At the beginning of the year, I decided to select three words and live by them as much as possible during 2022. The words were:
Learn: from others, webinars, coaches, business books, etc.
Presence: be present with each thing I do, whether that’s work, with family, friends, or even on my own.
Celebrate: recognise my achievements and celebrate them, and those of others.
With those words in mind, here are the highlights of 2022:
Important achievements and milestones
Nomination for Sole Trader Award
I was nominated for Best Sole Trader at the Devon Women in Business Awards. A category that recognises female sole traders/freelancers based in Devon, trading 18 months+ who can demonstrate business growth & success, effective marketing strategy, customer satisfaction and a clear plan for the future. We didn’t win this time, but went on to win an award later in the year.
2-year birthday of The South West Virtual Assistant Collaboration
We celebrated the second birthday of the South West Virtual Assistant Collaboration, which I launched to create a safe, nurturing space for fellow VAs across the South West of England. We have over 150 members from across the South West of England (Bristol, Cornwall, Dorset, Devon, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire) and have more VAs joining us all the time.
Nomination Miss Jones Awards 2022
We were nominated for VA Agency of the Year at the Miss Jones Awards.
7th anniversary of Joanne Manville Virtual Assistance
The 14th of October marked the 7th anniversary of Joanne Manville Virtual Assistance. It has been a great journey so far, we’re excited for the next successful 7 years and beyond.
Won Small Business of the Year at the Devon Women in Business Awards
We were awarded Small Business of the Year 2022 at the Devon Women in Business Awards. A prize that goes to a female led business based in Devon, employing between 2 & 10 people, that can demonstrate business growth & success, effective marketing strategy, customer satisfaction and a clear plan for the future.
Good Business Charter Accreditation
We were proud to be accredited by the Good Business Charter. It’s a simple accreditation which organisations in the UK can sign up to in recognition of responsible business practices.
It measures behaviour over 10 components: real living wage, fairer hours and contracts, employee well-being, employee representation, diversity and inclusion, environmental responsibility, paying fair tax, commitment to customers, ethical sourcing, and prompt payment. Find out more here.
Joined the Prompt Payment Code (PPC)
We were approved to join The Prompt Payment Code (PPC). The Prompt Payment Code (PPC) sets standards for payment practices, and is administered by the Small Business Commissioner on behalf of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). The Code covers prompt payment, as well as wider payment procedures.
The criteria for joining the Prompt Payment Code is to pay suppliers on time, give clear guidance to suppliers, encourage good practice, pay 95% of all invoices within 60 days, pay 95% of all invoices within 30 days where the supplier is a small business with fewer than 50 employees, and avoid any practices that have an adverse effect on the supply chain.
Living Wage Employer accreditation
We were accredited as a Living Wage Employer by the Living Wage Foundation, an achievement that highlights our belief that a hard day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay. We are committed to ensuring that our employees earn enough to live on. Find out more here.
New additions to the team
Rosa joined us in June as our first Marketing and Business Support Intern. Currently in her second-year at the University of Exeter studying Business & Management, it’s a real pleasure to be able to offer Rosa a paid internship to add to her learning and skills.
Daniela joined us in October as our second Marketing and Business Support Intern. Currently in her third year at the University of Exeter studying Management with Marketing, it’s great to be able to offer this opportunity to another student.
Memorable events attended
The big VA Meet Up
The big VA Meet Up is an amazing online networking and learning event hosted by fellow VA Hayley Hudson. I was asked to speak at the event on the subject of collaboration, and it was great to share my experience of why collaboration with other VAs has been so important to me. Hayley also invited me along to Elevenses with Hayley to share even more about collaboration in December.
The Awesome Business Club
I was grateful to be invited by Louisa van Vessem to do a LinkedIn LIVE with her all about The Power of Outsourcing. This was the first time I’d done a LinkedIn LIVE and great practice for some Q&As that I’m planning for next year. It was great to share my experience of outsourcing and also how others can use it to help them grow their business.
This October, I really enjoyed getting out of the office and headed over to Torquay to join fellow VAs for a co-working session, to work on our businesses. We went to Harbour Studios, which has an incredible view (despite it being a murky day) over the marina. I haven’t done anywhere near enough coworking this year, so I’m looking forward to a day in the new year at Coworking Devon in Buckfastleigh.
We renewed our membership with The Samphire Club and joined the Newton Abbot Chamber of Commerce and attended some fantastic NatWestBoost and LinkedInLocal events too.
