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I am curious how long it took you to get your business from the start of planning to open for business?

 

I am still in my planning stage so any tips are most definatly welcome, and appreciated.

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It will depend on your target market, your services, and how much your market/network. Some VAs have a full client base within 3 months and others within 1 year. I had my first client 9 months after I started.

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Yup... you'll find it varies wildly. It also depends on how you are marketing, if locally or not. If you need clients NOW, locally is a good way to start. If you can wait and only want clients that cannot knock on your door (my locals know better though) ;) then not so much...

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I firmly believe it depends how much you put into it...how high your passion/perserverance is for your success. What drives you, etc. For me, I had to find a full client base within a month or so in the beginning as I had 3 young children to feed. It's amazing what you will do for your kids.

 

Here's something I had to prepare for the seminar I just spoke at:

 

The secret to my success came to me from a cereal box of all places. Some people claim high power people like Donald Trump or Oprah have given them the secrets to success. To me it came from three little Elf Chefs named Snap, Crackle and POP.

 

It’s quite simple, you don’t need to work out long complicated plans and flow sheets. It all comes from inside, and you just need the tools to get started, after that the wheels of momentum and the knowledge of experience (whether gleaned from self experience) take over.

 

So let’s get back to my three little friends from the Kellogg's Rice Krispies box.

 

Snap This is easy to understand, you have the dream, you have the skills, and you have the desire to change your life. So ... SNAP TO IT! It won’t happen until you start, and has been said by someone wiser than I, “All journeys start with a single step".

 

Crackle Ok I changed the word a little, but you need to CRACK the whip every day. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but seeing as you’re most likely starting your empire alone, you need to crack the whip on yourself every day, especially when it seems that the building process will never stop. Little secret here, it won’t. Because as with Rome, you’ll always need another street or another shop, or most likely, in your case a another website!

 

POP He’s a little different as he is the anchor in your marathon to the top and he has several jobs for the long haul. So let's break POP down to its core.

  • P is for Perseverance. You have the passion, now believe in yourself enough to persist through the tough days, there will be many, but the rewards will come.
  • O is for Outsource. You know what you’re good at so outsource the rest, there is no point you spending time on something you don’t like or know how to do. Do what you know how to do and love doing best, and get others to do what they’re good at.
  • P is for Populous. Surround yourself with people that think the way you do (This does not mean find "Yes Men" either). This means find people with similar skills, to learn from, with similar dreams to aspire with and similar goals to work towards. And don't forget to hang with the people you wish to be like one day too!

So go pour yourself a bowl of success, add a little milk, and just a touch of sugar to sweeten it up, and go get em’ Tiger... Oh that’s another box of cereal and other story, but that will come later.

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For me, I actually went about it all wrong. I managed to get my first client before I was officially "in business". (I still have them today.) Then, almost as quickly, I got my second client when I, naively, cold-called a local business to say that I was interested in partnering with them and offered my services. (I never thought they'd actually go for it!)

 

Anyway, I only tell you this to say that it is far better to be well prepared before venturing out into entrepreneurial waters. I have made many mistakes that, I'm sure, could've been avoided had I gotten my business basics in alignment first. Luckily, it sounds like you're ahead of my curve since you seem to already be charting the course for your business adventure. Congratulations!

 

One last bit of advice...don't allow yourself to become so desperate for clients that you take on those that are not well-suited for you or work that does not fulfill you. The instant gratification of "paid" work is far outweighed by the lingering negative effects the wrong client/job can have on you and your business. Remember, it is up to you to create the business of your dreams. Or, as Tawnya would say..."go pour yourself a bowl of success"!

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Tawnya - GENIUS! I love it, I've tracked this topic so I can refer back to the cereal box wisdom.

