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Why Solo?

This is the question I asked myself as I was walking in the park today. Why did I go solo and set up as a virtual assistant? As I was on a walk, the answer presented itself, it was lifestyle. I needed to change from being employed in an office to being self-employed so that I could change my lifestyle. I needed to get out in the fresh air and enjoy the landscapes.


I have spent the past ten years working in the landscape industry helping build million-pound landscapes all from behind a desk as an office manager running a team of project administrators.  Having identified what I needed to do, the next question was, how was I going to achieve it?


Working from home seemed the best option of me. While doing some research into this, I came across the field of ‘virtual assistance’, which provided the flexibility I was looking for. I was so very fortunate to come across the “Society of Virtual Assistants” which had loads of information about how to go about setting up as a Virtual Assistant. Armed with this information and the support from my family I felt I could make a go of being a Virtual Assistant.


Having worked the last three years on a large Infrastructure project (NEC4 contract Tideway) in London I knew that I was at the top of my game in the landscape industry, and knew there was enough demand for my skills to specialise in the Landscape industry. Some may say it is limiting my customer base, but it is my unique selling point (USP) so I went for it.  After much mulling over of names and googling to see what was available, I landed on landscapingVA.co.uk, and I went for it. My next step was then to launch my business, and for me that meant exhibiting at the Futurescapes exhibition at the EXCEL Centre.  If I couldn’t get a stand then it wasn’t worth launching my business as I had to be in the room with the movers and shakers of the industry.  Six weeks before Futurescapes I made an enquiry and sure enough I could get a stand and booked it.




It was now all systems go:

  1. Register the website name with names.co.uk

  2. Buy a laptop and Business Microsoft Office

  3. Create a website via Wix and logo with the help from my family.

  4. With the help of Koffe Klatch get my contracts and GDPR and privacy policy.

  5. Arrange Professional indemnity insurance from PolicyBee.

  6. ICO registered.

  7. Decide to go as self-employed and inform HMRC. I might still register my business name at companies’ house and make dormant.

  8. Arrange a business bank account next which was surprisingly easy (online bank)

  9. In preparation for the exhibition my husband I did a trip to ScrewFix Live exhibition and studied the stands so I now had an idea of what was needed and how to decorate my stand. 

  10. Exhibition was four weeks away. Hand in my notice at work.

  11. Book a few days off as I had to get some serious marketing sorted.

  12. With help from my family, I was advised that I needed to visualise my ideal customers.  So, I created a story board banner appealing to three types of ideal customers.  

  13. Get some pricing on banners and decide on four, one for each customer type and one to explain the concept of a virtual assistant.  Family assistance again via a friend who is a graphic designer and agrees to do my banners and flyers. He does it in one weekend, what a star.

  14.  Back to the exhibition and I get setup details and realise I need to hire furniture for stand as it needs to fire safety approved. Book that in and now feel it is real, no turning back. 

  15. Banners, flyers and business cards arrive.

  16. Next step is the freebie.  I couldn’t afford pens or pads but could afford some wildflower seeds and seed envelopes, packaged up the seeds and stuck them on to my business card.

  17. I join LinkedIn as I need to connect business to business.

  18.  Do my first post about my stand at Futurescapes.

  19. The day before the exhibition, I go and set up my stand, having written my first ever RAMS and remembered my Hi Viz and safety boots. 

  20. Exhibtion day arrives. On the day of the exhibition, I get a positive boost from one of my contacts on LinkedIn, Tony Huntbach, which was the best thing as I was feeling a bit nervous as it was a gamble and I needed to find out if I had got it right.

  21. Get some cruicial advice from the stand next to us “Post Pullers” about how to make the most of the exhibition.  “You will need to rugby tackle the attendees”.  Supported by family we rugby tackled a fair few and launched my business over the two days.


 

Was Futurescapes worth it? It was as I got two excellent clients. I am enjoying the variety of clients that have come my way and the tasks that I am needed to help with is broadening my range of skills. Such as Construction Line and ISO9001 compliance and writing my first every blog for a client. Soon to add internal auditing for ISO9001.

 

If you are interested in finding out if I can be of help then contact me to arrange a discovery call.


Fran Handley

07468 461 617







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