Think outside the box

It’s been an interesting twelve months to look back on, apart from the fact that this time last year I was only toying with the idea of self employment; I have seen some interesting changes take place amongst the people around me.

Twelve months ago I had a difficult decision to make, either accept reduced working hours in my full time job or be made redundant, albeit with no real payout as I had only been there a couple of years. It was a bit of a Hobson’s choice really. I just had to work out how to pay five days worth of bills and mortgage from a four day salary.

Not one to sit back I decided to do something about it. I looked at the skills I already had, the knowledge that I had gained and the resources that I had access to. What could I do? The obvious answer was to set up over the next few months as an Executive Virtual Assistant and be fortunate to be able to
grow my business to full time status in September last year.

Now I wasn’t the only person in that position where I worked, and apparently not the only one to show some get up and go. Over the course of the next few months no fewer than six of us left and became self employed. We looked at the situation we were in and looked at what we could do about it. I won’t say none of us complained at times or felt hard done by, we did, but we got up and
did something about it, and I am pleased to report that we are all doing extremely well and not regretting our decisions at all.

Yes, I know there is a recession out there, but I made a conscious decision to stop listening to the news, it either depressed me or angered me. Instead I put my energy to better use.  I made a conscious decision not to listen to the doom mongers, as I didn't want them to affect what I wanted to do, I could concentrate on what I believed in, which was running a successful business.

Be realistic about the situation that you are in. Talk it over with your Accountant or Financial Advisor; get their honest opinion on it. You probably have a gut feel for how things are going as well. Listen to it. I have watched Clients make some very hard decisions over the last few months, but I have also seen them weather the storm because they made the right decisions, believed in what they were doing, and worked hard to overcome the obstacles.

Take a good look at what your business offers. Rather than walk away from it is there something that you could add to that offering that would compliment what you do, without breaking the bank in the process?

I work with a team of other Virtual Assistants to offer our own bespoke call answering service, it compliments our other services, and by working together we are all able to strengthen the offering and our businesses.

One Client decided to compliment their services as an Independent Financial Advisor by adding a virtual estate agency service to his offering. He has real knowledge of the area he covers because he lives there, he can advise prospective buyers on the local schools, pubs and shops, how easy it is to
to get from A to B, what the local facilities are, and best of all he is practically a one stop shop now as he can also sort out the mortgage for both the buyer and the seller.

Another Client has formed strategic partnerships with other suppliers in the same field, by working together, in much the same way as Virtual Assistants do; they are now able to offer a broader range of services, including new products that they would previously not have been able to supply.

I have other Clients who I have introduced to each other, who traditionally would not have worked together, but by thinking outside the box, have formed strategic alliances that enable them to offer their existing client base each other’s services, again strengthening both their businesses.

Look at what is working around you, talk to the people around you and look at the opportunities out there for collaboration or out of the box solutions.

I would be interested to hear your comments on the subject.


  1. excellent blog helen nice to hear about people breaking away from there comfort zone and take a well researched and planned risk. I hope you use your new found skills that you would have gained throughout your time in business and push your bounderies even further and reap the rewards for your given talents as previously discussed if people are willing to pay sell it.

  2. Hello Helen - yes, you're right, thinking outside of the box is essential to surviving a recession. In fact, I'd say it's necessary to succeed in business at any time. Best regards, Suzy Barker, Just Midlife

  3. Hello,
    Yes, you are absolutely right.Thinking outside the box is very necessary to remain and survive in this high competitive market.

  4. Hi Helen,

    Very good blog indeed.

    More people do need to think outside the box and to take that leap as it were and they never know what could or can happen.

    I have to say I think it is brilliant you have taken that leap as for people like me you have helped and advised in small ways to you which mean a lot to me so in that way people like you on twitter etc is just brilliant...

    I am also thinking it would be interesting to have a blog about what peoples reasons are for being in business, I am sure very very sure that the majority of them are all for different reasons other than what people may think...

    Anyway, great blog.


  5. Excellent blog Helen. Congratulations on your achievement.


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