3 Things for Virtual Assistants to Consider Before Taking New Training

When starting their business, many Virtual Assistants think that taking training for an in-demand service is the first thing they need to do before they can get clients.

But you should always start with what you know first.

Selling yourself to clients is a challenge to a lot of new VAs, and trying to sell a service you actually have no experience in providing to other clients, makes it even more challenging.

Most VAs start their own business because they have administrative experience of some kind. And that’s what you should be starting with.

That doesn’t mean that you should not take new training – it just means there is a good time to do it – and before you start your business usually is not the best time.

Start your business using the skills that you already have – that you have experience providing, either for clients or for a former employer.

Then once you have money coming in, make a plan to shift to a new service offering, or upgrade your current ones.

Professional development is a good idea for any business owner – including VAs.

Putting a plan in place to continuously improve your skills is the best way to go about getting new training.

Here are a few things to consider when thinking about getting new training:

Timing

Timing is one of the most important things to consider when thinking about taking new training.

First, do you have the time to complete the lessons and homework assignments? So many people purchase self study programs and then never complete them. You need to make sure you have the time to complete the course content.

Timing also comes into it when you think about the level of program you are taking. Does it fit with where your business is at the moment? Don’t get ahead of yourself by taking courses that are too far ahead of where you are right now.

Content

What is the content of the program? Whether it’s a paid program or a free webinar, consider whether the content is applicable to your business right now.

While it can be tempting to enroll in a Facebook Ads webinar, if it’s not something you need in your business right now, it’s not a good idea to sign up.

Make sure anything you decide to take part in is a good use of your time in your business. There will always be another social media webinar (and honestly, things change so quickly, that what you learn today will probably change long before you need to use it!)

Implementation

Can you implement what you learn easily? It is very important to implement anything you learn as quickly as you can.

If you don’t, you will lose the momentum and knowledge from the program.

No matter whether you attend a free FB Live or a webinar, find a way to implement at least one thing in your business right away. Or at the very least, get a plan in place to implement it within 30 to 60 days. Otherwise, you are likely wasting your time.

Taking training – free or paid – is a great idea for your VA business.

But you need to be strategic and focused, so that you are using it properly, and managing your time well.

We all have the same amount of time.

Most of your time should be used finding clients, and doing the work they pay you to do.

Of course you want to grow your VA business – and training is one of the best ways you can do that. So use the tips above to make sure you are doing it the smart way!

If you need help with prioritizing training opportunities and other business tips, look no further than your VA community! An annual membership in CAVA is the answer. CAVA is a professional association for Virtual Assistants in Canada. We provide community, visibility, resources, connections, training, client opportunities and so much more. Check out our full list of benefits here: https://canadianava.org/join-cava/

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 Many People Is Your VA Business Helping?

How many people do you help in your Virtual Assistant business? I’m not talking about how many clients you support. It’s a bigger question than that.

I was recently at a networking event and I spoke with a fellow who is in MLM. I’ll call him Bob, though that wasn’t his actual name.

Bob was a nice enough guy. I don’t buy any MLM stuff at this point in my life so I wasn’t quite sure what we could possibly have to talk about, but he engaged me at my vendor booth so I obliged him.

We talked about what each of us did. Bob told me that the reason he was involved with the company he works with, is that he has philanthropic interests that are very important to him, and that the business he runs helps him to support those interests.

Hmm. That made me think for a moment.

I often talk about working hard at your business because THAT’s the thing you love.

I never really thought of it as using your business to fund something else that you love. Very interesting perspective.

We chatted more.

Bob asked me what my bigger vision was.

I am in a growth period in my business, and my big vision, although coming near, is not established yet.

My mandate in my VA training business has always been that I want to help people to build and grow successful businesses. I don’t have a specific number of people I want to help do that, so that’s where the big vision is not quite in focus, but I do know that I love what I do.

I love having the impact on other’s lives that I am able to have, by teaching them, by helping them to do better with their business.

The impact of that is spiritual of course, but it’s also economic.

You’ve heard the saying, ‘When you buy local, you are helping to support a kid’s piano lessons or dance lessons.’ And other sayings to that effect.

It’s really true.

And this is where my conversation with my friend Bob went – what is the impact that we, as VAs, have on our client’s businesses?

Well, there are many.

We can help them free up their admin time so that they can go and find more clients to work with. That means more money for them.

