7 Tragic Mistakes You're Making as a Virtual Assistant
Apr 26, 2019
How do I know that the following seven mistakes are those of the tragic variety? Because in the early days, I made some of them and I’ve since seen them made countless times by others.
These are avoidable VA fails, that at times resulted in me needing to manage the fallout, comfort hurt feelings, have difficult conversations, and calm the relative chaos that ensued.
Now, maybe there is something to be said for learning lessons the hard way (after all, a mistake that gives you a cold, hard reality slap to the face is one way to learn quickly not to repeat it) but in my experience, if you can find ways to build up your business nous and VA savvy in a slightly gentler, more professional manner; you grab onto that knowledge with both hands.
Get your pen and paper ready to take some potentially VA business-saving notes, as I’m going to walk you through seven tragic mistakes you might be making as a Virtual Assistant, and of course, how to stop making them!
Mistake # 1
Tragic mistake number one is working for all your clients on a casual basis without securing any commitment.
For long-term VA business success, you MUST get your clients to commit.
You'll quickly find yourself on struggle street when it comes planning your time, cash flow, and income if you continue to allow the majority of your clients to simply use you when they feel like it.
Create monthly service plans/packages to offer your clients.
By doing so, you will give yourself the benefit of a constant heads-up. Knowing how many hours you will be working and how much money you will be generating each month allows you to schedule and plan without stress.
The takeaway here?
Lock those clients in and wow them with your service on the regular, while also giving yourself the freedom you need to plan business growth activities and create a harmonious work/life balance.
Mistake # 2
The second tragic mistake I’d like to mention is related to the first tragic mistake.
Yep, that’s right; I’m talking about invoicing your clients at the end of the month! Don’t do it!
For all clients on a service plan, I urge you to invoice in advance. I've been doing it for years now and have the insight to share that it was one of the best decisions we have made.
The flow-on effect from this change spilt into all areas of the business and gave us an unprecedented level of control, as well as the ability to accurately forecast, plan, schedule, and to make informed financial decisions. The list of positive benefits is truly endless.
Remember that you are the business owner, which means YOU get to set the terms!
It’s time to stop thinking like an employee and start taking full control of your business systems and processes; especially those where your business income is concerned.
My advice is to invoice on the 1st of the month and direct debit on the 7th. This payment pattern has worked well for me.
If you don't change your payments to process early in the month, it will take you up to 50 days to get paid for work you have already done (For work completed from the 1st of the month and not paid until the 20th of the following month! Not the best when you look at it like that, is it?)
The takeaway message for this tragic mistake? Your business, your rules, your terms!
Mistake # 3
The third tragic mistake you could be making as a Virtual Assistant is to assume things without communicating regularly.
This could almost be counted as a mistake you want to avoid generally in life.
Nothing good comes from assumptions – just a whole lot of misunderstanding, confusion, frustration, and stress. Never assume.
My best advice is to over communicate from the start. If you think you're communicating with your client a bit too much, then you’re probably communicating the right amount!
Always check in with them if you have questions and don’t improvise to ‘fill in the blanks’ or you might find yourself way up the wrong path, which can cost you dearly in both time and money.
Prevent this tragic mistake by never assuming you know best; always ask if you’re unsure. Keep those lines of communication wide open and keep your questions succinct and clear.
Mistake # 4
Tragic mistake number four is a doozy!
I don’t care what anyone tells you: Expecting people to magically find out about your business and want to become your client is pure fiction!
Sure, you might get a referral or two, but in the early days, you need to invest a significant amount of time into making real connections with people and providing value wherever you can.
What do I mean by this? In a nutshell, you need to get out there and get amongst it.
Demonstrate your expertise by helping people. For you, that might mean answering people's questions about tech issues in groups or building genuine relationships with connections on LinkedIn.
Meet up with other business owners in your area; network your butt off and tell people about your business, the services you offer and the problems you solve. You can even create ‘how-to’ videos or write articles showcasing your skills and post them on LinkedIn.
To get your VA business up and running, you absolutely cannot sit back and expect clients to knock on your front door!
Want to avoid this tragic mistake? You're going to have to work hard and put yourself/your business out there to generate clients.
