What Housecleaning Has to Do With Your VA Service Offerings

Why do household chores remind me of your Virtual Assistant services?

Do you like vacuuming? I really don’t like it. I tend to do it quickly to get it overwith so it makes me all hot and sweaty.

Vacuuming is simply probably my least favourite household chore. I do a decent job but I often take shortcuts because I just dislike it that much.

I also don’t like ironing, but I’m good at it, so there’s that. I tend to iron as we need things though, instead of doing it all at once like my Mom used to do. I remember her setting up the ironing board on a Saturday morning and ironing everything in the house while we watched cartoons. She taught me how to iron shirts properly! (but I digress LOL)…

I do like dusting. I have this amazing furniture polish that I really like. It smells great and it really does a beautiful job. And it leaves the wood furniture and my upright piano nice and shiny!

And I quite enjoy doing the laundry. I get into a groove in the evenings or the weekends, washing, drying, folding and putting away. (My husband and son wash and dry, but they don’t fold and they rarely put away – how about yours?!)

So what does any of this have to do with business?

Well, your household chores are much like the tasks you do for your clients. Some you like, some you don’t. Some you are good at, some you aren’t.

Think about your daily tasks that you do for your clients (or for your own business).

Can you classify the things you do every day into the following categories?

  1. I don’t like to do it. Hate it.
  2. I’m good at it, but I don’t love it. I do it when I need to.
  3. I like it, there’s not a lot of need for it, but when there is I take pride in it.
  4. I love it. I could do it every day. I have a great system to get it done well.

Who knew housework was so much like business, eh? 🙂

Look at your daily or weekly task list.

What is it that you really like doing? Do your clients even know what you like to do? Are you just doing everything they ask you to? You don’t have to. Look at the last month of things you have done for your clients and categorize things as above. What do you see?

Are you a task-taker?

Some clients treat us like ‘the help’. And we let them. Are you doing everything that your clients ask you to? We are support professionals, yes, but we do get to make choices. Especially if we are doing things we don’t like to do, or are not good at. It’s simply not a good use of their money.

Remember you are running your own business.

You are the owner of your business. You get to decide what you do. What services you offer. Not the client. We are not their employee. Part of the beauty of being your OWN boss is that you get to decide. We have the right to determine exactly what it is that we love to do, and we have to be able to tell people ‘I don’t do that, let’s find someone else to look after that for you.’

How can you make some changes in your business that will help you get to where you want to be?

Getting back to the housecleaning, several years ago we hired a housecleaner. This was a huge step in our family. We dreamed about it for a long time and thought ‘if only we could afford it!’

But it turns out we could – because we determined the tasks we needed her to do, and what our budget was – and that’s what we pay her to do. (She does the floors, the bathrooms and the dusting every two weeks!) Hmm doesn’t that sound just like a client sales conversation?

She told us that she does not clear ‘knick knack’ shelves to clean them so we remove things from shelves if we want her to clean them. We each set the expectations and it’s great. We would never be without a housecleaner anymore.

And although she doesn’t do the ironing (she might if I paid her to, who knows!), the vacuuming gets done very well every two weeks – way better than it did before we had her.

It’s the same with your clients.

Make some definitive decisions about what you love to do, and what you are GREAT at, and then approach clients for that work.

There are plenty of options for clients to work with more than one person to get all of their ‘stuff’ done.

If you want to be in business for a long time and make the money you want to make, you must act like the head of the household (or the CEO).

I promise you, these types of decisions will be the most impactful things in your business.

Do what you love, charge properly for it. Voila. Amazing business that you LOVE.

If you are stuck at how to build your list of what you love, book a free consultation with me here. We’ll talk about what you love to do, what marketable skills you have, and what your next step should be to put it out there for clients to see!

About the Author: Tracey D’Aviero is a Virtual Assistant Coach, Trainer, Speaker and Author. After operating a busy VA business of her own since 1996, Tracey began teaching others to run their VA businesses in 2010 through Your VA Mentor. In 2016 she purchased the CAVA and GAVA VA associations and now teaches and coaches VAs exclusively. She has a vast amount of experience working in many different industries which helps her to offer her students and coaching clients a unique perspective and sound advice. She is a proud advocate of the Virtual Assistant industry. Learn more about Tracey’s journey in the VA industry here.

How to Deal With Difficult Virtual Assistant Clients

Do you have any VA clients that you kind of dread dealing with?

You know the ones. The ones who give you anxiety when you see their name in your email inbox or on your phone. The ones whose work you do because you need the money but you really wish you had a different client.

To figure out how to deal with difficult clients, let’s first talk about what kinds of clients might be considered difficult:

• Constantly gives you work to do on short turnarounds or deadlines, or changes their mind often
• Treats every task like an emergency
• Sends an email or calls you every time they have a thought
• Complains or scrutinizes your invoice and billable time
• Constantly tries to sneak more things into a defined (or undefined) scope of work
• Speaks to you like you are an employee, or is mean, aggressive or rude to you in any way

Wow that list could have kept going!

There are a lot of difficult clients out there. As service professionals, it’s natural for many VAs to want to be helpful and do whatever the client needs. But it can create volatile relationships between the VA and the client – and many times things go from bad to worse fast.

