If there is one thing that all women entrepreneurs probably have in common, its that they constantly juggle vast numbers of tasks and priorities, and try to take on too much themselves. Well, one South African entrepreneur, Karen Wessels, the founder of VA Connect has a practical solution - simply hire a Virtual Assistant when you need one.
LoA caught up with Karen on a busy workday in Cape Town, HQ of VA Connect, and learned more about the company and the new trend in Virtual Assistants for hardworking entrepreneurs….
So Karen, tell us more about your company, VA Connect and the world of Virtual Assistants
We simplify your life, one task at a time. By outsourcing your admin tasks to us, and it really doesn't matter if they're big or small, the extra time you've gained will ensure you spend more time on your business than in it. So we look at providing essential services to Professionals, Small Business Owners and Start-ups. This has been a passion of mine for many years. I understand the tireless hours that you put into your business, your dedication to your clients, and your need for rock-solid systems to ensure a seamless transaction.
"Entrepreneurs are a different breed and the space we move in is dominated by sheer persistence, innovation, ambition and utter passion."
What inspired you to start your company?
I saw a gap in the market where entrepreneurs and business owners were doing everything themselves, due to budget constraints, and I wanted to come up with something that could help them lighten the load. Plus I absolutely adore the startup world and every entrepreneur I've met has been dynamic, energetic and just so passionate about what they do, you can't help but be affected by all this drive and ambition.
Why should women entrepreneurs consider using Virtual Assistants?
I'm sure we all know the term “multi-task" - well, let's chuck it out the window, let's be savvy and make use of the resources around us. I learned one of the best quotes ever at a workshop last year - "Do what you do best, and delegate the rest”. Why drive yourself crazy with endless deadlines, meetings, family obligations and such, ultimately disappointing yourself because you're not getting to everything and end up having sleepness nights to get everything done. I would call you wonder woman, but I would also suggest, you get some extra help in the office!
"Every entrepreneur I've met has been dynamic, energetic and just so passionate about what they do, you can't help but be affected by all this drive and ambition."
Tell us a little about your team at VA Connect
My team is awesome! Firstly there's my co-founder, Albert, who is my absolute support system, my sounding board, our marketing guru, tech guy - you name it, he's our go-to person. Then there is Lynda, our stalwart and voice of reason. She takes care of the accounting side of things, doubles up as a Virtual Assistant and database manager par excellence. Our newest team member is Amanda who is an absolute delight. She does any form of calling that may be needed by our clients (she loves connecting with people on the phone!) and is also our client liaison. We also have a wonderful team of expert Virtual Assistants that take care of a variety of tasks.
Share a little about your entrepreneurial journey. And, do you come from an entrepreneurial background?
What an amazing entrepreneurial journey I've had so far! It all began in 2008 when I started my first business, so I was a rather late bloomer into the entrepreneurial space. This business was formed around an ex-client who approached me out of sheer desperation to manage his marketing database account. Naturally I saw an opportunity and jumped right in. The funny thing is, even though I've been offering Virtual Assistant services for more than 6 years, I only learned the term about 2 years ago. Learning about the Virtual Assistant world helped me define and streamline my business processes.
By 2014, our business model had pivoted completely which meant us changing our branding, our target market and our set of services. Today we are happily following a fantastic working system.
"I'm sure we all know the term 'multi-task' - well, let's chuck it out the window, let's be savvy and make use of the resources around us."
What are your future plans and aspirations for your company?
Going forward we want to dominate the South African marketplace (we already have 11 Virtual Assistants in our team) and then move into Africa. We want to own the African space when it comes to outsourced assistance. After that, there's the rest of the world!
What gives you the most satisfaction being an entrepreneur?
The continuous learning curve and space to innovate. Entrepreneurs are a different breed and the space we move in is dominated by sheer persistence, innovation, ambition and utter passion.
What's the biggest piece of advice you can give to other women looking to start-up?
Just do it, and never stop, no matter what is thrown at you. Be relentlessly creative and always be on your toes, ready to take action, solve a problem and seize an opportunity!
Contact or follow Karen:
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Website URL: www.vaconnect.co.za
Why LoA loves it….
At LoA, we love Karen Wessels’ enthusiastic ‘can do’ approach to finding a practical and much needed solution to the problem facing so many women entrepreneurs - too much to do, too little time, not enough help, and too small a budget to hire someone permanently to help in the early start-up days. The current global trend of Virtual Assistants could provide a really useful addition to the entrepreneurial support system for women in Africa, and VA Connect is at the forefront of that trend on the continent. Watch this space as we think this is one company that is destined to make its mark and, at the same time, help so many other women entrepreneurs in the process. --- Melanie Hawken, Lionesses of Africa founder and editor-in-chief