I was 37 when I fell pregnant with my first child in May 2009. At the time I was a television production manager for a sports TV company in London. I’d only been with the company for 16 months when I was told I was being made redundant once my current project had finished. We were so busy at the time, I hadn’t actually got round to telling them I was 14 weeks pregnant. It was on my To Do list! As I’d not quite done 2 years of service with them I wasn’t entitled to any redundancy pay. It was a pretty big shock to the system and bank account of someone who had worked every day since leaving education over 15 years ago!
Fast forward to 6.00am on NYE 2009 and our baby boy arrived 6 weeks early. Any thought of work and earning a living flew straight out of my head. After 6 months at home with our new addition I think I was like any first time mum – exhausted mostly, and the thought of going back to work and commuting 2 hours in and out of London each way filled me with dread. The only solution I could see would be to work from home using my previous experience of administration, travel logistics and research. I was quite excited at the thought of working for myself – it suddenly felt very real and very grown up!
It took me a while to find my niche as a home based Virtual Assistant but even longer to decide what to call myself! All the great names to do with Assistants (Girl Friday, Moneypenny etc) had already been taken. I decided on “Gladstone” as it’s a local road name and it’s pretty smart but generic. I wanted something that didn’t define the business and therefore limit me if I chose to alter direction.
Armed with a new website courtesy of my sister, I set up office in our spare bedroom and with a macbook, printer, shredder and an I-phone Gladstone VA officially opened for business in October last year.
I couldn’t afford to advertise my fledgling company so needed to be clever to get clients. Actually I got my first client through a friend of the family who was looking for some PA help but couldn’t afford to hire a full time member of staff and on her advice I joined Twitter to find more clients. I follow mainly small businesses and freelancers and I make sure my tweets alternate between work and chat. I think if you bombard people with “hire me” tweets every day there’s only so many of them they can stomach to read! I personally message everyone who follows me and I try to interact with everyone without spending hours on there (it’s quite addictive!). I’ve since booked in 2 more clients through Twitter and have received several inquiries from people I don’t believe would have found me otherwise. I currently work with a freelance photographer, a fashion photographer, a wedding blogger, a greetings card designer and an orchid exporter! As you can see, my days are very varied.
I love working from home and I love working for myself. I get to work the hours I want for the people I want and am ensured that no day is ever the same.
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