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  • #969703
    Tippy
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    • Total posts: 6
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    I would love some feedback from some business minded people. My business is a homebased word processing and secretarial service. Attracting new clients has been very difficult. I offer everything from typing to transcripts, powerpoint presentation to internet research, correspondence to data entry etc.

    Am I barking up the wrong tree? I think it should be an area of growth as it is more economical to employ administration staff on a needs basis only. Small businesses can save a lot of money, time and stress, but…….

    Please any feedback will be appreciated.
    Tippy
    http://www.secretarialservices2u.com.au

    #1040161
    Eca IT business systems
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    • Total posts: 17
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    Sounds like VA work you are after. I think it is relevant to those who are time poor and unable to hire someone or would rather not proof read their own work etc.

    The website needs a bit of work with the down the bottom. the “about our services” has multiple font sizes. i dont understand why you have a empty pretty space up the top that looks like the background and then lower a text banner and again another picture. On my screen i see 6 lines of text that im not interested in reading. the thing that pops out at me is the pretty lady with a great smile… but these pictures dont tell me about you and what you do. It might be worth getting into some of the VA forums & connecting or collaborating with others local to you via facebook. (that’s my 2c) All the best!

    #1040162
    Samot
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    • Total posts: 157
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    If the website is one of the main forms of your marketing, it definitely needs more of a professional look. The content just needs to be a little more structured. Also I think the prices page is just too confronting in the table for me.

    #1040163
    Jake@EmroyPrint
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    Hi Tippy,

    As ECA said – Sounds like your providing virtual assistant (VA) services.

    To answer you question – You are definitely not barking up the wrong tree! A number of my clients and friends are VA’s and their businesses are booming.

    I think your biggest market would be those that are renowned to be either – Not computer literate, or too busy and away from the office too much to effectively manage it.

    I’d suggest marketing to tradespeople as a start.

    – Jake

    #1040164
    yourvirtualboard
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    • Total posts: 569
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    Hi Tippy,

    Attracting clients is what most small businesses struggle with – having good skills and technical ability is great for doing the work but you do need the work to be coming in as well.

    Without going into the whole USP / point of difference debate. People / Businesses only buy for 2 reasons – these being need and want and if what you do isn’t needed or wanted then it’s going to be a short career. However in your case there’s definitely a need and the secret to success is finding the people that have this need. Jake has come up with some good suggestions and taking that further you would benefit by writing down what your ideal client might look like. Once you’ve done that it’s then to work out where do these people / businesses get their information from and how can you make sure your details are in front of them. Websites are great but in a group like VA’s where there are heaps of suppliers, relying on website alone is pretty risky especially if you’re not doing SEO or PPC. Getting your offer in front of your target market is really what’s required (marketing) and there’s hundreds of ways to do this – it needn’t cost a lot of $$ but may require some time, mailouts, cold calls, leaflets on notice boards, small adds in local papers etc. Don’t forget telling friends, family etc. as they may know people that would benefit.

    Remember EFFORT = REWARD

    #1040165
    Tiggerito
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    • Total posts: 362
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    Just as an Idea,

    I would guess your staff are good at writing good and readable English.

    Would your services work well with copywriting for websites?

    #1040166
    Anonymous
    Inactive
    • Total posts: 87
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    Hi Tippy,

    Just like the others here have said, there is definitely a need for online secretarial / VA work.

    I agree with the others about your website. It definitely needs some work.

    Thankfully, these days you can do it yourself quite effectively by using WordPress and a pre-made, professional theme. If you’d like some assistance with that, please feel free to contact me through my contact form at http://www.wecancreate.com/contact/ – we can have a bit more of a chat about that there.

    But, ignoring the website for the moment – I believe your main concern seems to be attracting potential clients.

    Have you considered listing yourself on freelancing and outsourcing websites?

    These are websites where service providers (from many different industries and countries) list themselves and their rates. Then a person who needs work done can post up a job, and then you can bid on it with the others. Some providers make quite a decent living using these sorts of websites.

    Of course, the main issue with these sorts of websites is that you will end up competing against people in India and the Philippines who offer their service for incredibly low rates.

    Having said that, there are providers from Western countries who, although charging more, still get clients. And I would think in any area where English skills are of primary importance, you would probably have an advantage over the cheaper overseas providers.

    Anyway, probably the best way to find out whether freelancing/outsourcing websites are a good option is to list yourself on websites like these (these ones have “virtual assistants”, etc as one of their areas):

    THE MAJOR ONES

    http://www.elance.com/
    http://www.freelancer.com/
    http://www.odesk.com/
    http://www.guru.com
    http://www.limeexchange.com/
    http://www.vworker.com/

    SOME OTHER ONES

    http://www.contractedwork.com/
    http://www.ifreelance.com/
    http://www.outsourcexp.com/

    AUSTRALIAN ONES

    http://www.serviceseeking.com.au/

    Of course, there are many, many more freelancing/outsourcing websites you could find, but I would think the above would give you the best start (since they seem to be the most popular ones).

    Hope this info helps you. :)

    #1040167
    bridiej
    Member
    • Total posts: 1,097
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    I’m a VA also, I offer transcription only though.

    Have you tried direct mail marketing? When I first started, back in 2003, I sent out almost 1,000 letters over a six month period to local small businesses offering my services – at the time I offered similar to you, more of a general secretarial / admin service. It resulted in one or two clients and it let people know I was out there and available.

    I’ve also found word of mouth is one of the best marketing tools, and not just from previous clients – let everyone know what you do, if you get chatting to someone in the supermarket or whatever try and find a way of bringing the conversation round so you can mention it. Again, I’ve had a couple of clients (who turned into regular repeat customers) from friends recommending me.

    Website is definitely worth doing some work on as it’s often the first point of contact for potential clients. I just re-did mine last weekend in WordPress, I’d never used it before but found it easy to work with and there are loads of plugins you can use to get it looking more professional.

    Freelancing job websites, up to you but personally I wouldn’t bother – unless you want to compete with people offering to take jobs on for $2 or $5 an hour then there’s not much point.

    Have you considered contacting other secretarial VAs and subbing for them? Often they get overloaded and it would give you some fairly regular income and experience.

    Lastly take a look at this forum, it’s just for VAs and has some very useful resources.

    http://www.virtualassistantforums.com/

    HTH :)

    #1040168
    Tippy
    Member
    • Total posts: 6
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    Thank you everybody!! Your comments are warm, objective and encouraging. I need to overhaul my website and increase my range of marketing. As well as the web page I am presently listed in a number of business listings (Hotfrog etc.), I have a campaign with Adwords, I have been sending email business cards and I am about to start sending marketing material to businesses that do not have email addresses.

    I will examine all the ideas put forward through this forum – as a beginner I greatly appreciate the advice of those of you who have the experience that I (sadly) lack. I am determined – I will leave no stone unturned. The next few weeks should prove interesting.

    Tippy

    #1040169
    Anonymous
    Guest
    • Total posts: 11,464
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    Gee I love your attitude Tippy!

    Please do let us know how you get on :)

    Jayne

    #1040170
    Leisa D
    Member
    • Total posts: 563
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    Hi, it’s a worthwhile service but it seems every second person I meet is a virtual assistant – you may need to do some market research to see if there’s room for you. Alternatively, get very specific (by industry) and/or local when you do your marketing.

    #1040171
    bridiej
    Member
    • Total posts: 1,097
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    Yes, it can help to focus on one aspect and make that your specialty rather than being a “jack of all trades”. But that also depends on your local market, you may find there are a few businesses out there that need general admin help.

    I specialise in transcription because I really enjoy doing it. Maybe look at all the tasks you perform and see which one you enjoy above the rest and make that specialty.

    #1040172
    Ben27
    Member
    • Total posts: 2
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    Hi Tippy

    I think there are some great ideas in all of the replies posted for your question but i thought i would throw my 2c into the mix

    Business idea
    I think you are on the right track but if it was me i would try to niche it up a bit, a previous poster mentioned picking a target market, this will give your marketing more focus, relevance and a better conversion rate, someone else mentioned copywriting, this is great as you would have less competition from VAs in india or the Philippines, think of the industries you have worked in previously or have knowledge or a passion in, as an example if you were an accountant or a real estate receptionist you could create you niche market as,

    “We create professional targeted advertising copy for accountants looking to increase there brand awareness”

    or

    “Creating emotional property ads to bring real estate agent more clients”

    The best way i have found to create you niche is to break your business down by 3

    My business is ___your service___ to ___target market____ in___location____

    this could be “My Business is to offer copywriting services to pet stores in the south west region on sydney”

    the smaller your niche the more you can own it, think about this, you could be an average maths tudor (because you sucked at year 12 maths) or a great maths tudor to asian kids from school years 7 to 10

    here is a link to a great video on this whole concept by Malcolm Gladwell
    Malcolm Gladwell video: spagetti sauce, definatley worth watching

    Marketing
    Now that you have found a niche target market its now time to own that market, you will be able to create better, more focused marketing to that target market, find and related industry forums and post comment and answer peoples questions the more you communicate and add value with your market the more they will see you as an expert, run workshops for you target market, they don’t have to be big just get in front of them in a non selling way and deliver some value, be a guest speaker at an industry night once they see value in you they will want what you have to sell them.

    you should really check out Ramit Sethi’s blog, although this is a personal finance blog he has some great content about small business marketing and customer psychology http://www.iwillteachyoutoberich.com this guy is currently focusing on posting about building income on the side and freelance business, marketing and has some really great content also check out his Earn1K videos on youtube and office hours Q & A’s

    Websites
    im not sure how your site was set up but you could get an unlimited hosting plan for about $40 per year try bluehost or lithium host and use google apps to run your email for free
    both these are so simple and you can find wordpress.org themes all over the internet and heaps of these look really professional and most are free and some are paid but cheap think about $30 to $40 one off fee.

    remember you don’t have to stick to one site or niche but keep them separate online you might have a site set up focusing on copywriting for florists, and have another site focusing on creating polished power points for consultants, just keep these sites separate so you can target each market separately, this will allow you to still own you niche to your market but from your end you have several niche’s

    i would love you to post an update on how you have generated business and what you have implemented from the forums if any,

    good luck and remember passion for what you do will make you successful and i hope you can find something useful in this post to use.

    P.S. the youtube link i put for Ramits video is a really great 40min Q & A on small business with really great advice heres the link again

    http://www.youtube.com/user/ramitsethi#p/u/9/nSOL-zLl1pg

    Ben

    #1040173
    ShanDesign
    Member
    • Total posts: 67
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    Hello,

    A great way to attract new clients is to remind them you are there especially with freelancing similar to your business.

    Seeing as you are word processing and secretarial I would recommend getting some novelty items done. Instead of flyers, why not get some note pads or post-it notes with your contact details and logo on it? Then you could call into heaps of local businesses and give them a great, practical “freebie”. Next time they need some word processing done, they just might have your details right next to the phone :)

    ShanDesign | Graphic Design | http://www.shandesign.com.au

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