Why are more men taking up secretarial work?

why are men taking up secretarial work

It’s not unusual for me to be talking with a male entrepreneur who sees the potential in becoming a virtual assistant. So why are men taking up secretarial work?

So what is driving this surge in interest?

The role of secretary and personal assistant was once occupied by efficient and capable women, but it wasn’t always that way.

According to Tess Reidy in her article in the Guardian.

“At the turn of the 20th century, secretarial jobs were well-paid and well-respected, and predominantly filled by men. However, as women fought to join the ranks of the employed, the profession lost its status, pay decreased and men sought work elsewhere. By the mid–1960s, it was a role primarily associated with women. In 1962, a survey revealed that 28% of companies believed sex appeal was a requirement of the PA’s job.”

In the same article, she talks about 25-year-old Joshua Watson, the executive assistant to a female senior director at Barclays, having previously worked as a receptionist and PA.

He does not see himself as working in a woman’s role. It’s not an issue for people from his generation. It’s a good career for he is passionate about organising and has exposure to the top people in his company. He’s ambitious, he wants to climb the ladder.

The surge is perhaps due in part to the highest rate of graduate unemployment since records began, and an awareness that salaries for corporate PAs can reach £75,000 a year.

The fact is that thousands of graduates end up working in jobs that don’t require any qualifications.

Ambitious young people are finding new ways to enter the business world. A PA gets to work with everyone in the company. Directors, Partners and all the teams. It’s a pretty obvious way to get noticed if you think about it. Virtual PA’s engage on an even wider business reach.

Susanna Tait, managing director of Tay Associates, in the same Guardian article agrees. She said she has seen a “huge” increase in numbers of male applicants. “We have witnessed the role of the PA evolve immeasurably and, with it, the pool of applicants it attracts,” she said. “As well as organising and managing commitments, they are required to project-manage schedules and communicate with a vast network of contacts. It’s an obvious career choice for ambitious individuals keen to operate at the centre of the business sphere.”

The nature of the profession is changing rapidly. Responsibilities increase, technology advances and teamwork becomes increasingly important.

In addition here in the UK, the uncertainty surrounding the outcome of EU Brexit negotiations is likely to see sectors downsizing especially banking and finance, retail, media, technology and law.

These sectors, together with audit and professional services, employ over 50,000 graduates each year. Will this open up opportunities for outsourced PA services?

Will a proportion of the 50,000 graduates each year see the opportunity to take their future into their own hands, perhaps exploring their options in a franchise model like Smart PA?

Recent interviews I’ve held suggest they will.

rebecca crossRebecca Cross is an Award Winning Virtual PA.Her background experience working with IBM and the Wall Street Journal provides invaluable experience. She specialises in providing creative business and administration support for entrepreneurs and business owners who understand the value of working on their business, rather than in their business. She is especially looking to work with business start-ups, entrepreneurs, and professionals who travel extensively.
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considering starting a business

considering starting a business

Many people get to the point in their life when they are considering starting a business of their own. It’s a big step and one that should not taken lightly. When starting a business first look in the mirror, for there’s a big difference between the mind set of an employee and that of an entrepreneur.

Increasing numbers of people are opting for a franchise business model as opposed to trying to make it on their own. A quality franchise offers a proven track record of success with ongoing training and a help and support structure. So important for anyone new to business ownership.

However, the question still remains. Can I make this work and will I make a good franchisee? What does the mirror tell me?

When you consider investing in a franchise you must start with research, part of which is to be honest with yourself. What personal qualities will I be bringing to the table?

PASSION
Naturally you have a certain amount of drive, or else you would never leave the relative safety of your job and career. But how much passion do you have for the product or services you plan to offer. You will face long hours and hard work, especially at the beginning (nothing new there). You may face frustration at the speed in which you can scale your business to the point where it provides you will meaningful returns. Without passion (thinly disguised as enthusiasm) you will not find it easy to face these challenges. Sure, you’ll receive help, support and encouragement from the franchise team and the other franchisees like you, but they can only light a spark that ignites the fire that’s already within you.

