So 2011 is upon us and no doubt we’ve all made the usual New Year resolutions… eat healthier…. drink less…. take more exercise etc etc but what about in business?  Six months ago I took the plunge and left my full-time permanent job to concentrate on my own business full-time.  I’ve had to change my mindset into being my own boss and being responsible for every aspect of my life now, personal and business.  So what mistakes have I made in the last 6 months and what will my business New Year resolutions be?

Remain Positive – I’ll start with the hardest lesson that I’ve had to deal with.  Working from home can leave you feeling quite isolated if you let it.  To begin with I felt like a failure if I didn’t speak to clients (current or prospective) at least twice a day which, looking back, is ridiculous as I know how busy they are – after all that’s why they outsource to me ;).

It’s easy to let negativity creep in – I’m used to being run off my feet all day every day at previous employment so it was a shock to my system when I realised that some days I haven’t got a full 8 hours of paid work to do.  I now realise that these are the days I should use to update my own administration, or research articles, or design & print flyers and other marketing materials.  If I start to feel a bit lonely then I just turn to Twitter and Facebook for company, there’s always someone on there who will bring a smile to my face 🙂

And if I do start to feel a bit demotivated then I just remind myself of why I chose to do this and that I’m one of the lucky few who actually can work from home.

Take Breaks – I found this one quite hard to begin with, again it’s from years of working for someone else when you’ve had it drummed into you what time you can take a break and how long for.  I now have to force myself to take a break and I do feel better for it.  To begin with, if I needed to pop out to the shops at 10.30am I would rush around, check my mobile every 2 minutes (just in case!), then feel extremely guilty once I got home to find my inbox had a couple of emails in them!

After the first couple of months I realised one of the benefits of working from home is that my hours don’t have to be set in stone.  If I go out for an hour in the morning then I can just work an hour later in the evening, and to be honest I’m at the computer most nights for hours on end anyway (sad I know ;))

Be Myself – Sounds silly but when I first started out I think I was trying to be someone I’m not.  I’ve had to sell my services, manage my accounts, meet new clients and generally get my name out there.  All of which I naively thought I had to take on a different persona to do them successfully.    I’m not a pushy sales person, I’m not naturally an extrovert, so trying to give the impression that I am was not the way to go.  This wasn’t me, it’s not who I am.  I now realise I don’t have to be “salesy” to gain new clients, I just need to be myself and build on relationships.  I’m always reading that “people buy from people” and it is so true.

For me, this next year is all about investing in my business (and in myself), having the confidence and belief that I can do this, staying focused and motivated, but most of all enjoying what I do!

2011 is going to be my first full year being a Virtual Assistant – I’m using the last 6 months as a “practise session” ;)!