Welcome to a lovely Small Business Chat with Sarah Banks from Banks’ Business Solutions. Sarah joined this interview series last year after I had been impressed by her dedication to helping other people, and in particular women, with email newsletters and websites, and in an ethical manner (which doesn’t always happen in this line of business). When I asked her where she wanted to be in a year’s time, she replied “I hope to have one more regular client and be in a position to develop one website a month. I want to have enough work to fill 4 days a week and continue to make a steady income.” Let’s see how she’s doing now (noting that she submitted her responses before this time of economic and business uncertainty!).
Hello again, Sarah! So, are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?
Yes and no! I have several more regular clients and am easily filling my 4 days a week as well as making the income I wanted. However I am not marketing my website development as much at the moment as I don’t have the time. I still however love my work and the flexibility it gives me around my family.
What has changed and what has stayed the same?
I am now focussing on growing a VA team so that I can offer more 1-1 technical support to clients. I have done this for several clients on an ad-hoc basis and love being able to get out and about. I am also going to be focussing on a more online marketing support with the launch of a new blog management service later this year. I still offer the same services and my original clients are all still with me. I am now working on being location independent and will be trialling having no set hours during the school holidays this summer as the first step towards this.
What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?
I have learnt that business can grow much quicker than you expect! In December I was worried I wouldn’t have enough work in January as some projects were finishing, however during the first week of January I had to contact a colleague to help me out on an ad-hoc basis as I had more work than I could manage alone! I wish I had known a year ago that this would happen, as I have spent time looking at other target markets that I could have focussed elsewhere.
Any more hints and tips for people?
Keep believing in your dream – work hard and stay focussed. Don’t be afraid to charge what you feel you are worth – I have struggled with this from day one and am now comfortable in saying to people that this is my rate – I have even increased rates for my original clients and whilst at the time I worried I would lose some I didn’t.
BONUS NEW QUESTION: What question would YOU like to ask other small business owners?
How do you grow a team effectively and not damage the personal nature of your business?
And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?
Offering the same services but with a team of at least 2 other part-time VAs supporting me so that I can take on more clients and have a more strategic view of the business going forward.
How funny that so soon after Stephen Tiano’s interview, we have another person whose business has grown faster than expected! I found that when I went full time all those years ago, and the work expanded to fill the space. I’d be interested to see the answers to Sarah’s bonus question, as this is something I looked at and decided not to do – however, I did build a network of colleagues I could refer people on to, and who could refer people on to me if I had a space, and that’s one way of doing things. Good luck to Sarah as she expands her business and strategises over the next year!
If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured (I have a full roster of interviewees now so am only taking on a very few new ones). If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my books, all available now, in print and e-book formats, from a variety of sources.