Founder – Get Ahead VA
Today we meet Rebecca Newenham, Founder of Get Ahead VA. Rebecca is a mum of 3 daughters and here she talks about her career and how she started Get Ahead VA and her plans for the future.
BoardroomMum Can you please tell us a little bit about yourself?
Rebecca Newenham I have a business studies degree and during the course I worked on two placements. The first with in Sainsburys in their Head Office working in the buying department, followed by some time at Marks & Spencer in retail buying.
BoardroomMum Can you please provide some information on your career to this point?
After university I became an assistant buyer at Superdrug. I really loved it. I travelled, worked in a small team and was involved in the very exciting area of new product development. I then moved to Sainsburys. Again I was involved in new product development, which was a great place to be. I met very interesting people in both roles.
I took a career break after the birth of my first daughter and decided to do a foundation course in counselling to keep my brain active. I was also renting out some property but really using that time to explore what I wanted to do longer-term. My mum had her own business when I was a child and I wanted to give continuity to my daughters.
BoardroomMum What made you set up your business Get Ahead VA?
Rebecca Newenham I have no PA background but went on a one day course on how to set up a virtual assistant business. The idea of this, and how I could do this at home, really appealed to me so the business was born.
BoardroomMum What were the challenges when setting the business up?
I had a clear vision in mind when I set the business up. I wanted a team within 5 years. Due to the demand for our services, this happened much sooner. I was very active in trying to hire really good people and make the public brand-aware. This is something that continues. Also I used friends to help me with my logo and website.
I am based in Guildford, and having worked in London I had to start networking locally. I started off attending local networking events. Some networking groups worked better than other ones so it is important to find that out. I won my first client through a friend by talking about my business. Getting the word out there is critical.
BoardroomMum And now?
Rebecca Newenham All of the above. Also having an effective social media platform is key as a major referral channel as we expand and grow. I invested some money last summer in my website to ensure that it reflects the brand correctly. I am very proud of it.
BoardroomMum How many children do you have?
Rebecca Newenham I have three daughters who at one stage were all under 5!
BoardroomMum How do you combine your business and work with family life?
Rebecca Newenham When I started the business the girls were mainly at school. They are are older now and I am around which is great.
BoardroomMum Have you and/or your business won any awards?
In October 2014 we won the Mum & Working Flexible Business of the Year Award which was a real highpoint. I have also been a finalist for the Working Mums Top Employer Awards in 2014, the Networking Mummies awards and the Mumpreneur UK awards.
I really love making a difference to my clients and team. 90% of my team are mums, and many stay with me.
BoardroomMum Do you have any tips or recommendations for other women out there who wish to pursue their career ambitions and aspirations?
Firstly, consider what the customer wants and deliver it. I act like a matchmaker between two parties. I also have my business coach who is brilliant. My coach pushes and challenges me.
I am open-minded, learning and developing in different roles and love meeting new people and showing interest in others. All good qualities to have when running a business.
BoardroomMum Would you have done anything differently?
Rebecca Newenham No not really – just done it sooner!
BoardroomMum What are your plans personally and professionally?
Professionally, to continue to grow the business and brand, and for the public to see us as a value adding service. I may look at an area manager model and I also want to expand the services we provide.
Personally, I am loving watching the girls grow up and be teenagers. It is a juggling act but no one day is the same, which is fantastic.
BoardroomMum Thank you Rebecca for your time and insights. We at www.boardroommum.com wish you every success.