Running your own virtual assistant business can be one of the most rewarding experiences in your life. It can also be one of the most challenging.
Here are some Do's and Don'ts for working from home to help you achieve more ups than downs.
Do: Get dressed every day. Treating your business like a business, and not a hobby, will put you in the right mindset for a productive day.
Don't: Think just because you can work in your pajamas does not mean you should.
Do: Set business hours. Create a daily, weekly, monthly and annual schedule and keep it visible in your workplace. Set a timer if you need to, but stay on track to complete tasks on time. At the end of your workday, stop working (unless you are under deadline, but this should be the exception not the norm).
Don't: Work 24/7. Working around the clock is the fastest way to burn out. Take breaks throughout the day. Respect your schedule and your clients will do the same. Don't forget to eat regularly and exercise every day.
Do: Network with other professionals. Either online or in person, networking can lead to additional business, other virtual assistants whose work may complement your own, and great friendships.
Don't: Become a recluse. Working at home does not mean you are not allowed to leave the house. Get outside, get some fresh air, or meet a friend for lunch.
Do: Market your business. Create a website, distribute a flyer, or place an ad in your local paper. Marketing should be a core component to your business, not an afterthought.
Don't: Forget to ask for referrals and testimonials. The best advertising comes from previous clients. Best of all, it's free.
Do: Competitively price your services. Research the market and price your services accordingly. You will appear more credible if your fees are in line with the competition.
Don't: Overprice or undersell your services. Don't price yourself out of the market with unrealistic fees. Alternatively, don't undersell yourself. If your services are truly unique, premium prices are appropriate.
Do: Keep learning. Learning new skills keeps you from getting bored and makes you more valuable to your clients. It may lead to opportunities for varied assignments.
Don't: Become complacent. Doing the same tasks day in and day out can lead to boredom, loss of enthusiasm and mistakes.
Do: Your best on every project and meet deadlines. Give 100% on each project. If you are unable to meet deadlines or unsure of your client's expectations, let them know immediately.
Don't: Overcommit or overextend yourself. Missing deadlines or producing inferior work is a sure way to lose customers and ruin your reputation. If you are constantly turning down work, it may be time to narrow your services, hire an assistant, or contract with another virtual assistant to help with overflow.
Do: Follow up with clients. A brief thank you note or phone call is a great way to keep in touch with clients. Ask if the last project was satisfactory and if more opportunities are available.
Don't: Assume clients will think of you for their next project. Regular contact will keep you fresh in their minds as a viable resource. But don't become a pest by calling or emailing too often.
Do: Have fun. Reap the rewards of working from home doing projects you enjoy for a boss you love (yourself!).
Don't: Forget why you are working at home. Don't neglect family and friends. After all, isn't having control of your life one of the reasons you decided to work from home in the first place?
Remember to take time to enjoy your life along with your business. Follow these work at home do's and don'ts and you will be on your way to a happy, successful future.
Good luck and have fun!