Victoria is starting a business as a virtual assistant. She eventually wants to target women in transition who are starting businesses. But for now, she needs to get some income and traction. She’s thinking of making decorative cards to get some money coming in. What can she do?
First, I applaud Victoria’s decision to embark on her first business venture as a Virtual Assistant. If you’re not sure what you want to do, and you’ve got the skills to work online, this is the way to go! If I had to start over I’d probably begin as a Virtual Assistant.
Apart from the money, you’ll learn a lot from the people who hire you. Many VA’s learn all they can and then become copywriters, consultants, coaches or designers…and hire their own VAs.
You can position your business to do just about anything. Some VA’s just make appointments for clients and return their calls. Some help with marketing, even copywriting. Some fix websites.
Second, Victoria needs what I call a “stash of cash.”
When I’ve worked with successful business owners, I see they’ve found a middle path.
Too much money? This happens when you start a business after you’ve been working awhile. Maybe you enjoyed a generous severance settlement. Or you just sold a home.
You can be too comfortable. You find yourself spending too much on the wrong things…and then you get frustrated because you’ve got a negative income from the business.
Too little money? You can’t even pay a web host, let alone a small monthly payment for a membership site.
Start your business as a side hustle while you’re still working. If you can’t do that (maybe you’ve got clauses in your employment contract or HR rules) you can start socking away cash to use as a startup. I recommend finding a side hustle – any side hustle, even if you’re just watching the neighbor’s cats.
Some people will tell you to begin by paying for coaching. I’d say maybe start with a membership group like Cindy Bidar’s Six-Figure Success group. She’s got everything you need for a reasonable monthly sum, including a community where you can ask questions, live calls twice a month, and a private call with her every six months. (Specifics may change as her business continues to evolve. When you join through my link, I get a commission. And you’ll get a bonus copy review every 6 months.)
Cindy started out as a Virtual Assistant herself. She knows tech and business, and she’s got one of the most common-sense approaches I’ve seen anywhere.
Be prepared to spend on software, design, and copywriting. I’m biased, but I don’t think you can get quality copywriting for bargain prices. You can get low-cost design but you need to know how to work with designers and ask for what you need.
Don’t pay for advice until you have the funds to pay for tools you need to implement the advice you’ll get. I once talked to a new business owner who was paying $750 a month for consultation with a marketing consultant. This business owner kept paying, month after month, while claiming she couldn’t afford to put up a website. She was tossing money out the door, one bushel at a time.
I’m a little biased. But I believe a professional copywriter will often help you develop a strategy and build your brand while writing your copy or coaching you to write your copy. Skip the “branding consultants” until you’re well-established.
Most importantly, Victoria needs to follow the Rule of One.
When it comes to marketing, I wish someone had taught me the Rule of One when I started. The idea is to begin with ONE offer, ONE marketing tactic, ONE message, and ONE target audience.
A VA got started by returning calls and making appointments for service businesses. She held a day job so she only worked evenings and weekends till she built her business. She created a referral rewards system and directed all her marketing to one goal: having prospects join her on a “get-acquainted” call.
A business coach got started by offering one-to-one programs with a minimum of 3 months, with a choice of 2 or 3 calls per month. He promoted a lead magnet to get subscribers to an email list. Like the VA, he focused all his marketing on getting prospects to join a “get-acquainted” call.
Both of these business owners had to hone their skills. They had to develop a “get-acquainted” call script that sells. They needed to learn or hire copywriting services to develop their websites. Mastering the basics would take up all their time. Once they mastered the ONEs, they could choose some add-ons.
Finally, remember that:
(a)There’s no one path to success. In the last week, I’ve seen promotional emails from a marketer urging everyone to “wait till you’ve established a successful coaching practice before you. create your first course.” I’ve seen emails from equally successful marketers urging everyone to “start with a small course and build your business from there.”
(b) Your intuition will be your best coach. Listen to that little voice that’s trying to get through and tell you something.
(c) Don’t listen to anyone who urges you to take risks. I advise anyone who signs up with me, “If you can’t afford my fees comfortably, don’t sign up. When you’re ready I’ll be there.”
In the US, the Small Business Administration has many free resources, including consulting services. They can usually answer questions on business licenses and partnership agreements. Some are better than others but it’s worth a try. Other countries offer similar services.
I offer a course on starting a side hustle that becomes a business. It includes interviews with a dozen business owners who talk about how they got started. They talk about listening to intuition as well as the practicalities of starting a business. Click here for access. You get this course free as a bonus when you sign up for the Strategic Intensive.
Cindy Bidar’s program works perfectly for beginners and she gets some well-respected veterans in there too. I’ve been a member for several years. Start here if you need advice. You’ll get access to all her courses as well as a roadmap so you know exactly what to do…and you’ll get lots of guidance on her twice-monthly calls.