Grab a coffee.
Let me tell you a story.
Once upon a time (21 years ago) as a new Mum considering her next steps, I came across the term virtual assistant while browsing the internet. Woah I thought to myself, this is everything I love doing. I’m going to start my own business, I’m going to be a kiwi pioneer into the wonderful world of virtual assistance.
And so, for the next 5 years I spent hundred of hours emailing and faxing (faxing!!) NZ businesses asking them to fill out a short survey about what a virtual assistant does. No one knew!
I supplemented our income with part time and full time jobs over the years. Back then it really did take 5 years to build a business and a single meeting with a prospect had me with stars in my eyes. If we’re talking ROI my marketing back then was woeful, social media … what! Email was considered frightening!
As referrals started to come in I reached the point (and we’re talking year 10 … I wasn’t an overnight wonder by any means) where we took the plunge and I went full time in the business. Your Virtual Assistant Ltd had it’s big girl pants on. Clients continued to grow, I was saying yes to everyone and, can you guess … I quickly reached my ceiling.
Trouble was I passionately believed only I could look after my clients the way they deserved. Only I could do the work to the standard required. Worse of all I thought my clients would leave if I wasn’t their being their yes man. My unbillable time was huge, tech was moving at the speed of light and the role of a VA quickly changing from PA/secretarial to website designer, social media wonder, document controller, bookkeeper and magic marketer. I was everything we’re not now, a jack of all trades … master of none.
Bring on my first mentor. She must of taken one look at me and thought you bloody idiot! I was an absent Mum, a workaholic, a pretty absent (very stressed) wife and … one thing she said to me stuck to this day. Actually two things.
- Do you think Telecom’s customers will only deal with their CEO? (was I creating a job or a business?)
- What do you enjoy doing outside work? (absolutely nothing, I couldn’t come up with one thing)
Over the next 11 years we built a team.
- We’ve stuffed up big time. From those stuff-ups we’ve created systems and processes. We still make mistakes and we’re still improving.
- We’ve introduced packages and looked for ways to add value when other VA’s were still charging by the hour.
- We’ve (just) introduced fixed price products with our ‘done for you’ range.
- We’re going to create an online course in 2020 helping small business owners get into their zone of genius (and stay there).
The most valuable tool I had was my mentors and coaches over the years. The accountability, fresh perspective, strategic support and personal support I found with these ladies was priceless.
21 years to build a business that’s profitable, that I love (most of the time), full of people I love working with and for, that we’re damn good. I’m not where I wanted to be, but that’s because for a long time I didn’t have the mindset or the confidence to think big. I will though.
Happily ever after? Probably not. I’ve learned:
- A successful business is hard work
- Passion is there, then wavering, then back again. That’s ok
- There’s pressure when you have people depending on you (which keeps you going when the passion wavers0
- Most business’s aren’t a fairy tale or an overnight success
- Comparing yourself to others kills originality, confidence, growth and momentum
- Bright shiny object syndrome is real
- Having control of your own future is priceless
Many clients we work with struggle with what they see on social media. EVERYONE is just killing it. They’re actually not but they’re not going to say, “buy my course because I’m struggling to make ends meet”. Compare and despair. I wanted to tell you my story so you know, probably like you I’ve turned on my video for a skype call when 5 minutes previously I’d been balling my eyes out. I’ve laid awake nights wondering how I’m going to pay my team next week.
Here’s to being very honest and open about the good, the bad and the ugly.
Here’s to your own story having a happily ever after!