Have you found yourself without a job, not knowing where your next paycheck is coming from?
I’ve been there. I walked into work on a rainy Monday morning in 2019 and was told: “You’re no longer needed, with immediate effect.”
We were all given a weeks’ worth of pay, out of the ‘kindness’ of their heart and sent on our way.
But do you know what? It turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me, and in hindsight, I wouldn’t change it for the world.
To give you some context, I had always wanted to run my own business. Growing up, I watched my parents run what we would now refer to as an MLM and I thought recruiting a team and running meetings sounded like a dream! I loved the idea of running something that was truly mine and watching it grow. When I was 16, I discovered freelance websites and started writing articles for what was probably pennies at the time. While I didn’t earn much, it was the first time I realised that I really could make money from the comfort of my sofa.
Fast forward a few years, and the reality of real life set in. The words ‘proper job’ were thrown around like confetti and somewhere along the line, I began working in a popular retail store for a man who constantly asked why I wasn’t like the other girls I worked with. If he were trying to knock my confidence, he succeeded!
“While I initially felt I had nothing, I soon realised that I had nothing to lose.”
Realising I was replaceable
I worked in a variety of jobs over the years, working up to team leader positions by 19 and management positions by 21. I loved the responsibility that came with managing a team and overseeing a business. I found myself becoming frustrated when I felt my abilities were underestimated and I was limited within my role with no option to increase my income.
By the time my redundancy came along and smacked me in the face, I thought my world was ending. What on earth was I going to do without the safety and stability that being an employee brings?
Turns out, being an employee at that firm didn’t bring me either of those things because they could get rid of me at any point. I was replaceable.
While I initially felt I had nothing, I soon realised that I had nothing to lose.
It was time for me to take the leap and start working for myself like I had wanted to since I was a child. I Googled ‘work from home‘ options and stumbled across the term ‘virtual assistant’. I decided it was worth a go and launched ‘Jemma – Virtual Assistant’ (creative I know)!
At this point (March 2019), I had very little. I had moved back into my childhood bedroom, had no savings, and quite a lot of debt. I was unhappy, unfulfilled, and fed up at the prospect of dreading work on a Monday morning forever. Gradually though, I started to find work for my new business. I realised this whole virtual assistant thing could really work for me.
How I began finding clients
Initially, to get clients, I tried using freelance websites. They were useful for getting my foot in the door and finding out what I loved (and what I didn’t). It also helped me build up some initial reviews. I quickly realised though that I couldn’t continue working in that way because those sites can take up to 40% of the money so I wasn’t making enough.
I then started building a social media presence and used Instagram and Facebook to find the rest of my clients. I publicly started showing people what I was doing and showed my face all over my accounts. I went live and shared my tips and tricks and it worked. People started to message me and say they wanted to work with me because they felt like they already knew me from all the content I was sharing. That’s how I’ve continued to get my clients ever since.
Recovering from redundancy: Reaping the rewards
Within 6 months I was reaching full capacity. Now, just over a year on, I have a team and begun a second business helping to coach others who want to become virtual assistants. My boyfriend has been able to leave his job so that we can both work from our laptops anywhere in the world. We have a lovely home, and I’m earning more than I ever did in employment which has paid off our debts and allowed us to save a substantial amount in a small time. All of this has happened for me in just over a year!
If I were still employed, I wouldn’t have any of this. So while it didn’t feel like it at the time, being told I was being made redundant on that gloomy Monday morning was the best thing that has ever happened to me.
Redundancy made me feel disposable. I had put my all into my job and turned up every day to try to make a difference. I went above and beyond, yet they were still able to just let me go and it meant nothing to them. I think it made me realise that all the security and stability I thought I had was just something the company had made me believe. It was then that I started to realise that the only person who could give me stability and security was myself.
It has forced me to make decisions I wouldn’t have otherwise made and shown me what I am capable of. If you are in a tricky position right now and aren’t sure what’s next, just think… where will YOU be in a years’ time?
Guest blog by Jemma Broadstock
Read inspiring stories and interviews with other homeworkers in The Homeworker magazine.