With the shock closure of Virtual Assistant agency, Zirtual, earlier this week, it made me realise how fortunate I am to have built-up my own VA business and secured my own client base.

And why all Virtual Assistants should always market themselves – even if they decide to become part of an agency pool as well.

Zirtual was started by Maren Kate roughly four years ago. She had big plans and managed to raise nearly $5M, no mean feat. But unfortunately as it turns out, their overheads were higher than their income and the money ran out too soon.

In short, she had to let her Virtual Assistant team and clients go without any advance warning.

Fortunately for Maren, today it’s been announced that Startups.co have acquired Zirtual and it will be business as usual from Monday. With some obvious financing changes and a reworked growth strategy in place.

And no doubt, many of those Virtual Assistants who were let off two days ago, will now be able to get back to work when business resumes.

But how many of them will want to go back?

And perhaps another question, for another time, is how many of Zirtual’s clients will risk using them again?

Only time will tell with that one. But as for the VA’s who were let down – what could they do differently now, to avoid another sudden cease of income?

Well, that’s an easy one … market themselves.

In fact, this goes for any Virtual Assistant. The key to Virtual Assistant longevity is creating a business and marketing it well.

Never be solely reliant on an Agency for getting you work. Regardless of how large or established they are, sadly things can happen – I’m sure few predicted Zirtual’s demise.

I’m not saying don’t work for virtual staffing agencies like Zirtual. Some VA’s like the ‘safety’ they can provide.

But if this tells us one thing – the only person you can completely rely on, is yourself.

Yes, being a Virtual Assistant is hard work. Particularly in the early days. Setting up and finding those first few clients is stressful and even demoralising at times.

And I’m sure if you asked most of us, at one time or another we’d say we were ready to throw in the towel a few times.

But we didn’t.

Because it is possible to find work.

It is hugely rewarding when you discover your weekly schedule is full. And to know that you managed it alone.

So for any new VA’s just starting out, or for VA’s that are primarily working with agencies rather than going after their own clients, here’s what you should do in-light of recent events:

  1. Create your own business website with unique domain name and do some SEO
  2. Set up social media profiles with links to your website
  3. Start networking online – business forums, niche sites, social media groups, live chats, etc.
  4. Attend a few local networking events – local Chamber of Commerce, Women in Business events, etc.
  5. Approach established Virtual Assistants who are looking to expand
  6. Sign up to freelance websites such as PeoplePerHour and pitch for new business

Whilst the last two points are relying on external sources, you aren’t putting all your eggs in one basket.

If work for one of the VA’s you sub-contract for dries up, you’ve got one or two other VA’s, along with your own clients – obtained through your own marketing methods – to fall back on.

Remember, the idea of being a Virtual Assistant just a few years ago was practically unheard of. Now there are huge VA Agencies with millions of dollars in backing hitting the market.

Why?

Because there is demand.

And all you need is a small piece of the pie … to start with anyway!

Have confidence in your own skill set. Your own marketing abilities. And know that if work dries up from one source, you’re okay because you’ve got other things going on.

Here’s to your continued success.

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