So far we’ve looked at treating your business as a business and having the right mindset; setting rates that are too low; and recognising that clients can be local, they don’t have to be totally virtual.
This 4th mistake relates to the third one in a way. Many new VAs, particularly those from countries that have a much lower cost of living, make the mistake that other VAs are their target client base. They’re not – they’re your peers and you learn from them and help shape the industry with them. But they are not your client base.
Now, let me add here that I am aware that some VAs have actually run businesses that support other VAs and that’s fine. But mostly your client base are not your peers. I see so many new VAs on forums asking (or begging) for overflow work to get them started and so they can learn. However, they need to realise we were all in the same boat at some stage and if they spend time reading archived messages, VA blogs and learning from other members of the forums, they’ll soon find ways of finding clients. I still believe that networking, i.e. mixing and mingling with your target audience, is one of the best ways of gaining clients. I started my business and built a client base by going to business networking events close to home 15 years ago and I still attend events to this day.
I know that some VAs live in remote areas or small towns and perhaps local business network groups aren’t so readily available but today there are also many, many business networks online. Working out the type of client you would like to work with will help you determine what type of networks you need to find. And then simply do a search online via Google Groups, Yahoogroups, Linkedin.com, Ning.com and many of the other ‘group and forum’ type sites online.
Joining VA networks will help you a great deal and some will provide introductions to clients through job leads and requests for proposals.