Does she cheer, pop open the bubbly, reckon she’s made it, sit back, relax, cross her fingers and hope this will be the shape of her business for the next year/5 years/10 years?
She may pop open the bubbly, it’s a great achievement after all! 🎉 But long-term, the thing with self-employment is you know it could all look different tomorrow – businesses change, clients change, heck – what a VA wants to do in her working hours changes too! (I mean, why be self employed if you don’t get to pick what you do – “we say who, we say when, we say how much”, to quote a fave 80’s film!💃🏻). The VA role is so varied – many VA’s like traditional diary management and PA type organising for their clients… many (like me), prefer social media, blogs, newsletters, email marketing, online courses and just making the techy stuff work. As time goes on, new skills develop, new niches pop up and new interests develop too. So hoping that nothing ever changes isn’t really a model for realistic business success.
Does she stop marketing her business and hope no-one asks her if she has capacity right now…so she doesn’t have to say No?
Got to be honest. It’s tempting. Ok, it’s more than tempting – I’ve done this! And I’ve had my ear chewed from a couple of business mentors for it too. I resisted growing my business….. there, I said it! I resisted growing my business for the part of 2017 because I wasn’t ready for it to grow up. I wasn’t ready to hand over even a remotely small part of my ‘baby’ to someone else. I wasn’t ready for it to be real and successful and for it to need more than me! Again, that’s not a model for success – now don’t get me wrong, there are times when saying No to a potential client is the professional thing to do… I had a couple of those times in 2017 – a few big projects all on the go at once, a few new clients at once. Taking on anything new to learn would have meant spreading myself waaay too thin, and everyone would have suffered, and mostly I wouldn’t have offered that client what they needed. (Still kicking myself as those potential clients are awesome ladies!) So there’s saying ‘No, I don’t have space right now’ for sensible business reasons (even though you’re screaming inside and want to say YEEEEES, PICK MEEEEEE!), and there’s not marketing your business at all, that’s hiding so you don’t HAVE to say No! Well that’s not going to work in the long-term either – you can’t sustain a business if no-one knows about it, you can’t tell people what you do, what you’ve learned, the new areas of work you offer and you can’t help people if you just stop marketing yourself when you’ve no client time available. So what else can this business owner do?
Does she continue to market her business and increase her client hours so she can squeeze in more work hours – you know, working before breakfast, after supper, generally every waking hour?
Yeah, see that’s another thing about self-employment – when a few clients have big projects on at the same time, you may find there are times when you need to pull in more working hours in the day. But long-term, you can’t factor that in to a normal working week. Every waking hour is your emergency parachute working time – it’s a quick fix in a time pressured situation. Burnout is where you’re heading if you decide to grow your business using every waking hour in a normal day (and just so you know, I’m writing this in my PJ’s at almost bedtime – when the blog inspiration is flowing, I’m going with it!) So yes, it happens. Some weeks it happens more than it should. But day-to-day…. you, your clients and your family need some time boundaries in place. So again, regularly working every hour is not a recipe for growing a business!
Or does she do what any sensible, forward planning, in it for the long-haul, self-respecting, business owner does and look at how she’s spending her most valuable asset – her time – and start looking at how she can outsource?
So as someone who business owners outsource to, you’d think I’d have gone straight to the sensible option and outsourced to save myself time!? It just shows you that sometimes you need to walk the walk and see it exactly from a client’s perspective! So this is what I did in 2017 – I found myself my first associate VA. Not an employee, but another VA (who is data protection registered, insured, signed up to my terms of business etc) who has capacity, and who can help me regularly by getting to know a few of my clients, their work, and help them directly with the day to day work while I manage the business side of the relationship. And it’s working well 😃. I picked someone I knew well as my first associate – so I could learn how best to make this work smoothly as I’m sure more associates will be coming on board in the future.
And here she is!
Now Kristina and I have known each other for years – it was a chance meeting at the front door of Tesco after I’d set up my business that got Kristina thinking she could work virtually too. We have a great working relationship – Kristina is fun and professional, she gets things done, she asks for help when she’s not sure and she is great at thinking ahead…. thinking beyond the job is a huge part of daily VA life.
I don’t think either of us expected VA life to be quite so much fun, so busy, so self-motivating, and also good-scary (pushing the send button on a bulk email – once it’s gone, it’s gone!).
Time flies by every day, and we both comment on how friendly and supportive and great it is to work within the VA community – never have we met other business owners in the same line of work who were so keen for you to succeed! And Kristina reckons it’s done her good too… self-employment was a big step for Kristina and she wasn’t sure (like anyone starting up a business, we all relate) that she could make a go of this!
The great thing with self employment is you are always, always learning. So I can honestly say, from my own experience, that learning to outsource has been the best thing I learned to do for my own business in 2017.
It’s allowing me to help more clients grow their businesses, and as time goes on and I add to my associate bank, Tick The List will be able to cover more aspects of freelance work too.
Learn more about the business and admin support I offer here. And catch me on social media too – you’ll find me @tickthelist on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.