How I started my VA business
I bet one of the reasons you want to start your own business is so that you can create the lifestyle you want. Heck, I know that’s why I left a successful career at an investment bank to strike out on my own. To me, running my own business meant being able to choose who I worked with and when. To no longer be away from home for 13 hours at a time, especially as I had worked so bloody hard to buy my home in the first place!
The great thing about creating your own business is that it can be completely unique to you. YOU are the only person who knows what’s most important in your life and YOU have the capability to leverage your strengths and skills. And never, ever forget that if you want something badly enough you will find a way to make it work.
So what does your business look like to you?
What matters most to you? Is it being location independent or spending more time with your children? Is it working less hours or working on things that really matter to you? When you picture your ideal life, what does a day in it look like? And I mean realistically, as we can’t all win the lottery and live on our own private island…..
If you want the life that goes with your business it’s important to remember that you need to picture your life as a whole when you’re making your plan. Create actionable goals, both personal and professional. Mine currently look something like this:
Never work in an office again
Be less stressed
Create a consistent income under my own steam
Take a long walk everyday
Be able to fit work around my daughter
Now more than ever I think about my goals whenever I make a decision. Will this particular client respect my working hours? Will working on this particular product contribute to the consistent income I need to maintain my freelance business? Goals need to be more than a wishlist you jot down at the beginning of the year. They need to have real impact on decisions you make and be the reality check you need when you get caught up doing the countless things needed to run a business.
Got your goals sorted? Great! So how will you get there?
If your goal is to have more free time then maximise your productivity by planning effectively and using the best tools to streamline your processes. If your goal is to do the school run every day then plan your working hours around your children. And if your goal is to be less stressed then make sure you make time for a stress-relieving activity like yoga or meditation every day.
Use your business lifestyle goals to create a business plan, task list or a to do list. To me a business plan always seemed so serious so I started with an overall list of ‘The Big Things’ I needed to do, such as:
Create a list of products or services
Create a website
Find some clients
I then added the sub-tasks I needed to complete to tick off a ‘Big Thing’. Plan the sub-tasks you need to complete methodically – this is no time to be vague!
Break each task down in to actionable steps that won’t overwhelm you (tip: instead of adding ‘create social media presence’ to your to do list, add these three tasks instead: ‘sign up to twitter;’ ‘sign up to a social media scheduling tool;’ ‘schedule 5 posts a day’).
What tools do you need to get there?
I’m sure you’re well aware of the amazing array of tools that are available to help people just like you and me lead easier lives. You can broadly break them down into these categories:
Social media management
There’s no point reinventing the wheel so if you can find a tool or system to streamline a process then you absolutely should make use of it. These tools are designed to save you time and improve your productivity, and as long as they do what they say on the tin then everyone’s a winner. You may be working around your family commitments so use online tools to make the best use of your time.
Check in with yourself
This is definitely something I neglected to do when I first started out. It’s so important to review your progress regularly to ensure you’re working towards your goals, and to tweak things when necessary. Are you hitting your income goals? Are you working with the ‘right’ clients? Are you happy? After all, happiness is surely one of the reasons you took the brave and important step to start your own business in the first place, so it’s definitely not something you should let fall in importance.
Celebrate your wins, no matter their size!
Be kind to yourself – allow yourself to take breaks without feeling guilty
If you really don’t want to do something, then don’t do it. Life’s too bloody short! Give it to someone else to do for you or find a way of removing it from your processes completely
What does your lifestyle business look like to you? How far along are you in your entrepreneurial journey? I’d love to hear about how you started (or plan to start) so leave a comment below!