What a sad title, huh? So negative, you’re probably thinking. Well it’s true.
I pride myself in sending out positive messages for the most part, but when I saw a video on YouTube a few days ago, it spoke so loudly to me that I knew I just had to share it with you. It’s a six year old video from the Acting Career Start Up channel on YouTube but the list he provides is almost identical to the list I would prepare for Virtual Assistants.
Check it out and ask yourself honestly if you need to put more focus on any of these 10 things (or more than one?) to make sure that your VA business is the success you want it to be:
1. Focusing on the Wrong First Steps – The first steps in putting together your business is not putting up a website and getting business cards. You must first do the research required to figure out the foundation of your business – what type of business model, what services you will sell, what prices you will charge, who will buy your services, how you will market to those people. And so much more. Start at the beginning, make a solid plan, and you will be moving in the right direction much more easily.
2. Lack of Financial Base – To start a business, it’s imperative that you realize you need to have some kind of a start up financial base. The clients are not going to come overnight (though it can happen quickly when done right), so making sure that you are financially sound before starting to market your business is essential. Whether you work part time or have a partner who can pay the bills, you should be making sure that financial strain will not create added stress when you are trying to get started. And of course if you have a solid plan in place, your business should build quickly!
3. Not Studying the Industry – So many new VAs I know join the forums and begin asking really rudimentary questions. A little research goes a lonnnnnnng way. If you don’t know how to set up a business, research it. If you don’t know how to package your services, research it. If you aren’t sure how to market to your preferred target industry, research it. THEN come to the forums or to your colleagues and ask real questions based on what you have already read. Knowing your own industry and the one you intend to support is very important to your business success.
4. Not Knowing Themselves – When you are starting a service business, your main product that you are selling is YOU. So knowing what you can do, what you want to do, and what you can’t do is really important. Being able to identify what is special about you is even more important, since that will be the ‘thing’ that makes people buy from you instead of someone else.
5. Not Taking Classes and Training – Starting a business is not to be taken lightly. While VAs don’t typically have a lot of start up costs, it is absolutely essential to get training where you need it. That could be basic business training, marketing training, networking training, sales training, financial training, goals training, confidence training, skills training… whatever! Identify the areas that you don’t have enough experience in, and plan to get support or training to explode your business.
6. Not Familiar with the Concept of Specialty – The concept of specialty is enormous is your business. Knowing what your specific area of expertise is will take you so far that you absolutely need to decide on one (hint: being an admin specialist is an expert skill too!). Watering down your marketing and your message by trying to be everything to everyone will never get you noticed. Go with something that you can stand out from the crowd with, and you will see much faster results!
7. Lack of Business Skills – When you start your business, you become a freelancer – a business person – someone who runs a business. So you need to make sure you gather the business skills you need to run a solid, profitable business. Many VAs I have met consider themselves very very small parts of the business world, and they don’t understand the need to budget and strategize and analyze expenses over revenue. Get the skills you need!
8. Think Work Will Come From RFP – This point differs slightly from the ‘agent’ point in the video but it’s essentially the same idea that you think others will find you work, or clients will just call. A lot of VAs wait to respond to RFPs to get clients, and although that can be an effective way to get clients, it will never get you a full roster of clients quickly. Networking and marketing is where it’s at, and you have to be able to reach large pools of the right types of clients, in order to build a long-lasting and successful business.
9. Lack of Motivation – Motivation always starts at a high, but it can dwindle quickly if the money doesn’t come in. Also another motivation sucker is being isolated and working alone. There are bad things about working alone and in my opinion they all boil down to lack of motivation. It could be getting distracted by household chores or personal phone calls, or social media – but whatever the ‘draw’, it basically means that you are unmotivated to make sales calls, networking connections, or whatever else your business needs. You should consider connecting with an accountability partner or a business buddy, to keep you motivated and moving forward when the going gets tough. It helps so much!
10. Lack of Focus – Not having adequate goals or plans in place can really squash your focus. You can easily plan where you want to go by working out specific short term and long term goals, and by planning the steps needed to take you to those goals. Focus is key in various activities within your business and planning is only one of them. The main thing that will help you with maintaining focus is by setting up small action steps towards any goal you set. It works!
So those are the 10 reasons I believe that so many VAs will fail in their business. They are all pretty logical if you look at them, and they are almost exactly what I teach my students throughout our programs and private work.
What did you think as you read through them? Any that really resonate with you? I read the list and see myself all the way through it in some form or another. For sure! It’s natural, so don’t feel bad if you can identify with one or more of these points.
What you need to do is to start to prioritize how to fix any of them.