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!

We All Struggled When Starting Our VA Journey

We All Struggled When Starting Our VA Journey

 

You’re Not Alone – We All Struggled When Starting Our Virtual Assistant Journey

There are so many misconceptions on the ways to build a successful Virtual Assistant business!

Lately, I’ve seen several people who are struggling to start their business, juggle their family and business, and maybe even a job.

They’re struggling to get clients or understand marketing + sales.

And… they’re getting really discouraged when it comes to building a Virtual Assistant business.

I know there’s a lot of stuff out there floating around on the Internet that talks about, hey, you know what, you can start your VA business from your pajamas, using only your phone, in just 30 days!

Sounds too good to be true doesn’t it??

Well, I hate to break it to you, but it is.

First of all, you need more than a phone to be successful. You can certainly do it in your pajamas, but you really need more than 30 days, or a weekend, to set up a successful business.

Sure, you could set up a business in a weekend, but will it be successful?

And… why waste time and energy, if you’re going to build a business, why not do it right?

Why not make it so it’s successful for the long run?

Instead of throwing something together with spit and band-aids over the weekend and then having to go back and duct tape any holes, spend time on building a solid foundation that will support the business + lifestyle you crave.

You really want to make sure that you understand and are clear on what it takes to be successful.

I also want you to know that every one of us, everybody that you see on the Internet, no matter what type of service they’re offering, or what business they’re in, we all started at ZERO.

We all started with NO experience.

A lot of us started with ZERO business experience.

I was an employee my entire life, so I didn’t have any idea how to run a business.

Many of us don’t have a college education.

We don’t have any business skills, or the skills you need to run a business.

Maybe we have skills from being a professional, but we don’t know how to use those skills in a business capacity.

We don’t have experience as a Virtual Assistant. I’d never been a VA before.

This is all NEW to most of us when were starting out.

And then, we have to learn how to juggle everything that’s happening.

I had a full time job with an infant at home. I had to figure out how to juggle my life, and my family, and my job in order to build my business.

It took time – I had to learn how to create a schedule that worked for me.

So my point is, you need to realize this is not a get rich quick scheme. It takes time to build a successful business. It’s hard work. It really is.

But, think of it this way, you’re going to put the most time and effort into that first year of building your business because you want to build a solid foundation for your business to grow and flourish.

You need to put in the time and effort.

It’s not easy to do.

In order to get through the tough times ahead – you really have to focus on WHY you’re doing this.

What’s the reason behind you building a VA business, or whatever type of business you’re building?

For me, if you’ve read any of my blogs, or watched my videos, or listened to my podcast, you know that FREEDOM is my word.

Freedom in every sense of the word.

Even 10 years ago, freedom was what I was trying to achieve – to get out of my soul sucking job. I wanted my freedom!

It’s still my word today!

It’s my WHY.

Because you are going to have a bad day, a bad month, a bad week. And, if you learn how to focus on the dream and not the drama, it’s going to help you succeed.

This is a marathon, not a sprint.

It’s not who can build their business the fastest. It’s not a competition. I could build a business in two hours, but that doesn’t mean it will be successful.

There’s a lot of growth that goes into building a business, a lot of self-growth.

Because you are the business, if you have self limiting beliefs, you’re going to bump up against them and you’re going to have to fix them. Self limiting beliefs will STOP you in your tracks.

It is going to take time for you to figure out what services you want to offer.

Who do you want to help? Who is your dream client? What do they look like?

All this stuff takes time.

If you don’t do the work – you’re going to have a tough road.

Some people fly right through this and they know right from the beginning, they’re the exception, not the rule.

It took me a long time and a lot of iterations to really figure out what it was that I wanted to be when I grew up.

Who I wanted to help, how I wanted to help them. This information is key to being successful and it can take time to figure it all out.

Realize your business is not static. It doesn’t stay the same. It’s going to grow and change as you grow and change. Lean in to it!

I think the biggest thing is you need to realize that we all started at ground zero, we started with no clients, no experience.

You can learn what you need to be successful.

So if you don’t know your WHY – figure it out. Why do you want to do this?

And then remember, take care of yourself because you are your business. Be kind, be realistic in the journey that you’re on. Understand it takes time.

