I studied Forestry Engineering in Spain— where I was born, and a Master Course in Geographic Information Systems in Portugal — where I moved after participating in an Erasmus exchange in 2002-2003. From 2006 to 2011 I had the chance to work in several environments (academic and enterprises mainly), but I ended up realising I was not being given the opportunity to develop professionally, and sadly, I was not doing what I loved. In 2011 I was fed up with my job and my boss, and decided to work for myself. At that time, I had already provided some translation services to Universities and firms, as a hustle job that helped me pay my student fees. Since I always wanted to have children, but had no family support nearby, the decision to go on my own was rather easy. Virtual Assistance was something I wanted to try, after I met an English neighbour who could do a living only providing online services. So I decided to create my website and I started promoting myself both in Translation and Virtual Assistance. I must say the first year was hard, I felt lost and undervalued, and clients took their time to show up. I learned many things about solo working anyway, which was a good lesson for the following times. The second year after my freelance business launch, I became a mother. I tried not to stop working and not to lose the little business that took me so much effort to create. My baby stayed full-time with me until he was 1 year old, and part-time until he was 2. In that time, I could manage to keep some clients and projects but I clearly failed at developing new prospects and networking. When my son started going to the kindergarten I had the time and availability to start all over again. During a couple of years I could gain some time back and started feeling like a true professional freelancer, since my earnings were increasing, little by little, but steadily. In 2016 I got pregnant again, therefore, taking into account my previous experience, I expected another subsequent halt in work orders. Happily, that did not occur. A couple of my best clients happened to need me more than ever, in a way I had to manage to be both a full-time new-born mum and an all-supportive translator and assistant. During my post-birth recovery and the first four months of my babygirl’s life, I translated two books on coaching (over 300,000 words), with extensive work during long breastfeeding nights, and the consequent terrible sleep deprivation (but alsomuch pride when it was finally over and I could see the translated texts on the bookstore shelves!). My idea when I launched Vitamin Words (“Vitamin Office” the first years) was to offer a wide range of more complete solutions than just translation. My clients need translation mainly because they need to take their projects abroad. After the client’s text is translated into the target language, it must reach somewhere, so there is work to be done in an international, multicultural and multilingual context. There is where my Virtual Assistant services come into scene. I have beheld a couple of Portuguese entrepreneurs reach new markets, with my help in contacting foreign people, managing their busy agendas, and targeting their marketing efforts to profitable and successful audiences. I believe Virtual Assistance is a business with future in Portugal. No one can do everything. And just like many professionals hire someone to take care of the household duties (cleaning, cooking, etc.), because time is scarce for everyone, many firms and entrepreneurs can also profit from counting on other professionals to address internet-related tasks (emails, agendas, websites, social networks, event and trip planning, etc.). In my daily routine as a mum in Portugal, I have witnessed the pressure many mothers (and non-mothers too) suffer in the workplace and due to work-related issues. Office timetables are inflexible, many mothers lack all kind of family support, they suffer difficulties with logistics and transports, in such a way that it is virtually impossible for them to have everything done (career, house, food, etc.) without neglecting family time and child support. Many of them feel guilty, trapped and simply burned out. Since Virtual Assistant work can be done remotely (characteristic of which I have much benefitted all through these years) and no special training is needed (besides general computer knowledge and willingness to learn new tools), my new business idea focuses on these women who need to work at home in order to life a balanced life. After many years of freelancing, I have found out the following: - Freelancing means timetable freedom, and working at home can mean that too (not always if you work remotely but with a fixed schedule) - Freelancing means a terrible financial instability and a precarious situation (at least at the beginning) many women simply cannot afford trying - Virtual Assistance will grow in Portugal in the next few years following general economic growth - Women in Portugal, specially mothers, experience pressure and difficulties striving to reach a healthy work/family balance. So, this is the view of the business I would like to set up: If there was a firm that provided these women consistent work and assistant tasks to be completed in a regular basis, they could consider working from home, thus improving their life quality and general happiness. Since I have been parenting full time since June 2017, and working at night, I have not been able to develop this idea much further. I cannot say I have faced many problems when settling the project, because I haven’t started doing it. I have not asked for any financial support and I don't think I will. Fortunately, the digital space we all use daily allows many people develop their projects with little or no money.
