I was chatting to a member of my network today. We’d jointly gone for a meeting to see a potential sponsor for the Australian VA Conference which is being held next month (March 2015) in Melbourne.
The owner of the printing business decided to share his story with us and the reasons why he supports some businesses and organisations over others. Basically his work life and goals are driven by what he believes God would have him do. He’s built a very successful printing business although he, himself, is not a printer. But he has built around him a number of staff who have the skills and knowledge needed to make the business work. His whole principle in business has been about helping others.
That led me to share my story, a story that most of you wouldn’t even know, unless you’ve read any of my personal books, rather than my business books.
It was 1993 and life was crazy. My husband, Graham and I had been living in Victoria for nearly 2 years and we had 5 young daughters aged 12 and under. They were all going to the same primary school up till that year and then the eldest was old enough to go to high school. A year earlier than it would have been if we were still in our home state of South Australia. This was significant to us as she was no longer eligible for after school care and we didn’t want her home alone. So we had all 5 come home together and I would ring them at 4pm every week day to referee fights, issue instructions and ask if they were doing their homework?
I was working full time as Graham was, and we had found some after school care at the primary school but only 4 were able to attend. School holidays were also difficult and we hadn’t really yet found someone we could fully depend on, although we were attending a local church and had gotten to meet a number of local families. Getting someone to look after 5 children from one family is a big ask. We kept saying to each other ‘there must be a better way’ and prayed about it often.
That same year the Institute of Professional Secretaries Australia (IPSA) was running their inaugural ‘Secretary of the Year’ competition and Microsoft was the major sponsor. Although it seemed unbelievable to me at the time, I won the award for the State of Victoria and won the full Office 2.0 software package that Microsoft donated, along with a whole lot of other prizes. But it was this one main prize that was to change the direction of my working life and that of our family, and ultimately hundreds, maybe thousands of other families Australia and world wide.
Winning that software prompted me to say to my husband ‘if I had a computer I could work at home’. That’s all that was needed. The seed was sown. Within six months, i.e. from September 1993 to March 1994, I’d bought a computer, put out feelers for clients, got some business cards made and left my corporate job (leave without pay for 12 months). It was truly happening! I was starting a business and I knew nothing at all about being in business. But it didn’t matter. I trusted that God would supply if I stepped out in faith and that’s exactly what happened. At the end of the first twelve months I’d matched my income from the previous year in a corporate job and knew I was doing the right thing.
Within 18 months I had so much work I had to consider what step I would take next. Set up a shopfront and put on employees? But that defeated my purpose and my need of being home with my children. So important. A technician who visited to put in a fax line asked me if I’d heard about the new Internet that was coming and told me I could have clients all around the country. I told her she was mad and I had enough challenges driving all over the suburbs while the kids were at school, to collect and drop off work. She told me I didn’t understand and I should check it out. It was now October 1995. And check it out I did. By January 1996 I was online and by April 1996 had my very first website – well, a web page really. And then instead of clients contacting me I had women contacting me, mothers who wanted to know how to do what I was doing, could I teach them? The pathway became clear. It wasn’t just about me and my kids, it was all about these other women and their families too. Not only my own prayers had been answered but also the prayers of hundreds of other women who also wanted to work at home and be present for their own families. The clients came as did the many members of my newly developed network – originally known as home-based secretaries but these days known as Virtual Assistants.
My goal still is, almost 21 years down the track, to help others gain the very thing I was able to – time at home with family while still contributing to the household income. Our girls are grown now and married, and three have children of their own. So my time is spent between running my business and visiting my daughters and my grandchildren and enjoying being with them, all the while still servicing clients and teaching others how to do what I’ve been doing. Not a very glamorous shot here but this is me with my two granddaughters and my youngest grandson, taken only just this week when I took 3 hours off so I could help celebrate his second birthday and enjoy being with some of our daughters. Life still is very much about my family and I know it is about yours too. How can I help you? Do you want to work from home too? I welcome your enquiries and look forward to receiving your comments below or your emails.