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Tips when becoming a self-employed paraplanner  

3 October 2019

Ashley Wiltshire, owner of outsourced paraplanning firm Wiltshire Paraplanning, offers advice for other paraplanners looking to step out into the self-employed world

Ashley Wiltshire set up her outsourced paraplanning firm Wiltshire Paraplanning in October 2013. She has grown it to seven paraplanners and an office manager and is set to add further staff over the next year – while also managing the business from Texas in America.

We asked for her advice for anyone setting up their own paraplanning business.

“There is always some fear around taking that first step in moving from being employed to starting your own business – it can seem scary. If it’s something you love and are passionate about then jump and do it – that passion will push through and lead you forward. Often you have to go with your gut instinct on things. Things don’t always work out in the way that you want but you always learn from it.”

Initially, don’t rush into things, she suggests. “Take your time in growing the business. I learned the hard way by looking to grow too fast. In retrospect I tried to grow almost straight away; I didn’t do enough work when taking people on and that left me in an awkward position with my clients. After that I grew more slowly; I had five people including me at the beginning of 2018.

“Now six years on I feel I am in a position to grow but in the next year I’m only looking to take on another couple of paraplanners and another office manager. We have capacity for another couple of clients at the moment and then it will be organic growth.”

Another piece of key advice she gives is to network. “Get out and speak to people. Go to events for paraplanners. Not only will you meet new people doing the same job as you but paraplanners are sharing people. You can learn so much from just talking to other paraplanners.

“And having a mentor really helped me. I suggest you find one that is business orientated but not connected to what you’re doing day-to-day, so they can give you a different perspective on things.”

Self-development also is very important, she says. “I’ve always looked to improve and learn. Read books and again not just about financial services.

“Another big lesson I’ve learned is to make time for me and my family, which also works to take some of the pressure off when running a business. It reminds you what you’re doing it for.

“And communicate and encourage others to communicate with each other. That’s a massive thing if you want to have a successful business.”

Above all, she says, it is about putting in the hard work. “Be aware that nothing comes to you on a plate – there is sweat and tears involved to get where you are.

“And finally, have faith in yourself – know you can do it.”

Ashley was interviewed for the Paraplanner Profile in the October issue of Professional Paraplanner.