Finding the Connection
They say entrepreneurs are born and not made, but what about those of us for whom starting a business is not a conscious choice but the best option? One that ticks all the boxes of skill, flexibility, and income?
Ticking the boxes
Before joining Scriba I ran my own company providing remote EA services. Although I gained a lot of valuable experience in the five years I ran the company, I absolutely hated it. At best, I’d describe myself as a reluctant entrepreneur, but that doesn’t quite capture the dread I felt when faced with a sales pitch or, horror, having to chase clients for payment.
I fell into running my business because I wanted more flexibility than a 9-5 day job offered and, while I considered shift work to supplement my income, I wanted to do things I love. I married my EA skills with my passion for marketing communications, which dovetailed neatly as all my clients needed elements of both.
Every time I closed a new piece of business, I faced the same problem. The prospect would say, “So it will be you doing the work, right?” And I’d have to explain that no, I didn’t handle all client accounts but a colleague, who was very highly trained, would look after them and then I’d have to hope that the relationship would work.
I sense-checked my personal needs and realised that I’d never be happy as an entrepreneur or business owner.
It was easier with digital marketing; I could teach that quite quickly and with the influx of millennials into the workplace, they even taught me a thing or two. What I couldn’t teach, however, what I still believe you’re either born with or without, are the qualities of a really first-class EA. Someone skilled at building relationships, who is intuitive and able to anticipate a client’s needs before they know it themselves. People who are never fazed and can turn disaster into triumph at the drop of a hat.
Eventually, I sense-checked my personal needs and realised that I’d never be happy as an entrepreneur or business owner and pulled back to service just my favourite clients as their EA and that’s what I was doing when Scriba found me.
I was at a crossroads in my life, personally and professionally when, almost out of the blue, Scriba came along with a role that sounded too good to be true.
I needed financial stability in the form of full-time employment but still wanted to do what I loved, for the clients I adored. I also wanted to focus on and grow my specialist marketing skills. Scriba gave me the chance to do that and to work from home with the flexibility that’s essential for me on a personal level.
It wasn’t just the job but the people too – I’ve rarely felt such an immediate connection with anyone as I did with the guys here. My first interview was supposed to be a quick half hour chat and ran for nearly two hours! It felt like coming home in a way; I’d found a team who worked at my efficient pace, who challenged me intellectually and supported me personally. They even welcomed my existing clients with open arms – made it a bit of a no-brainer really.
Challenge and be challenged, support and be supported
I think that when you wake up every morning excited about what you’re going to do at work, then you’ve really found your niche. For me, it’s about exploring new ideas and putting the really good ones into practice. Then there’s the team as well; wow, just wow. It doesn’t matter if I’m on a manic ‘I must share this brilliant thing I found’ moment or struggling with a ‘help, I’m feeling the working mum guilt’ moment, they are always there for me, always enthusiastic and supportive. I learn from them every day and their belief in me and my skills is incredibly empowering.
The biggest challenge for me, working remotely, is keeping a balance during the day; harnessing my billion and one ideas and staying focused on my priorities. Clients always come first but, sometimes, if I’m head down in a strategy document it takes a lot of self-discipline to stop and refocus. There’s always so much to do and I’m sometimes a victim of my own brainwaves in that I’ll suggest a new process to a client off the top of my head and they’ll say, great, make it happen! That adds a self-inflicted layer to my to-do list. Some days I can be writing a sales document, a newsletter and a social media strategy on top of my day to day diary and email management duties. It can get a bit frantic sometimes and remembering to slow down, breathe and maintain order is really important. I live by lists...
A perfect fit
If my journey over the past few years has taught me anything, it’s that for an EA / client relationship to work properly there has to be a connection. If the connection is right – the right company and the right individual – then you’ve created a team that can and will stick together through thick and thin.
But you do have to get that connection right; it’s about trust. Companies need to trust that the people working remotely really are working, not goofing. It has everything to do with the individual in question. As attractive as it sounds, working remotely isn’t for everyone; you need a streak of independence, iron self-motivation and buckets of self-discipline.
To hire the calibre of staff at Scriba in-house would require considerable investment, with all the other associated costs on top. That makes no sense if you’re running an agile business.
With the right people in place, outsourcing administrative and marketing roles makes sense on every level. The world is much smaller now, there’s no longer a need for a traditional ‘secretary outside the boss’s office’. Executives and entrepreneurs are more mobile and rarely able to provide an assistant with enough work to justify a full-time role in today’s economy. It’s much more sensible to have an expert on tap when you need them. I mean, to hire the calibre of staff at Scriba in-house would require considerable investment, with all the other associated costs on top. That makes no sense if you’re running an agile business. Scriba times tasks to the minute, so you’re never paying for a coffee break or even Post-It notes!
I always think of it as work hard / play hard; when I’m at my desk I give 100% to my clients and my team, when I’m out and about – ok, I’m probably still thinking about work, checking emails and social media but it’s whilst I’m doing the things I need to do; walking the dogs, running, swimming. My only non-negotiable is my time with my kids and Scriba supports me with all of this.