The Apex VA Story: Farm, Foils and Flexibility
Once upon a time…
Hi, I’m Hannah at Apex VA, (www.apexva.co.uk), and I’m here to tell you about my VA journey, from Farm Assistant to Virtual Assistant and all manner of things in between!
My moment of inspiration came to me whilst sitting with foils in my hair at the hairdressers. I was chatting to my hairdresser about running her own businesses, the benefits and the challenges it brings, the ordering of stock, the managing of shifts, the paperwork…and I suddenly thought – ‘I can help!’.
Incidentally, (and completely irrelevantly), having my head in foils has provided me with some of my best and worst moments – I once forgot about my car parking and had to run down the street, foils in hair and gown on, to put a new ticket in my car – only to realise I’d left my keys in the hairdressers. Thank goodness for a kind parking attendant who took pity on me.
Anyway, thankfully this time round it was a positive flash of inspiration. I messaged my partner, “I know what I want to do for the next step in my career”, and when I got home, I told him I wanted to be a VA. I registered with HMRC on November 5th before 6 weeks later landing my first two clients.
I’ve had all sorts of weird and wonderful roles in the past, (including working at a Children’s farm!), but my background is predominantly in education and the fashion industry, with a bit of time in the adoption world in between. I’m also an organisation geek and love a list, as well as having what some would say is an unhealthy obsession with my calendar. I literally put everything in my calendar, much to my partners disbelief, including things like ‘cut fringe’, (lockdown problems), ‘plan tuff tray activities’ and ‘find new soup recipes’!
Bizarrely, my original idea was to have a niche supporting tradesmen, as I mistakenly thought there wasn’t a lot of money to spend on this sort of outsourcing in education. How wrong was I! I hadn’t considered the private businesses running in the same industry – and due to COVID-19, a lot of these were booming.
Starting up in lockdown provided its own challenges - running discovery calls from my bedroom whilst my daughter described her toilet ablutions to my Mother downstairs because they were unable to go out anywhere, and fighting with my partner for the office space whilst he was teaching from home, to name but two.
But lockdown also provided an opportunity – a huge rise in the number of people working virtually, and a shift in the whole working mindset. A perfect landscape in which to launch a business providing virtual services, unbound by geographical location.
What makes Apex VA so special?
What makes me different is my combination of design skills with an awareness of education and how it works. Both of my current clients were keen to have a VA who has worked in a school and has a strong understanding of how the industry functions. However, my design background adds another dimension that allows me to not only support with regards to aesthetics, (e.g. newsletters, branding, etc.), but also provide problem-solving skills. I think outside the box and love giving my clients ideas to help them level-up their business. I currently work on my own but have big ideas to expand to have a team of like-minded VA superstars who can fill the skills gaps for me.
The big question…why?
I, like many others, wanted to be able to work around my two young children. I needed a job to be able to send my son to nursery - something we felt was crucial given that the first year of his life was spent with no human interaction outside of our little family due to the pandemic.
At the start this was the primary objective, and I’m thankful to have since exceeded that and be heading towards my next, bigger goal.
In a typical day, I drop the children at nursery at 9, then come home and work until I pick up my son. We have a lunch and a natter, (I do the nattering – he’s 1.5), then while he naps I crack on again. Any other work I do in the evenings when my partner is home to watch the kids, or while they’re in bed. It’s flexible, it’s fun, it’s sometimes frantic – and I love every minute of it.
Yes, sometimes I have to disappear upstairs, (leaving my partner downstairs), and am usually joined 20 minutes later by a small human asking what I’m doing – but I think it’s great that my children are seeing me work hard, build my own business and drive my career forward. On the flip side, I can plan my days around my family, have impromptu trips to the beach and go to the shops when it’s quiet!
The ups and downs
To me, the VA lifestyle is a bit like living on a private island. You get to do things your way and you can build your own empire, but with a noticeable lack of face-to-face social interaction.
The things I love about my VA kingdom are endless:
- Organising things for other people!
- Helping people to level-up their business
- The incredibly supportive VA community
- The time I get to spend with my children
- Working from my cosy home, no commuting and endless cups of tea!
- ….the list goes on!
I do miss the staffroom – the social interactions, the people to bounce ideas off, the buzz of the classroom, but the benefits far outweigh these, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
So that, in a rather large nutshell, is me – Apex VA. Doing the day-to-day, the Apex way.