Prior to starting my Virtual Assistant venture in January 2018, I had no experience of being financially self-sufficient or running my own business, relying on a regular monthly salary for the best part of 30 years! So, with a modest buffer from a recent redundancy payout and considerable support from my family, I made the decision NOT to look for a 9-5 in the New Year and set up on my own! With a solid background in management, operational and office experience, I have successfully completed my first year of trading as a Virtual Assistant and generated sufficient turnover to keep a roof over my head, food in my fridge, a car on the road and clothes on my back!
So how did I do it you may ask?! Crucially, I secured my 1st client, Sarah, a very well established Pembs based landscape artist, within the first 2 weeks of trading, through a mutual friend and we are still working very happily together! I went on to acquire 11 further clients in 2018 (an average of 1 client per month) mainly referrals/WOMM*. I worked extremely hard, networking, phone calls, emails, working late into the night which is absolutely ok when it’s MY business that I’m building. I also did my research, began to really understand my worth and priced myself accordingly and always presented myself professionally to the world whether online or in person!
*Word of mouth marketing…the best, and most affordable form of marketing in the world!
So what else did I personally do to give myself the best chance of success – as well as registering my business with HMRC and setting up my social media channels, I also;
spent 2 weeks deciding on a unique business name and purchased my domains & a web-hosting package
joined my local BNI networking group – a very good place to build your network, gain free advice, training, establish local business relationships and if your lucky (which I obviously am) – acquire some clients (click the image for info)
purchased GDPR/Data Protection/legally compliant Terms of Business, a client booking form & data processing form – another important move on my part to ensure I am covered in the event of any legal issues (click the image for info)
paid for professional coaching (click the picture for info) – and guidance, support, advice & genuine words of encouragement from international results coach, mentor & no 1 amazon best selling author Rachel Jenkins, who has helped me from the very beginning of my journey of self discovery & independence.
paid for these beautiful & professionally designed business cards (click the image for info) – this investment was essential if I was to be taken seriously in a room full of business owners and an easy referral into the room! It also meant I had to be really clear about the services I was offering to any future clients. As it turns out…everything I enjoy doing and I’m really good at!
Crucially, I have also teamed up with a web expert and his incredibly talented designer girlfriend, expanding my client offerings to include all web services & design. I have outsourced a small amount of work to them both, which we are now hoping to build on with a collaborative approach to eCommerce in 2019 (watch this space!). I continue to be blown away by the advice and support I have received from Ken and I feel very lucky to call him a friend and confidant!
2019 has got off to the best possible start with a contract for 6 months of regular VA work days away from final contract completion. My future plans now include investment in a MAC computer, joining the International Virtual Assistants Association (IVAA), investing in additional qualifications and training with the International Association of Bookkeepers (IAB) and I am lining up an Associate VA to ensure I don’t overstretch myself as my diary begins to fill up fast!
I have no doubt that the transition from regular reliable income, to being self-employed, has been the hardest challenge of my life however, I also know that its the BEST decision I’ve ever made for my physical, mental and emotional health. I now have the professional FREEDOM that I’ve wanted all my working life and you just can’t put a price on that! I hope this inspires someone – if your dreams are bigger than what you currently do or don’t have – just go for it life is too short to have regrets!
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