What To Watch Out For When Starting a Virtual Assistant Business

What To Watch Out For When Starting a Virtual Assistant Business

What to watch out for if you’re starting a virtual assistant business.

What I call Bad Advice!

Seems like I’ve been on my soapbox a lot lately… and I guess I have because I’ve seen such a change in the VA Industry in the last year.

I’ve seen so many pieces of what I call “bad advice” given to new Virtual Assistants; I wanted to write a blog post that covers them all!

And… I’ve just added a bit more to this list!

It’s the good, bad + ugly things you need to watch out for when you’re starting your VA business.

Oh… some of this stuff is actually taught by so-called experts in their training + coaching programs and used in their marketing.

This will be one of those posts that grows – as I find more bad advice I’ll be sure to add it to the list.

So… let’s dive in.

#1 The Fake It Until You Make It Strategy – I wrote an entire blog post on this one but I’m going to summarize it here. (You can read the full post here).

I understand taking an opportunity to learn something new but you need to be honest with your clients. Let them know you’re willing to learn – don’t fake it.

Faking means you’re not really sure what you’re doing. Like saying you know Infusionsoft but you’ve never seen it before.

Lack of confidence means you have the skills and know what you’re doing, you’ve just not done it enough to be confident yet. For example, you’ve taken classes to learn WordPress but you’ve not offered it as a service yet. Do you really want to fake it with your clients? You’re working in their business – their baby.

They trust you can do what you say. Remember, it’s your business and reputation on the line.

Oh… and if you’re thinking about offering back-end type services such as social media marketing or techie tools, be sure you get the training you need. These are not the same as offering admin skills that you can learn OTJ.

The VA Industry is NOT Admin only!

#2 Work For Free – Why would you work for free? Your knowledge, skills + expertise are valuable and you should be paid for them. When you work for free you’re not valuing the work you do or yourself. Not to mention, people who want things for free can turn out to be nightmare clients.

I see lots of people saying work for free for a testimonial, but you’re still giving away your time + knowledge. And… they’re worth something, right? Yes, they are!

Instead of working for free, offer a discounted rate, a launch special, a flash sale but don’t work for FREE.

Once the work is done ask them for a testimonial.

They get a break on the rate and you get paid for your time, expertise and knowledge.

#3 It’s Easy Anyone Can Do It (Be a Virtual Assistant). Nope, not true. It’s not easy and not everyone is cut out to be a VA. Take the time to really understand what it takes to be successful.

Learn all you can about the day in the life of a Virtual Assistant so you can make the right decision for you. Just know that it’s a lot of work when starting out but it’s worth it for the freedom and flexibility you get.

Remember… it’s a Business NOT a JOB. 

It’s a tremendous amount of work to set up a business and learn all you need to know about being a business owner + a Virtual Assistant.

If it’s not for you – that’s OK. Just realize it’s not easy.

#4 You Can Make $5k In Your First 30 Days. No one can guarantee how much you’ll make in any timeframe… period.

There are so many factors that go into being successful as a VA.

Is it possible? Sure but it’s the exception NOT the rule.

The potential to make this type of money is there but you have to do the work… this is NOT a get rich quick scheme.

This is a marketing ploy used to get your attention.

#5 Get a VA Certification. I wrote a blog post on this one too! I’ll summarize it here but if you want to read the whole thing click here.

There are NO true “Virtual Assistant Certifications”.

There is NO Industry wide approved certification.

Now, I know there are a few organizations that offer certifications, just be aware of what they mean by certified.

Ask questions like “What do you need to do to obtain the certification and what do you get from it?“

There’s a big difference between completion and certification.

Bottom line is you don’t need to be certified to be a successful Virtual Assistant and be sure you understand what you’re getting for your investment of both time and money.

#6 Get Your First Client Then Figure Out What To Do Next. Not a good way to start a successful business. A business is a system. You need to set up your business systems BEFORE you work with clients.

