Mumpreneur Rebecca Newenham’s is an inspiring story – she followed in her mother’s footsteps by setting up her own business to work flexibly around her three girls. She now runs a team of 19 Virtual Assistants, of which 16 are mothers themselves, with 30 children between them! All these other mums also benefit from the flexible, family friendly work that Rebecca provides for her clients.
Tell us a little bit about your family:
I live in Guildford in Surrey with my husband Martin and our 3 daughters Isabelle 11, Aimee 9 and Robyn 7. Our house is very pink! Martin & I met when we both worked in retail. I was in buying and Martin was in IT. He is now a Director of an e commerce business in central London.
What is the name of your business?
Get Ahead VA
When did you launch your business?
I spent a few months getting my business set up launching slowly in 2010.
What did you do before you had children?
I was a non food buyer for Sainsburys based in their Head Office in central London. I ran the first ever supplier auction where suppliers had to bid for business online. I loved the fast pace and the excitement of new product development.
What was the deciding factor that made you ‘go for it’ and set up a business around your family?
I always knew that I wanted to run my own business. My mother run a tutorial business from home when I was growing up and was a great role model for me. I wanted to give my girls the continuity of me being able to do school drop off and pick up but I also wanted to contribute financially. I started to hear about the term virtual assistant more and more, it evolved in the US. I researched various courses and found one run by 2 hugely successful UK based VAs. The course ran over one day and it was fantastic as it ran through everything you would need for a home office right through to documentation and types of work we could do. With my background and contacts I had a clear vision for how I could create a team and service a broad range of customer requirements. I didn’t want to be a sole trader and always knew I would grow the business and give work opportunities to fellow mothers.
What childcare did you have in place when you started out/now?
I was lucky that by the time I started the business the girls were mainly at school so I could juggle work around school drop offs, netball matches etc!
What has been the highpoint of running your own business?
One of the real highpoints for me was last year’s Christmas lunch. Seeing the team together and hearing them all talking passionately about our clients and also the huge benefits of being part of GAVA made it all worthwhile. The majority of our team have children and I know how much they value being able to work from home, flexibly around their families. I was also very proud earlier this year when we were voted 2nd most loved VA business in the UK through ‘the best of’ business directory and I was selected as a finalist in this year’s MumpreneurUK awards.
What has been the most challenging thing about running your own business and what have you done to overcome that challenge?
Running your own business from home is definitely a challenge but since moving into my garden office I have found it easier to set boundaries. Technology makes it a lot easier to manage your time but you have to be disciplined. At one stage I would wake up and check my emails before even putting on the kettle. This was crazy but an easy habit to get into!
What is your ‘golden nugget’…. The one piece of advice that you would give a mum thinking of running her own business?
I think the secret to Get Ahead’s success has been understanding our varied customer requirements and then making the right connections between the specific VA and the client. I pride myself on being a fantastic match maker! So make sure you really consider what your customers want and then deliver upon it.
What keeps you going and motivates you when it is all going horribly wrong?
Definitely my family. My husband Martin is hugely supportive, very proud and a great sounding board. My girls often talk about GAVA and they love checking the website for new updates and talk about it with their friends. I know they are proud of mummy!
How do you take time out from your family and your business and have some ‘me time’?
By demonstrating the benefits of having a VA myself! At half terms and holidays I always ask one of my team to check my emails so I can have a proper break. We had a lovely 2 weeks holiday in August this year which gave me plenty of time to relax and disappear into a good book which was bliss. I also love my bootcamp exercise which I do outside twice a week come rain or shine. I have a babysitter booked so there is no excuse not to make it.
What is your dream for your business? Where would you like it to be in five years?
I want to continue to grow the team, giving more mothers flexible and also interesting work and to be famous for playing a part in helping small business owners to deliver their dreams. I want to extend our geographic coverage and look at introducing area manager levels within the business.
How can people find out more about your business?
Website address: www.getaheadva.com
Twitter address: @GetAheadVA