Why Being Honest Is Key To Running A Successful VA Business

The Importance Of Ethics And Honesty In Your VA Business

If you’d rather listen to this than reading it please check out the podcast below.

First… be forewarned that this is going to be a rant post and something I feel needs to be addressed!

I wanted to do a post about this because lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of posts on social media similar to this.

A new client just hired me for social media management, and I’m not sure how to do what they want. Can someone walk me through what I need to do?

This type of post makes me cringe.

Now, I know I don’t have the whole story on this particular post… but more times than not what is happening behind the scenes is someone told a potential client that they knew how to do something when in fact they didn’t.

So.. they closed the deal and then jumped on social media to ask “what’s next”. This is NOT the way to do business – especially as a Service Provider!

You are in a virtual service-based industry. It is so dependent on relationships and reputation. The last thing you want to do is tell a potential client that you know how to do something when you don’t know how to do it, take their money and go out and ask on social media how to do what you’ve already said you can do.

This practice is dishonest and unethical.

If you’re doing this please stop. If you don’t know what you’re doing, then don’t take money from somebody to do a job or a task or a project.

When people do this, it hurts the reputation of our entire industry.

Now… please don’t misunderstand what I’m saying.

I’m talking about those who are dishonest and take money for something they’re not qualified to do. In other words, they don’t have the knowledge needed to get the job done let alone get it done right.

And…  yes I know that sometimes the poster has been honest with their client and the client is okay with them learning this service through them.

Or… maybe an existing client has asked them to learn something. (This is how I learned Infusionsoft)

If this is the case, by all means, reach out for support!

This post is focused on those dishonest and unethical people (yes they’re out there), that tell a potential client what they want to hear, take money for something they don’t know how to do, and then ask for help in a Facebook group full of their peers.

How do they know the client that just hired them isn’t in the group they’re posting in? (This actually happened in my VA Tips + Tricks Facebook group!)

Someone posted that they got a new client, they needed help doing X, Y, Z because they didn’t know how to do it. The client was in the group and saw their post.

Think about how that client felt…

Personally, I’d be livid. I’d feel cheated and taken advantage of.

This happens far too often. The end result is people thinking the industry as a whole is dishonest and unethical when that couldn’t be farther from the truth. I don’t know about you but I don’t want people thinking that, about our industry.

Unfortunately, a few bad apples can (and do) spoil the whole bunch.

We end up with client’s who have trust issues because they’ve been:

  1. Burned
  2. Taken advantage of
  3. Lied to
  4. Mislead
  5. Ghosted

It’s up to all of us to help stop these dishonest individuals from tainting the VA Industry.

I do my part when I see these posts. I’ll ask questions to see if they have the knowledge to get the job done and just lack experience, or they are completely new to the task.

There’s a big difference between having the knowledge and not yet having experience and NOT having any knowledge of the skill at all.

If you don’t have the knowledge, don’t sell it as a service. However, if you have the knowledge but don’t have the experience, be honest with your potential clients. You’ll often be surprised!

Would you allow someone to work on your car who had never seen an engine up close?

Again… I’m not talking about experience here, I’m talking KNOWLEDGE.

Do you really want someone who is “learning on the fly” to be your Social Media Manager or to build you a WordPress Website?

Imagine the damage they could do to your business.

I know there are other VA Coaches and Trainers who teach the “figure it out”, “learn on the fly”, and fake it until you make it methods. I personally disagree with these teaching methods – they’re unethical in my opinion. What happened to honesty?

Please don’t use your clients as guinea pigs, it’s not “on the job training”.

Just because you watched a couple of YouTube videos on Infusionsoft or Click Funnels, doesn’t give you the knowledge you need to sell it as a service.

You don’t know what you’re doing until you get your hands on the tool and get actual experience using it. I know this from years of teaching computers and software systems.

There’s a huge difference between watching someone do it on YouTube and doing it yourself.

I got a ton of business due to these unethical practices. I was known as the Infusionsoft cleanup queen for years.


