When I first started my Virtual Assistance business, I tried to do everything myself. I designed and developed my website. I researched everything and implemented what I could. I even tried to offer every service I had ever had been involved in during my 25 years in corporate life.
I got a couple of clients, provided different services and muddled along, but soon realised I was working harder than I had been during my corporate life, for less money and that didn’t feel right! We had moved to France with our cocker spaniel, so that we would have a better quality of life, but what I found is that I was always at my laptop trying to grow my business. And that really wasn’t sustainable.
So, I sat down and had a really good think about what was working and what needed to happen to improve my current work life balance. These are 10 of the things I realised about running my own business.
- Outsourcing is not a sign of weakness
What I found is that I wasn’t a machine, I could do everything myself, so the first thing I did was get a business Coach. We worked together to understand my niche and my unique selling points. I had my website redesigned to reflect this new business model and got someone to take lots of high quality photos. Don’t get me wrong, I still do most of it myself, but in the future, I will definitely be more inclined to outsource something that I can’t do, or don’t like doing, or just that someone else does better! So, if you are stuck with something, don’t be afraid to ask for help, you can’t be expected to know everything, and can’t be everywhere at once.
- You need to be prepared
Being an entrepreneur is a bit like being a girl guide…. Well, maybe not, but you do need to know a little about everything and you need to be prepared for any eventuality! There will be peaks and troughs of work, so you need to have some money put by for those quiet periods. You might get trolls slagging off your work…. you need to know how you are going to deal with them. What are you going to do if your internet goes down, your laptop breaks, with all your information on it, what if you get hacked…. So, have some form of crisis management plan. Have back ups of your information. Think about what you will do if you get trolled… will you be witty, will you be snarky, will you just ignore them? You don’t need a full blown crisis management plan, but just think of the most likely risks and put some sort of controls in place to manage them.
- You need to plan your day
There’s that old adage… fail to plan, plan to fail. It might sound a bit twee, but it’s a fact! If you sit down in front of your computer, with no idea of what your goal is for the day, then you will waste away precious hours on faffing about, either on social media, working on low priority stuff, or just doing a bit of this or a bit of that!
- Selling is non-negotiable – need to hustle, but also engage, and add value
I know you started your business, because you were passionate about what you could offer and thought that people would come flocking because they saw how good your product was. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. There is so much noise out there, that you need to put yourself and your offering out there. You need to promote both yourself and your product and show people why they should buy from you, rather than from Nikki up the road!
- Motivation is a must
I’d like to tell you differently, but it’s not all plain sailing, some days you won’t want to get out of bed. At these times, you need to look back at what you have achieved, really reflect on your progress so far and realise that you are good at what you do. You may need to speak with someone who can help point out how far you’ve come or you may need to just take half a day, and read your favourite business book. Remember why you became an entrepreneur and what benefits it gives you. Then just get back on that horse, with enthusiasm!
- Not everything you try will work, despite your best efforts
You’ve probably heard it before, and it’s true…. it’s not what you do when you fail, but what you do to pick yourself up. I started out offering lots of different services to anyone who would buy them from me. I got nowhere fast…. But I learnt from that. I got myself a business coach who helped me identify my niche and my service offerings and I started promoting that much more successfully than when I had so many services, I wasn’t sure what to offer, to whom!
- You need passion to do what you do
Being an entrepreneur can be a lonely business, so you need to love what you do. If you don’t, you won’t be able to produce high quality, value adding products day in, day out…. and it’s not like you’re going to get paid anyway…. You need clients that want your products and if they’re not satisfied, they won’t come back.
- You don’t need to be an expert
Although you don’t’ need to know everything before you start offering your services, you do need to know more than your client and also be willing to learn on the go. You need the ability to pick things up quick and you need enough knowledge and experience to be able to provide a value adding service
- There’s never enough hours in the day
Don’t know about you, but I am forever saying “I’ll just finish this and then life will get a little bit quieter”! Well, life isn’t like that and for a true entrepreneur, there is always something more that you could be doing, so once you finish one project, another one pops into your head, or an opportunity comes up…. So, you need to make sure that you are taking time out, that you are making time for yourself and your family, otherwise months will go by without a break, and before you know it, you will be in burn out… and I’m sure that isn’t why you started your own business!
- You need to niche
As I said previously, when I started I tried to be jack of all trades, but soon realised I couldn’t do everything and be everything to everyone…. And the quicker you niche, the quicker you can understand your clients and design your products so they truly speak to them. Being a specialist means you can charge what you are worth, not whatever someone is willing to pay you!
So, setting up your own business is not easy…. at the start you will feel tired, you will work too many hours and sometimes you might even wonder if its worth it…. but honestly, stick with it. If you love what you do, the clients will come and you will be able to start having a bit more time for yourself.
If you’d like to read more on strategy and business development, then you might like these articles
And if you are feeling a bit demotivated and want to join a facebook group that offers advice and will be there for you if you need it, then why not join up below