|Name & Surname:||Marta López Ramos|
|Sector:||Translation and Virtual Assistance|
As a secretary for 18 years in a portuguese company of wall and floor tiles it gave me skills in these area such as organizing appointments of the board, business trips and all those tasks related to the office that usualy take time from management but are so important to have everything well organized in order to have clean ideas. As this factory went down in 2009, I decided to finish the organizational communication course and had the idea that at this moment as there is more and more liberal professions people would need someone to take over the tasks that at some point prevent them to work ideas and to organize all the appointments or even make some research. Thats the purpose of Secretariado on Demand, working virtually and even local, with those people with small business or working alone but helping them organizing the agenda and tasks related to papers, database, resarch and so one. I already had the chance to test this projet and worked with “+Expressão by Sónia Coelho” - making appointments by phone / email, after a research of potencial customers, organizing the database in a excel form; “Casa Margou” - social media by creating events; “Kriscer ONGD” - social media, creating events, organizing appointments, database in excel form, helping in the projets, like “UIK -Universidade Intergeracional da Kriscer” with yoga practice and administrative tasks and also “Os Guardiões dos Livros”, by helping in contacts with schools and network in order to get more scholar books to send to S. Tomé e Príncipe islands, put them in boxes, organizing the lists It is a litle early in Portugal to go further, in particular in Coimbra, a small city that still not open to new working ways and still not trust in people that they don’t see at a work place every day, even if they have to pay social taxes for them beside the pay. I try to get trainee in this area but it is dificult at the moment and I’m waiting for the right moment. Working with IEBA is a great oportunity to have formation and meet new people with similar situations and working them together to consolidate ideas and ways of going further. The idea of a credit I believe is not the rigth time because need to have more clients and more people in this projet to propose other kind of services realted to this area and also work some partnerships.
|Name & Surname:||Maria Helena Santos|
|Company:||SOD Secretariado On Demand|
I am a pharmaceutical with experience in the technology sector. I always liked the area of families, pregnancy, babies and children and everything that was related to it. I worked in day care centers or in clothing stores and childcare and more recently in pharmacies and noticed that, especially the mothers, felt many doubts and that there was a whole universe of issues and concerns that came along with motherhood. When I decided to start the project the idea was even quite different, but bureaucracies and lack of support made me stop and to "reinvent" it. At this moment I'm developing an automatic personal assistant for parents, to help them in all doubts regarding this new phase of life, parenting. Already launched the prototype that is being tested by a group of parents, to then launch the final version. So far I have not received any financial support. Fortunately I am surrounded by the ecosystem and this has helped me a lot in every decision and doubt phase. However, there are always some barriers to being a woman, alone, in an area that is not my initial training and, above all, to be part of a minority in the area of technologies.
|Name & Surname:||Cláudia Morgado|
I’m 47, British, and have been living in Portugal since 2007. My first career was in banking, which gave me experience as a trainer. I left this job after 8 years to travel the world for 16 months. I then trained as a Teacher of English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) and worked in Spain, Tanzania, Venezuela and other countries. This job enabled me to move to Portugal but by the time I reached my 40s, I was tired of teaching and wanted to pursue my dream of making a living from writing. I created a blog about travel and life as a foreigner in Portugal (Julie Dawn Fox in Portugal) and took on freelance writing and translating assignments while working part time as a teacher. I quit teaching completely in 2015. I struggled for many years to turn tes blog into a business. Over the years, I learned more about blogging and marketing and tried many different ways of monetising my blog (advertising, sponsored articles, affiliate partnerships, selling ebooks and photography and more). I took several online business courses and attended a week-long workshop for startups but lacked the ongoing support I needed to help me wade through Portuguese regulations and decide on the best path for growing my business. In the the past two years, with the help of a local business developement project (Transformar, Empreender, Criar) organised my local business association, AEDP, and IEBA with the support of EU funding, I have had the invaluable support of a business consultant. As a result of this, I now have two main focuses to my business: a) I provide personalised itinerary design and consultation for individual clients and b) I make scalable income from affiliate partnerships and advertising revenue through the content on my blog. My consultant has helped me set up a limited company and I finally understand how sales tax applies to my business and partners – what a headache! My business is now fully operational and generating a healthy profit. I am still learning about the accounting and analytics side of things and am often overloaded with work. My biggest problem right now is finding the people I need to help me manage and grow the business and creating systems and procedures for them to follow but I am very enthusiastic about the future.
|Name & Surname:||Julie Fox|
|Company:||The Way Fox Unipessoal LDA|