When I was first starting out as a Virtual Assistant I often worked with clients who had never worked with a VA before. And I wish I’d had THIS post to oh-so-politely point them to when they came at me with a ridiculous request. I asked some real, live VAs what they wanted every business owner to know and here are their 10 best (and truest) answers!
#1 Implementation takes longer than you think.
I just want to slow clap this one all the way to the bank. If you think a project should take an hour, double it in your expectations. You never know if a program won’t open, Facebook will crash (mine does at least 3 times a day), a document will have errors…a myriad of things can pop up that make the project take longer than anticipated.
And for the love of all that is holy and good if you’ve never completed the task before yourself then don’t tell someone else how long it should take!
It does not take 30 minutes to migrate your website, Barbara.
This goes for turnaround time, too. Your VA has other clients and thus other work to do. Don’t give them a project due in an hour and expect them to just jump on it. (And if you’re a VA and you’re doing this email me. We need to talk.)
#2 It takes work in the beginning in order to truly set up an effective working relationship.
Yyyyyyep. Truer words were never spoken. It takes time for a VA to learn you, your business, and how you like things done. Please expect to put a little work in up front while you learn about each other and they get familiar with all the aspects of your business.
Remember how you taught your kids to tie their shoes? Or your dog to fetch? Or your cat to…well I haven’t taught my cats anything yet but you get the idea. They didn’t suddenly pick it up overnight. The time investment in the first 30 days makes the months and years to follow worth every single second.
#3 A VA only helps you stay organized if you actually use them.
Uh, yeah, Sharon. We’re not mind readers, ok? I promise that I cannot juggle your unspoken thoughts inside of my already full brain.
AND I promise that your persistent disorganization is not my fault if you don’t ever use the system I spent hours setting up for you.
AND if I ask you more than three times for something and it never appears I’m not responsible for the fact that it didn’t get done on time.
Please remember that your VA can move mountains for you but only if you give them the tools.
#4 VA’s are independent contractors. You are their client, not their boss.
So. much. this. Now that I’m in the position of hiring my own team I try exceedingly hard to not use words like “hire” and “work for”. The VAs on my team are business owners. They work with me and my clients, not for me and my clients. And that is a distinction that will always be worth making.
Whether we’re in the VA biz to make a little money on the side or we’re here supporting ourselves and our families full time we pay our own taxes, have our own expenses, and run our own businesses as we see fit.
#5 Know that we might not know everything at once and if they give clear description we can help more.
This one is closely related to #2 but I still felt it deserved its own shout out. More detail, not less is always helpful. In fact, over explain at first. (Just FYI you can over-explain without talking to people like they’re stupid. Remember that clear distinction).
Every VA I’ve ever met has been a people pleaser to some degree. They’re the do-ers who love to do a good job, get a smile and a nod from their client, and move on to solving the next problem.
But they’re not all-knowing beings who’ve worked with every single platform and program ever created. If you need an expert, by all means, work with an expert. But the truth is that most people will be more than glad to learn a new system or platform or program if you’re patient enough to allow them to.
#6 Payment should be made on time and price is not a negotiation.
Say it again for the people in the back! Literally, every other online business profession I know takes payment up front. Coaches, copywriters, designers, marketers, on and on. You don’t get your weekly coaching call until you pay for your weekly coaching call. You don’t get your website until you pay for your website.
So please stop negotiating rates. Please stop making excuses for why you can’t pay someone. Please stop complaining that you shouldn’t have to pay upfront for your VA services. Because Walmart doesn’t let you wait until you get home to pay for your groceries, do they?
#7 We are not an ‘on demand service’.
We are not on call 24-7. We are not on call after our stated business hours are over. We do not have to answer emails, phone calls, or texts after our business is closed for the night.
No amount of money will ever obligate me to answer your Slack message at 11pm about something that can wait until morning. Just because you like to work until 2am doesn’t mean that I do. And because I am a business owner and not an employee I am not subject to your late night whims.
#8 Clear communication is SUPER important.
I literally got an email from a former client once that said, “I don’t know what I want but it’s not that.” Ok, well that was about 0% helpful.
I can’t give you what you want if you don’t tell me what you want. And it’s just that simple. Clear communication is key to a successful working relationship with anyone.
If you’re laying the details on thick when we’re going to be just fine!
#9 Working with a VA will save you time and money and create more work/life balance.
Yes! If you’re utilizing your VA, communicating well, and giving them what they need to get the job done then you will most definitely see an improved work/life balance.
You’ll have more time back in your day. AND…yes. You’ll definitely be making more money because when you’re not bogged down in the menial details and tasks you naturally have more time to bring on and work with clients.
#10 We are human.
This one is so important that I had to save the best for last. Virtual Support professionals are human beings. Please treat them as such.
Scolding emails, scathing messages, berating Zoom calls. They don’t make anyone want to work harder for you, do better, or be more productive.
The sooner you treat everyone with respect the more likely you are to get what you want and need.