You started your new Virtual Assistant business – waa hoooo!
So exciting. Starting any business can be a scary and amazing adventure! There are many things to learn as you continue with your business journey but today we are here to help you avoid making these 5 common mistakes when starting your new VA business.
Still thinking like an employee
You’re cruising around looking for jobs, clients, any work really…you might look through Facebook groups, do some networking or check different sites.
What do you do when you see the opportunity you know you're perfect fit for? When first getting started into the industry coming from a regular “9-5” your first thought may be to send them over a nice cover letter highlighting your strengths and how you can help along with your resume which you may or may not have optimized for remote work). WRONG.
What to do instead:
Start to think like a service-based provider. Think about what you do when looking for a service from someone.
Let’s say you are going to get some work done on your house. Do you ask all the contractors in the area to send you their cover letter? Probably not. You look around, check out their website, maybe ask a few friends who they have used in the past and who they would recommend.
Think about how you find services, how you validate their experience and do that for your own business. Going back to our earlier example – that position you found online and know you can do – instead of sending them that well-put-together cover letter send them to your website or Facebook page. Get a portfolio together, testimonials, anything that demonstrates you have the know-how to help this business and send that instead.
Charging too little
Money. The topic everyone loves and hates at the same time. In every industry, pricing can vary quite a bit and in the virtual assistant world, there is no exception to that. You can find virtual assistants online that charge as little as $5/hr to as much as $60/hr… so how do you decide what to charge and ensure you aren’t undercharging yourself. While there is no clear answer here there are a few things to
Where you live and what is considered a living wage
How much experience do you have – and no not just VA work, your skills from offline jobs that you have moved online.
Thinking about things like healthcare, savings, retirement etc…
What do you want to make? Again, be realistic.
Taxes – yes, you have to pay those.
When starting off as a VA it may seem right to charge yourself for lower than average – in some cases, this may work and benefit you in the long run. IE: you are in an internship position that will help you develop skills. But in other cases, you may be cutting yourself short and without realizing it, making less than you actually need to make.
Remember – you have skills. Define your worth and own it.
Not setting boundaries with your clients
This is SO important and is something we see happening a lot in the industry. We get it – this can be one of the hardest things to do, almost everyone starting out has in some way fallen victim to this (which is why we are writing this!). This needs to be one of the first things you address. It can seem harmless to pick up the phone at 10 PM from a client or take on work over the weekend when you get a frantic call Friday at 5 PM but by starting off your business doing things like this you are going to fall into a domino effect. When you are signing a client or even during that first discovery call it’s crucial that you have boundaries in place and talk openly about them. You started a business to work when you wanted, right? So be sure that you are holding true to your values. By making your boundaries clear from the start you can feel good about turning off your phone at a certain time while allowing yourself some downtime. Of course, there may be exceptions here and there but for the majority of your time stand true to those boundaries. It is much harder to go backward and set boundaries than it is to start off on the right foot.
Not telling your network
It’s scary launching a business. What are your friends going to think? Will people judge you? Oh my god, they ARE judging! The self-doubt kicks in and you start to think maybe you should keep this to yourself for a little while.
You better believe that every successful business owner started with doubts and fears: fear of what others would think, fear of failure, fear of the unknown… but you know what else, they kept going. They shared their business, they showed up, even when no one supported them. If you believe you can grow your business by telling only a select few people and maybe utilizing the internet, you’re wrong. Okay, maybe not wrong but you are cutting yourself off from A LOT of opportunities. By holding back and not sharing your business you are missing out on helping people who need your services.
Comparing yourself to someone who is already established
We all know comparison is the thief of joy. So why do we keep doing it? It’s part of human nature, but if you can try your absolute hardest to stop looking at others and focus on your own business you will be much better off. You are not doing yourself any good by comparing yourself to someone who has been in business longer than you. This will only lead you into a spiral of thoughts like: “I’m not growing fast enough”, “I don’t have enough clients” and “I can’t do this”. Nobody wants that. Instead of focusing on how far you are behind someone else, look to them for inspiration, use them as a goal. Maybe even get a little out of your comfort zone and speak to those who have been in the industry longer than you. People love to help and you will soon find that most successful virtual assistants started just like you.
Starting a business takes hard work and a lot of grit, good things take time and your new VA business is no exception. Focus on building a sustainable business and take small baby steps. Remember everyone started right where you are. There are no special secrets or shortcuts. Learn where you can and embrace every opportunity. Everyone here at TVL was right where you are. Keep pushing!