When I started my own business, it was both exciting and terrifying. I had always been an employee and not having to worry about paying myself, working out taxes, keeping accurate records was something I had happy not having to do.
Before I launched my business, I had my plan, my target market. At least, I thought I did.
I got to about four months in and I started really looking at my target market and it became apparent that it wasn’t working. I had completely misjudged it and needed to find an alternative market. One thing people kept saying was how important it was to find your ideal client as it is easier to target. Yes, that is true but what if you don’t know who they are?
What are others doing?
I started looking at who other VAs targeted and tried to copy them. This was my first mistake. It didn’t work for me and I thought there was something wrong with me “It works for them, why doesn’t it work for me”. Then I started spiralling. I didn’t have any idea of who my target audience was and, for a while, I felt like I was walking around in the wilderness.
I needed help and fast.
Where to look
I had always been a bit sceptical about business coaches. My first thought was how are they going to help me, they don’t know anything about me or my business. I had heard other business owners using coaches and I thought it was a way for people to make money for nothing.
On a networking forum, I found a lady who was offering the first three sessions for free, so I thought I would give that a try. If it doesn’t work, it hasn’t cost me anything. I admit I was very sceptical about business coaching.
We had our first session and she explained how everything worked.
At the beginning
Before the first session, my business coach sent me a word document called Wheel of Work, divided into eight sections; Professional Development, Finances, Career Progression, Purpose & Passion, Relationships, Role & Responsibility, Work/Life Balance and Recognition / Support. I needed to shade each section according to how much I feel I need help in each area; the more it’s shaded, the more help I think I need.
The First Session
Using the Wheel of Work, I was asked to go through each section, particularly focusing on the sections that had more shading. For me, the for me it was; Purpose & Passion and Role & Responsibility.
Role & Responsibility was a difficult one. I have a family and making sure I am able to earn enough money to support myself and my family is a massive responsibility. I would worry about not being in a position to earn enough money to maintain our standard of living. This was also giving me sleepless nights which, as we all know, is never a good thing.
Purpose & Passion – Before I started my business as a Virtual PA, I was an Executive Assistant so I have a solid background and doing what I do, you need to care about what you do and the people you do it for. Fortunately for me, I do. But finding people who will believe I am good was hard.
Going through the list
Being able to talk to someone who didn’t know anything out me was, oddly enough, a breath of fresh air. I could be completely honest with her. I told her what my concerns were and talked through each section. Over the next few sessions we would talk about each section in detail. I found my mantra; I didn’t come this far only to come this far.
It wasn’t until the end of the third session my scepticism disappeared. I did a review of the last three sessions looked at how far I had come in three sessions, and I hadn’t even realised.
My coach helped me get to the answers I needed by helping my get the answers myself, she didn’t tell me. I continued the final three sessions and I feel like I am a different person than I was at the start. I started looking at things differently and doing things differently.
What I have learnt
In the six months (which flew by) I have learnt that it’s OK to be different, don’t copy what others are doing. When trying to figure out who to target, it helped me look at it from another angle…What industries did I want to avoid? This helped me strip out a lot of sectors. I then made a list of the tasks that I really enjoy doing and looking at sectors where I can offer my services.
What did I do to change?
I use my calendar for everything. The things that I was worried about forgetting, I would put in my calendar to remind me, that way I won’t worry about forgetting them. I even do this for my personal life too.
I have a note pad by my bed so if I get an idea or remember something, I write it down.
I made sure I take a break and go for a walk. It’s amazing how much clarity you can get for a 10-minute walk.
I turned off all my electronics when I was in bed. No mobile, no TV, no radio. The only thing I had was my Kindle. I would read a bit then fall asleep. For me the key thing was sleep.
I can see clearly now
For the first time, I feel I a massive sense of clarity. I have a list of services that I want to offer because I enjoy doing them and a clear goal of where I want to be.
My six-months of business coaching flew by and I’ve heard there’s a lot of stigma attached to coaching, although, I’m not sure why. Some of the most successful business owners have coaches. Getting a business coach was one of the best investments I have ever made in my business and in myself. Above all, I’ve learnt that it’s OK to ask for help. As much as we would like to, we can’t do it all ourselves.
About the author
Raakhee Stratton runs her own business RS Virtual Assistant, which is based in Ashford, Kent. She provides Virtual PA support to small businesses, entrepreneurs and authors. If you require a Virtual Assistant, please contact email@example.com