Tell us a little about your business
Emerald Resources is a virtual office support company that provides professional administrative, technical, and creative assistance to clients. In addition to PA and secretarial tasks, I can also provide clients with a wide range of more technical skills such as proficiency with Excel, graphic design and well-honed marketing and research services. We offer a personal approach, only enlisting a few clients at a time on our books.
What was your job before starting your business?
Marketing and event manager for a legal services provider, in Cardiff.
How did you go from your old career to your new business?
I jumped in the deep end! Travelling from Bath to Cardiff every day in rush hour, was not something I wanted to do while I was pregnant, nor did I want to return to work anytime soon after my baby was born. Luckily I had a wonderful relationship with my company and they agreed to take me on as a contractor rather than an employee. I resigned, set up my company and my new self-employed status and it grew from there.
What were your reasons for starting a business?
My husband serves in the Armed Forces and is away for long periods of time, several times a year. I wanted the freedom to be able to work my own hours and be at home for my family.
Did you use any childcare?
I deliberated for months about if and when to send Ava to nursery. I am still deliberating… In the meantime I make sure she gets time to mingle with other children and the chance to experience new things.
How did you get your business idea?
I worked remotely on and off for my company after I moved counties. By utilising the power of the internet and by being accessible via phone or Skype for meetings, I proved that a virtual way of working was just as productive as being in the office.
What were your challenges and how did you overcome them?
For me the two biggest challenges were starting a business from scratch and winning customers. The first I overcame by researching numerous websites. The likes of http://www.businesslink.gov.uk and http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/startingup/ I found the most resourceful. I also took the time to write a thorough business plan and have two of my closest business contacts look it over. I still refer to my business plan to keep things fresh in my head. The challenge of winning customers will always be a challenge. Initially I tested a number of different strategies to ascertain the best way of bringing in work. I now use the main approaches most frequently;
- Work closely with a competitor and have their overflow work fed down to me.
- Network online via social networking sites and related organisations.
- Encourage word of mouth marketing by rewarding referrals.
- Look for 20 new clients a month (in my target market) and contact the decision maker for the company.
What training, information or advice did you need to get started?
I read a lot about how to start a business and did a great deal of research on my competitors. I used the knowledge and advice given to me by close business contacts and sought out additional advice from banks and start up agencies.
If you could give a piece of advice to a mum of a baby or toddler starting a business, what would it be?
Write a business plan! From here you will clearly see if your idea is likely to succeed. Set an area aside at home and turn it into a productive working environment and most importantly make sure you can absorb your work but still give your time and love to your baby.
For more, see www.emeraldresources.co.uk
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