This week as part of my Mums in Business series I’m delighted to introduce Raakhee from RS Virtual Assistant, and I loved reading her story. It’s funny I found myself nodding along to her points as I read them. Having a child really does change your outlook on your career, there’s the commute, the worry that if they are ill at nursery, and the long hours. But all is not lost, in fact having a maternity leave can do wonders for our career as Raakhee explains in her post below.
A little bit about you, your background and your RS Virtual Assistant
I set up my Virtual PA business when I returned back to work after a year on maternity leave. I worked on my business on the side during the evenings and weekends while working full-time as an Executive Assistant for a publishing house supporting two board-level directors. I worked for the publishing house for about five years and I absolutely loved my job; the directors I supported were fabulous, my colleagues were great and the company treated me well. In January 2017, I left my job to work for myself full-time. I have a real passion for helping people so setting up as a Virtual PA was a natural next step for me.
What were the drivers and your motivations for setting up RS Virtual Assistant
I have to say I was quite naïve. When I got pregnant, this was my plan; I would take a year off for maternity leave, I would then go back to the job that I love and my daughter would go to nursery and everything would be fine. How wrong I was! I didn’t realise how much my priorities would change when my daughter came along. It was at the start of my maternity leave I seriously started thinking about how I would cope being so far away from her when I went back to work. I worked in Blackfriars and I lived in Ashford, Kent. If there was an emergency, it would take a good hour and a half to get back home. My husband worked in Ashford so he would be the first point of contact in an emergency but I knew, for me, the journey home would be agonising. I also didn’t get home until 7pm – 7.15pm by which time she would already be in bed. The thought of missing out on her growing up didn’t sit well with me. My daughter was my motivation for setting up my business. I also want to be a role model for her.
How do you balance your business around your family and children
My husband and I send our daughter to nursery five days a week, the best part of the day is picking her up from nursery as it wasn’t something I could do when I was working in London. My hours are 9.30am to 4pm Monday to Friday. If there is any work I need to finish off, I do it after she has gone to bed and my husband and I have had dinner. My weekends are strictly family time and this time is precious to me. Eventually, once I have built a client base, I’m hoping to change it to Monday to Thursday and my daughter will be home with me on Friday.
Managing a business and a family isn’t easy but I’m quite organised (being an Executive Assistant helped!). Recently, my daughter had a chest infection and wasn’t able to go to nursery. She was off for four days and I managed better than I thought. I caught up with emails first thing in the morning when she was eating breakfast, when she was napping (nap time is a godsend!) and finished anything else off in the evenings. I also use my Google calendar A LOT. I schedule everything in there, both business and personal, that way I don’t forget anything or worry about forgetting anything which helps me manage my time better.
Since setting up RS Virtual Assistant what’s been your biggest success to date
I would say that networking is my biggest success to date. I’ve never had to put myself out there and find jumping out of my comfort zone really hard. In my working career, I have always been a ‘behind the scenes’ person; Administrator, Customer Services Supervisor, PA then an EA, I’ve always had a job where people came to me if they needed help. This was a huge hurdle for me and I am much better at networking than when I started. I even wrote a blog about tips for networking.
What’s your top tip for anyone who’s thinking about setting up their own business
My top tip would be to research, research and more research. If you are going to set up your own business, you need to know what you are getting yourself into. I started researching about being a Virtual PA when I first went on maternity leave and didn’t actually go live until my first day back in the office. I spent a year researching (in-between trying to catch up on sleep and trying to figure out what I should be doing with a new baby) and it was a year spent well. It wasn’t just about what services I could offer but also about contracts, terms and conditions, insurance, tax returns, keeping accurate records, creating a website and what systems to put into place.
Thank you so much Raakhee for sharing your story with us, I wish you all the best of luck in the future.