In looking back at my 7 years as a Virtual Assistant with many different clients, I’m happy to say I have no devastating regrets, and am still as stoked as ever to be able to work this way. However, there’s a few things I would have done differently.
Contract Agreements vs. Verbal Agreements:
In my early days, I had a mix of sub-contracting with agencies and businesses, and freelancing with entrepreneurs, community organizations, and start-ups. Because I was just getting my feet wet with this whole virtual assistant thing, I was happy to support anyone who appeared solid enough in their business.
But let’s talk about the start-ups who I also partnered up with and put a significant amount of effort in supporting. If I could do it over again, I would have formalized my working arrangement with a Contract Agreement, to protect my efforts and keep them integral to their word. In two instances, after almost a year of writing the content for four websites with huge amounts of detailed information worth hundreds of hours of writing, plus social media profiles built and ready to go, both start-up clients bailed right before launch, and nothing came of anything. Whether for legal reasons, financial trouble, health crisis or otherwise, full payment and the promise of anticipated future work simply vanished. Although some payment was received during the year for all of my efforts, the original verbal agreements and promises of much more, were dust in the wind. I didn’t see that coming.
My Lesson – the vision of some start-ups sometimes doesn’t hold up to reality. Client’s plans can change. Be involved at your own risk, and have a contractual agreement in place.
Taking Work on the Road:
I’ve realized my dream of working from Whistler and Mexico, or when visiting family across the country. Yes, working holidays can be accomplished, but plenty of factors dictate how efficiently or painfully. I wish someone told me about a few things that I had to discover on my own:
- The obvious no-brainer of ensuring there will be strong enough wi-fi at your locale. Even assurances from the front desk, or your hosts does not guarantee that will be the case, so don’t assume sending large files and Skype will work flawlessly. Have a back-up plan, such as searching ahead of time for an internet café that’s close by. Or pay the extra fee at the hotel for the strongest service, and save yourself the grief. It should not have to take you 1 hour to schedule your client’s blog while waiting for the web page to load.
- Log-in security measures are great, except when they’re not. If you work away from home, even if it’s just in the next town, logging into any of your client’s accounts (such as Google or Mailchimp), will prompt a security alert asking for the verification code they just sent to your client’s phone. Oh oh. Then it’s a matter of trying to reach your client in a short period of time and bothering them to provide you the verification code before it times out. Solution? If you know you’ll be working away from home and will need to access your client’s accounts, log in ahead of time and add your own cell # in their account setting as the contact number, and replace it with theirs, (making a reminder for yourself to change it back later when you’re home).
My Lesson – Despite these glitches, I’ve luckily always managed to make it work, but I no longer think everything’s going to flow perfectly with taking my laptop on the road. I’ve gotten over being giddy about it. I would suggest that if you commit to supporting clients while travelling, (instead of booking the time off), ensure the logistics of that is realistically something you can take on. Your client’s deserve and expect your continual support no matter where you are.
Got any of your own lessons and words of wisdom to share? We'd love to hear from you!