Every month, we dedicate one of our weekly BiZHUB sessions to shine a spotlight on three of our industrious members. We ask them a variety of questions about how they started their small businesses and what advice they would give to others so everyone at BiZHUB can benefit from their success stories and their learnings.
This week we spoke to; Sue Carne a Personal Travel Consultant, Angie Brown a remote-based Executive Assistant, and Liz Foxon, part-owner of boutique, Coconut Blue.
We thought you, our readers, may find it interesting to learn about the many diverse businesses and self-employed people who are members of the SiGNAL BiZHUB. Below we share this month's Members Spotlight session.
What's it like to be self-employed?
Q: Tell us a bit about what you do and why you chose the industry you're in.
Sue: I'm a Personal Travel Consultant for Not Just Travel. As a former member of cabin crew, I always had a passion for exploring the world and I wanted to help other people do the same. I had great insights about where to visit and when to go, so I used it to build my new career.
Angie: I'm a remote-based Executive Assistant. When I was younger I took part in the YTS (Youth Training Scheme) and practiced a wide variety of skills. Then, after some time in HR, I realised there was a gap in the market for virtual assistants, so I decided to fill it.
Liz: I have a part-time business running a shop full of beautiful things from far and wide. After 35 years in health care, I went abroad and started collecting trinkets, fashion and accessories from around the world. In Marrakesh, I met two women who encouraged me to turn my passion into a career ??" and that's how Coconut Blue started!
Q: What one piece of advice do you wish you'd been given before becoming self-employed?
Sue: My work is 24/7! A client can call at any time of the day or night and while I've accepted it's a part of the job, some pre-warning would have perhaps eased me in!
Angie: You don't have to wait for everything to be perfect before reaching out to prospective customers! Obsessing over your website or branding wastes precious time you could be getting paid work.
Liz: Join a network ASAP to start building up local contacts. To me, you've got to start local so don't underestimate the power and support of your community.
Q: What advice would you give to someone wanting to enter your industry?
Sue: Don't… Well, not right now. Until there's some future-proofing, it's best to stay away from the travel industry until it's back on its feet.
Angie: Learn to value yourself and your skills. A lot of people in my industry start their fees too low which not only means they struggle to raise them but it also undervalues the service for other virtual assistants.
Liz: Sadly, the current crisis has really damaged the high street but the silver lining has been that people have started actively shopping local to support the community. Retail always bounces back!
Q: What has surprised you most about starting a small business?
Sue: My family have been in small business for a while so not much has surprised me! I love the flexibility of being self-employed and have been able to truly learn the value of a great support network.
Angie: That there is a lot I don't know! We can't do everything and if being self-employed has taught me anything, it's how valuable learning from other people can be.
Liz: How much my lifestyle changed. It was amazing to be able to be in a career that I love and find a great work-life balance.
Creating a supportive environment for our members is at the heart of why we do our BiZHUB sessions, if you would like to learn more about BiZHUB or join our community, please visit https://www.signalbordon.org/bizhub >