Having a Trusted Partner™ is a must if you’re a solopreneur. What happens if you get sick? You’re the one that does all the work in your business and delivers the services to your clients. If you’re a Virtual Assistant, chances are you’re a solopreneur.
Even coaches are considered solopreneurs as well as any other service provider that works on their own. You’re a one-person shop so to speak. Nobody else in your business does what you do or can do what you do.
Now, maybe you have a team that supports you, but they’re not the ones that go out and make the money for the business. If you have a team of Virtual Assistants or Freelancers that work with your clients – you’re not a solopreneur!
What’s A Trusted Partner™?
A trusted partner is someone who can step into your business and essentially be you when you want or need to take time away from your business.
Why Do I Need One?
To help your clients when you are unavailable. What happens when you get sick or have an emergency and need to be out of the office for more than a day or two? Your clients’ businesses don’t stop because you do. They have tasks that need to be done and delivered even when you’re out of the office.
How The Trusted Partner™ Was Born
Do you currently have someone who can step in and assist your clients while you’re away? I didn’t and this is the story of what happened to me.
I had all these wonderful clients. I was always busy, always had a lot on my plate, always had a lot of to-dos. Then I got sick. In fact, I got pneumonia, and I wasn’t able to complete my daily to-dos or meet my deadlines.
And you can probably guess what happened next. Because I didn’t have anyone who I trusted and had similar skills as myself to do the work, I lost a few clients. They had to go elsewhere to get their stuff done. And, I totally get it!
Some of my other clients could wait until I got back to work but several of them were in the midst of a launch and couldn’t afford to wait. I couldn’t work, I was just that sick.
I realized that I needed to have somebody who could back me up when I was unavailable and that’s how it all started. Essentially a trusted partner becomes you when you’re unavailable for any reason.
So what if you have a family emergency or you just need a mental health day, or, you get really sick? You want to take care of your clients, even when you’re out of the office. It gives them a sense of comfort, plus having a trusted partner is something that not everybody does.
On another note, I don’t advocate for working when you’re sick or on vacation or need to be present for a family member. You need time OFF – it’s that simple. I didn’t take a vacation for the first three years of my business, which is not healthy.
How Do I Find The People?
In order for them to become you while you’re away, they need to have similar skill sets as you so they can do the work that needs to get done. That way you can truly relax or get healthy while your business is in good hands.
They should be someone you know and trust. You can find them through colleagues and even Facebook groups. Facebook groups are a great place to start, but you have to build a relationship with someone because you are trusting these people to run your business while you’re unavailable.
So you want to make sure that they’re a good fit for you and understand how your business works. The bottom line is it takes TIME to find the right person. Every business is different.
What I Did To Find The Right Fit
I reached out to a few colleagues that I had worked with in the past and asked them if they would be interested in being each other’s trusted partners. These were Virtual Assistants that I had worked with on a team or who had done sub-contractor work for me.
The most important thing is to find someone you know and trust who has similar skills to you. That way they can handle any of the tasks that may come their way.
Look at your friends, colleagues, people that are in groups with you, whether it’s a paid group or a free one. Reach out to people and say, “Hey, I need a Trusted Partner and I need somebody that does X, Y, Z“.
You have to make sure you’re really zoned in on what type of skills you want. They may not have the depth of knowledge, but they should be able to do the work that needs to get done while you’re away.
How Do I Introduce Them To My Clients?
Once you’ve found your partner(s), be sure to let your clients know about them and how they work. This should be part of your Business Policies and New Client Kick-Off Call process – to introduce the concept and how they work with your trusted business partner.
I introduced my trusted partners to my clients and explained that they were only available when I was unavailable for extended periods of time (3 days or more) and not for any other reason. They’re not for emergencies when they can’t reach you for some reason.
Unavailable means you’re out of the office, on vacation, you have a family emergency, you’re sick. That’s when they step in. You would let your clients know about the situation – that you’re on vacation, sick, or otherwise unavailable and remind them about your trusted partners and how to connect with them.
Be sure to add the exact process for working with them(s) to your business policies document and discuss it with your clients. This way they are clear on how and when to use them. Also, add your trusted partner(s) contact information and skills to your business policies document.
How Do I Pay My Trusted Partner™?
That’s something that you have to figure out – but they should be paid for any work they do for you. Remember, they are providing a valuable service for you and your clients.
It gives you peace of mind and time to unplug while you’re unavailable AND it gives your clients peace of mind knowing they have help.
My trusted partners and I kept it simple. We decided to be subcontractors for each other and charge a lesser rate for the work that we did while acting as a trusted partner. Since we were each other’s, this kept the whole thing simple.
Best Practices To Keep It Simple
Set up a business email for your partner (s) at your company. For instance, name-of-partner [at] yourcompany.com. That will make it easier for them and your clients when reaching out to them.
Trusted Partner™ Checklist
Here is a quick checklist to help you find them!
