When I started my first business, I knew I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t even know what I didn’t know! If I could go back in time and teach myself, there’s so much I would want to say. Before you start your business, just realize that you won’t be perfect in the beginning. There is always something to upgrade, change,
Here are 19 of the most important things that I would try to explain to myself as a newbie entrepreneur.
1. The more organized you are, the less you’ll have to work
When I’m disorganized, time flies too fast. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do next. I don’t know where to find the thing. I don’t know who I’m supposed to connect with. I don’t even know why I’m doing what I’m doing.
Spend more time keeping things simple, and you’ll spend less time spinning your wheels. (You’ll also enjoy your work a whole lot more!)
2. For the sake of your sanity, CONNECT with others
The #1 thing that makes the biggest difference in my happiness, optimism, and progress is connecting with peers. Find those people who do the same sort of thing as you and have positive attitudes about the challenges along the way. Talk to them regularly. Motivate them and let them motivate you. Support them and let them support you. Community is everything.
3. Taking action solves everything
You can have the best plan in the world, but if you don’t act on it, then nothing is going to happen. Don’t wait until your plan is “perfect” (it never will be). Consider your options, do a reasonable amount of research, and then GO! You can correct your course along the way.
4. Plan, but then RELAX
As an entrepreneur, things won’t always go as you expect or hope. Embrace the flow, and learn to be flexible. Better to be relaxed and enjoy the journey than be so stressed out about not being in control of every little detail.
5. Systems save your sanity
Trying to do all the things and be all the people will make balance impossible! Focus on creating systems that enable you to delegate and get more done in less time. Give your work focused, regular attention so that when you AREN’T working, you can be fully present with your family and friends.
6. There will be seasons of less sleep
When you own a business, there are busy seasons, and then there are busier seasons. During the former, you might have it “all figured out” and feel very balanced. During the latter, you WILL get less sleep. You’ll stay up late working on your launch, or wake up early to write your blog post in time — or both. Embrace the season of busyness, but create plans for rest and recuperation as well.
7. The more prepared you are, the more successful you’ll be
This goes for launching products, and services, giving speeches, teaching classes, going to the gym… anything really. The more time you take to be fully ready, the more you’ll get out of the experience. (That being said, don’t overthink it. Give yourself a reasonable amount of time, put in the work, then call that good and GO.)
She said it, and it’s true. You can figure out ANYTHING that you need to figure out to make your business successful. If someone has done it before you, you can learn from them. If not, you can figure it out on your own (which might take a little more time, but it will be more worth it).
9. Focus on ONE thing at a time
The more focused your attention is, the more progress you’ll be able to make in that one area. That success can then make other things much easier! For example, on social media platforms: you can try to grow a following on five different platforms at once, and gain 1000 followers on each, or you can focus your attention on just one, and gain 5000 followers there (or perhaps a lot more, since you’re more focused). Those 5000 followers can then be directed to your other platforms, and many of them will easily go.
10. Consistency is the key to gaining momentum
Want your business to GROW? Be consistent. Show up consistently as the same person and brand. Publish content consistently. Stay consistently in your niche. Preach your message consistently.
Dripping water all over the place won’t accomplish anything. Dripping water into the same bucket continuously will fill your bucket to overflowing.
11. Solve real problems
Nice things are nice, pretty things are pretty, but problems take precedence. Problems have to be solved. People pay money to have their problems solved. Focus on helping your customers and solving their problems, and they will cling to you.
12. Outsource; it’s so worth it
The other day, I was delegating my time: deciding how much time I wanted to spend on each activity of my business and how much time I really wanted to be working at all. I realized that I could spend 8 hours/month posting to social media, or 8 hours/month putting out a podcast (or both, or neither). I didn’t really want to spend the full 16 hours, so I chose to outsource the social media posting because anyone could do that for me. Only I can host my podcast show.
Spend your time doing those things that only you can do. Outsource all the things that anyone can do. You’ll get so much more done, make so much more money, and provide employment for someone else in the process!
13. Take the time to keep records
Keeping records is no fun. It’s my least favorite part of running my business. Well, almost. Really, my least favorite part is when I don’t keep records, and then I need something and can’t where I put the information I need. Create systems that make keeping the essential records simple, and then make those systems into habits.
14. Take a break BEFORE you are burnt out
Don’t kill yourself working for 17 days straight and then never want to look at your website again. Take at least one day each week completely off. Take some time every single day to slow down and really separate from your work. Paint your nails, walk the dog, watch your favorite show, or make a beautiful dinner. ENJOY life while you are growing your business, or else you will come to hate your business.
15. Know your focus
What is that one thing that you specialize in? Get extremely clear on exactly what your “offer” is, who it’s for, and why people need it.
16. Practice pays off
Practice your speech a dozen times before you give it. Practice writing the copy for your website. Practice connecting with people.
If you aren’t good at something, either decide to outsource it or practice. Being bad at something sucks, but you don’t have to stay bad at it. Keep doing it (in fact, do it way more than you have to), and do it intentionally. It will get easier.
17. Appearance matters
Whether you like it or not, people DO judge books by their covers. That’s just the way the world works.
People will judge you on whatever they perceive. They will judge you on how you look and sound. They will judge you on what you create and how you create it.
Does that mean you have to be perfect? No. Does that mean you have to cater to everyone? Definitely not. But, what it does mean is that you need to show up how you WANT people to perceive you, and you need to care about the details. What you wear matters. Your grammar matters. Consistent branding matters.
Keep things simple, high quality, consistent, and focused on what your customers actually want. Then, ask some of your trusted peers how you could improve.
18. The money is in the list
To make money, you have to sell. To sell, you have to have an audience and a way to be able to connect with them. Focus on building that audience and creating a relationship with them. Your audience must trust and appreciate you. Your audience is your most valuable asset.
19. You can be happy TODAY!
Happiness doesn’t come as a byproduct of success. Happiness is a choice you make every day. Happiness is gratitude for everything you HAVE and curiosity about what you will be able to create next. Don’t deprive yourself of the enjoyment of the journey.
So, before you start your business, get excited, get motivated, physic yourself out, whatever you have to do, and go do it. Just remember, that we are here for you if you get stuck on anything.
How to market your business is critical to your business success. That’s our topic for today’s post. I’ve added some steps for you to work on that are pretty easy.
Here’s what you should be doing to stay top of mind and current with your network:
Send two emails a day to people you know to stay in touch. You’re not selling to them, just checking in to say hello.
Try to get together every week with either one new person that you’ve been introduced to, or one close business friend you haven’t seen in a while.
Offer free, 15-minute discovery calls, by phone or Zoom, to anyone who’s interested in working with you.
Once a month, write an email newsletter with relevant content and send it out to everyone you know.
Regularly post excerpts of your newsletters to social media.
Once a month, you should attend a networking event to meet new people.
Keep your LinkedIn profile current, including adding every new person you meet.
You may think this is a lot of work and way too time-consuming to fit into your day. But it’s not really!
Once you have the system set up, it takes far less time to run than the time you spend worrying about generating business! Getting clients is always on top of your mind, but you need to do these steps to create a steady flow of clients.
Another Way to Market
Try using Facebook and Instagram to post content on a regular basis. You need to get noticed on social media, but you don’t have to be on every platform to get noticed. Also, don’t consider this selling, it’s just marketing to do the work for you.
Just make sure that you are consistent with what you create and post valuable content, not just fluff. Anyone can do that, and it might get you followers but not clients. Also remember that even when you have a steady flow of clients, you’re always going to need to market yourself.
You’ll hear people refer to routine as being dull or boring. It implies that life is the same from one day to the next. However, routines are a great way to get your work done.
It’s also a great means for teams to work together towards a common goal. When everyone has an understanding of what needs to get done, i.e., what routines each team member needs to perform, projects tend to run smoother.
We also have routines in our society. In some ways, laws can be considered routines. You know that you aren’t supposed to run a red light and that can be thought of as a routine.
When you come to a red light, you stop as best as you can. There may be instances when you accidentally go through one here or there. But, most people will stop for red lights. And this is good to reduce accidents.
You set up routines for your kids in the form of chores. You know that certain tasks need to get done each week. Many parents tie their kids’ allowances to these chores. When the kids finish their chores, they receive their allowances. It teaches the kids a work ethic. They need to perform tasks, and when they complete those tasks, they receive money for them.
When you pay bills, you tend to have a routine for this. Some people like to get everything sorted on one day and pay all the bills on that day. Others will pay them whenever they receive them. Others, still, will set up their payments to be paid automatically by their bank or brokerage.
There isn’t a right answer for how to do this. Whatever works for you is the right answer. However, the method you choose will be routine.
Contrast this to people who don’t have routines to manage their lives. They tend to handle tasks when the mood strikes them. These people are usually late with their bills and have messy environments. Some of these people will say that this way of life works for them. However, for most people this is chaos. It’s something that can easily be avoided by setting up routines for the tasks you need to complete.
Of course, people are not robots. Hence, they do break up their routines on occasion. You may use weekends to do activities that you don’t get to do during the workweek. Also, many families use vacations to help break up their routines.
How do you create routines for yourself? Do you have them? If not, you should acquire some routines, especially for your business. It can be as easy as what days of the week you do your invoices and banking. Keep it simple but make them a routine. You will thank yourself for this later.
Not every virtual assistantjob is easy or simple. Some projects start well but as you work, you encounter problems that feel overwhelming. The good news is that while it may seem like a big deal now, many of these problems can be solved quickly and efficiently once you know what to do. Today’s topic is all about the 3 Client Pitfalls Virtual Assistants Should Avoid. Goodness, you mean there are things we should avoid? Absolutely!
Pitfall #1: Scope Creep
A big pain point for VAs is scope creep. This is when the client asks you to do more work than the original amount you agreed upon. For example, you’re designing a book cover for a client. She wants you to design bookmarks with the cover on them, too.
You may be tempted to accept this extra work without saying a word. But what you should do is renegotiate with your client.
Keep in mind that most clients aren’t trying to get extra work out of you when they make a request.
They just don’t understand how much additional time and effort these extra tasks will cause you.
One of the best ways to handle scope creep is to talk with your client.
Tell your client that once the cover is completed, you’ll be happy to begin a new project for the bookmarks.
Pitfall #2: Not Getting Materials
A common pitfall that VAs encounter is not getting needed materials from a client. It might be that they haven’t sent you their logo, copy, or login information. The way to handle this issue is to send a short message to your client and let them know that you’ll have to charge an extra fee because you don’t have the resources you need.
Give them a clear deadline in your email. Say something like, “If I don’t receive XYZ from you within the next week, then you’ll be charged an additional $25”.
Most clients will quickly find the files you need when they get this message.
Pitfall #3: Extensive Revision Requests
Your client might love your work on Tuesday but ask for several large revisions on Wednesday. This is a common problem when you’re working on a project that requires approval from several people.
For example, the marketing manager may love your graphics. But the sales team leader wants to change the colors or suggest different fonts.
You can handle revision requests by communicating clearly. Tell the client that the first round of revisions is covered but after that, you’ll be charging $XX for each hour of work.
When clients understand that they could be charged extra, they tend to limit revisions.
New to all this stuff, we get it!
If you’re a new VA, you might think you should offer free, unlimited revisions. But you don’t want to make this mistake. Otherwise, you risk working on the same project for months or even years to come. Meanwhile, you keep waiting for the end of the project so you can get paid.
If a client feels strongly about a revision, then they’ll pay your additional rate without complaint. A good client understands that your time is valuable and never wants to take advantage of you or your skills.
Most virtual assistant problems can be easily solved with a simple conversation, whether by email or phone. You can stand up for yourself calmly and professionally now that you know what to do.
The Big Secret About Getting Clients from Online Groups
As a virtual assistant, one of your marketing strategies to get new clients might be searching for them in online groups. The Big Secret About Getting Clients from Online Groups is NOT really that big of a secret.
So, places like Facebook and LinkedIn make it so easy for us to find groups to socialize in.
And this marketing strategy can be very effective—IF you know how to work it.
Here’s a secret:
Join groups that include YOUR specific target market! And then make real connections and relationships with those in the group.
I’ll explain below:
First, joining virtual assistant groups is a great idea. But not necessarily a place to find clients.
Remember—everyone else in there is looking for clients and building their business as well. Other virtual assistants are NOT your potential clients. (Unless that’s exactly who you’re targeting—that’s a different story—and a completely different conversation!)
So, should you bother to join virtual assistant groups?
VA groups can be a great resource for you. You can get answersto questions so that you don’t stay stuck. Here are a couple of examples: needing a quick tech answer or wondering if other VAs has used a certain kind of software, and if they like it. Groups are great for that type of information.
And don’t forget about the search feature in groups. You can often find a quick answer by typing your keyword(s) in to the search box and find threads that answer your question.
They’re also useful in making sure that you don’t feel so lonely in this industry. Many virtual assistants feel isolated when they no longer have co-workers or any face-to-face contact with others. You might have family and friends who don’t really “get” what it is that you do and aren’t very supportive. This is where you can come in to a VA group and find other like-minded people to support you.
If you visit a VA group enough, participate and help others out, it’s also a great place to network and make connections with other virtual assistants. You just might end up with a referral partner or two. Connect with VAs who offer different services and you can outsource work to them, start building a team or refer clients to them.
So, being active in VA groups is also a way to get some free mentoring. The groups are often run by VAs or VA mentors who have been in the industry for quite some time. There are also active veteran VA group members who will jump in, answer questions and offer advice. Think of it as a way to shorten your learning curve and move forward just a little faster in your business.
If you’re thinking of working with a VA mentor to advance your business, getting involved in their group is a great way to get a sense of their style and see if you’d be a good fit to work together.
What doesn’t really work in these VA groups?
Only stopping in when you need more clients and asking the group if they have anyone to refer to you.
Creating posts in the groups and/or linking to articles on your blog that explain the importance of hiring a VA. (This is a group that’s already filled with VAs, remember?)
Posting about your MLM or direct sales opportunity that you do on the side of your VA business.
Now, let’s talk about joining groups that include your target market
If you’re looking for new potential clients online, joining groups where THEY hang out is a smart marketing strategy.
I do understand that this can be a little out of your comfort zone. But you CAN do this!
First, you want to check the group rules/profile and make sure that they also accept people in the group that support their industry. (That would be you.)
Make sure to read all group rules and follow them. You want to be respectful of the group owner.
Start going through the posts in the group and getting a feel for the conversations and style. You don’t necessarily have to jump in and post something right away.
If the group owner asks new members to make a new post and talk about yourself, take advantage of that. Make sure you let them get to know you as a business owner—but also you on a personal level. People do business with those that they know, like and trust.
Do you see any questions being asked in the group that you can help with? Then go ahead and post your answer.
Do NOT constantly spam the group with posts all about what you do and links to your site. That’s a quick way to get kicked out.
Think about what value you can add to the group. Maybe you can create a post that solves an issue you see mentioned in the group repeatedly. Perhaps there is a tool or software you use that saves you tons of time and money that you could share with the group.
All in all, remember that these are real people and your goal is to develop real relationships. Be genuine, not spammy. Realize that it takes time and consistency to build these relationships.
You don’t meet someone on the street and immediately ask them to marry you, right? It’s the same thing here. You need to give this marketing strategy time and establish relationships. If done right, it can be very effective for connecting with new clients.
If you want to learn more about relationship marketing and how it works, click here.
You’ve heard about it, right? Setting client expectations, what they want, what they need, how you can help them? Ok, here’s the thing, you must do your due diligence in setting up expectations or else, it could turn into a real train wreck!
Here are 5 simple steps to get a handle on it before it ALL COMES CRASHING AROUND YOU!
Here are four ideas to get a flow of clients coming your way:
Be clear about the work you do. If you can clearly explain your work, others will be able to spread the word. When someone asks what I do, I say, “I’m a Virtual Assistant. I work with solo-professionals – people who work on their own – like business coaches, marketing consultants, and financial planners. I help them with all their administrative work – like updating their websites, setting up their newsletters, and helping them set up online courses.”And then I stop talking. Too much information can be confusing! And by the way, I say the exact same thing every time someone asks me the question (I practiced saying it out loud until I could do it cold!).
Spread the word. Attend networking events in your area, participate in social media, and write a monthly email newsletter that you then send to everyone you know. If you’re in front of people on a regular basis, you won’t be top of mind when someone needs to hire a Virtual Assistant with your skills. People love to make referrals – make it easy for them.
Be clear about how much you charge. By being clear, clients can decide if they can afford you. It removes time spent negotiating and wringing your hands every time someone asks you how much working with you will cost. So pick an hourly rate and stick to it. Then raise it from time to time as your skills get sharper.
Be clear about how to get started. have 15-minute free consultations with many prospective clients. When the call is wrapping up and I think they’re a good fit for me, I’m clear about the next steps. I say, “I’d like to work with you. I’ll send you a link to buy your first set of hours with me. When you’re ready and once you buy them, I’ll be in touch to schedule a meeting with you and we can get started.”
It may seem like getting good clients is a lot of work, but if you think about it as a part of what you do – and have a set approach you rely on every day – the work will flow your way!