I’ve been doing plenty of research over the last week for various tasks I’m working on, and during that time I’ve noticed a lot of discussions around how much money the average person thinks they need to survive each month. Obviously this depends on where you live, and I must apologise to our international readers, but since my research efforts were UK focused this will slightly tilt towards the UK market, nevertheless that doesn’t make this article any less relevant.

So why are these discussions happening now? I’m guessing what with Christmas upon us in less than 8 weeks, and the fact that this often leads to an end of year reflection of our achievements, goals, visions and finances, more people are checking their bank balances and doing the maths.

So what does the average Brit feel they need to live on?

According to recent research by Skrill, the average Brit believes they need £1,772.50 a month to survive, and the difference between ‘surviving’ and ‘living comfortably’ is just £150.25 a month. In contrast, Brits (on average) believe they need an additional £4,413.50 a month to live a lavish lifestyle.

So how does that make you feel? Where do you sit? Alongside the majority of Brits for a comfortable life? Perhaps your VA business is relatively new and actually you’re wishing to be even partly close to that figure. Or on the other hand, perhaps you’re running a well established business and sitting much closer to the lavish end of the spectrum.

This got me to thinking, and please feel free to contribute as I’d love input from VAs’ who are reading this whilst sitting on the more lavish side. As a VA running your own business, how can you ensure you don’t panic when the end of year is looming? When you’ve got a million Christmas presents to buy? When one month you lose a client? Or simply when you don’t earn as much as the previous month?

I’ve come up with 3 suggestions which may help a little and mean that next year you don’t have that same panic set in:

1. Know what you’re earning each month.
Seems a bit of a silly one, but often just doing this can put things into perspective. What I mean is that unless you’ve only got retainer clients, you’re likely to have a fluctuating income each month. Check your books, don’t ignore them. Don’t worry about one month being shorter than the month before, average out your earnings over a 3, 6 or 12 month period. This will help you get a truer understanding of what you’re earning and allow you to budget accordingly (or to be able to give yourself a pat on the back for actually doing better than you thought!).

2. Have at least one too many clients.
OK this might be harder than it sounds, but until you’ve got that extra client don’t stop marketing yourself. Get online and network via Linked In, Small Business Forums, Virtual Assistant Forums, and Niche Forums. Get local and network at face-to-face events held by your Chamber of Commerce. Get yourself out to businesses in industries where your specialities lie and offer your services. I’m sure you can find ways of being more proactive than you currently are to attain a new client or two.

3. Learn a new skill.
Add a new skill to your repertoire, or find a specific niche, if you haven’t got one already. Invest in yourself, and this doesn’t have to mean financially. There are literally tons of free courses online where you can learn new skills. Once you’re able to offer another service you’ll attract a wider audience, which should help you find a new client or ten! It’ll also make you feel like you’ve taken a proactive positive step towards growing your business, which in itself is a huge achievement.

But also don’t forget, if you are a new VA and have recently started your business, it does take time to become established to get a ‘steady’ income, but there are lots of forums, associations and groups specifically for VAs’ that give support and offer encouragement at times when panic might set in. So use this time wisely to seek advice, put plans in place, and get ready to ensure that next year panic does not arise. Good luck!