March is an exciting month for Purple Frogs Virtual Assistants as it is our birthday month and we are so happy to have reached a year old!
As anyone with a fairly new business will know, the first year is a massive learning curve and is rarely easy, but every experience has been a positive one, even those that pushed us a little further out of our comfort zone than we would normally push ourselves!! So, while I have been reflecting on the last year, I felt that it was important to make a note of the main things that I have learnt while managing Purple Frogs so far.
There will be knockbacks, embrace them – There is no denying that the first year of a business can feel like an uphill struggle and just when you think you’re getting somewhere you’ll have a knock back. This is a completely normal part of business and something we all must learn to embrace. Maybe a customer has decided that they can’t afford your services any longer or another business sets up in your area, offering the same services at a cheaper rate. These things happen and they don’t necessarily mean that you need to change anything within your own business. It’s important that you know you’re own worth before doing anything drastic in retaliation against any knockbacks.
It’s also worth keeping in mind at all times that, as humans, we sometimes make mistakes. There is no escaping that you will make mistakes while trying to find your feet with a new business but these should also be embraced. Treat every mistake as a learning experience and don’t be afraid to put your hands up and apologise if your mistake has a knock on effect for a customer or fellow business owner, they will respect you more for it.
Networking is your friend – I was terrified the first time I attended a networking event and I’m not afraid to say that I still get nervous when attended a new networking group. There aren’t many people that are completely relaxed when walking into a room of people they don’t know so the first thing to remember is that it is very likely that everyone else in the room is also anxious about the experience. However, networking has helped me massively. For me personally, it hasn’t just been about getting work, when that happens it is a bonus. Networking has worked wonders for my own self confidence, it has helped me to feel comfortable with talking to a group of people and helped to recognise my own abilities. Not only that but I have met some incredibly interesting and inspiring people at networking events, some of whom have become really good friends and the level of support I have received has been invaluable.
If you are nervous about networking then why not start by taking to Twitter and join in with some Twitter hours. These offer a more relaxed way to network (I can’t deny that I haven’t enjoyed the odd glass of wine while partaking in a Twitter hour) and you can do it from the safety of your living room. Ultimately nothing beats face to face networking but doing it via social media can be a great place to start and can continue to be a part of your ongoing networking strategy once you have bitten the bullet and started to attend events in person.
Don’t be afraid of the competition – Your competitors are not the enemy and can often become a source of support. I have very much enjoyed meeting fellow VAs and have even attended a few get togethers solely for VAs. It’s great to hear other people’s experiences when they are doing something similar to you and I have come away with some valuable bits of advice that have only helped the business to grow. It’s also always useful to have a contact to hand that you can refer work to when a customer needs something that is out of your skillset or you are simply too busy to take on, this is all part of great customer service so get to know your competitors and include them as a part of your all important support system.
Focus on what you’re good at, outsource the rest – Whilst the whole purpose of Purple Frogs is that business owners outsource work to us, we also outsource certain parts of our business to other people. For example, we may be good at helping you to get on top of your admin but we don’t have the skills to do our own accounts, so we outsource that part of the business to an accountant which frees up our time to focus on what we are good at and, equally as importantly, what we enjoy. If you try and do it all, chances are you will constantly feel bogged under and you won’t have the time or energy to concentrate on the parts of your business that you are passionate about and that bring in the money.
If money is tight, you may find that you can only afford to outsource one task initially so think about what will save you the most time. It may be that you struggle to get your head around social media or you don’t have time to set up a website to showcase your services. Whatever it is, there will be someone who can take it off your hands.
Collaborate – One of my favourite things about managing Purple Frogs is that it gives me the opportunity to collaborate with other businesses that compliment what we do in order to be able to add a little extra to our customer’s experience and take Purple Frogs in some really interesting directions. Not only have these collaborations been immensely useful to the business but they have also been great fun!
I am very aware that this blog is full of cliches but that doesn’t make the message any less genuine. This first year has been full of so many positive experiences that have been integral to my own personal growth and all I have left to say now is, bring on the next year!