These are five things you should discuss with your potential clients before you enter a business relationship as their virtual assistant.
In The VA BluePrint I recommend creating a “How to Work With Me” document that is sent to clients before they sign on the dotted line. However, if this isn’t your style, you’ll want to communicate these five essential points to any potential clients.
Discuss working hours with clients before signing
Sometimes, clients who are not familiar with virtual assistants and the definition of independent contractors versus employees will assume you’ll be available from 8 am – 5 pm like a traditional job.
No matter what work hours you choose for yourself – make sure they are clearly spelled out prior to the contract start.
If a client needs you to be available, to take calls in the morning, let’s say, then you would not be a good fit for that client. And it is unfair to either of you to continue talks.
Scope of work should be discussed as early as possible
While it can be tempting to agree to whatever tasks a client needs…money is nice, right?!…if there are certain tasks that you hate it will do neither of you any good.
You need to know what tasks the client needs to be completed and what tools they use most often. If any of these tools are out of your scope of experience, you should be transparent about that fact.
Clarification early can prevent confusion later.
Always discuss due dates with clients
It can be difficult to plan your work week if you don’t know what is due when.
Discuss with your client the overall project due date and when they need small parts of the project completed. Discuss which parts of the project are the most important and which ones are of less importance.
Give realistic estimates on how long each part of the project will take and be honest if you are not sure. Put dates in writing and clearly communicate if there is a delay for any reason.
Discuss payment amounts and due dates
Payment discussions should take place as early as possible. Nobody likes to waste their time, clients, or freelancers.
Always charge what you are worth and discuss pay along when it is expected. There will always be exceptions to the rule but be clear before they sign.
Limitations and Expectations
Do you travel often? Are there certain hours you are definitely not available?
Before starting with a client you will want to have a frank discussion about when and how often you might not be available. For example, if you will not respond to texts or emails from when your kids get home from school until after bedtime be sure to express this. There is nothing worse than a client texting and calling during hours you are spending with your family.
Are there any other points you think should be discussed prior to signing with a client?
Why is virtual assisting such an amazing opportunity? Why do I recommend it to anyone who needs to work from home?
I recommend virtual assisting for anyone who needs to make an income from home in a more non-traditional way because it’s so versatile. I’ve met so many women who have at least one marketable skill that can be applied to virtual assisting.
While I’ve shifted a substantial amount of time to paid mentoring, I still enjoy the challenge of client work.
Virtual assisting allows me the opportunity to work with whomever I want
When you meet an awesome business owner who has a passion for their product YOU get to choose to work with them. As a virtual assistant working with a business owner, you get to help a company that aligns with your values become profitable and successful.
You also get to choose to NOT work with business owners who don’t share your values and morals. VAs can walk away from clients who seem to be unfit to work with you.
Truly make your own hours and set your own pay virtual assisting
I see a lot of advertising that pushes the idea of working whenever you want and making your own pay as a selling point for whatever business model this person is selling.
With virtual assisting you can truly make your own hours. You decide what hours you are available to work. This doesn’t mean that money simply flows into the bank account. But it does mean that you can choose when you are completing the work.
Setting your own rates based on your experience and skills is a definite benefit.
Work with amazing clients from all over the world.
One unexpected benefit that I uncovered as a virtual assistant was the ability to work with clients from all over the world.
Working with clients in other states and countries brings an amazing richness to your business. It’s adventurous and amazing to meet people, no matter how that happens. Building relationships across state lines and blue oceans brings richness to your business life.
Work from anywhere (with an internet connection)
The freedom to really work from any location is an amazing perk of becoming a virtual assistant.
I love the ability to take my kids on vacation without having to worry about getting permission to leave work or finding coverage. That’s not to say I work on vacations but the option to take the kids out for even a long weekend is one of my biggest perks of virtual assisting.
Every skill you have is marketable as a virtual assistant
Whether you are skilled at customer service, managing a household, or a general office person you have the ability to get started as a virtual assistant.
Everyone that has approached me about getting started as a virtual assistant has been surprised to discover that skills they already possess are marketable. What is usually lacking is confidence in those skills making them money.
One of the biggest goals of my starting mentoring new virtual assistants is to help them find that marketable skill, have the confidence to sell it, and watch them take on client after client.
(Shameless plug for the VA BluePrint below)
If you are thinking to yourself…how do I get in on this…check my programs or reach out today!
When you have a stressed-out teen it can really cause a huge uproar in an otherwise happy home.
You know those days…where one of your teens is showing signs of distress. The mood is shifty. Eyes are squinty. Various doors throughout the house are being closed much more abruptly than normal.
In short, emotional fluctuations were causing disruptions in the force.
