Why Business Planning Is The Secret To Success in 2020

Why Business Planning Is The Secret To Success in 2020

Do you set aside time regularly to plan what you want to do in your business? If it’s not something you currently do, I would strongly encourage you to embrace it for the remainder of this year as well as the one coming up. Believe me, I know how tough it is to plan! Well actually how hard it is to actually stick to my plan. Raise your hand if you can plan but you don’t tend to stick to the plan. Yup, me too! Raise your hand if you try and plan but end up putting fires out all day in your business. Been there too! 

Setting aside time to plan every month (you can do quarterly or yearly planning) about what I want to do and more importantly what growth I want to achieve has been crucial to my own success and consistency. I want to share some of what I’ve learned and what I’ve found helpful with you.


Why is business planning the secret to success? 

Let’s start off by taking a look at why business planning is “the secret” to success. There are a few different factors that come into play here. The first is efficiency. When you go in with a clear plan, you can focus on what’s most important i.e what will make you money. Instead of spending time trying to figure out what you should be working on, what’s missing from your product funnel, or what you need to do to make more mula, you know exactly what you need to be working on to reach your goals instead of putting out ‘fires’ within your business.

With a clear goal in mind and a plan for the year, it becomes easy to walk backwards to create effective and efficient daily to-do lists. Work on what needs to get done each day and you have no choice but to reach your goals.


Set a BIG goal for yourself 

Next, setting a big goal for yourself helps you think outside the box. If you don’t believe me, try it. Decide on a big income goal for the coming month. Write it down. Keep it in front of you. Then get to work and start to notice what happens next. You start to think of things that didn’t occur to you before. You come up with creative ways to get more traffic. You decide to run a fun promo that adds dollars to your bank account. The same happens when an important deadline comes up unexpectedly. Think back on that time in college when finals rolled around, or the last time your in-laws told you they would stop by later in the day. You got very creative about studying and cleaning didn’t you? I know I did. That for sure was all the motivation I needed.  


The Real Secret Sauce 

So far we’ve been focused on what we are actively doing to make progress by making a plan, setting goals and following through. There’s another dimension to all this that I would consider the real secret sauce and that’s what’s going on in our subconscious mind. While we are busy plowing through our to-do list, cooking dinner for the family, and even sleeping, our subconscious mind is working towards those goals as well. Work with your subconscious mind and listen to affirmations especially if you tend to have negative self-talk. With all the plans you made you don’t want to end up self-sabotaging yourself because your negative self-talk convinces you that you can’t do it.

Planning and setting goals is important because it helps you grow faster. That means you end up with more money for yourself and your loved ones while spending less time slaving away at your desk.

Why You Have To Write Your Business Goals Down

The simple act of setting a goal, even if it’s just in your mind, doubles your chances of success. That’s a pretty big deal in itself, isn’t it? If you take it a step further, and actually write those goals down, you’re 10 times as likely to succeed. Read that last line again please. That’s right…you can increase your chances of making it by 1,000%. That’s mind-blowing.

There are a few different mental and psychological processes going on here that start to give us a glimpse into why it is so important and effective to write our goals down. The first is that it’s a lot easier to remember something that we’ve written down. You’ve experienced this first hand with your grocery list. When you make a mental list of 10 or 15 things, you’re likely to forget about half of them when you get to the store. If you write out the list on the other hand, and then end up forgetting it on the counter, you will remember the vast majority of the items you needed. This is explained through the fact that information has to be moved from one area of the brain to another to turn it from thoughts into written words on a page. A process called encoding is also involved. All of this helps you retain and store the information better. It’s the reason we’re asked to take notes during lectures in college.


The Importance of Reviewing Your Goals 

Last but not least, when you write down your goals, you have something you can review regularly. This adds another layer of cognitive processing and increases your chances of success even further. Sadly, only a very small percentage of people make the time to regularly review and evaluate their goals. The ones that do are some of the most successful and highest achieving people out there. In other words, it’s something we should do as well.

To recap, start by setting smart goals. Write them down in as much detail as possible. Set aside some time to review them regularly. This could be weekly, or even daily. Give it a try for this quarter. Set yourself a goal. Be specific. This could be something like finally creating that first paid product or adding an extra $500 to your bottom line. Decide by when you’ll reach your goal and how you plan to get there. Write it all down and look at it every morning. This will help you stay on track and make time in your busy day to work on making progress towards your goal.