 

Susana, very good advice as well. And, we've met in "real life" and I have to say that you should never be surprised about someone wanting to do business with you. Your personality is such that someone need only talk to you for 5 minutes and they'd wanna do business with you! :D

 

In my case, I've been getting my biz set up and educating myself on what it is to be a VA since early August of last year. I'll be leaving my f/t corporate job on March 31st, have met who I'm 90% sure will be my first client (at a Heart Link Network meet-up), and am VERY confident that I'll be at a break-even point financially by August 1st (that's my goal and it's going to happen).

 

So it will have taken me about a year. Now, I've heard of VAs who have been profitable within a few months of deciding to open their biz, and some who have taken way longer. Like Candy said, it varies. I had a prior side-business that failed (partially due to the nature of that type of biz, mostly due to my lack of education and preparation) and I learned a LOT from that failure. One thing I learned was that I need to slow down and take the time to learn and educate myself and prepare - and NOT put pressure on my self to do it all NOWNOWNOW! (I'm impatient.) I think giving myself a year goal and time line will end up being a key factor in my success as a VA. (And I WILL be successful, dang it!) :rolleyes:

 

I'll tell you this, I truly believe that we each have the power within ourselves to make or break our businesses. If you want to have your first client within 3 months, you CAN make it happen. Set the goal, research the steps you need to take to get to that goal, and put in the effort and it'll happen - no matter what that goal happens to be.

 

Best of luck to you!

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I totally agree with the others ... it will depend on you and how much you put into it. If you just sit at home waiting for the phone to ring it won't happen. You need to start letting people know who you are and what you do. There are several ways to do that you just have to find the one that will work for you.

 

Create a marketing plan and stick to it ... don't be afraid to try new things and work hard at it. This is now your fulltime job. Each day work on your business even if it isn't doing work that creates an income. The income will follow if you work hard at it.

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To add to all these wonderful comments, it's never too early to start. I too actually had my first client before I officially opened for business. Sure it's a great idea to have lots of things in place. But are you going to turn away the perfect client just because you haven't officially opened? So go out and network, have the basics in place, and watch your business grow!

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Just reading these posts inspires me to persevere every day. Thanks to all of the virtual goddesses who so openly share their knowledge and encouragement on this site.

 

I have been baking my business for 3 months, trying to get all my ducks in a row before doing any marketing or client outreach. In hind-sight, I really could have started looking for clients after the first 30 days because I realize now that my business will never be fully baked, it is a living, breathing dream that will evolve with each new day.

 

Tawnya ~ the snap, crackle and pop story is a keeper ~ it sums up my personal challenges and the solutions to those very nicely.

 

The most valuable nugget for new VAs (which I have read on this forum more than once) is, "don't allow yourself to become so desperate for clients that you take on those that are not well-suited for you or work that does not fulfill you." This goes against my survival instincts, but I trust in the wisdom of those who braved this path before me.

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In hind-sight, I really could have started looking for clients after the first 30 days because I realize now that my business will never be fully baked, it is a living, breathing dream that will evolve with each new day.

 

So very true! The biggest issue that comes up when I coach new VAs is how they love to make up excuses not to work ;) ie) I don't have my business cards yet, my website isn't done, I don't have a fax machine, I don't know what colour I should do my logo in, I'm not sure how to export a word document in to PDF format yet...yada yada yada!

 

Guess what? These are just excuses you are using because you fear the unknown.

  • I don't have my business cards yet (I never had business cards until 4 years ago when I was going to attend a conference and I'd been in business 8 years before that)
  • my website isn't done (A website is never done as it is a living advertisement for your business and will always be changing)
  • I don't have a fax machine (You don't need one. Just use the one up the street at your local office depot)
  • I don't know what colour I should do my logo in (then do it in black and white for now)
  • I'm not sure how to export a word document in to PDF format yet (Everyday you will come across some administrative task you aren't sure how to do. Ask here at the forum on how to do it!)

 

It's just fear of the unknown and we have all been there. Push yourself ahead and welcome this fear with open arms. Wake up in the morning and say, ok FEAR what do you have for me today?? Fear is just the challenge in our business and for me, if my business was boring, I still wouldn't be in it.