You’d be surprised what simply sitting down with your teen and asking “Are you alright?”
Let me be super clear that I am not a parenting expert, I do not have any superpowers other than motherhood, I work too much, and make at least one parenting mistake a week.
BUT I have had enough experience by now to know that there are a few things that I need to say and tell my teens when we have days like this.
I love you
Reminding them that I love them is the first and most important thing I can say. It’s the most important thing you can say. Even if everyone in the home knows they love each other, saying it out loud is incredibly important to any difficult situation.
Take a deep breath
Slow breath in and out. Repeat. You might have to force yourself to do what feels like the exact opposite of what you want to do but it helps to hit the pause button. When we reset the racing mind we can fix the problem, not feed it.
I’m Already Proud of You
How I feel about you does not hinge on this test, this paper, or this situation. I’m proud of you regardless of the grade you get or whether you get the job you want.
Apart from any of this, I’m proud of who you are and who you are becoming. I’m proud of how far you’ve come and the effort you put into everything you do.
I’m proud that you’ve come to me with this issue, problem, or mistake to ask for help.
This is not your whole story
Whatever is going on right now is only happening right now. And it is not all that will ever be in your life. This may be a really rough time but there’s more today and more to tomorrow than this.
There may be consequences to your current situation but this is only a chapter in the novel of your life. And I will walk this path with you as long as needed.
How you feel in this moment is not how you’re going to feel forever
You’re not going to be stuck here for the rest of your life. This is not your new normal. Getting to the other side may feel like an eternity, but at some point, you’ll suddenly realize you’re looking back at this instead of straight at it.
You will be stronger for walking this path, feeling these moments, and overcoming these struggles.
Remember how you’ve gotten through tough times before
This isn’t the first time you’ve felt this way. And it won’t be the last. But so far, you have a success rate of 100% of surviving things you thought you’d never get through.
Don’t let this current situation make you forget your past success.
Just do the next thing
Do the next reasonable thing you can figure out to do. The next thing that NEEDS to be done. The next thing that seems to be wise and productive. Do the next ONE thing, not the next ten things.
Take this overwhelming problem and split it into tiny digestible bites that feel conquerable.
Is there anything I can do to help?
I know you have to figure this out on your own. I know that I can’t do it for you. I know it’s not my job to fix it.
But if there is something I can and should do to help you get from here to there, tell me, and I’ll try to do it. I’ll be right here waiting for you to tell me exactly what you need. And if it’s in my power to help, I will try.
How about some ice cream?
Or pizza? Or ice cream and pizza? They’re called comfort foods for a reason.
Use these. Save these. Remember. You can’t solve all of your child’s problems. You can’t even solve some of them.
Building and maintaining a relationship with teens can be incredibly difficult when they are going through so much growing and reaching. There is never a bad time to work on building that relationship with your teens. Being present for your teen when they are stressed-out will form stronger relationships. It’s never a bad time to start. And no matter how many mistakes you make as a parent there is never a bad time to try.
What do you tell your stressed-out teen and who needs guidance?
When starting your virtual assistant journey you are probably not focusing on any mistakes or roadblocks that will come with this business.
But that’s why you have me!
There are obviously different kinds of mistakes. Ones that cost money. Others that cost time. And unfortunately, some that cost clients.
By knowing what these mistakes might be before they happen, you can work to ensure that they won’t ever be an issue in your business.
The mistake of thinking you’ll remember it all as a virtual assistant
Are you the type of person who needs lists? Are you a paper person or a digital person?
Either way, one of the biggest mistakes you can make is to think that you are going to remember every little detail of a project or request.
There are some very simple steps you can take to be sure you won’t fall into this trap:
Always ask your client if it is okay to record any meetings. Whether over the phone or a program like Zoom, you can easily record and store the meeting on your computer or cloud. This allows you to reference anything that was mentioned and…
Take digital notes
Use a program like Google Docs to keep a running record of any meeting notes from previous meetings. You can create an outline or a narrative so that it is easily digestible and quick to reference.
Paper notes work too
If you are more tactile and need to have things written down, by all means, continue with the paper notes.
The mistake of getting too comfortable
So, your calendar is booked out for a month. You have all of your payments. Life is looking pretty good.
What happens at the end of a month? Are you sure all of your current clients are going to renew? Even the ones that are committed for 6 months?
Unfortunately, even with a contract, sometimes they just drop you.
This mistake is easy to avoid by sending proposals and inquiries constantly. I, even with a booked-out calendar, still send proposals with a date when my services will be available.
By continuing the practice of sending proposals, I recommend ten per week at the very least, you will be able to keep your client base firmly rotating so that you never have a slow month.
Don’t make the mistake of not having an accountant or tax help
While you may not be making the big bucks yet, you should still reach out to a tax professional!