I’ve seen people who followed this advice and ended up posting for help on what to do next in a Facebook Group and guess what? The client that just hired them was in the group and saw the post. Not a good way to start a relationship.

If you’re looking to build a successful business and give your clients a first-class experience, do yourself and them a favor, don’t follow this bad piece of advice.

Take the time to have your business set up before you land your first client.

#7 How To Start Your VA Business With NO Money. You can definitely bootstrap starting a Virtual Assistant business BUT you will need some money. I’m not talking about thousands of dollars here, you can probably get by for $500 – $1,000. I know that sounds like a ton of money – especially when you don’t have it, but you don’t have to lay it all out at once.

Create a budget for yourself – do the research to find out how much things cost. It all varies based on where you live and the type of services you are offering.

Remember… you’re building a business NOT a hobby.

And… you want it to be successful right?

Then you’re going to have to invest $$$ into it.

Just realize that there is an investment in starting any business – it’s not free.

#8 How To Start a VA Business With NO Experience.  I’m willing to bet that about 99% of all Virtual Assistants started with ZERO experience. I was never a VA before nor was I ever a business owner.

You don’t need experience as a Virtual Assistant to start a VA business. But… you need to have some experience working one-on-one with clients. If you don’t, it will be a much harder journey.

#9 If You’re Confused or Don’t Know What To Charge Start at $25 an Hour.  One of the worst things that I’ve seen in my opinion is advice around if you are confused or don’t know what to charge an hour, start at 25 bucks.

I’m sorry, I have a real problem with this and I may ruffle some feathers, but I really don’t care because this is bad advice.

How can anybody tell you that $25 is what you should charge if you don’t know? How do they know??

You don’t just pull a number out of a hat and say hey “charge this”. (If you do… you’ll probably be out of business quickly or realize you need to raise your rates to survive).

First of all, you should know your baseline rate because all of us have a different number that we need to earn to be successful. The last thing you want to do is start your business and then struggle for money.

There are clients that will pay you what you want or what you need. You just have to believe that!

My best analogy is there are business coaches that make $100 an hour and there are business coaches that make $50,000 an hour and they both have clients.

So… please don’t let somebody dictate what your rate is because if someone would’ve said, “Susan, you need to start at $25 an hour,” I’d have gone out of business because my hourly rate was $50 an hour minimum!

This is NOT a cookie cutter industry.

It is NOT one size fits all. 

Please don’t fall for this AWFUL piece of advice.

If you don’t know what rates to charge, do your homework!

I’d hate to see you undercharging for your expertise and having a hard time paying your bills because you followed advise from someone saying if you’re confused or don’t know what to charge start at $25 an hour!

If you don’t how much you need to charge, please take a few minutes to watch my YouTube series on setting your rates and walking you through how to find your baseline rate. It’s FREE and includes a link to download my rate calculation sheet too!

Spend the time, do the exercise and find out how much you need to earn so you can stay in business because $25 might not be enough. You may need $50 or $75. Remember, believe in what you’re offering and believe in yourself, but please do not fall for that piece of very bad advice in my opinion.

I don’t want people to have to struggle to pay their bills based on bad advice.

Here’s the YouTube series on setting your rates – watch it to find out what your baseline rate is BEFORE you set your rates.

Whew… ok that’s it for now. I hope you found these of value.

As I find more, I’ll be sure to add them to the list.

If you’ve got one to share, please do!

I’d love to hear from you.

All comments + questions are welcome.

Be sure to use the share buttons to share this post with anyone who might benefit from this information.

If you’re looking for more details on how to start or scale your VA business including how to specialize by learning in-demand skills, join my FREE VA Training Vault. It’s over 8 hours of how-to video training for Virtual Assistants that want to create a successful business.

Thanks for reading – Susan

Don’t forget to leave a comment if you found this information useful – I’d love to hear from you!

Virtual Assistant is NOT a Title…

Virtual Assistant is NOT a Title…

Why You Need To Stop Calling Yourself a Virtual Assistant.

It’s an Industry.

