Wow! What the hell is going on? This is an unprecedented situation for everyone. No one knows how this real life film is going to play out, so let’s all just stand still, wide eyed and do nothing, yeah?
No! Let’s try and carry on as best we can. Here are some ways you can keep your business running.
Find a Buddy
I think it’s a great time to find a buddy.
Take a look at other VAs around you and identify someone that might be able to step into your shoes should you need to take time out of your business for an extended length of time (i.e. hospitalised / loved one hospitalised with COVID19).
- Put together an Admin Bible of your day to day jobs that will need doing if you’re not around.
- Identify a VA who shares the same skills and ethos as you and ask if he/she would be willing to step in if anything happens and offer to do the same for them.
- Let your clients know you have measures in place should you need time out for an extended period.
In my membership we have a directory of all member’s skills, hourly rate, associate rate and contact details so we all have someone we can call on at any given time. Emergency planning is key when you have your own business and something I’m going to be focusing more on in the coming months.
Do the same for your clients
If something was to happen to you would your client be able to easily hand everything over to someone else / do it themselves or would the proverbial hit the fan for a while?
Obviously, you’re not indispensable but you’re a huge part of the day to day running of your clients’ business and so without you, they’re up that smelly creek without a paddle for a while, which will have another knock on effect to their income.
Let’s avoid that happening.
Ask your clients if they’d like an admin bible put together for, maybe £99?, so that you or they can hand over their business should something happen. It’s a great time to sell this as they will see the importance of it.
Upsell to your clients
Some of your clients may be feeling utter despair right now and not know how to cope. This is where you come in – VAs and VBMs have the invaluable insight from not only running their own business, but helping others to run theirs too – we know so much.
If your client relied heavily on footfall or face to face meetings for their income then you might need you to help them get online / find alternative ways to make money.
Here are a couple of suggestions:
That consultant who usually holds face to face meetings – turn them into Zoom calls. You can set up the Zoom account for them and do a video (using Zoom or Loom) to show them how it all works, then have a practice session or two with them.
That local shop who relied heavily on footfall, could perhaps offer a delivery service.
You could help them tell their clients via email / social media / flyers and set up a system. You could help set up a system to manage the orders and deliveries.
Maybe this whole nightmare we’re in has highlighted to some of your clients that their business model is rather flimsy and needs more in place – perhaps they need to build an audience away from social media, perhaps they need to start taking newsletter communication seriously, perhaps they need to stop putting off their marketing?
You can help them with that if these are your areas of expertise.
This is all billable time by the way, we don’t work for free and your client can recoup the investment when their business is bringing the money in thanks to you saving their business and their stress levels.
Who needs a VA/VBM now? Isn’t everyone saving money?
Not necessarily. It’s going to be business as usual for many. As much as the government is negotiating finance support for many there will be food to buy, bills to pay. Businesses will need to keep running, they need to keep providing their services – not just for the benefit of their clients, but for their own benefit too.
Once we’re adjusted to this new way of temporary living things will start to pick up again and probably fast! You’ll get more requests for those urgent tasks, so be ready!
But in the meantime, there are lots of people / businesses that need us. Some more than ever!
Large organisations that usually have staff in the office that may have gone sick – it’s a great time for us to let the corporate world know we exist.
People who have had to let employees go because they can’t afford the full time wages as they don’t have full time work for them – VAs/VBMs are their saviour as people can work ad hoc with us.
Use your spare time well
If things do go a little bit quiet it is not an opportunity to binge watch Netflix, that’s for people who have an employed job to return to and a separate marketing department. You are every department.
Keep working on and in your business during your normal working day so you keep the momentum going for when those enquiries start flooding in again.
- That lead magnet you were going to create? Do it!
- That newsletter list you were going to promote? Do it!
- That content batching you were going to do? …. You’ve guessed it! Do it!
How to make ad hoc clients’ finances easier
It’s a great time to move your ad-hoc clients onto a retainer.
Firstly, remember this has to benefit them. Clients aren’t there just to give you an income, so if that’s your mindset – move it along and remember we’re here to provide a good service too!
I have moved many of my own clients from ad hoc to retainer so help them budget better and this is how:
Calculate the last 6 months worth of invoices you’ve sent to a client and find the average.
6 months divided by 6 = the average
Share this calculation with the client and offer them that average as a retainer so they know what their expense will be every month.
You could offer this for the next 3 months and then review. It’s been very successful for me and my clients.
Set your working hours
Your time is precious
In a few weeks / months we may again be able to socialise with people who have self-isolated, and that means those that are employed might suddenly think that means ‘coffee breaks’ all day. You’re a business owner, your time is money – do not forget that.
Set your working hours and stick to them. Yes, you can have a lunch break – you deserve one – but it doesn’t have to last two hours and does not come at the sacrifice of your business and the clients you serve.
Don’t let people who are not business owners start thinking you’re free 9-5 too. You’re not.
Should I still be marketing myself? Is it insensitive?
We need to be mindful of what’s going on around us and the struggles that people are experiencing, however the whole world hasn’t stopped revolving and businesses are still operating, some more than ever. You carry on as normal because if you stop marketing yourself it will be hard to get back into the flow. Some of your competitors may not have stopped! I haven’t!
You know what it’s like; even stopping work at home for a few minutes to answer the door, or take a phone call ,or deal with the children can mean it takes a little while to get back into the rhythm. Imagine if you took a few weeks or months out of your marketing, it’ll take a long time to get back into it so, no loss of service! It’s not in YOUR best interests.
I’ve got children, I might as well pack it all in
Parenting or the business? There are plenty of other people running businesses with children around 24/7 – lots of VAs home school all the time. Start creating a new routine for the offspring; children love routine and boundaries – you know that! I firmly believe this whole situation will give them some grounding for adult life, when they need to be aware that things happen that will disrupt familiarity. It gives them a great opportunity to create some make-believe play and extend their imagination. Imagine how hard it would be in a world without YouTube to give them opportunities to learn and play.
Yes, I am a mother. I was a single Mum for eleven years and currently I am now not going to see my daughter for at least three months because I have to be in quarantine. I am sad every day about that, but I also know I still need to focus on keeping my income alive.
Stop! We can all think of excuses to not do something. Sometimes fear and anxiety conjure up those excuses. Stop, take a breather, reset and resume. We’re all in this together, I find that quite comforting when I wake up at 3am wondering if it was a dream. Don’t be afraid to share how you’re feeling in your business’ social media posts – you’ll attract likeminded people and likeminded people make amazing clients!
Remember why you started your business in the first place; normality will return and you’re going to need your business when it does. Don’t let it go.
We’re going to be just fine!
There’s nothing better than having a community around you, people who understand, people who are just like you. That’s the community I have created in my Private Membership Club. I would love you to join us.
Remember, I am still a full time VA so I know what’s needed in today’s business world.
Find out more about what I do and how I can help you build and grow your VA / VBM business, here: www.howtobeava.co.uk
Thinking about transitioning from Virtual Assistant to a Virtual Business Manager. Now is a great time to start. Here’s All you need to transition from a Virtual Assistant to a Virtual Business Manager
Want to know more about moving clients from ad hoc to retainers? Read my blog post How to move ad-hoc clients over onto retainers.
Please only take your advice on COVID19 from the World Health Organisation, Dave down the chippy who your connected with on Facebook knows sod all!