Lately I’ve been networking in quite a few Facebook and LinkedIn groups, particularly those comprised of virtual assistants. You would be surprised by the camaraderie in these groups, especially considering that we’re supposedly competing for work. Rather than being standoff-ish, however, we help each other out. We cheer for each other when somebody land a first (or another) client, and we provide insight about invaluable tools and applications. Because of my active participation in these groups, several members have asked how we built our business to where it is today. Because of this, here are my “5 Steps to Building a Successful Virtual Assistance Business.”
1. Start Out Humble. Let’s face it. Even if you’ve been an executive or administrative assistant for the past 15 years, you don’t have virtual assistant experience. The people you are marketing to, all over the world, don’t know you from the next person, and you need to know that. Sacrifice your high-paying hourly rate until you can build a reputation. That’s what we did, and now we’re making more than we had ever hoped!
2. Find Your Niche. Without us even realizing it, our client base suddenly became predominantly marketing consultants. I honestly didn’t even realize this until earlier this week when I was working on our clients page of our redesigned website. We were good at what we did for our initial marketing clients, and they spread our name. Then those people spread our name and the rest is history. I’ve told Dave more than once that if I could go back 15 years and choose a different college major I would choose social media marketing. Unfortunately I then realize social media marketing as we know it today didn’t even exist back then. I feel old.
3. Proofread Your Website. Sigh. Yesterday I posted an article called “Check. It Twice.” The gist of it was that if you’re going to advertise your virtual assistant services on your webpage you better make sure your spelling and grammar is spot on. I can’t even tell you how many sites I’ve visited in the past week that were ridden by horrible grammar. It was disgraceful and an insult to the community we proudly serve in.
4. Write a Kick-Ass Proposal. No, your prospective clients really don’t want to hear about all the formulas and macros you can use in Excel. They want to know about YOU. You will essentially be their personal assistant and they need to be comfortable with you as a person, not you as a robot. Just because you don’t meet face to face doesn’t mean you shouldn’t let your personality shine through. What does my proposal say? A lot! Particularly where I’ve come from and how I got to where I am today. Out of all the proposals I’ve sent out I’ve only received one decline with the reason, “I don’t want to know about my assistant’s personal life.” Honestly, I was offended.
5. Just Go. Don’t wait until your website is up and running before you start sending out proposals. If you need to, send a link to your (FREE!) LinkedIn profile that your prospective clients can look at. Just make sure you’ve had your former colleagues endorse you before you do so. In addition, freelance websites like Elance and oDesk offer their contractors the opportunity to build profile pages and test their skills. Do what you need to do to make yourself look good and just go! There’s no better day than today to get started building your dreams!
Kim Sutton is the Managing Partner and Chief Everything Officer of The Sutton Companies, including Sutton Strategic Solutions and Sutton Creative Studios. She is a graduate of The School of the Art Institute of Chicago where she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Interior Architecture.
An avid reader and passionate learner, Kim is constantly researching, studying and developing business improvement strategies. When it comes to client work, Kim especially enjoys helping her clients develop innovative marketing strategies and sales funnels, particularly when they are using Infusionsoft to automate all the heavy lifting. To find out how you can further develop your company’s marketing and automation strategies schedule a 1-hour Business Boost Strategy Session by clicking here.
In her free-time, Kim cherishes the time she gets to spend with her husband, Dave (her business partner), and five children. She also enjoys reading, knitting, writing and playing video games.
Get a copy of Kim’s FREE guide, “10 Top Tools for Small Businesses” by clicking here.