Because people would watch a few videos on Infusionsoft and then “figure it out” after the client hired them. Only to disappear because they realized there’s way more to it than what they saw on YouTube. I was hired to clean up the mess made by someone else because they didn’t have the knowledge to do the work and had no business selling it as a service.

Here are a few more things I feel need to be touched on.

  • If you subcontract to others, be honest who’s doing the work. If you take on a job and then give it to somebody else, your client should know who’s doing the work. Even though it’s your business, they still need to know somebody else is doing the work.
  • Communicate when you may miss a deadline or need to change it. If you know you’re going to miss a deadline date for a task that’s due, tell your client. Don’t just disappear or let the due date pass without a conversation.
  • Please don’t bad mouth others that do the same thing that you do.
  • And… it’s never okay to take a client’s money, then disappear when you realize you can’t do the work promised.

If your business is your livelihood, be honest and ethical. Post your ethics on your website, add them to your business policy document and share them with your clients.

Let them know you’re a Service Professional and not someone flying by the seat of their pants.

Ethics and honesty is where it begins and ends.

Remember, at the end of the day this is a relationship-based business and your reputation is everything.

It just takes one bad move to ruin it all. Clients will not hesitate to share their experiences with others: “This person took advantage of me – I do not recommend working with them”.

There goes your reputation and your business.

What do you think? I’d love to hear from you.

Feel free to post your comment or question below and let me know.

If you know someone who might benefit from this information, please share.

Thanks for reading – Susan

P.S. Don’t miss my post The Ultimate VA Success Guide: 8 Tips On How To Get Clients As A Virtual Assistant if you’re looking for an overview that will help you connect the dots between marketing and finding your ideal clients.

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Written by Susan Mershon

Susan Mershon started The Techie Mentor™ in 2013 to teach Virtual Assistants her no-fluff approach to the systems and skills they need to build and automate a successful business.

With a strong base in project management, Susan brings her love of systems and teaching to offer in-depth training and mentoring to new and experienced Virtual Assistants.

She’s taught over 5,000 students her unique systems and strategies that focus on offering high-end skills that give you the freedom to work when and where you want.

To learn more about The Techie Mentor™ and the systems and skills she teaches without all the fluff or hype go to The Techie Mentor website.


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  1. Dawn

    Thank you for posting this! You are exactly right – what we do and say does affects so many others, not just the client.

    • Susan Mershon

      Thank you Dawn for taking the time comment, much appreciated! We’re all part of the industry and what we do definitely affects the whole 😉

  2. Linda Machado

    Hi Susan,
    Good post. Indeed, quite often I do see these posts on Facebook groups, even on LinkedIn groups (which I even think is less appropriate, demonstrating not only lack of ethics but also a total lack of personal/professional marketing notion on a business app).
    I recently turned out a job task because I didn’t feel comfortable on doing it, as I didn’t have the experience albeit I had the knowledge. I always have to feel confident on what I’m doing. It’s never wrong to tell a client “I don’t know how to do what you’re asking so I’m not the right person for you” and then, if the client insists, we can start the discussion from there and eventually do the job within certain conditions. This also already happened to me with a client that asked me to do transcription in English (which is not my mother tongue), he even provided me with the software and equipment so that I could try, but I tried and confirmed it was not doable in an effective time and the client understood and agreed. We are in excellent good terms, this has never turned out to be a problem as it was made clear as from the beginning that it was not something I was offering as as service. It’s never wrong to say No or I don’t know.
    Best wishes.

    • Susan Mershon

      Thank you Linda for taking the time comment, much appreciated! You are so right, you need to feel confident that you can do the work and deliver a quality result for your clients. This is such a great statement – It’s never wrong to say No or I don’t know!

  3. Pamela Lewerenz

    I agree 100% with you Susan! There is way too much of that type of dishonest activity going on in the virtual world. We want to be treated respectfully and professionally then we need to be that same with clients or potential clients. Great rant — wonderful topic for discussion in many social media groups!

    • Susan Mershon

      Thank you Pamela for taking the time comment, much appreciated!

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