Happy third birthday, Get Ahead Leeds!

While Get Ahead greatly increased its number of franchises during 2020, some of our regional directors have been up and running for some time now. One of these is the outstanding Fiona Ibbetson who has been running Get Ahead Leeds since January 2018.

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Opening a franchise: a new opportunity for 2021

Get Ahead is proud to operate as a franchise, meaning that we have branches around the country, each run by an independent, entrepreneurial Regional Director, all under the umbrella of the Get Ahead brand. 

If you’re considering trying something new in 2021, perhaps the Get Ahead franchise opportunity will be right for you – it gives you flexibility and control over your working life, and the satisfaction of providing administrative and marketing support to businesses in your local area. In fact, there are several key reasons why next year could be the perfect time to get started! 

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How to manage work/life balance when you work from home

Maintaining some kind of balance between work and life is hard enough when you’re going out to work, but when you’re working from home, the challenge is even greater. Fortunately, by identifying the problem and really addressing it, you can get your life back without your work suffering.

The team at Get Ahead VA have been working at home for years. Here are our top tips:

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4 great benefits of opening a franchise

It’s safe to say that, for most people, this year hasn’t exactly gone to plan – perhaps you started 2020 with big dreams of finally starting your own business, only to have to put those dreams aside in order to make it through the crisis. But the pandemic doesn’t have to stop your entrepreneurial aspirations forever. In fact, opening a franchise could get you back on track sooner than you think. 

There are all sorts of fantastic benefits to opening a franchise, but today we’re looking at four key advantages that could make this a great career move for you, even in all the upheaval of 2020. 

1. Build a business 

Starting a new business always comes with some risk, and this is especially true now, when markets are changing quickly and unexpectedly all the time. Against this backdrop of uncertainty, opening a franchise brings with it extra security and reassurance – you will benefit from starting a business within an established and proven brand, and you will have the support of other franchisees to help you through those difficult early months. A franchise allows you to open a business, but not alone. 

2. Work for yourself 

Many people have had to rethink how they work over the last few months, from finding a new office space, to adapting to new regulations, to having to leave a previous job. Although these things can be extremely stressful, they also provide an opportunity to take a serious look at your working life and see if you are in a position to make a more long-term change. You must weigh up your options carefully, but these new circumstances may be just the push you need to finally pursue the dream of being your own boss. 

3. Manage your own time 

One of the greatest benefits of running a business is that you have the freedom to manage your own time. This is more important than ever when life is unpredictable and you never know when you might need to help out a relative or do some last-minute childcare. Running your own business allows you to be flexible – you can take on extra work when you have the time, or prioritise your other commitments if you need to. 

4. Work remotely 

Almost all of us have had to adjust to remote working this year, and you may have discovered that you really like it – the freedom to build your work around your family life, the flexibility of the working hours, and the peace and quiet of having an office all to yourself. If this sounds like you, then starting a franchise could mean you can benefit from the home-working lifestyle for a long time to come! 

If you’re interested in running a virtual assistant agency, providing administrative and business support to small businesses in your area, then the Get Ahead VA franchise opportunity could be perfect for you! Contact us on 01483 332 220. We’d be happy to talk to you about your next big career move! 

10 reasons our Regional Directors love what they do

Our Regional Directors are a vital part of the Get Ahead VA family – they run the regional branches across the country, and they bring years of experience, specialist knowledge and enthusiasm to their roles. We’re very lucky that our Regional Director team is growing all the time, so to celebrate Get Ahead VA’s 10th business birthday, we asked them what they love most about being a Regional Director – and they had plenty to say! 

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Digital detox for business owners

The idea of doing a digital detox – i.e. stepping away from technology to focus on real-life hobbies and in-person interactions – can seem challenging at the best of times, and especially so now, when we have even fewer opportunities for face-to-face quality time. But taking a digital detox could be even more important right now: since we’re being forced to spend so much time online, to do our work and stay in touch with our loved ones, the time we spend offline has become even more precious.

