I can still remember those days of innocence when I used to potter about in my bedroom, building space rockets out of washing-up liquid bottles.
I’d gleefully project them into orbit from my hi-tec Elastic Band Launch Pad, and then grab my toy walkie-talkie to make an urgent communication to Space Command Centre, informing them that the mission was now under serious threat from an unexpected lampshade in the flight path.
Actually, it’s not that hard for me to remember, as it was only the other week.
I must clear out my bedroom soon in case anybody important pops round.
But these flights of imagination are probably the closest that most of us will ever get to taking part in a pioneering journey through the stars.
However, I was recently fortunate enough to meet a Perth-based entrepreneur with a very different story to tell…
Terence Kierans is now the proud online pilot of Cyberspace Virtual Services, delivering a wealth of valuable services and solutions to ease the burden of the overworked Small Business owner.
But over 40 years ago, he was working with the pilots of an altogether different mission, as he played an instrumental role in helping Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to finally set foot on the moon in 1969 and make history.
It seems a giant career leap to go from NASA to running your own acclaimed Virtual Assistant business…or perhaps it’s just one small step for Terence?
“Yes it’s true!” revealed Terence.
“I was part of a team that helped put man on the moon for the very first time.
“We worked at the NASA Carnarvon Space Tracking Station, right here in Western Australia.
“I was there for five years between 1965 and 1970, and ended up becoming Operations Supervisor.
“During missions, I was the liaison between Houston Mission Control Centre and the teams of engineers and technicians at the Tracking Station.
“That’s five years of history that I will never ever forget, and class as one of my greatest achievements.”
These days, Terence has swapped Outer Space for Cyberspace.
Having been associated with the IT industry for over 30 years, Terence now runs his own successful and highly respected business, bringing his wealth of unique experience to the role of Virtual Assistant.
Cyberspace Virtual Services offers professional help to business owners who may be weighed down with their workload or simply need to free up more valuable time to focus on the growth of their business.
Essentially, a Virtual Assistant can do pretty much anything that an on-site employee would be able to do, but without the need to share an office – or even a country!
“I launched Cyberspace Virtual Services in May 2000,” explains Terence.
“I’d recently moved from Canberra to the coast of Western Australia for health reasons. Back in Canberra, I’d been contracting mainly as either a Project Manager or Technical Writer for some 15 years.
“But when I looked at the rates being offered in Perth, I was a little shocked at how low they were!
“Fortunately I came across a newspaper article in which a lady described in detail how she operated a virtual business from home. I found that very interesting. My immediate thought was ‘I can do that!’
“However, my own plans weren’t going to include things like transcription or any of the duties carried out by P.As and the like. I decided I was going to focus much more on the technical side.”
So, how exactly does Cyberspace Virtual Services work?
“Basically, I provide technical support for small business owners who don’t have the time or the skills to design and maintain client databases, semi-automated spreadsheets, HTML newsletters, e-commerce shopping cart maintenance, documentation and the like.
“Clients provide me with material via e-mail attachment, fax, snail mail, or cloud applications like Dropbox.
“They gain a huge advantage in that they only pay for work completed. No need to pay for sick leave, holiday pay, workers insurance or superannuation.
“Some clients are actually on a fixed retainer for x hours per month, thereby getting a discount on my ad hoc work rate.”
Terence certainly has strong plans for the future.
“I hope to increase my retainer clientele by at least 50% this year,” he revealed.
“I’m also going to be focusing on improving my marketing skills – I need to find a great marketing plan and stick to it!”
But it’s also fair to say that Terence still has very proud memories of the past – and quite rightly so.
In fact, Terence has just very recently flown up to Carnarvon with his old colleague Buzz Aldrin, as Buzz formally opened The Carnarvon Space and Technology Museum.
Terence also serves as Webmaster for crotrak.com, a fascinating site dedicated to keeping the memory alive of Carnarvon Tracking Station which closed in 1975.
In addition to this, he publishes a popular quarterly Newsletter.
Hmm. I wonder if any of my team would try and preserve the memory of the Martin Print office in years to come?
Probably not. Then again, maybe we’ll still be around in 30 or 40 years….
In the meantime, I’ve been inspired to go and have just one very last experiment with those washing-up liquid bottles and elastic band launch pads.
I can already feel a Lampshade Rescue mission coming on….