We can help them to bring in new processes so that their existing clients can become repeat or long-term clients. That also means more money for them.

But looking past the financial pieces, what else do those things do for them?

It helps them to live a better life. It helps them to sit down at the dinner table with their family or friends and feel less stressed.

They may even be excited to have the details handled so they can free up much-needed brain space to do some planning for their business.

And if they work with their own clients, that also means the work we do also impacts those clients, who might get better energy from our clients. Or maybe better service offerings, or better products.

Sounds a bit like an MLM after all, doesn’t it?

Think about how many people YOU are helping - impacting - by doing good work in your business.

You are affecting your clients – their families and friends – and their clients. And it goes beyond that, in a web effect. It’s quite amazing when you sit and think about it.

And of course, the more work we do for them, the more money we make. And the more money we make, the better it is for our family and friends to be around us, and it’s better for our clients too.

I suggest getting really invested in your clients’ businesses – figuratively, of course – so that the work you do really helps them to grow.

When their business grows, yours does too.

If you ever need to lift your attitude or your outlook on why it is you do what you do, look no further than this quick little synopsis.

You are important, you are valuable, you are impactful. Every single day!

If you need help with getting mindset boosts and shifts like this, look no further than your VA community! An annual membership in CAVA is the answer. CAVA is a professional association for Virtual Assistants in Canada. We provide community, visibility, resources, connections, training, client opportunities and so much more. Check out our full list of benefits here: https://canadianava.org/join-cava/

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.

5 Smart Ways to Specialize Your Virtual Assistant Services

When you are deciding what Virtual Assistant services you can offer clients, how do you start that brainstorming or thinking process?

Often we think about the things we know how to do based on our last job, or VA services we are currently offering clients.

We come up with a list of services that we can confidently do, and then we piece those together as the client needs them or asks about them.

Maybe you are good at doing data entry or bookkeeping or social media updates.

And maybe you love doing those things every day.

But maybe you also wish you could raise you rates and do something different. Something that gets you excited to start work most days.

If you change the way you think about your service offerings, you can actually create a specialized list of services for clients that you love to work with.

I’m not talking about packages, though that certainly could come into the conversation at this point.

I’m talking about focusing your services for a particular industry or service so that you can level up your expertise, and help your clients get more value from working with you.

Here are a few smart ways to level up your virtual assistant services for your clients:

1. Social Media

Social media is a really popular service offering for VAs. Many VAs, however, provide ‘just the posting’ type of service.

What if you could expand your offerings to include reporting insights for your clients, or creating images, or even curating content from others? It’s a means of increasing your expertise in this area and bringing more value to your clients.

By taking a bigger role in your client’s social media activity you become more invested in their business and you actually help them more than just publishing their weekly content.

Lots of business owners don’t even look at their analytics. It’s a great place to add value for them – and increase your level of expertise at the same time!

2. Customer Service

Customer service is very much an in-demand service required by business owners. Every business needs clients, and every business needs to look after those clients.

So maybe right now you are handling customer service emails for your clients. What if you could also help your client with the onboarding procedures, run reports for the payments or membership numbers, and help them maintain their follow up systems or nurture those clients?

Once again, it’s about offering more value for a line of services that you are already providing for your clients. You will also bill more time with each client, and become more invested in their business – which builds solid, long-term VA-client relationships.

3. Event Management

If your clients organize online or in person events, this is a great area to level up your virtual assistant service offerings.

Instead of just setting up and managing the registration lists, consider helping with checklists for all event details, liaising with event staff, and follow up for the attendees. If the events are online, you could do the same thing – checklists, liaise with the event guests or guest speaker, manage follow up.

Growing your responsibilities if you like doing event management is a great way to help business owners with the pieces of the admin that they often don’t do well (or take too much time to do on their own).

4. Speaker Support

When you think of services, it’s not always just about what you are doing. It could be who you are doing it for.

Consider a speaker. What kinds of VA services do they need? Research for speaking gigs, connection and follow up with event planners, speaker one sheet preparation, audio or video transcripts and editings, and so on.

So sometimes if you choose who you want to work with, your specialization goes there. Imagine only having to network with one type of entrepreneur. You could become the go-to person for something like speaker support easily.

5. Project Management

Project management takes a level of skill that not all VAs have. If you do it well, you could explore offering it as a service.

