Sarah Yandell, Sophie Birley-Brown, Emma Barratt and Louise Young of Get Ahead

Member Article

Post pandemic pivot: Four franchisees celebrate the first anniversaries of their new careers as Get Ahead regional directors

The COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns put millions of people on furlough. Whilst some returned to work, others faced uncertainty and the prospect of redundancy. Yet in the face of this economic crisis, a study by UHY, the international accountancy network, showed that there were 726,000 new businesses created in the UK in 2020 compared to just over 636,000 in 2019. Why? Because thousands of people, like Sarah Yandell, Sophie Birley-Brown, Emma Barratt and Louise Young took the opportunity to change their career paths and start their own businesses.

Sarah Yandell was put on furlough from her general manager role in a travel business and knew it was time to look for something new. After many years of commuting and managing business teams, she wanted to work flexibly and from home, yet still feel part of something. After weeks of searching, Sarah discovered Get Ahead and launched her Suffolk/Essex area in July 2020.

“A year on, and I absolutely know that buying my Get Ahead franchise was the right decision for me,” says Sarah. “The support from Rebecca and our wonderful team has been fantastic. Running my own business has definitely been a bigger learning curve than I realised. But I have learnt what to prioritise and how important it is to take time to build relationships with my most valuable contacts. Ongoing restrictions have made networking more difficult, but I am looking forward to getting to more face-to-face events over the next 12 months, delivering presentations and building partnerships with referral partners.”

Sophie Birley-Brown was put on furlough and subsequently made redundant from her recruitment company role in July 2020. “It was a worrying time,” Sophie says, “but I also knew that it could be a good opportunity to find something new. Once I discovered Get Ahead, it felt like a perfect fit. Sophie launched her Wirral & Cheshire West franchise in September 2020.

“There have been some fantastic highlights from the last 12 months. I have hosted my own FSB networking group. I signed up four new clients all from one client who was praising our services in her networking group. I’m also starting work with a national charity, who want to outsource all business and marketing support tasks to us on an ongoing basis, which is very exciting. Along the way, I have realised how important it is to maintain a healthy work/life balance. I now build time into my calendar to take time out for myself, so that I can really give my best for my business.”

Emma Barratt had always wanted to run her own business. But going it alone felt like recreating the wheel. During the pandemic, Emma had time to research franchising options, as she knew franchising would offer a tried-and-tested business model. She came across Get Ahead online and launched her East Midlands region in September 2020.

“Some people may think I was crazy to start a new business in the middle of the pandemic, but I have been pleasantly surprised,” Emma says. “I have really enjoyed getting to know so many different business owners and SMEs. Because of the wide variety of support services we offer at Get Ahead, no one day is the same. I love being able to say yes to helping make a business owner’s life easier, in almost any way they need it, from enquiry and diary management to a full social media marketing strategy, plus everything in between. With in-person business events returning, I am looking forward to exhibiting at local expos, meeting lots of new people and promoting Get Ahead East Midlands.”

Ealing-based Louise was made redundant from her Marketing Director role during COVID-19 and was delighted when she discovered Get Ahead on LinkedIn. She immediately saw the benefits of virtual assistant services for businesses facing the challenges of coronavirus and felt that the time was right to join a virtual agency like Get Ahead. She launched her West London franchise in November 2020.

“12 months down the line I feel confident that my business has a bright future ahead,” Louise says. “I have received some amazing feedback from clients who have genuinely seen the benefit of using a member of the Get Ahead team to support their business. At the same time, I now have space in my week to be able to spend time doing things that I love, regaining a work-life balance that’s often so hard to achieve.

Launching my business four days before a new lockdown wasn’t ideal, but this ended up being positive as it gave me time to get all the basics in place so that I was fully up and running in time for the gradual return to normality we’ve seen this year. I can’t wait to visit lots of local business expos over the first quarter of 2022 to kick-start the new year and drive my business forward.“

Despite the impact of the pandemic, Get Ahead welcomed a record number of new franchisees in 2020. Get Ahead founder and director Rebecca Newenham says, “2020 was a pivotal year for many people. I was privileged to meet Sarah, Sophie, Emma and Louise and help them find a new career path that would enable them to achieve their dreams of running their own business and take control of their own futures.

We have already opened up a further three new regions in 2021 in York and Harrogate, Oxford and our first international franchisee in Sydney, Australia. Alongside our existing regional directors in Berkshire & North Hants, East Midlands, Surrey, Leeds, Suffolk & Essex, West London, and Wirral & Cheshire West, we are well equipped to provide effective outsourced services to businesses across the UK.“

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Caroline Saunders .

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