So what can we do to deal with difficult clients?

Well, first you need to analyze what the problem is. It’s not personal – we need to act like business owners in every aspect of our businesses, and that includes identifying why the client is behaving in a way that we think they should not behave.

How is your behaviour contributing to this problem?

With clients, you teach them how to treat you. So how are you letting your clients treat you?

Short Deadlines

If you are actually doing the work when they send it to you late, or allowing them to do countless revisions, you are teaching them that you will get it done no matter what. Or if they treat everything they send you like an emergency the same thing can happen. Instead: Give the client firm lead times and tell them that they need to abide by them in order for the work to get done on their deadline.

Communication Issues

If you pick up the phone or respond to every email the client sends, you are teaching them that you are putting their schedule ahead of your own. Instead: Schedule a regular phone call (weekly) with your client so they can have your undivided attention. Make sure all other project or task requests go through your project management system or whatever communication policy you have set up.

Critiques Your Invoice

If you are providing detailed billing for your clients, you run the risk of them scrutinizing every point on the invoice. Instead: Your clients are paying you for your expertise – and yes, to get the work done – but you may want to revisit just HOW detailed your billing is (consider detailing the tasks completed on your bill instead of the minutes).

Scope Creep

If you keep saying yes every time a client asks you to do something, you will soon be doing more than you agreed to, probably for the same amount of money. Instead: Define what tasks you will do within the agreement you have with any client. If something new comes along, address it immediately with your client to discuss how to fit in into their work – and address additional billing if necessary.

Aggressive or Rude Behaviour

If your client is speaking to you in a tone that you don’t like, that is absolutely not okay. Of course business is business, and it’s not personal, but some clients do cross this line. If they consider you to be their employee, some clients will speak to you like you are beneath them. Instead: Assert yourself as the client’s equal – and fire the client if necessary. You are not their employee and there is never any reason for aggressive language or behaviour.

In a service based business like a VA, our personalities need to fit together properly in order to get the work done in a professional manner. If you have any clients that you consider to be difficult, first assess why this is happening.

Try to identify if there is anything you can do to make adjustments to the behaviour by reinforcing boundaries or policies, or having a discussion with the client to make things right.

We are in business for the long term, and part of that is finding clients that we love, and that love us!

If you are dealing with a difficult client and you aren’t sure how to handle it, I invite you to reach out to me for a complimentary Cut to the Chase call with me: www.canadianava.org/15-min. I know what it’s like to go through something like this and I’d love to help you push through the fear of handling it.

What Is Keeping Your VA Business Stuck?

If your VA business is not where you want it to be, what is making you struggle? Figure that out by reading below.

How do you feel when you think about your VA business?

Do you feel like a success? Are you proud to talk about how it’s going?

A lot of Virtual Assistants – no matter what stage of their business they are in –  are not happy. In fact, they are struggling, and they don’t know why.

Or they just fly by the seat of their pants, and then they wonder why they are not successful.

I hear from VAs like that every day. Is that you?

When I ask them how their business is going, I get a lot of the same responses:

  • It’s hard.
  • I don’t know where to find clients.
  • I am not making enough money.
  • I’m stuck on a business name.
  • I can’t start marketing until my website is ready.
  • I’m still working on my logo.
  • I’m no good at networking in person.

Some of these problems are just excuses to not start (that happens very often with new VAs!)

Some of them are simply decisions you have to make – you must learn to be brave!

And some of them are valid issues that you need to get help with, if you can’t move forward yourself.

I often challenge the excuses that VAs use to not start or grow their business.

It’s my job as a coach to help push you through the fear that you have around being a business owner and experiencing success.

I had to have someone push me through my fears and insecurities too. It’s not fun, but it does work.

So I ask these VAs what their plan is. Often they don’t have a plan, and that’s the whole problem.

Are you making excuses? or do you just need a little push?

If any of those protests above sound like you, here is my advice:

It’s hard.

Yep, it is. Being a VA means being a business owner, and that’s not always easy. Usually the reason it’s so hard is that you don’t have a strategy in place to market your business, to find clients, and to manage the work with them. That’s really all you need to do. Treat your VA business like a business, act like a business owner and you will find it much easier.

I don’t know where to find clients.

Who are your clients? If you have not chosen a target market or industry yet, that’s your first step. Once you decide who you are looking for, you can figure out where to find them. Ask your colleagues if you don’t know. Getting clients means getting in front of the people who need your services, so they can see you. Reach out. Connect.

I am not making enough money.

How much money are you making? Where is it coming from? Do you need to raise your rates? Or do you need more clients? Get specific about what the issue is, so you can put the right plan in place to fix it. If you need to raise your rates, figure out how to tell your current clients. And any new clients you bring in, start them at the new rate. If you need to find new clients, make a plan to do that.

I’m stuck on a business name.

You have a name. Your personal name. Don’t let branding or a business name stop you from starting your business. It’s an excuse, and a bad one at that. If you are ready to serve clients – you have your services chosen, your rates set, a contract to have them fill in, and a means for them to pay you, you can get going. Don’t hang yourself up on this. Get moving.

