Today we are featuring Time Back Virtual Assistance, an online administrative business, based in Soufriere, St Lucia. It is run by Ann-Marie Sampson, who is from the UK, of St Lucian parentage. Ann-Marie has been living in St Lucia for several years.
Q: How did you come up with the name of your business?
A: I actually came up with my tagline first, which is ‘Giving you the time back to grow your business’ and then I had a lightbulb moment and that was it!
Q: Where is your business located?
A: My business is online, but I live in Soufriere.
Q: What does your business do?
A: I provide online administrative assistance. Basically, whatever you can do in an office, without physically being there, which is just about everything nowadays with the help of technology. I offer services such as transcription, data entry, social media set up and management, research, email inbox management, CRM management, etc.
Q: How long have you been in business?
A: Well, I quit my day job in 2012 to become a Virtual Assistant. However, I still freelanced at the day job (with the marketing department of a hotel) for a few days a week which meant that I never really delved too deep into being a Virtual Assistant (VA) in the beginning. So, technically it’s been 10 years, but that’s been on and off over time. I have, however, been in administration for over 35 years and have transferred those skilled acquired into the virtual world.
Q: Was it expensive to start your business?
A: Not at all! I already had a laptop, printer, phone, and internet connection and that’s all I needed to get started. I didn’t need all the bells and whistles to start an online business. I just needed to find clients so that I could earn the money to then buy the bells and whistles.
Q: What kind of qualifications do you need to do your job?
A: Virtual Assistance is a whole industry, not a particular job. Therefore, there are an infinite number of different skills that you can ‘virtually assist’ people with. This can range from administration to web design, to bookkeeping, to customer service, to chasing people down for invoice payments. It all comes under the Virtual Assistant industry. You can therefore take whatever skills you have and take them online in some way. For me, I already had over 25 years’ experience of working in offices in both St Lucia and the UK, so it was a case of transferring those skills online and learning some new programs to do things more efficiently. The best thing is that you don’t have to go to ‘school’ to learn the necessary skills. It can all be done online.
Founder of Time Back Virtual Assistance
and Southside Links
Q: How has the experience been of running your business?
A: Being a VA means that I work from home (or wherever there is an internet connection). It can sometimes get lonely but I’m a homebody, so I don’t mind. You don’t have to work set hours so I can be napping at 11am and working at 11pm on some days. I’m a ‘one woman show’ so I don’t have any help, but I’m in the process of putting a freelancing team together so I can offer a more wide range of services than I am able to offer by myself.
Q: Are there any particular challenges you face as a business owner?
A: Working alone can be challenging in that you have to do everything yourself until you can afford to pay for help. You are fully accountable for everything in your business and that’s a big change from being an employee. It takes some serious adjustment.
Another challenge I have faced, personally, is Imposter Syndrome. This is a feeling of not being good enough for the job and second-guessing yourself at every turn. I have been able to overcome this, to some degree, by watching and listening to positive people on social media.
Q: Do you have any advice for anyone who wants to start a business?
A: Yes, do your research! Start where you are. Even if you’re stuck in a soul-sucking job, use that time to learn all you can about business. Look at how the company is run. How do they treat their staff, pay their staff, involve their staff in decision making? What are the systems and processes in place? There are certain basics that translate to any business, no matter the size. Look at how you would or wouldn’t do things if this was your business. Even if the business where you work has nothing to do with the industry you want to get into, there are still lessons to be learned everywhere you look. Also, learn everything you can about the work that you want to get into for yourself. Use your lunch hour to read books, watch YouTube videos or listen to podcasts about your chosen field. There’s a ton of information out there and you don’t have to wait until you eventually leave your job to start working towards your dream. The time is now!
Q: Who has supported you on your journey?
A: To be honest, with a few exceptions, most of my business support has been from strangers on the internet. I have been part of quite a few Facebook Groups over the years and have formed great friendships, had fantastic Accountability Partners, and been part of great mastermind groups. It can be hard when your family and friends don’t really get what you’re trying to do and the support, therefore, is lacking.
I’ve come to accept that it’s not really their fault, they just don’t get it and it’s up to me to either help them to understand or just move on another level. At the end of the day, they usually have your best interests at heart, but they are projecting their fears onto you and because they don’t have that vision, because it’s yours, they can’t see what you see and think it’s better if you go and get a ‘real job’ *rolling eyes*.
Q: Do you have any special offers you would like to share?
Yes, I have an offer for February 2022, where I will have a ‘Love Your Business’ theme for the month. It is for people who need some help with a few things but have never used a VA before. It’s called the ‘Virgin Package’ and consists of 4 hours of admin work of your choice with no commitment to future months, as it’s just a tester package. You can find the offer here TBVA February Offer
Q: Random question….If money was no object, where you would take your business?
A: I would open an agency and facilitate training for people in my community to work successful online businesses.
Q: What do you want people to know about you, that they may not know?
A: I’m an introvert and I also suffer from Social Anxiety Disorder. This may lead people to think I’m a bit standoffish or unfriendly, but I’m just not comfortable with certain interactions. People who have known me for a long time may find this surprising since I was a big time party girl back in the day. I’m pretty goofy online and make my friends laugh all the time, but in person I have no idea what to say to people. I think people who don’t know me well probably think I’m a bit weird. I guess after reading this they’ll let me know exactly what they think since Lucians are not shy to tell you about yourself lol.
Q: How can people get in touch with you about your services?
A: You can contact me by setting up a free Discovery Call here TBVA Discovery Call
You can find me on all social media at timebackva and southsidelinks.
I’d love for you to engage with me. I hang out on Instagram the most
Website: timebackva.com / southsidelinks.com
WhatsApp: (758) 584 6946