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(27 Posts)
pinkgaia Mon 08-Jan-18 10:02:51

Hello everybody,
I've been unemployed for the last 3 and half years to take carer of my daughter and now that she's started Reception I'm starting to look to go back to work.
I've enrolled in an online course for Personal Assistant and I'm every day surfing the net and see what's out there.
I'm looking for something that gives me the flexibility to work around school hours, after school clubs etc. and I bumped into and advert about SMART PA.
Does anybody know it or know exactly how it works?
Is it worth it the £15,000 investment?
With all the scams that I see online I'm really scared...
Any help in this matter is really appreciate it.
Many thanks in advance :-)

OP’s posts: |
delilahbucket Mon 08-Jan-18 13:36:51

Never heard of it, but seriously, £15000?? I wouldn't touch it with a bargepole!

MyBrilliantDisguise Mon 08-Jan-18 13:39:29

You'd be crazy to pay that. Can't you just look around for part-time office work?

k2p2k2tog Tue 09-Jan-18 08:46:46

Never heard of it but any company which charges £15k up front is to be avoided. If you have basic computer skills you can get yourself on sites like Peopleperhour and start bidding for work today. No fees. Or sign up with a temp agency. Or advertise your skills on social media.

saladdays66 Tue 09-Jan-18 08:57:18


£15k???? No bloody way. Got to be a scam. No job is worth that up-front investment.

Mind you, the ad does say 'secured clients and paid work from head office' ... BUT. I'd still be very wary.

usualGubbins Tue 09-Jan-18 09:08:15

Absolutely not!!! I'm a PA at a high level. I worked my way up from a general admin role to PA to a global director in a few years, most of these via recruitment agencies. Make sure your IT skills particularly Excel are good and up to date with the latest versions of Office for example - some of the recruitment agencies offer free training for this.

You could also look at temp work to ease you in - then move on to, say maternity contracts etc. Smart PA seems to be a franchise rather than any sort of training, so you'd be mad to consider this at all if you haven't got a whole ton of experience behind you and want to be a freelance PA working for a variety of companies at the same time.

pinkgaia Tue 09-Jan-18 10:03:08

Thank you everybody!

OP’s posts: |
Clavender Tue 09-Jan-18 10:19:24

I think usualGubbins is right that cost is to buy a franchise so it depends if you want to run your own business or not - even if you do, there are much more affordable options out there for franchises.

mrssonb Sun 15-Apr-18 18:42:06

Hi there! I came across this as I am looking to set up on my own, the investment covers support and marketing amongst other things, so it depends on how much support you need to start up. And yes, there are cheaper ones out there for sure. For me, I want to run my own business but want the support to help expand my client base and have a strong brand behind me from the start. But if I had the confidence to do that myself from the outset I'd definitely set up by myself. People per hour is a great option if you want to freelance.

MumsinBusiness Mon 23-Apr-18 14:20:19

I don’t know about Smart PA but I think some franchises are great, eg McDonalds because you’re paying for the name etc, others not so good.
A friend of mine paid £30k for a home based consultancy franchise. She paid a bit every month, lost money for 2 years & then had to pay more money to leave (it was within 5 years). Not the £80k income per year, she was hoping for!

You could set up by yourself for a few hundred, add a bit more if you want a flashy website, advertising & PR. I can’t see how £15k can be good value.
But, I could be biased, I’m a School Fundraising UK Consultant, you get help setting up, good training & ongoing support.
Packages start from £95. It’s basically being a PA or VA for School PTAs, self-employed but with support & chat room if you want it.

northernirishgirlonline18 Mon 25-Jun-18 13:14:05

Don't do it, there is no way a £15k setup fee is feasible. I came across these, too and nearly choked when I saw that.

househuntingforever Thu 05-Jul-18 13:27:05

Hi MumsInBusiness,

Do you have a link for School Fundraising UK Consultant. I can’t seem to find it online, sounds interesting. I’m also looking for work to fit around the kids. Saw SmartPA too but wasn’t sure about the 15k!

Thank you!

zoobydoo Wed 20-Feb-19 14:22:18

I am a solicitor with a client who has been hooked by SmartPA who were the subject matter of the first post

zoobydoo Wed 20-Feb-19 14:24:22

I was wondering if there is any further information on the aforesaid SmartPA as I am concerned about my client but don't have sufficient evidence to prove that the Emperor has No Clothes on

zoobydoo Wed 20-Feb-19 14:28:02

The Franchise Agreement says "thanks for the £12,500 plus VAT Bye Bye" i.e. its for a Manual, Training and a "System" but no income, no business and the franchisee does her own marketing pursuant to an agreed plan

mumtalktalk Sun 17-Mar-19 09:26:48

I'm a virtual assistant and it did not take £15k to start my business. The basics are a PC, software, a printer and scanner. As you'll be working by yourself a broad knowledge of the Microsoft suite is needed. There are virtual assistant books on Amazon that can give you advice and you can look on line to see if your local area has a business centre as they can help with a business plan, business training which may be free or any funding you may need if you cant afford the outlay. There are also virtual assistant groups you can join to get accreditation.

