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.
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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!
Susan Mershon started The Techie Mentor ™ in 2013 to teach Virtual Assistants the systems + skills they need to build + run a successful business. With a strong base in project management, Susan brings her love of systems and teaching to offer training and mentoring to new and experienced Virtual Assistants. She’s taken all the programs, systems and tools she has taught to thousands of Virtual Assistants and created a signature system that helps them build a successful business + learn the skills they need to get clients + succeed with ZERO fluff or hype… Just the stuff that GETS GREAT RESULTS.