THE WHEEL’S FINE. NO NEED TO RE-INVENT IT
Franchisors spend time and money developing and refining their brand and their business systems. They will not be looking for someone who wants to come on board to reinvent the wheel.

So one special characteristic is that of being system-orientated with a strong leaning towards partnership mentality (think John Lewis). Understanding the franchise model is important for you get to share the brand with fellow franchisees. You will want to be supportive in protecting who the brand is perceived by others.

WAIT – HOW ABOUT CUSTOMERS!
Naturally, being able to create customer confidence and loyalty is important if you are to ensure repeat business and referrals.

Apart from feeling comfortable around people you will need some element of sales skill. Obviously the franchisor will offer help in this area but you need to feel comfortable with the ethos of sales for you will need to persuade (encourage) people to buy your products and services. Trust me, nothing sells itself. This is something often missed when people decide to turn their skills into a business of their own.

ATTITUDE
In the end, much of the approach towards starting a business is down to attitude. A positive ‘can do’ attitude is easy to adopt when things are going right but real character shows through when things don’t run so smoothly. Hey, if business was easy, no one would be looking for a job.

PERSONALLY SPEAKING
I have experience as an employee, of being successful in a corporate environment, of running my own business and of being part of a successful franchise operation. I know all of these things to be true.

A good franchise provides a head start and the success engine that will help you drive your business faster and with GPS navigation to wherever you want to go. You have are given the keys but you have to drive it. Here’s to your Success.

rebecca crossRebecca Cross is an Award Winning Virtual PA. Her background experience working with IBM and the Wall Street Journal provides invaluable experience. She specialises in providing creative business and administration support for entrepreneurs and business owners who understand the value of working on their business, rather than in their business. She is especially looking to work with business start-ups, entrepreneurs, and professionals who travel extensively.
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is a franchise a perfect self-employment solution?

When I visit any strange town or city, I am struck by the number of businesses that I’m already familiar with. Familiar coffee or fast food brands, hairdressers even. Chances are that they are franchises. So I figure, ‘is a franchise a perfect self-employment solution?’

The fact is that opening any business in the high-street is expensive and high risk. To minimise that risk you would do well to access the experience of a company willing to partner with you and share their experience. A franchise might offer the perfect opportunity.

I am not suggesting all franchises are created equally. Each has its own personality and requirements to protect their growth and brand. You need to read the small print. You need to consider the money you have available to invest along with the risk you are prepared to take. But hey, that’s the same with any business venture.

So let’s be clear as to what we buy when we invest in a franchise. We buy time.

It takes a time to develop skills and to gain experience. It takes a time to build a reputation. What is the true cost in the extra time we spend trying to figure all this out ourselves? Building awareness slowly could move profitable revenues from this month to next quarter. From this month to next year. Lack of cash flow is one of the major challenges in any business and running out of money is a key risk.

A reputable franchise has the skill set and business model to minimise such a risk. They already know what it takes to build a successful business and they don’t have room for failure.

The main issue with a franchise business in the high street, however, is the money you have to risk and tie up. Brick and mortar business ventures are expensive to set up and maintain.

However, there are many work-from-home franchise models that have minimal setup costs and affordable license fees. Profits are generally excellent to good. You could work fewer hours, or work hard and make twice as much as a franchise.

In the digital age, many of these franchise opportunities are powered by technology and without the high investment of a brick and mortar business this opens up business opportunities without the traditional costs.

I am a keen advocate for the franchise business model for the right people and I appreciate that franchising isn’t for everyone. Neither is medicine, teaching, sales or graphic design.

However, if you are facing 2017 with a burning ambition to set out on your own, remember that you need not face the challenges on your own or with the high cost or risk of a brick and mortar franchise business.

rebecca crossRebecca Cross is an Award Winning Virtual PA. Her background experience working with IBM and the Wall Street Journal provides invaluable experience. She specialises in providing creative business and administration support for entrepreneurs and business owners who understand the value of working on their business, rather than in their business. She is especially looking to work with business start-ups, entrepreneurs, and professionals who travel extensively.

