Tell us your name and a bit about your family? When did you become a Mum and to whom?
My name is Jen and I live in Wirral, Merseyside with my husband and our two daughters. I became a Mum in 2010 to my daughter Erin and her sister Emma completed our family in 2015.
What’s your business called?
JET Virtual Assistant
Can you describe it in one sentence?
It’s a pick up, put down admin and social media support service for small business owners, plus training for Virtual Assistants
When did you become a Mumpreneur and what inspired you?
I started freelancing on maternity leave in 2015 to earn some extra cash to top up my paltry maternity pay and it took off so well that I decided to leave my full time job as a Regional Trainer at the end of maternity! I sought out a part time role for stability and freelanced around that and my family. It was all inspired by wanting to be there for my baby and my eldest daughter who had just started school.
How did you fund your start up?
There was no start-up to fund – all work is done from my laptop I already owned!
How do you manage working around your children?
It takes a lot of organisation, planning ahead and discipline!
But it all begins when speaking to new clients, I make them aware from the off that I work around my family and so 9-5 availability is not a match for me. I only take on clients with tasks that can be completed totally flexibly – there are of course deadlines, but it mustn’t matter whether the work gets done at 10am or 10pm. By operating this way, I have ended up with clients who are pretty much like me – mums working around families – so they get my situation, and I get theirs. No one gets a mum in business like another!
Logistically, I work when they are in school or in the evenings. Covid has been challenging, but they are good girls and understand that mummy has to work so that they get to have nice things like their dance lessons. My ten year old is getting really interested in what I do, and always talks about it so I feel proud to be setting a good example for her of being able to pursue and achieve your goals.
I am also very fortunate to have a supportive partner who shares the load at home and family who live locally to help in holidays.
Can you describe a typical day, what tasks do you have to get done, how do you manage your time?
I plan my week out on a Sunday evening and the tasks are similar week to week so I have a good idea of how long they will take me. A lot of my work is in social media, creating graphics and copy for social media and scheduling that. I also manage the Facebook messages for one of my clients, so I’ll check on them intermittently throughout the day as well.
Clients may send extra work over and so I’ll fit that in where I can, around work on my own social media, blogs and business growth such as writing my next course.
What challenges have you faced in your business and how have you overcome them?
The main challenge is overwhelm – the feeling of always being ‘on’. Receiving Whatsapp messages and emails whilst on holiday or at midnight, not being able to truly switch off.…
It came from a place of fear and not wanting to let clients down or have them think less of me. But as I have grown in confidence, I have felt more assured to be able to say I will not be available at certain times when I am away, and I know that not replying straight away to messages is not going to cost me a contract!!
Covid was another huge challenge – in the space of a week in March 2020, I lost 90% of my income. It took a few weeks for me to get my head straight, but in late April 2020 I decided that I couldn’t spend however long lockdown was going to last for just moping and worrying, and so instead ploughed my energy into creating my course – something which I had wanted to do for a while but which I had never had the time to do. I had it all created ready to film as soon as the kids started back in September and when it was accepted by the provider and published, I had never felt pride like it!!
I spent time working on my website and online presence and slowly but surely, work picked up again, and I am now at a point where I am turning work down as I can’t accommodate any more clients!
What’s the best thing about being Mumpreneur?
Being there for all the Mum moments and being able to give my daughters opportunities which would have been closed off if I had stayed in full time employment with them in after school club every evening.
Instead I have been to every assembly, sports day and parents evening. I have managed to help out on school trips and do things like read stories at my youngest’s nursery!
Dancing is a huge part of both my daughter’s lives – they are there most evenings – and my eldest was even in a professional panto for a Christmas season two years ago. My youngest recently joined a football team as well, which train on a Monday evening. None of their after school activitieswould have been possible if I had stayed in full time employment.
What are your plans for the future?
I launched my first course last September teaching people how to set up as a Virtual Assistant, and have had 52 students so far! I am working on another course, and have plans for a Facebook support group for Virtual Assistants in the pipeline.I am also really enjoying writing and how to delve further into copywriting work in the future.
What advice would you give for someone just starting out in business?
Organisation and self-belief are key! Being self-employed is hard work and you are going to need to back yourself every day. Organisation and planning each day and week out in advance will help keep the logistics on track and the work ticking over, but it is self-belief which will drive everything forwards through the months and years ahead.