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We’re so thrilled that My Town Online has had such a great turn out in the first few months! So, to celebrate the founding members showcasing their products or services on
My Town Online, we are sharing the people behind these local businesses; what they do 
and how you can browse their listings! 

Today, we’re speaking to Gemma from Hidden Gem PA, Sue from Tranquil Tea House Therapies and Alyson from BNI.


Hidden Gem PA

Hidden


Hi Gemma, tell us a bit about you and your business.  

Hi, I’m Gemma Lane, I’m a Virtual Assistant supporting businesses, individuals and charities from many industries, helping them to save time, money and stress by looking after their admin. I also help with personal life admin too so, things like car insurance, contractors, energy bills, booking theatre tickets, events etc.


Describe a typical day in your business. 

There is no typical day and that is what I love about the business - such variety! I am good at juggling lots of things and also very flexible in my approach.


Describe the ideal day in your business. 

A productive day, where I get lots done!


Describe the ideal customer you like to help

Someone that is snowed under with admin but doesn’t know if they need a VA ??" perhaps they just need a Power Hour to help them sort out systems and make them more efficient by setting up a Mailchimp account or an electronic filing system. They don’t necessary need a VA full time but need a little help in terms of admin.


What unique skills have you developed to run your business?

Flexibility, proactivity and an ability to get on with everyone. 


Why did you choose your industry/sector or niche?

Sadly, I love admin!


What one piece of advice do you wish you had been given before starting your business?

There is a lot of background admin to any business, and you never realise how much until you run your own!


What one piece of advice would you give someone starting out in your industry?

Persevere - things do not happen overnight. Virtual Assistance is all about maintaining great relationships with your clients.


What is your ultimate goal for your business?

To expand and employ other people with different specialities and to help offer more services.


What's the most exciting thing you have planned? 

Continuing with my newly launched Power Hours!


What do you enjoy doing when not running your business?

Yoga and being outdoors.


Tell us some of your life goals?

To enjoy the job I do, which luckily, I do!


Tell us something surprising about yourself or your business.

A group of friends chose my company name - I was stuck on what to call myself.


Thanks for speaking with us Gemma, it was great getting to know a bit more about Hidden Gem PA! If you would like to learn more, explore the Hidden Gem PA local business page on My Town Online.

 


Tranquil Tea House Therapies

TTT

Hi Sue, tell us a bit about you and your business.  

My name’s Sue and I’m the owner of Tranquil Tea House Therapies.

I’m an Aromatherapist and Reiki Master. I offer aromatherapy massages and facials using essential oils selected with the client’s input, because it’s very much about the individual. I also make organic skincare, body care and wellness products, always tailored to the client.


I have a hot tub in my Tea House which is available for clients to use. I supply Doterra essential oils and Energetix magnetic wellness accessories and jewellery too.


Describe a typical day in your business

My working day starts at 10am, but prior to this, I’ll have checked the water in the hot tub to ensure it is within the correct parameters and I will have prepared the Tea House making sure it’s been sanitised beyond the regulatory standards. I monitor the temperature, to ensure its comfortably warm and all equipment required is to hand. I don’t have a conveyor belt of clients as I prefer to allow plenty of time between clients so that they can feel completely relaxed and not at all rushed. It is time devoted to them.

Between clients, the Tea House is sanitised again and all linens are washed and dried with fresh, clean linen for each client. I have appointments available between 10am and 8pm, Mon to Fri and also on a Sat morning to fit in with most people. When I’m not “hands on” with clients, I’m usually at my laptop working on my business.


Describe the ideal day in your business

An ideal day would be for a client to visit the Tea House for a relaxing time in the hot tub to warm and soothe any aching muscles, followed by a facial or massage of their choice, using essential oils to support their wellbeing. Then finishing the session with deeply relaxing Reiki.

The client would leave feeling rejuvenated having booked their next session and be keen to tell their friends and family of their unique experience. I, myself, would’ve benefitted from the essential oils used and be filled with satisfaction that I’d provided an oasis of calm in another’s busy life.


Describe the ideal customer you like to help

My ideal customer would be someone who needs some ‘me time’, to get off the treadmill of life and take some time out to pause and recuperate so they go forward feeling relaxed and refreshed.


What unique skills have you developed to run your business?

I have a nursing background, and am a qualified Aromatherapist with knowledge of essential oils and their safe use. I’m also a Reiki Master and I’m a member of the Federation of Holistic Therapists (FHT). I’m caring, have empathy and understanding of how the body responds to the stresses and strains of daily life.


