Don’t brush off the warnings you get with a client. #vatip Gotta Tweet!
If you are not enjoying the services you’re providing, it’s time to do something else. #vatipGotta Tweet!
There are highs and lows in business. Don’t stop! #vatip Gotta Tweet!
This has been kind of a sleepless week. Life has its ups and downs. We all know that. When you are a business owner, you have to adjust with the highs and lows of life. There will be things that we absolutely have to do no matter what, and there are things that we can kind of hold off on and take care of what we need to take care of.
In reference to us as virtual assistant business owners, you have projects that have exact deadlines or maybe times. Maybe you’re doing email support or something like that and so that has a set time. You can’t do that later in the evening and take care of your business during the day, or maybe you are working on projects that are not time sensitive for that particular day. Maybe it’s just based on a deadline.
For me, when things come up, it’s always good to be able to stop where I need to and take care of something, and then make sure I come back to it. I love my work so much, I mean, literally I could work myself around the clock. I don’t do that. My body won’t let me do it, actually. My mind will go, go, go. My body will shut down. Uh-uh. It’s time to shut it off, so I do.
Anyway, I’m saying all of that to say adjust where you need to. Don’t feel like, “Oh, my gosh, I have to,” unless it is specific to a deadline, unless you have told your client I’ll get it done here, here, and there.
There’s something going on, emergency or not, and you need to adjust things, before you make commitments to your clients as to when you’ll have a follow-up or status or something to them, look at your day, your week, whatever, and be realistic about the timeframe and give yourself extra time as a buffer if you need to.
The extra time might be in a sense of instead of saying something like, “I’ll have that to you first thing in the morning,” you could say, “I’ll have that to you by tomorrow,” and tomorrow gives you time. That could be morning. That could be afternoon. That could be evening. But either way, it’s tomorrow.
Can I tell you, I finally got paid for one of my clients that I had to let go for 2016, and I think I had talked about this situation on another podcast. You can go back in time and find that. But every time things come up with you, with different clients, you know how you’re feeling working on their project. You know how you’re feeling when you communicate with them, whether email or phone or Skype or whatever. If there is like a dark cloud that comes over you, whatever that would look like from an emotional standpoint, whenever you’re like, “Uh, okay, fine,” it’s probably time to end that relationship.
If you’re not excited to hear from your client or you’re like, “Oh, my gosh. I haven’t heard from so and so. Let me check in and see what’s going on. See if they need anything,” those are the kind of clients you want. You want those clients that, gosh, I have to stop myself because I love them and I love their work so much. You want those kinds of clients.
But anyway, finally got paid. Invoice was sent in December, like the 1st or 2nd of December. It’s almost March. Like we’re at the end of February. I sent reminders, reminders, reminders. Then I finally just kind of let it go because, you know, what is a fight worth, right? Huge lesson learned, and I knew this from past experience is to get the payment up front, unless you’re working through a job board where they have to submit the funds through escrow. It’s a totally different situation.
When it’s outside of that, you have to decide how are you going to invoice? I like to invoice on projects and do it as a retainer even though it may not be an ongoing project. Do that one project as a retainer payment because they’re retaining your services, and get paid for it up front; complete the project to their satisfaction, dah, dah, dah.
Unfortunately, this one didn’t happen. But you’d better believe that won’t happen again. You get warnings and you try to brush it off. Oh, I don’t want to be so quick to judgment. That’s me. I’m telling myself, oh, I don’t want to be so quick to judgment, dah, dah, dah. Maybe she had a bad day.
Think about how your bad days are and how you treat people on your bad day. If you’re mean and ugly, then you’re not a good client for someone. If I’m having a bad day, I slow down and make sure I’m not breathing my fire on anybody. I don’t want to breathe my fire on anybody.
I shared with you on the last podcast episode about my cold calling and that is working out fabulously because I’m meeting people I would have never met. I love it. I love it. I have totally detached from the outcome of it. It’s not for my Virtual Hired Hand business. It is for one of my direct sales businesses, and I’m just having fun with it, having fun.
Are you having fun with your VA business?
Every now and then you’ll hear me say something about evaluating your services and what you provide. If you’re not enjoying what you’re providing, it’s time to do something else.
Recently, I had talked to a prospective client and what she was looking for was exactly what I provide, and I was all excited. Yes, work on her project. She agreed, and so she’s getting things together and in that time that she was getting things together she switched gears, which it’s her business. It’s perfectly fine if you switch gears.
