Monthly ArchiveSeptember 2010
Life is riddled with challenges. There are roadblocks to becoming a successful parent or spouse. There are certain difficulties that hinder strong friendships and family ties. There are challenges to remaining financially, emotionally, physically and spiritually healthy. Therefore, whether you have a job or run your own company, you will meet obstacles. The key that unlocks the door to personal success is knowing how to meet and defeat challenges. What might prevent you from attaining victory in your Virtual Assistant practice?
What fears do you hold close to your heart? There are some fears that we tend to plant and cultivate. Fear is natural and normal to experience. It is a mechanism employed by the subconscious mind that attempts to keep us safe and out of harm’s way. This fear prevents us from making unwise decisions, but can also prevent us from embarking on new endeavors. That is why red flags and bells go off in our mind when we step outside of our comfort zone. That is why your palms get sweaty and you start to get the jitters when you reach the edge of your comfort zone.
This is the perfect time to host a conversation with your fear. Ask your fear, "What is the worst that can happen?" Ask too, "Why do you want to hold me back from trying this new endeavor?" (This is actually a conversation with yourself that acknowledges the fear you are experiencing). Fear is appropriate. That is why it is so important to engage it and analyze it. Efforts to suppress it are counterproductive.
What fears do you have with regards to running your very own successful virtual assistance company? Are you fearful that you may not acquire clients and have enough income? You might be concerned healthcare and retirement plans. You may have several fears that are trying to keep you "safe". This is good news! Acknowledge, analyze and confront every fear that you have. Start by writing them down. Then have a conversation with them one by one. This will allow your mind to open up to the many solutions that are available.
One of your fears may be that of getting overwhelmed. You know that you are great at the work you do. That is why you desire to be in business for yourself. "But, there is so much responsibility and work that is involved in being an entrepreneur," you say. That is true!
What can prevent and/or rescue you from overwhelm? It is necessary to implement systems into your business. A system is a structured method to run every aspect of you business. If you have to re-invent the wheel every time you do filing, billing or even turning a prospect into a client, this will lead to overwhelm and discouragement. Let’s analyze the example of enrolling a new client. Do you have a system for transforming new contacts into prospects and prospects into paying clients?
Here is a simple method:
- Meet a new contact
- Conversation leads to business interest
- Collect contact information
- Contact is now a prospect
- Follow up with prospect (card or phone call)
- Schedule a business call
- Have prospect fill out an assessment form
- Prepare for business call using the assessment form
- Business call is progressing wellY
- ou decide you would like to work with prospect
- Move into sales conversation
- Prospect now becomes a client or a contact to follow up with later
- [here is where you complete the process for your new clients and former prospects]
After running your systems a few times it will become second nature. You should implement a system for every segment of your business so that your work can become BRAINLESS. This takes less energy defeats overwhelm and saves time. Which means you make AND save more mo.ney. Write out each of your systems for quick future reference and you’ll find yourself making faster progress than ever before.
Overcoming fear and overwhelm is not necessarily easy. It is, rather, a process of becoming familiar with your way of thinking and performing. And it requires a shift in your mindset. If you want different results, you need to have different behavior. We all are a work in progress. Wouldn’t you like to make your work a lot easier on yourself and become a successful Virtual Assistant? You can do so by defeating fear and overwhelm.
Action Steps For This Week:
- Identify the fears that stump your business growth.Write down your fears and have a conversation with them.
- Pick two aspects of your business to create systems for and complete by next week.
- Share your fears and your systems by commenting on the blog.
Interviewing a potential client is more than just assessing their needs, business opportunities and strengths. It’s much more about YOU and if the two of you can work well together. Identifying a great potential client starts with the interview process.
But how do you know if the new potential client is "the one"? How can you be sure that the relationship will go smoothly and you are a good fit?
Unfortunately, there’s no absolute way to determine this. However, there are some warning signs you should look for to minimize disappointment and needless frustration
- Listen to your gut – As hard as it may seem to accept this advice, deep down you know it’s true. You will have an immediate reaction to a potential client based on the tone of their email, the tone of their voice on the phone call, their questions, anecdotes and requests. If you get a feeling in the pit of your stomach that working with this client will be difficult or messy don’t ignore it and take the opportunity now to walk away. It can save you a lot of stress, frustration and time. And you are really serving the client by leaving them free to find the perfect VA for them. TRUST ME…If you ignore your feelings, it will come back to bite you…EVERY single time.