Why did you choose your industry/sector or niche?

I didn’t really choose the wellness industry, although I’ve been actively aware of my personal wellbeing for over a decade.  I have Fibromyalgia so wanted to learn how essential oils could help me manage my symptoms without resorting to medication. The more I learnt, the more I wanted to learn, so I enrolled on a course to become an Aromatherapist.


Whilst training and doing my case studies, I realised people wanted a more personal approach to their massage and facials. Having always worked in a caring profession, I’m keen to share the positive experiences that can be achieved with essential oils, Reiki and magnets. All of which have helped me to avoid taking medication and suffering side effects.


What one piece of advice do you wish you had been given before starting your business?

Don’t try to do it alone, join a business support group ??" it’s invaluable. No one is a master of every aspect of running a business, nor do they have the time for it. By belonging to a support group, you learn from other businesses and you’ve got a good network of experts if you need advice or to outsource.


What one piece of advice would you give someone starting out in your industry?

Follow your heart. If your work is something that you’ve got a passion for, it doesn’t feel like work and your enthusiasm will be obvious. You’ll be a great ambassador for your chosen profession.


What is your ultimate goal for your business?

My ultimate goal is to have a sufficiently high profile so that people are aware of Tranquil Tea House Therapies and can benefit from the treatments offered.


What's the most exciting thing you have planned?  

In this current situation, it’s very difficult to plan anything, never mind something exciting! When the situation allows, I’ll be visiting my son to see the new house he’s just bought with his girlfriend. I also plan to broaden my social media exposure by creating an Instagram account for my business.


What do you enjoy doing when not running your business?

Spending time with my family, especially my grandchildren, they light up my life. I also enjoy pottering in the garden, knitting, crochet and card making.


Tell us some of your life goals?

To keep as healthy and active as I can so that I can continue to manage without medication and be fit enough to keep my business running. To get away in the motorhome more and spend quality time with Hubby now he’s retired and to continue learning, for the business!


Tell us something surprising about yourself or your business

I studied for my Reiki Master in Kyoto, Japan and have a Tea House in my garden which I use as my treatment room. I host international students, mainly Chinese but have also had Japanese, and French students staying with us.


Thanks Sue! Great to hear more about Tranquil Tea House Therapies if you would like more information about their services, have a browse of their business page on My Town Online or look at their website.


Business Networking International/ BNI Hampshire

BNI

Hi Alyson, tell us a bit about you and your business.  

I’m Alyson Roach. I’m thrilled to be here, talking to you about my business, so thank you to Signal Bordon and My Town Online for inviting me to tell you about myself and about BNI!


I am the Executive Director for BNI Hampshire and I am currently at the most exciting stage of my business venture, setting up one of our very newest groups here in Bordon.


For those of you who haven’t heard of BNI (Business Networking International), it’s a networking group who meet weekly in their different towns/regions, support each other and pass business to each other ??" along with the opportunity to visit other groups (known as ‘chapters’) and the interconnectivity of the worldwide BNI network. Need a storage locker in Nevada? A reputable architect in Alicante? A financial adviser in Fife? BNI hooks you up to so many people … and the camaraderie, collaboration and business growth are just fantastic.


I would describe my role as helping businesses to get maximum return on their networking investment. BNI really, REALLY worked for me when I had set up a small cleaning business (a bit more about that in a minute), so when the opportunity arose to run all of BNI in Hampshire, I jumped at the opportunity. I’ve been doing it for seven years now and it has been an incredible journey.


Describe a typical day in your business

On a typical day, I would often attend one of our chapter meetings. These used to be physical meetings, generally held in a lovely venue with a delicious breakfast or lunch. Yum! But since April last year we have moved all the meetings online, and this has worked incredibly well. I will network with perhaps 30+ businesspeople from the local area, learning more about them and what they offer, helping them to generate more business and more income. I especially enjoy meeting the newest members and getting to know them. I also support the leadership teams with all that they do. Each chapter runs itself very smoothly, there is certainly no need for any micro-managing from me!


Describe the ideal day in your business

I absolutely love what I do! I’m extremely lucky that my ideal day isn’t too different from a typical one! Whether or not I’ve been attending a BNI, it’s likely I will have scheduled a couple of 1-2-1s with group members. We will spend 30mins to an hour chatting on Zoom so that I can help them to promote and present their business in its best light during their weekly meetings, or perhaps talk about the connections I can make for them across different chapters, enabling them to collaborate with other BNI members and grow their business.