She’s awesome because she checked with me to see, “Hey, I’m switching gears. Is this something that you do?” As I was reading what she was needing for this new thing, I could feel in my spirit that it was not me, and so I just let her know it wasn’t something that I provided, but if she needed anything in the future that I did provide to just let me know. I’d love, love, love to work with her.
Don’t feel obligated to say yes to everything.
Someone recently asked me – she’s getting started back with her VA business so kind of like rebuilding it, getting it off the ground again – if there are times when I will take smaller projects like when going to the job boards. Actually, there are.
If you have to rebuild, there will be times where you want to go ahead and take smaller projects. It might be a $50 project, a $100 project. You want to take the smaller projects to get things moving and off the ground. It’s almost like dusting yourself off, so dusting your skills off, dusting your presentation and communication skills off, dusting your proposal writing skills off to get things off the ground for you.
It’s very easy to get in a slump when you don’t have any clients, or when you’re down to one client it’s easy to get in a slump and start feeling sorry for yourself, start looking at Monster.com for jobs and panicking and all that stuff. The best way to get out of that is, one, go ahead and allow yourself for a little bit to have that moment, and then head on over to your favorite job board and start looking through the projects, looking through what people are asking for, and submit your stuff.
Submit your stuff. Then you’ll get to the point where you’re so busy you don’t have time to submit your stuff because now you have some ongoing clients. The only way you’re going to get them is to put your stuff out there. Put your stuff out there.
Just like any business, there are highs and lows. Your favorite restaurant has highs and lows, and so do we. So do we. Summertime may be a high activity time for you, or it may be a low activity time. It’s not an industry specific kind of thing. It’s going to depend on who your clients are and when their high season is. When you have a variety of client types, it doesn’t matter when their high season is because then no matter what somebody may be high, somebody may be low, and it’ll work out for you so that you’re not overworking yourself.
If you have ten clients, you don’t necessarily want all of them to have a high season at the same time, right. It would be cool if some of them were high, some of the were low, and low meaning they still have their regular monthly work, but maybe not as strict of deadlines and stuff like that.
We have highs and lows in our business, but we don’t stop.
Submit your proposals for smaller projects. Do it as an exercise and say, okay, do I still have it? I haven’t written a proposal in a while. Let me submit something out to get my skills sharp again. That is also an easy way to detach yourself from the outcome or what happens as a result of submitting that proposal.
If you’re doing it to sharpen your skills, then guess what, the moment you submit that you have accomplished your goal. Anything that happens after that is a bonus, right. Yeah, you do want them to respond back because that lets you know how well your skills are. But once you get into it, you’ll do more, you’ll figure out, oh, gosh, I should have said this, or I said too much. You’ll get a feeling for that.
I’m just going to let you know now we’re going to have another Upwork Challenge coming up. If you’ve been putting off getting your profile set up in Upwork or putting off sending out information on Upwork for different projects and stuff like that, hey, join the Upwork Challenge. It is a 21 day challenge. Every single day you are given a challenge and this all happens in a private group on Facebook. You get a specific challenge for that day to go do in relation to Upwork and your business. It’s 21 days because it takes 21 days to create a habit. You can do it. It’s your business. I think we’re in it to make money, right? So we’ve got to go where the clients are.
It’s so funny, as I’m recording this there is an article here on Medium. I haven’t read it all the way, but the first couple of lines caught my attention and the title says, “Freelancing Is All About The Benjamins. Take the cash seriously. You can’t pay your bills with fuzzy feelings.” Quite interesting. Like I said, it caught my attention.
The first paragraph says, “Being a freelancer is going to suck. Being a small business owner is going to suck. Running a startup is going to suck. They’re all going to suck because nobody wants to pay you. No matter how good your work is, or how far you’ve bent over and twisted and contorted yourself to meet the needs of your customers, they won’t want to give you money.”
This is interesting. I can’t wait to finish this article. It’s something that is relative to what I was talking about, about finally getting paid and how you handle that. So this is pretty neat. I’m all about getting the retainer fee up front and then working and doing that project to your client’s satisfaction, so this is pretty neat to see what they’re talking about.
Anyway, I hope everything is going fabulous with your VA business, and if it’s not, again, if this is a low time, if you’ve been low and you’ve kind of been feeling sorry for yourself and days have gone by, it’s time to get to your favorite job board. I’m just going to say Upwork. That’s mine. That’s my go-to. Upwork. I haven’t had time to go there in a couple weeks. I’ve been getting invites to different projects. I get a lot of invites to projects.
If you’re in the Upwork challenge or you plan to get in the Upwork challenge, I show you exactly what to do with your profile so that you’re getting invites to projects and not even having to initiate by sending your proposal and information first. People are inviting you because of your profile.
