I booked out my virtual assistance business back in November of 2016, but before that happened, I definitely made a lot of mistakes. There are 10 mistakes I made before I booked out my virtual assistance business, that really stick out in my head.
Here are 10 mistakes I made before I booked out my virtual assistance business:
1. I assumed i wasn't good enough
I have a tendency to downplay what I actually do know.
I think it's because I am so inspired by the people I follow on social media, or whose blogs I read, that I assume I need to be on their level before I can do anything impactful.
Their blogs were so polished.
Their design was on point.
They had a following.
I looked at where they were now and compared it to my starting point, which is truly a GREAT way to never go after my goals.
Truth is: I was good enough in my specific fields. Turns out a lot of the virtual assistants I was admiring had skills sets I didn't have, yes...
But I also had skill sets THEY didn't have.
Some of them even sent clients my way because I do a specific task that they didn't.
2. I thought I needed some sort of certification
Because I didn't have any testimonials, I thought that maybe I needed some sort of certification or something fancy to prove that I was able to do my tasks.
I decided to enroll in a certification for a software that I was 110% ready for.
I had never used it before, but thought, hey, no other VA's are certified in this software. I wanna be the first.
To this day, no one has ever asked me to do anything related to this software. Womp womp...
Truth is: I think this was just a crutch for a much bigger issue that I had... which was the fact I didn't think I measured up to other virtual assistants.
Instead, I ended up investing in a marketing course that helped me book out my virtual assistance in less than six weeks from when I enrolled. Click here to learn more about that program.
3. I joined way too many virtual assistance Facebook groups
I desperately wanted a support system.
I felt lonely and lost in my journey to become a virtual assistant and decided that I wanted to be in a like minded group.
And honestly, 95% of those Facebook groups were just a place where the owner was trying to sell me something- which, isn't a bad thing because they *should* be making money from their knowledge.
But I felt like a lot of them were trying to get me on their e-mail list or to buy something before I even knew their story or what their virtual assistance business is about.
Some others were just plain cliquey or rude, and it reminded me more of high school than a like minded support group.
Truth is: I don't think that virtual assistants should spend too much time with other virtual assistants.
You start to compare yourself.
You become affected if a "guru" tells you that you're doing it wrong. You stop trying to move forward in your own journey and start trying to live someone else's journey.
These days, I am only in 2-3 virtual assistance Facebook groups where I feel happy vibes from the group owner.
I do run my own virtual assistance Facebook group now, although I try to keep it as close to my values as possible.
4. I RESENTED MY LOWER PAYING JOB OFFERS
I hate admitting this, because it shows that yeah, I can be an unappreciative little shit.
I'm not going to lie and say I don't care about money.
I have to care about money. This is a business after all.
But, in the beginning, I took on lower paying jobs and clients negotiated me down to pennies.
I took on the jobs, but I really resented it. I felt like I wasn't valued and I felt unappreciated.
Truth is: One of my favorite books is The Pumpkin Plan which has an interesting business model in it.
When you are in the "hustle zone," starting from zero, it's okay to take on lower paying jobs.
(I agree, to this day, with that sentiment).
The idea is that you take lower paying jobs now and then as you build up your skill set, you start charging higher rates.
You take on higher paying clients.
The lower paying clients then would make the choice to keep you and pay your new rate, or you let them go.
This book completely changed the way I thought about lower paying gigs and helped me gain the confidence to raise my prices and eventually let go of my those who didn't want to match my price.
Now, I have much more gratitude for my past lower paying jobs because those $10 or $50 or $100 here and there meant the difference between whether I had a junky "free website" with a gmail account or whether I had a .com website with a matching e-mail address.
And best believe that my .com website and matching e-mail account, even though it seems so small of a thing, played a big role in helping me book higher paying gigs.
If you feel like you're growing resentful of lower job offers, definitely check out The Pumpkin Plan.
5. I tried to model my sales page after other virtual assistants
This one's interesting because I turned my sales page on 'private' so people didn't keep trying to hire me.
I didn't get a flood of upset potential clients.
I got a flood of upset virtual assistants.
Turns out, a lot of virtual assistants were modeling their sales page after my sales page!
I too, tried to do the SAME THING to my favorite virtual assistants that I follow, AND IT DIDN'T WORK.
Truth is: I cater to a specific niche (coaches, bloggers, and course creators) and I have a very specific skill set (courses, webinars, automation). I also have a specific personality (yknow... sassy, brassy, a bit smart ass-y!) which is all reflected in my sales page.
When I tried basing my sales page off of another virtual assistant it didn't flow because it wasn't, at its core, ME.
I actually hired one of those virtual assistants whose sales page I loved (the amazing Miranda Niahmas) for a coaching call and she said, "Fiona, I see your personality shine on Facebook, but your website does nothing to reflect who you are."
I desperately needed help with my sales page.
Bonus: Curious why people loved my sales page? Grab the EXACT template I used, by clicking here.
6. I said yes to everyone
Because I needed testimonials.
These overhead fees (website, domain, e-mail, etc.) weren't gonna pay themselves.
Thing was, a lot of the jobs I took on were distracting me from my bigger goal.
My big goal was to be booked out through working with bloggers, coaches, and course creators.
