Sarah Damani says her fledgling Alchemy Virtual Assistance franchise has exceeded all her expectations
A Northamptonshire franchisee is proving that new businesses can succeed, despite the disruption COVID-19 has caused in the UK.
Sarah Damani, from Wellingborough, is celebrating her first business birthday, having launched her Alchemy Virtual Assistance hub in December 2019.
Today her franchise assists multiple business owners with their PA, marketing and administrative needs.
Sarah explains: “As a new business, I could either sink or swim when COVID hit, but I’ve managed to achieve in one year what I set out to achieve in three.
“The support and backing of Alchemy VA has empowered me. It could have easily been a different story if I had gone it alone.”
Sarah has just reached executive status, the highest rung on the Alchemy franchise development framework.
She’s also recruited a small team of high calibre virtual assistants to help her manage the increasing workload, renovated a tailor-made home office space, left her job as a business adviser to focus entirely on growing her Alchemy VA franchise and was a finalist in the Rising Star category in the PA Life Star Awards 2020 programme.
“More people were fearful and untrusting of remote working pre-COVID, but they’ve now seen that it works,” Sarah says.
“Suddenly, hiring a virtual assistant to manage what some consider to be menial admin tasks is far less scary than it might have been before.
“Most clients who’ve started working with me and other Alchemy VA hub managers in the last year started out wanting one thing and ended up realising we can assist with so much more.
“Many of our contracts have grown when clients realise the vast skill set of our VAs and how much time and headspace we can free up.”
Niki Adams, a former judo Olympian and co-owner of Neil Adams Effective Fighting, says Sarah’s VA services have helped her business diversify and stay afloat during COVID: “We’d just built our own studio to train judo athletes, but when COVID hit we had to close our club and review all our plans.
“Sarah has helped us get our processes in check, but more than that, she’s helped us secure £3,000 of funding to launch a new online fitness programme for over-50s and people with health conditions.
“This was a totally new business idea and we couldn’t have done it without her organisational skills, connections and expertise.
“She’s now an essential part of our small business and helps make Neil Adams Effective Fighting run more smoothly. I had no idea a virtual assistant could have such a positive impact.”
Sarah’s achievements have been mirrored across the wider VA industry and Alchemy VA group.
With another new franchise hub launching in January 2021, the Alchemy VA head office team has also been strengthened to ensure the company is able to deliver the high level of support it provides into the new year and beyond.
Suzy Sanders, founder of Alchemy VA, says: “This year has been a wilder ride than any of us expected, but one thing that’s remained constantly true is the way Sarah, and all our VA hub managers, have focused on their businesses, supporting their clients and each other with such grit and grace.
“We’ve seen a huge influx of interest in what we do at Alchemy this year from both potential clients and franchisees.
“I believe this has been mostly driven by the dramatic shift in focus, priorities and with so many being forced to adapt to new and different ways of working.
“While this year has bought untold challenges, I’m immensely proud of Sarah and everything we’re achieving together.”