The BVI has been fortunate and splitting at the seams with Young Entrepreneurs spreading their wings and making a mark in the BVI Economy. Today, we had a sit down with Chelsea Hodge, owner of CAHSS
L&S: What does CAHSS stand for?
CH: It’s an acronym of my name – Chelsea Anneka Hodge’s Secretarial Services and was founded in 2020.
L&S: You have been operating a business from very young, what were the other businesses that you operated?
CH: I would say vending. As a child I sold candies and had my mom make different stews which I sold to my classmates.
L&S: Where did you begin your work experience and what gave you the drive to open your business?
CH: I interned at Charlie’s Restaurant, Tortola, Scrub Island Resort Tortola, and Disney World Florida before and after completion of my studies at Hotel PomMarine, Barbados, 2016. I joined the Guana Island Hotel team in January 2017 and in 2021, joined the Moorings Ltd. BVI Team. Throughout my career at The Guana Island Hotel as a Guest Coordinator I was heavily relied on for administrative assistance to the managers, compiling reports and editing spreadsheets. In my new role at The Moorings Ltd. as HR Advisor again I am heavily involved in the maintenance of employee files and undertake many administrative tasks, – typing letters, memos, and submitting paperwork to the different government offices. I love what I do so much that it has become second nature to me. My bosses always make quirky comments like ‘Sometimes Chels I think I would not have made it through this day without you’. These comments have always encouraged me to work hard and to maintain my work ethics and standards and I figured that I should truly pursue my business as I had not too long applied for the trade license.
L&S: What are your current services?
CH: My services include managing diaries and work calendars while organizing meetings and appointments for my clients, organizing events and conferences, preparing letter, reports, presentations, and correspondence for their business activities, mentoring/providing guidance, and advice on how best to conduct business and comply with government policies and much more.
I believe in business structure, effective communication, setting standards and creating connections that drive actions/success. I enjoy conducting secretarial work and have the desire to offer my level of expertise in this field to those small business owners who need assistance in this area.
L&S: Where did your current clients originate?
CH: Many of my clients are college students and persons who are usually transitioning from one job to the next. They found me through my Facebook and Instagram accounts @CAHSecServices or was recommended to me by personal friends and family who knew of my business, and I am very grateful for those persons and my clients for trusting in me to deliver.
L&S: You have a Bachelor’s Degree in Hospitality with Johnson and Wales, USA is this a 360 degree turn in focus with regard to your future career goals with respect to Human Resources Management?
CH: Hospitality and Tourism has my heart. Everyone works in hospitality but not everyone is hospitable and that is something that I believe comes very naturally to me. I have dipped my toe into the field of Human Resources Management due to my desire to understand all aspects of running the Bed and Breakfast I intend to own within the BVI one day. I believe that understanding how to keep my employees happy, through their professional and courteous interactions with the customers is the first step to doing so, which in turn keeps me happy. I have a very vibrant and infectious personality that make it very easy to work with each of my clients regardless of where they are in their journey to self-enlightenment. They all have different needs which makes my job fun with every interaction. Understanding people through my development in HR and Hospitality Management makes it so easy to love what I do as a Virtual Assistant.
L&S: Hospitality is all about people and so is Human Resources Management is there a particular demographic you are targeting?
CH: I am hoping to work closely with professionals now entering the work force as well as those now exiting. Both need support transitioning as they step into unfamiliar territory. Processes have now become so technologically advanced that those leaving the work force are uncertain how to stay current and similarly new entrants are expected to use their college education to lead them which will be challenging, understanding the difference in dynamics of what was learnt in school versus the reality of a new job.
L&S: What were some of the needs of the past and current clients and how do you think this interaction has helped them and you to grow simultaneously?
CH: I find that many of my clients, (new entrants and retirees) request guidance on how they should present themselves on paper whether its applying for ID’s, registering for status or licenses, or creating résumé and portfolios to be shared with others. I find myself conducting a lot of research which increases my knowledge base. Clients also find it easier to be walked through a task or have it simply done for them rather than them having to do it on their own.
L&S: What makes your services unique?
CH: Funnily enough, my unique personality is what makes my business genuine; for my services provide you with a product that you didn’t have moments before
L&S: Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?
CH: Five years from now I see myself still running CAHss with the help of a few additional employees, but I also intend to open my Bed Breakfast within this timeframe as well.
L&S: You are currently working with a major private company how do you balance the workload for these two entities which seem very time consuming?
CH: Working a second job can be exhausting even when managed well. What I have decided to do is take things in strides so even as I gain more clients, my routine will become easier for me to ensure that I don’t suffer burnt out by the end of my workday. I have a daily calendar board that I use to visualize my task list whether it entails working with clients or organizing details that helps me with proper managing or marketing of my business. I aim to list 4 general tasks under each day and take a day off naturally as I would from my full-time job.
L&S: Understanding the challenges in dealing with people, what facet of your character would you say helps you to empathize with the client and get the best for them?
CH: My level of flexibility, willing nature, poise, and generally pleasant disposition are many of the encouraging statements I have received from my clients along with the notion that I am very patient and understanding.
L&S: What are the challenges encountered in running this type of business?
CH: When I first started, it was a bit challenging to get persons comfortable with the idea of trusting me with their personal details for virtual assistance. Offering the services that I do would usually require me to correct or edit someone’s work which is not always taken lightly. Also, persons were quite skeptical about paying for a service that they could do themselves or could get a friend to do. On July 29th I ran a free promotion to offer my services in revamping resumes, coaching in preparation for interviews and assisting with general job hunting and obtained 30 clients some of whom are repeat customers. When you build trust, it is easy to gain traction.
L&S: Is your business just local or do you have any other partners?
CH: Majority of my business is conducted in the BVI but I have partnered with my good friend that I studied with at Hotel PomMarine, Barbados. Tammesha Griffith is the owner of Flawlessly Detailed a graphic design virtually operated business in Barbados WI which we have developed in 2021. Tammy does many of my graphic posters and I edit any notices or policies that she posts for her business. You can find her on Instagram @Flwlesslydetailed.
L&S: What has been your greatest achievement thus far?
CH: My greatest achievement I would say would be my ability to successfully run my first seminar entitled – Turning the page, which took place in October 28th, 2021, where I facilitated approximately 20 guest and had 5 guest speakers. My guest speakers included Patricia Hodge (Administrator), Cecil Hodge (Educator), Stacy Mather (Mentor), Rico Garcia (Mentor), and Mrs. Keshia Davis-Barnes (Professional Extraordinaire) who spoke on the importance of understanding your worth and what it means to be moral and ethically in touch with society.
L&S: If anyone is interested in these services, how can you be contacted?
CH: My business card shows all the means and ways of which you can contact me, you can also find me on Instagram and Facebook @CAHSec Services
L&S: What would you say to the next entrepreneur wanting to enter this type of business as to the lessons learnt and to encourage them to not give up but to continue to strive to make an impact within the business sector of the British Virgin Islands?
CH: I would say that Independence is best felt when experienced. No point in talking about the dreams that you have that will not become a reality without your ability to action it. Every big idea started small. As my cousin, the Owner of REMAX Best Properties Tortola BVI says in his new book ‘Start Where You Are’!