What I Learned in My First Year of Business

Starting your own business is not an easy feat. My first year as a virtual assistant was rough to say the least. I’ve always been a budding entrepreneur, yet when it came down to it, I had no idea just how much work needed to be done to get my name out there. Today marks one year and six months of officially working for myself and I could not be more proud. I’ve learned quite a bit thus far and I thought it’d be nice to share these golden nuggets for any budding VAs who happen upon this blog.

First and foremost, it takes a LOT of discipline to be self-employed. No really. You don’t know how much discipline you lack until you try running your own business. Good Lord, I don’t know how long it took me to pry my eyes away from Facebook those first couple of months.

You need major discipline to run your own business.

It takes a lot of hard work to stay focused on running your business, bringing in money, tracking your time, etc. There’s quite a bit involved, and if you’re not all-in 100%, you’ll be drowning in all types of chaos.

Market. Market. Market. Marketing is a necessary evil in the world of business. Why? That’s the only way to make yourself known. You don’t necessarily have to kickstart an email campaign right from the jump, but social media is a great starting point. After a few months of setting up shop and getting my website together, I created a Twitter and Facebook page for my new brand. Yes, brand. When you start a business, you should think of yourself as a brand. At least that’s what I try to do. I market myself as my brand; I (try to) give people a reason to remember me. I’m not quite Golden Arches status just yet, but that’s the goal.

Marketing is a necessary evil in the world of business.

What’s one of the biggest terrors you have or had when starting your business? Networking. If you don’t have experience warm- or cold-calling, networking is probably a huge issue for you. It absolutely was one for me. In all honestly, it’s still a big thing I’m working on. I’m constantly joining webinars and LinkedIn groups to commingle with other entrepreneurs. Another great way I’ve learned to do this is signing up for discussion forums. Two of my go-to forums are Virtual Assistant Forums and VA Networking, which is run by Tawnya Sutherland. The best advice I can give for budding entrepreneurs still afraid to get their feet wet with networking is to just dive in. You’ll never know who you might meet.

Those are probably the biggest mental hits I took my first year in business. Trust me, I’m still doing a lot of learning but I think I’ve come pretty damn far from where I was a year and a half ago.


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