What I have Learned After Nearly Three Years In Business As Virtual Assistant
February will mark my third year in business, and it's been the most wild experience. When I first started My Design Assistant my main goal was to create an extra income stream on the side. I was already working for a local interior designer and loved it, but having just had a baby and transitioning from a full-time to a part-time job, we needed the extra money. Occasionally, I would fantasize about the day my business became my sole professional focus, but there was a part of me that never thought that would actually become a reality. Truthfully, I was afraid it would get too hard and I would lose interest. I had no idea where to find clients, how to manage my work load, and quite honestly, I felt like a fraud. Well, spoiler alert, it did get hard, I have doubted myself more times than I would like to admit, but I have also learned SO much in the last three years in business, and i'm excited to share just a bit of that with you.
Don't Be Afraid to Say You Can't Do It-
Building your network is incredibly valuable. If there is something you can't do or aren't comfortable with, there is no shame in admitting it to your client, and in fact, it can help your client relations. It's not uncommon for my clients to ask me to manage things for them, like their blogs, and I always make it clear that this is not a strong suit for me, but I refer them to people I know can help them. When I can't take on more clients, I have a network of other virtual assistants I refer people too and, of you haven't seen it yet, the MDA Virtual Assistant Directory.
Use The Slow Times Wisely-
I have been super lucky that the slow times have been rare as I have become more established, but I have learned to really appreciate them when they arrive. One of my favorite parts about running a business is getting to focus on building it, which is how I use the those quiet times. I use those periods to plan my future social media posts, topics for blogs and scheduled posts. Also, I use this time to develop my overall goals for My Design Assistant. My goals from day one are dramatically different than they are today, which means the way I operate has to change to accommodate them.
Networking is Key-
When I started this business, I couldn't imagine how people were possibly going to find me. I was a tiny, online business based in the middle of no-where. Where on Earth was I going to find a client? However, social media has been an incredible way for me to reach out and get to know people. I have even met some in person. I love providing help and advice when I can, and I get genuinely excited when I see that people are introducing a new idea. I have found Facebook groups to be so supportive and informative. Also, the right Facebook groups can be a great source from a pool of new clients. And who knows, you might get a referral from a person working in a furniture store across the country you have never even spoke too, yep, its happened!
You Don't Have to do this Alone-
I have mentioned before that I started using a coach immediately when I started my business. I knew that I needed some extra guidance. I come from a family of entrepreneurs, but online business was not in their wheelhouse. Since then I have hired a coach at every big transition, like having our second baby or the launch of the directory. What I love most about having a coach is that not only are you getting the guidance of someone more experienced than yourself, but you are also being forced to take time to focus on your business, and sometimes, that is the most important thing. They last time I worked with my coach was for guidance of course, but also because I knew if I didn't have them to hold me accountable, it wasn't going to happen. If you don't know already, I also have Facebook community and VA membership (available in February 2020) meant to help you get your virtual assistant business started.
If You Prepare People, They Are Okay With It
When you first start your business, you are so busy catering to your clients and trying to anticipate needs that it can be easy to lose grip on things. I found that the more I tried to accommodate everyone, the more mistakes I made and the longer it took me to do projects because I would always have to go back and review what we had done before. As I have made changes, I found that I don't typically get the push back I anticipated, as long as people know what's coming. I can take vacations, schedule my work days according to my family needs, and people have always been okay with it. It has been pretty incredible!
These last 3 years have such a blessing! There just really isn't any other way to describe it. It still blows my mind that I created this, and that people quite often are paying me to work from home in my sweatpants. I'm unbelievably excited for 2020 as I transition from fully focusing on providing virtual assistant services to help other aspiring virtual design assistants create theirs.