Thirty six months in business: Thirty six lessons learned.
As I start my third year in business, I am taking a few minutes to reflect back and see what lessons I have learned in starting this exciting venture.
- Not everyone works the same hours as I do. A 9-5 mindset is limiting. Creativity has no set time.
- Most people don’t know what a virtual assistant is or what I do.
- A solid internet connection is critical to my work.
- Tracking hours religiously is very important.
- Small business owners have to pay CPP deductions both as the employer, and the employee. (Silly CRA rule).
- Some clients don’t need me every day, or week, or month. But they will need me again.
- Securing government contracts is very helpful for business growth.
- Some people don’t read their emails every 10 minutes like I do.
- Set aside a specific time every month to do your billing.
- Have a separate bank account to pay yourself and your HST.
- Computer back-up hard drives are very important.
- Always, always have business cards with you – no matter where you go.
- Don’t forget to ask for a referral; if you forgot, just ask later.
- There is always something to learn every day.
- Some people still want to mail you a cheque. Be accommodating.
- Sometimes you have to give something away to get people to pay for your services.
- Finding others who have similar goals as you is who you should work with.
- No job is too small
- Create a system that works for you to track receipts and expenses and stick to it.
- Try and stay up on what is new in your industry via blogs, magazines, social media.
- Remember to take time to rest and take care of you. You can’t work 24/7.
- Outsource smaller jobs to focus efforts on larger, more complicated jobs.
- Leave the house regularly, go work in a coffee shop or library.
- You will need a good accountant.
- Find your best working time and be super productive during these hours; leave the menial tasks to less productive time in the day.
- Accept help; you can’t do everything yourself.
- Monitor your competition. They are probably doing some things better than you.
- I am not great at everything; there are some things I am going to fail at. Accept it and move on.
- I can’t make everyone happy all the time.
- My time, experience, and education all have value and I am worth what I charge.
- Find a support system – you will need to vent and bounce ideas off of people.
- All connections will eventually lead to business, just not when you expect it.
- Sometimes I need a kick in the butt to get motivated. It’s hard when working at home alone.
- You need to take the time to celebrate the little successes along the way.
- In order to grow your business, you have to spend a little money on improving it.
- Hold yourself and your clients accountable. Have a clear process and deliver value for money.
Looking forward to adding many more lessons to this list.
Thank you to everyone who has supported me in this journey. I couldn’t have done it without you.
Owner and CAO – Ross Street Agency