We had our weekly IVAA Oz Coffee Chat last night. A new event now happening Monday evenings, Melbourne time @5.30pm. All VAs are welcome – you don’t have to be an IVAA member to participate.
The discussion last night was really good. One of the VAs spoke of a major client who had gone bust and not only had she lost their business, but so had the 30 other VAs who were providing support to this client too. A red flag shot up in my mind’s eye and I started to ask questions.
The VA speaking is an experienced VA and she still has other clients to support, although it does hurt to lose a client who was providing regular work, and therefore regular income. However, she did mention her concern for many of the other VAs, who were new and didn’t have other clients.
This is something I’ve often written about here and speak about to other VAs entering the industry. It is so important to make sure you don’t relax after getting your first client and work towards getting more. There are a few reasons for this:
- If you lose the client, you lose your income
- The tax dept may well view your circumstance as being an employee and not a contractor or business owner. This will have repercussions for both you and the client. You will need to check with your accountant to find out what the rulings are in your region, state or country. But it’s probably safe to say that if 80% or more of your income comes from the one source you may be scrutinised.
- If you have only the one client you will lose out on the opportunities of developing new skills and keeping up with what’s happening out there – complacency can set in.
I am sure some readers of this blog can add more reasons. I know it’s hard getting your first client and easy to think that it will be just as hard to get the second and third, but that’s not the case. The reality is as your confidence grows in yourself and your business, that does show when speaking to others over the phone, through your written emails and in meetings face-to-face. It’s a bit like the employee thing where it’s easier to get a new job if you’re still employed, rather than having been unemployed for a period of time. Except, in this case, you’re not an employee – you’re self-employed.
Mixing and mingling with other experienced VAs through the VA forums will help you grow in your knowledge of the industry and how to run your business.
One other thing – if your first or only client demands a lot of time from you, i.e. more than 15 hours a week, you may also be in danger of the above problems – especially if it makes you feel you don’t have time for any other clients. There is time to be spent marketing, doing your own admin and keeping your books. But you need to make sure you have time for other clients too. So, if the one client is taking up all of your time, then it’s worth considering subbing some parts of the job to another VA or two, so you can take on other clients too. This will help to spread the workload, and spread your income across several clients. So if you lose a client for whatever reason, it’s less likely to hurt you, your business and your bank balance.