-haves’ at the forefront of your mind when carrying out the trial.  All systems have a support team that can help you through the trial too.
  1. Analyse the results of the trial and make your decision to go with it or start another trial.Did it meet your requirements? Is the price right? If not, set up another trial until you find the correct system for you. Keep going until you find THE ONE! We know this sounds really time consuming, but, the rewards are great. The right CRM will be a total gamechanger for you.

If implementing a CRM system into your business is something you are considering but need someone to support you and keep you on track with trialling and through to implementation – then please do get in touch. Louise has huge experience in this area and takes on project work to help ambitious business leaders achieve their CRM goals.

You can connect with Louise on LinkedIn or, why not book a Discovery Call to see how you could work together – email her directly on

You can find out more about our team of business support professionals by clicking here!

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