Real Talk About Being a Virtual Assistant
I want you to pull up a chair and grab a cuppa because I'm about to lay down some truth about this whole virtual assistant thang. It's all coming from a place of love, ok? One of the things I love about the industry is that virtual assistants help each other. It's what we do. And there are some myths going around that I wanted to just squash once and for all. If you haven't started as a virtual assistant yet, you need to have the true, full picture of what this industry is all about. Are you ready? Here we go!
Just because you’ve got superstar admin skills doesn’t mean you’ll make a superstar virtual assistant.
Maybe you can type super fast. Or you can create the most amazing websites. Hey, congratulations to you! But guess what? Your super duper fantabulous administrative skills are not going to be enough to be a kick-butt virtual assistant. You’ve got to stand out, be the big dog of the industry, be that virtual assistant that everyone wants. And that has nothing to do with your admin abilities. That has more to do with your mindset. There’s nothing wrong with being a worker bee but if you want to be a success in the online space, you’ve got to think worker bee and think more along the lines of being a full-fledged business owner. Which leads me to the next thing:
If you’re not ready to do business owner type stuff, being a virtual assistant isn’t for you.
I can’t say the next thing any clearer than this: being a virtual assistant is not just about doing the work. It’s about hustling for clients, promoting your business, connecting and collaborating with other virtual assistants, making sure your client queue is full, paying the bills, dealing with funky and messy situations, maybe training a new team member to take on overflow work. Being a virtual assistant is not, I repeat, not, only about the client work. It’s so much more. And if you stay stuck in just “doing work for the client” mode, you’re not going to grow. As a virtual assistant, you pay your own taxes, get your own insurance, all that jazz. If that scares you, that’s totally understandable. But are you going to let the fear get in the way or will you throw in the towel? Your choice.
Do you need a lot of hand-holding? Do you wait to get directions?
When a client hires you, they are hiring the best of the best. You can better bet they’ve sifted through a slew of proposals to get to you. They want someone who gets their business, who needs little direction, someone who can jump in there and get ‘er done. Time is money and if the client has to constantly answer your questions when you could have gotten the answer by doing a little digging of your own, that’s going to get old. Be proactive, think like your client and make moves that will help your client (and you) grow in business.
There are folks in the online world ready to rip you off.
Now, let me just say this right off the bat: the majority of online business owners out there are honest, decent people. I’ve met many in the eleven years I’ve been doing business. But then there’s the flip side: the folks who post really vague job openings, have no website and fake profiles. This is where the ownership falls on you. You’ve got to do your due diligence. Don’t be in such a hurry to respond to job postings that you lose all of your good common sense. Part of the discovery call process is asking the right questions and if something doesn’t sound right, then be brave enough to take a pass. The right client will come along, don’t you worry. If you don’t know what to ask during the discovery call process, download the checklist.
There are times when you are gonna want to chuck it and do something “steady.”
If you understand and believe this next concept, you’ll be a-ok: you’ll have moments where the money is rolling on and there will be other moments when you’re digging in your couch for loose change. No fooling. How long you stay in those various phases depends entirely on you. When a client goes ghost and doesn’t pay, will you cry and moan about it or will you pull up your big girl panties and find a better-paying one?
Not everyone is going to understand what you’re doing or support you.
Your dream is to work from home as a virtual assistant but your inner circle isn’t so supportive. They say things like, “Why are you playing on the computer all day?” or my personal favorite, “Why don’t you get a real job?” Listen, you can try to educate people all day long as to what a virtual assistant is and does but some people just aren’t going to get it. Use that time and energy to show them what you can do rather than telling them what you do. Actions speak louder than words - remember that!
You’ll get sick of trading your time for hours worked and you’ll switch to package pricing pretty quickly.
I learned this the hard way. When I started out, I tracked my hours by using an online clock. But that got old. I would be in the middle of one thing for a client and then start another task or answer a call for another client. That made me stop the clock for Client #1 and start the clock for Client #2. Ugh! I fixed that by charging a package price instead of hourly. Let’s say your hourly rate is $40 and a client needs your help for 10 hours per month. You’d charge them $400 per month. Once the 10 hours is up, they can either purchase more hours from you or wait until the next month to continue the work. Packages are much more profitable in that if you’re a fast worker, you actually are lowering what you earn by completing the task quickly. Packages, baby!
Your focus and niche are gonna change. And that’s okay.
When I started out in 2007, the real estate industry was the bomb. I was super busy with clients and loved it. But 2008 hit and let me tell you - it got ugly. The real estate industry took a nosedive and so did my business. To get out of the hole, I took any and every client I could find. That’s called hustling, right? Wrong! It’s called not working smart. Only when I decided to focus on things that I truly enjoy did my business turn around for the better. My business today doesn’t resemble my early days at all. And that’s a good thing. Your likes and dislikes will make themselves clear as you progress. Don’t fight it - go with it.
You’ll have some days where you’re living the glam life but most days, it’s hard work.
As a virtual assistant, you’ll work with some pretty cool people and do some pretty amazing things. You might get nice gifts from your clients to show their appreciation, you might travel, you may even speak at events to show your expertise. That’s the pretty side. But the real dealy-o is this: you’ll have days where you’ll hide in the bathroom to take a conference call and pray that your kids don’t barge in. Yoga pants become your home office outfit and you know the pizza delivery person by their first name because you’re bogged down with work all the time and you haven’t made it to the grocery store. You’re constantly telling family and friends “no” to invites because client work has you busy and you don’t know the last time you did anything fun. Oh honey, I feel ya. The truth is being a business owner is hard work and it ain’t for everybody. But you can make some changes where you don’t fall into a rut. Make a schedule and stick to it. Don’t work outside of those hours. Plan some “me” time. You’ve worked hard, you deserve it! When you find an answer to the hiding in the bathroom thing, let me know, ok? I’ve got nothing. Whenever I watch this video, I get the giggles. You moms can relate, right?
Keep learning or get left in the dust.
Honey, times are a changin’. Quickly. And if you don’t keep up with all the changes in your niche, you’re gonna feel left out. Make a point of taking at least one course per year and work it into your budget. You’re a business owner, remember? Business owners invest in their businesses. If you see clients repeatedly asking for a certain skill set that you don’t have, consider learning it. The VA Classroom is a terrific source for virtual assistants who want to take their business to the next level. Lots of programs have free tutorials so check those out.
You know, I love seeing the industry grow and I love seeing the excitement that new virtual assistants bring. Reminds me of when I started. I hope this helps you on your journey. Take care and I’ll see you next time!