I set up my award winning virtual agency Get Ahead VA in 2010 after recognising a gap in the market for virtual assistance services that offered flexibility, value and performance; the three crucial things that small businesses and start-ups need in the 21st century, digital economy.
I was looking for a flexible employment solution that would allow me to work around my three children. I researched various business ideas and a ‘virtual assistant’ business seemed to be the perfect solution. I had lots of great contacts from the years I spent working as a corporate buyer in London for retail giants Sainsburys and Superdrug.
I have always loved networking. All I needed was a laptop and I was ready to go. I adopted social media early on and got a website up and running as soon as I could. These digital assets were vital to start building our customer base and our presence both on and offline.
The business quickly gained pace and I engaged virtual assistants to deliver the services our clients needed. Now a team of 30, Get Ahead VA delivers nationwide virtual assistance services for entrepreneurs, small and medium sized businesses.
With clients ranging from will writers to window cleaners, financial consultants to fashion designers, all of our clients are motivated and driven business owners, with clear plans for business growth.
Our clients recognise the value of outsourcing, passing onto others the tasks that their own workforce lacks skills in, or tasks that drain their valuable time.
Get Ahead VA enables these business owners to get back to what they do best – growing and running their businesses.
One of our clients, Bev Wilkinson of Learning Consultancy Nuggets of Learning told us: “Get Ahead are a seamless service provider. They provide the perfect front of house and behind the scenes to ensure that myself and my team get out there and deliver for our clients.”
All of the virtual assistants in the Get Ahead VA team bring with them particular skill sets in many areas of business including PR & Marketing, Finance, Legal, Customer Service & Administration. Many have decades of experience from corporate firms. This has helped us provide an exceptional service to all of our clients.
Like any entrepreneur, I have experienced the highs and lows of building a business. Watching our clients’ businesses grow and knowing that we have played a part in that is a massive highlight for me.
I also really enjoy our team get togethers. Although we all work virtually from home, we try and get together at least once a year.
I love hearing our virtual assistants talk passionately about our clients and what a difference being able to work flexibly from home makes to them and their families.
There has, of course, been challenges along the way too. Knowing what to invest in and when has been key. A few years ago we made a major investment in a new website, which proved to be really worthwhile. It made a real difference to our reach online and helped to develop social media as a key referral channel for our business. We continuously strive to cater to new design trends and keep up to date with mobile optimisation & SEO.
The business has won a variety of awards including Flexible Business of the Year in the Mum and Working Awards and Theo Paphitis’ Small Business Sunday #SBS Award. We have also been shortlisted in awards for Talent Attraction and Networking and we were selected as one of the best Home Businesses in the UK in 2016.
2016 saw Get Ahead VA expand across the UK, with new virtual assistants appointed in Bristol & the South West, Scotland and the South-East region, to cope with increased demand.
We are looking to continue this in 2017 both through appointing new virtual assistants and welcoming new clients, as well as developing a franchising model to help those looking to start their own VA business. With the challenges of Brexit ahead, we see more and more companies outsourcing to remain agile, leaving VA businesses such as ourselves perfectly placed to assist.
If anyone asks me for advice about starting their own business I always say – don’t be afraid to follow your dreams. Do your research up front and then just get on with it. If things don’t turn out quite as you thought first time don’t panic – just think about how you could do it differently. Keep evolving until you get it right.
Rebecca Newenham founded GetAhead VA in 2010. She wanted to start a flexible, home-based business and spotted a niche in the market for virtual PAs who can help with social media management, administration, email marketing, cold calling, database and more.@GetAheadVA