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Then vs Now: Avustaa Turns 4!

As we hit another annual milestone in our virtual adventure, we love to take a moment and reflect on what we’ve learned, what we wish we had learned sooner, and what we wished we’d never done. 

There have been many “wins” these past 4 years, but these wins wouldn’t have happened without many challenges and obstacles along the way. And as we had some other VA’s to look up to and turn to for advice, we can’t imagine not passing on a few words of wisdom for anyone thinking about venturing into this wonderfully, crazy world!

  1. Don’t try to please everyone. This was one thing we did at the beginning as we really just wanted to get our business up and running so that we could say we had clients – but it’s not worth it. We sacrificed everything for about the first year – time, money, and passion. We made ourselves available as much as our clients “needed” (read: wanted) because we thought we had to. We’ve since learned that setting “work hours” is very important to establish those boundaries (and if you choose to work beyond them, that’s up to YOU – not them). We also compromised our rates because we were just getting started. But our years of experience outside the VA world made us worth our original rates. It’s tough to renegotiate these rates after the fact without having to work with the client(s) for years, when you can then justify upping your rate. If you truly have the skills you say you do, and are bringing value to your clients, stay true to yourself and do NOT compromise (or by more than 10% if you really want to land that client!). Lastly, you don’t have to do it all – that’s not your job (unless your a Jack or Jill of all trades!). It’s okay to not offer #AllTheServices and be exceptionally great at a select few or handful! In fact, when looking for help on our end, we don’t look for someone who can do everything. We look for someone who can do what we need really well, who has an amazing personality that we’ll enjoy working with, and who’s rates are fair. We’d be willing to pay more for someone who is really good at one or two things, vs someone who is “just okay” at a dozen things. On top of that – we’d rather hire 2-3 people to round out everything that needs to be done, because then it’s more efficient and you aren’t getting shitty work because people are being forced to do things they don’t want to offer, or aren’t that great at.
  2. Spend time in YOUR business. While we’ve always done this, it’s tough to stay in it regularly when you have client work taking priority. But one thing we are really working at carving time out for this Fall is blocking time out each week for Business Development and content preparation. We’ve learned, especially over these past few months, how important they are for us to continue growing our business and also to have that creative outlet. We don’t just write our blog posts for the sake of writing them, we truly enjoy writing them as a way of letting some of those creative juices out! And Business Development for us is engaging in a few groups we’re in, working on learning / developing skills and programs to better round out our skillset (because we WANT to). It’s about scheduling and prioritizing improving Avustaa and what we offer so that we are able to continuously provide the best service possible to our clients.
  3. Don’t fake it til you make it. This is one industry where you will be called on your shit SO quickly, so faking it is not an option. You can absolutely not know, or be fully fluent, in a certain program or skill – but you learn it. You practice it and you be honest that it’s maybe not your strongest skill but if it’s that important to them, you will learn it (if it is something you want to be offering). I’ve done that many times, especially when starting out, and it has never backfired. There’s definitely been hiccups and #AllTheFails, but a client has never fired me nor been super upset. They’re more flexible and willing to give you test runs when it’s something you’re upfront and honest about not knowing, and it’s very likely they’d rather know that upfront then it’s their choice as to whether or not to assign a task or implement a program that you’re unfamiliar with. Having those conversations can be awkward, but they’re extremely important. At the end of the day, your reputation will follow you, and being honest and a hard-worker with your clients will payoff big time in the end!

 

It’s tough to really navigate the ins and outs of this business when you don’t have a full picture of what’s happening behind the scenes. We are thankful for those in the industry who helped guide us early on (and who continue to do so to this day!) and for the clients who have stuck with us. It is so important to us to have a roster of clients who we adore working with – not because their work is “easy” – it’s far from it! They continue to provide us with challenges daily on which we thrive and have helped develop Avustaa into what it is. We have grown exponentially over the last 4 years and we are so excited to see what the next 4 will bring!

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