Use the graphic quotes above to post on your social media to keep you on track. It will help you feel accountable to your audience and hopefully will help you achieve your goals. Tag me @bossinpjs

Now you have 5 done-for-you graphics social media post graphics! For more social media graphics, check out my Etsy shop and my social media quote membership.

How To Launch Your Own Virtual Assistant VA Business

How To Launch Your Own Virtual Assistant VA Business

Being a virtual assistant lets you live life on your own terms. You choose your hours, set your rates, and even cherry-pick the clients that you enjoy working with. As a virtual assistant, you can create your own schedule. This gives you the freedom and space to design your life and business. Are you wondering how to launch your own Virtual Assistant business? Continue reading if you want to learn what to put on your website, how to find your first clients, client pitfalls to avoid, how to set your rates and how to turn your virtual assistant clients into repeat buyers.

Discover how to find your first client when you download your free workbook today!

Have you heard about #VAVS yet? It’s an exciting Summit of 20 Expert speakers wanting to share their knowledge with freelancers and virtual assistants on how to find and retain more clients in their service-based business. This summit will ROCK your business! It will be presented, over the course of 5 days (October 21-25th), by fellow freelancers who have been there, done that, and want to share all that (and more) with you! Get a SILVER Ticket to attend for FREE using my coupon code that expires Oct. 15th here: https://buildyourbestyear.com/VAVS and don’t forget to use code vicki100

What to Put on Your Virtual Assistant Website

Once you’ve decided to start your own business as a virtual assistant, you’ll want to create a website. Your website will function as your digital office. It’s where potential clients will go to learn more about you and your services.

The good news is that creating a website doesn’t have to be hard. There are four essential pages you’ll want to make sure you include…

The About Page

An about page is usually the second most popular page on a website. That’s because potential clients want to learn more about the person they’re considering working with. They want to know a bit about your personality and what projects you enjoy tackling.

Try to write a brief biography about yourself. It doesn’t have to be lengthy. Just two or three paragraphs that cover the basics like your name, where you live, and any previous job experience that’s relevant. For example, if you plan to offer logo design services, then definitely mention that you got a degree in graphic design in college. That will impress potential clients.

The Services Page

This is the page where you tell clients what you can do for them. It doesn’t have to be a particularly long page. Write a paragraph that highlights why you’re awesome to work with such as your attention to detail or your ability to make tech topics simple.

Then create a list of tasks you can do for your clients. You can use bullet points and cover some of the most important ones. For example, if you plan to be a virtual assistant to authors, some of your tasks might include:

  • Creating a Kindle cover
  • Applying for an ISBN number for a book
  • Organizing a blog tour
  • Hosting a Facebook party on launch day

Remember, that your list of tasks is not set in stone. You’ll probably change it as you gain experience and learn more about what services are most enjoyable (and profitable) for your business.

The Contact Page

Next, you’ll need to add a contact page to your website. You can post your email address but this has a tendency to result in heavy spam, making it more likely that you’ll overlook a message from a potential client.

So, you may want to try using a contact form. If your website is built on WordPress, you can use a free plugin like Contact Form 7. If you’re using website software, there may be an option for creating forms. You’ll need to check the help manual or reach out the support team for assistance.

The Portfolio Page

If you’ve never worked with a client, you might think you don’t have a portfolio. But stop for a moment and consider who you may have helped with similar tasks. For example, if you redesigned a friend’s blog, then show off a “before” and “after” screenshot. If you offer content marketing, then create two or three short sample articles to post to your portfolio.

It doesn’t matter that you weren’t paid for these portfolio pieces. When clients come to this page, they’re looking to see if you can do the tasks you promised and what your style looks like. As long as you show them you can do the work, they don’t care if you did that work just to help a friend.

When it comes to building your website, don’t drag out the process for weeks or months. Create your website and get busy looking for clients. You can always come back and change it once you have a steady stream of clients.

Finding Your First Clients as a Virtual Assistant

Once you’ve set up your website, you’re ready to start looking for your first clients. Many new virtual assistants don’t know where to look for clients or how to start marketing their new business. If that describes you, don’t panic. Here are a few ways to land your first client …

Ask for Referrals

The first and most obvious place to look for your first client is for a referral from friends or family. Tell everyone that will listen that you’re a virtual assistant and you’re looking for work.

Many VAs have started their careers just from referrals that came from their social circles. Share how you can help clients and be enthusiastic when describing what you do. Your enthusiasm can attract clients who are eager to work with you.