Like many of us, when we’re first starting out, we become part of the VA industry and we take on the title of Virtual Assistant.

Which, is really not a good thing.

First off, titles don’t mean as much in the entrepreneurial world or the solo-preneurial world as they do in corporate America.

For instance, when I was in corporate America, my title was Senior IT Project Manager.

Well, a lot of stuff hung from that title, like what I did, who I worked for, which department, how much money I made, and so much more was actually rolled up into my title.

Now when you become your own boss, titles really don’t matter. They don’t carry the same amount of weight as they did when you were an employee.

But now…  nobody really cares what you call yourself (no disrespect).

What clients want is somebody who can solve their problems. You could call yourself Queen of Sheba as long as you solved your client’s problems.

The point is titles don’t really matter to your clients.

Now back to why you need to stop calling yourself a Virtual Assistant.

When you’re talking to people, whether it be family, friends or even prospective clients at a networking event and they ask you – “What do you do?”.

And, you answer – “I’m a Virtual Assistant”.

You’ll most likely get one of two responses.

One – you get the deer in the headlights look. In other words they really have no idea what that means.

Two – they assume you’re and Admin in one way, shape or form.

I didn’t want to be known as an Admin – because I wasn’t one.

I was not offering admin type services  – I was offering backend systems + techie services.

The types of services that gave my the freedom I wanted and didn’t keep me tied to my desk certain hours a day like admin work does.

So… when I talk to somebody and they’re like, “Oh, Virtual Assistant. You can answer my phone or you manage my email.”

I’m like, “Uh, no. That’s not what I do.”

I quickly realized that using VA as a title or as a business owner wasn’t working for me.

I had to spend too much time trying to explain what the heck it was that I did. So, I changed my strategy to thinking about Virtual Assistant as an industry NOT a title.

And… really that is what it is, it’s not a title, but I know for most of us who’ve come out of corporate American or any JOB with a title, that’s what we kind of glob onto.

We want to call ourself a Virtual Assistant.

But… it’s time to move on and away from being a “VA”.

Remember people, don’t know what it is, they assume you’re an admin.

Start looking at VA as an industry and focus on what you do for your clients. How you help them – that is where you need to shift your focus.

If you need a title for your business card or an event, use something related to the services you offer. For example Email Marketing Manager, Transcriptionist, Social Media Specialist, etc.

Oh and before I forget… stop spending money on business cards.

They don’t work!

Instead use a Benefits Flyer™. It’s something I came up with myself many years ago because when I handed someone my business card (especially if it said VA on it), we had the same old conversation. “Well, what is it that you do? Can you explain that to me?”

So… I dropped both the business card + the title of VA and went with a flyer that says, “Here’s how I can help you.

I’ve included a link to “How to create a Benefits Flyer™” at the end of this post just in case you want to know more.

Going forward you want to focus on how you help people and the results they get and not on a title.

For instance, let’s say that I am a social media manager and my focus is the travel industry.

So when someone asks, “Hey Susan, what do you do?”

I answer, “Well, I help family owned travel agencies manage their social media.”  Then people immediately understand what I do.

Use this simple formula: I help, WHO (who do you help – your target audience) RESULTS (what results do they get) + HOW (how do you help them – what do you do).

A few more examples to help you are….

I help Business Coaches (WHO) get in front of their audience (RESULTS) by managing their social media (HOW).

I help Yoga Studios (WHO) get more clients (RESULTS) by writing great copy (HOW).

I help Virtual Assistants (WHO) launch a successful business (RESULTS) by teaching them how to create and implement systems (HOW).

I know it takes time for many people to come up with these – to summarize them in one sentence.

It took me a long time – it’s part of getting clear on who you help and how.

Be patient and practice – it will come.

Play around with it.

It may not roll off your tongue immediately but it’s really something that you want to start focusing on.

Oh and on a side note… I know many people think that the VA industry is made up of nothing but administrative assistants and that couldn’t be further from the truth.

