Tell us your name and a bit about your family? When did you become a Mum and to whom?
Hello I’m Rachel (Wall) I’m 38 years old, mummy to Olly (8) and Phoebe (6) and wife to Andy. We live in Kent.
What’s your business called?
Lighthouse Virtual Assistant
Can you describe it in one sentence?
I give small business owners back the hours they lose on those necessary but time consuming daily tasks so they can spend more time with their clients and I specialise in marketing and PR.
When did you become a Mumpreneur and what inspired you?
I had always been extremely focused on my career as a marketing manager for Kent Police/Kent County Council and when I fell pregnant I fully intended to return to work full time after my maternity leave. However, my son was born with a serious long term medical condition and it made me completely revisit my priorities. I returned to work part-time and then had my daughter but felt that I needed to be with my children and so eventually took voluntarily redundancy in 2011. Once the children started school and nursery I felt ready to return to work. I wanted to find something that could give me that work/life balance so I could still be there when my children needed me and especially for when my son needed to attend his hospital appointments in London. I simply couldn’t find the right role that offered such flexibility. It was on the way to one of my son’s appointments that I got chatting to some ladies on the train who worked in PR and I’ told them about my work background and that i wanted to maybe freelance. They said ‘you’d make a great VA’ , I’d never heard of a virtual assistant! After this conversation I spent a long time researching the virtual assistant industry and decided that this was something that I could really do. I took time building the business behind the scenes and launched in 2013.
How did you fund your start up?
Being virtual meant that I didn’t need a huge initial layout. I needed a new laptop, phone line, marketing materials and decorating my own home office. I used some of my savings to fund this.
How do you manage working around your children?
I work during the school hours and make this very clear to my clients from the start. If I get very busy then I catch up in the evenings. Over the school holidays I’ll have child care one day a week so I can attend meetings and then work in the evenings. Again I always make sure my clients are informed about when I’ll be working over the holidays.
Can you describe a typical day, what tasks do you have to get done, how do you manage your time?
My work is extremely varied with quite a few ad-hoc clients as well as long term so I don’t really have a typical day, I do always keep Mondays as my own admin and marketing day. Tasks range from writing and scheduling social media posts, writing press releases, general admin such as invoice management, marketing mentoring, social media tutorials, public speaking and of course networking.
I manage my time by looking at client deadlines and then prioritising. I use an hours tracker app to keep me on course.
What challenges have you faced in your business and how have you overcome them?
I have sadly found that some people expect you to work for free and not charge for certain aspects of work such as meetings. So I quickly made sure that I had terms and conditions and a contract in place for every client so that they know how I work and what they can expect to be charged for.
What’s the best thing about being Mumpreneur?
I absolutely love the varied work, I work for so many different clients from property investors to hypnotherapists. I also love how flexible it can be with family life and I’m always able to attend sports days, assemblies and do the school run. I’ll never regret becoming self-employed.
What are your plans for the future?
My business is growing quickly so I would very much like to expand and employ other virtual assistants to build a team and take on further work. I would love to build a business that I can one day hand over to my children.
What advice would you give for someone just starting out in business?
Don’t give up, the first year is always hard as you try to get your name out there and let people know what you do. It will be worth it
Make sure you set out how you work to your clients from the start and have a contract in place. Don’t work for free just to get work, set your rates and be confident at sticking to them
Invest some time and money into your marketing, it’s crucial in making your business successful
Never underestimate the value of free networking, I’ve gained most of my business this way and have also made some lovely friends along the way.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?
I would tell every mum out there that’s thinking of setting up their own business to go for it! When my son was really ill I never thought I’d be able to go back to any type of work again but setting up my own business has given me the freedom to manage my own time and get that all important work/life balance. Good luck if you’re just starting out – you can do it!