I want to start this post by saying that I come in peace. Really, I do. I want to strengthen the relationships between virtual assistants and clients, and that’s my motivation behind writing posts like this one.
But it drives me a little crazy when I see bloggers and other entrepreneurs and business owners talking badly about virtual assistants. I don’t mean in the sense of, “This virtual assistant took my money and didn’t complete the job.” They’re justified in…spreading awareness, let’s say, about that VA’s unethical handling of their working agreement. What I’m referring to is when people make claims that VAs are “just” stay-at-home or work-from-home moms and imply that they don’t have any real skills.
These are not nice things to say (understatement). These are assumptions and generalizations. Are there VAs out there who fall under these criteria? Sure. But is it fair to say that all VAs don’t have skills and aren’t worth a fair wage? Absolutely not.
If you’ve read my About page, then you know that I don’t fall into those categories. I have both a bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degree, and I taught professionally for three years. I serve a very specific niche, and I’m highly qualified to serve that niche–because I used to be them. I used to be a teacher. I know the demands. I know the schedule. I know the responsibilities. I also have the same professional education and training that they have.
So why am I a virtual assistant? Because I am empowered by being self-employed and running my own business. I’ve been mentored, and I’ve received help here and there, but by and large, I built my business myself and achieved the success I’ve enjoyed through my own hard work. I also love being able to work from home and to make enough money to support myself and contribute financially to my relationship with my boyfriend. Most importantly, I think, is that I’ve always felt a pull to help others. Is virtual assistance next to sainthood? No, I’m not selflessly helping people–I’m getting benefit (a.k.a. I’m receiving an income). But, I’m helping busy teacherpreneurs run their businesses and expand their reach in providing educational materials that reach thousands of children worldwide.
When I first started my business, I outlined my business policies and terms. I identified my ideal client and my target market. I researched and tested different online business tools, like FreshBooks (although I currently use QuickBooks Online) and G Suite (formerly known as Google for Work)*. I set up business bank accounts and a business PayPal account. I track client time worked, I invoice clients on agreed-upon schedules, and I track my expenses. I’ve watched webinars and enrolled in online courses to help me become a better business owner and virtual assistant. I learned how to pay estimated taxes and diligently pay them each quarter. Just last week, I incorporated as an LLC to provide legal protection for my business and myself and to separate my business from myself as an individual a little bit. I have a welcome kit and contract agreement that I have clients electronically read and sign when we first start working together.
My point is, I set myself up as a business, because I am a business owner. I charge what I charge because I have training, skills, and professionalism that deserve those rates. The same is true for other virtual assistants. Even if they don’t happen to have collegiate and professional training similar to what I have, they have other skills that are worthy of being recognized as business skills and of being paid reasonable rates. In fact, many of the virtual assistants I know (virtually, of course) have been in business for years, and that alone deserves recognition and fair rates.
So please, stop making assumptions that all VAs are skill-less. Stop making assumptions that they have little or no education or training related to the services they offer–or that they’re not actively working to learn more to better serve clients. Stop making assumptions that they’re “just” stay-at-home moms–because they very well may be stay-at-home parents (I know of male VAs, too!), but that still doesn’t mean they lack skills or aren’t running a business. Also, kindly remember that VAs set their rates. It’s their business, and it’s their service to provide, so they set their own rates. You wouldn’t walk into your lawyer’s office and say, “Well, I see that your rate is $200/hour, but I’m only going to pay you $100/hour, because that’s what I’ve decided.” A virtual assistant’s rates are not your decision, as a client. If you can’t afford the rates of a VA with whom you’ve been consulting, then you need to keep looking. Don’t ask them to lower their rates for you, because that’s an insult, and if they’re a smart business owner and recognize their worth, they’re going to turn you down. Find another VA who’s in your budget.
I hope you’ll keep these things in mind the next time you’re searching for a virtual assistant. Remember that virtual assistants are business owners, too. Treating your VA like the business owner that he or she is will do wonders for your working relationship and will help keep things positive and forward-moving. I promise. 🙂
*This is my referral link to G Suite. I will receive a small commission if you sign up for them using my links. I only recommend services that I personally use and find invaluable to running my business.
Until next time,
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