Interviews with businesswomen. Anna Chaika
Social portal “Career for a New Life” as an information partner of the NGO “Modern Woman” publishes interviews with participants of the training programs of the Center for Small and Medium Business Development.
What changes occur after completing business training? Anna Chaika, a graduate of the first wave of the Business Development Training Program, which took place in September-October 2018, tells her story. Anna is the owner and managing partner of AF Business-Element LLC. The company was founded in 2011, its field of activity is the provision of audit services.
The Business Development Training Program was conducted by the Center for Small and Medium Business Development of the Project “Center for Gender Culture as a Platform for Empowerment of Women and Youth”, funded by the European Union. The work of the Center for Small and Medium Business Development is coordinated by HGNO “Modern Woman”.
Please tell, where did you start your own business? How did you choose the type of activity?
One idea alone is usually not enough to become an auditor. Higher economic or legal education is required, it is necessary to pass training and pass examinations to obtain an auditor’s certificate, which confirms the qualification knowledge in accounting, tax accounting, business law. I am a hereditary auditor because my mother is an auditor and my older sister is also an auditor. Therefore, the choice was conditioned. My mother told me that this profession can be interesting and it can make money. We started our business in different audit companies, but then my mother and sister founded their own, and then at some point, we realized that we had a different view on further development and decided to separate. I have been working independently for ten years.
How did your business grow? Were there any problem situations on your way and how exactly did you solve them?
Usually, problems always arise. The main problem is the lack of funding. I did not have a significant investment. The cost part of my activity, which is commonly called the cost, is my intellectual work, and sometimes it is difficult to assess. One of the biggest problems I’ve faced is the pricing of my services and how to convey that even an hour of my conversation or half an hour is worth it to me because, to respond quickly, to answer questions quickly, I spent time for education, events, seminars, training. My activity is “auxiliary” for business. It would seem that everyone can open a computer, look at the tax code, the provisions of accounting standards, and find answers to questions. But, as practice shows, an entrepreneur should turn to an independent consultant or auditor to find the answer to his question.
In the process of business development, did you make certain mistakes and what experience may you have gained from them?
Of course, it happened. One of the difficulties is defending one’s rights and defending one’s work when it may not be paid. Such situations forced me to be a pedant and not to do work without prepayment, not to give work without accompanying documents.
Do you have a few basic rules or principles that guide you in your business?
The most important thing is the choice of the client, his monitoring, pre-verification. I always say that I can afford to choose clients. Our most important principle is that we do not work with those who operate outside the legislative field.
I am for honesty, equal rights for all, both men and women. For example, if we have women working, then they should be able to be both mothers and wives, as well as be able to realize themselves in their profession.
On the issue of equality between women and men. Have you been pressured by women who are self-employed by society, acquaintances, or loved ones?
Yes, I watched, of course. Indeed, in our country, it has happened that a woman, if she is a mother, cannot realize herself in the profession. I am a mother of many children, but this has never prevented me from realizing myself in my profession. In addition to my core business, I have community service activities within my profession. Therefore, I try to show by my example that anything is possible if there is a desire.
How do you rebuild your strengths to achieve new goals?
Sometimes training helps me. Sometimes it seems that you know everything, that you are so smart, and you get into an environment where new knowledge, new experience, and perhaps the same information that you already know, only presented from a different angle – is very invigorating sometimes. I really like flowers, and when I have stressful situations, I start transplanting them. Plus, tactile things are also important for a woman. So I know for sure that at some point I need to go for a massage or take a quiet walk so that no one touches me. And it restores.
I really like Coco Chanel’s statement: “Everything is in our hands, so they can never be lowered.” So I know for myself that I have absolutely no option to relax because there are children who need to be supported and engaged in their development.
What knowledge and skills do you think are most important for women entrepreneurs?
Besides, you need to know the basics of financial literacy – this is very important, because even when you think that you belong to a completely different profession and you do not need to know what accounting – it’s wrong, because everyone in charge of her household needs to know this. So, some basic skills, the knowledge that a double entry is not just made up, that if money comes from somewhere, it flows somewhere.
Knowledge of psychology is also very important, because communication between people and if it is a business that is not built on one person, but if on employees, it is important to understand how to interact with these employees. And marketing is driving today. This is what I’ve been studying lately, what helps me is that if I have any questions, I read about them. If the priorities, it is: psychology, marketing, and in parallel you need to constantly keep your hands on the pulse of your profession. Even in accounting, auditing, in the field in which I work, it is impossible to say that you just graduated from the Faculty of Accounting and Auditing and will work all your life as an accountant, because everything changes: life, rules of work.
Was participating in the Business Development Training Program useful for you?
Yes, I’ve shared this many times. This is from the series when “it came in”. I don’t know why I filled out the questionnaire, but when I passed, I was happy – we had and still have a very friendly group of girls with whom we still communicate: someone is helping someone. Also, the teachers were very interesting to me when it comes to Internet marketing, human resources. It was at the right time, in the right place, in the right condition.
What changes have taken place in your business or possibly personal changes since the end of the Training Program?
At that moment, I determined for myself what exactly I still want. Because sometimes I rushed in some directions, because I have several areas in business, so I structured them. Since then, I know from the financial results – it’s definitely an increase. Profits increased. After completing the training, I completely changed the team, because at some point I realized that the people who worked with me for many years, as it turned out, did not share my values. Today I am not so much looking for my client as he is looking for me.
Are you planning to expand your business or perhaps open a new one next to an existing one?
New no, because according to the ethical standards I follow, auditing is an independent profession and I do not have the right to engage in other business activities because I may lose objectivity. Public activity – yes. Besides, I’m considering a passive income for myself.
I am constantly looking for new employees to expand my business, we have a lot of clients. But the issue of labor reserves in our profession is difficult, so we still have a curriculum where we take those who want to work in this profession, we train them to then engage in tasks.
What advice would you give to women who are planning or starting their own business?
Be attentive, pay attention to the little things. Ironically, women are more meticulous than men. Men are more impulsive and sometimes they have such projects that under the influence of emotions they can invest a lot of money and not calculate in advance. Women are more skeptical. Therefore, I would recommend being attentive, to think over projects along and across not only from the point of view of investments; calculate, do not hesitate to clarify. I always tell my clients that you should not be afraid to seem stupid, it is better to ask the same thing ten times, but to do the right thing than to hurry up. Because business and entrepreneurship mean that if you do something wrong, you can be held administratively, financially, or even criminally liable.