Regardless of all the noise you see out there on social media, you can’t buy into it because you don’t know what their backstory is. They may be telling you it took them 30 days, but it may have taken them 30 months.

That’s a sales pitch.

That’s a marketing ploy.

There are people that can do that, but they’re the exception, not the rule.

It took me 18 months – 18 months to be able to build a successful + sustainable business to where I could leave my soul sucking job.

It was NOT an overnight or weekend thing.

The best thing I can tell you, if you’re like me, if you’re a recovering perfectionist and an over thinker, is focus on Imperfect Action.

Do something every day to move yourself closer to your dream.

Focus on the dreams, not the drama.

Realize you’re going to make mistakes. It’s how you respond to the mistakes that really makes the difference. Do you get up, dust yourself off and go on? Because you should, mistakes are not death in a business. It means you’re trying.

You’re going to bump up against obstacles. How do you handle that? Some obstacles you can go around or under or over, some you have to go through. Don’t give up.

You need to understand it’s going to be bumpy.

It’s going to be ugly.

You’re going to have bad days, bad months.

How do you deal with it?

You have to know WHY you want to do this and understand that it’s all part of the journey. Nobody has it easy, regardless of what they may tell you, because they probably had plenty of bumps along the road.

So remember, take care of yourself, be realistic.

Get a plan together. How are you going to do this?

Most of us, when we started, had no idea how we were going to build a business. I know I didn’t. I kind of formulated a plan over time.

That’s why I came up with my Getting Started System, and my Action Plan, that actually goes through step by step, every step that you need to do to build a successful + sustainable business on your own time, on your own schedule. It’s basically a long to do list, that’s why it’s called an Action Plan.

Have a plan of how you’re going to do this and then get started.

Be realistic in the goals that you set and you will get there.

But most of all, be kind to yourself.

Remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint, and we all started at level zero when we started our VA business.

You’ve got this!

Focus on the dream NOT the drama!

So… what are you going to do next, I’d love to know!

All comments + questions are welcome.

I’d love to hear from you.

If you prefer to watch instead of read here’s the link to the YouTube video – https://youtu.be/JhdJ2vcxRhs

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. Skills To Be a Professionsl Virtual Assistant
  2. 4 Ways to Scale Your Virtual Assistant Business
  3. Fake It Until You Make It Strategy

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.

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

Tips For Starting a Virtual Assistant Business While Employed

Tips For Starting a Virtual Assistant Business While Employed

tips for starting your VA biz while employed

Many people start their Virtual Assistant business while working either full or part-time.

I know, I was one of them.

I had a full-time corporate career, plus an infant at home when I started my Virtual Assistant business over 10 years ago.

I remember what a struggle it was to figure out how to juggle it all and stay sane!

If you’re like me and you’re working on starting or building your VA business while you’re still employed, I want to share a few of the tips that really helped me.

I’m including a free sample work schedule + transition checklist for you to download to help you plan your exit from your JOB. You’ll find the download at the end of this post.

Ok… let’s dive into the tips!

#1 – Schedule Everything!

You only have so much time each day to fit in everything you need to do. Use a planner or online calendar and schedule out your days in detail. When it comes to doing your VA work, schedule it around your job and family commitments. Be sure to include downtime for yourself, otherwise, you will burn out.

For example, set aside 4 hours per day Monday – Friday to work on your business. Get up two hours early in the morning and then work two hours in the evening. Then work 4 – 6 hours on Saturday and take Sunday off.

This was the schedule I followed to help me launch my business.

If you have a lunch hour, you can use that time to work on your business too. Just don’t do it at work.

Find a schedule that works for you and stick to it. It takes commitment to build a business especially when you’re working in a JOB.

I used the hatred of my soul-sucking job to help me stay focused!

What can you use to help you stay focused? Find out what it is and use it to fuel your fire.

#2 – Talk Deadlines NOT Schedules. 

Remember, as a Virtual Assistant you get to dictate when you work. If a client asks when you’re available, remind them that it doesn’t matter when you get the work done. What matters is meeting your deadlines.

I would tell clients that my schedule depends on my family so, it changes. Then I asked them when they needed the task completed.

Now realize I didn’t offer the types of services that kept me in front of the computer during “business hours”. The work I did for clients could be done on my schedule when I wanted. The key was to deliver on time.

Always focus on your deadlines NOT when you do the work. It’s not a JOB.

