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Lori

Been busy but been lurking...

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Hi everyone,

 

I haven't been posting too much lately, but I still visit and read the posts - I enjoy the wealth of information and support from the group, and I love to help others whenever I can.

 

Truth is, I've been really busy lately, and getting busier. I now have 9 regular clients, and have done project work for 6 others. In addition, I will be starting work for 2 new clients in the new year, have a proposal in to yet another client that looks like it will be accepted, and have meetings in January with another 2 prospects. biggrin.gif

 

As I just started my practice in March 2004, I feel very fortunate that my business has grown as much as it has so far. I never imagined that I would be where I am today. I've actually had to outsource some of my project work!

 

I know there are some VA's out there who get frustrated because it seems very difficult to get clients, especially the first one. Don't give up, it will come. I do a LOT of networking (at least once per week), and I feel that is what has made my business grow as quickly as it has.

 

I look forward to being part of VANF in 2005 and wish everyone here a healthy, happy and very prosperous New Year!

 

Lori

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Guest CindyHillsey

Lori,

 

Congrats on all of your clients!! That is quite an accomplishment for your first year in business. applause.gif My goal is to be able to say that this time next year! Here's to a properous New Year for all of us!!

 

Cindy

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tongue.gif Wow, Lori! What a great accomplishment in less than a year!

 

I'm curious about the demographics of your clientele. Since you mentioned networking at least once a week, are most of your clients local? Is your networking through specific groups, and if so, what groups and are you a member of those groups? What is your follow up process?

 

Guess you'll have to come out of "lurk" mode to answer all of the above questions wink.gif . Looking forward to your answers (when you have a few minutes, of course).

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Hey Lori:

 

Congratulations! smile.gif You sound like me. At the beginning of 2004 I could not get a client for the life of me, now I have 10 clients, 6 of which are retainer, and I have a strong possibility of 2 more starting in January and February. (I only count clients as clients when they have signed on the dotted line.) I also had a few more that stayed with me for a few months, then their requirements changed.

 

The difference between you and I is that I was having the worse time finding local clients. All my clients are in other states. My local networking was not panning out for me. I only have one in this state in the Asheville, NC area. He found me through my website. I have had about three clients who have found me through my website, a few others through the AssistU registry, a couple as references from VAs on this forum (or VAs who get my ezine Top Shelf Virtual Report!), and a few more as referrals from my current clients.

 

I know how you feel and you really should be proud of yourself. It is the hard work and the believe in yourself (and a little help from above) that has gotten you to where you are today. Congratulations!

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When Dale and I first started we tried getting local clients, however this never panned out for us. It could be because we are from "the South" and they just don't grasp the concept right now, but hopefully will in the future. We concentrate soley on the coaching industry and most of our clients are from the West Coast of the US and Canada. Currently our practice consists of 16 retainer clients and 12 monthly PAYG and about 10 quarterly clients. The first 6 clients were obtained through aggressive marketing (hours and hours a day) but now most of our clients come by word of mouth and via our website. However our trips to two annual trade shows work well too. We still haven't given up on the locals, but there are few coaches in our area, so this works well for us.

 

Word of advice to those just starting...look what can happen in a year. 90% of this client load was obtained since the beginning of 2004. Prior to that Dale and I worked f/t and "dabbled" in VA work for a few years, but never really considered working from home on a f/t basis until Dale lost his job in 1/04. Keep working at it and when you think you can't do it, work at it some more. When getting into the business many think that if they build the website, the clients will come. This is not necessarily the case. Sometimes aggressive marketing is needed. Network, network, network.

 

Keep looking upward.

 

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You guys are great! Thanks for the kudos. wub.gif

 

Demographics? Mostly local. I do have one client in the UK. Aside from that everyone that I've worked for (regular clients and project based) are within a 2 hour drive from me. Having said that, I have not met them all face-to-face.

 

I currently work off-site for one client and the rest I work for from my own office.

 

Networking? Anywhere and everywhere I can. I am a member of CVAC and CVAN as well as my local Chamber of Commerce. I am also a member of a local networking group that meets weekly - York Business Exchange. There are a couple of other groups that I am considering becoming a member of, but my time is limited right now, so I am holding at the ones that I currently belong to.

 

Remember that networking is non-stop. And don't be shy about it. Tell your dentist what you do, tell your auto mechanic, tell your hairdresser, tell everyone. If someone shows a remote interest, inquire and offer to send them more information. Ask for referrals from your present and past clients. Ask for testimonials from everyone you do work for. If someone has a small task they need to have done or they need some suggestions, offer to help them out at no charge - they'll remember you for it and they will tell other people how generous you've been! Visit local networking groups as a guest, and meet people. Visit trade shows and look for exhibitors that might be able to use your services - introduce yourself. If you visit small stores or shoppes, mention to the owner that you specialize in providing business services to small business and let them know what you do - give them your card and offer them a free consultation if they would like to meet to see if there might be anything you can assist them with. Call them up later and ask if you can send them some information. This can all be included under the networking "umbrella". The list of things that you can do is virtually endless. And it does work! All of my business has come from word-of-mouth, referrals and networking. The only marketing materials I have are me, my website and my business cards. Remember, because you are selling a service, you are your best tool of promotion.

 

Network, network, network...... and then zz.gif and then network, network, network again!

 

smile.gif

 

 

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Guest TerryGreen

Lori,

 

How exciting for you thumbup.gif. Congratulations on your success!

 

My clients are a mixed bag - some local and some virtual. My biggest challenge is getting them to convert to "retainer." I have about 4 prospects that said they were interested in getting something started after the first of the year, so we will see what happens.

 

Have a great year!

 

Terry

 

 

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