Help at hand for busy people
A stint of fulltime employment was the inspiration for Rochelle Castle-Wilson's new career path.
After a career in nursing, followed by several years self-employed in industries including farming, crayfishing and hospitality, Rochelle worked as a personal assistant and office manager, only to find she was struggling to keep on top of things in her personal life.
She talks about rushing around in her lunchbreaks trying to get things done, and playing "catch-up" all weekend, only to do it all again the following week.
She decided to set up a business, reasoning that if she was finding there wasn't enough time to get everything done, then others would have the same challenges, and needagirlfriday.com came into being nearly a year ago.
Rochelle and her ex-husband came from Southland to South Canterbury in 2005, taking over Kingsdown Manor and running it as a boutique accommodation and function centre. When the couple separated, Rochelle said she couldn't run it on her own, so went back to work as a PA for a couple of years.
"I realised I couldn't get all the things done in my own life because I was working fulltime, so I looked at what I could do with the skill base that I had. It's about simplifying your life, so many people are working now, and they are time poor."
The business is based out of her home, with the key tools being a car and a mobile phone. And while she had hoped to focus on South Canterbury, the work has taken her further afield, into Mid Canterbury and Christchurch. That's also tying in with studies towards a bachelor of applied management through CPIT.
"I think Timaru people have a lot of support from families, whereas in Christchurch, there isn't that kind of support, there's a different climate up there, especially following the earthquakes."
While a lot of Rochelle's work is administration based, she says it's different to being an office temp.
"The relationship is what's important between my client and me, and the personal relationship is what they want. Because I go to a lot of sole traders and business startups, they know they need to do stuff, but they don't know where to go. Having a business background means I can put the systems in place. I'm quite widely networked, so I can refer them to the people they need.
"The things that I can't do, I know who can."
While office work is bread and butter stuff, Rochelle enjoys the more personal work more, and says it suits her personality, dealing with the things that busy people just don't get around to doing.
That might involve making travel arrangements, sorting out drycleaning, shopping for gifts, or planning an event.
She'll celebrate her first year in the business next month, and says the year has been more about education rather than product development, getting the word out.
"I have a client, I'm running her complete wedding in November, and because I've done a lot of event management here [at Kingsdown Manor] I can make sure it's all running to schedule. When I first started, I had a client, and one day a week I'd do all the cooking for the week, and organise it in containers. She was calf-rearing, doing 15 to 16-hour days, so for her, that was an investment.
"The book-keeping is the hard core stuff, but it's not as much fun."
She's helped make over rental properties, sorted out samples to replace a kitchen benchtop, de-cluttered homes, and taken care of drycleaning and mending needs.
Along the way, Rochelle has set up a network of working women, and says she feels many are lacking the support they need to keep their businesses going.
"I don't think we support each other enough as women. Men just want things done, whereas women are generally the decision-makers, because they are the ones that are having to juggle everything, so it's the pressure it takes off them."
Another client had a growing business, with staff numbers increasing from two to nine, while the couple also juggled parenting three young children.
"My role there is to go in, start those people on their way, and then back out. It's about helping people get on the right track."
Word of mouth is an important part of Rochelle's marketing. Happy clients are likely to tell others what she has done for them.
"That's the thing. My clients are investing in this so they can spend the time they have got doing the things they love.
"I want it to be a personal thing. I enjoy being able to make a difference."
- © Fairfax NZ News