One of the most difficult decisions you can make when you get started and as you're building your virtual assistant business is who you market to, and also what types of clients are going to want to work with you (remember this is a two way street!)
I'd like to suggest an exercise that I hope will really help you get a good idea of how you want your day to look and how you could potentially fit into a client's business.
So often we try and think logically about what we do, and who we do it for, for example, if we have been a personal assistant to a lawyer for 10 years and want to start a virtual business, it's natural to consider we do this for lawyers based on our previous work (whether we enjoyed it or not!) - but if you're someone who doesn't want to be tied to a 9-5 position, then working odd hours, may not work best for the lawyer, so you may want to rethink that client market - even if that's where the majority of your experience is centred.
At the same time what we love isn't always best, for example, I love cooking, it's hobby you might say, and I like researching recipes, ingredients, and obviously cooking them... But that doesn't automatically make my ideal client a chef. So we have to look at this from another perspective - logical thinking and devoting ourselves to what we love are both important factors, but they aren't the only factors we need to consider... And we can deduct who our ideal clients are through the art of story telling.
Tell your story
The easiest way to get a projection of how your business will look in the future is by telling the story of your future business. But really seeing it as a 'best case' scenario. Here are the moving parts you need to include in your story...
The Main Character
This is you, give the character a name, yes, it can be yours.
Where do you want to operate your future business from, from a home office based in the UK, or from a laptop travelling the world, or during the mornings from a cafe while you work another job in the afternoons? Will you often be in different timezones, or only one?
What hours are you working in your business, 8 hours a day, 4 hours a day, 1 day a week? How much money do you make during that time?
What tasks do you enjoy doing the most on a daily basis, any ideal business will be filled a majority of the time with the tasks we like to do the most. Are you mastering one skill or several?
Do you see yourself working alone or will you have help with your business? Do you see family or friends helping you, do you like being active and working with people to generate your primary income or do you prefer to have more of a passive income?
What results do you see happening from the business you've just created, what really matters to you the most, is it the travel, the nice home, the regular income, the creative entrepreneurial aspects of the business? Where does the passion for the results come from?
Next...Once you've created your ideal business and perfect scenario of what that looks like through a story, your best option is to then figure out who best fits into that scenario, and when I say best fit, I mean for both of you.
Think about your business, what are the key elements of it that can impact a client? This tends to be your skills, your availability, your capacity and your price. Then think about the client that would fit into this criteria.
Think about the people you want to target and then put yourself in their shoes, and write down their story...
- Who do they want to work with?
- What hours do they like to see that person working?
- Would their demand for that person be high or low?
- What kind of price would they be willing to pay?
- Would they need to expand their support or stay small?
- What skills would they be looking for?
So you'd write down a story for each type of person or group of people, it really helps to chat or interview people in that market, for example, if you're considering working with bloggers, lawyers, nutritionists and/or public speakers (as an example) try to find people in that line of work and ask them, in a 'best case' scenario, if they were looking to hire an assistant, what would that look like to them?
Could they be flexible on hours, or do they require you to be there at certain times of the day? What would they consider a reasonable price to pay, would they want phone or primarily email communication, are they ambitious and would they need someone to grow with them, what tasks do they do now that they would have outsourced in their story?
Then once you have your story, and drafted out a few example scenarios or stories from the different types of clients, you can match your story to the story of the client, and you'll likely find who the best match is, just by seeing how those ideal scenarios marry together.
This should help eliminate any completely unsuitable potential client markets, and highlight any ones that are highly suitable and worth further exploration, so you can find your best fit for both sides, and when you do that, you have the foundation of a steady, growing, sustainable business model - without too much guess work ;-)