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It comes down to altering the way you see yourself

For those of you who know my love of travel, it’s probably no surprise to you that I prepared my first business plan while sitting by a pool in a Darwin hotel. I was contemplating becoming a business owner!

That was back in 2000. And I had big dreams and made plans on how to deal with growth. In fact, I was going to grow so big, so fast, that I was going to franchise or sell licenses. It’s funny the ideas we have when we first plan our businesses.

I also remember the feeling of being scared to death.

Fast forward 5 years (and a few more holidays) to 2005 when I finally opened for business. I was a soloist virtual assistant (VA), offering to help clients with the skills I’d gained during my many years in business administration.

After a while, clients started asking me for services that were outside my areas of expertise. Could I overstretch myself and learn new skills? Yes! Did I want to or have time to? No!

I had to allow myself to grow as a business owner

I quickly realised that I wasn’t a superhuman. And, if I ever wanted to take another holiday, I had to create a virtual team. I didn’t want to turn clients away (and still don’t) but needed to find solutions to help them.

So, I stopped being Kirsty Wilson the soloist VA, and became Interim Business Solutions, the business.

The first new service introduced was transcription, which has become one of our most significant service offerings. To give you an idea of how huge this service is, in December 2017, we had a record-breaking 2,000 audio minutes to transcribe.

Quick note: I’m always on the lookout for new transcriptionists to help, so please drop me an email with your experience.

Other services that were introduced include advanced formatting, outbound call support, general graphic design and other specialist services.

And the best part is, our clients can now access a range of support by making one phone call, or sending one email. It’s a tad cliché, but IBS has truly become a ‘one-stop support shop’ for many businesses. As the face of the business, clients rest easy knowing that I’m in charge of managing the process and ensuring deadlines are met with quality outcomes.

My message to all VAs – think like a business owner, not an employee

If I had kept thinking I was an employee, servicing clients with only the things I could confidently do, I would never have grown my business. Sure, it would have been easy to say, ‘Sorry I don’t offer that’ and turn clients away, but where’s the challenge in that?

I often see VAs on forums asking, ‘I’m at capacity, what should I do?’, or ‘How can I supplement my income when I can’t work more hours myself?’

Here’s how.

Put on your business owner hat. Look at what services clients are asking you for. Look at your networks. Look at yourself. Are there opportunities for you to expand your business offerings by leveraging the skills of others? Can you see yourself as a team leader?

VAs are always preaching to their clients – ‘Outsource your work, it’s easy’. So maybe it’s time you took that advice?

Depending on your confidence, it may take some time to change your mindset from simply doing tasks for clients to managing a team. You will also need to be prepared to talk about yourself as a business, not an individual.

When you’re onboarding clients, you’ll need to communicate clearly that you are a team of specialists and that it may not be you who is completing the work. Most people will be ok with this, so long as the work gets done to a high standard and within deadlines.

Want some advice about creating your virtual team?

If you’re a VA who’s wanting to grow a team and would love some advice on how to do it, please feel free to get in touch.

Or if you’re a business owner who’d love to have a specialist virtual team to partner with, contact us and let’s have a chat about everything we could do for you.

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