I can’t start marketing until my website is ready.

This is the same as your business name. You don’t need a website to start having conversations with people. Your website will always be a work in progress. You do need an online presence when you get started but not necessarily a website. Update your LinkedIn profile so it’s current and describes what you do. Start a Facebook page for your business. There you go. You’re online and visible.

I’m still working on my logo.

Most clients will never even notice your logo. I know that’s probably upsetting if that’s your main focus right now but it is so true. Clients want to know two things: what you can do for them, and how much it will cost them. Branding is important, sure, but it should not be a stopping point to getting your business off the ground. Bring in some clients and revenue, and then you can brand to your heart’s content!

I’m no good at networking in person.

Many VAs are introverts. It’s part of our nature, being support professionals. But networking is really just about asking questions and assessing whether you can help someone. That’s not as hard as you think. If you really get paralyzed by networking, you might need to seek help to get better at it. If you really can’t connect with people, you will have difficulty getting clients. Maybe being a subcontractor is a better plan for you.

If you are using any of these reasons (excuses!) to stay stuck in your business, start moving through the issue. Check out the links in this article to get more info.

Success takes planning, and consistent efforts to implement those plans. And it’s great when you can crush those excuses!!

If you just need a little help to push you through what you are stuck on, reach out for a complimentary Cut to the Chase call with me. We will talk about where you are now, where you want to go, and I'll give you my best advice for what your next step should be. Book yours here: www.yourvamentor.com/15-min.

6 Ways to Manage Your Time Better Every Day as a VA

If you are a Virtual Assistant who is working early mornings, late nights, or both trying to get it all done, it’s time to look at how you manage your time every day.

As a VA, we preach to our clients the importance of not working all hours of the day. But are we taking our own advice?

How is your VA business running? Are you finding you have enough time in your day to do your client work and your business admin?

Or are you struggling every day to get it all done?

If you constantly run to keep up, or get to the end of your day and your task list is not complete, it’s time to look at a few ways you can better manage your time.

Being in business doesn’t mean you have to work all hours – we tell our clients all the time that they shouldn’t, and yet we sometimes don’t take that advice to our own hearts.

Here are 6 tips to help you become more productive (or figure out where your time is going!):

Assess your To Do List

When you start your work day, look at what it is you need to get done. How does it look? Do you immediately know that this will be a very busy day – that you might not get it all done? That’s okay if that happens occasionally, but if it’s happening every day, you need to assess what you are putting into your calendar and how you can adjust it.  What you plan for the day needs to be manageable.

Work During Business Hours

When you are running a business, you have to pick and choose what to do – and your billable work should come before everything else. With no client revenue, your business will not survive. Working during business hours instead of doing the groceries or going to Johnny’s school is important. You don’t have to work 9-5 every day, but you do need to set business hours that work for you and work during them as much as possible.  Trying to work around family needs will lead to burnout faster than if you just hold certain periods of time for you to be working on business.

Block Out Your Schedule

Blocking out your schedule helps you to identify what you should be doing at what time. That doesn’t mean rigid and boring routines – but it does help you stay focused and let others know when you will get to things. Put start times and stop times in your calendar, so you know when it’s time to move on to the next task. Advise you clients what your turnaround time is for their projects. Block out personal time like meals and breaks – no eating at your desk! You will get more done, and still be able to do everything you want – business and personal.

Limit Distractions

One of the biggest issues with working from home is distractions. Sometimes it’s because there are others home with us during the day, and sometimes it’s just that no one else is watching us. We can do whatever we want! If you are not being as productive as you need to be, try switching off all distractions – notifications, social media, Netflix (!) – and see just how much you can get done in a short period of time. It’s really effective – trust me!

Get Support When You Need It

If you are working all hours of every day, look at why that is. What is taking up your time? If it is billable work, it may be time to hire a sub or two to lighten your load. It’s a great to build your business and bring in even more clients, when you get a couple of people to help you with the client work. When you are working alone, you will eventually max out the amount of work you can produce for clients. If you are underwater with bookkeeping or marketing tasks, consider getting help with those. Support is something we tell our clients is essential to grow their business, and the same is true for our own.

Use Checklists

Even if you think you know what you need to do, a checklist is an indispensable tool in our businesses. When you have a a repeatable task, set up a checklist for it so you don’t have to think about what to do next. You will free up very valuable brain space when you just need to consult a checklist to complete your tasks. And you can use a checklist when you bring in other support to help you.

When you work alone, no one is there to make sure you get everything done and don’t fall off track. You need to do it yourself.

By implementing simple things like scheduling, focus and checklists, you can help yourself get more done in a shorter period of time.

When you are starting your VA business, time management seems less important because you don’t have a full client load. As you get busier, you will need to manage many more tasks every day.

I always find myself dropping balls when I have less to do, not more. When I have lots of things to get done,  I manage my time much better.

Setting up good practices now is a good habit to get into, so when you get really busy you already have great habits!

If you want more lessons on time management, check out my Productivity videos on my YouTube channel. There are more than 50 free training videos for Virtual Assistants there!