Three Things I Learned in my Three Years as a Full-Time Virtual Professional
I was not expecting to go offline last week. Although my family and I discussed of the minor house repair was a few weeks back, what I knew was the carpenter is still finishing another house repair. I didn’t know that the carpenter is starting to repair our house.
The first section of the house that he did was my home office.
In terms of work, I need not panic, as Friday (the carpenter’s first day of work) is my no-work day (more on this later). But as I was checking the development of the home office makeover, I then realized: the home office renovation has come just in time for the third year as a full-time virtual professional.
Three terrific years! Wasn’t it just yesterday when I saw myself going out of the office building one last time, all my remaining stuff at hand, guided by the bright full moon on Valentine’s Day?
The home office makeover gave me the opportunity to reflect on the lessons that my new career has taught me. Here’s what I learned from the first three years of my virtual professional career.
1. A virtual professional is an entrepreneur.
Forget telling your client that you deserve a 13th month pay while not telling it up front before you start working. Or settling for $3 per hour just because you think that’s the only rate and the only skill you know.
As a virtual professional, you are on your own. Super good when you want work which enables you to focus on your strengths and skills (and earn from it); but bad if you do not know how to manage yourself.
Once you decide to be a virtual professional, you hold yourself accountable for your career.
If you are currently an employee in the corporate world who practices intrapreneurship (someone who thinks how the company would grow by initiating ideas and projects), then you’d just need little adjustments. If not, you may want to consider doing that as early as now so you would get the feel of how entrepreneurship is done. When the times comes that you’re ready to give up your cubicle chair for your home office, becoming an entrepreneur is already a way of life.
Can anyone achieve an entrepreneurship mindset? Yes. But it takes time. It took me a while and to be honest, I am still learning!
2. Consider working on a flexible time basis.
Before my second year as a virtual professional, my contract with my full-time client was terminated due to business reasons. I was caught unaware of what happened. Worse, since I was required to work 8 hours a day from Monday to Friday, I did not have the time to look for other clients to serve.
Hey, I am not recommending that you do not get long-term full-time clients. If you have great working relationship with your clients, then go for it. What I am telling you is consider working for clients who are more focused on output than the hours. Sure, there are types of clients (and work) who prefer having required work schedules, yet there are also types of clients who don’t.
Based on experience, some of the best advantages of working on a flexible time basis are having more opportunities to serve more clients and having more time to work on your personal projects. I believe I would not have been able to release my first book and continue to co-host a podcast if I did not opt for flexible time basis.
3. Continue to learn in any way you can.
One mistake that I committed in my three years as a full-time virtual professional: I learning time was sacrificed.
The result? There were times when I doubted if I could get clients with the skills that I have.
Thinking that you know a lot means you do not know a lot. As much as you try to get skills from your work, commit yourself to learn outside work, too. There are no standard learning types, mentors, or where to find learning. The most important thing is to keep on studying about your current skills (or level up and learn new ones).
This year, one of the plans that I committed to do is to declare Fridays as my Learning Day. Every Friday, I will watch webinars, read articles or books. I recently bought a social media course and it is part of my Learning Day agenda. I emailed my clients about it because my Learning Day meant no-work day. With their approval, I adjusted all my work to be done from Mondays to Fridays so I could focus on studying every Fridays.
Sounds easy, especially that my clients supported my commitment, right? Well, that’s the part that I love. The hard part? No work, no pay! But nonetheless, I did not think of that during the time I was planning the Learning Day. What I thought was by committing a Learning Day every week, I am making myself more valuable. I am making myself steps closer to my goals.
A neighbor told my mom recently that she’s happy that I am now on my third year on my online career. In Chinese, once a business is past three years, the business is on its way to prosperity. Well, I’m no Chinese; nevertheless, since this is my business, I am happy to embrace prosperity.
Indeed, third’s a charm!
As my third-year anniversary gift, I am giving you a limited EXCEPTIONAL offer. When you buy my e-book “Small is BIG” from February 14 to 17, 2017, you will get the PDF, audio book, and e-pub version, as well as a FREE 30-minute consultation. All these cool anniversary stuff for only P975.00. Click here to find out more.