When I started my business as a virtual assistant, I wasn’t just doing it for fun money, or for a little extra money to pay off debt. When Ian and I got married, we were really broke. Not a little broke, but super broke. For example, we’d had a family member offer to pay for our moving van when we moved into the college housing for married couples right after we got married when Ian was about to start his senior year. When the family member backed out, we wiped out our bank account to pay for the moving truck and had to wait to switch the utilities into our name because we couldn’t afford the deposits.
I’d looked for a job, but had only been hired to work at a crappy liquor store where I worked for less than a month. The manager was a real jerk, and when I came home crying because the manager called me stupid and a host of other rather unkind names, my husband told me I needed to leave that toxic job or he would have a discussion with the manager that involved a tire iron.
I was more than a little glad to leave, I hated the job and the coworkers and manager were really horrible and toxic, but we also needed the money really badly. I told Ian I really wanted to do my own thing and promised him I had the skills to be a successful business owner. I told him to give me a month and I would have replaced the income that the liquor store job offered. With their slightly-above minimum wage pay, that wouldn’t be hard. So I set out to make income, fast. and while I did pay our bills, I had a lot of unnecessary struggle in the process that really made it harder for me, and my business, to thrive.
So, basically, consider everything here one giant “What not to do” – if you’re starting out, or if you’ve been bootstrapping it, this should really help you get your business heading in the right direction!
1. Not having a client management software, or systems
I thought client management software systems were for “those people” with tons of clients and fancy websites. I really thought that a client management system was overrated and would cost me more than it saved me, but in reality they are a life saver!
When my team and I were creating the course Make Money From Home as a Virtual Assistant, we all talked about how important this was for being able to keep yourself sane and keeping your business running. When your marketing methods start to work, getting a client on board with your processes and workflow can be really time consuming if you’re DIYing it (aka emailing back and forth a bazillion times, or even worse… chatting in FB messenger!) Having a client management software allows you to give all clients the same professional on-boarding experience. When you’re getting clients from social media, your blog and word of mouth, it’s easy to forget small details and to keep running back to the client, asking for them, or muddling through because you don’t want to look unprofessional so you waste tons of time. Trust me on this one, it’s worth the investment. Actually, I would consider it more important than a website when you’re first starting out!
2. Charging prices that were too low
I really believed that in order to get clients quickly, price needed to be the best thing about me. While I knew what I was doing, I knew I wasn’t an expert guru and had a lot to learn, so I figured my prices should reflect that. Literally, this was one of the worst things I could have done for myself and my business. It meant I was doing the same work I would have been if I’d charged a higher price, but my clients didn’t value me because I was cheap. Worse yet, I’d put myself in the realm of clients who were primarily concerned with price, and not value. So when I spent an extra 40+ hours on a project due to their errors, even mentioning billing them for the extra hours made them livid and caused huge problems.
My cheap clients were some of the worst clients out there, and I was really frustrated by them. One day, I got brave and doubled my prices after talking to a friend who worked in a similar specialty I did, and shockingly I found that I not only had more clients, but these clients were more professional in their dealings and they
3. Picking a skillset I wasn’t stellar at, or passionate about
I read a lot about becoming a virtual assistant, and while – the whole “Do what you love” thing sounded nice on paper to bloggers who knew how they were going to pay their electric bill, I had very little time to build a business, which meant I needed clients, and I needed them yesterday. Instead of using a skill that was passion-driven, I picked something I knew lots of people needed help with and went to that market. I charged low prices and thought this was great because I got a lot of clients quickly. Once I got known for my skillset, I realized I’d made a horrible mistake. I didn’t love what I was spending 70 hours a week doing, and I was burned out and frustrated with dealing with my clients.
I was also basically mediocre at that I was doing, which honestly wouldn’t have been as big of a deal if I wasn’t so burned out because of having the wrong clients from charging too little, and from a total lack of passion in the area that was my specialty. The combination of all of those lead to a cycle of burnout my virtual assistant business never really came back from.
I’m not saying you have to only choose areas where you’re super passionate. I am a practical, boots on the ground, kind of person. My husband and I talk a lot about the fact that it’s okay for your business to have a “meat and potatoes” product that you may not love 200%, but pays your bills, especially when you’re first starting out. If you do have a service you want to provide to your clients that you’re okay at – just make sure you’re also charging correctly so you’re getting the right clients while you’re working to build up another area of your business where you have more passion and excitement. Don’t make yourself miserable, punishing yourself for your inexperience by making it harder for you to thrive emotionally while you make money.
The new ecourse is available for preorder!
I am so excited to announce that the new course, Make Money from Home as a Virtual Assistant is available for preorder from now until this Saturday!
I am offering a special price on it, it's half-off right now, so if you want to learn more, check it out while the price is so low!
Days left for the preorder price