#1 – Reach Out To People You Trust
These can be people you have worked with on a team, met on social media, or were in a course together. I recommend finding two or more.
#2 – Be Sure They Have Similar Skills As You
Remember, they are going to be stepping into your business and acting as you while you are unavailable. This means that they need to understand how you run your business.
#3 – Create A Process
Work with your trusted partners to create the process you use when an emergency happens and you have to be out of the office.
#4 – Train Your Trusted Partner(s)™
Train your trusted partners in how you work with clients and the tools that you use (great time to have an operations manual).
#5 – Update Your Business Policies
Add the trusted partner process to your business policies document and share it with your clients.
#6 – Make An Introduction
Make an introduction to your clients and make sure they understand the process of working with your trusted partners.
#7 – Create An Email For Them
Create an email for them at your company to help keep it easy for everyone involved.
#8 – Clarify How To Pay Them
Decide how much and when to pay your trusted partner(s) for providing this invaluable service to you and your clients.
When was the last time you truly unplugged from your business without panicking or worrying about everything that wasn’t getting done? Feel free to post below and let me know what action you’re taking today to find a trusted partner for your business.
You can learn even more about the processes and simple hacks that will help you to build a professional business relationship with your clients in my post, Virtual Assistant Client Management 101: How To Show You’re Worth Every Penny!
Thanks for reading – Susan
P.S. If you're ready to invest in yourself and a professional future, please check out my VA Success Training. It's for people that are serious about running a successful Online Business. It includes everything you need from business set-up, getting clients, client management, a WP website, coaching, a supportive community, and so much more.
Thanks Susan for your useful advice.
I’ve just taken the first step to become a VA. Until now I havent thought about that kind of problem.
Thank you for taking the time to comment, much appreciated. It’s something you can plan for as your business starts to grow.
The Trusted Partner arrangement is, of course, perfect. And that also means that it is best practice to prepare a complete documentation of what you do for each client so that your TP will understand each client’s unique needs and processes – I would probably use a password protected Google Drive doc (or DropBox) for this. Also I have a question, Susan: If you have passworded work that you do for your clients on their sites/platforms/third-party technology, how do you give access to your TP?
I use my Task Management system – Teamwork to store all the client details. I give access to my TP so they can get the information they need anytime. And thanks for your comment Achaessa 😉
Excellent, thanks! I’ll have to research that system.
The Trusted Partner scheme sounds a great idea, providing assurance for both VA and client
Thank you Joanne, it really is a win-win for both parties.
Great video blog – you look very natural doing this, and thanks for the great information.
As far as payment for a trusted partner, you said that it is optional and depends on your relationship. But would a trusted partner actually do this for free? After all it’s their time away from working with their clients if they fill in for you. So, if you pay them do you pay them the same rate you’re getting from the client or a lesser rate?
Hi Andrea, thank you! I had one trusted partner that we would exchange services for anytime they spent working for one of my clients. I had another that I paid at a subcontractor rate. It is definitely something that needs to be discussed with the partners. Does that help? 😉
For helps! Thank you Susan.
OMG, lol. the “for helps” should have said “Sure helps! and it’s from me = Andrea. 🙂
Thanks Andrea I thought it was from Sheila since she also sent one titled Anonymous 😉
Great blog. I thank you very much for this valuable information. I had the same thought as Rose and appreciate your response. I do have a question: I am not sure the best way to transition from working a full-time job for someone else to fully working my business as I am new to my State and don’t know very many people. What would you suggest as the best way to go about this?
Hi Sheila, Thank you for taking time to comment and to watch my VLOG. Have you started your business or are you in the planning stages?
I have started but only have the clients that stayed with me when I moved as well as companies that hire me as a notary signing agent that I would like to have that person do as well. Most of those assignments I turn down because I am at work.
The above response labeled anonymous was from me, Sheila. Sorry about that.
No worries – I was not sure so I did not respond here. I have a great free video that speaks to starting a VA business on my website – you can find it here. https://www.thetechiementor.com/transitioning-va/. Also, I’m launching a new hands on program about building a business including tips on transitioning from being an employee – if you’d like more information let me know. Thanks, Susan
Wonderful! I will look at them and let you know. You are AWESOME!!! I really appreciate these VLogs and other information you send out to us. 🙂 I also saw that Andrea asked another question I had in mind, so this is really a great forum.
Why thank you – and let me know if you would like more details on the new VABB program – I call it VA Business in a Box.
I will. Thank you again. I am feeling excited again about the possibilities.
Awesome – you can do this! I’m living proof 😉
What you say is absolutely true. The down side is that if the clients have the contact information of the partner, could they end up giving the partner their business instead?
Hi Rose, I never had an issue. I have the relationship with the client and they appreciate that I have a backup in case of emergency. Client’s don’t jump ship without a reason. And thank you for taking time to comment 😉