I was taking on jobs like, label all these essential oils and upload them to Etsy.
Or, be customer support to this mug company.
Their testimonials really didn't do anything for me because they weren't a reflection of the client I wanted to work with.
The testimonials would say, "Fiona's great. She is so knowledgeable about essential oils."
Okay great, but the bloggers I wanted to work with? They didn't give a crap about essential oils.
Truth is: I eventually started looking specifically for jobs for bloggers or maybe people that wanted to do a webinar to launch their course.
While the pay was still lower, in the beginning, these jobs helped me get some awesome testimonials and gain experience to work with the higher tier clients.
7. I was resentful of $5/hour virtual assistants
Do you see a pattern with the mistakes I've made?
A lot of it was because I was trying to compare myself to another virtual assistant.
At the end of the day, it's none of my business how much or how little another VA charges.
If I am good at what I do and I am confident in my skill set, I can sell my virtual assistant services for TEN TIMES what these other virtual assistants sell their's for.
And I do.
And my interns do, too.
I see in a lot of Facebook groups, new virtual assistants bashing lower rate virtual assistants saying, "I can't get clients competing against that rate!"
Truth is: Rate isn't the only thing that matters. I charge such a high rate because I do same day tasks and my clients have direct access to me during my office hours.
Also, I require very little management.
Most virtual assistants at a lower rate take longer to do the work because they take on so many clients to make up the difference.
Plus, the higher end clients don't shop for budget. They shop for quality and will pay the asking price to match it.
8. I only signed monthly contracts
I would get a client (yay!!)
Hop on a call with them.
Sign them for the month.
Everything would be going well.
The end of the month would come. Time to send another invoice...
A few days go by... they don't pay.
I send reminders... they don't pay.
Then the e-mail comes, "Oh oops! Sorry! I didn't wanna renew this month."
Shit. Let me go find another client to replace her. Crap crap crap, I WAS REALLY NEEDING THAT MONEY!
Truth is: The better business model is to sign a 1 month trial and if they like you, sign a 3-6 month contract AND have them pay at least 50% of that up front, 50% halfway through.
That way, you know where your money is coming from and you're prepaid for the contract.
No more chasing after new clients because an old one didn't value you enough to give you a heads up that they were leaving.
I learned this strategy from the Be Booked Out course, and it completely changed the way I run my business.
Bonus- this is why I'm able to remove my sales page. Most business owners don't let go of their virtual assistants (unless you really really fuck something up) after that period of time because that's 3-6 months of trainings that they just invested in you, on top of all of that money.
9. I only charged an hourly rate
I will pull my own teeth out and swallow them before I ever charge hourly ever again.
It gives me anxiety and my clients ask me, every 10 minutes, "How many hours are left?"
Clients fell into one of two categories.
Category 1: They flew by their hours and needed to renew but I wouldn't have any more time on the calendar for them. To keep them happy, I'd work nights and weekends for the extra hours.
Category 2: They didn't use their hours until the last 3 days of the month and then begged me to roll them over so they wouldn't waste those hours. I felt bad and would roll some over, but that meant I got paid less the next month.
Truth is: Now, I charge a flat rate for "unlimited hours."
They pay me the same rate every month for a set amount of tasks. I don't count my hours (although I do send a monthly breakdown of what tasks were done and how long it took me, because clients want to make sure I am not being burnt out or taking on too much.)
Plus, I'm not setting up a whole webinar for $25 (it would take me 30 minutes of work at $50/hour). That skill set alone, I would charge $350 for.
10. I turned my nose up at getting help
There's two polarizing ideas that I always see in the virtual assistance community.
One is... you don't need help. You do it your way and honor your own journey. Never listen to what other people say. They're full of shit and trying to sell you courses. This particular group glorifies the idea of being "self-made" and growing your business slowly.
Two is... sign up for my free shit and I'll eventually sell you a course and you'll be a six figure virtual assistant in no time. These are virtual assistants who are looking for a way to make passive income and will sell you their knowledge.
I fell into the camp of "I'm not going to ask for help because I don't trust any of you and I know better than all of you."
Truth is: I tried to do it on my own a few times, fell down, and learned some tough lessons.
And I think, before any virtual assistant seeks further help, you need to get your hands dirty and your knees scarred up first.
You need to see some rock bottom before help is really effective.
At least, that's how it worked with me.
Now, I don't think either of those schools of thought are wrong, especially since I, and you probably, fall somewhere in the middle.
I do love organically growing my business, but fuck no to having it be sloooooooow. Organic and slow doesn't have to go hand in hand.
I don't have the time to grow my business slowly because I have debts to pay and diapers to buy.
However, I also don't buy from just any coach or guru. I have heard some horror stories about how some virtual assistant courses taught literally nothing and was just a glorified, outdated ode to the instructor.
Eventually, I did get help. It wasn't from a fellow virtual assistant (actually, now that I think about it, she WAS a virtual assistant forever and a year ago) but it was from a coach who helped other virtual assistants book out their businesses.
I invested in Be Booked Out, which worked out really well for me. I got a fresh set of eyes to tell me what I was doing wrong and ba-boom. I fixed myself and all was well.
What mistakes have you made in your business?
I'd love to hear about it in the comments below.
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