EAM33 Thu 04-Apr-19 21:23:49

I almost bought this franchise and got quite far in the process.
It was a very pressured hard sell, with various “heads of departments” skyping with me singing their own praises. I couldn't get past the fact that this is just buying a job, and one with restrictions at that.
I got the chance to speak to existing partners ( provided by head office) but it was only once I did my own research and contacted several other franchise owners via Linked In that I learnt it is certainly not as lucrative as it is made out to be, There are huge restrictions in terms of promoting your franchise, the promised bonus clients and work from head office does not happen and there is a high monthly fee to pay.
I liken the process to being pressganged into buying a second hand car they kept contacting me for months.

NicolaPA Fri 05-Apr-19 21:41:52

Hi pinkgaia, I am really sorry to hear of your situation. I was made redundant twice in the space of a few years and decided to go freelance so I could work flexibly. This worked well for a few years but I found I only really had 2 main clients and I was getting a bit isolated. I looked at remarketing myself. As I was researching a travel franchise for a client I found Pink Spaghetti PA services.

The head office team were really knowledgeable and it felt more like an interview to make sure I was right for them as well as they being right for me. There was no pressure and they were happy to answer my many questions.

After a lot of adding things up on spreadsheet, covering all the pros and cons as listed above (and plenty more) I took the step to buy a franchise. It was the right decision for me at that point, I liked the fact that I would have full training, regular support calls and access to a great network of people already walking the walk. This was all great, but the best came when I actually started getting busy and I had someone in my corner to help me with decisions like whether to recruit or would I like to stay as I am and juggle the workload. I have been doing this a little over 18 months now, I have part time employees (as this is my own business) and I am able to balance my home/work life. I am strong, I work hard but I know I would never have taken the step to employ if I was doing it on my own. I had a team that could help guide me and other franchisees who were happy to share their experiences.

There are some great franchise opportunities out there and there are also some that just will not fit with you.

I just wanted to let you know that franchising can work and can be really successful if you find what is right for you.

Look at why you want to do it, what you want to achieve and then look at what businesses align with that.

Good luck with it.

Noddy1964 Thu 09-May-19 20:26:14

I've just registered on this forum - just purely because it was the first reference I found to SmartPA. I just watched on Iplayer a very interesting documentary about Network Marketing :

This is about the likes of NuSkin and Younique which are effectively pyramid schemes - not that anyone will admit that.
It suddenly reminded me of SmartPa, which my wife signed up for a few years ago back when it was £3000 for the franchise. A colleague of mine did the same - his wife, like mine, had office skills and no full time job - our children were reaching the age of becoming a bit more self-sufficient etc.

Long story short - we felt we were really sold the SmartPa franchise, and came to the conclusion the franchise owners didn't care if we made a success or not - they were in it for the cost of the franchise.
We very soon realised we had made a mistake and after just 2 weeks decided it wasn't for us. We asked if there was a chance of a refund or partial refund, but they weren't interested. They weren't even sympathetic, it soon became clear their focus was on selling the franchise and not on the franchisee making it a successful business. The focus was on how much of an hourly rate you could charge - and you get carried away by the maths of a good income for part-time hours. The reality we felt though was a business model that doesn't work.
My colleague's wife really persevered and spent 6-12 months training, networking the lot - but gave up with no clients.

I just felt compelled to try to help someone else from not making the same mistake.


claireatkinson Sat 25-May-19 11:23:53

Interesting thread ... I'm also working thru the process with Pink Spaghetti - I'd be interested to talk with anyone who's working with them, just to confirm my (so far, positive) opinions of them ....

PollyVA Mon 27-May-19 10:21:52

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

VAClaire Tue 28-May-19 00:09:27

Fab, thanks Polly ... I'm seeing them face to face in a couple of weeks - so sounds positive from what I'm reading ... thanks for the positive words!

Mum4Fergus Mon 03-Jun-19 21:34:35

I'm mulling over Pink Spaghetti too.

Planetnik Fri 21-Jun-19 11:33:31

Hi, I looked into the SmartPA Franchise in 2016 and decided to go ahead with it. I am now running a very successful business from my home with clients from the UK, Europe, US, Australia and New Zealand. What I really like about SmartPA is the support that is available, both from the Head Office team and the other partners. This means I do not feel like I am working alone but part of a network of other SmartPAs. I also enjoy the flexibility of managing my own time and being my own boss. You do have to work hard and find your clients (although support is provided for this) but that's the same for any business start-up. I am very happy that I invested in SmartPA and look forward to continuing to grow my business in the future.

VA7576 Fri 21-Jun-19 14:20:45

I am a SmartPA Partner and decided to invest into the franchise few years ago. I had no marketing experience, business knowledge, didn’t know where to start setting up a business and I was looking for flexible working hours to work from home around my kids.
I looked at both, Pink Spaghetti and SmartPA, I set up calls with both companies and, although more expensive, I decided to go with SmartPA, it came across more professional and offered more the business in a box I was looking for.
The support received has been fantastic from day one, a very comprehensive training (just what I needed after been out of touch from the work world for a couple of years) and brilliant support from Head Office and Partners.
I own my franchise business and, as the owner of my business, I am responsible for the growth of my business, the great thing is that there are not strict targets to meet and I can choose a model that best suits me, the support is always there if I need to, but as with every business, hard work needs to be put in for great results to happen.
My investment has been paid back and I get to enjoy what I most love- remote working and spending time with the kids!

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