Guest Post by Kathie M. Thomas (Learn more about Kathie at the end of this post)
When I began my business at home almost 15 years ago, it was to escape the corporate world and rat-race and to be home for our five daughters. I was fed up with meeting after meeting after meeting and little time at my desk to get the real work done. I was also fed up with trying to shift my hours so I could be home to take this daughter to that event, that daughter to this club and another daughter to a doctor’s appointment. And heaven forbid if one of the kids got sick, what then? We were an isolated family who had shifted interstate from all our friends and relatives. What were we thinking?
Well, whatever it was, we did the right thing. My husband had agreed that I should try running a business from home and I took 12 months’ leave without pay from my government, steady, reasonable-paid position to step out into the unknown and set up a business when I wasn’t sure what the demand would be, how much I would make and where the clients would come from. Twelve months later I was happy to give in my notice knowing I would never return to a ‘job’ again.
Thankfully I had been reading for months business books about networking, marketing, promoting yourself and making sure you could ‘Be Seen, Get Known, Move Ahead’, a book by Robyn Henderson, one of Australia’s networking gurus and Marg McAllister. The first book I’d read of Robyn’s was ‘Networking For $uccess’ and it was this book that I based much of my business practices on. I was amazed that when I wrote to Robyn and told her how much I enjoyed her book, she actually wrote back to me! I had thought I’d be too ‘small’ for her to be interested in me but over the years I learnt that it was people like me that helped Robyn move ahead too. And so I’ve taken several leaves from her books to apply into my own practices.
There is value in learning from others, watching, copying, and trying things out. I don’t mean watching to copy exactly what they are doing – you don’t want a copy-cat business, but I do mean watch and copy how they do things – how do they connect with others? How do they promote? How do they remain visible? How do they network? And so on. There is much in aligning yourself with someone you view as successful and then copy their moves and emulate them.
We all know that if you mix and mingle with a certain crowd, something has to rub off. And that applies to both good and bad – think of ‘one bad apple…’ and you’ll know what I mean.
What do I do? Originally I set up a home based secretarial business which was well equipped to adopt the new Internet when it came on the scene only two years later. I had no idea I was going to pioneer a brand new industry in my country of Australia. How could I? That industry is the Virtual Assistant (VA) Industry and I love that I have been able to witness its birth and nurture its growth. Today I not only provide Virtual Assistant services, but I also provide VA coaching, manage a VA network, and write one of the industry’s top blogs. I also mentor over 2,000 VAs via two forums and participate in many other forums for the industry.
Life has been good for the most part and I’ve been allowed to stay home fulltime, watch my daughters grow up into young women, be home on the odd occasion my husband was sporting injuries and needed home care and haven’t had to ask for time off when family emergencies have required my presence. Having built the VA network meant I had others I could lean on when my clients needed looking after – during holidays, illness and other situations.
It has also allowed me to pursue other interests of mine, namely writing and I’ve successfully published books and had many articles published in printed publications and online. I have also had the opportunity to speak to many through seminars, conferences, webinars and other avenues, sharing this lifestyle of working at home and being present for family – something close to my heart.
About the Author
Kathie M. Thomas, “A Clayton’s Secretary” – I invite you to come and visit my site and learn more about what I do and I am happy to answer questions and reply to your emails – it’s you who keeps me going!