Nadine Hill on founding and growing a virtual office assistant business

Nadine Hill founded her virtual office assistant business Dream PA five years ago and has benefited from the fast growth of the sector.

Where did you get the idea?

I had worked in PR and marketing but when I became pregnant I realised I wanted a career that was more flexible. I got the idea after reading a magazine article about a woman who had done something similar and I knew I had the right skills to make a go of it.

Where did you get the funding?

I began with £50 and a credit card, which I used to buy a laptop. I know that’s not the best way to start a business but because I run everything from home, my overheads are very low and I was soon able to pay the money back.

How did you market the business?

In the early days there was a lot of novelty around what we did and we got interviews in the local press and some national magazines. Now virtual assistants are more common, I do most of my marketing through social media sites instead.

What have you learned?

The most important lesson was to be firm with people not paying on time. I had a client who used to make a lot of excuses when it came to paying his bills and I realised that I had to be more direct with him. To improve my cash flow situation I then moved to an upfront payment system.

Where do you want to go next?

I’d like to focus a lot more on meeting new clients and winning more business, although at the moment I’m quite happy to keep it as a home-based enterprise.

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