My name is Karina Follent, Owner and Director of Pro-Assist Virtual Administration. I live on the Gold Coast and have two children under 6 and a super supportive partner. My background is in $1b mining and construction projects in admin, quality and process.

When did you start your business?

January 2016

What was the inspiration behind starting this business?

I was a new mother facing returning to the workforce after maternity leave. I enjoyed my current job, however it was not flexible and meant that I would need to rely on long daycare. I wasn’t successful in finding any suitable flexible roles so Pro-Assist was born. Now I offer the same flexibility to my employees!

What are you most excited about in your business?

The endless opportunities and scope to inspire change. Some days are hard and momentum is slow, but small steps build up to big things.

What has been the most challenging thing about starting your business?

Finding my people – my ideal client, my ideal employee, my ideal confidants. I struggled and it took me years to identify who I needed beside me, who I wanted to work for, what I wanted to do for them.

What advice would you give to other women thinking about starting a business?

The setbacks, the struggles, the frustrations, the conflicts – these bad days and these challenges may seem insurmountable, but not only will you survive them, they’ll be the most formative days of in your business journey.

Why did you enter the AusMumpreneur Awards?

Pro-Assist is something special, not only for my family, but for my team, my clients and for women who need what Pro-Assist offers. AusMumpreneur is such a highly regarded platform, so I challenged myself to enter the awards, to be heard by an incredible panel of judges, and to hopefully be offered a spot on the AusMum platform to keep building PA to reach more people.

What did you enjoy the most about being part of the awards?

 The Awards Night was such a highlight. Literally from the minute I arrived I was surrounded by the most incredible women. I felt part of something huge – it was incredibly inspirational.

What surprised you most about the awards?

How quickly, as a newcomer to Ausmum that I was included in the fold. It felt like I was with old friends.

How did the awards help you in your business?

Definitely my confidence has improved with my shiny gold trophy and bright pink ambassador title. I am so proud to represent Ausmum as an Ambassador.

What advice would you give to others mums thinking about entering the awards?

 Absolutely go for it, don’t doubt yourself for a second. The process of entering in itself is an experience!

What has been the best thing about starting your own business?

The flexibility. I can structure my offering, who I work with, what I’m paid and how I work around me and my family.

What’s happening next in your business?

We’re launching a membership for administrators and practice owners in the allied health industry. Its all about fostering confidence, building connection through community and learning best practice.

What are your big plans for the future?

Gosh, I have so many big plans, but my biggest two are creating a serviced office space for allied health businesses – giving those solopreneuers and small teams a home where theyre fully supported.

The second plan is creating a foundation to build up people with disabilities – giving them training, experience, community and confidence and connecting them with businesses so they can make their mark on the world.

What is your website and/or social media links (eg. Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram)