I freelanced for a good three years before going full time with my Virtual Assistant business. I thought it would be exactly the same. It’s similar, yes, but at the same time, it’s completely different.
I reached my 1 year anniversary last month of being an official I-own-a-small-biz gal and…guess what? I’m still in business! There are multiple reasons for that but, trust me, there are also many times that I just wanted to wipe my hands clean of it and walk off claiming it was “too hard”.
According to Forbes, 8 out of 10 people who start their own business fail within the first 18 months. Eek…I still have 5 months go to!
Here are the lessons I’ve learned within the past 12 months that will hopefully help anyone getting ready to embark on their own business.
- Clients will come…eventually. The times I felt like most giving up was when I was marketing and marketing and marketing and marketing – and nothing was happening. And then, all of a sudden, three or four people would contact me! Maybe not all signed on, but it showed that the work you do is paying off.
- Never stop marketing. You knew that had to be the second point, right? IT PAYS OFF. There were so many times I questioned why I was putting that much effort into my social media, networking events, blogging, and even replying to RFPs. But then I’d catch a fish and I was so, so happy. Just throw that line out there again and again and eventually you’ll catch a fish.
- Continue to check-in with potential clients. Don’t let the trail go cold! If anything, I’ve learned to consistently follow up with people again and again. Even if you just add them to your newsletter list or write to a specific group when you have a sale, you never know when you’re going to contact person at just the right time.
- Don’t be afraid of bartering goods. Okay, most of the time I really don’t recommend this. I think people can really take advantage of Virtual Assistants, especially as they may not know how much time and effort goes into our work. You have to be really, really careful. That said – I don’t think it’s an entirely bad thing if you weigh the choice intelligently. I bartered my services for an entirely new webpage and got an incredible deal. I’m also considering possibly bartering my time right now for another venture that may pay off nicely.
- Get your name out there as often as possible. Sure, this is a form of marketing, but it’s more like “thinking outside of the box.” It doesn’t hurt to tell people you’re talking with in line what you do if it comes up. Be loud and proud and remember every person is a potential customer. Guest blogging is a great way to get yourself out there on the internet. It’s something I hope to do more of in the future. You can read my first ever guest posts here.
- You’re going to be really stressed at times. If I wasn’t stressed about my workload, I was stressed that there wasn’t enough money coming in. I was up early in the morning and late at night. I used to work out 5 times a week, and that fell down to three times a week, and then sometimes only once a week. I got sick more times in this past year then I ever have, due to stress. Needless to say, it was, and still sometimes is, exhausting.
- Surround yourself with a support group. If you don’t have people backing you up and supporting you, good luck. Out of all my friends, I am the only one in my age group who has started my own business. This just meant that some people were sympathetic and supportive, but others just couldn’t relate. My family has been the best group to turn to for support. On my worst days, it was so wonderful to hear my husband telling me that I could do this and that it’ll all pay off. It helps that he’s in Sales so he, better than anyone, understands the ups and downs of prospective clients calling you and then disappearing for weeks.
There’s more, so much more, but this is what stands out the most when I think about the past year. My main takeaway has been:
Don’t. Give. Up.
Don’t sit there twiddling your thumbs. There’s always something to do and always another person out there waiting for your services to make their lives easier.
Want to know more about working with a Virtual Assistant? Check me out at www.dependableva.com.