Use LinkedIn

Another place to look for clients is on LinkedIn. If you don’t have a profile on this social media network, set one up. If you have a profile you haven’t used in a long time, then dust it off.

When it comes to your job title, be sure to use the phrase ‘Virtual Assistant’. Project managers and potential clients do search on LinkedIn when they’re ready to hire someone and this is a term they’re likely to use.

After you’ve set up a LinkedIn profile or updated your existing one, start connecting with friends and colleagues. Sometimes, an invitation to connect can remind an old co-worker or friend that they know someone who needs your services.

Look in Facebook Groups

Think about the type of clients you want to serve. Maybe you want to help authors handle their social media. If that’s the case, look for Facebook groups where authors are gathered and request to join.

Depending on the group’s rules, you may be allowed to share your VA services in a post. Some groups don’t allow service providers to post about their businesses but they do let members ask for referrals. You can comment and tell other members about the services you offer if they’re looking for a VA.

Check Job Boards

Some virtual assistants have gotten their first clients through various job boards. Typically, job boards work like this: a client posts about the project they need done on the board. This project can be big like redesigning their entire website or it might be small like scheduling a few social media updates each month.

Then virtual assistants who are members of the job board can reply to the client, answering questions and sharing why they’re right for the job. If the poster decides to work with you, then you get the assignment.

Usually, the job board gets a percentage of your earnings as a fee for letting you use the service. The advantage of this is that you don’t have to pay any money up front to use the board. In fact, you only pay if you’re successfully matched with a client.

Keep in mind that finding your first clients as a virtual assistant can take some time. Don’t give up if it takes a few weeks to start seeing results from your marketing efforts. If you preserve and keep networking, you will land that first client.

Learn how to avoid these common client problems when you download your free workbook!

3 Client Pitfalls Virtual Assistants Should Avoid

Not every virtual assistant job is easy or simple. Some projects start out well but as you work, you encounter problems that feel overwhelming. The good news is that while it may seem like a big deal now, many of these problems can be solved quickly and efficiently once you know what to do.

Pitfall #1: Scope Creep

A big pain point for VAs is scope creep. This is when the client asks you to do more work than the original amount you agreed upon. For example, you’re designing a book cover for a client. She wants you to design bookmarks with the cover on them, too.

You may be tempted to accept this extra work without saying a word. But what you should really do is renegotiate with your client.

Keep in mind that most clients aren’t trying to get extra work out of you when they make a request. They just don’t understand how much additional time and effort these extra tasks will cause you.

One of the best ways to handle scope creep is to talk with your client. Tell your client that once the cover is completed, you’ll be happy to begin a new project for the bookmarks.

Pitfall #2: Not Getting Materials

A common pitfall that VAs encounter is not getting needed materials from a client. It might be that they haven’t sent you their logo, copy, or login information. The way to handle this issue is to send a short message to your client and let them know that you’ll have to charge an extra fee because you don’t have the resources you need.

Give them a clear deadline in your email. Say something like, “If I don’t receive XYZ from you within the next week, then you’ll be charged an additional $25”.

Most clients will quickly find the files you need when they get this message.

Pitfall #3: Extensive Revision Requests

Your client might love your work on Tuesday but ask for several large revisions on Wednesday. This is a common problem when you’re working on a project that requires approval from several people.

For example, the marketing manager may love your graphics. But the sales team leader wants to change the colors or suggest different fonts.

You can handle revision requests by communicating clearly. Tell the client that the first round of revisions is covered but after that, you’ll be charging $XX for each hour of work. When clients understand that they could be charged extra, they tend to limit revisions.

If you’re a new VA, you might think you should offer free, unlimited revisions. But you don’t want to make this mistake. Otherwise, you risk working on the same project for months or even years to come. Meanwhile, you keep waiting for the end of the project so you can get paid.

If a client feels strongly about a revision, then they’ll pay your additional rate without complaint. A good client understands that your time is valuable and never wants to take advantage of you or your skills.

Most virtual assistant problems can be easily solved with a simple conversation, whether by email or phone. You can stand up for yourself calmly and professionally now that you know what to do.

Nervous about setting your rates? Discover how to do this easily when you download your free workbook!

Setting Your Rates as a New Virtual Assistant

Setting your rates as a new virtual assistant can feel scary. Many new VAs price their rates very low in the hopes that this will attract more clients.

While you may get more interest initially, this method usually backfires because bad clients tend to hire based on your price alone. You’ll end up thinking that being a VA doesn’t pay enough and is too much of a headache to deal with.

