As I look at my calendar, I see it’s time to wrap up 2014 and anticipate 2015. My fiscal year runs concurrent with the calendar year, which makes running my business, Virtual Colleague, LLC, so much easier. As I begin to gather my information for tax purposes and categorize my expenses, I realize how much work I’ve accomplished over the past 12 months. It’s not about how much money I made or how much can I deduct for certain expenses; it’s what I’ve accomplished for my clients.
This is my second year in business and of course, when I updated my business plan for 2014, I planned to increase my client list, my income, the hours I could work, but most importantly, to learn something new.
In this business, it’s all about being open to learning. Every client is different and want or need different services. They have different operating systems, so giving them directions on how to do something on their computers is sometimes a combination of patience and communication.
What have I learned?
- Some clients take time to realize what a virtual assistant is and what they can do for them.
- That working virtually is sometimes like working blind. I try to talk to my clients, but because I’m not sitting right there at their sides, they can’t seem to relate to some things I’m talking about.
- To trust my instincts. If I have a bad feeling about someone or something, then don’t go there. As much as I want to expand my business, some clients just aren’t worth the time and effort it takes to make them happy. I could never do enough for them and they would never be satisfied.
I’m a forward-thinking person, so I’m starting to wrap up my work for 2014. I’ve archived my weekly blog posts and created a calendar for next year along with some ideas for those blog posts. I try to complete my posts a month before their due date. That gives me some flexibility to spend time on other projects.
I try to keep my pricing flexible according to the amount of work and degree of difficulty to complete it. I also give discounts for first-time clients and if they were referred by another client. It’s difficult to predict what my yearly income will be, but doing this has helped me gain clients, so it’s part of my business practices.
I also have to create spreadsheets and forms for the next business year to track all expenses, income, and possible tax deductions. I routinely update my website information and change the photos or theme of my blog.
Of course there’s the whole marketing aspect of my business. I changed my business address in July, so I need to create some new marketing materials with the correct address and any updates.
It is also time to look at the services I offer and decide if I should add or remove certain ones. I review my clients’ contracts for the past year and see what services they used, how much time I spent performing those tasks, and how much income was generated. I then decide what changes if any are necessary.
Another necessary part of being a virtual assistant is reviewing and updating my business plan. This may seem like a simple task or maybe even unnecessary, but it is a very useful tool. It’s similar to a yearly employee review.
I take my current business plan and go through it to see what goals I met and which ones I missed. It is a snapshot of my whole year and lets me know, if I’m on the right track to achieve my goals. My goals for 2014 are not necessarily my goals for 2015, but it is an indication of where my business is headed and at this point, the end-of-year evaluation, I get the opportunity to forecast my business growth and income for the next 12 months. It gives me a chance to re-direct my efforts to achieve new or existing goals.
So time is running out to finish and evaluate all that I have done. All in all, I had a good year and I look forward to another productive and prosperous year!