In terms of “business growth,” being a virtual assistant is no different from any other business, and just like any business, it begins like a little acorn, then grows, and grows, until eventually it’s a mighty oak. But if you have a business that has grown to the point where you feel more ‘pressure’ than ‘pleasure’ from it, it shows that you have worked hard to get there, and now it may be time to make a few adjustments.
As virtual assistants, we have the opportunity and the choice to grow further or to try and sustain where we are and find a comfortable balance. Here are a few tips that may help take the pressure off if you are feeling a bit overwhelmed and you need to ease your foot off the gas a bit.
Tip #1. Slow down on the blogging and social media
When starting out in any VA business or if you are lacking clients, blogging is a great way to start building credibility and social proof. By doing this, teamed with marketing your posts via methods such as social media marketing, you will inevitably attract clients, and at this stage of your business, the more high quality content you can produce the better – I started my blogging life out posting daily, to build up an archive, now I have switched to 3 times a week. When you have those clients, your practise is full, and you feel in a position to slow down, or perhaps stop your client intake for a while, you can slow down on the blogging, because this does take time, switch to less posts per week, maybe one or two, but keep the consistency going so it doesn’t look like you’ve completely dropped off the map. Try and stick to maintaining social media once a day during your working days, and always limit the time you spend on it e.g. 20 minutes maximum.
Tip #2. Hire some help
Hire someone to help you, another VA, even if it’s just a few hours a week, it will make a big difference to your working life. Always start with hiring someone to help you in your own business, especially if you are not used to hiring and working with other VA’s directly, then maybe later consider acquiring help for servicing clients, you may feel you would like to expand and do further client intake with the extra help. If you are looking for an amazing source of business support, check out The VA Black Book.
Tip #3. Re-evaluate your existing clients
Write down a list of all your clients and split them into 3 lists. List 1 are those you LOVE to work with, list 2 are those that are HIGHLY PROFITABLE, and list 3 are those which are NEITHER. Sometimes you won’t know which list the client belongs in unless you have worked with them for a while. For example, a client may seem lovely on the consultation, agrees to your estimate, rates, your way of working etc… and later it turns out when working together, you don’t feel happy with the situation, they may be highly profitable, but you don’t love to work with them, that alone can make you feel drained and impact your business. Don’t feel like a failure when this happens, we don’t have crystal balls, but we can do something to rectify the situation.
The first thing I would do is break up with list 3, those clients are a huge drain on time and resources. Then decide from the other 2 lists if you feel any of them need to go. I don’t always look for profit, I look for personal happiness in my work, and I would have a hard time breaking up with clients who are maybe “less” profitable (but don’t get me wrong still profitable – this is still a business), but who I really enjoy working with.
Tip #4. Take time out to get perspective
I recently took a break from my business for 10 days and just kept up by checking email every evening. If like me, you are somewhat of a workaholic and live for this industry, you can get sucked in by your business and forget why you went into it in the first place. Taking that time away can give you a little perspective, think about where you started, how far you have come, how far you want to go, and get that control back, and a revised plan in place by stepping off the treadmill for a while, it’s really helpful to do this.
Take your own personal time and life seriously, yes we need to work, yes we need to earn, and yes, we must do what we do to live, pay bills, and survive, but to what extent do you want to go to – or do you need to go to? Social pressures often mean we end up measuring our success by our income, or how much we are able to charge our clients for what we do, but for me true success is measured by how happy and fulfilled I feel in my life.
Tip #5. Freshen up
Often times, when we grow and evolve, so do our skills and abilities. In early 2010 I felt experienced enough with working online and after helping to develop several successful businesses I introduced online business consulting into my virtual assistant service business, and upon request, I had been advising and coordinating with clients for a while on online growth and business development, processes, systems, procedures, lowering company overheads, increasing productivity and more… Some were for small solo business owners, and others for larger corporations, this type of specialist consulting work I was able to charge significantly more for than the general administrative service side of my business, which is essentially where it all started for me in the beginning, so I revised and freshened up my website copy introducing a new aspect into my company, I added the new consulting rates, and I made clients aware of my new role as a consultant. Do you feel you should be making some changes to freshen up your business, add services, remove services, update and revamp to suit your new found success?
If you did not start life as a virtual assistant charging your most ideal rate for your lifestyle, you should change this immediately – always display your most ideal rate for you, whatever it may be.
Tip #6. Refer
Being selective with your clients is the single best decision you can make in your business, because not all of them are going to be right for you, it doesn’t mean to say that they won’t be right for someone else. If you don’t have any VA partners that you work with who you refer leads to, and you would like to still help the person or potential client who has contacted you, then consider doing what I do, and referring those clients to a directory or place online which is a reliable trusted resource for virtual assistants. My own directory of VA’s who have taken my VA apprentice programme would be an excellent start.
Something like this:
Thank you so much for your interest in [your company name].
On this occasion I don’t feel that we would be a good fit for your business, however I can refer you to a directory of online service professionals who may be able to assist you further.
Each professional in this directory will have an appointment system for you to book a consultation online to discuss your requirements further, or alternatively a contact form you could submit.
I am very sorry we could not be of service to you on this occasion, I do sincerely wish you the best of luck for the future.
Growth can be both an exciting and a nerve racking thing, the most important part is to keep your feet planted firmly on the ground, don’t allow your standards of service to slip, and always consider yourself personally when making decisions about your business.