Nicola Potzas, Founder of Specialpreneurs
Supporting parents of special needs children who want to work from home, and the businesses who hire them
My son was born with a rare chromosome disorder which resulted in him having heart defects. For the first 16 months of his life he had to be tube-fed and I was told he would never eat orally. I wanted a second opinion, so I took him to Austria; he started eating after nine days. During this period, I was working as a research assistant in investment banking. Obviously, I had to take a lot of time off for his therapies, which wasn’t conducive to my role. I found myself forced out of the workplace.
With only £500 to my name and a mortgage to pay, I spotted a Gumtree advert for a virtual assistant. I decided to go for it, but I wanted to come across professionally, so I knocked up a basic WordPress website.
I’ve no idea if it made any difference, but I landed the role in 2011 and worked as a VA for several years – teaching myself how to build far better websites. I loved the creativity and somewhere along the way I started charging for my services.
Talking to other parents with children who have special needs, I found they’d left employment for the same reasons. They were all talented people with amazing skills – from social media, content writing and blogging to building websites, administration and branding.
In 2017 I brought them together under the umbrella of Specialpreneurs; we support entrepreneurs and small businesses. We get great referrals – and having faced some of the most demanding and challenging roles life can throw at us, we tackle our clients’ tasks with the same resilience, focus and determination. (If one of our kids has a meltdown in the morning, we work at night to meet our deadlines.)
People like our ethos: helping a parent to be financially independent whilst receiving a great service. It’s a win-win.
As well as building websites, I manage my team of 10. (I am much better in a leadership position than being led!) My long-term goal is to have a huge bank of parent workers and keep them happy with regular work – supporting clients they love. My advice? Things happen when you take action, so stop procrastinating!