What I want to write about today applies to both Mac Virtual Assistants and PC platform Virtual Assistants. What I have to say transcends your operating system. It has more to do with your sense of ownership of your business and your “star” attitude over your business.
Just the other day I got notification that my site was on Alltop! I was quite flattered. It made me think how long I have been a Virtual Assistant business owner. Wow! How much I have learned.
I remember in the early days how nervous I was when I had a client phonecall or consultation scheduled. I would worry about it for days. Now each prospective client phonecall is smooth sailing. If a new situation arises that I am not sure how to handle, I reach out for my VA colleagues for mentorship and advice, whether it be on a Virtual Assistant Forum, or by direct contact.
Even veteran VAs like myself still encounter snags, a difficult client, or situation. However, you can learn from these experiences.
Following are some pointers and advice that I offer to new Virtual Assistant’s or those considering entering the profession:
- Take something positive away from each and every bad or negative situation. Ask yourself, “What can I do better next time”, or “Do I need to take another look at my policies and procedures”? Consider that the vacancy in your client base is an opportunity waiting to happen. It can be a time for personal and professional growth while you prepare for the next client.
- Use downtime or a “slow season” to reflect on your missions, goals, and/or business plan. Is it high time you went for some training? As a Mac Virtual Assistant, I am always trying out and learning almost every piece of Mac software that I can get my hands on! Try blocking out some “you” time on your calendar. Sit in a comfy chair with your favorite beverage and work out where you want to be at this same time next year and what you have to do to get there.
- Is your niche still “yours”? Are you still enjoying it? Maybe it’s time to ponder specializing in another area.
- Don’t work with clients who you don’t enjoy working with! I can’t say this enough. In time, clients like these will end up making you feel run down and without much spirit. You know the types, the ones who try to “micro-manage”, the ones who don’t pay on time, or the ones who always have an excuse why they shouldn’t pay you for your time and a job well done.
- Make your clients fit into your policies and procedures, not vice versa! It is your business. You own it. You are the boss. It is you (or should be) who decides what hours you want to work, when, what your retainer policy is, and what type of reporting the client gets. If a client questions any of your policies or wants them changed, they are not the client for you! Clients who nitpick about every minute and ask if it was “time justified” or the ones who want to take control of how the work gets processed and administered; heck; all of these types, they really want employees most of the time, or free services, but certainly not Professional Virtual Assistant Business Owners.
- Remember the golden rule: If you spoil clients and are too lenient with your policies, they will pick up on that and come to expect a) The instant rush job for free b) The extra 30 minutes you spent on that project for free c) Or they will be angry because you didn’t respond to the email they sent Saturday night at 2:00 AM! Why? Because you responded last Saturday at 2:00 AM when they emailed you!
- Here is how I like to think of it: The emphasis of our business should be to deliver superb, error free, and timely work back to our clients. Our interactions with our clients should be of a collaborative nature, and should be in a constant state of growth. The ways in which we help them should be ever-evolving with the sole mission of fulfilling the expectations they had when they contracted your services and when you spoke to them during the initial phonecall. The onus should not be on constant bickering about rates, terms or policies. If you are doing that, then that client is either not a good fit for you or they don’t know how to work with a Virtual Assistant.
I have a procedure when someone who is interested in my services comes to me off of my web form. I have them read an article I wrote which I feel is essential that they comprehend before we speak. Then I have them thoroughly read my FAQ page. The final step prior to the phone consultation is that I have them fill out a pre-call questionnaire.
It’s pretty safe to say, that after all these “educational” steps, the prospect has been qualified enough where I feel it is worth my time and energy to speak to them on the phone.
So the next time you are at a slow time, with not too much business, or you just have extra time on your hands, give *yourself* the gift of time and devote some of that time to your role as an entrepreneur.
Virtual Assistants or those who are curious about what Virtual Assistance is, feel free to comment here and I’ll help you out as best I can.
Author bio: Taryn Merrick is a Professional Virtual Assistant and Online Business Manager (OBM). As Principal of Merrick Management And Media Services, she has over 20 years of administrative management experience. Taryn works to promote the Virtual Assistant industry and to make it stand out as a true profession of excellence. Her style is easy going, yet precise, with emphasis placed on exceeding customer expectations, client communication and satisfaction.
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