I frequently see VAs posting on VA forums that their client is leaving them, cutting hours or doing something else and when questioning further about their situation, it often becomes apparent that they only have one client. You don’t have a business when you have one client. What you have is a job, in general terms. It’s very easy to stop doing the promotions and searches when you gain a client, but it’s very important to keep promoting, keep networking and keep marketing, all the time. I know, because I’ve been there too. Not with just one client, but definitely with one big hole in my work activity and income if a ‘major’ client has moved on, or left for whatever reason.
It is very important for anyone in business (not just VAs) to make sure they have a number of clients. Some will be regular, some ad-hoc, some periodic, some may be ‘once-only’, but it is important to have this mix of clients for your business. Why? For a number of reasons. If you lose one client, then the others help fill the gap and you continue to have an income come in. The tax department will view you as running a business, not as an employee, partly because you have multiple customers (there are other things that come into the equasion). Having a number of clients gives you variety and helps you to spread your wings and expand your experience. And having many clients will help to naturally bring in more clients as they tell others about the support you are providing, in other words, ‘word-of-mouth referrals’. A very important thing to happen in your business.
Even if you are only choosing to work 10 hours a week, that 10 hours shouldn’t be with the one client. What if they died? What if their business collapsed? What if they decided to do something else or move on? If you have a 10 hour a week client, then make sure you have several other clients who want small amounts of work done, whether it’s weekly, monthly or ad-hoc or whatever. You should have some of your income coming from other clients and not one source.
“But what if I get too much work and can’t handle it?” I hear some ask. Simple, you either sub-contract to other VAs or simply outsource it. You don’t always have to expect something back in return. Generally ‘what goes around comes around’ and others will outsource to you over time too. Belonging to VA communities means you get the opportunity to meet other VAs online, and in person, and build working relationships. You get to know who has expertise in what, and so when one of your clients needs you to do something you haven’t done before, you can either choose to sub it out, outsource it, or learn that new skill (if you have the time to do so and if your client understands you are learning on the job). Many VAs have a team of backup support VAs they can rely on, and so will you, over time. And it does take time. It’s very rare for any VA to have a full client base and a full load of work in a short space of time. It has happened, but it’s rare. The majority of VAs would probably take at least 1-2 years to get a reasonable client base, some a lot longer, and once they have, the marketing should never stop.
So, make it your goal for this new year to build up your client base by continuing to network locally (a lot of VAs have local clients, even though they are working for them virtually), network online, market and promote your business in other ways through social media, newsletters, blogs and whatever else you can apply yourself to. May 2015 be a great year for your business!