If you’re a business owner, you might be finding it particularly difficult to cut down on your screen time, as this may be the only way for you to communicate with your employees, network with others in your field, and promote your business to customers. After all, you can’t just put your phone in a box and stop checking your emails when you have a business to run! The good news is that a digital detox is still possible for you – here are some things you can do to give yourself a break from the screens, and to use them more mindfully when you need to.

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Meet the Regional Director – Sarah Yandell

Here at Get Ahead VA, our people are everything. We’re dedicated to growing our business all over the country, so our customers can access a wide range of highly skilled professionals wherever they are. We currently have regional offices in Leeds, Berkshire & North Hampshire, South Yorkshire and West Surrey, and we’re pleased to announce our latest addition: Suffolk & Essex.

Here’s 60 seconds with our Suffolk & Essex Regional Director, Sarah Yandell

Area of Expertise: 

Managing and facilitating teams at all levels in order to achieve organisational and strategic goals.

When and why did you join Get Ahead VA?

I joined Get Ahead VA in July 2020 after working in the travel industry for 30 years.  I loved my career in travel but with the disruption caused by Covid19, I decided it was time for a change.  After extensive research I found Get Ahead VA, and following a number of conversations with Rebecca and some of the existing franchisees, I was convinced that this opportunity fitted my skill set perfectly.

What did you do before you joined Get Ahead VA?

During my career in travel, I worked in all parts of the supply chain.  This included hotel sales;  travelling all over the world to source accommodation for a student travel company and setting up and running an award winning specialist tour operator.  I took a year out from my career in 2001 to do a full time MBA which included a dissertation with British Airways on CRM and loyalty programmes.  I continue to be passionate about delivering service which is beyond expectation.

Career Highlight to date:   

I feel that joining the Get Ahead team is a culmination of all my skills and experience gained in my career so far.  I have the freedom of running my own business, while still being part of an enthusiastic and supportive team.  The role enables me to work with small businesses locally and help them to achieve their business goals; while having a fantastic work life balance.

Plans for the future:

To grow the Get Ahead business in Essex and Suffolk by collaborating with small businesses in the local community and building a team of experts.

If your business could benefit from Sarah’s help, please get in touch on 07971 655771 or 01206 625535, or email [email protected] To find a regional office where you are, please get in touch on 01483 332220 or email [email protected] We pride ourselves on being the staff you don’t see, but the difference you do.

Life after lockdown – is it time to change the way you work?

We’ve all noticed the profound effects of COVID-19, both on the economy and on our everyday lives. Lockdown forced many of us to work from home, while for others it has meant furloughing and even job loss. But a great positive we’ve all gained is the opportunity to review our working life. Was it going well before 23 March, or is it going better now? Have we been ditched by our employers, or do we feel like ditching them?!

In this blog, we look at the impact of lockdown on our working lives, and invite you to ask yourself whether it’s time for a change.

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Tips for attending a virtual conference

Conferences are incredibly useful for all sorts of reasons – you can promote yourself, network and make new contacts, and find out about the latest developments in your industry. And although lockdown has put an end to most in-person conferences this year, many important events are still happening online.

If you’re planning to attend a virtual conference, it’s a good idea to be prepared, because it’s going to be different than you’re used to! The events might be pretty much the same, but you may find it tricky to get into the ‘conference mindset’ at home, so to help you out, here are our top tips for attending a virtual conference.

1. Remove distractions

There are all sorts of distractions at home that you wouldn’t have to deal with at a conference, including children, partners, pets, the ringing phone and the pile of washing up in the corner. Get yourself into conference mode by minimising these distractions as much as possible. Move to a quiet room, preferably with a door you can close, and silence or turn off your mobile phone. Giving the event your full attention will help you to get the most out of it.

2. Schedule your time

Treat this conference the same as you would an in-person one, by sitting down ahead of time and planning out your day. Choose a few can’t-miss events and some others you’d like to attend, and then build your day around them, including tea and lunch breaks. Having a few solid appointments in your calendar will help you to prioritise the most important events, and also make sure you definitely attend!

3. Learn how it works

It’s a good idea to get familiar with the technology beforehand so you don’t have to struggle with technical issues on the day. Most organisers will send pre-conference information, telling you how you can access the events and where you can find the materials/slides for each talk. Take time to read this information and have a practice with whatever conferencing software they’re using, so when the time comes you’ll be ready to go.

