Anna Williams: Farrens Associate and owner of Auxilium Solutions
1. What’s your story? Why did you become a VA?
I have a varied background working in education, business management, finance, sales and marketing, which has provided a host of transferable skills. I have always had strong business acumen and a desire to succeed, whatever the task. This has resulted in me taking on a variety of roles, but always feeling that there was something missing… until the VA world opened up!
Being a VA has allowed me to use all my skills, experience and networking, and to have a positive impact at a variety of levels. Whether it is organising an event, developing a business, managing admin or simply supporting positive engagement I enjoy the challenge and love using my skills to enable people to reach their goals.
2. What’s your mission statement?
A mission statement should explain purpose, focus and direction. Therefore I think my mission statement would be:
‘Quality, flexible support to ensure business success.’
It may be simple, but I rise to the challenge of offering a full range of support and my focus is on achieving success for my clients.
3. Describe your ideal client.
No two clients are the same, which is what makes this role so interesting. It is important to have clear communication and positive engagement. Aside from this, I appreciate that we are all different. I embrace this individuality in clients and their businesses.
4. Name five things you do well.
Professionally – business development, negotiation, seeking new opportunities, research and evaluation.
Personally – seizing opportunities, appreciating the world around me, caring for others, interacting with a range of people and making things happen!
5. Are you social? How can people contact you?
I am on LinkedIn and can be emailed via Farrens (firstname.lastname@example.org), messaged via my website (www.auxiliumsolutions.co.uk) or called via 07854427381.
Am I social? Well, you won’t find me propping up the bar mid-afternoon as I am too busy focusing on my clients and goals, but I do enjoy a good BBQ, and love sampling the menus at Britain’s finest establishments. Socialising is a key part of interaction and I believe a good work-life balance is vital.
6. What is your working style?
I am enthusiastic, innovative and flexible, and adapt my working style according to the needs of the client and the situation.
7. How long have you been in the business?
I started young – issuing invoices to my sister for care of her teddy bears!
Since entering adulthood I have worked across a range of professions, including teaching (A Level and GCSE Business), commissioning and performance management for local authorities, sales, marketing and finance. In addition to this I have offered VA services on an informal basis to friends and family. Until now I have not been in the position to set up my own business but reaching 40 was a milestone for me and a recent relocation to Wales provided the opportunity to finally take the leap of faith required to start Auxilium Solutions. I am really excited about the future challenges and success that lie ahead.
8. What’s the best thing about being a VA?
Being able to use my skills and expertise to make a difference. No two days are the same. It is great being in a position to meet a vast range of people and working alongside the team at Farrens provides a huge sense of opportunity, determination and proactive support. I feel so fortunate to be in the position that I am in, and I will work hard to make this a success for myself, for my family and for the team at Farrens.
9. How are you different from other VAs?
I am unique! There is only one of me in the world and that makes me different by definition.
In terms of other VAs, I don’t compare myself. I know what I can do, I know what I can offer and I know that I will succeed whatever the challenge. I am Welsh by blood and we don’t give up! We make sure we try our best and we make things work, above and beyond.
10. How do you find your clients?
I am fortunate to have a network of connections who know my abilities and drive, and I have been able to use this to establish a client base and also to support my work with other clients. Being part of the Farrens team brings in an additional range of clients as they are synonymous with quality and have an excellent reputation. It is exciting to be part of Farrens’ future and to work with such a fantastic team of professionals.
11. What kind of partnership do you expect to have with your clients?
A professional and successful partnership. It is important that clients see the benefits of working with me, to understand that I am enthusiastic and dynamic, as well as being able to undertake a wide variety of tasks from administration to business development and event management. I am there to support them whatever the need, and will do so with my best effort and focus.
12. Are you currently taking on new clients?
It is important to manage a client base effectively to ensure that each client has the time, attention and focus that is required to ensure success. I am developing my client base and working alongside the wider Farrens team to ensure that we can take on new business whilst not compromising on quality.
13. If you’ve never worked in your clients’ field of expertise how will you be able to provide support?
I do not need to be an expert in their field, just an expert in the VA field to ensure that I am able to give clients the support they need. A good VA should be organised, innovative, proactive and dynamic and should have the ability to research and adapt. Therefore whatever the industry, I will ensure I have the understanding and clarity to succeed in the role of VA and the tasks set. If I do not know, then I will find out…if I do not understand, then I will learn. Life is about continuous learning and development – I am quick to take on information, to react and to adapt. My focus is on achieving success, whatever the task.
14. Are there any services you do not provide?
I offer a wide range of services and I am fortunate to work alongside a team of experts at Farrens. Should there be a service that I am not able to provide myself, I will certainly be able to link to the appropriate Farrens associate or signpost effectively to organisations or people that can assist.
15. Do you have a contract?
Each client has a contract with myself (if working directly) or with Farrens (if working as an Associate).
16. What are your working hours?
As each business is different, I am flexible to my clients’ needs. I am fortunate to be in a position where I am not constrained or limited so would consider working outside of normal working hours if required.
17. What would you do if a client had an emergency out-of-hours rush job?
If it is important to the client then it is important to me. I will do my best to assist in anyway I can and will look at prioritising my work accordingly. In addition, there is a strong team at Farrens who support each other and have the best interests of the client at the forefront of operations – we will always endeavour to be there to support whatever the need and to the highest level.
18. Where are your clients based?
My clients are based all over the UK, but with a particular focus on South Wales.
19. What are your rates/packages?
Rates vary depending on the requirement. Normal VA work is charged on an hourly basis, but recruitment or event and project management would be assigned as a percentage.
20. How do you manage your work/life balance?
I have always worked and managed family life – multi-tasking is key to being a successful VA. It is important for me to ensure that I have the correct balance, but also to achieve the level of success that would provide for my family’s future and ensure positive outcomes both professionally and personally.
21. Who is your biggest inspiration?
As a child, it was Anita Roddick…but I now take inspiration from my own children. They inspire me to achieve, to keep going and to make my life a success. They have their own pathways in front of them and it amazes me how they approach and tackle these in our fast-paced world with so many changes in technology and social interaction.
22. Tell us about one recent project you’re proud of.
I organised an event for post-16 young people with autism and their families to provide information about the services and support available, including pathway options, educational opportunities and links with local organisations in Wiltshire. It involved working closely with the Commissioning and Performance Team, charities and support services, educational establishments and multi-agencies to facilitate a successful, informative and engaging event with consideration of the SEND requirements of attendees. It was a success in both delivery and attendance, and ensured that awareness and engagement continues to support young people who require assistance. This event was part of a wider project role to inform and engage 0-25 years old with special educational needs and/or disabilities of the support and services available across Wiltshire.
23. If YOU had a VA what would they do for you?
That is a difficult one…if I had a VA then I would probably see if they would do my ironing!
Point to note – I DON’T do ironing but I am able to signpost in that direction.
24. Would you do anything different if you were starting your business again?
I would have started it sooner. I am fortunate in that I am setting up on my own yet I have the support of the Farrens team alongside me. Each day has been different and I am so pleased that I can use all my skills, experience and enthusiasm to really make a future that I can be proud of.
25. Last question: tell us two things you would like your clients to know about you.
I care and I am determined – this means that what matters to my client matters to me and I will not give up the challenge. I will find ways to overcome any obstacle.