Do you ever wish you could go back in time and give yourself all that valuable wisdom you have amassed  in your time as a business owner?

VIP VA member and super VA Louise Crockett does exactly that in her guest blog for us talking about her key learnings, mistakes made and what she wishes she had known 12 months ago…

“I’m just coming up to my first birthday in my Virtual Assistant business. It’s been an amazing year but if I were to do things over I would certainly do a few things differently. Lets just say this is a letter to my former self one year on!

 

Dear Louise,

 

Congratulations on making the leap to becoming a VA! I know you’re scared but trust me when I say you’ll be good at this. Chin up and be confident, you’ve got this! I just wanted to write you a little letter to let you know of a few things to avoid during your first year:

 

  1. Don’t be naive and don’t believe everything you read.

If someone tells you that you can’t do something as it’s not the done thing, listen politely then trust your gut. It’s good to have a niche but you don’t have to. You’ll find a lot of your clients need your help with lots of different things so you really don’t have to specialise in one particular thing. You’ll find a lot of experts out there with their own opinions – but that’s all it is, their opinion.

 

  1. Investment in your business is a good thing but set yourself a sensible budget.

We both know you’re the perfect customer for people selling courses, headshots, workshops, memberships etc. Just because you’re a little bit interested and you have enough money in your account it does not mean you need to do it. You run a business now so think like a business woman and make a business decision as to whether the investment is necessary. For example: a professional branded photoshoot is a great idea (see my notes at the end of this letter) but headshots a few months after – not so much – why do it again? A workshop on learning a new skill which you’re clients have been asking you for is a sound investment, a workshop on improving your handwriting because you think you could write some Christmas Cards for clients you haven’t met yet…maybe pass on that one. If you’re not sure, imagine you’re telling someone else about the photos/workshop/membership and cost – would  you be embarrassed and/or defensive about it? That’s a warning bell right there!

 

  1. Don’t sign up to too many memberships

Memberships are awesome and when you find the right ones they can be excellent and teach you a lot (personally I’d recommend VIP VA’s membership and The Crazy Daisy Clarity Club – both have excellent monthly courses and offer a good platform to discuss issues in your business). However, if it doesn’t feel right – cancel it straight away. Don’t sit on it for a few months because you feel bad that you got a free gift for joining! What a waste of £37 a month if you’re not even doing the workshops!

 

  1. Your ‘Ideal Client’ will probably change and that’s ok

There’s no magic formula that tells you who your ideal client is on day one. It’s a good exercise to do but you might find that the people you think are your ideal clients turn out to be the biggest nightmares ever! I honestly think these things take time and experience to work out. Someone once told me to create an imaginary person, with a name, then to focus all your social media and marketing towards that person you’ve made up – makes a lot of sense but be prepared to change your mind as you go. You may have considered why you’d want to work with ‘Emma’ but have you considered what might not be so good about working with them?

 

  1. Aim to build your client base with retainer clients instead of ad hoc

There’s an obvious reason here in that retainer clients are a guaranteed income which helps you plan. However my main reason for highlighting this are that ad hoc clients can be a pain in the arse and a real drain on your time. I’ve visited people before who live 45 minutes away, spent an hour of my valuable time with them and then discovered they only need a few hours work – spread across a few months. These are the kind of people that don’t understand (under no fault of their own!) that a phone call with you to brief you on something which they expect to pay you an hours work for is actually part of that hour! You’ll probably end up feeling sorry for them and go above and beyond. Please don’t and use your time to get better clients who understand your worth and can afford it

 

  1. Take your time looking for the right associates that have your back

I know this may seem alien to you now that you’ll ever need to sub-contract work out but it will happen. You can’t do everything your clients want and it will be easier for you and your client to sub-contract some tasks out. Also if you ever get hit by a bus or fall pregnant (ahem) you’ll need some help. However, take the time to find the right people. Ask the right questions and seek other VAs recommendations. I’ve got three amazing women who I go to for various expertise. They’re amazing. I went through a few that either didn’t click or simply messed me around. It took me a while to find people that wouldn’t overcharge me, didn’t submit a piece of work that needed re-doing or simply took the mickey. Have the balls to question why something that should have taken someone half an hour took 3 hours. You may be told that you didn’t brief them properly but then you’ll learn! Oh and remember to brief them properly!

 

And here are a few things you should do…

  • Pay out for a branded photoshoot

It’s so important to present who you are well. I get put off working with experts who don’t present their brand well. If you’re going to take the time to have decent website with a decent logo, make sure you’re not using a selfie of yourself! Also, feel confident to use your photos in the centre of your website and branding. You’re a VA and your business is all about you – potential clients want to see you!

  • Create a website you’re proud off

In those first few weeks before you’re doing much (if any) client work why don’t you learn a new skill and create your own website that you can be proud off? Make sure there aren’t any spelling mistakes and get someone to proofread it for you. You can get good copywriters for £30-£40 per hour. The amount of times you’ll hear clients telling you they were put off other VA’s websites because they misspelt something or didn’t come across very professionally – trust me it’s worth it. Your website is a professional representation of you and your brand – it needs to be presented in a professional manner. Potential clients will be looking at your website to see if they want to work with you. They want someone that can pull a few sentences together and present professionally.

  • Charge what you want to earn straight away and think hard about it

 

It’s hard to increase your prices when you’ve been in business a while. I hear so many people saying that they will charge a lesser amount because they’re a new VA – have confidence in yourself and others will see confidence in you. But charge fairly! If you think something has taken you too long (because you’re still getting your head around how to do it) then make sure you charge fairly. You’ll feel better and your client will know no different.

  • You’re going to find some amazing clients – mainly through networking.

 

Remember to ensure you look the part at networking meetings – you don’t need to turn up in a suit but if you rock up in a 10 year old top with holes in it and your hair is a mess it’s not great. Remember you represent your brand.

  • You’ll make some amazing friends this year.

Most of them won’t be clients but they will think of you if anyone asks for a VA and they will keep you sane! It can be incredibly lonely working for yourself – get some virtual office buddies to have a good gif-off every now and again!

 

Get ready to learn some incredible things in your first year of business. Whether it’s software, business management, how to submit a tax return, money management, client management or just simply confidence! As cheesy as it sounds it’ll be a rollercoaster – have fun love!

 

A year from now – what is your future self up to?

Believe it or not you’ve got a baby on the way! Due in May, so this next year in business will be interesting! You’ll need to learn how to keep your business alive and ticking while your trying to keep a baby alive – we’ll be fine don’t worry (it’s what your associates are for!).

 

You also have some very exciting plans to help new VAs so if you would be interested in your future self’s ‘Introduction to Canva’ (for just £7) and other courses you have planned over the next few weeks, sign up to the mailing list and get a free Daily Scheduler!

 

So my parting advice? Invest in the right things, not everything! Don’t try and do everything at once, take a breather and the most important thing is to have fun and don’t forget why you started doing this!

 

Lots of love,

 

Your future self”

Louise Crockett, The Perfect Assistant

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