When the going gets tough, the tough form a company.
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Caroline Pigott watched a dream job turn into a nightmare job. Rather than live with a bad job, Caroline branched out and started her own business.
We asked her about her transition from employee to entrepreneur.
Caroline, thanks for joining us for an entrepreneur interview. Tell us about what you were doing before you decided to become a business owner?
I had previously worked for a large insurance company for three years before I was offered a position as a Program Assistant at a Not-For-Profit organization affiliated with The Children's Aid Society.
The position appeared to coincide with my values and previous education in Sociology and Communications. In addition, I was offered more pay and more responsibility than I had at my previous position.
I was working at this organization for only a couple of weeks when I experienced, what I felt to be, abuse of power by my manager. I was publicly humiliated and my role as Program Assistant degraded. I was consistently stressed and had trouble sleeping at night. I would go home and cry to my husband, explaining that I made a mistake by leaving my comfortable job at the insurance company to be degraded and belittled.
I was miserable at my new job, and managed to only stay for four months. After much discussion with my husband, I decided to quit this job, even though I didn't have another job lined up.
Why did you decided to become an entrepreneur instead of getting another job? Was this something you had been thinking about for a while?
I have a degree in Corporate Communications and have been freelance writing for a while. I was making some extra income on the side already when I decided to leave my last job.
While I wasn't going to bring in the income I was making previously, I was happy to leave the stress behind. I had come across the term Virtual Assistant when I was completing a writing project for an office professional advice website.
I noticed a story posted on the website by a Virtual Assistant, explaining what it meant to be a Virtual Assistant and how she began her business. After speaking with her and doing my research, it became clear to me that I was more than qualified and would enjoy working as a Virtual Assistant. When I left my last position, I had already decided to pursue a career as a Virtual Assistant and was happy to have the extra time to focus on my business.
I decided to become an entrepreneur because I wanted the freedom to work my own hours, be my own boss and I was happy to stay away from crowded cubicles and office gossip.
Even at the insurance company, I observed the office space was becoming tight and layoffs were becoming frequent. I wanted the freedom to be my own boss and the owner of my own destiny.
The harder I work for myself, the more successful I will be. It really is an incredible feeling to know I'm working hard and making money for myself and my family, rather than for a rich man sitting in his marble office or for a boss who doesn't respect my position.
Will you be buying a business or starting a business from scratch? Why are you doing one instead of the other? Which do you think is the best approach?
As a Virtual Assistant, I already have the materials required to run a successful business. I have a computer, phone and software required to keep in touch with my clients and get their projects done. The great thing about being a Virtual Assistant is I can work from my home office.
My new business is VIP Assistant Solutions. People can learn more at www.vipassistantsolutions.com/
Why do you think this is the right business for you?
Going into business as a Virtual Assistant is the right thing for me because I am using my experience as an Executive Assistant as well as a Communications and Marketing Consultant to provide outstanding service to my clients, small business owners who do not have the space or funds to hire an assistant full time.
Are you going it alone on this process or are you consulting with others for advice? If you are talking to others, who have you met with? What good advice have you heard?
I have done my research and have interviewed other Virtual Assistants for additional information and advice.
The advice I have received is to be persistent when marketing my services and to be patient. It takes up to seven times to connect with someone before they may hire you on.
Owning a business is very different from working as an employee. What are some of things you think will be different? Are there any concerns or issues that you think folks in a similar situation should be thinking about?
I know being an entrepreneur takes a lot of self discipline. There is no boss handing out assignments to you. You are your own boss and must take your own initiative to get projects done. In addition, there is no regular pay check. You must work hard to get paid.
Are your loved ones and family supportive of you making this transition? Please share any stories you have regarding their feedback?
I am very lucky to have the support from my husband. He has told me that now is the time to go into business for myself as we don't yet have children or a mortgage.
If the business fails than at least I tried but if I never tried, I would always be wondering.
What is your timeline for becoming an entrepreneur? Are there some specific goals that you hope to achieve by a certain time?
I realize it takes time to experience success as an entrepreneur. I only just opened my virtual doors a month ago and have a few small clients.
In six months, I expect to have many clients and be busy and on my way to success. In one year, I expect to be successful.
Almost the last question. What makes you think you will be successful in running your own business?
I work well on my own and truly enjoy what I do. When I enjoy the work, I work harder.
Anything else you'd care to share with us regarding the transition from being laid off to starting a business?
It has been extremely scary deciding to go into business for myself.
I think many people contemplate the possibility; however, few jump at the chance because of possible failure.
I think surrounding yourself with supportive people is important to the success of a small business. Being an employee is like having a safety net. You know when your next pay check will come and you always know what your next assignment will be.
As an entrepreneur there are a lot of 'what if's' but it if you can take the chance, it is the most satisfying choice you will ever experience.
We completely agree. It's great to make your own way, rather than depend on an employer. You seem like the type of person who will do well on your own. We'll look forward to tracking your progress, and maybe some of our site visitors will get in touch with you to engage you as a virtual assistant!