So find out what that’s all about. You go to my website: TiffanyParson.com and go to – I want to say challenges, but I’m not sure if I have it linked like that so hold on a quick second. I’m going to go right to it because I don’t want you to miss it. If you’re on the list already expressing interest, then you will – oh, go click on Events. Click on Events and that will take you to the challenge page for Upwork and you’ll be able to hop on the waiting list for that. Once it reopens, you will definitely be one to get the information.
In the meantime, there’s also a free training there on the site as well. If you just go to Freebies, click on that. You will be able to sign up and get the 15 Known Secrets To Getting Started As A Virtual Assistant. Grab that as well so you can be listening – reading that. I’m saying listening because I’m looking at Become A Freelancer. That’s another audio.
But anyway, get on the list either way so you’ll learn about the Upwork Challenge because I don’t want you to miss it and it’ll be very cool if you started getting invites and have so many invites that time is limited and you’re not able to initiate submitting proposals by searching and all that good stuff.
I just want to thank you for listening today and let me go on and just kind of talk about a hodgepodge of things, just being totally free and talking with you as though we’re sitting across the table from each other.
Oh, there’s one other thing I want to talk to you about. The flip side of having a low is having a high where you’ve got all kinds of work and you might start to feel overwhelmed. Let’s talk about that before we go.
If you’re the flip side of the low and you’re having a high and it started out really good, but now you are feeling overwhelmed, maybe you missed a deadline, maybe you’re not doing as quality work that you’re used to. How do you pull back? Maybe you feel like you have no life anymore, that everything is about work, that you are working literally around the clock seven days a week. How do you pull back from that?
It’s time to start evaluating what you’re offering and who you’re offering it to. You are most likely are saying yes to every single thing.
I know what it feels like to overwhelm yourself and be working around the clock. When I first started, I was so amazed that all these people liked what I did. They were interested and I said yes to everybody. I submitted to projects that I was half-hearted about. But I wanted it because, what, I wanted the Benjamins, right.
It’s not healthy. I can remember staying up all night doing a transcript, literally all night. I can remember taking off work so I could finish the transcript. Pull back. Pull back. Are you overpromising? I guarantee you if you’re overworking like that, if you were to calculate truly how much you were making from the project, like if you broke it down by the hour even though you may be charging a flat retainer rate, if you broke it down by the hour how much you’re making, it would probably be less than minimum wage because of all the time you’re putting into it.
Now, you’ve already committed so you’re going to have to complete those projects and just get it done. Make a commitment to yourself, to your business, to your family, that you are not going to put yourself in that situation again.
Set limits. Increase your rate.
Increasing your rate will cut down how many clients want to work with you. It’s probably time to increase it anyway because if you’re overworked and you’re overwhelmed, you have all this experience, all these clients, all these projects that you’ve done, which means your knowledge increases, your experience increases, your portfolio may have increased depending on what those projects were.
Increase your prices. Decide what the percentage is going to be: 5%, 10%, 20%. Increase your prices. The new customer does not know what the old price was so don’t worry about that. Oh, you know, the last time I did this I charged this. Now, I’m going to…increase your prices.
Think about your favorite department store or your favorite place to shop online. They may have a sale but they’ve got regular prices. When we see the regular price, we don’t know whether that’s the original price. We don’t know. If the dress is $90, we just, okay, dress is $90. It might have been $50 last week. We don’t know, right. So don’t get caught up in that. Take the emotions out of that when you’re setting your price. Increase your price. That will cut down on the number of yes’s. You’re going to start getting no’s. If everybody is saying yes to you, there’s a problem. Your rates are too low. If everybody’s like, ooh, yeah, ooh, yeah, ooh, yeah, ooh, yeah, rates too low. Increase those rates. Everybody should not be able to get you.
That will help, and really looking at narrowing your services. What are you providing? What are you saying yes to? You should not be saying yes to everything. Fortunately, you have the power to change it. I promise you, you won’t ever forget this time of overwhelm and overwork. You won’t forget it. You will not forget it. Just like I haven’t forgotten staying up all night, sitting on the couch, trying to transcribe. I probably ended up having to redo it because who knows what I typed during the time where I was half asleep.
All right. That is it for this episode. I thank you so much for listening. Let me know you came. You know where to find me.
If you have any other questions, come on over to my Facebook page. You know where to find me.
Thanks so much for tuning in. If you like what you heard, stay tuned. We’ll be back. Tell me what’s going on with you. Come on over the Facebook page: facebook.com/tiffanyparsonbiz, or if you prefer a little shorter message, come on over to Twitter: @tiffanydparson.
See you next time!