Real Talk: Why I Left the Services Business…
There are some things about being a Virtual Assistant I’ve never said before.
I’ve held them back, the real feelings, because I was worried it might drive away some people who I serve or possibly insult someone who’s doing what I decided not to do.
But in recent years I’ve grown a lot and I know that just because I have an opinion it doesn’t mean my feelings and opinions apply to your situation (or anyone’s for that matter). They’re just my opinions. Take them or leave them. Find value in them or not. But I think sharing them WILL help some who are struggling with some of the same things I struggled with at the time…
Why I Started a Services Business in 2006
I became a VA (Virtual Assistant) out of pure frustration! I had “the dream”. The dream of earning hundreds of thousands of dollars online. The dream of making money in my sleep. The dream of working now and profiting later.
Sidenote and spoiler: I made it to that dream! But not without sidesteps and struggles and ugly stuff, some of what I’ll tell you about right here and right now.
I was working my afternoon-shift factory job and wishing for a way to make that dream happen. I’d tried selling a physical product, selling a financial product, joining a networking marketing company, selling content as an “ezine”, affiliate marketing and more. I felt like a FAILURE, a complete and total failure.
It’s hard feeling like a failure. It honestly sucks. It’s a hard place to “live” in your mind. It feels like desperation. And in a desperation I saw the words of a friend who was quitting the VA business. She said something that literally changed my life. She said “no more hours for dollars!”. She was excited to be free of hours for dollars but all I could think was “I’ll take those hours for dollars working from home, doing something I love… I’ll take it!”.
And so I hung my hat up as a Virtual Assistant. The serial entrepreneur starts again…
But this time, it worked!
I got clients almost immediately. I guess all those years of “failure” were really prep-work because the people who hired me saw how much value I brought with my years of practicing website design, email marketing, writing and more. They saw the skills I failed to see as I sat in the huge oven of that factory where I worked and cried about my life in that moment.
They hired me fast. And even faster when I offered to work 10 hours for just $50! Yes, I was so ready to get outta that factory that I basically was working for free to get the clients and prove to them they should hire me.
Now before I get to the reasons why I left, I want to highlight some of the awesome reasons I would RECOMMEND a services business to just about anyone, especially when you’re just getting started.
Reasons to Start & Grow a Services Business
- It is Immediate Profit – I talk a lot to my members about focusing on profit, doing daily money tasks and being clear about what you’re selling. But when you’re selling a service, this is a natural and easy process to remember. When you are a service provider and you’ve won clients then you work an hour and you get paid for that hour. There’s no wait and see, there’s no conversion tracking, there’s no testing to see what or how to make money. You get immediate profit.
- It has a Very High-Profit Margin – So immediate profit is awesome and so is a high-profit margin. A growing services business most often earns new business through word of mouth and relationship building which costs little to no money. This means you keep a lot of what you make. That’s a very good thing!
- It’s an Amazing Education – When I started my Virtual Assistance business I knew quite a bit but I learned so much more by getting hands-on inside of other profitable businesses. I could never have prepared for my information and coaching business by studying courses and learned this kind of “insider info” any other way.
Too often people think of their business as the “end point”. I want you to really consider this a journey. I didn’t know it when I started my VA business, because I was so desperate and I didn’t care, but I really had so much change ahead of me. The VA business was a place to start, a place to grow from, it was not my finish line.
Why I Quit the Services Business:
I didn’t wake up one morning and stop taking clients. Not even close.
Matter of fact it took me about four years from when I decided I wanted out completely from services to letting go of my last ongoing client.
The reason why can be summarized up in one word: Freedom
Back to the beginning of this blog post when I said I wanted the Dream.
The “make money while you sleep”.
The “earn passive income”.
The “freedom business lifestyle”.
Now I learned the long and hard way that the dream IS REAL but it also is not easy to achieve.
I couldn’t just create an ebook and wait for the cash to flow in non-stop.
I couldn’t just throw up a website with affiliate offers and sail off into the sunset with passive income.
I couldn’t just create a course, promote it once and expect lifestyle freedom forever.
No… I had to work at it. And so we get to my reasons for leaving services…
- I Didn’t Have Time for My Dreams – Much like working at a job, in a services business I was working on someone else’s goals, helping create someone else’s dreams. I wanted to be working on MY dreams and client work just seemed to creep into every free spot. I just never had time to do what I wanted to do and figure out how to create the lifestyle I wanted.
- I Didn’t Have Lifestyle Freedom – Keeping in mind this was a few years ago and my confidence was lower as well as my ability to set boundaries. I had made great strides in finding awesome clients who weren’t total stinkers. But no matter how awesome your clients are and how much they respect your time it still takes a lot of time if you want to be a great service provider who’s involved and attentive in your clients work. It takes time and you have to give them a commitment and that can really mess with taking any day at any time off to do whatever you want = lifestyle freedom.
- I Wanted to Work on My Projects – This is similar to number one but different because I’m talking about the actual work. I didn’t have freedom over the work I did. Clients assign you the work and for the most part, you do it. I have always been a creative and I NEED to create. I need to have the freedom to dream up something and bring it to life. Me. Myself. I need my own projects.
- I Knew My Leverage Was Limited – When you sell your time you are most definitely going to run out. I had zero interest in building a “boutique agency” where I had a number of other Virtual Assistants subcontracting work for me. I didn’t feel a capable people manager or project manager to be able to pull that off, nor did I want to. My income would hit a ceiling and I didn’t like or want that. I wanted the limitless possibilities I was aware of and I know that being a service provider wasn’t my way to that goal.
What I did INSTEAD of Services:
In 2010 I sat feeling a little defeated in my efforts to be a successful affiliate marketer.
Always the experimenter I decided to try something else… an online course.
At the time I knew how to make graphics for websites and had been making them for years for myself and clients. I used a free program called Gimp. I decided to create an online training course for Gimp. It was a hit! I’ll never forget meeting with a friend who was also in online marketing and showing her my shopping cart… sales were coming in! I think at the time I had made $500 or so in a few days and I was just over the moon excited.
Not to long after that I started what would be my flagship course, Website Design Mojo.
I went on to sell over $100,000 in WordPress and website related online training. And then training on other topics, too.
Online courses changed my path. It was one of the smartest decisions I ever made to create and sell them.
So that’s my insider scoop on why I quit the services business. It was a part of my path that I’ll never regret as it prepped me for where I am now. All I can say is for me true business lifestyle freedom, or Laptop Lifestyle, wasn’t in services… it was in online training and serving a larger community as I do now.