Last month a very interesting thing happened in my VA Business, which meant that as of today, I technically have no clients as a Virtual Assistant… I said farewell to my last client yesterday. I’ll explain in this post.
I started my company officially back in 2007, and one of my very first clients was a very intelligent and enterprising individual. He had an online business, and his business had grown to a point where he had one regular VA working with him, but he wanted additional support as his business was continuing to grow, and he was clearly a man with a plan to expand and grow dramatically.
I was very happy, and also eager to work with him, as it was great ongoing regular work, which I knew I would enjoy, and after a phone consultation, I was hired. I have serviced this client, as a virtual assistant doing billable time ever since 2007. Now, over the years, my business has evolved, and I began shortly after taking on this contract with this client, breaking away from the billable time myself, to a group of individuals, a.k.a. my awesome team at Virtual Miss Friday, and I have managed to do that completely, taking on a purely online business consulting and project management role within my VA services company, concentrating on business development and learning new skills and techniques to provide a rather special, unique service to my clients, but throughout this time, and due to the nature of the work I was doing, I have always remained a Virtual Assistant to this particular individual, and have always done everything for the client personally, no matter what has been required.
Last month I received an email explaining that, whilst he has always been extremely happy with my services over the years, he has come to a turning point in his business where virtual staff are just not going to be appropriate for his business plans. His company had grown to such a vast extent, that he was moving completely away from the virtual world and was now moving into offices in April, and hiring employees (yep, traditional style employees) to replace his virtual team – I was in contact with another VA who worked with him who also got a similar email. We were given about a month’s notice that our contracts were ending, and that month was up yesterday.
Fortunately, I have a very active company and client base, and despite the client ceasing to use my service, my company will of course still exist, this is just a really big milestone for me, as I am now running a company where I am completely detached from processing the administrative work. It actually feels good, and will allow me now to focus 100% on my goals, my consulting clients and business development, not to mention make way for new clients. It’s not so much an end of an era, but the beginning of a new one.
What I can pass on to you from my experience…
#1 – You are not indispensable.
No matter how magnificent you are, you are not indispensable if the client’s circumstances change. I was working with this particular client since 2007, 5 years… And despite him really being grateful for my service over the years, it simply no longer featured in his plans for his business.
#2 – It’s not all about economy.
We would naturally assume that a client would discontinue our services if they were no longer able to afford them due to the economy and if business for them was on a downer – but in fact, it can also go the opposite way. If a client is doing so well that they need offices and employees, they could also cease to need your services.
#3 – Don’t get too comfortable.
I mentioned being very lucky, in that if a client ceased to use my services immediately, I would be okay, but this may not always be the case for everyone. Consider your own situation, are you getting comfortable with your client-base because of the length of time you have worked with a client, or the constant awesome praise you are getting for your services? What if the client was to shut up shop, or grew to a point where they needed an on-site support team (even if they have a completely 100% online business – which my client had)? Just be aware than even though things appear to be going well, we don’t have crystal balls for this type of thing.
It’s actually a very positive transition for me, opening up additional time for pursuing other things, including of course, a new client! I hope that this post will show you that even the best of us have unexpected ‘ups and downs’ in business.