You've Got To Cut Your Teeth Before You Make It

you've got to cut your teeth before you make it

There is a saying about cutting your teeth in business. You've got to go through the struggle and put in your time in order to get what you want in your career.

Have you ever wondered how I built my virtual assistant business and became successful in the first year?

I cut my teeth working as a receptionist in my early 20's. Within a few years I was working as an administrative assistant and by the time I was 22 I was rubbing shoulders with C-level executives at Fortune 500 companies as their executive administrative assistant.

I just didn't wake up one day and have a successful virtual assistant business. I worked my tail off to get it. I put in my time. I cut my teeth.

Here's a rundown on how I got started. It's important to know so you can gauge if you've got the guts to do this for yourself.

My first two years as a virtual assistant started while working for a virtual assistant search firm that matched me with clients.  The great part was that I still had my day job and worked as a VA for a few hours at night.  This was an easy entry into the VA industry and I'd recommend it to anyone that can handle it on top of their existing commitments and responsibilities.

Working with this VA firm meant that I didn't need to market myself, I just needed to show up to the conference call (with the prospect) and sell myself as the right choice.

Truth be told, I was really good at selling myself. I brought a whole lot of confidence to the (virtual) table and practiced all the possible questions that could come up. Because back when I had a day job I used to review things like this and this.  I always showed up prepared.

I got the job 9 times out of 10. Sure, there was always someone that I just didn't jive with, but that's a chemistry thing and has nothing to do with experience.

My clients gave me a lot of work and that's not because they had an abundance of work for me. It's because I found ways to increase my billable hours (super important if you're trading hours for $ which I encourage you NOT to do).  I found problems and suggested action plans to solve them. I didn't just sit back and wait to be told what to do.  I took initiative and thought one step ahead.

Clients love this.

I was only making 18 bucks an hour back then (2007) as a VA (my day job paid me more, thankfully) and because I'm ambitious I wanted to make more. The way I saw it, If the VA company I was working for charged $35 an hour for my services I should charge $35 an hour for my services.

So in 2009 I opened my virtual assistant business and was hit with some hard realizations. I became acutely aware that I needed to learn how to run an online business..and quickly.

I started reading books about:

MarketingSalesFinance (as it relates to taxes and all that sexy stuff we do as business owners)and Project Management.

Running a business means you're a one (wo)man show (at least in the beginning). You've got to market your business (posting on your Facebook page and Tweeting everyday just isn't going to cut it) how to sell your services (hint: this means getting a YES from prospects every. single. time), how to manage your finances and how to stay on top of every project you've got in the pipeline.

I've always known that to be successful in life you have got to hustle.  You have to be proactive and make choices to create the life you want to live.

I hustled day in and day out doing whatever needed to be done in order to get clients (I know what you're thinking. She's from Vegas...but I'm talking legit marketing tactics people!).

I never sat around and waited for clients to come to me. Who does that?!

I shouted it out from the roof tops that I was open for business. I told my mother-in-law, my cousin, my old boss, my neighbour, the lady standing next to me at the grocery store.  Hell, I even told my dog (just kidding, I don't have a dog). I even wore this shirt (don't laugh, it's one powerful conversation starter at networking events).

I invested in my business.

I signed up for training courses that cost me hundreds of dollars.  I invested in a website and worked with a coach. All of these things cost me money. Money that I made back and then some. Sure I was sweating at times over the investment because every single penny mattered. But I knew that old saying "it takes money to make money" was a cliche for a reason.

If you're not ready to cut your teeth and put in the time and effort to expand your skill set and experience and you're not able to invest in yourself, do you really think you can get clients to pay you and believe in you?

Think about it. When you go on a job interview, don't you dress for success and try to impress? You wouldn't just wing it and throw together just any outfit. Why would you wing it with your business? Your biz needs a professional appearance online and off and you're going to have to invest time and money into that.  Remember, it takes money to make money.

A part of me wrote this blog post to discourage you OR encourage you (depends on the kind of person you are).  You see, entrepreneurship isn't for everyone. It requires dedication, hustle, investment and perseverance.  So if you thinking of becoming a VA you've got to be ready for the road ahead.

Part of what I do is work with women who are ready to do the work and create the kind of business that will change your life forever but creating a virtual assistant business and creating a successful virtual assistant business are two different things.

So, are you ready?  Leave me a comment below and let me know.

Rock on,