After being made redundant, Fay Blakey wanted enjoyable, flexible part-time work so she could spend more time with her young son. She didn’t want to commute any more and she also wanted hours that would fit around school So she started looking into setting up her own Virtual Assistant business so she could have the life she wanted.
Hello, I’m Fay, I’m 42 and I set up Fay Blakey Business Services (although it wasn’t called that then) in October 2015. I live at home in Shropshire in the UK with my husband, our six-year-old son and two ageing cats.
Why did you decide to buy Jo’s DIY VA course?
I spent 15 years working in various client advisory roles for a local government-funded business support agency. I liked it there and over the years it gave me plenty of opportunity for personal growth and development.
The company changed massively over that time including two mergers and we ended up as a regional agency. Whilst I enjoyed my job the downsides were the red tape, usual office politics and some personalities!
However, I was lucky, client-facing staff weren’t given a desk – so I got to work from home and I’d also fought hard to hang on to the great benefits I’d accumulated over the years.
In 2010 I went on maternity leave. We’d just had a change of Government and the new coalition promised they’d change the look of government-funded services – they did and our agency was closed in 2012 but all client-facing staff were made redundant in 2011.
Remember, I’d hung on to my benefits so I got quite a nice pay-out after 15 years.
But by this time, I was totally in love with my baby boy and didn’t know how I could ever leave him to go out to work again.
I certainly didn’t want to commute anywhere and I wanted part-time hours to fit in with school – yes, I wanted my cake and to eat it too!
So I started thinking about what I could do by Googling ideas and that’s where I heard the term Virtual Assistant. It sounded ideal.
I bought a book from Amazon, read it, thought “yes! that’s what I’ll do” (I’d always imagined working for myself as my mum had her own business and I was always inspired by that) and then I put the book down and carried on with my life for a few years.
In 2015 I realised I’d need to start earning soon, so I Googled Virtual Assistants again and came straight across the VA Handbook website.
I knew I liked Jo’s site, I loved the blog and I’d read her blog posts many times so taking the DIY course seemed a natural step.
I did look briefly at other courses but they looked a bit like money-making schemes to me. They were quite expensive and I wasn’t sure what I would get for my money.
Also, when I worked as a Business Adviser, I took a systematic approach when working on whatever issue my clients needed assistance with and, because Jo’s course seemed to take the same approach, I knew that would work with me.
Jo openly gives you her knowledge in her blog for free and I could have put together an action plan and worked through that, but Jo’s been there and done that so she shares what she wishes she knew back then.
So in buying the course, I was buying Jo’s knowledge, skipping a few rookie mistakes and saving both time and money.
Did you feel confident the course would make you a VA?
I felt totally confident that the course would deliver. It’s all there – a structured approach to setting up, with things that you must do, ideas to help you… it’s just all there!
It’s a step-by-step approach to going from unemployed mummy to business owner with clients.
For me, it wasn’t hard to find the time to do the homework as my son had started school. Of course, I did get distracted, but I had a goal to work toward and so that’s what I did.
There is also some incredible support. Firstly with the VA Handbookers Facebook group (which is fabulous), but the DIY course comes with access to another group which is solely for people who’ve bought the course.
There are newbies as well as old hands in this group. Jo is very active and posts a daily business boost post as well as other really useful stuff and everyone freely contributes. I’ve made loads of new friends in this group, we’ve shared our contact details and we chat regularly about all sorts of stuff.
So whilst I run my business on my own, I don’t feel alone at all as I have support all around me from like-minded people.
The best thing about the course though was that it kicked me into shape and helped me to achieve what I wanted to in a really non-stressful, enjoyable way.
How are you getting on after finishing it?
Now that I’ve finished it I’m a business owner with clients – nice people who want help with their businesses.
I offer business and admin support and I do varied tasks throughout my day – working with one client on developing a series of webinars, business development for another, newsletter creation and online form creation to name a few.
Is your life very different now to how it was before?
My life is great! I get to do the school run in the morning and afternoons, spend quality time with my little boy and I work when he’s at school.
This will be me now. I’ve had a taste of work freedom and I love it. I don’t see myself being an employee ever again. I feel very fortunate and very happy – and it looks like I did get to have my cake and eat it too!
This course has helped so many people achieve their dream so if you’re still thinking about it then I say go for it!!
It’s easy to work through, you work at your own pace, all the resources are there for you, every question is answered and you’re supported all the way.
You don’t get a certificated at the end of it or a graduation ceremony, but you do get your own business and the chance to live your life on your own terms.