I love hearing other peoples’ stories about their journey and how they came to start their business. I think it tells you a lot about their personality, work ethic and skills, not to mention their core values and vision.
So today I thought I’d tell my story – the birth of Boost! Here it goes….
Boost started as a twinkle in my eye back in the summer of 2010, between my 3rd and 4th year at uni studying Business Enterprise, when I took a placement with the Highlands and Islands Social Enterprise Zone (HISEZ, for short). I was hired to develop a shared retail platform for local social enterprises, but I decided it might be best to ask them if that’s what they wanted first!
So I turned the placement into a research project; I went all around the Highlands interviewing social enterprises to find out what their biggest challenges were, and whether an online shop was something that would be useful to them. As it turned out, it wasn’t. Many of them were already in the process of creating their own, and didn’t need another project to add to the list.
So what did they need? Well, one thing everyone knows about the third sector is that it is challenging, so there is lots of advisory support out there to help social enterprises get off the ground, find funding, develop plans etc. But through my research, I discovered that a social enterprise managers’ biggest challenge is lack of time, and what they could really use is an extra pair of hands to simply get things done….
Skip forward six months, and I had just finished doing yet another research project with social enterprises, this time for my Honours year project. After I graduated, one of my interviewees asked me if I would do a bit of freelance work for them, as they needed someone to write their staff handbook. It was during this time that I started to wonder if I could make a business out of being a freelance business assistant. When I put this idea to my boyfriend Ben, his initial response was “nah that’ll never work”. But it was too late, the seed was planted! Or, to keep the birth analogy going, the idea was conceived!
Fast forward another few months and I was determined I was going to start a business of some kind…I had gone into university knowing this was what I wanted to do, all I needed was a great idea. For a brief moment I thought that idea was t-shirt printing….! (Really, Yva?!)
But no, a ‘business support service’ seemed a sensible choice for a first business – I had the skills, I knew there was a market in the social enterprise sector, perhaps there was one in the commercial sector too?
It was only when I started researching the idea that I discovered the hidden world of virtual assistance, already globally established. I became captivated by the notion of creating a virtual business that I could take anywhere in the world, and that would offer me freedom, flexibility and control of my own destiny
One business plan and a few Business Gateway workshops later and baby Boost was born!
Now tell me, what’s your story?