This week’s Ambassador Feature is with Emma Heuston, The Remote Expert
2019 The Women’s Business School (Ignite) Excellence Award – Gold winner
Emma Heuston is a lawyer, author, mum and Founder of the Remote Expert, a law firm that assists women who run online businesses and work from home or hire a remote team of people.
Emma believes in empowering women, she does this through sharing her legal knowledge and breaking down difficult legal concepts into easily understandable parts. She also is living the work/ life Mum juggle and can relate to exactly what a client needs and how to deliver it an efficient way because most of her clients are Mums juggling a number of things, just like her.
Emma’s love of the written word started early, she received her first paid writing job in university when she submitted (a fictional) erotic story to Cosmopolitan magazine and was paid for it to be printed in an erotic stories sealed section in the magazine. The money from that story paid for the business suit Emma wore to her first job interview and to be admitted as a lawyer at the NSW Supreme Court.
Tell us the story behind why you love what you do and why you’re so passionate about sharing your message.
In 2011 I was on the traditional lawyer corporate path. Life was good. I was newly married and I had an office job that I quite liked in a boutique firm on the North Shore of Sydney. But then I got pregnant with my son.
What followed was severe morning sickness. So bad that I would vomit day and night and at 13 weeks pregnant I fronted up one night at the Emergency Department of Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney because I couldn’t even keep water down. I was given a shot of an anti nausea drug and, as a drip was being inserted, my heart stopped. I collapsed on the floor in a sudden cardiac arrest. The first thing I remember is 2 days later, waking up in intensive care and seeing my husband. All I could say was, “Is the baby ok?”
The baby was ok and so was I, sort of. This experience and all that followed with motherhood and trying to juggle a young child without family support in Sydney, one of the most expensive cities in the world, made me see life is too short not to follow your dreams and spend time with your family in equal measures.
The problem was our corporate structures don’t support that. So, over the past 7 years I have made it my mission to investigate remote and flexible working options and support other Mums achieve their dreams to have a business or a flexible job and support their families. That is what the Remote Expert is about. Creating freedom through remote work and being a solopreneur working from home.
Tell us a story about a challenging time you faced, how you overcame it and what lesson/lessons/wisdom this experience has taught you about life and business.
In 2013 as we set out to leave Sydney, I was planning to set up my own law firm. I even had a name – Heuston Legal, with the tag line “Heuston, we have a solution”. That very nearly came about. However, I was offered a job in our new location. My heart wasn’t in it and I sobbed on my way there that that first day after leaving my son at day care.
After a year at this job it became clear that while our lifestyle, living arrangements and expenses were better, I preferred my job in Sydney and many of the same frustrations with corporate life were present. So, I became a remote worker at Partner level in an online law firm in 2014. Working as a remote partner in a law firm for 4 years and learnt many valuable lessons about being a remote employee and finding work / life balance.
In 2018 I released my book, “The Tracksuit Economy: How to work productively and effectively from home” about my work from home journey and profiling 15 other case studies. The response was phenomenal and I found myself on the TODAY show being interviewed with Mark McCrindle by Georgie Gardner and on the Daily Edition on Channel 7. I loved talking about this stuff and more than that I loved the stories coming back from other Mums that I had helped.
It was during late 2018 that I realised my purpose was to help other Mums overthrow the corporate system and go their own way. Whether that be through remote work or as a self-employed lady boss.
My niche is helping people who work from home or hire remote teams. My own experience as a remote worker and Mumpreneur working from home and running a virtual law firm has taught me so much about strength and tenacity.
Almost a year into my new business I now kick myself that I didn’t start up earlier. I feel that I was born to do this. Something I never felt when I was employed by others, though I was competent at those jobs and gave them my all. Being a mum and needing to find that different way to work and live has given me so much confidence to get out there and do it. Getting started and tweaking it as you go is better than waiting for things to be perfect to get going.
What are 3 pieces of advice you would give someone starting out in business?
1. Have a plan. While being bold and taking action is good, you do need to have the basics nailed down first. Think about who you serve, what they are struggling with and the solution you provide to that problem. Around that structure you need to build out the services or products you will provide to solve their problem and how you will sell your services or products.
2. Work out what you need to do to get a MVP out there. Don’t overcapitalise. I literally started my business with a computer, insurance and a practising certificate. I built my own website and that has evolved in the past 12 months as I see what is working and what doesn’t work. Around 6 months into business I invested in automated software to build products. But I am pleased I waited to do this as when I got there I had a clearer idea of what I wanted to do. You can spend so much money getting “set up” but first it is better to work out if there is a market for your business idea.
3. Protect yourself before issues arise to bite you on the bum. I speak to a lot of people in the early stages or first few years of their business. Many don’t have insurance (at all). After I get the smelling salts out to revive me, I set about explaining to them why they need insurance and why they need legals.
Think about driving your car around. You have insurance and registration (I hope, otherwise you are going to need a different kind of lawyer!). If you never have an accident you won’t need it. Fingers crossed you won’t need it. But if you do have an accident you want to make sure you are covered. Covered by a new car replacement policy or for a rental car while your car gets fixed. Say you ran up the back of a Mercedes Benz, you want the third party property insurance to cover that damage to the Mercedes as well. Otherwise you are going to be paying far more for a small accident and it may even send you bankrupt.
I liken business legals on set up to this. Get the website terms and conditions sorted. Get those Business Terms and Conditions, sort out your service agreement. Often they are one-off expenses and worth the few hundred dollars they will cost you.
Image credit: Alexandra Anderson, Jam on Your Collar
What is your proudest business achievement? Why does this mean so much to you?
My proudest business achievement has been starting my own business and seeing that grow. I joined the Women’s Business School Ignite Program in April this year and was thrilled to use the content to identify business skills and grow the business. In September I won the Women’s Business School Excellence (Ignite) Award which has also been a very proud moment.
What’s next for your business?
I have just released my first customised product complete with automation. The VA Service Agreement is for Virtual Assistants and for people wanting to hire a VA. It is exciting to release it because our existing laws do not cover the virtual world of employment and gig economy, they haven’t yet caught up with the online world and tech developments. In effect I am a bridge for change to help others work differently and that is super exciting.
If you could change the world, and money was no object, what would you do?
I would change the way we work in two ways:
Firstly, by helping existing employers recognise that remote work is viable and create remote work positions; and
Secondly, by setting up schemes and grants to help more people become self-employed in a way that suits them.
Finally what do you believe is the secret to success?
I believe that the secret to success is to stop overthinking what “success” means and to simply be you. Success is such a unique concept. Success to me may not be success to someone else.
Comparing yourself to others, or the social media highlight reels of others, can be really damaging. The best gauge is happiness, whatever form that comes in.
To learn more about The Remote Expert, please visit :-