On October 12, I celebrated twelve years in business as a Virtual Assistant. I find it humorous that when I first started out in business I had no idea that I was a virtual assistant. That wasn’t the only thing I didn’t know. Over the years there are lots of lessons that I have learned that have contributed to my success, so I thought I might share a few of those with you today. It is my hope that you will become a successful virtual assistant.
12 Secrets to Becoming a Successful Virtual Assistant
1. Open your mouth.
I am a naturally introverted person, so having to open my mouth and get the word out about my business even if it was from behind a computer screen virtually was difficult. I did not like telling others about myself and I struggled even more with telling them what I charged. This was something I had to learn to do in order to be successful.
2. Ask for referrals.
Though this second lesson is similar to the first, it is still a lesson I wish I had learned sooner. Asking for referrals from my clients was one of the best things I ever did. Even if you offer your clients some incentive for the referral it is still a good practice.
3. Don’t take on a client just for the money.
When I first started my business I would literally take on any client that would pay me money. I was not picky about the types of clients that I wanted to work with because I was so desperate to make an income. Over the years I have learned that it is okay to be picky and that I have a very specific type of client that I enjoy working with for the long run.
4. Niche down and niche some more.
Choosing a type of client you desire to work with comes into play when you decide to choose a niche. I always tell my students in my academy to choose a niche based on one of two things: the specific type of service you wish to provide or the specific type of person you wish to work with. So for example, you might wish to provide podcast editing services so you would focus on only providing services around that skillset or you might wish to only work with real estate agents so you would choose your clients based on whether or not they are in the real estate industry.
5. Set clear boundaries.
Though it is better to set boundaries early on in your business, it is never too late to do so if you have not done so already. Most of us choose to go into business for ourselves for the flexibility of working for ourselves. This means that you want to have control of your time and your schedule. In order to do so well, you will need to set clear boundaries between you and your clients. This can mean in a variety of areas, but what comes to mind first is in the area of when you will work. It is helpful to set office hours and to share these hours with your clients.
Another area where it is helpful to set boundaries is in the way in which you prefer to communicate with them. If you don’t want them calling you all hours of the day and night you must set that boundary. As a way of setting my relationship with my clients up for success, I created a How I Work document which is included in my Welcome Kit for my clients so that they will have this important information upfront.
6. Charge what you’re worth.
I’m not sure if this was a struggle for me due to the fact that I am a woman, or due to the fact that I am a Christian, but this was an area of real struggle for me early in my business. It took me years to realize that it was not just about my time and the services that I provided, but it was also about my knowledge, expertise, and years of experience I was bringing to the table.
7. To someone else, you are an expert.
I recently read a quote in Brian Dixon’s new book Start with Your People that truly describes perfectly what I mean by the phrase, “to someone else, you are an expert.” Brian says, “What’s obvious to you is magic to other people.” You may find it completely simple and straight forward to create a graphic in Canva, or set up a podcast, or brainstorm a marketing plan, but to some of your clients and potential clients, you might as well be speaking a foreign language or doing rocket science. So to them, you are performing magic.
8. Believe in yourself.
I know many of us have a hard time admitting what we do well. However, just like I shared with you about being an expert to someone else, you have to realize that you are! You have to believe in yourself and be your own biggest cheerleader.
9. Don’t quit.
I honestly cannot even begin to tell you the number of times that I desired to throw my hands up and yell, “I’m just going to get a job.” I often felt that getting a job would have to be easier than running my own business. Therefore, there were many, many times that I would have liked to just quit, but I’m so glad that I never decided to permanently do so at least. I quit for a few hours but got back in the saddle the next morning.
10. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side.
Let me tell you about the one time I decided to venture out and find out for myself if the grass was greener on the other side. In this case, if having a job outside the home was better than running my own business from home.
Back in 2012, after I had been in business for almost 5 years I felt as if I had crashed and burned. So, I decided when I was offered a job teaching at my children’s school that I would accept. I quickly learned that the grass was definitely not greener on the other side and though I did stay in the position for over two years I did continue to work my business on the side and eventually came back to it full time.
11. Don’t be afraid to invest in yourself and your business.
Over the many years that I have been in business, there have been many opportunities for me to invest in myself and/or in my business. Though not every investment that I chose to make was a good one, I am grateful for so many of those investments that helped me to move forward and to grow both personally or as a business owner.
12. Share your knowledge with others.
One of the greatest lessons that I have learned is that it is better to embrace community over competition. I would not be where I am today if it were not for people who have come before me who were willing to share their knowledge and expertise with me. It is a very noble activity to share your knowledge freely with others.
I’m sure there are more lessons that I have learned over the years and I am positive that I will continue to learn many more as I continue in business. I hope that by sharing just a few of my secrets with you it will help you to become a successful virtual assistant.