This week I am very pleased to introduce you to Terri Homyard of Clever Cloud Business Support. I have known Terri for years and she has even been part of my team when I was still running my Virtual Assistant business. Terri proves (and shares below) that having goals and working hard will help you get to where you want to be.
Hi, my name is Terri and I live on the border of Chesterfield and Sheffield with my husband, our three children (aged 14, 11 and 9) and a variety of small pets. I have been self-employed since 2009 and as well as offering VA services, I am also a qualified bookkeeper and have a diploma in Payroll. I have never quite made a decision about my niche industry and as a result, I have worked with so many different industries, from psychics to pet supply stores, hotels to hairdressers and entertainer to educators.
In November 2019, I hit a massive goal when I moved out of my home and started renting an office in a local Business Centre. I cannot wait to get back to the office in September when the kids go back to school as I have been working from home since March and forgot how distracting it can be. What makes me stand out from other Virtual Assistants is the variety of services that I offer. Rather than have a Virtual Assistant, a bookkeeper and someone else doing payroll, I can offer all three on one retainer and that makes it easier for me to keep on top of everything. I also work with other Virtual Assistants who don’t feel comfortable with the bookkeeping tasks that are required by their clients. They handle the Virtual Assistant side and I do the bookkeeping. It is a perfect working relationship.
What or who inspired you to become a Virtual Assistant?
I started off my business life as a self-employed bookkeeper who did admin too and I thought that I was unique! It wasn’t until years later, that I read about this amazing opportunity to work from home flexibly and I found out about these people called Virtual Assistants. It was then that I realised that I wasn’t so unique after all. I decided to rebrand and market myself as a Virtual Assistant.
How did you go about establishing your business?
In 2006 I found myself at home with a newborn. I had given up an admin job that I loved, working for a large insurance company to focus on being a full-time mum. After about 10 months, as much as I loved my baby, I was missing the challenge and independence that my job provided and I felt that I needed to stimulate my brain…but I didn’t want to leave my son. I decided to retrain in a profession that I could run as a business from home, around the needs of my family. I qualified in April 2009 as a bookkeeper and started my business. Although I was qualified as a bookkeeper, it didn’t prepare me for running my own business and this was a massive learning curve.
Did you have any savings or financial support in order to start your business?
I was in a lucky position in that my husband earned enough to cover the bills and I only worked for nice treats, such as a second car, days out, holidays etc so there was never any pressure on me to earn money to keep the lights on. I literally started with no money and no savings. I had my qualification, a laptop and big dreams. In the early years, every penny that I earned was invested back into the business. As soon as an invoice was paid, I would order business cards, pay for software or invest in training. It did take longer to grow the business, but at the time, I was happy to grow my business gradually and run it part-time as my family grew and I went on to have two more children.
Was there ever a point when you thought it wouldn’t work out?
Being an entrepreneur is full of ups and downs. I have had months where I have earned £5,000 and some months where I’ve just earned enough to cover my expenses. Whenever things got tough, I always knew that things would work out okay, because I was determined enough to keep it going.
What support did you have around you to set up your VA business (family and friends, Coach or Mentor)?
Initially, my only support was my husband. It wasn’t until much later on in my journey as a business owner that I found the VACT and started to find mentors and great friends. I think that if I had that kind of support when I first started my business, I would have had a much easier time.
If you could go back and change one thing that you did when starting out, what would that be?
I guess that in every mistake there is a lesson to be learned and I am thankful for those lessons, but if I could go back again, I would trust my instincts more and have the confidence to speak up when things didn’t feel right.
What is your best advice for someone who is just starting out or someone who is considering becoming a Virtual Assistant?
Invest in training. I felt that the VACT Mastery Course put me one step ahead of Virtual Assistants without any training. There are a lot of people who have amazing PA or admin skills, but running a business is a massive skill in itself. The Mastery Course taught me how to run a business, how to network, how to set goals and how to work on my mindset. It was the big piece that I had been missing all along.
How would you describe the good, the bad and ugly of being a Virtual Assistant?
The good is freedom and flexibility. Being a business owner has meant that as a Mum, I have always been around for my children. I have attended every Sports Day, Christmas play, been on school trips etc and that is really important to me. One of my sons has dyslexia and the other has Asperger’s Syndrome and that does involve a lot of school meetings. It would be so much pressure to keep having to take time off it I was an employee.
The bad is that it can be lonely when you work alone, so networking and having business-owning friends is a necessity.
The ugly is that it ruins employment for you! Once you are your own boss, you will never ever want to be an employee again.
What is the best business book you’ve read and how did it impact you and your business?
I’m a massive productivity nerd and my go-to business books are How To Be A Productivity Ninja by Graham Allcott and Getting Things Done by David Allen. The one book, however that has had the biggest impact on me and my business is 12 Lessons by Kate Spencer. It introduced me to the Law of Attraction and gave me the confidence to believe in myself and know that whatever I wanted I could make happen.
How do you stay on top of your own professional development?
I use my VACT Membership to keep up to date with all that is happening in the Virtual Assistant world. I love to learn and I am always doing a challenge, course or boot camp. I especially love trying new software. I get up at 5 am every weekday morning and I dedicate two hours (5.30 am – 7.30 am to work on my business). VACT Facebook groups are also a massive source of motivation and support. There really are some awesome people in there.
What do you love to do when you’re not working?
I volunteer at my children’s primary school. I have been on the PTFA for 11 years and I have been a School Governor for about five years. When I am not working or volunteering, I love watching movies (especially horror ones) and I love going to the cinema (that is my happy place). I love to read and watch YouTube videos on productivity (told you, productivity nerd). I also love walking my dogs and spending time with my family.
Tell us one thing you can tell us about you that not many people know?
It is my dream to publish a book. I would love to write a globally successful productivity book…..or be known as the female Stephen King.
What does the future hold for your business?
Who knows? It’s all very exciting! My youngest child leaves primary school in two years and that will be my chance to really grow the business for the first time. At the moment, I have so many options and routes to take that I have no idea where my journey will take me. I do know however that with the support of Amanda and the other amazing Virtual Assistants in the VACT, I can do anything that I want.
Website URL: clevercloudsupport.co.uk/
Facebook URL: facebook.com/clevercloudsupport/?modal=admin_todo_tour
Twitter ID: twitter.com/clever_cloud_
LinkedIn URL: linkedin.com/in/terri-homyard-35490a1ab/