7 Things a Virtual Assistant Should Include In Their Contract

7 Things a Virtual Assistant Should Include In Their Contract

Virtual Assistants should never work with clients without a signed contract. There are important things that must be agreed to before any work begins.

If you are working with clients without a contract, you are not protecting yourself or your VA business.

Now, we are not referring to VA clients you find on Upwork or any of the other job service boards.

When you work with clients through those, there are terms that you each agree to, before you start working together, so you are covered by those. (quick side note – if you are working there, make sure you go over the terms very carefully so you know what you are agreeing to!)

In this article,we are talking about working independently with VA clients - just you and them. It’s essential to have a signed contract in place before you begin working together.

A contract does not have to be complex, and you can put it together yourself with normal everyday language (instead of legalese), but either way, you should have your lawyer look it over before you start using it.

What should your Virtual Assistant contract include?

Client Contact Information

Make sure that you have the right company name, address, phone number and email address on your client contracts. You can leave this for them to fill in, or you can pre-fill it before you send it to them. Of course you also need a signature line for them to sign at the bottom of your contract.

Description of Services / Scope of Work

The main section of the contract is where you detail what you will do for your client. Be sure you get as specific as you can in this area, so that what you will do is clear to both you and the client. You may need to refer to this area time and time again, so clarity is good to achieve now.

Communication

Letting a client know how they should send you work, or contact you regarding their tasks is great to include in your contract. You should also indicate your response times for the various communication methods. Communication is something you will always be managing with your clients, and outlining your expectations here is a good decision.

Payment Terms

Payment terms must be included in any contract. In addition to what you will do for your VA clients, detailing how you will be compensated and when (and what happens if they do not pay) is the next most important thing to include in your contract.

Business Hours/Boundaries

You may want to include some policies around boundaries like when you work. Since the contract is something that the client will be signing and agreeing to, letting them know when you are available is an excellent section in any contract.

Confidentiality

Some clients will provide you with a Confidentiality Agreement of their own to sign, which is usually fine (read it first), but you should also cover this in your own contract. Write a short paragraph that talks about how you hold and manage their work, and how you will ensure confidentiality of their company information, strategies, and so on.

Dissolution

The final section of your contract should indicate how either of you can get out of the agreement. At the very least, include a timeframe for giving notice to stop work (usually 30 days), and you can also even include language about stopping work due to late or non-payment if you want to further protect yourself.

Putting together your contract is an important piece of your Virtual Assistant business set up. You can find many contracts online, and you can adapt one to suit your business, but you should have a lawyer look it over.

Don’t start work with any client that will not sign your contract.

It’s an important piece of protecting both of you before you begin working together.

It should provide a clear outline of what you will do, how you will do it, what the compensation agreement is, and how either of you can get out of it – and that’s all very important stuff when working as a VA.

It will also show the client a level of professionalism that not all Virtual Assistants provide. Get yours in place today, so you will be ready when that next client comes along!

If you are setting up your Virtual Assistant business and want more information about what you need to have in place to do it right, download our free Start Your VA Business checklist here. You will also get a complimentary Community membership in CAVA so you can see what we are all about.

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.

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! 

7 Tips to Get the Most Out of a Live Virtual Assistant Conference

Attending a Virtual Assistant conference often come with expenses – registration, of course, and sometimes travel costs. So many VAs shy away from going to them when they see them.

I recently attended the IVAA Live Summit in San Antonio, Texas with 40 other VAs. Getting together in person with your fellow VAs is not just fun, but it helps you grow as a business owner.

Attending a Virtual Assistant conference is different than any other business conference you will attend because all of the content and event activities are focused around our industry – VAs. The attendees are all VAs, and the whole theme is how to help you make your VA business better.

Here are 7 tips to help you get the most out of attending a live VA conference:

1. Deepen Relationships

Just like you build more know, like and trust with your potential clients when you meet them at in person events, the same is true for VAs. But at a VA conference, the relationships you are building are with your colleagues. They GET what you do. You can be relaxed and connect with others, ask questions about problems you are dealing with in your business, and just make friends!

2. Don’t Be Afraid to Share

Many conference hosts and speakers will have ice breakers in their talks or events that help you to share some information about your business that you might not have otherwise put up your hand to share. Don’t be afraid to share when asked to. You are always in a safe space at a conference with your colleagues – and you might just get the advice you need from VAs who really understand.

3. Don’t Sell Yourself Short

You know more than you think you do. Many VAs struggle with their own value, or focus on what others are doing instead of what they should be doing. When you gather with a group of VAs – many of us have been in your shoes – trying to find a way to make money and not feeling like what we already know how to do is adequate. Successful VAs will show you that you have special skills right now, and that should be what you focus on right now to get clients.

4. Focus on One Takeway

We have all gotten conference brain-freeze at one time or another. There is so much information that comes at us in a short period of time, it can often be overwhelming. To manage what you are taking in, at the end of each session, focus on just one thing that you can implement in your business moving forward. Virtual Assistants often think we have to do it all to be successful, but it’s better to find one nugget from each speaker that you can use – and then build a plan to implement the other stuff at a later date.

5. Social is Essential

One of the biggest reasons to attend a live VA conference is to socialize with your peers. Usually there are breaks so that you can network – but don’t forget to also change seats after each speaker or break – so that you can connect with new people throughout the event.  If there are meal breaks, get together with others to deepen your relationships with them. And if there are after-hours social events, be sure to take part. Many VAs are introverts but the social aspect is an essential way to help you realize what an amazing camaraderie Virtual Assistants have.

6. Ask Questions

Never be afraid to ask questions when you are at a VA conference.  Sometimes the speakers or the hosts are trying to fit their information into a box of time – and they can leave out details you need to process their advice or information. If something is unclear or you need further explanation, ask. You are probably not the only wondering – and you will get more out of the session when you completely understand what is being taught. And – by standing up to ask a question, you introduce yourself and your business – and the others will remember you when the event ends.

7. Take Pictures

Long after you are back home, you will have memories of your time with your VA colleagues. But pictures are worth a thousand words. Be sure to take some photos of the event. Not only can you savour your memories of time well spent, but you can also use them on social media and in your blog, and help you remain excited about the connections you made and the learning you received.

If you have not yet attended a VA conference, consider doing so.

You will grow relationships with Virtual Assistants that can turned into accountability partners, strategic partners, trusted colleagues, and even some of your best friends.

You will learn how to make your business better – topics vary from event to event, but often cover things like business foundations, mindset, marketing, skills, and so much more… the same things that you learn at other business events, but they are all tailored to Virtual Assistants at our conferences.

The VA Conference Live in Ottawa

I invite you to check out our upcoming live VA conference in Ottawa on June 7-8, 2019. This is our third annual VA conference in Ottawa, and every year we make it better for you! This year we have introduced a theme of Confidence - and will have expert speakers teaching you how to improve your mindset, branding, value, message, content, marketing strategies, and more. For more details and to register, visit:  www.TheVAConference.com