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Thank you everybody for your wisdom to us "newbies." I'm in the research phase, but at this point 75% there on starting a VA business. My skill set is well suited to this business and I see a lot of possibilities, both immediately and in the future.

 

So, I hear you on not needing to get EVERYTHING planned and done before you start marketing yourself and/or signing on clients. But wouldn't there be a MINIMAL list of things that you do need to do beforehand? If so, what would that be?

 

My *GUESS* is:

 

1. Business name (reserve url; make sure not trademarked, etc.)

2. Tag line (make sure not used elsewhere)

3. Legal formation of business (LLC, corp, etc.)

4. Basic business tools (ability to email/phone/copy, etc.)

5. Liability insurance (incl. E&O)

6. Basic client contract in place to use with first client (& tweek as necessary after that)

7. Your rates based on requirements, experience, services offered, and what the market will bear

8. Expect that you won't be cash flow positive until X number of months (whatever that may be for your setup and # of hours your work) & make sure that you maintain your life while you wait.

9. Oh - yes. And a way to bank for your business (receive payments, pay for services, etc.) - presumably in a seperate business account, right?

 

I'd love to hear any additions and/or deletions from those who have BTDT.

 

Being a master planner often serves me well, but I also know it holds me back sometimes, too. Twanya's advice to SNAP, CRACK & POP is resonating for sure. My cautious side of me, however, wants to be careful to not start something that doesn't make sense...something that will fold one year from now if I don't do it right.

 

I'm dipping my toe in the water...just trying to figure out when I should jump in and join the VA party.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

get you on not needing to have all your ducks in a row before you market yourself.

 

Guess what? These are just excuses you are using because you fear the unknown.

  • I don't have my business cards yet (I never had business cards until 4 years ago when I was going to attend a conference and I'd been in business 8 years before that)
  • my website isn't done (A website is never done as it is a living advertisement for your business and will always be changing)
  • I don't have a fax machine (You don't need one. Just use the one up the street at your local office depot)
  • I don't know what colour I should do my logo in (then do it in black and white for now)
  • I'm not sure how to export a word document in to PDF format yet (Everyday you will come across some administrative task you aren't sure how to do. Ask here at the forum on how to do it!)

 

It's just fear of the unknown and we have all been there. Push yourself ahead and welcome this fear with open arms. Wake up in the morning and say, ok FEAR what do you have for me today?? Fear is just the challenge in our business and for me, if my business was boring, I still wouldn't be in it.

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Going through the process of developing a solid business plan will help you in the end and I would add that to your list of to-dos.

 

In the end, if you truly want something with all your heart and soul, you'll find a way to do it in the end. Glad you are finding your way with all your planning stages getting checked off :)

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I have had fun watching this post. You ladies have so much great advice to give, so... I'm gonna try to pry for some more. I think my original question was maybe misunderstood.

 

I love this forum, and there is SO much information; on top of that we have the wonderful WWW containing seemingly endless amounts of information.

 

I know that I tend to over-think (a lot) and I'm sure the answer to this question is different for everyone, I'm really just curious... How long did you all spend seriously researching, and developing a business plan?

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I know that I tend to over-think (a lot) and I'm sure the answer to this question is different for everyone, I'm really just curious... How long did you all spend seriously researching, and developing a business plan?

 

I spent one week researching it and then another week developing it. I didn't do this full time but an hour or two a day.

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I spent about the same amount of time. I used something called "Plan as you Go". For me it relieved the stress of developing a full business plan before starting to build the business.

 

 

 

I know that I tend to over-think (a lot) and I'm sure the answer to this question is different for everyone, I'm really just curious... How long did you all spend seriously researching, and developing a business plan?

 

I spent one week researching it and then another week developing it. I didn't do this full time but an hour or two a day.

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