As I mentioned, I’m not an admin, never wanted to be, never was one. I’m not knocking admins they have great skills but it just wasn’t something that I wanted to do.

The VA industry is very, very diverse just like a business. There’s people here from HR, IT, like myself, people who do sales and marketing, systems and technology and many more.

So…  don’t think that you have to be an admin if you don’t want to be.

You can learn the skills and the systems that you need to make a difference and that help you quit your soul sucking job or do whatever it is that you want to do.

Remember… clients are more interested in results NOT what you’re called. Focus on that!

What’s your title?

I’d love to know!

All comments + questions are welcome.

Here is another article talking about why you need to ditch titles and switch to talking to what you do and how you help your clients. 

https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2019/08/13/the-law-of-specialization-in-personal-branding/#33295d0e1951

If you know someone who might benefit from this information, please share. You can use the share buttons below the post.

HERE ARE A FEW RELATED BLOG POSTS THAT MIGHT BE OF INTEREST:

  1. Virtual Assistant Certifications: Why You Don’t Need One
  2. 5 Ways to Find Clients For Your VA Biz
  3. Creating Your Virtual Assistant Business Plan
  4. Creating Your Benefits Flyer.

If you’re looking for more details on how to start or scale your VA business including how to specialize by learning in-demand skills, join my FREE VA Training Vault. It’s over 8 hours of how-to video training for Virtual Assistants that want to create a successful business.

Thanks for reading – Susan

Don’t forget to leave a comment if you found this information useful – I’d love to hear from you!

Virtual Assistant Training + Coaching What You Need To Watch Out For

Virtual Assistant Training + Coaching What You Need To Watch Out For

 

What You Need To Watch Out For When It Comes to Virtual Assistant Training + Coaching

Don’t be afraid to ask questions – it’s your time + money that you’re investing.

This isn’t my standard blog post, it’s more of a rant.

Thought I’d warn you now <grin>.

Seems that everyone is now either a Virtual Assistant Coach or Trainer. I think it’s great that the industry is growing BUT, do these new Coaches + Trainers have the experience to really teach others how to be successful?

There are so many newbies jumping on the Virtual Assistant Coaching + Training bandwagon when many of them haven’t been in business long enough to be considered successful. I’m sorry but you’re not qualified to be a coach or trainer if you’ve not run a successful VA business for at least 3 years (the bare minimum in my opinion).

According to the Small Business Association (SBA) and many others, 80% of all small businesses fail in the first year alone. After the first year, the number falls but only about 50% of businesses make it to five years.

Those are some pretty sobering statistics huh?

Here’s the thing, how can someone who has been in business less than a year really understand what it takes to run a successful business?

They’ve not been in business long enough to know!

Not only that, they’re teaching people stuff that is just plain wrong.

Like a contract is not necessary – WRONG. They are very necessary; in fact, don’t work without a signed contract. It’s protection for both you and your clients.

I’ve seen things like:

  1. You don’t really need any experience… except know how to use the Internet. You’ll have a hard time finding clients if you don’t have the skills they want.
  2. People guaranteeing that you’ll make 5k or 10k a month if you buy their coaching or training. Sorry folks, no one can guarantee how much anyone else will make. It’s just a marketing ploy.
  3. If you read or hear something saying that it’s easy to be a Virtual Assistant, that you can make thousands of dollars only working 4 hours a day… it’s hogwash.

You have to put in the time and effort especially when you’re just starting out.

On a side note – it’s definitely possible to make 10k a month but there is a whole lot more to it than just being a Virtual Assistant.

I’m passionate about this industry and I’m seeing more and more people who are new to the industry get taken advantage of by slick marketing.

Some of these newbies are teaching crappy methods, and it brings down the entire VA industry.

I know when I first started I didn’t know what to ask or to look for when thinking about investing in training and/or coaching.

And… I ended up buying a LOT of crap.

You don’t know what you don’t know.

Please, I ask you to do your homework when it comes to hiring a coach or buying a course.

