In business, as in life, many things can jump into our path unexpectedly.
It’s how we handle these things that will allow us to continue on the path to success, or derail us completely.
Here are three common roadblocks that VAs face:
1) Unexpected loss of a client
2) Too much new business at once
3) Late payment by a client
Unexpected Loss of a Client
When a client decides to leave you (or if you fire them with little notice) it can be devastating to your income. The key is to keep your pipeline filled with prospects on a regular basis, so it’s as easy as contacting people in your audience and getting a new client. But this isn’t always the way it works. What you want to do to soften the blow of losing a client (big or small) is to set a schedule for completion of work with the existing client (always try to give notice if you can, or ask for notice if they are moving on), and start your canvassing of prospects immediately. Reach out to colleagues and other strategic partners to let them know you have an opening and actively look for someone to replace your lost client. Watch your expenses if necessary, so that you can adjust them for the decrease in income. Then you need to put a plan in place if you don’t already have one, so that you have potential clients a phone call away!
Too Much New Business
If you are really actively marketing, or attending networking events, it is very common to bring on more than one client at a time. This can be overwhelming, but it’s easy to handle. First, if possible, you want to stagger the start dates of new clients. Even a few days apart can make a big difference in your schedule. You also want to have a clear client intake procedure set up so that you can prioritize the needs of each client as you start to work with them. If you don’t have team members that are helping you out, it may be time to seek some out. The key here is organization, so you can handle your current clients and the new clients (who always need a bit more attention to begin with) and make the procedure of bringing on one or more new clients seamless. If you don’t have a procedure in place to bring in new clients, you should get one set up.
Late Payment by a Client
Talking with clients about money will almost always be the most uncomfortable part of your business – especially if they owe you money. It happens occasionally to some people and more often to others. The best plan is to have a payment policy, and be very firm with it. If your clients are supposed to pay you in advance, be sure you don’t do any work until money is received. If your clients pay you in installments, it’s the same as a retainer. Work stops if money is not received. If someone owes you money at the end of project, have a clear plan of how and when that is to be paid. Policies are always put in place because of mistakes made in the past – and I find that most VAs who work exclusively on pre-payment do so because they have been burned by late paying clients. Get a policy in place now to collect payment in advance – you have better control over your work and your business by making this a requirement.
There are many things that can stop your VA business in its tracks. These are just a few examples. Building policies and holding your clients to them is going to be a key factor in your continued success.
Always remember that you are running a business – and while you are grateful for your clients because they pay you for your work, you are not responsible to them. It’s a business and you need to be sure to treat it as one.
I’d love to hear your results by taking a look at what you are tolerating. Post your thoughts on my Facebook page or send me an email email@example.com.