ADMINANSWERS NI – Business Photography
Meet Roisin & Maria from AdminAnswers NI
So many times in my current role as a photographer, I meet up with likeminded clients who have similar backstories. We start out in a ‘safe’ career and end up forging our own path as an entrepreneur when the time is right. When Maria & Roisin contacted me about my Business Photography services, I didn’t know how much we would have in common! All 3 of us worked in banking in a previous life and even for the same company! They have now established themselves as Virtual Administrators, helping other business owners get better balance in their life. Taking the stress out of running your own business and offering a wide range of support services to make life easier for entrepreneurs.
You can read all about AdminAnswers NI and their work below …
Tell me all about AdminAnswers NI …
Maria – ‘AdminAnswers NI was born after I decided to leave a 30 year career in Retail Banking. I was looking for a new challenge and my good friend Roisin had been mulling over the idea of becoming a virtual assistant for a while. We had previously worked together so already knew that we make a good team. After so many years working 9-5, the prospect of having flexibility and independence was very appealing! We are both task driven individuals that love to help people and we know only too well the stresses business owners are under. Being able to provide a service that allows them outsource admin tasks, saving them time, stress and money is so rewarding.
Networking has been pivotal to our business and has opened doors and initiated introductions for us. We are both part of the Mums at Work Network and I love the support that we have received from Sinead and the other members. We regularly attend events and workshops, building connections so that we can continue to grow our business.’
Roisin – ‘It has been an idea that has been swirling around in our heads for quite some time – years if I am honest. When I left our employer about 9 years ago, I was unsure of what direction I wanted to go in.
I had always wanted to be self employed. The freedom I associated with this was appealing and I knew I needed my own income and the interaction working outside the home. I was really good with people and customer service, and also great at finding solutions to admin problems. I began to investigate the possibility of starting up as a Virtual Administrator, a relatively new concept worldwide and not very common in NI at that time. I had discussed it with Maria on many occasions and it was a no brainer that whatever we did we would do together.
It was definitely easier to take the leap with 2 of us working on it. We contacted a former work colleague Jackie Smyth who was working for the Causeway Enterprise and she helped us with our business plan. We then were very fortunate to be accepted onto ‘Yes You Can’ Training with Women In Business. This opened us up to people and pathways we could only have dreamt of encountering without it.
Tell me about all the services AdminAnswers NI provide …
Think of us a personal assistants for all sorts of businesses. The tasks we do vary depending on what that particular business needs.
For one client we might be collating and checking payroll information, for another we’re looking after travel arrangements, flight bookings. We could be cleaning their google or one drive, electronically filing, or managing their client correspondence. Having so many years experience in the financial field, helping clients keep their records, reconcile their statements and organise data for their accountant is second nature to us.
Being so flexible and utilising all the skills we have amassed over the years has been key to our success. Our clients choose how many hours they want us to work and we then dedicate that time to their tasks. They know exactly what they are getting and how much it will cost from the start. No hidden charges and even more importantly, no PAYE, NI or Tax worries for the client. We offer an hourly rate, monthly packages and one off projects too.
A recent client needed to update their Operating Procedure manuals but didn’t have the time or capacity within their own admin team, so they outsourced it to us. At the minute we are giving potential clients 1 hour free to see how we work and how much we could help their business. Giving them back time to concentrate on what generates their income or to spend with their families.
What does a typical day look like for you both?
Roisin – My typical day will look different to Maria’s at the moment as I am still employed outside of the business, although I have reduced my hours there. My aim is to take a career break in the near future. Most of my AdminAnswers NI work is done on my days off, evenings and weekends. But there are a fair few WhatsApp’s, emails and phone calls between us most days.
I have a ‘To Do’ List beside me at all times and prioritisation is key. I can hit the ground running when I get started in the evenings. It’s busy but very rewarding. There is no such thing as a typical day for me at the moment. If I could just get someone to do all the housework now it would be perfect.
Maria – Once my husband and child are off to work and school and the place is tidy(ish), it’s down to the office. Checking emails and messages first and foremost and either responding immediately or adding to the diary. Then it’s head down and on with the client work scheduled for the day. It’s amazing how much you can get done when they’re are no distractions! A trip to the gym or a walk if I can squeeze it in and then any phone calls or admin work for ourselves is sorted. Mammy/wife hat back on for dinner duties etc.
What do you enjoy most about working together?
Maria – Running your own business isn’t easy and can be very isolating, so having each others support is vital. We encourage each other, keep each other sane and most importantly have a bit of craic too!
Roisin – It is great to have someone to share ideas, plans and concerns with. The business is our baby, so we are like new parents always trying to find the best way to promote the business and grow our client base.
When one of us is having a bad day the other is there to be positive. And when we have a win it is brilliant to be able to share it with someone who truly gets what that win means. Of course it’s easier walking into a networking event with a friend, when you know no one else there. But we are both chatterboxes so it’s a case of ‘so many people so little time’ at those events.
How do you achieve a good work / life balance?
Maria – Planning and organisation is key. Work, household chores and the gym are all scheduled carefully so that down time is exactly that! Spending time with friends and family, long walks and reading a good book with a glass of wine are all my go to ways to unwind!
Roisin – At the moment I am probably not the best person to ask that question! I work a lot of hours but it is short term pain for long term gain. I have a husband, grown up children and a teenager so they keep me grounded.
To help relax, I train several times a week and try to get a walk in the fresh air every day. I love to read every day although I am resorting to audio books while on the daily walk to fit more in. This is brilliant for my step count as if I am engrossed in a story I just keep on walking.
I also love creative crafts and have been an avid crafter since a very young age, making my own curtains and blinds, knitting and crocheting. These are my meditation techniques as I can get lost in them for hours.
What do you love most about your work?
Roisin – I love finding solutions to problems, helping clients’ lives become easier and more balanced. I get a buzz out of doing a job really well. Knowing that what we do makes a positive difference to our client’s lives is so rewarding.
Maria – It has to be the sense of achievement for every job well done. I love ticking tasks off the list, the constant challenge of learning new things and finding more efficient ways to do something.
Have you any tips for anyone else planning on booking in for a photo shoot like yours?
Roisin – We had such a lovely day during the photo shoot. I absolutely detest having my photo taken ordinarily and prefer to be behind the camera (or anywhere else apart from in front of it). I don’t like looking at photos of myself much either so the thought of doing a photo shoot was like a prison sentence. Not something I was looking forward to at all.
But Catriona was fantastic. We were at ease from the start of the shoot and had such great fun. I can honestly admit that I really enjoyed it. Not to mention the fact that I now have lovely photos of myself that I am happy to look at. I recommend a shoot like ours to anyone who needs photos either for social media or their business in general. The tips you gave us before the day were brilliant. Everyone comments on how well coordinated we are in the photos and I am not sure we would have thought to do that ourselves. (Maria will say that she would have lol) Definitely get your hair done that day and your make up too if it helps your self confidence. The main tip I would give is to trust Catriona and what she does.
Maria – I did enjoy the photo shoot although I wasn’t expecting to! Catriona made us both relax and have a laugh doing it plus the photos are amazing. The hardest part was choosing which ones to use!
Tell me about your plans for the future?
Our priority and initial goal is to acquire enough clients to allow both of us to work full time in the business. When we achieve this, we have further plans on how best to make the business grow without overwhelming ourselves or losing our individuality. We would eventually love to grow our team, and bring new skills into the business At the minute we offer traditional admin services but would hope to be able to help clients with their online presence in the future too.