Taking plan B: when life gives you an unstoppable business idea

A fresh start: how one entrepreneur turned redundancy on its head

Janet Aspin set up her own virtual PA business providing support for small- to medium-enterprises after being made redundant during the pandemic. Never having worked for herself, everything was new to her and she started with limited technical knowledge, but with perseverance and help from online tools, such as Google Business Profile, she’s seeing her business grow How did you come to start a business during the pandemic?

I was made redundant after 25 years of working for the same company. I tried to get back into employment, and was offered a new position. However, I had such a traumatic experience during their onboarding process that my health was suffering. I have multiple sclerosis and a risk assessment they wanted to carry out took several months and I didn’t have a start date. Not long after, I went to the hairdresser who introduced me to his mum, Jacqueline Winstanley, who set up the Inclusive Entrepreneur Network.

Jacqueline told me about the support and advice for disabled entrepreneurs and suggested I work for myself. So I decided to walk away from the job and set up JA Executive PA Services. I created social media accounts and a Google Business Profile – the business started from there.

How has Google helped?

Google has been helpful in all parts of my business, from undertaking the initial research, to setting it up. When launching my business, I knew that I needed people to find it online and that I needed a digital presence. My first aim was to appear in Google Search rankings. So I set myself up with a

Google Business Profile and updated my social channels. Now if I search for myself online my virtual PA business comes up, that’s what I wanted. I’d never worked for myself before, so everything was new at the beginning, but I’ve started to understand more. Just seven months after launching, I’ve become more aware of things and feel more confident knowing what platforms and tools can help.

What’s it like to be a disabled entrepreneur?

It’s not easy, but I have a support worker who comes in and makes sure everything is set up as I need it and helps me proofread things when fatigue makes it difficult.

Working from home has made it a lot easier. I work in the kitchen, so I can easily just move from the living room. Working online suits me. There’s a lot more accessibility online now, with things such as video calls.

Having a group like the Inclusive Entrepreneur Network also gives disabled entrepreneurs the support we need. We get to meet, and see that everybody is kind of battling through.

To learn more about JA Executive PA Services, go to jaexecutivepaservices.co.uk