Originally published on September 13, 2017. Updated January 25, 2018.
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A lot changed for me in March 2007. I learned my friend/babysitter was putting my boys in a dangerous situation while I was at work. Namely, she was leaving them alone while she left to get high.
*smack me in my face*
My sweet, understanding boss at the time couldn't have been nicer when I called her, crying, tendering my resignation. But I didn't think I had much of a choice. I had no one else to care for the kids while I worked.
But when I told my boss what had happened, that I couldn't work for her anymore, she surprised me by saying, "Don't worry. You can work from home."
I didn't even know working from home was a thing.
And with my computer, printer/fax and phone propped up on my desk in the corner of living room, my business launched.
No fanfare. No fancy website. No business cards. I just started.
I probably could have taken the time to set up all the bells and whistles but you know - bills, food and all that were calling. Kind of important.
So, launching my business may not have been the prettiest affair but I think if I had the time to "do it right", as so many people suggested, I probably would have second-guessed everything. Things happen for a reason.
In the blink of an eye, ten years are gone, just like that. When I started out, my boys weren't even school age and now, they are high schoolers and middle schoolers. Man, that was fast!
In those ten years, I've spent a lot of time creating, launching, implementing, crying, helping, soothing, learning and any other -ing verb you can come up with.
What else have I learned in a decade?
Running an online business is hard work
Anyone who tells you that running an online business is all unicorns and frappuccino is not telling you the truth. As an online service provider, you're doing client work, you're taking care of the accounting, you're hustling for new business. I guess you could sit back and eat chocolate all day, watch a little Netflix, sip a little vino. But I bet you wouldn't have a business after too long. Some days you're gonna sweat, you're gonna be pooped. But then you land that client and you forget all about the hard stuff. It was worth it.
Blogging is an important part of my online business - and I like it!
A service I provide is copywriting so I better be able to show potential clients I can write. People want to see what you can do, not just hear about it. Blogging also brings traffic to my website, folks start clicking on other things and before you know it, I'm getting an email inquiring about other services. Blogging is a lead magnet! If you're not blogging and don't have a clue about how to start, this ginormous ebook will show you the way. Seriously. Start writing.
Your direction may change. Go with it!
Gee, where do I start with this one? Let me sum it up - my business doesn't look anything like when I started out. And I fought each and every change. Call me stubborn, call me stupid. But I thought if you started out doing one thing, that's what you'd be doing forever.
In the last year of my virtual assistant business, I constantly struggled with change. Little by little, the client work I had done for the previous nine years just wasn't satisfying to me.
I could market my behind off, sign a client like that. But when it came time to actually do the work - the spark was gone.
After working through the guilt and understanding business and mindsets change over time, I settled into what I believe are my true gifts: teaching and coaching.
Never stop learning!
When I started out, I supported real estate agents and all was cool - until the real estate industry tanked. Talk about a shocker. I had to pivot hard and fast so I took courses to diversify my skills. That's when the light bulb went off - never stop learning. Always add to your skills.
One great source is the VA Classroom. I took a class and talk about thorough. I learned how to support authors and these are skills I still use in my business. Craig Cannings has created virtual assistant gold! The VA Classroom only opens a few times a year so get on their mailing list. You won't regret it.
A few other tidbits I've learned over the last ten years:
I hate phone work, no matter how much you pay me.
Determining your ideal client up front is key to successful marketing.
I wouldn't give up this way of working for the world.
How long have you been a virtual assistant and what have you learned? Share in the comments.