I was having a discussion with a woman who has almost zero turnover of staff in her business. I told her a number of people will come through my network, and stay for less than six months and disappear again. Her response was that she also gets those type of people and she wasn’t counting them as ‘staff’ because they were never fully committed in the first place.Â She starts them on a probation period and many just don’t go far beyond that time period.Â I hadn’t thought of it that way, but perhaps it’s true – they come in and put their toes in the water but don’t get fully immersed in what virtual assistance is all about.
When setting up in business, any business, there is a need for commitment from the start. Commitment to the time involved, commitment to setting up systems, commitment to planning, to organising, to promotions and marketing, and many other things.
From time to time I survey those who join us for a while and then leave again and many times I would get responses like ‘I would check for job messages now and then but would miss out on contacting the client’. Other responses would relate to missing the interaction with others face-to-face, felt alone and isolated, ‘didn’t work for me’, and so on.
Anything new is going to take time to settle into and feel comfortable with. Joining in VA forums means you get to interact with others and learn from them, but local business networking will help to provide that face-to-face interaction, whilst getting to know prospective clients. It also means having patience and stickability – it’s rare for any business to be an overnight success, or even over a few months. Those who succeed are constantly researching, asking questions, reading, practicing and putting systems into place. When I was first learning databases I didn’t have a client to try things out with, so I developed a shopping database and printed off my shopping list every week. It was a good way to practice. Whenever I’ve put something new in place I’ve practiced and developed projects for myself, so that when the real thing in the form of a client came along, I was ready and prepared to offer that service.
There is a saying ‘if you fail to plan, you plan to fail’ and this is very true of those who come to give it a try – but don’t fully immerse or commit themselves. They aren’t prepared to commit, in case it doesn’t work, and end up proving themselves right in a self fulfilling prophecy.
But there are others who do commit from the very start and that becomes evident in all the questions they ask, how they jump in and get things happening quickly and are soon helping others newer than themselves – you always seem to learn quicker when teaching someone else.
I would love to help those who only stay a short time and am open to suggestions in what could be done to assist them. But I am pleased to say I have many on the team who have been with me for many years, with my longest member for almost 10 years and a considerable number between 4 and 9 years. Virtual Assistance as a vocation does work and you can be successful, but you need to be prepared to put the time in. Checking for job requests from clients now and then, or a couple of hours a day certainly doesn’t match up with the 8 hours a day you used to put in, in a job.Â Just because you are now working at home does not mean you can sit back and do very little.Â There is still work to be done.Â KMT