Here’s how to set better rates that attract quality clients…

See What Others Are Charging

It can be helpful to look at what other VAs charge to help you set your prices. Some virtual assistants do post their rates on their website.

But make sure you’re price comparing with VAs who do your type of work. Comparing rates between a VA who specializes in web design and a VA who specializes in social media videos won’t help you set your rates.

Hourly Rates vs Fixed Price

Next, you need to understand how VAs set their rates. There are two common ways to do this. Some virtual assistants charge a fixed price per project while others charge an hourly rate.

The hourly rate is helpful when you’re new and inexperienced. It gives you the space to learn how long it takes you to do certain tasks, which projects your clients value, and what a fair wage for your time is.

However, the hourly rate is not helpful if you have advanced skills. For example, when Trisha started out as a VA, she set up mailing lists for her clients. The process took her about 4 hours and she charged $25 per hour. This means her clients were paying her an average of $100.

But as Trisha developed her skills, it only took her 2 hours to handle mailing list set up. Since she was still charging by the hour, she earned $50 instead of $100. This means she was losing money because of her experience.

The way to overcome a problem like this is to offer a fixed price. That’s what Trisha began doing. She charged a flat-rate fee of $100 for every mailing list set up that she did. She was still offering the exact same service, the only difference was the new price reflected Trisha’s years of expertise and knowledge.

Ask for a Deposit

Make sure you ask for a deposit from your clients at the start of each project. This protects you in the event that you start working on a project but your client has to cancel it for some reason. You’ll still have the deposit which should cover the time you’ve already invested.

But a deposit also protects your client, too. It assures them that they’ve booked time on your busy schedule and makes their project a top priority.

Most clients understand this and will happily pay the deposit. But if a client balks when you bring this up, they may be more interested in test driving your services than making an actual purchase.

Setting your rates when you’re first starting your virtual assistant business might make you feel nervous. This is natural and you’ll become comfortable discussing your prices as time goes on.

Turning Your VA Clients into Repeat Customers

Some virtual assistants complain about the ‘feast or famine’ cycles in their business. But the truth is that VAs with this problem aren’t focused on getting repeat work.

When you have repeat clients, you can balance your bills each month with ease and you don’t have to spend time constantly searching for new projects. So, how do you get and keep repeat work? Try using some of these tips…

Do Your Best

If you don’t do a good job with the initial project, clients aren’t likely to hire you for follow up ones. Think of your first project with a new client as an audition. You want to bring your best work to the table so that next time they have a project, they think of you.

Meet Your Deadlines

When you don’t deliver on time, clients are less likely to give you repeat work. If there truly is an emergency or a valid reason that you can’t meet a deadline, let your client know as far in advance as you can.

Send an email or call them on the phone. Tell them that you won’t be able to meet the deadline then suggest a new one. For example, “A loved one is having emergency surgery this week, so I can’t meet our deadline. However, I can have your project back to you by (a new date). Does that work for you?”

When you approach clients this way, most of them will be understanding and will still be open to working with you again. Honest communication is the foundation of a successful working relationship. It’s essential if you hope to turn a client into a repeat customer.

Offer a Long-Term Arrangement

When you’ve finished working on a project that both you and your client enjoyed, bring up the subject of working together again. For example, you might say something like, “I enjoyed redesigning your website. I notice your social media branding doesn’t match. I can help you with that.”

Don’t be pushy when you make this type of observation. Simply point out a problem area and offer to help. Some clients will be enthusiastic and want to start work immediately while others may not be ready to hire you for another project just yet.

Create a Package

Another way to land more repeat customers is to create a package around your most popular services. If you’re a virtual assistant who specializes in social media management, then you could create a package where you upload 100 social media updates for your clients.

Your clients may be more likely to hire you to do this task when they know how much you’ll charge. It makes it easy for them to look at their budget and determine if they can afford your services.

But when it comes to creating a package, try to look for a task or project that clients will need monthly, like blog content or website backups. This way, your clients can continue to pay you month after month.

Getting repeat work can take time. Keep offering exceptional service and let clients know that you’re available for more work in the future.

Discover what to put on your virtual assistant website when you download your free workbook!

RESOURCE: Attend this 5-day workshop series of 20 educational webinars to benefit all freelancers. Until Oct. 15th use coupon code: vicki100 and get a SILVER ticket for FREE at https://buildyourbestyear.com/VAVS .

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