IS WORKING AS A VIRTUAL ASSISTANT FOR YOU?
AVOID THESE 5 PITFALLS WHEN BECOMING A VIRTUAL ASSISTANT (VA)
This guest article is written by Manette Aquino, virtual assistant.
In this 3 part series learn how to become a virtual assistant:
You’ve read the job description of a VA, learned about marketing your business, now it’s time to learn about what can go wrong and decide whether to take to plunge.
Final Decision; Is Starting a Virtual Assistant Business for You?
Study the VA job duties, examine the marketing plan, and now learn about the pitfalls. After today’s article you’ll be ready to decide whether starting a VA business is the right path for you. Although working as a virtual assistant gives you more freedom than a traditional office job, there are challenges and obstacles to overcome. Are you ready to face theses stumbling blocks and muster the discipline to succeed?
Common Mistakes of a Virtual Assistant
Before you jump into the VA business, make sure to define your mission, vision, goals, and objectives. All successful businesses have these in place. Next, examine the following five common mistakes of a new virtual assistant and learn how to avoid them.
1. Tunnel Vision
You may be considering a VA career to work at home, on your own schedule, in any location. Although it’s true that these are some of the benefits and perks of working as a VA, you also need to consider the problems. It’s a challenge to find new clients, replace those that leave, and deal with an unstable income stream. Recognize not only the advantages, but the potential difficulties when beginning a new business.
2. Lack of Unique Identity
Don’t look to others to define what you bring to the table. Your name, website, articles, logos, and banners must be unique. Determine your own skills and services. Don’t apply for a job for which you are unqualified. Build your profile around what you know and what you enjoy.
Realize that working independently also means there are no work colleagues with whom to chat and mingle. You may feel a bit lost without a company climate. Find environments to work where you can occasionally develop some “people contact.” The library or coffee shops offer a sense of companionship. Build relationships with others online as well.
3. Unclear Business Policies
When starting as a virtual assistant, it is tempting to modify your standard rates, services, terms, and policies to easily attract clients. Set your minimum hourly rate and don’t compromise. Do not devalue your time. Start a contract at a lower rate and it is difficult to increase your rate and change your terms in the future.
When setting fees, examine not only your skills, time, and energy, but the value of your equipment, utilities, phone, taxes, and internet expenses. These overhead business costs must be factored in to your fees.
4. Unrealistic Work Practices
A major challenge is looking for new clients. The excitement of gaining new client is followed by the pressure to keep the current ones. It is a skill to manage existing projects while gaining new ones. Overcommit and you will disappoint current clients with substandard work and sacrifice positive references for new jobs. Know your limits and balance your work time efficiently.
5. Inability to Provide Quality Work
When working as a virtual assistant, be clear in your services. Offering too many services to draw in new clients does not assure a steady income stream. Define and articulate what you can do well. Offer services you can’t deliver and you lose a customer and any future referrals she may have provided. It’s easy to think you can do anything, just to get paid, but if you don’t perform well, you sabotage your business and your reputatation.
How Much to Charge and Getting Paid
How much should you charge as a virtual assistant? There are several factors that affect the income of a virtual assistant, such as your skills, tasks, and location. For example, a newbie virtual assistant in the Philippines earns from $3 to $6 per hour. On the other hand, a qualified virtual assistant from the United States receives $10 to $20 per hour. Remember that you are competing globally, so if you are charging a higher rate, make sure to offer superior services, quality and value.
Get paid by keeping good records, invoicing your client as soon as services are complete, and following up until payment is made. Working as a VA is a business, treat it as such.
Since the start up costs are low in this business, it’s easy to get started. Give it a try and see whether working as a VA is for you. Let us know how it works out!
Don’t Miss How to Become a Virtual Assistant- Parts 1 and 2
What pitfalls do you see in working for yourself? Any entrepreneurs out there want to weigh in?
image credit; google images from productivity 501.com