Happy birthday to… US! With a high percentage of businesses not surviving past four years, we are proud to announce that VaVa turns five this month. We couldn’t be happier to have been helping companies locally, nationally and internationally since 2011.
We so vividly remember in the very first month of business screaming for joy when we made our first client acquisition. Since then, we have learned so much about the small business world and what it takes to thrive. In honor of our blood, sweat and tears over the past five years, here are some tips of some things that have stuck with us to help us succeed.
- Organize – Anything and everything! The more you can get organized from the start, the better off you will over time. Write out a business plan and your business goals (short-term and long-term), and be specific with the terms of your services and products. You can always make alterations as time passes, but to have a base to start with is very helpful to build from in the beginning. Trying new programs built to help organize businesses is beneficial as well. Some stick and some don’t, but most of the ones we use now have really advanced us forward (Slack for internal messages, Basecamp for project management, Freshbooks for invoicing, Mailchimp for our email automation campaigns/monthly newsletters, Stripe for our online shopping cart).
- Have a Mentor – There are people before you that have done what you’re trying to do. Use them as a resource! Ask questions, get feedback and appreciate suggestions that come from those trying to help you. Our ‘go-to’ mentor (that we cannot thank enough) was Marlene Eldemire of Mars Virtual Assistant and Travel. A true gem in the VA world. She also connected us with many forums, people, and tools to succeed. We recommend finding someone you can trust who will help you along the way!
- Keep Your Books – It may seem like overkill to track revenue and expense in the beginning when activity may be low, but having this in place when it’s slow will just set you up for staying on top of it when things pick up. Playing catch up with your books is not what you want to do so get a bookkeeping system in place from the get go.
- Get a Business Coach – When you have a budget that you can allocate partially to getting more help to grow your business, do so! The more you can grow your community of cheerleaders that will give you advice and tips to grow, the better. We found it very beneficial when starting to work with Phil and Stacey of PEG Coaches. They learned VaVa through and through and have been able to help us from the inside out.
- Set Deadlines – When you are your own boss, procrastination can become very prominent. Keep a list of all the to-do items you need to get to for the business (this will grow and shrink as time goes on), and set deadline dates for when each item needs to be finished. Remind yourself that your business will go nowhere unless you hold yourself accountable to achieve these deadlines.
- Prioritize – As before mentioned, your to-do list will be quite long most of the time, and seem rather daunting. Remember that you are one person trying to do a lot and cut yourself some slack when you need to. Prioritize items that are the most pertinent and focus on those, then you can get to tackling the rest when you can. Just don’t forget to get to them!
- Talk About It – We have found over the years that the more we talk about our business, the more our name circulates. Joining communities that help like-minded businesses such as yourself is a great way to keep getting your name out there. We enjoy the co-working space Roam because it offers a community of virtual businesses that we can work alongside, as well as events where we can connect and network with those business owners.
- As for Referrals – If you’ve done good work and others take notice, ask them to refer you. Over the years we’ve done this and now more than half of our clientele is from referrals. How awesome is that? You can even devise a referral program that offers incentives for those that refer you, making it mutually beneficial and more enticing for people to do.
- Invest in Marketing – Whether it’s time, money or both that you have to invest, do it. It will take some trial and error to find the best markets to hit your target demographics, but it’s all well worth it. One highly valuable way to spread the name of your business is through Public Relations. For that, we cannot recommend Diana Ennen of Virtual Word Publishing enough. The more others are talking about your business, the better!
- Go Back to the Drawing Board – Business clientele and revenues are constantly going through ebbs and flows. When you’ve hit a stale spot, don’t be afraid to make changes that will improve your business moving forward. Review what you’ve been doing to see what’s been working and what hasn’t been, and make changes accordingly. Change can be scary, but sometimes it can be the best thing for your business’s growth.
What started as a side job idea in a café in Los Angeles five years ago has now grown into a thriving small business with locations in Los Angeles, CA and Atlanta, GA, that serves clients that reside everywhere and in many different industries. We are so lucky to be able to, on a daily basis, help small businesses focus on their revenue producing activities (RPA’s) while we handle all the back office responsibilities. We have come so far already, but have high hopes on what VaVa will become in the next 5+ years.
To celebrate and show appreciation to everyone out there supporting VaVa and other small businesses, we will be giving YOU a birthday gift each week of September. All you have to do is mention this post and the gift will be applied immediately. We are so excited about all the offerings we have this month!