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do new business owners need trainer wheels?

I recently read that half of all British businesses are now based at home and one in 10 domestic properties is home to a business, according to research conducted in association with Direct Line for Business and PC World Business.

Why should I be surprised? Advancing technology is making it easier than ever for people to be more flexible in business. The idea of someone running an entire business from home now seems very realistic.

76% of homepreneurs have never been involved in running a business before.

It’s easy for those of us who have been in business for a while to forget the challenges of starting a new business.

Like riding a bike. What can be so difficult? Until you get on the bike! At which point you realise that balance is key. So it is with a new business requiring so many areas that need attention. Aspects of the business that frankly, you don’t have the aptitude, skills or interest in.

Naturally, each person will approach the challenges of their new business with enthusiasm, often confused with ‘ignorance on fire’. I know, I’ve been there.

Embark on a new business and you can plan your strategy, product or service development, your marketing. You can control your expenses, manage your cash flow etc. but you can’t do everything yourself, even though you might think you can.

Just like we underestimate the calories we consume and overestimate the exercise we take, we are not brilliant at everything. Choose your surrogate support team carefully.

Surround yourself with people who will support and inspire you to be more than you believe you are. You will get to where you want to go, faster and with less heartache.

You will need this support and might be surprised to learn that you don’t always get it from your family. see What to do When Your Spouse Does Not Want You to Open a Business

Oh, to see into the future. To be able to avoid the challenges and have someone who has ‘been there’. Worry not, if you can get through it before your funds run out (cash flow is a major cause of business failure) you are awarded a ‘been there – got the t-shirt’ badge. It’s called experience. Hopefully, a profitable one.

Walk in the footprints of those who have already been where you want to go.

At SmartPA, we provide more than the services we invoice. We provide an emotional intelligence and desire to help entrepreneurs achieve more.

Our franchisees bring their own individual experiences in business and provide a support system that inspires people to be, do and have more.

And for those homepreneurs who are considering starting up their own virtual PA services, I say this. Why on earth would you want to face the challenges on your own when you can take advantage of the experience of a team who have laid down the footprints.

rebecca crossRebecca Cross is an Award Winning Virtual PA working with Smart PA. Her background experience working with IBM and the Wall Street Journal provides invaluable experience. She specialises in providing creative business and administration support for entrepreneurs and business owners who understand the value of working on their business, rather than in their business. She is especially looking to work with business start-ups, entrepreneurs and professionals who travel extensively

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what do I get for my franchise fees?

franchise fees

I work closely with a leading UK franchise, so I guess I know at first hand what it takes to be successful as a franchisee.  Although I am asked many questions, one stands out in particular and that is the question ‘so, what do I get for my franchise fees?’

I love this question, for it shows me that someone appreciates that their investment into a franchise needs to deliver additional value over an above going it alone.

They want to know what they are buying and why wouldn’t they?

When you buy into a franchise you should be buying a product or service backed by a business and marketing system that has been tried, tested and proven to work to generate profit.

Of course, everyone who goes into business for themselves will have these goals in mind.  Anyone who has been in business will know the hidden traps, distractions and challenges that face everyone new to the business.

‘With a franchise, you can put an old head on young shoulders’

I guess that is the hidden answer to the question, ‘what do I get for my money’. A safer alternative to starting out on your own. Buying the time and money wasted making the mistakes everyone makes.

Sure I can talk about a business that allows someone to be their own boss and benefit from working at home. Flexible working hours, increased income, better work-life balance or minimised childcare costs are important for many and a good franchise enables people with the right personality and temperament to achieve these goals.

However, the person I’m talking to has likely already considered that they can do this on their own, without the cost of a franchise. This is nearly always the question behind the question.

Starting out on your own is an act of faith with ‘no safety net’ by way of knowing what typically happens and how to deal with the challenges to be faced.

There really is no substitute for experience.

Yes, you can work out how to set up, run and develop a new business but brainstorming smarter options is best done with people who have already done what you plan to do.

Every new or established business will face challenges and times when business isn’t so brisk. Even a franchise. However, rather than figuring out what to do on your own or with an equally inexperienced family member, it’s better to talk to someone who’s already made their mistakes and learnt from it.