#3 – Work Around Your Commitments. 

Your job is important as it’s still paying the bills so, be sure to do your client work when you’re not working.

Go out for lunch and work at a local cafe or restaurant.

Get up an hour earlier in the morning and do client work or work late into the evening.

Remember, you set your own work hours and the most important thing is to meet the promised deadlines to your clients.

Keep in mind if you’re using free wi-fi, you’ll need to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to secure your connection and your data. Don’t take the chance of information falling into the wrong hands!

I recommend using Tunnel Bear VPN. It’s easy to use – just install and activate.

I use it every time I’m not in my own office.

They have a free version so you can try it out.

#4 – Have a Support System.

It’s so important to have people around you that understand what you’re going through. Who better than other Virtual Assistants? We’re a tight-knit family, here to support you on your VA journey.

Join my Facebook community – VA Tips, Tricks + Advice to connect with other Virtual Assistants both new and experienced.

It’s a safe space to ask questions, vent, get support and help each other succeed.

#5 – Have an Exit Strategy.

You need to have a plan in place before you’re ready to leave your job behind.

You need to plan your exit!

It’s so important to step back and think about how your life will change when you’re no longer employed.

You don’t want to quit your JOB before you’re ready.

Take time to plan.

Things like how much do you need to earn before you can quit?

Or, what expenses will be cut or alleviated when I’m no longer working for someone else?

What new expenses will I have?

Having a strategy or plan is a MUST for being successful.

#6 – Know Your Why.

What’s your why?

Your WHY is the reason WHY you want to start your own Virtual Assistant business.

My why is, I wanted my FREEDOM + I wanted more FLEXIBILITY in my life.

They are the driving force behind everything I do, even now.

It’s important for you to know what drives you – your WHY.

You need something to keep you going when the times get tough because they will.

And, when they do… you need to focus on your WHY.

I use a Vision Board to help remind me what I’m working for when the going gets tough.

Put your why where you can see it every day.

It’s hard work to start a business – remember it takes time + commitment.

Lean on your WHY when the going gets tough for you.

Reach out to your Support System for a boost when you’re feeling low.

You’re not alone!

It’s possible to build a thriving Virtual Assistant business while you’re still working, I’m living proof.

It takes commitment and persistence but, in the end, all the hard work is SO worth it.

You’ll have your freedom and the flexibility to work when you want from where you want.

I hope you found these tips helpful. They really did make a difference in helping me meet my deadlines and keeping my sanity.

If you want a sample of the schedule that I used when I was working + an exit strategy + transition checklist, click below to download them all for free.

va-transition-blog

What are you going to work on first?

Feel free to post a comment below and share! 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.

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!

5 Must Haves When Starting A Virtual Assistant Business

5 Must Haves When Starting A Virtual Assistant Business

5 Must Haves When Starting

It can be downright confusing and overwhelming trying to figure out what you need to do to start a Virtual Assistant business. I know… I’ve been there.

To help cut through the clutter & confusion, I have created a simple list of the 5 Must Haves you need to have in place when starting your VA business. These are based on experience as well as trial and error.

  • Business Name
  • Skills/Services
  • Rates
  • Target Market
  • Online Presence

In this week’s VLOG I explain why each one of these is important and share tips & tricks too!

Here are the resources I mention in the video, enjoy!

List of Services

Rate Calculation Worksheet

US Trademark Search

10 Business Name Generators

Thank you for watching.

Please share your key takeaways or aha’s below, I’d love to hear them.

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

Are You Lacking The Structure You’re Used To

Are You Lacking The Structure You’re Used To

Do You Have Structure In Your Business?

When you leave the employee world behind and start your own business, we are lacking the structure we are so used to having.

As an employee, you are given structure by your employer.

Things like…

  • What time to come to work
  • What time to leave
  • When to take lunch
  • What you are working on
  • When you get a review & a raise
  • And so much more….

It is up to us as the business owner to add structure to our own business.

Now we don’t necessarily need to set specific work hours….but it would be nice for clients to understand what hours and days you work.

In this week’s VLOG, I talk about the need for structure in our business and share tips & tricks on how to create it for ourselves.

Thanks for watching!

Do you have a structure in your business?

Feel free to post below and let me know what structure you have in place.

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.

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

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

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