- Analyze your current clientele – Think about your current (or past) clients that you really enjoyed working with and even the ones you didn’t. Taking the time to identify the traits you really like in a client, and the ones you don’t will go a long way in helping you identify your next ideal client. That way you can compare a prospective client to those clients (or even employers) you’ve worked with in the past to see if the two of you working together make a great fit. For example, if you love working with Harry and he has a great sense of humor, then that’s a quality you can look for in a prospective client. Remember, working with your ideal client is about much more than just the work. It’s about the relationship and rapport you have with each other that makes it feel more like playing than working.
- Determine "red-flag" behaviors – it is absolutely OK to refuse to work with someone who exhibits behaviors you will not tolerate. As a matter of fact, it’s more than OK, it’s your right as a business owner. Take the time to identify these behaviors early so that you know what to watch for. Is it someone who sees and treats you as a subordinate employee rather than a like-minded business owner on the same level? Is it someone who speaks disrespectfully? Or perhaps they try to negotiate your fee and tell you what your time is worth? Whatever your "deal breakers" are, if you see them come up with a prospective client just say NO! Do not put yourself in the position to compromise your standards or self-esteem to work with someone who doesn’t deserve to work with you.
While you may think that saying "no" to a potential client can be challenging and difficult, think about it this way: it’s much more difficult to end the business relationship when things don’t go smoothly. Take the stance from the beginning and nip it in the bud before you even have to go down that road. The money is not worth the stress and anxiety that can come from working with someone who isn’t a great fit for your business. Additionally, you will not enjoy your work and not put forth your best effort which undermines your professionalism for future clients.
What other warning signs do you look for when interviewing a potential client? Please post your comments and experiences on the blog so we can continue this discussion!
As a virtual assistant, you provide a high value to your clients because you solve their problems. Whether you are a VA that specializes in social media, blog promotion, copywriting, website design or general administrative services, the bottom line is your clients need your help to accomplish specific goals in their business. You have become a trusted part of their inner circle and they trust you with their business needs.
Sometimes a client will thank you for your hard work – either in a nice email, when you’re on the phone for a weekly update, or by sending you a thoughtful thank you card. …But, there are special occasions when actions speak louder than words, and that’s when a client gives you a referral.
The trust and confidence a client has in you is conveyed by a powerful seal of approval in the form of a referral. In general, people like to do business with other people they know, like and trust. So when someone needs help, they typically go to someone they know, like and trust for their recommendation.
And that’s when the referral can happen.
Perhaps someone in your client’s network expresses a problem, challenge or a need and your client realizes that YOU provide the solution. They share your name, contact information and glowing praise of how you’ve made a difference in their life. The contact gets in touch with you; the two of you have a great conversation, decide to work together and voila! You have a new client!
To "secure" referrals like this there are three things you must do consistently:
- Be a great communicator: Always keep your client informed about everything! When there are challenges, provide options for resolution, when things are good, find opportunities to celebrate. Be honest in EVERYTHING (even when you make a mistake) and always work with the highest level of integrity. This will create a trusting, powerful relationship between you and your clients.
- Have great follow-through: Doing what you say you would do, when you said you would do it is a big deal. Clients need to know they can trust you to get things done when you say you will. I can’t tell you how many entrepreneurs I know have complained about this. No one expects you to be perfect and everyone understands that on occasion "life" happens. But there is no excuse for you not to be dependable. If you prove yourself reliable your clients will notice and they will refer you to others.
- Go the extra mile: Taking the time to really get to know your client and their business can go a long way in the solutions you can provide. While you may not always be able to do everything for your client, you can recommend resources and other service providers to help them when they need it. Becoming a trusted advisor helps build a foundation of trust and respect.
There’s one last thing you must do to get more referrals from current clients – and that is to thank them for a referral when they give it to you. Make sure you are in the habit of acknowledging the referral to let your client know you truly appreciated their trust in you. Otherwise, a client may assume you didn’t appreciate the referral or you don’t need the additional work. In either case, that’s not the impression you want to make.
No one is perfect, and things don’t always go according to plan. But maintaining professionalism and integrity are the cornerstones to your success and reputation. By following these guidelines, you are on the right path to keeping the clients you have, and helping their friends and colleagues along the way.
Have you received a referral from a client recently? How did it make you feel? How did you thank the client for the referral? Post your comments here on the blog and tell me all about it!