© 2005 JERPAT Virtual Assistants

Opening a business can be frustrating and rewarding all at the same time. Unfortunately many potentially successful businesseses close their doors because they are not prepared for handling all the issues that arise out of running a business. No matter what your reason for opening your business, you must be sure you are prepared to handle any crisis that may arise. In this article, I will give you some general tips to think about when opening a business.

Ø      Research, research, research. Before I opened my business, I spent over a week finding whatever information that I could on being a Virtual Assistant. Much to my husband’s happiness (or lack of), I printed every article I could find on the business of Virtual Assistance.

Ø      Have a plan. You can have a formal business plan, or you can have an outline of what you plan for your business. My original business plan was written solely for my guidance purposes and it was 7 pages printed. It was informal, and referenced many of the articles I read. The plan helped guide me and keep me on track. Remember to be flexible, and change your plan when the need arises. No matter if you’ve been in business for 3 months or 10 years, figure out where is the next step your business is going, don’t let it stagnate.

Ø      Establish policies and procedures. How are you going to handle payment? Are you going to have a contract (I advise, YES)? How will you handle communication with a client? How do you plan to communicate project needs? What about payment, what forms will you accept? I could go on and on with questions you need to have answered BEFORE you open your doors to a client. I literally lost a client because I had not answered these questions, and rushed into business before thinking things through.

Ø      Organization. Organization can make or break you. Are you able to find clients information or do you have to dig? Where will you put finished projects and projects you are working on? What will your filing system look like? Look at where you are working, and decide, how can I make this work for me?

Ø      Time management. This is crucial to be successful. Create a schedule and stick to it. Get your family to respect your schedule if you work out of your home.

Ø      Add new “niches”. Spice up your business and expand it for your clients by continuing to grow in the services you offer. As a former teacher, I learned very quickly that the degree was not the end of my learning. The profession changed day by day and year by year, so I was in “training” almost as much as my students were in class. The same is true for small businesses. Software changes, as well as client needs change. Are you open to these changes? Continually educate yourself through articles, classes, and talking with other professionals in your business.

Ø     Most importantly, don’t forget why you opened your own business. Whether it was to stay at home with your children, be your own boss, or do something you love, remember your reason when you become frustrated and want to give up.

Opening a new business is rewarding, exciting, and sometimes even fun. On the other hand, it can be frustrating, time consuming, and exhausting. In the end, the rewards outweigh the frustrations, so stick with your goals and dreams!

© 2005 JERPAT
You have permission to reprint this article electronically or in print, as long as the text and byline remain unedited. A courtesy copy of your publication would be appreciated.

Author's Bio: 

“Patty Benton is a coach for new entrepreneurs interested in venturing into the virtual assistance industry that is affordable to all, and she has also written an e-book that takes virtual assistants through the process of setting up their business. Visit her coaching site at http://www.virtualvacoach.com for program details and great business resources. Additionally, Patty is the owner of JERPAT Virtual Assistants and JERPAT Web Design, www.moretime4u.org, which provides affordable administrative and web design support to coaches, small businesses, religious organizations, and realtors. She has also partnered to establish the ministry Acknowledging Christ Together at Work .”