It is essential that you know what your tax liability might be so that you are prepared once you are bringing in a large amount of income.
This isn’t just putting the standard 30% back to pay taxes but also what you can keep track of for deductions or if there is a benefit of forming an LLC or S-Corp. There are many that will do a free consultation, give you pricing for a retainer, and let you know how much it will cost to have your taxes completed.
This is not a complete list of all mistakes that can be made. This is just a handful. Be prepared if you are just starting to think about virtual assisting and invest in The VA BluePrint.
Mistakes are easier to avoid when you know what they are before you make them as a new virtual assistant.
It’s very easy to get caught up in the excitement of sending a proposal and landing a new client! In order to have a great relationship with your new client, you’ll want to be sure to avoid these common mistakes both before you start with a client and during the contract period.
Experience level misrepresentation mistakes
That first discovery call with a client who you really gell with is just the most magical feeling ever as a new virtual assistant. You’ve truly hit it off and feel like you would be able to work together very well. And then you ask the client the question…which apps and programs do you use most frequently that I will be expected to use?
And the client names some random app that you’ve never touched before! Internally, you’re cringing in disappointment, outside you are nodding and saying you’ve used that program before, right?
No. No. You should not do that.
When it comes up that you have no skill with a certain program or app – you should be honest and optimistic.
If it is an app that you feel is similar to one that you already know or one that you feel confident you could learn you should say :
I’ve not worked with that specific app before but can see that it is similar to xxx and feel confident I could learn it very quickly.
If it is an app you don’t have a clue about you’ll want to say something like:
I’ve never worked with that app or that type of app. Would you mind if I take a closer look at it before we decide whether we should move forward?
Most potential clients will be impressed with either response. They will appreciate your transparency and even if they decide to pause talking you will stick out in their mind for a referral.
The mistake of unclear boundaries
It’s very tempting to be available for anything a client needs and want to go the extra mile and a half to keep the new client satisfied.
By the start of the contract, you should have made clear your working hours, a preferred method of communication, and how soon to expect a response from you.
This should be sent once the contract has been signed and the invoice paid, prior to any work starting.
Imagine starting with a new client and within two days the client is texting you at all hours, demanding to know why an email wasn’t replied to within an hour, and why you aren’t responding to their text messages.
If you had sent your boundaries prior to work starting, your client would be clear on the fact that you only communicate through email, that you work evenings only, and that they can expect a response within 24 hours, not two.
Obviously, there will be exceptions, and I’ve listed some of them here, but generally, you should stick as closely as possible to the boundaries you established when the relationship began.
Unclear expectations of working with a freelance or independent contractor
Independent contractors are not exactly a new concept but there are a lot of people who have never experienced working with one. And many business owners are not very clear on the relationship between client and virtual assistant either due to the amount of misinformation out there about using virtual assistants and remote independent contractors.
You can see that by reading this article which obviously blurs the line between employee and independent contractor. And considering it is being published by an agency…well even some virtual assistants don’t understand what they are.
The expectations should be clearly laid out prior to a discovery call and you definitely don’t want there to be any confusion about the difference between an employee and an independent contractor.
Employees are given a W-2, the employer tells the employee when to work, and what the wages are.
Independent contractors, or freelancers, pay their own taxes and are given 1099 at the end of the year. They also name their own working hours and wages.
You should clarify what type of hours your client believes they will need assistance, what their budget is, and that they are clear on what their responsibilities are when it comes to taxes.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is taking on a client who needs you to be available more than you are or one who expects to treat you like an employee as opposed to a business peer.
Lack of transparency about client load can be a mistake
Once you’ve established yourself as a virtual assistant you’ll find that you might have time to take on two or three clients at a time. This is a good thing!
For example, some clients might need you for only a handful of hours per week and if you are available for up to twenty hours per week – that’s a lot of time to fill. Most virtual assistants take on a couple of clients at a time once they have their time management down.
The one mistake you can make when speaking with potential clients is not being honest about your “bandwidth”. Your bandwidth will be amount of hours you are available per week.
A new client will need to know that you will be sticking to your 10 hours per week work with them because you have other clients that you work for. You don’t need to share any other information but be sure you are not breaking any type of non-compete or NDA agreement.
For example, if you have one health and wellness client who is selling vitamins and supplements, it might be sticky doing the exact same work for another client who specializes in the same thing.
All of these mistakes can be avoided by keeping communication open, being transparent, and having an awareness of what clients believe virtual assistants are responsible for. And, luckily, most of these can be rectified by opening communication and being apologetic. They are a lesson that is hard-learned, yes, but will set you up for success later as you move forward.
Have you made any of these mistakes with your first few clients?