Founder of M&M Business Support Natalie Barker describes her career as a “career of two halves” having spent the first half in procurement within retail, manufacturing and B2B sectors before relocating from London to the Lake District and working in managerial roles for a holiday cottage agency.
Throughout her career, Natalie has always “had a passion for process improvements and enjoyed being given problems to unpick.” After she left the holiday accommodation industry, this drive led her to start her own business providing Virtual Assistant (VA) services.
As a VA, Natalie provides support to business owners with a number of tasks including admin, operational, project management, purchasing and marketing which allows her clients “to spend more time working on their businesses instead of in their business.”
Natalie launched her business in January this year with a clear mission statement: “M&M Business Support provides help when you need it, so you can achieve more. Whether it’s a small admin task or a large business growth project, I love the fact that the help I provide really makes a difference to every business I work with.”
Since launching, Natalie has taken on several retainer clients as well as clients for one-off projects from a variety of business sectors including hospitality, food & drink and consultancy.
This early success meant that by the end of March, Natalie had covered all of her start-up costs and started turning a profit. An impressive achievement!
While setting up her business, Natalie got in touch with Cumbria Business Growth Hub, taking advantage of our fully-funded Business Start-up Support (BSUS).
“I’ve benefited hugely from the support provided by the Growth Hub. Starting with the three-day start-up course which gave me everything I needed so I could get my ducks in a row as I set up my own business. I’ve then also received support tailored to my business via 1-2-1 sessions with experienced business adviser, Justine Douglas. This has been brilliant. I’m continuing to benefit from the funded workshop sessions that the Growth Hub runs, I’ve learnt lots from these and they are great because they cover specific topics, meaning many businesses can gain truly relevant support.”
Natalie also benefited from Cumbria Chamber of Commerce’s Business Bites networking events which she attended to get the word out about her new business.
“When I saw the Business Bites networking sessions that Cumbria Chamber of Commerce hosts I knew I had to attend. They’re a great format and the venues are nice too. With high numbers attending each time I’ve met lots of interesting people at the Business Bites events. Networking is about exchanging information (not just telling everyone about M&M), so learning about people’s businesses and what their roles are has been really interesting and hugely valuable. I’ve secured two clients from the Business Bites networking events, and one from the Growth Hub workshops too which I’m very pleased about.”
Looking to the future Natalie plans “to build my reputation as a friendly and reliable Virtual Assistant, the approachable type who really understands what juggling life is like. My versatility and experience mean I provide a broader range of services than traditional business admin, which I’ll use to shape my future plans. I’m hugely passionate about supporting businesses to drive growth so I’ll make changes to my own business if that means I can increase capacity and help more people with theirs.”
Visit M&M Business Support’s website here.