The best way to grow your business is to create a team; hire a PA to start with – this is advice that artist, entrepreneur, and fitness blogger Aly Harte (pictured) gained from listening to business podcasts. She hired a part-time PA and everything got better. Here’s her story.
I catch up with Aly Harte while she’s preparing for an Art and Wine event that evening. ‘I do these events quite often,’ she says. ‘About 20 people book and we sketch, I talk to them about colour theory and offer help and advice. They also use pastels, paint a canvas and have a couple of glasses of wine.’
Art workshops like this are just one string to Aly’s bow – or bristle to her paintbrush, if you prefer. She’s a busy successful painter, selling canvases, private commissions and prints. She also teaches children (for free), in schools and special schools in Northern Ireland, where she lives and works.
Art and painting are at the core of Aly’s business and life. But finding out that she had the same heart defect that caused her father to die when she was only 7 made her start taking health and fitness seriously, too. Almost by accident, she has become a fitness sensation via her blog and on Instagram, sharing her workouts and also emphasising that keeping fit is hard and that you just need to keep going, even if only slowly. Aly’s great skill is inspiring others while keeping things real – not projecting an unrealistic image of her life. Her growing following led to her recently sitting on the panel of the NI Health and Fitness Awards, and she is in the process of creating a three-month fitness programme with Gareth Mckeown, a Belfast-based Personal Trainer and Movement Analyst.
The other central part of Aly’s life is her family. She has three children, the youngest just 2.
So, how does she juggle everything? It’s the age-old question. Until recently Aly relied on her husband to do the books (while watching Match of the Day), while she ran everything else. He still does this, but now Aly has another pair of hands in the form of a PA, who, among other things, is learning to do the accounts.
Hire a Personal Assistant
Having listened to business podcasts by the likes of US entrepreneur Tim Ferris, and marketing expert Amy Porterfield, Aly decided that the best way to progress, and not be constantly pacing a work/family treadmill was to hire a PA, Gemma.
Gemma works for Aly part time, and has an eight-month old child of her own. Aly says, ‘I really want to empower women in everything I do – and helping another mum was very important to me. Gemma helps me to be more organised, and together we are able to make timelines and she helps me stick to them. It’s changed my life.’
Gemma works across Aly’s business, and helps process orders for her prints and workshops, puts together marketing emails, as well as dealing with the myriad requests that pop into Aly’s inbox every day. Aly says one of the huge benefits of hiring a PA has been that she can now spend more time with her youngest son.
She says, ‘In time, I’d love to have a small female team around me. I think that would be great. Being able to hire a PA – Gemma – has made me stop feeling like I’m running to stand still, and given me more focus, and allowed me to become more organised. Gemma is great because she is proactive, too. She doesn’t just wait for me to tell her what to do.’
It feels to us here at 14fiftyseven as if Aly represents a huge part of the self-employed population -people whose start-up businesses cover many areas, and have grown steadily as their families grow. Our advice is that the sanest thing to do is hire a PA to help these businesses grow. Once they begin to expand, the cost of the PA is more than worth the investment. And, like Aly, you’ll be helping someone else out – someone who needs a job.
For those looking for these sorts of PA jobs, there are infinite possibilities. Small-business positions tend to be varied and stimulating because you quickly become a valuable cog in the day to day running of things.
A lot of people in Aly’s position would simply hire an au pair – but if you hire a personal assistant, ie someone professional to help across your business, and a bit in your family life if necessary, that allows you to spend more time with the children as well as focus on the parts of the business that you can really drive forward, delegating admin and other tasks to a PA. It’s a win-win.
Running your own freelance business? Got a small start-up? Need to hire a PA? Contact Susie Osborough to discuss how to hire a PA to suit what you do. For 14fiftyseven Personal Assistant Recruitment, call +44 (0) 208 616 1457 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or fill in our online enquiry form.
14fiftyseven. Because we’ve been there.
Photo of Aly Harte and ballerina painting by David Cavan.