Find out:

  • If the person really is/was successful.
  • If they’ve been in business for more than a couple of years.
  • If they have a refund policy.

Ask for testimonials, ask for proof of success – it’s important since you’re trusting this person with your potential livelihood + business + your hard earned $$.

The VA Industry is NOT standardized which means there is no certification for trainers or coaches like in other industries.

Here are a few more tips that you might find helpful:

  1. You can use a program like WhoIs.Net to see how long they’ve owned their domain name. It can give you an idea of how long they’ve been in business. For example, if you go to this website and type in thetechiementor.com you’ll see when I first registered this domain back in 2011. (I would still ask this question directly to the coach or trainer – they could have re-branded and changed their business name).
  2. Award Winning Virtual Assistant or Best VA Trainer, what does that even mean? Who voted for them? How many people voted? Is it even a real award?
  3. If you’re in the UK, check to see if they’re VAT registered (you have to be VAT registered if you earn £85k+). Anyone who isn’t is definitely not earning 6 figures, whatever their marketing says.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions – it’s your time + money that you’re investing.

Oh and one more thing.

Yes, I know… I’m what you would call a VA Coach or Trainer. But I’m starting my 10th year in this industry and ran a successful VA business for 5 years before I started The Techie Mentor. I’m not asking you to buy my stuff or hire me unless we’re a good fit.

Ok… rant over.

What do you think?

I’d love to hear from you.

All comments + questions are welcome.

HERE ARE A FEW RELATED BLOG POSTS THAT MIGHT BE OF INTEREST:

  1. Virtual Assistant Certifications + Why You Don’t Need One
  2. The Fake It Until You Make It Strategy
  3. What Is A Virtual Assistant
  4. Tips On Sub-Contracting

If you’re looking for more details on how to start or scale your VA business including how to specialize by learning in-demand skills, join my FREE VA Training Vault. It’s over 8 hours of how-to video training for Virtual Assistants that want to create a successful business.

Thanks for reading – Susan

Don’t forget to leave a comment if you found this information useful – I’d love to hear from you!

The Fake It Until You Make It Strategy

The Fake It Until You Make It Strategy

Don’t Use The Fake It Until You Make It Strategy

Lately, I’ve seen lots of posts and ads about “Fake it until you make it” and I have a serious problem with this so-called strategy.

So, Friends, this is going to be a “soapbox” post – you’ve been warned  ;-).

Not to mention there are people teaching this strategy to new Virtual Assistants… it’s just wrong.

If you’re not familiar with it… it means fake like you know what you’re doing until you do!

That’s no way to do business!

Do you really want to fake it with your clients? You’re working in their business – their baby.

They trust you can do what you say. Remember, it’s your business and reputation on the line.

I’ve heard WAY too many horror stories about Virtual Assistants saying they know how to do something just to get the client.

Then, when it comes time to deliver, they disappear leaving the client high and dry.

This damages our industry. Clients have trust issues (rightfully so) because they’ve been burned.

The VA Industry is a service based industry, similar to lawyers, CPA’s, doctors, dentists, plumbers and many more.

Would you want your attorney or doctor to fake it on you until they learn what they need to make it?

I know I would not.

Now I know that’s not a straight comparison, but you get the idea. Professionals such as attorneys or doctors spend years in school learning their professions plus pass a test before they can even begin working with clients.

Virtual Assistants do not.

It’s all about ethics and being transparent with your clients. If you don’t know something, say so.

You might be surprised… many clients are willing to work with you to help you learn things.

And… there is a big difference between faking it and lack of confidence.

Faking means you’re not really sure what you’re doing. Like saying you know Infusionsoft but you’ve never seen it before.

Lack of confidence means you have the skills and know what you’re doing, you’ve just not done it enough to be confident yet. For example, you’ve taken classes to learn WordPress but you’ve not offered it as a service yet.

There are so many ways you can learn the skills you need to be successful. Take a class, intern, sub-contract, or find a mentor.