Mistake # 5
Tragic mistake number five could be the death of your Virtual Assistant business all on its own.
If that sounds over-the-top, I can assure you; it’s not!
If you’re a Virtual Assistant and you choose only to work reactively, you might as well start packing up your desk.
What exactly do I mean by working reactively? I mean that you have yourself in a dangerous cycle of "Client requests a task, then you do it." Full stop. End of story. *RUDE BUZZER SOUND* Wrong!
It’s time to step it up, people. Clients are not looking for reactive administrators that behave like secretaries from the ’50s; these days they demand a proactive admin extraordinaire!
It makes sense. Put yourself in the client’s shoes. What's the value for the client if you’re just doing what they ask over and over without ever giving any helpful input to make their life easier?
How do you avoid this mistake?
Learn as you work with them in their business. Take notice of things that will make their day more productive, automate, ask how you can help, look ahead, and go above and beyond!
These proactive actions are what will secure your position as an indispensable VA worth your weight in gold! (It also means you can comfortably charge a premium! Premium service = premium rate)
How to avoid this tragic mistake? Share your innovative ideas and suggestions if you can see how they will save your client time, money, and stress. Be proactive, not reactive!
Mistake # 6
We are almost at the end of our list of tragic mistakes, but I couldn’t forget to mention this one: Not keeping up with technology and learning new skills.
Wow. Making this mistake is a whopper of a big deal.
Being in the VA industry, we can’t afford to let our technology skill-level waver! With new apps and programmes designed to make life easier coming out every day, and with virtual assistants being in the business of productivity and efficiency, it is critical for the modern virtual assistant to stay in the loop with new tech developments.
Especially as you work remotely! You need to be using all sorts of apps and tools so that you can undertake work for your clients.
Even if you're only offering social media services; you'll need to be au-fait with scheduling tools, the latest features on all social media platforms, and the new platforms emerging.
Want to steer clear of this tragic tech mistake? Read tech news, watch videos, familiarise yourself with new apps and programmes, and even complete training courses if required.
Mistake # 7
The last (but certainly not least) of the tragic mistakes you need to avoid if you want to become a successful Virtual Assistant is to STOP making excuses and playing 'below the line' rather than 'above the line'.
In my virtual assistant business, I have worked hard with my team to integrate the ‘OAR/BED’ model into the business.
Working and interacting above the line means you take ownership, accountability and responsibility (OAR), whereas if you are working and communicating below the line, you will be blaming others, making excuses, and denying responsibility (BED).
When an issue arises, it's up to you to decide whether you will react above the line or below the line.
Speaking from experience, trust me when I say that if you choose the ‘OAR’ method, you will have thrilled clients who respect you, and who will want to work with you again.
So, what’s the takeaway lesson to be learned from this final tragic mistake? People love it when you take responsibility rather than trying to deny wrongdoing.
Even if you didn't make the mistake, resist the urge to blame or deny. It’s easier said than done, but it does get easier with practice.
Taking ownership or being accountable doesn't have to mean you are saying you did make the mistake. The client doesn't care.
All you need to do is to state that it happened and let them know what you're going to do about it! They'll love you for it.
Have questions or comments about any of the tragic mistakes I have referred to in this blog? Please get in touch with us, as we are always happy to point you in the right direction.
I hope that I have managed to give you some useful information that will help you identify things to avoid and areas to work on as you create your own thriving virtual assistant business.
Stay tuned for an upcoming blog on how to create service/pricing plans. There are a few key things to take into consideration when setting up winning service packages your clients will want!
Make sure not to make these mistakes in the future! Good luck out there!
Have you downloaded the FREE 7 Step Guide To Setting Up A Virtual Assistant Business? Click here to access.
As the founder of New Zealand's leading virtual assistant company, I'm an expert on how to run an efficient and high performing business. As a creator at heart, I love sharing my knowledge with others. Brought up on a dairy farm and attending boarding school from a young age, I am fiercely independent and a confident risk taker. With a love of snowboarding in winter and wakeboarding in summer, the outdoors is where I find joy, but nothing beats running around with my boys of 6 and 5 and have an immensely supportive partner who is also my best friend.