If you are a solo Virtual Assistant, having a trusted partner or partners is a must.
First… a little bit of background on what they are and why you need one (Trusted Partners).
If you’re a service provider and you’re a solopreneur… you are the business.
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’re a Virtual Assistant, chances are you’re a solopreneur.
You’re the one that does the work and delivers the services.
If you have a team of Virtual Assistants or Freelancers that work with your clients – you’re not a solopreneur!
Even coaches are considered solopreneurs!
So… 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 you 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 business doesn’t stop because you do.
They have tasks that need to be done + delivered even when you’re out of the office.
Do you currently have someone who can step in and assist your clients while your away?
I didn’t… and this is what happened to me and how the Trusted Partner was born.
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 probably can 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.
And… 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.
I realized that I needed to have somebody who could back me up when I was unavailable and that is how the Trusted Partner was born.
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?
How will you provide coverage for your clients?
A quick side note for those of you that are brand new to the VA Industry, this is something that you should start looking into as soon as possible. You want to take care of your clients, even when you’re out of the office.
It gives them a sense of comfort, plus this is something that not everybody does – have a Trusted Partner.
How do you find one?
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.
Bottom line is it takes TIME to find the right person.
As I mentioned they need to have similar skills, but they also need to understand how your business is run since this is NOT a cookie cutter industry.
Every business is different.
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 others Trusted Partner.
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, at colleagues, at 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 you use them?
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 Client Kick Off call process – to introduce the concept and how they work with your Trusted 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 the Trusted Partner would step in.
You would let your clients know 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 your Trusted Partners 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 Partners contact information and skills to your business policies document.
How do you pay them (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 others, this kept the whole thing simple.
One more quick thing…
I would set up a business email for them at your company.
For instance, [email protected].
That will keep it simple for them and your clients when reaching out to them.
So by having a trusted partner in your business, you have somebody that can step in and help them do what they need to do while you’re unavailable. It’s going to give you peace of mind while you’re out of the office, and give your clients peace of mind that they know if you’re unavailable, they have someone they can go to that can help them. And so that’s a trusted partner.
Having a Trusted Partner gives you and your clients peace of mind.
Your clients have someone they can reach out to if they need anything while you are unavailable.
And you can unplug, recharge, get healthy or tend to whatever you need while you’re away.
It makes a huge difference between keeping and losing clients.
Here is a quick checklist to help you get started finding your Trusted Partners!
Trusted Partner™ Checklist
- 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.
- 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.
- Decide on whether or not you are going to pay your partners. Sometimes we paid each other, other times we just bartered for each other’s services. This is something you need to work out together. And, be sure to get it all in writing!
- Work with your trusted partners to create the process you use when an emergency happens and you have to be out of the office.
- Train your trusted partners in how you work with clients and the tools that you use (great time to have an operations manual).
- Add the trusted partner process to your business policies document and share it with your clients.
- Make an introduction to your clients and make sure they understand the process for working with your trusted partners.
- Create an email for them at your company to help keep it easy for everyone involved.
- Decide how much and when to pay your Trusted Partners 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? I’d love to know.
Do you have a Trusted Partner?
I’d love to know!
All comments + questions are welcome.
Feel free to post below and let me know what action you’re taking today to find a Trusted Partner for your business.
If you know someone who might benefit from this information, please share. You can use the share buttons below the post.
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Thanks for reading – Susan
Don’t forget to leave a comment if you found this information useful – I’d love to hear from you!
I’m Susan Mershon and I started The Techie Mentor ™ in 2013 to teach Virtual Assistants my no fluff approach to the systems and skills they need to build + run a successful business. My focus is on teaching you the high end skills clients want and the systems to take those skills and offer them as a service professional.