How to Get Off the New Business, No Experience Merry-Go-Round

You’ve finally taken the plunge, followed your dreams and started that new business you’ve always dreamed about.  The excitement of being your own boss gets even higher as you conduct your first few consultations with potential clients.  And then you’re sent crashing to the ground by that inevitable question, “How long have you been doing this?”.

And as a brand new business owner, the minute you hear that question your stomach drops right?

One new virtual assistant business owner put it this way in a recent forum post I ran across;

Let’s face it; employers are looking for someone who (has) had previous experience in a related (area) so that they would be ensured you could perform.

And although I cringed at her reference of potential clients as employers, the sentiment is something that rings true for many businesses trying to get off the ground.

So how do you combat this problem that seems to be a catch-22?

First, you don’t start a business providing services you don’t have a level of experience and expertise in.  It may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be shocked by the number of people that open businesses based on simply an “I could do that” mentality. This is especially true of service based businesses like virtual assistance that many see as easy work from home jobs.  When you base your services on skills and abilities that you’ve used in prior positions you can assure potential clients that although you haven’t provided them virtually, you have successfully provided them.

Second, only provide services that you have extreme confidence in you own ability to provide.  Your own confidence can overcome many of the doubts a potential client may have about your ability to complete their projects. How do I know this? Let’s go back to that new virtual assistant’s quote about employers.  She was right, employers do generally want someone experienced in whatever job they need to fill. But… and this is a huge but…they don’t always hire a person for that position with experience.  How do I know this?

Because when I applied for the position of title processor at a real estate title office I had no experience as a real estate paralegal or title processor.  What I did have was a small amount of mortgage processor experience and an unshakable confidence that I could learn the job.  That combination of familiarity in the real estate industry and confidence made me stand out in the crowd.  Several years later, when I was helping the owners of the company find my replacement I helped interview several candidates that I was told had also applied for the job when I had.  These individuals had actual title processing experience.  And although by the time I was conducting interviews I had become extremely good at my job, I was curious.

I asked them why they had ended up choosing me, looking for a bit of insight into my new foray into the HR realm.  I was surprised when I was told it was my confidence in my abilities that made the difference.  They pointed out that they could tell it wasn’t a false bravado of someone trying to land a job, that I truly had no doubts about being able to learn the job. Thinking back, I knew they were right. I didn’t doubt my abilities. I knew I could take what I knew and learn what I didn’t.  It landed me the job that gave me much of the experience that I drew on when I started Clerical Advantage.

Being inexperienced as a new business doesn’t mean you’re inexperienced. When that inevitable question comes up with a potential client, focus on the experience and expertise you have and let your confidence in your ability to provide services to them shine through.  You’ll be off the vicious merry-go-round faster than you can imagine.



Tina Marie Hilton provides online technology services to forward thinking businesses. She writes on her Tips from T.Marie business blog to share insight and information with other small businesses and entrepreneurs. It also makes her feel like that certificate in creative writing isn't going to waste completely.