Gemma McMillan joined the Alchemy Virtual Assistant family in the winter of 2020 ahead of her VA franchise Hub launching in January 2021. Whilst Gemma held a secure employed role, the impact of the pandemic shifted her focus and thinking. She felt the need to seriously start exploring a more meaningful and fulfilling career that worked flexibly around her life.
Gemma’s Virtual Assistant adventure is in so many ways only just beginning, and we wanted to honour, celebrate and document it here on our blog…
I have been dreaming of working for myself for so long, but I never really knew how or what.
I was clear on my desire to make an impact but also to make a decent living. One of my biggest fears about starting a Virtual Assistant business was if and how it could be financially viable. That and whether I had the right skills and experience to make it work.
I’m fiercely independent and whilst I have the love and support of an incredible partner, I needed to be able to replace my employed salary so I could at least maintain my lifestyle.
Another big fear for me was completely stepping into the unknown and ultimately failure. The uncertainty around self-employment really worried and scared me. But, as my journey with Alchemy VA has progressed, I came to realise that everything is now in my control. Alchemy believed in me enough to accept me. Now, there’s no glass ceiling, there’s no having to prove my worth, no additional responsibilities for no extra reward and there’s definitely no holding on in hope for an annual salary review.
I have the power, tools, passion, support and drive to explore and achieve what I want to. I feel much freer now, I am no longer dictated to by an employer.
Through Suzy and the wider Alchemy VA family, I have been given the confidence and know-how to start my own credible and financially rewarding Virtual Assistant company.
Whilst the detrimental impact self-employment can have on mental health is well documented, for me my mental health has improved dramatically. I am the boss now and I set the tone, flow and schedule. I get to work flexibly and not fight against myself which empowers me to serve my clients to the best of my abilities which ultimately makes me much happier.
Sure, there are still days where I feel anxious, but I’ve noticed that there are more days when I’m not. I am really excited and proud, fired up about my life and I seem to have more time and focus to be creative. I’m a bit of a craft junky and I love not being so exhausted from my day job to have the time to unwind with a glass of wine and my macramé tools.
As I sit here in my new home office space, I can’t help but think how funny it is.
I mean, I was working from home in my employed job but things feel so, SO different now. My whiteboard has my dreams and vision, my goals and actions. My brand-new laptop actually works and the freedom of not having my activities or log on times tracked is liberating! The motivational quotes displayed really resonate with me, one of them is some words from Suzy’s book that really spoke to me.
Decorating and rearranging my workspace was the first thing I did when I left my employed role. It was very much a cathartic exercise as well as a practical one.
Clearing out the old and making space for the new.
It was not too long ago I was sat here on the phone to Suzy in a real dilemma about whether I had the courage and funds to completely break away from my job. Alchemy supported me through this transition in the most wonderful ways, that’s the beauty in the model that Alchemy have built. It’s structured, proven and profitable but it’s also flexible enough to really embody Suzy and Paul’s wholehearted people centred approach. When I first told Suzy that I really wanted to join Alchemy but I needed to transition away from my job slowly, it was met with compassionate honesty about just how difficult it would be and also unwavering support. She believed in me.
Self-belief is so important in life and business.
By partnering with Alchemy, I have a business family. People that truly believe in me even on those days when I don’t believe in myself. On those days, I do believe in myself, I’m just having a wobble.
To me, that knowledge, confidence, practical and emotional support is priceless. Suzy, Paul and the rest of Alchemy family are always available to talk things through as well has providing fantastic training and having so many incredibly helpful resources and tools to draw on.
Yes, any franchise requires a healthy level of investment and commitment. But, if you’re approaching your business properly, you will need to invest that much (and more!) eventually anyway. In choosing the franchise route to start my Virtual Assistant business, it made a lot of the practical things a lot easier for me. So much was done for me that I didn’t need to think or worry about. It gave me a springboard, a step up. This allowed me to focus on getting really clear on my goals and vision, getting myself out there and supporting my clients.
My first three clients came onboard much quicker than I expected.
This was another ‘pinch me’ moment because not only was it incredible to see and experience the Alchemy ways working, these wonderful people are literally my dream clients in every single way.
They’re an absolute joy to support!
Alchemy not only set me up and taught me how to make this possible, but they are also with me every step of the way. I know the true power and support is there as and when I need it. Even if it is sometimes just for a friendly chat.
I have a direct line in to a strong, supportive team who are on my side who have all been through and overcome the challenges I face. I also don’t have any fear or concerns about finding clients mostly as I have the knowledge and understanding, strengthened by access to a regular flow of high quality work opportunities from the wider Alchemy VA group.
The past few months have been an emotional rollercoaster.
I’ve learned so much and whilst it’s not been easy, it’s all been incredibly worthwhile on many levels.
When I think back to what made me realise that the fear of regret was far heavier than the fear of failure… it was reading Suzy’s latest book, seeing all that Alchemy had achieved during the pandemic, ‘e-meeting’ other members of the Alchemy VA family and learning more about their incredible journeys on an online discovery discussion – that all inspired me and gave me the courage to finally take the leap, despite everything that is going on.
Last year I told myself that this is an amazing opportunity and a big investment in yourself. Take it seriously and know that you’ll never be alone. You deserve to be happy and successful – failure is not an option.
I would also offer this sentiment out to anyone considering joining the Alchemy VA family.
Get in touch with Gemma to learn more about what makes her Virtual Assistant services for social enterprises, not for profit organisations and charities so impactful.
Or to discover more about our Virtual Assistant franchise opportunities, please get in touch with the Alchemy VA team.