Most of us have taken any old job at some point in our lives, just to make ends meet. Think about your own ‘salad days’ … when you were working your way through university or when you were just starting out on your own – remember?
In my early days, I held down a full time job and 2 part-time jobs at the same time … one of them was selling Tupperware (my husband used to say “No sex, no supper, just Tupper, Tupper, Tupper”). One night when I arrived at a party I had booked, there were only 3 guests. I hid my disappointment with a big smile and loads of enthusiasm while inwardly groaning at the less-than-ideal situation. Nevertheless, I gave the full-meal-deal presentation to my small audience.
Well my honest and heartfelt belief in the product and my generosity with the giveaways (Tupperware totally OWNED the pink spoon concept back then with all their clever little plastic gadgets to hand out for prizes!) must have resonated, because the shy lady in the corner said she’d like to have a party too, and we agreed upon on a date.
When I showed up at her house on the appointed night, there were over 30 people there! These guests were very attentive (they actually wanted to be there – no one had put a gun to their heads!), they bought lots and lots of Tupperware and booked parties themselves. It was the most profitable party I ever had AND my most successful, long-running chain of parties and referrals … and it all began with that sad little party of 3 people.
Unless you’re buying an established VA business, we all start small with our first client. But, like at the Tupperware party, if you do a good job for them and they have a positive experience, they will recommend you to their connections. People are much more likely to hire someone that has worked with someone they know or that they have heard about, because of the personal reference from a trusted source. It’s how one client can lead to another.
So, don’t be discouraged if you’ve just hung out your VA shingle and there’s no big stampede to your door, or you only have a few clients. Make the most of your ‘start up’ or growth phase by doing some cool things:
- Dazzle your clients with extreme customer care (you should be doing this anyway). They will be blown away by the time and attention you are giving their business and by your responsiveness. Learn everything you can about them and their industry so you can really add value to their business from the outside in.
- Maximize the notion of exclusivity. Make it a sign of status that you are only working with a small, select group of clients (there is nothing wrong with this). You don’t have to become a factory – boutique businesses have lots of cache too.
- Take the time to refine, improve and test your processes. Make sure the work flows you are using for a few clients will scale when your business starts to grow. Because when things take off, you need to be able to absorb the extra work or have a plan to expand ready.
- Always be learning. Use that free time to improve or learn new skills. Find out what’s trending and get ahead of the curve – you’ll be ready when the requests start popping up. And remember what our friends at Instructionsmith told us at Live Summit – ‘The Riches are in the Niches’. Take the opportunity to explore areas to specialize in if you don’t already have one.
- Enjoy the ride. The experience of organically growing your business, the exhilaration that comes from accomplishment, the satisfaction from new learnings and the thrill of even small successes are some of the best parts of being in business for yourself.
So don’t freak out if only 3 clients show up for your party. Just focus on delivering quality service and results – it’s the secret to endorsements, referrals and a great reputation. The business will follow!
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