I particularly like inviting new people to come along and give BNI a try. It gives me such a thrill to bring someone into one of our chapters and then see them grow and thrive. You probably know the saying “Great oaks from little acorns grow”? Well, I love nurturing those little acorns. By building up businesses, I firmly believe we are changing and strengthening communities. I often spend some of my day looking on LinkedIn and Facebook to ‘squirrel out acorns’, finding people who will benefit from trying out one of our groups ??" especially when we are creating new chapters like the one right here in Bordon!


Describe the ideal customer you like to help

My ideal client is simply someone who is looking to expand their business. The support they will get from the people in the room (or on Zoom!) is tremendous. On top of that they will often need the services of others in the group, for example a branding person, website designer, HR consultant, tax adviser etc.


What unique skills have you developed to run your business?

I think my main talent is that I am a good connector of people … and I’ve also become pretty expert at finding referrals in strange places! I believe that is because I have learnt to be a good listener. Some members have nicknamed me “The Gatekeeper”!! They will send me an email or a text, saying: Do you know a good plumber in Petersfield? Or a bookkeeper in Basingstoke? And generally, I do!! As well as forming strong business relationships, these listening, communicating and connecting skills mean I have formed some great friendships as well.


Why did you choose your industry/sector or niche?

I decided I would like to run BNI Hampshire because BNI had worked so amazingly well for me and I wanted to give something back. Originally, I owned and ran a small cleaning company. Through BNI, I grew it into a business with a £1,000,000 turnover! I eventually sold it (to a fellow BNI member), but the whole networking approach had worked so well for my business that I wanted to help others achieve the same and discover the magic that is BNI!


What one piece of advice do you wish you had been given before starting your business?

I wish I had realised far earlier on how much it would help me to get a Business Coach! That is the one thing I would definitely recommend to anyone wanting to grow and prosper. I have a Leadership Coach, Johanna Hooper (from BNI Fortress Fareham), and she is just amazing ??" she scares the pants off me (in a good way) and keeps me accountable. I know that without her in those early days I simply would not have coped.


What one piece of advice would you give someone starting out in your industry?

My advice to anyone coming into this kind of senior leadership role is to surround yourself with a good team of directors. Building a strong team around you, to work with you ??" whether as your sounding board, your ideas generator, or your support network when you need it ??" that is key. As they say, “No man (or woman) is an island.” (John Donne)


What is your ultimate goal for your business?

My ultimate goal with BNI is to have a region with over 1000 members. But within that is the ongoing goal for each of my members to have an average return of at least £45,000 per annum. What people earn can vary wildly according to what kind of industry they are in and what products or services they offer (with my cleaning company I was making £350,000 p.a.) but I want each and every member in my chapters to feel that they get an amazing return on their investment in BNI.


What's the most exciting thing you have planned?  

First and foremost, I would love to get back to face-to-face meetings again … I am missing some of those delicious big breakfasts! But I like to think we might be able to have a Summer Celebration, some kind of Members’ Day for everyone in the region, perhaps in July, if things with the pandemic have settled down by then. Here’s hoping!


What do you enjoy doing when not running your business?

I love walking in the beautiful Hampshire countryside with my two dogs, Bruce and Mimms. Bruce is named after Bruce Almighty because he was so tiny when I first got him, about the size of a tennis ball. Mimms is named after South Mimms Services on the M25. I picked him up from a travellers’ site in Enfield, with no idea of what to call him … but as I passed the Services on the homeward journey, inspiration struck!


I also love travelling" I am very lucky to have family in some beautiful parts of the world, in Cape Town, South Africa, as well as Australia. I’m looking forward to being able to go further afield than Hampshire sometime soon. But while we all need to stay at home, I do enjoy cooking … at this time of year perhaps something hearty and comforting, like Beef Bourguignon.


Tell us some of your life goals?

I suppose my main life goal is to be comfortable enough to be able to retire gracefully, but also to see my children happy and settled and to spend more time with my grandson. In an ideal world, it would be lovely to have a little holiday home down in Devon, a place very dear to me.


Tell us something surprising about yourself or your business

A surprising fact about the business is that BNI has now seen continual growth for 36 years! Yes, even during the pandemic. And it is also a whole lot of fun, it often doesn’t feel like work at all. And a surprising fact about me? Well … I have ridden in an ostrich race and I didn’t fall off- in fact I came second! Surely that is quite an unusual feather to have in one’s cap!


Thanks for speaking with us Alyson, it was great getting to know a bit more BNI Hampshire! Head to the BNI website if you would like to learn more or explore their local business page on My Town Online.

Email Us - or call 01420 556335