Congratulations! You’ve made the decision to start your own VA business and you’re ready to get started. You’re in for an exciting and rewarding time, as you make the journey along your new entrepreneurial path.  Or perhaps you have been going awhile now but things don’t seem to be going to plan… and you are left wondering why.

For many new VA business startups, there’s several common mistakes they tend to encounter. At best, these mistakes delay them from achieving their first goals and milestones. At worst, they can hold them back from ever starting in the first place.

Here’s an overview of the common mistakes you need to avoid, when starting a VA business.

#1: Thinking it costs a lot to get started, so not getting started.

Starting a VA business really isn’t an expensive set up, especially if you already have a mobile phone, a laptop or PC and access to the internet. There’s only two other things you ideally need to get – a domain name, along with a website hosting provider to house it and the website you’re going to put on it.  (Then when you get your first clients you do need to make sure you have contracts, insurance, data protection etc.. but to do that initial start, does not have to be expensive.)

#2: Not having a clear plan of action

You don’t necessarily need an all singing, all dancing business plan, but you do need to have a clear idea of what you want and how you’re going to achieve it.  

#3: Thinking like an employee, rather than a business owner

This is a big one for new business owners. It’s about realising you’re in control of everything you do, and then doing everything you can to achieve it. Give yourself permission to make your VA business a success and be prepared to make the decisions needed to make it happen.  #BeTheBoss not the Do’er!

#4: Trying to offer everything to everyone

The best way to grow your VA business is to have a clear idea of who you want to serve and what you want to provide. Narrow this down as much as possible, so you can confidently market it to the right people. Struggling to figure out what services to offer? Check out this recent article: What services to offer in your VA business.

#5: Not setting yourself clear working patterns

It’s important that you look after your physical and mental health, especially if you’re going to be running your own business. Setting yourself clear working patterns is part of this – it enables you to work hours that suit you, whilst also knowing when to switch off work mode and relax.

#6: Trying to find your work-life balance right from the outset of starting a VA business

You need determination, drive and a clear working pattern, if you want it to work. Trying to balance your personal and work lives isn’t always easy – that’s why it’s much better to focus on achieving a work-life integration instead. At the start, your VA business will need to focus more on work – and that’s ok – just make sure you’re still maintaining some form of integration that suits you.

#7: Leaving your existing employment too early

Another common mistake new VA businesses make, is leaving their paid employment too early. You need to have some financial stability in your life and, at present, your paid employment is giving you that. Make the switch to self employment gradually as you build a client base or, at least, afford yourself a financial cushion of 4-6 months, before you leave your existing job.

#8: Not giving yourself enough of a start-up period

Starting a new VA business takes time. You need to get an online presence sorted, as well as getting in those first clients, so take the pressure off yourself and give yourself a decent amount of time to reach those first milestones. If you need help finding new clients, check out this article: 10 places to find clients for you VA business

#9: Spending out on things you don’t need

As mentioned in mistake number 1, it doesn’t cost a lot to get started. You need to keep your expenditure as low as possible, so think carefully, before you buy that latest shiny thing!

#10: Putting marketing at the bottom of your to-do list

Lots of VAs, old and new, have a problem with marketing. It’s understandable that it can be scary putting yourself out there, but it’s essential if you want your business to grow. Move it to the top of your list, especially at this crucial startup stage.

#11: Avoiding networking

Similar to the common mistake above, networking is another area we like to avoid. Sign up and commit to going to one local networking event regularly every month. Try a few out first, and opt for the one that has the most potential for you.  Become a networking tart for at least 90 days!

#12: Not telling existing networks about your new VA business

Don’t make the mistake that people aren’t interested in hearing about your new VA business. You never know who has a side business or is friends with someone who does. After all, how many people know about you wanting to start your own VA business at the moment…?

#13: Using free hosting service platforms to host your professional VA business website

Free hosting service platforms such as WordPress.com or Tumblr, result in ugly looking URLS (such as yourname.wordpress.com). If you want to look professional, always go for the option that enables you to have your own domain name only (yourname.co.uk – ie www.vact.co.uk) 

#14: Ignoring social media

You don’t have to be on every social media platform, but it pays to get to know one or two really well. Opt for the one where your potential new clients hang out – for many of us, that’s either Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.  Don’t forget though – you could claim the social media name and tell people that although this is not your preferred platform, they can find you on x platform instead.

#15: Comparing your progress with established VA businesses

Comparing yourself to other VA businesses is never a good idea. Not only do you often end up comparing yourself against established ones, you always end up belittling the successes you’ve already achieved. Use others as a gauge to where you want to be, but understand it will take time for you to get there – and give yourself a realistic time frame to do so.  

#16: Not having a support network

Just because you’re a sole trader or solo business owner, doesn’t mean you need to do it all on your own. Get yourself a support network of like minded business people around you, so you can share advice and tips, and also have someone to talk to. Ideally, opt for a VA mentor who can support you during your first year or two.

#17: Looking at all other VAs as the competition

Other VAs aren’t competition – they’re potential future Associates and allies. They’re on a similar journey to you, so why not add them to your support network? The VA industry as a whole favours collaboration, rather than competition.  #CollaborationNotCompetition

Starting a VA business will often lead to inevitable mistakes being made, However, by using this overview as a guide, you can ensure you avoid making the most common mistakes and focus instead, on doing what’s need to successfully launching your new VA business. 

Congratulations, you’re starting a VA business! However, there's lots of common mistakes you need to avoid, if you want to get your #VA business off the ground. Here's 17 mistakes most new #VirtualAssistant startups will make, and how to avoid them #VAtraining by Amanda Johnson of VACT.