Training completed (the ‘learn’ bit)
Small Business Britain Sustainability Course
I completed the Small Business Britain Sustainability Basics course, which has been fantastic. I’ve gained a huge amount of knowledge to make changes in my business. Currently, our website runs on green web servers, we plant wildflowers or trees for each new retained client, we try and only purchase gifts that are sustainable, non plastic and recyclable or reusable, we car share to events, and we have plans to take part in beach cleans next year.
Fuelled with all the knowledge from this fantastic course we will be thinking about more ways we can be sustainable as time goes on.
Menopause The Basics: helping savvy professionals navigate menopause
This month, I joined Lauren Chiren for three sessions about menopause. There was so much to learn about the symptoms of perimenopause, how we can manage these, access to HRT and the myths around HRT – and it’s helped me talk to friends about it and what they’re experiencing.
If you are not clued up on menopause and your company doesn’t have any policies around the menopause I’d recommend you jump on her free mini course which runs each month – find out more here.
We attended quarterly training days with our VA coach to focus on business development and also attended the Virtual Assistant Conference & Awards where we were recognised for our Contribution to the VA Community. I was also a judge for the 3rd year for the UK VA Awards which was a great honour to be able to recognise the talent in our industry.
And much more
In March, we joined the BIPC at Exeter Library for a series of webinars for Women In Business, these included sessions such as Building Your Pitch and Market Research.
In June we joined other Freelancers at IPSE’s National Freelancers Day, where they put on a whole series of workshops and talks .
My time outside of work
At the end of March, I volunteered at a local girls grammer school careers event to assist with practice interviews. I think it is very important to support young women in their professional development and I was very glad to contribute to this event. I also supported a local senior school careers event to represent those who are self-employed and share how this is an option for school leavers to consider – there were some students there who already had plans for world domination!
Taking time off
I think work life balance is crucial, which is why one of my goals for the year was taking more breaks to recharge. In the first half of the year I took 2 weeks at Christmas and New Year, a weekend away with my girlfriends, a week away with my sister and the kids, a weekend away with my husband and daughter, a weekend away with my mum, and a 2 week summer holiday. Who says you can’t take holidays when you are self-employed?
I’ve also made an effort to look after myself, ensuring that I have time to do lots of things that I enjoy doing – this has included a regular massage or treatment!
Useful resources shared
- 30 ways to use a VA
If you know you need help but don’t know where to begin, check out our guide that provides you with a list of 30 ways that you could utilise your VA to create the space you need in your life and business. Download the guide here.
- Delegation checklist
It can be hard to know where to begin when you decide to start outsourcing, which is why we’ve created a checklist to help you identify what to outsource and what to delegate first. Get your copy here.
- 10 ways to make the most of in-person networking
Networking in person can be a challenge, especially for those who are used to doing business online. Networking events are as challenging as they are rewarding, and after attending many of them, I’ve gained new connections, clients, and friends. Find my top 10 tips to get the most from your networking experience.
- Exeter Venue Directory
The Exeter Venue Directory is a comprehensive list of great venues in and around Exeter. If you regularly arrange meetings and events in the area and find yourself looking for the best available spaces, this is the guide for you. Get your copy here.
- Quiz to find out what kind of support your business needs
If you are an ambitious entrepreneur looking to grow your business, use our quiz to find out what type of support you need to help you to create the business you want. Take the quiz here.
- Lead tracker
The key to effective marketing is analysing the results to understand what’s working and what’s not to know where you should concentrate your efforts. With our easy to use lead tracker, you can easily keep a record of where all of your leads are coming from, so you know where to spend your valuable time. Download our lead tracker here.
- More coming soon
Rosalia and Daniela have been working hard on even more great guides which will be coming out in early 2023 – a venue guide for Torbay and Teignbridge, and an A to Z of business advice.
So what of our three words?
- Learn: I have learned a huge amount this year, from fellow VAs, other business owners, our clients and team as well as through the courses I have attended. For next year I really need to get to grips with some business reading, so that will be on next year’s list.
- Presence: This is something that I have been a lot more aware of but there are still improvements that I can make, this will be on 2023’s list too.
- Celebrate: We have been very fortunate to have lots to celebrate this year, including new team members, new clients and contributing to our client’s successes.
2022 has been a great year, I am very excited to see what 2023 brings.
Thank you for whatever part in it you have played. I hope in some small way we’ve been able to support you too.