Did you know that twenty percent of small businesses fail within the first year? Did you know that fifty percent fail within the first five? (Source)
That means fifty percent of virtual assistants will fail in the first five years.
I have been in business for a couple years now, and I can definitely see how that can be the case. I have made a lot of mistakes in my business so far and I am sure that I will make more in the future.
In today’s post I have compiled a list of the lessons I’ve learned in my virtual assistant business so far. I hope this can help you avoid the mistakes I have made so that your own journey has less bumps in it than mine did.
Listen to Your Gut
Let’s go way back to when I first started out as a VA. I was eager to find a client, and I accepted anyone I could. I found my first client about a month in. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. But, even with my lack of experience, it seemed to be going well.
Then, I started developing a bad feeling in my gut. It simply felt like something was not right. I still stuck with the client even though I knew something was wrong. I will not go into great detail, but unfortunately the relationship ended poorly. It all could have been prevented if I had let that client go the moment I started having a bad feeling about the relationship.
From that moment on, if I ever got a similar bad feeling, whether it was on a discovery call or after they signed on, I would turn that client down.
Trust your gut at all times, even if it means losing some money because the last thing you want is to be miserable working with a client that is not the right fit for you.
Charge Your Worth
My second big lesson was to charge my worth.
Charging my worth was challenging because I did not know my worth. It took some time to figure that out. I knew I could charge more than twenty-five dollars an hour. But, I didn’t. I waited because I was afraid I would lose clients if I charged more. Since I was new, the last thing I wanted was to lose out on potential income.
Eventually, I decided to niche down on a specific platform (Kartra), and I doubled my rate immediately. Did I have trouble finding clients at this higher price? Nope! Most potential clients didn’t blink an eye when I told them my prices. In fact, I actually attracted clients who were making more money.
It felt really good to charge a higher price and I knew, as I became more of an expert, I could continue to increase my rates even more. Check out my blog post here on how to price your virtual assistant services.
Don’t Skip Over Appearances
Whether we like it or not, potential clients will judge us based on our websites and social media, so we want our branding to look professional and clean.
You don’t have to hire someone to create your website or do your branding when you first start out. Create a simple brand board and logo in Canva. Get some feedback on it from others. And then be consistent with your branding on your website and social media channels. This means, you should be using the same colors, fonts, and styles throughout.
Having consistency with your brand will help you stand out and look like an expert. It will also build trust with your ideal clients!
Create Boundaries and Stick to Them
Now. The most important lesson I learned in all my time as a VA was setting boundaries and sticking to them. That was the biggest mistake I made with that first client.
She was constantly calling me on the phone and wanting to hop on Zoom. I had nothing in my contract that stated how we would communicate or when. That took up huge chunks of my day and of course I was not charging her for that because it was not in the contract.
She wanted me to be available at all times just for her. After we parted ways, I sat down and wrote out boundaries. I wrote out:
- how a client could contact me and when
- what days I worked and what times
- holidays I would be out of the office
- and any vacations I had planned
- how much in advance I needed tasks sent to me
Once I had all of those boundaries in place, I felt a huge sense of relief. Now, every client that signs on gets a list of what they can expect so we can start that relationship off on the right foot.
Figure Out Who Your Ideal Client Is
Another lesson I had to learn was who my ideal client was. A lot of people struggle with this. A lot of new VA’s just want to serve anyone and everyone.
Narrow it down. People will pay more attention to you if they think you are talking to them. If you are not being specific in the words you are saying or how you are marketing your business, then people will not tune in. Pick an ideal client, pick a niche and target them.
You may want to target business coaches or health coaches or online course creators. Maybe you only want to work with female owned businesses. Figure it out and market yourself to that audience.
Once you know who your ideal client is, then you can start your market research on those clients. Figure out what they need and how you can make their life easier.
Stop Offering All the Services
When I started this VA journey, I offered every service I could. As I kept learning more skills, I kept offering more services. I mean, why not? That means more potential clients and more money, right?
Yes, I could do it all, but no, I could not do it all well. I was not an expert in anything because I was focusing too much of my energy into everything. This meant my rates were very low because, although I knew a lot, I was not highly skilled in one thing. That is where the money is. Being highly skilled in a select few areas.
Narrow it Down
Figure out which service you want to offer and specialize in it. Become an expert in that area. I hated doing social media management and I was not making much money with it so I cut it out. I narrowed my specialty down to tech because that is what I really enjoyed doing and it pays better.
When I narrowed it down even further to Kartra, people really started to see me as an expert. Become an expert in one thing instead of being just ok in all the things.
Invest to Grow
Investing is really important in growing your business. I started my virtual assistant business after buying a $997 course. I had never made that kind of investment before, except for my car. So this was scary! But if I hadn’t, I probably wouldn’t have started this in the first place.
I invested in coaching shortly after launching my business because I felt like I needed some guidance. I felt all over the place and unsure of myself, so having someone to confide in made all the difference and got me through some very difficult times.
If you find the right course or coach, make that investment! You will more than likely make back that money tenfold.
Learn from my mistakes.
I know you don’t want to be like those other businesses that fail within the first five years. So, learn from my mistakes.
Say no to clients if you get a bad gut feeling, set boundaries in the very beginning and stick to them, stop offering services you hate and narrow it down, and take courses or invest in coaching to help you learn and strengthen your skills and your business.
I hope reading about all of my blunders helps you to avoid them in your own business. But, just remember, you will make your own mistakes, and that is ok. The important part is that you learn from them and grow.
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