The following definition of a virtual business from Wikipedia doesn’t quite hit the mark for me.  These days, most bricks and mortar businesses also rely on online sales to make a profit.  It could be argued that if they didn’t offer online sales, they would go out of business quickly.  You only have to see the growth figures for online purchases (especially around annual holidays and special celebrations) to know why.

“A virtual business employs electronic means to transact business as opposed to a traditional brick and mortar business that relies on face-to-face transactions with physical documents and physical currency or credit.”

Definition by Wikipedia

Most virtual business owners I know work from home because they want to improve their personal circumstances or lifestyle.  They want to create a less frantic lifestyle where they can earn a decent income to support them and their families.

It doesn’t really matter the reason why but you should write this down.

“We can sometimes work on achieving a goal and forget about the original reason for the change.”

If you write this down and pin it up on a prominent place it will remind you about your “why”.

Here are some steps you can take to build growth into your virtual assistant business:

  1.  Set some clear goals around earnings and time you want to spend in the business.  Make it a SMART goal (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and set a time limit)
  2. Crunch your numbers – what services bring in the most money for the least amount of your time, for example.  Are there areas that you can build on.? Are there opportunities to develop one thing that you can sell to many?
  3. Test the responsiveness of your mailing list/s.  Start communicating with your subscribers and ask them what their current needs are.  Then put activities in place to build your list.
  4. Passive income will make a huge difference to your business, if you don’t have any automatic sales funnels in place currently, write this into your goals to achieve.
  5. Ask your current clients if there are additional areas that you could help them with.  Use them to do some market research around your passive income goals.

Your Growth Plan

Now you have done the above activities you have a bit of a plan to work towards.

Its time now to schedule in the work that you need to do to achieve your plan.  Allocate the time you need to do this otherwise it might get left until you have more time which very rarely happens.

Some tactics you can put in motion to find more “time” for your plan.

  • Eliminate waste.  Take a look at what you do currently and eliminate any time-wasters.  I found that I was spending too much time checking emails and reading messages from lists I had subscribed to without getting any real benefit.  I organized my email so that I only had to check it once a day and sometimes once every couple of days.
  • Find an extra 30 minutes each day.  You may need to rise 30 minutes earlier or have less of a break for lunch or morning tea.  You can generally find more time in your day if you are motivated enough.
  • Group small, similar, tasks together before attempting them.   I found that making my calls all at the one time it saved me time over my day.  I also found that creating content or headlines in groups of 10 or more was a more efficient use of my time.
  • Sign up for some professional development.  I know this sounds strange to include in this list but I always find that when I am learning I remain more focussed on my goals and achieving them.

How Your Virtual Service Business Can Evolve

1. Sell One Hour of Your Time to One Client

Let’s face it, this is the easiest start to make.  You have probably come from an employed position and it feels comfortable for you to charge by the hour.  It is not the best way to make an income because eventually you will run out of time to sell, then what?  Clients who are not used to working with virtual assistants are initially happy with this system as well.  Problem is that the clients are focussed on time rather than on quality.  They see you as an employee, even though you are not and their image of you will be unlikely to change.  So he benefit of starting your pricing here is that you can learn a lot from it.  You learn what not to do moving forward.

2. Create Packages and Sell Outcomes

For most virtual business owners that sell services, this happens at about the 6 month period of your business.  You have a few clients under your belt and you have learned about what you can and can’t do.  You have tested your skills to the market and the learning leads you to realise you need to work smarter (not harder).  So the next step is to look at the services you offer and package them into a bundle.  Then charge a set amount for the bundle.  You are focussing on the outcomes you can deliver to your clients, rather than the time you spend.  Yes, you use time to create the pricing structure for the bundle but you don’t tell the client this time.  This gives you the freedom to make decisions on how you do things within your business.

3. Team Building, Affiliates, Joint Ventures

At around the 12 month mark you are ready to look outwards and work collaboratively with others.  You might look at other businesses who share your target market and create a complete offering to both your s of clients.  You may offer affiliate partnership to people who believe in your services or information products.  You can also perform some joint ventures with others who complement your service.  This is getting to the stage of your business where you are thinking and acting strategically instead of reacting or fire fighting constantly.

4. Create 1 Thing to Sell to Many Clients

By this stage of your business you have grown in confidence and ability.  You can take advantage of all the learning and experiences you have gained since starting your business.  Have a look around, do some research and build information products.  They can be resources, books, courses or even a membership site where you offer your own unique insights.  This is a great time to reflect on your journey and how you got here.  It is also a good time to set some new goals and targets.

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