Even VAs who run teams need project managers. If you use a particular system like Asana very well, this could be the service that you offer your clients. You also have the option of running one-off projects or ongoing ones.

Maybe these examples speak to you. Maybe they don’t quite. It’s about reframing how you think about specializing.

It’s not always about building packages for clients. It’s about doing tasks that you do well, and that your clients need (especially if they are not doing them now!)

Specializing doesn’t always mean moving to packages. It’s about grouping tasks that are related to a project together to create new work, and better work flow.

Think about the services you are currently offering your clients.

Are there areas that you can add more value and more responsibility to take more off their plate for them? Have a look at yours and see where you can specialize!

For help with your services, consider registering for my Getting Started as a Virtual Assistant self study program. It walks you through step by step all of the things you need to have in place to open or grow your business properly – including your rates and services! www.GetStartedVA.com

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.

5 Things to Consider When Setting Your Virtual Assistant Rates

How much money can you make as a Virtual Assistant?

This is a very popular question among new VAs. The answer is very simple. You can make whatever you want.

I know that sounds like a really basic answer but it’s the truth!

When you are a VA, you are a business owner. You can set your own rates and your clients can choose to pay them (or not!).

But make no mistake - no one gets to set your VA rates but you.

Here are 5 things that you need to consider when setting your VA rates:

1. Your Level of Expertise

It goes without saying that the higher skill level you have for any task, the higher your rate can be. When VAs set their rates, they often undervalue themselves because they think they don’t have enough VA experience.

Even if you don’t have a lot of experience as a VA yet, it is your experience as an administrative professional that counts. Let me say that again: VA experience is NOT required to start your business, or to set your rates. ADMIN experience is what is important.

If you have taken some skills training, you can also charge more than someone who has just picked up the skills on their own (think social media services).

2. Your Revenue Target

How much do you need to earn every month? This is a key place to start when you are setting your rates. You need to set rates that will allow you to earn what you need to sustain your business.

Rather than picking a number out of thin air (that’s what I did -- cringe!), or a number that you feel comfortable selling to clients (I did this too -- ack!), you need to base your rates on actual numbers.

Use this rate calculator to figure out what you need to earn, and how that can break down into an actual hourly billable rate for you. When you know how much you need to bring in every month, and how many clients you can work with, you will be able to set a solid rate for your services.

3. Billable Versus Non-Billable Time

Calculating your rates sometimes also brings up the question of billable time versus non-billable time.

What is the difference? Simple…

Billable time is the time that you spend working on client work – the time that they are actually paying you for.

Non-billable time is your own admin time - doing your billing, seeking out new business, onboarding new clients – these are all things that are not billable in your business, but your time has to be accounted for (and covered) by your client rates.

Some business folks call this overhead, and it is, but it is often a variable expense that changes, the more clients you have.

But make no mistake – whenever you are doing work for a client, that is billable time, and you should be charging them for it.

4. Your Business Setup

Do you work on your own or do you have subcontractors (or do you intend to have them at some point?). If you have subcontractors, your rate needs to be able to cover that expense. Don’t start your business and then try to accommodate subcontractors – you need to plan for it and charge accordingly.

What about your expenses – do you anticipate a spike in your expenses any time soon? Many VAs go into business not thinking about what they might put out – or worse, then they start to panic over normal business expenses (like credit card fees), because they haven’t accounted for them when setting their rates.

Your rate needs to be able to cover your overhead and your plans and still leave you some profit. After all, you are in business to make money, so be cautious not to send back out everything that comes in.

5. Your Target Market’s Budget

How much can your clients afford to pay you? You need to take this into account when you are considering who your clients will be – and this is where their budget comes into your planning.

For instance, if you work with non-profits, your rates might differ from someone who works with lawyers. Sometimes this is also related to your expertise, but for sure there are certain clients that are accustomed to paying more than others.

If you are setting up rate packages, consider this point in particular. Create different levels of client service packages that can accommodate different budgets.

Setting your rates is one of the most important things you need to do well in your business (other than the actual VA work!). If you don’t set them high enough to start, you won’t be able to maintain your business well.

Do it right from the start and you will be able to get clients, build your business, and be happy!

For help with getting your business foundation in place, consider registering for my Getting Started as a Virtual Assistant self study program. It walks you through step by step all of the things you need to have in place to open or grow your business properly – including your rates and services! www.GetStartedVA.com

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.