Anna, from running the rat-race to running her own business!
Meet Anna, who after a corporate career decided to go it alone and be her own boss. Anna recently completed our Business Start-up Course and has recently started our Digital and Social Media Promotion course.
What was your career before you had children?
For the last 20 years, I have been a Board Level Executive Assistant in property finance in London. I have been fortunate to have fully supported and assisted a wide range of senior individuals with differing working styles, demands and priorities.
Prior to that, I was awarded a BA Hons (2:1) degree in Hospitality and worked in the hospitality sector for over 7 years and the transferable skills in which I gained from that continue to be useful to me to this day in everything I do.
Now that my daughter is 7 years old, I believe it is a good time to continue my career under my own banner.
How long have you had a career break?
I left my previous role as the Executive Assistant to the Chief Executive Officer of a private equity business in October 2019. During that time, I formulated a plan in my head and set to work in January 2020 to launch my business.
Why did you join the Successful Mums course?
The Successful Mums course looked right up my street. I had not learnt a huge amount for at least a decade and I was excited to engage my brain in a different way by attending the Business Start-up and Digital Skills course. I also felt that meeting new people in the same position as me with the same goals would be good (little did I know that these people would become my friends).
What were your top 3 challenges before starting the course?
The biggest challenge I faced before starting the Successful Mums course was the lack of confidence I felt at the time. This was a strange feeling because it is not in my nature to feel like that but after a few knocks, it was easy to not feel myself.
I felt another major challenge for me was the lack of knowledge I had in starting a business. However, confidence, of course, goes hand in hand with knowledge so once either of those aspects improves, the other follows quite quickly. The course provided me with the reassurance that my logic and common sense (and all that I have learnt in the corporate world) was, in fact, helpful – and now I could just build on that and finesse it somewhat.
Self-belief was (and is, to some extent, at times) a challenge. I think ‘imposter syndrome’ happens to all of us whether or not we are business owners or not, in any aspect of life. The Successful Mums team and my fellow business owner friends pushed and encouraged me to believe in myself and do what makes me happy.
How did the course help with these challenges?
The trainer recognised my traits very quickly and how she would get the best out of me; but more importantly she helped me build my confidence and realise that I could be myself at the same time as doing what I do.
The course was well structured (which I thrive on) and each element was broken down into ‘workbooks’ (or modules) that allowed me to challenge myself through learning again.
What did you enjoy most about the course?
I am sure everyone that has been asked this question will say the same thing but it truly is the people I have met and the friends I have made. To me, people and relationships are the most important thing in life (they drive everything forward and make a person happy, sad, frustrated, cross and all the other feelings that get the best or worst out of them).
I genuinely enjoyed learning again. It had been over 20 years since I was in an educational setting and I loved learning new things and being able to provide input and comment without judgement.
The sense of achievement I felt when the course was completed was great. I personally knew it would be challenging in that there was a lot of work to get through (we were forewarned!) but I enjoyed having the volume of work that I was often used to in my career, that definitely helped; what was different was that it was for me and not for anybody else.
How would you describe the course?
The course is interesting, the guest speakers insightful, the trainer fun, informative and above all hugely patient, and the course’s content provides a good grounding to start up a business and learn basic digital skills required.
It is great groundwork to get new business owners started on what will be a challenging and rewarding venture.
Have you started your business?
Yes, I set up my business whilst doing the course and launched it towards the end of it.
What would your top tip be for anyone looking to start a business?
Be very (very!) prepared for the setbacks as there will be many that occur often. You have to pick yourself up, learn from what you could have done better or believe that something that did not work out happened for a reason.
It is also important to remember why you are starting the business and who you are. Don’t sell yourself short because others want something slightly different from you. Stick with your beliefs, your authenticity will reap the rewards and it is that that will make it a success for you. Anything else might make you feel resentful.
What is your business called and how can we find out more about it?
AKA Virtual Assistant (AKA are my initials so it was an easy choice!)
A huge thank you to Anna for taking the time to answer our questions.
Do you have a business idea? Wondering whether now is the time to take forward? IT IS… so why not join us for one of our new online courses and get your journey started!
We love to showcase our fantastic mums, who continually create their own paths to success. Read some success stories and hear about their inspirational new careers and business ventures.