A good franchise team offers valuable support, inspiration and know-how to help their franchise partner through the tough periods far better than someone who has never faced those same challenges before.

It is important to surround yourself with experienced people who can guide you through the good and bad times. No one does anything of any consequence on their own.

For the many who are new to the business, a good franchise holds out a helpful hand to guide the newbie along their well-worn path to success.

They have the success map from a path well trodden so you don’t get lost in cul-de-sacs or travelling the wrong way up one-way streets. Better to work for yourself as part of a like-minded team than work alone and on your own.

rebecca crossRebecca Cross is an Award Winning Virtual PA. Her background experience working with IBM and the Wall Street Journal provides invaluable experience. She specialises in providing creative business and administration support for entrepreneurs and business owners who understand the value of working on their business, rather than in their business. She is especially looking to work with business start-ups, entrepreneurs and professionals who travel extensively

Life beyond Corporate – Getting started as an Entrepreneur

blonde, girl, taking

Life beyond Corporate. Getting started as an Entrepreneur is always a challenge to anyone brought up as an employee.

What does it really take to leave the comfort of a well-paid corporate job and start out on your own? More than you think.

Passion
Working for yourself, starting a business is not for the faint hearted and if you haven’t got an overriding passion and infectious enthusiasm the challenges in business that will test your resolve to the limit. There is little room for self doubt.

But what if you want to leave the corporate rat race and you’re not clear about where your passion lies?  ‘You don’t really know what you want to be when you grow up’.

Don’t beat yourself up for you are not alone, as this fascinating Ted Talk from Emilie Wapnick reveals.

ted talks

Network One
The greatest challenges that people leaving corporate face is being used to a support structure that provides ideas, talent, skills to contribute to the overall purpose of the business of generating portable revenue.

As soon as possible surround yourself with people who will provide skills, services and inspiration necessary to make the most profitable use of your time. Most people starting their own business fail to budget for this. They attempt to do everything themselves, in the belief that when the business is profitable they will introduce such a structure. Wrong way round.

It won’t happen, for the distracted, and ultimately tired and frustrated individual will never achieve as much or as fast as a support team helping reach past break-even into profit.

Hire a personal assistant who has already made that move from corporate to starting a business. The good ones help entrepreneurs prioritise, focus and keep on track. They help entrepreneurs use their time in the a more productive fashion whilst they take care of many of the necessary activities previously provided within the corporate structure.

A Virtual Personal Assistant’s understanding of the corporate culture from a similar, even higher level is quite important when sharing ideas. This special insight could be worth more than their monthly charges.

Network Two
There is a massive gulf between the marketing undertaken within a large corporate and the type of marketing required to get a business start-up off the ground. So much money is wasted on marketing by people who don’t know what they’re doing.

Instead, your personal and extended connections will make up your network and your network is said to be equal to your net worth.

The more people who know what your goals are, the better, as people generally love to help people. This is one area that need not cost too much money but instead will take time to develop. Time well spent.

Check out a local Business Network International (BNI) meeting.  They have referral marketing strategies down to a fine art.

You will achieve more in less time, when you focus on creating strong referral partnerships rather than attracting an extensive list of ‘networking junkies’ aimlessly wandering from networking event to networking event, looking for that quick sale.

Learn how to use LinkedIn to make and develop online connections. Lynda.com has some great courses. Don’t risk exposing yourselves as a novice during this important time.

Practice Patience
If you are going to be in business for the long term you need to be patient, for it may take longer than you expect to create the visibility and establish your reputation as someone worth doing business with.

If you have experienced other challenges making to move from corporate to your own business then please comment below or perhaps connect on LinkedIn.

rebecca crossRebecca Cross is an Award Winning Virtual PA with a background experience working with IBM and the Wall Street Journal, amongst others. She specialises in providing creative business and administration support for entrepreneurs and business owners who understand the value of working on their business, rather than in their business. She is especially looking to work with business start-ups, entrepreneurs and professionals who travel extensively

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