One of my aunts had a terrible fall the other day. She is 92 years old and lives alone. She was taken to the hospital and told that she broke her pelvic bone and one of her hips. There will be no surgery – she is too old. She has to follow a rehab plan and hopefully return home in a few weeks/months.
Her situation got me thinking. I’ve been in business for several months now and I’m taking the time to look back on how the business is doing. I think my business needs some rehab. I started out well, all enthusiastic and determined to succeed, but now, looking back, I admit I’ve made mistakes. Like picking the colors for my website, having brochures printed in those colors and then creating a website using different colors. Not a bright move on my part, colorful, but not bright. Both the website and brochures look great, but when side by side, they don’t match.
I expected my friends, relatives and neighbors to either use my services or to refer clients to me. Wrong on both counts. It would be great if that happened, but I soon realized that I had to network and go out there and get those clients myself through hard work and time and patience.
I know I made the right decision to become a virtual assistant. I still am passionate about making this work. I read all the forums, groups, tips and tricks, blogs and I’m even taking an online course to ensure that I do all the right things. The reality is: I will fall from time to time and have pitfalls, when I least expect them.
How can I avoid this? The answer is: I can’t. My aunt just fell. She is usually very slow and careful, when she walks. As for me, I just have to be prepared and have contingency plans. I realized early on in planning this business that I have to have a PLAN and stick to it. Changing the color scheme is a glaring example of that. Also, I have to think things through and not be short-sighted. Creating a PLAN helps me to set up/predict the next steps, so I don’t get distracted from my goal.
On the subject of clients, there are no shortcuts. First of all, I have to create my personal brand, which should coincide with my business brand. This will give clients a better picture of who I am and what I have to offer before they decide to contact me for a free consultation.
When I thought about starting my own business, I knew I was tired of being placed in a box and only being allowed to do certain tasks. I wanted freedom to do everything I knew how to do and then I wanted to learn new skills.
I soon realized that I cannot be “Jill of all trades” and work efficiently. Technology is changing rapidly and I cannot keep up with every change in every software program, aside from the new programs coming out each day.
For that reason, I decided to choose a niche, an area of administrative tasks that I really enjoyed doing. This is not to say that I ONLY want to do those few tasks, but they’re something that I can do quickly, efficiently and I am comfortable doing them.
Should my client need additional tasks completed, I can step up to the plate and assist them with those tasks that need doing. This will increase the client’s trust and respect for each other’s goals and skills and continue to re-enforce our partnership. That’s why I call my business “Virtual Colleague, LLC.”
My aunt had a daily schedule of exercise, “helping” the cleaning woman to clean, watching favorite television programs and talking on the phone to her family. Now, she has to re-assess her situation, just like I did with my business. She has to determine, what her chances are for returning to a normal life, should she stay alone or consider assisted-living, and if she does give up her independence, what happens to her things?
She has to realize that she has to downsize all the things she used to do and find out what things she can do. Like a “niche”, she has to do the things she can do and let go of the things she can’t do. This is good advice for everyone, whether it’s a health issue or making life choices, everyone has to concentrate on what they’re good at and not worry about what they can’t do or don’t do well.
I’m never going to be good in math, so why take a job as a bookkeeper or accountant? I focus on what I can do and I try to do it very well each and every time. For things that I cannot do, I leave them to someone who can and who does them well. It’s a win-win situation for all of us!
Falls and pitfall will happen. It’s planning, attitude and a resolve to succeed that will get you through it.