Rebecca Newenham founded Get Ahead VA in 2010 after recognising a gap in the market for virtual assistance services that offered the flexibility, value and performance that small businesses and start-ups need in the 21st century, digital economy.
Get Ahead VA delivers nationwide virtual assistance services for entrepreneurs and small businesses. With clients ranging from will writers to window cleaners, financial consultants to fashion designers, all their clients are motivated and driven business owners, with clear plans for business growth. They recognise the value of outsourcing, passing onto others tasks that either they lack skills in, or tasks that drain their valuable time. Get Ahead VA enables them to get back to what they do best – growing and running their businesses. One of their clients, Bev Wilkinson of Learning Consultancy Nuggets of Learning says: “Get Ahead are a seamless service provider. They provide the perfect front of house and behind the scenes to ensure that myself and my team get out there and deliver for our clients.”
After a corporate career in buying for retail giants such as Superdrug and Sainsburys, Rebecca was looking for a flexible work solution that could fit around her lifestyle and her three daughters – now 14, 12 and 10. Having grown up with a successfully self-employed mother, Rebecca knew it was possible to be able to contribute financially to the family and to do school drop off and pick ups too. “My mum was a great example and I grew up knowing that I wanted one day to run my own business just like she did. My corporate buying career gave me so many great contacts and fantastic business experience, and after a few years of looking after my three children I was well accomplished at multitasking! Having looked at various business ideas I felt a virtual assistance business offered the best solution. I have always loved networking, which is such a big part of my role now.”
Rebecca now runs a team of nearly 30 virtual assistants, each bringing with them particular skill sets in many areas of business including PR & Marketing, Finance, Legal, Customer Service & Administration. Over 80 per cent of them are mothers themselves and also benefit from the flexibility that working for Get Ahead VA delivers. One of the team members says ‘I love working for Get Ahead VA. No two days are ever the same!’
The business has won a variety of awards including Flexible Business of the Year in the Mum and Working Awards and Theo Paphitis’ Small Business Sunday #SBS Award. It has also been shortlisted in awards for Talent Attraction and Networking and was selected as one of the best Home Businesses in the UK.
Rebecca, what have been your highlights so far?
“Every time we receive a positive testimonial from a client is a massive highlight – knowing that we have made a real difference to their business. I am also lucky to have met so many great people and have such a talented team working for me. I get to cherry pick the very best experience for each aspect of our business and know that they will deliver exceptional value for our clients.”
What challenges have you had to face?
“Like any small business owner there have been many challenges along the way. Knowing when to invest and in what has been key. A few years ago we made a major investment in a new website, which proved to be really worthwhile. It made a real difference to our reach online and helped to develop social media as a key referral channel for our business.”
What are your future plans for the business?
“At the moment we are particularly excited about our expansion in Scotland, as we have recently appointed a dedicated marketing specialist for this area. Based in Glasgow, Beverley will be working on bringing new clients on board over the next few months. The number of SMEs in Scotland is growing strongly and we are well placed to assist in further growth for these businesses.”
What advice would you give to other people thinking about starting their own business?
“My favourite quote is ‘what will be will be’. I accept that we might not get everything right first time – but it is all part of the journey and all worth it!”