Carly O’Brien is one busy lady! Alongside running a busy freelance grooming and teaching business, Carly has recently diversified to become a Virtual Assistant specialising in equestrian and rural businesses. Read on to find out more!

Hi, I’m Carly.  I am a freelance groom, instructor and virtual assistant based in the Kent Countryside.  I have been a freelance groom and instructor for about 3 and half years now.  It all started at the riding school that I teach at.  They have a livery there too and the lady who provided services went on maternity leave and they asked would I cover.  From there, one of the liveries recommended me to her friend who needed holiday cover and from then all my clients have come from word of mouth and recommendations.

I love being a freelancer where I can choose which clients I can have, what days I work and choose my own rate of pay.  

When lockdown hit, I was worried about my job.  Luckily, the riding school put me on furlough and some of my other clients were key workers so still needed my services.  This was just enough to get by but it was also a great opportunity to gain new skills.

During this time, I attended webinars and masterclasses about social media, business ideas and creating a podcast.

I had the idea about doing my own podcast for about a year before as I am a huge fan of podcasts.  There are so many I listen to throughout the day as quite often I am working on my own.  I researched how to create a podcast, what software I would need and from there, I reach out to guests to feature.  My podcast “It’s a groom’s life” was launched in January 2021.  I have had so many amazing guests and I feel so privileged that they have been on.

It was also during this time I looked into becoming a virtual assistant, or VA.  My previous roles before working with horses include working in the travel industry for 8 years, as a PA to a director and working in a property maintenance company to name a few.  I wanted to use these skills to provide support to equestrian and rural businesses.  I am a HUGE supporter of small business and will do whatever I can to provide a platform, hence the podcast.  But I also wanted to help them with any admin-related tasks which may be overwhelming them.  I created my VA business in April and launched then.

The services that I can provide as a VA include social media content and engagement, email management, travel arrangements, invoice processing, managing expenses, podcast creating, event planning and other general admin tasks that are taking up too much of your time which could be used elsewhere.

Working both businesses gives me so much joy. I aim to help people and it gives me so much satisfaction when I get feedback about how I have helped them and that they would recommend me to other people.

Where I am with my work whether that is going to the yard or in my office doing my VA work, my side kick dog is always by my side. He is called Zac and he is a Yorkie/Westie cross.  He is 9 years old, although when people meet him, they think he is a puppy as he is young at heart.

When I every do get any spare time (haha), I like to go horse riding, go on country walks, spend time with my family, watch a good film or drama series, sewing (although I’m not very good at it) and attempting to cook!

So, in the future for my businesses, the groom side is that I will have a small team providing the services under my name and spreading my area a bit more.  My VA business is again having a small team which has a big range of skills so I can cater for all clients in whatever they may need.  

If you would like to follow me on social media, my groom side of the business is @cobsequineservices on Instagram or COB’s Equine Services on Facebook.  If you’re interested in outsourcing a VA for your business then you can get in touch via my social media @cobs.eva on Instagram, COB’s Executive Virtual Assistant on Facebook or by email [email protected].