I watch the VA forums online and love to participate and encourage all within the industry, particularly the newbies. But I do have a concern that there appears to be this misconception that they’ll have a fully functional business within a month or two, and when they don’t, they become very despondent and ready to give up.
Where does this perception come from? Is it all the marketing online about overnight businesses, working just 4 hours a week or something else? Any business, no matter what it is, takes time to build. Some businesses produce a residual income and after 2-3 years consistent activity, it starts to bring in big returns. For other businesses, those that are action based, i.e. your exchange your hours for $$, will take a good 1-2 years to build, possibly longer, for good consistent income and a strong client base. There is no magic pill you can take, no magic thing you can do other than what is called ‘hard work’.
As a business owner/operator you’re responsible for setting up systems, marketing and networking, organising schedules, payment rates, services to offer, a web presence and so on. The buck stops with you. And while you’ll feel like you’ve had a lot of activity in the first two months of your business, the reality is that the foundations are being laid for the long-term, and you still need to doing stuff to generate income.
If you don’t have any money behind you, no income coming in from elsewhere, then I would not recommend leaving your job, or having nothing coming in, while you build your business. You will starve.
No-one should expect to be running a fully functional business inside a month or two. It takes time. It was 2 years before my business was flowing as a fully functional full-time business. But I did make a good income in the first 12 months – enough to match the income I was receiving the previous year in a government job. Persistency and consistency pays off. Surround yourself with people who have trodden the path you are treading. Not just VAs. Get to know local business people where you live (that’s what networking is about!). You’ll learn that the challenges you’re going through, they’ve all been through, and they’ll be able to connect you with local services, business groups and other things that will help you along your journey.
Perhaps you’ve forgotten that 80% of businesses fail in the first 5 years? A good percentage fail in the first year too. I’m not quoting these stats to make you despondent, but to harden your resolve and encourage you to be prepared for the long haul. It will pay off if you don’t have unrealistic expectations and stop measuring yourself against those who have supposedly had overnight successes. The reality is that all of these people put in time and effort behind the scenes, before it all started happening for them. And it can for you too – with patience and hard work.
So, don’t give up! Press on and keep at it. It is worth it.