I sub-contracted for several people when I was getting started to gain confidence and understand how this whole business works.

Go with what you already know – offer that.

But please, stop faking it.

What do you think?

Feel free to post below and share your thoughts on this strategy.

I’d love to hear from you.

All comments + questions are welcome.

If you know someone who might benefit from this information, please share. You can use the share buttons below the post.

HERE ARE A FEW RELATED BLOG POSTS THAT MIGHT BE OF INTEREST:

  1. Tips For Sub-Contracting Your Services
  2. Changing Your Employee Mindset

If you’re looking for more details on how to start or scale your VA business including how to specialize by learning in-demand skills, join my FREE VA Training Vault. It’s over 8 hours of how-to video training for Virtual Assistants that want to create a successful business.

Thanks for reading – Susan

Don’t forget to leave a comment if you found this information useful – I’d love to hear from you!

Virtual Assistant Certification – Why You Don’t Need One

Virtual Assistant Certification – Why You Don’t Need One

You Don’t Need a Certification!

I’ve noticed a lot of new Virtual Assistant Certification training programs on the market lately and just wanted to point something out that you may not be aware of.

The Virtual Assistant Industry is
not a standardized industry.

It does not have a committee or governing body that has certified specific standards that Virtual Assistants must meet to be considered certified.

There are no true “Virtual Assistant Certification”.

There is NO Industry Approved Accreditation.

It’s not like the Project Management or IT Industries where there are governing bodies and true certification programs.

Now, I know there are a few organizations that offer certifications, just be aware of what they mean by certified.

Ask questions like “What do you need to do to obtain the certification and what do you get from it?

There’s a big difference between completion and certification.

A completion certificate shows that you successfully completed a training program.

A certification means you’ve passed a test given by an accredited body. There isn’t one for the VA Industry.

It’s a marketing ploy – don’t fall for it.

Do your research before investing in any programs.

Find out how long they’ve been in the industry, how long they’ve been in business and if they’re selling their own stuff or if they bought it from someone else (PLR) and are just putting their name on it.

Ask around about their programs or ask for testimonials.

Do they have a refund policy? If so, what is it?

Bottom line is you don’t need to be certified to be a successful Virtual Assistant and be sure you understand what you’re getting for your investment of both time and money.

I’d love to hear from you.

All comments + questions are welcome.

If you know someone who might benefit from this information, please share. You can use the share buttons below the post.

HERE ARE A FEW RELATED BLOG POSTS THAT MIGHT BE OF INTEREST:

  1. Setting Up Your VA Business + What You Need To Know
  2. 5 Must Haves When Starting a VA Business
  3. Starting a VA Business – Where Do I Start
  4. VA Training + Coaching What To Watch Out For

If you’re looking for more details on how to start or scale your VA business including how to specialize by learning in-demand skills, join my FREE VA Training Vault. It’s over 8 hours of how-to video training for Virtual Assistants that want to create a successful business.

Thanks for reading – Susan

Don’t forget to leave a comment if you found this information useful – I’d love to hear from you!

Don’t Call Yourself a VA

Don’t Call Yourself a VA

Don’t Call Yourself a Virtual Assistant

How many of you have introduced yourself as a “Virtual Assistant” and either you get the deer in the headlights look OR the person you are chatting with thinks you are an Administrative Assistant? Me!

The term “Virtual Assistant” is a very broad & generic title. Either people don’t know what one is or they assume to know exactly what you do.

Both are problems in my opinion!

In this week’s video blog I talk about a few different ideas for introducing yourself to prospects without using the title “Virtual Assistant“.

Thanks for listening.

I’d love to hear what you think. Please take a moment to leave a comment below and share your thoughts and questions. Or, feel free to share what you learned from this video.

If you’re looking for more details on how to start or scale your VA business including how to specialize by learning in-demand skills, join my FREE VA Training Vault. It’s over 8 hours of how-to video training for Virtual Assistants that want to create a successful business.

Enjoy your day – Susan

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