Alex Hughes of Auxilium Admin is a member of the VA Help Desk Membership Site and recently celebrated her first business birthday (including sending me personalised biscuits as a thank you gift). She has very kindly written a blog post about her first year in business which is not only a great read, but it might motivate you, answer questions you have and demonstrate how you can have a #VAlifestyle too. So I will hand over to Alex for her guest blog interview.
As I have recently celebrated my first Business Birthday on 1 Sep 18, I have taken some time recently to reflect on what has happened during that year. I had been meaning to set up my VA business for many years, but with ailing parents I decided to focus on them, as I wouldn’t get that time back again.
How thankful I was to have had the capacity of time to help my parents over the last 10 years. All the while, in the back of my mind I knew Mum was willing me to do this and so many aspects about my business reflect her memory.
Her favourite colour was lilac, so it was a no brainer to use lilac and purple in my logo and themes. She also felt that the name of the business should start with an ‘A’ like my name, so as to be top of any list. She was a wise lady and lived by a few sayings;
‘There is always a ‘silver lining’
‘Everything happens for a reason’
‘What is to be will be’
What was the first year like?
Well I guess I have to go back just 18months before that, when I decided on the name which I knew would have to be of Latin origin and of course start with an A. I distinctly remember having a light bulb moment and everyone I told, agreed that “Auxilium” was the right name and hence I seized the website address and that started my journey. From then on it was an endless TO DO list of things to set up;
- Bank Account.
- Get Insured
- Register with the ICO
- Business Cards & Banners
- Joining Facebook Groups
- Finding knowledgeable people like Amanda Johnson and VACT to support me.
- Attend Conferences
- Subscribe to endless newsletters, blogs, hints and tips
- Make sure I did my own Accounts
- Join Networking groups and network my socks off
- Train myself on endless Applications
- Oh, and find some clients…………
How did I find clients?
Well, as so often happens my first clients were family, friends or work colleagues who knew me, and wanted me to help them. It all seemed easy at first and I was inundated with requests. I thoroughly enjoyed it and got some great testimonials. Then I challenged myself to obtain a client who was someone I didn’t know. As daunting as that seems, it was a ground-breaking moment for me to feel empowered, as I had made a difference to a business outside of my world of friends and family.
It was at that moment that I started to believe in myself and kept telling myself “I can do this …. I can do this “What I also found, was that my ethos of KNOW, LIKE TRUST was working. People I met at Networking events and those who had recommended me, were getting to know me, trust me, like me and engage with me and my services. One Client approached me after chatting for the 3rd time at a networking event, as we had a common interest that sparked her to say, ‘you know what……we should work together’ and so far, the rest is history.
I also read the book called the ‘Go Giver’ by Bob Berg and John David Mann (if you have not read this book, it is a MUST read and there are other books in the series – in fact recommended by Amanda !) So, what is the book about? – Yes, you’ve guessed it ‘giving’ and how it all comes back in the end. I make a point at networking events of trying to think of who I can help or what /who I can recommend of refer someone to.
………..Forever the connector as they say.
My journey has made me step out of my comfort zone in so many ways. I knew I could stand up in front of people as I had done it so many times in my career before. This time however, it seemed more daunting because I was talking about me and my business. Joining networking groups, VA Support networks, getting to know Amanda Johnson and the ‘awesome’ work at VACT, my local Chamber and attending conferences has been a fabulous support to me and I have not only gained business from this, but great contacts and now lovely clients and friends.
It has been a very busy and fulfilling year and I have learnt so much and yes there have been a few strange people along the way and some ready to knock you down, but as my Mum would have said “ jealousy is the root of all evil” ( not that these people are evil of course ! ) So with my Mum always watching over me, I stand tall and carry on regardless. I know I can do it and I know I will enjoy my second year even more, surrounded by collaborative friends and family and supportive people like Amanda Johnson and VACT.
Thank you all for your support – you are all ‘awesome’ and I can’t wait for what year 2 and the future brings.
From Amanda: Wow what a journey Alex shares with us here and I am grateful to have played a very small part in that journey. I still remember my first conversation with Alex actually. We all have different reasons, motivators for starting out our VA business and I think we need to keep that forefront of mind when setting up our business and when running it. If you would like to know more about Alex, you can find her details below: