When I first started working as a VA, I never ever thought it would grow into the business that it is today. I started working because I wanted some extra money, I wanted to be able to buy the extras like a pedicure, or summer camp for my kids and gifts for my husband, not using “his” money, and to be totally honest, I really needed something for me.
I loved being home with my son, but I wanted to use my brain in a different way. I wanted some time to talk with adults and to maintain my skills while I wasn’t working. That’s where virtual assisting was the perfect fit.
But, when I started, I didn’t have financial goals (or money management), I let the agency I was working with take the reigns (and was severely underpaid!) and it was easy and comfortable. I didn’t have to do the work of networking, marketing myself, managing contracts, invoicing or any of the other pieces that come along with running a business.
After a while, I realized I wanted to make more money, have more control over the clients I was working with and build something that was all my own. I left the agency. It was scary AF.
“Entrepreneur” or “business owner” wasn’t a title I had ever considered for myself. But now, I can’t imagine things any other way.
Whether you’re a VA as a hobby making a little extra, or a business owner making bank, neither is wrong or right. But, I do think acknowledging the distinction and aligning it with your goals is very important.
Below I’m sharing four key pieces that separate hobby from business - which camp do you fall in?
1. When you’re doing VA work as a hobby - you work on the sofa, whenever you can squeeze the time in. When you are running a business, you have a dedicated workspace (this does NOT need to be fancy or huge) and you have set business hours (even if that’s naptime, evenings and weekends)
Why is this space and time distinction important? Because it shows YOU you are serious and you are holding yourself accountable to yourself. (What thoughts come up around this babes??? Send me an email and let me know - we can work through them together!)
Having a place where all of your business supplies live, where you can keep your computer safe (and close it at the end of the day) and where your family knows that when you sit there you are working, is all key to getting your mind in the game.
When you’re working from home it can be hard to have that separation of home life (the dishes are calling and the laundry is glaring menacingly at you) and work life (“just one more email I have to respond to!”) Having that space, and those set hours helps you to establish clear stopping and starting rituals, both of which have been instrumental in my business success!
Another element of this that I kind of geek out about is time blocking. Using my Google calendars (yes, plural - I have one for my personal stuff, my business stuff, each member of my family, what I’m making for dinner, working out and more!) I literally put E V E R Y T H I N G on those calendars. Whether that’s writing a blog post, networking with potential clients or time to make lunch for my kiddos - it goes on the calendar and I hold myself to those appointments!
If it’s on the calendar… it’s happening. If it’s not on the calendar and needs to happen, I’ll schedule it for tomorrow.
2. When you have a hobby business, you downplay your VA work, “Oh, I just do some stuff for some people - I’m already on my computer, sooooo.” On the flipside, you’re probably excited about your business so you want to share with your people regularly. And that also means you are making offers!
There’s an element of “owning” it when you’re stepping into the role of business owner that can be super scary. What if I fail? What if I stop doing this? What if it’s a big, fat flop? I know I can’t be the only person who has had those thoughts run through my mind. Saying that I was an entrepreneur or that I owned my own business or that - gasp! I’m a working mom - well, all of those terms brought up a whole slew of other thoughts that I had to address.
And then, there’s the element of actually telling people what I’m doing. In my five week 1:1 coaching program, our first call together is primarily spent figuring out where and how you are going to connect with your people, how you’re going to tell these people what you do, how you can provide free value and make offers.
If you aren’t telling people what you are doing, you aren’t going to have clients, and you definitely aren’t going to get paid.
There’s also an element of this for the hobbiest where you are more apt to only be applying to jobs, and you aren’t going out and creating opportunities for yourself. For myself and client’s I’ve worked with, I’ve seen this switch happen when you, as a business owner are consistently looking for opportunities to connect, grow your business, expand your circle and for opportunities to serve. This is where it’s great to be talking to at least 3 people each and every day. There’s a momentum you create that is bound to create opportunities.
3. You don’t have a good way of accepting payment when you’re in the hobby zone. When you’re running a business, you know how you accept payment, when you do your invoicing, where your money is going (and what’s going out).
I can’t express enough the importance of knowing what money you have coming in, what money is going out and what your financial goals are. A lot of people don’t like talking about money. Maybe you have thoughts that like money doesn’t grow on trees, sales = sleazy or you’re going to have to work insane hours and let your family and friends down to earn over $50K/year.
Money can provide you with the opportunity to take care of yourself and your family, to support causes you are passionate about, and create the security and ease you are desiring. This all goes back to our thoughts - how do you think about making and having money?
If you’re constantly thinking “Money is so stressful, I’m so worried about how I’m going to manage money, and oh dear goodness, what about taxes….” money probably isn’t going to want to hang out with you.
On the flip side, if you set up a business account to deposit your money into, you’ve got an invoicing system where you can easily and regularly get paid, you’re saving for taxes (and have spoken with an accountant so you know how much you need to be saving for your state), and you’re looking at your finances regularly so you’re very aware of what’s going out and what’s coming in, money is going to have no choice but to hang out with you!
Some of my go-to books for money mindset: You Are A Badass at Making Money by Jen Sincero, Get Rich Lucky Bitch by Denise Duffield Thomas and Money and the Law of Attraction by Jerry and Esther Hicks.
4. As a hobby you may google something here or there, you might even invest in a smaller course. With your business you’re willing to invest in yourself. Whether that is coaching, support to make your home life easier and or a subcontractor to act as an implementer.
When you’re doing this as a hobby, you’re only willing to invest as much as you are willing to lose. Why? Because you don’t think it’s going to work! Whomp whomp whompppp. But what if failure wasn’t an option? What if your success is inevitable? (Thanks for sharing that little nugget of super powerful inspiration James Wedmore.)
Investing time and finances in coaching, a housekeeper we love, a mothers helper and preschool for my kids is one of the best things I’ve done. I also choose to invest in an accountant and lawyer.
Yes of course, I could take care of all of these aspects on my own, but here’s the thing - having the support of people who are where I want to be, or are better and more cost effective at what I need to do, and I can spend the time it takes them to complete the task I’ve delegated making more income is 150% worth it to me.
Managing my mind and my time are pivotal to be being productive and able to hold space for my clients, so they are another area where I invest. I invest time daily in my mindset practice (check out the journal I use here) and in time blocking.
Whenever life gets stressful, the practices that benefit us the most are typically the first to go, but now that I’ve devoted so much time and energy into building these practices, I know I can’t let them slip because my results are that much better when I make sure they are constants in my life.
If you’re interested in investing in yourself, figuring out how to build your own mindset practice and time block like the boss babe you want to be, let’s find a time to chat and see if we are a good fit for each other. I can’t express enough what a huge transformation these elements have been in taking my business from a hobby to a business that is bringing in income I never imagined possible.
WHEW! That’s a pretty full set of compare and contrast. Now, I want to hear your takeaways and what you consider your business - a hobby, a business or something in between? And what do you want it to be? Send me an email at email@example.com and we can discuss!
Love this post and want more virtual assisting, mom work balance and mindset management goodness? I would love to invite you to join my FREE facebook group, Mama, Launch Your VA Business Now! Can’t wait to see you in there :)
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