“Somebody Pinch Me!”

Claire and Jenni revisit their first 4 months as Passionate PAs, looking back at the highs and the lows, and the rollercoaster journey of becoming self-employed freelance Personal Assistants!

“Somebody pinch me!” is a phrase we both used a fair bit during our intensive training weeks back in January and February of this year. Looking back, it feels like a heady dream filled with learning, excitement, new friendships and quite a lot of coffee!

The training was the official beginning to what had been a life-long ambition for us both; to be self-employed with a business we loved, working with like-minded, ambitious people. Little did we know on that first day how our lives would change…

Claire and Jenni’s Highs (So Far!)

Friendship: We didn’t know each other before joining The Passionate PA, and now we are really good friends. Neither of us expected to find friends as well as launch our businesses… it’s a great added bonus and we never feel alone which is something we both feared when considering ‘going self-employed’.  Having someone to share the journey, let alone a really good friend, has been a huge “somebody pinch me” moment.

Learning about a whole new word: We’d both heard of The Passionate PA through friends and other business contacts. The concept of franchising however is not one we’d ever considered previously and initially seemed quite daunting – it’s a whole new world!

But, once we got to understand Kate’s vision for #TeamPassionatePA, it was pretty clear that this was the answer we’d both been searching for. Becoming franchisees has allowed us to become self-employed but with a huge safety net and the guidance and expertise of someone who has been there and done it. We have the backing of a great ‘tried and tested’ business model and the benefits of a trusted brand. Kate’s success is our success, obviously, but as mentors go, she is awesome.

The other Passionate PAs: It was just before Christmas that we had a celebratory lunch at Yalbury Cottage in Dorchester. Not only was the food and setting scrummy, but it was incredibly exciting to meet two other women who had made this their career – Dominique and Debbie. Everyone in the team is so genuine, honest and refreshingly supportive of each other. We both remember walking back to our cars after lunch thinking this can’t be real.. “Somebody pinch me”! From that moment, we both knew that The Passionate PA was going to be a huge part of our future.

And then the team photoshoot for the website images… oh what a blast! Neither of us have ever had so much fun on a work day! Photoshoots are just not the sort of things you do when you start a business on your own because it’s pretty expensive but, for us, it was all part of the package to join the business and so worth it for our social media and marketing. Such good fun too, we laughed non-stop!

Training: We spent 10 days in a bubble learning about how The Passionate PA operates and the standards and systems we need to upkeep in order to fulfil our contractual obligations as franchisees but, we did have that one daunting moment when we realised we were only days away from being ‘set free’. What were we meant to do in the weeks after training?!

Well, as with the whole journey to that point, Kate held our hands. We created business plans, marketing campaigns, financial forecasts and even discussed small things like networking tips; it all came together to create momentum and build confidence. We are different people today than when we started training. Those weeks were hard work, but oh so worth it!

Time Freedom: This isn’t a 9 to 5 job. To some degree we can work when we want. But, it turns out that running a business is pretty full on, yep – we both now even have dreams about it – and when you have exciting new clients too, time freedom is just a luxury. We are both so committed to our success that even when we do have ‘spare’ time, we find ourselves planning great little marketing campaigns and discussing our awesome clients with friends and family.

Reputation: Before we became Passionate PAs we knew the business had a good reputation, but we have both been astonished by the good wishes and “Oh I’ve heard of you!” comments we get whilst out networking and meeting new people. This has contributed to our success and confidence hugely.

Kate: From the very first interaction on Facebook Messenger she was bubbly, positive, honest and her excitement for the business is utterly contagious! We both happen to come from quite corporate backgrounds with strict management structures and creativity-zapping procedures. To meet Kate and hear about her way of working, experience with entrepreneurial clients and vision for the future of The Passionate PA was so encouraging. Neither of us could believe she was real! From day one she has not only held our hands through this life changing experience but become our greatest cheerleader too. Her support is so important, so valued, we are utterly blown away by the level of commitment she has shown to our success and business growth.

Winning Clients: Of course, this has to be the pinnacle of the last four months. We have each had leads that were nurtured by Kate and then handed to us to get us started, but equally we have each won clients entirely on our own too. Neither of us would call ourselves ‘sales people’, but when you have true confidence in the value you bring to clients and you have brilliant processes and materials to help demonstrate that value, well, the selling comes naturally. What a high it is to see a new client relax because they have the support of a Passionate PA!

The Lows

To be fair, there have only been a few. But, in the spirit of honesty they were:

Feeling overwhelmed: Oh yes, there have been days when we have both felt like we just don’t know where to start. A mix of so much to learn, coupled with pressing client commitments and then of course family life – being self-employed is actually a really hard choice! The pace is so different to that of being an employee and to succeed we know we need to find self-belief like never before. Having a supportive family and being ready to adapt is key. It’s a journey; the things that are tricky now won’t be tricky in 6 months’ time – there will most likely be a whole heap of different challenges and so learning to embrace the rollercoaster is the answer (so Kate keeps reminding us!!).

Money: The first few months are tight! Gone are the days of a reliable salary. The initial franchise fee to become a Passionate PA is scary at first. It’s hard to justify the expense at first, but now we are each ‘on the other side’ (having recouped all the initial investment already!) we can honestly say it’s so worth it. And what’s more important, is that we are in charge of our own financial freedom from here on in. We can earn as much as we want to as it’s directly related to how much time and effort we put into our businesses. Knowing that is powerful, and it’s all the motivation we need to get out there and find the clients that are right for us.

Balancing Act: We’re both mums and learnt pretty quickly that starting a business with children is hard! We need time to adjust but so do the rest of our family. It’s really difficult to learn how to balance family life with the demands of growing a business – and not feeling desperately guilty we can’t give both 100% attention, 100% of the time. But, The Passionate PA is a lifestyle business, it’s all about using our skills and experience to earn the most money we can in the working time we have available, and we are damn sure that wouldn’t be the case if we were doing this alone!

It’s been a whirlwind start to the year. Here’s to the coming months – and indeed years! We both really feel like we’ve found our place in the world with The Passionate PA and for that we couldn’t be happier.

Claire and Jenni x

You can view more about Claire and The Passionate PA in the New Forest by clicking here, and Jenni as The Passionate PA for Bournemouth by clicking here.