Starting A Virtual Assistant Business
I am still relatively new to VA work and do specialize in Pinterest. I do other tasks as well but my main focus is Pinterest. It didn’t take long for me to realize I hadn’t really planned things out as well as I thought. I will share my top three mistakes in this post. If you avoid some of the mistakes I’ve made it will save you a lot of stress. Trust me I made more than three but these are the top.
Right from the beginning and the first client, I knew I had made some mistakes that were losing me money and time. (Which is Valuable) I hope that reading this will help you to avoid some of the same mistakes I’ve made.
My Top 3 Mistakes
I will list the top 3 ( I made more than 3 trust me!)then go into a bit more detail on each.
- Number 1-Still thinking like an employee rather than a Business Owner
- Number 2-The interview process
- Number 3-Using my personal information
You Are In Charge
When are used to working for someone else its hard to get out of employee mode. In order to succeed you have to remind yourself that you are now a business owner and it is OK to
- One- say no to any client requests you aren’t comfortable with
- Two- set clear boundaries and expectations
- Three-set time aside for you
- Four- Choose not to work with someone or to end business with a client that you feel isn’t the right fit
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Take Control From Day One
I was so excited when I signed on that first client that I threw out all the rules and guidelines I planned out because I wanted that business. As a result, I ended up with a client who expected me to drop everything I was doing to respond to their emails and to immediately change or revise anything they asked.
Which included emails as late as midnight and on the weekends. I would answer them right away at first as we were working out a clear plan. Unfortunately, it became a habit and I may receive up to 20 emails in one day.
I was also pitching to new clients and trying to sign them on and get a business relationship established. It was quite challenging to get a schedule set up for all I needed to do with so many demands on my time.
What I Changed
First of all, I had to end the arrangement with the first client. We just weren’t a good fit. And that’s OK not everyone will be a good fit. It’s important that you know that and you allow yourself to say no. Let the client know it’s not working out and if by some chance you know of someone who will be a better-fit pass along that information.
I now have a pre-interview checklist of all the questions I need to ask. Also, a checklist for emails to potential clients outlining my availability and what they can expect from me and what I expect in return.
As an example Saturdays I am off limits Sunday I will do a little prep work but only after church etc. All calls or emails will be conducted Mon-Fri between 9 am and 7 pm.
Time for yourself to socialize or unwind needs to be a priority as well. We get so wrapped up in business and making money we forget about us. If you get sick or overly exhausted it’s not good for anyone.
You started your own business for more than one reason but number one I’m guessing is so you could work hours you wanted to. Don’t let yourself get caught up as I did and lose sight of the fact you are in control and choose when and with who you work.
The Interview Process
- One- be prepared write-down everything you need to ask
- Two-be clear about what you offer and when you’re available
- Three- give them your full attention and allow them time to ask questions
- Four- if it doesn’t feel like a good fit offer a trial period
- Five-goes along with two -be very very clear on how much you charge if for example you offer 1 hour of email a month and they want more they will pay x amount for that time
What It Looks Like Now
The first client interview lasted 15-20 minutes now I allow for 30 minutes minimum 60 minutes max. This allows for plenty of time for them to answer my questions and me to answer theirs.
I try to go over my available hours, timelines for finished projects at least twice to be sure we are on the same page. I also make sure to take notes of the replies and questions the client has. I’m old school so I still like paper. I have journals to keep track of everything. One for interviews, one for client information packages they chose any special requests. Things of that nature.
Absolutely make sure the client understands you do not work for free! You decide how much you get paid and when. I give 10 days from the day I billed. I honestly can say I have had no issue receiving payments on what we agree upon. However, I also don’t just hand over my hard work before payment arrives.
Once the interview is complete if you aren’t sure it’s a good fit don’t be afraid to tell them. They will appreciate your honesty. Offer a trial period and evaluate at the end of that time. It could be nerves or many other reasons that make it seem uncomfortable.
However, if you know this is definitely not going to work for you saying no is OK. (Notice I keep saying this) I was a manager for years and had no problem saying no, now I have started my own business and have a terrible time saying NO.
Using Personal Information
- One -your social security number
- Two-using your personal email address
- Three-listing your home address and or phone number
Why I Regret Using Mine
I have been told more than once you don’t need to get an EIN right off the bat. I wish I would have anyway. Think about it I just sent my Social security number on an invoice to someone I met online! Not really safe these days. My advice is set one up, it only takes a few minutes. This link takes you to the IEN application page. Chances are you won’t have any issues with anyone using it but it’s always better to protect yourself.
I now have a separate email account for my clients. It became way too confusing trying to sort through all the emails. Time is so important when you work at home and work alone. Make things as easy and efficient as you can.
One email account for clients, one for personal use friends family. Another I set up for the blogs I subscribe to. I really enjoy sitting and reading about what everyone is up to. The fourth one for subscribers to my blog and all my affiliates. Sounds like a lot I know but it makes things easier for me. I no longer have to sort through emails. When I log on to one it’s for a specific reason and now everything is in one spot no more sorting!!
When I set up my business account I listed my home address and phone number. Though I’ve really had no issues because of this I decided just in case (because you can’t be too safe) to list a PO Box and no phone number.
This way I control who can or can’t call me or find me if they wanted to. Also, that information along with a social security number would make it way too easy for someone to steal your identity. I really regret the fact I put all my personal information out there for anyone to see. You never know where that information may end up
Though that first client wasn’t ideal I did learn from it and hopefully, you can too. I want to spare you a stress headache and tears. Yes, I did shed a few stress-related tears over it. In the long run, it was a learning experience and good content for my blog!!
I’m adding a new service to my list. I have had a couple clients who really just wanted help setting up Pinterest business accounts and learn about creating pins. So I have decided to offer this as another service alternative!! $35 for 30-minute sessions or can be combined as a package deal based on individual needs. I’m really excited to add this service. If you know anyone who just needs a little guidance I’m here to help.
Have a Blessed Day, Myla
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