4. Go with a friend

Conferences are usually more fun with someone you know, so why not invite a friend along – perhaps a work colleague or a fellow business owner in your field? You can attend the events together, or just meet up for a virtual coffee break and a debrief to energise you for the rest of the day. Attending with a friend will also keep you accountable and help you avoid all those pesky distractions!

Virtual conferences could well become more prevalent in the future, so now is a great time to try a couple out and see what works best for you as an attendee.


Need someone to take care of the day-to-day jobs while you attend your conference? Get Ahead VA’s team of virtual assistants can cover your admin and telephone answering for the day, so you can concentrate on the events you really want to see. To find out more about how we can help, please give Get Ahead VA a call on 01483 332220 or email us at [email protected]. We pride ourselves on being the staff you don’t see, but the difference you do.

How to do CPD from home

Keeping up with your continuing professional development (CPD) can be tricky at the best of times, and chances are that the stresses of lockdown have not made this easier over the past few months. But if you’re feeling up to it, you might find that doing some CPD from home could be beneficial for you and your business.

Of course, you shouldn’t put any pressure on yourself to be productive during this time. Lockdown is hugely stressful for all sorts of reasons, and there’s no need to add to your mental load unnecessarily. It’s essential that you take care of yourself first and give yourself a break if you need it!

However, if you do feel up to the challenge, you may find working on your CPD really valuable. Perhaps you don’t have as much to do right now and you’re in need of a distraction or something to give structure to your days. Or maybe you’re keen to feel that you’re still making progress with your business, even if your normal workload has changed. Whatever inspires you, here is our guide to doing CPD from home.

Make a plan

The most effective way to carry out CPD is first to make a plan – this will keep you on track and ensure you’re focusing on the areas that will make the most difference to you. Here are a few questions to ask when building your plan:

  • What do you currently do? List your current jobs and note down what you’re best at and what you’re worst at. Are there any skills you need to improve?
  • What are your short-term goals? If there are things you want to achieve in the next year or two, think about what training you can start now to help you get there.
  • What are your long-term goals? Consider your biggest dreams for the future of your business, and then break them down into the steps you will need to take to achieve them. If there are lots of steps, don’t be daunted – just focus on what you need to do first; the rest will come later.

Use online training

There are countless online resources you can use for training and CPD. Here are a few good places to start your search:

  • OpenLearn: This is a hub for free online training provided by the Open University. It covers a wide range of subjects, but the courses in money and business will probably be most useful for business owners. The website tells you the number of hours and the level of difficulty for each course, so you can easily pick one that fits your needs.
  • Skillshare: This is another platform for online courses, but it does require a paid subscription. Again, there are plenty of business and entrepreneurship courses to choose from, and there is also Skillshare for Teams, which will let you build custom training programmes for your employees.
  • Subject-specific training: To find subject-specific training for your area of business, start by looking at the official organisations or leading companies in your field – do they offer online courses that will fill a gap in your knowledge? A quick internet search should bring up even more training options, and you can check out the course descriptions and reviews to find the best one for you.

Attend online conferences

Although most professional conferences have been cancelled, a number of ambitious organisers have taken their events online, so if there’s an event you usually attend in person, look it up to see whether it’s holding an online alternative this year. You could also sign up for conferences that you’re never been able to go to before, either because they’re too far away or because they have a limited number of tickets, so take your search global and see which conferences you can attend from the comfort of your own home!

Keep records

Whatever you decide to do, you should keep a record of it so you will be able to look back and see what you achieved during this time. Not only is this very satisfying, it will also help you to continue to plan your CPD in the future. Make a note of what you did and when, how many hours it took, who the organiser was and the key things you learned.


If you would like someone to help with the day-to-day running of your business while you focus on your CPD, Get Ahead VA can help. We offer services including telephone answering, administration and email management to keep your business running smoothly. To find out how we can help, please give Get Ahead VA a call on 01483 332220 or email us at [email protected]. We pride ourselves on being the staff you don’t see, but the difference you do.