If you do a Google search for Virtual Assistant, you're going to see all kinds of things that come up. You're going to see articles about getting started. You're going to see articles about software that's considered virtual assisting. You're going to see a mix of things.
At one point, you were seeing it popping up in different places. I can even remember back in 2009 when a lot of companies were closing and people were getting laid off, you would see it talked about on the Today show about where to look for jobs, what to do, start your own business, all this kind of stuff, freelancing, virtual assistance. You started seeing that being the popular thing in the news, so people heard about it from there.
It's still not as popular, meaning it's still not as commonly known as we, in the industry, would like for it to be. But on the flipside of that, I think a lot of people see virtual assistance as the opportunity to work from home, the flexibility, the ability to determine your own schedule, and they get really excited about that, but don't consider what is involved in having your own virtual assistant business. That's where a lot of the mistakes happen.
1) Starting because someone told you it was the hot new thing
One of the mistakes is just that, starting because you heard it was the hot new thing. You've been wanting to work from home, or you're not happy with your pay, or you got laid off, and so you start a virtual assistant business without fully realizing the clients on the other end that are really depending on you, the services that you provide, and your skill and knowledge.
2) You haven't made a full commitment to being a virtual assistant
That leads me right to the second mistake that virtual assistants make: they haven't made the full commitment to being a virtual assistant. I can't tell you how many times I've talked to prospective clients in the initial consultation, and they've had a bad experience with a virtual assistant. They stop responding to email. Maybe they were communicating at one point and then they stopped. They couldn't get ahold of them in any way – phone, email, however they normally contacted their VA. They were just MIA.
Missed deadlines probably have to do with doing too much for too many clients, or saying you can do something when you really can't, which causes you to miss deadlines. This is a huge one in not being fully committed to being a virtual assistant.
I had my own experience with subcontractors. Within year two or three of my business, I brought on a few subcontractors to help with different projects, and I experienced myself the issues that arise when people weren't committed. Oh, I've got to go away for the weekend; I can't do this. I'm on vacation; I can't do that. Now, this is after committing to doing a project over a certain amount of time knowing what the deadline was.
This was not a one-off request and me not knowing they're away. That's a totally different scenario. But this is where we're in the midst of it and they knew, but it wasn't a big deal because they weren't committed. Maybe because they were subcontracting and it wasn't their name or their business on the line. I don't know.
3) Overthinking and overanalyzing
The third biggest mistake virtual assistants make when getting started is overthinking and overanalyzing. If you've been thinking about something for a very long time and you've done all your research and you've been really thorough, trust yourself. Trust yourself! Maybe it's a new skill that you want to do, a new service you want to provide. Stop overthinking it. Just go for it. It's easy to be over-analytical about things.
There are no guarantees; not for a virtual assistant, not a doctor, not an accountant, nobody. There are no guarantees when it's your own business, so you have to get to the point where you just jump. You have enough information. Just jump.
4) Underestimating skills and value
The fourth mistake is underestimating your skills and value as a virtual assistant. I'm guilty of this as well. Imagine what your client's business would look like minus you. If you provide administrative services to a client, maybe you handle their email, you handle their mailings, you handle their data entry, whatever it is that you handle, take you out of the picture.
Do you know how valuable you are for that client? Do you know how much they need you in that spot so they can do what they do? The reason our clients are able to go out and coach, train, mentor, or whatever your clients do, is because behind the scenes they know things are being handled. We can't continue to underestimate our skill and value!
5) Rates are too low
Number five is that we often price ourselves too low. Now, I know when you're just getting started the rates can vary just depending on what services you provide. But as you gain more experience and you build your portfolio, up it. Don't be afraid to increase your rate because now you know more than you did before.
It's just like when you graduated high school, you knew one thing. But once you graduated college, that college degree gave you a higher value than the high school diploma. It's the same thing for us in our industry because you've put time in. You've put the work in.
Don't undercut yourself with your rates. If you've been in your business for two years and you've never increased your rates, increase your rates. If you've been in business for one year and you've never increased your rates, increase your rates. That doesn't mean to wait one year before you increase your rate. The point is just to increase it.
Know that everybody is not going to be able to afford your new rate, and you don't want everybody to afford your new rate. If everybody is saying yes to you when you're giving them your rate, you're definitely charging too low.
These are the top 5 thoughts and actions to avoid when you're starting as a virtual assistant. You can see the 5 are related to your business, but some also related to character. For you, the virtual assistants, that provide excellent service, you're responsive, you enjoy what you do, you love the services that you provide, your clients will appreciate you more and more. They'll want to hold on tight to you because and not lose you because of the value you bring to them. They've probably experienced the no-show. They've experienced the person who said they could do something and they didn't do it. They've gone through all of that, and so they're going to hold on tight to you.
Bonus Tip: Value your customers and yourself as a virtual assistant business owner.
It's okay if you've made these mistakes. If you're reading it and you know you've done it, brush your shoulders off. It's a new day. Handle your business and be fabulous like you are as a virtual assistant business owner.
Learn more about Tiffany Parson's business here!
- Avoid These Thoughts & Actions When Starting as a Virtual Assistant - November 8, 2018