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.
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.
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.
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.
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: