How I Landed My First VA Client

If you are still struggling to get that first Virtual Assistant client (or that first great client), this is what you need to do.

One of the things many Virtual Assistants struggle with is getting their first client.

There is so much anxiety around getting clients – especially that first one – that we can often be overcome and get paralyzed. And nothing happens.

We try to adjust our services. We try to adjust our rates. We apply for countless RFPs and hear nothing back.

Or worse yet, we take any work someone offers us because we don’t want to miss out on money – and we hate it.

The one thing that VAs who are struggling to get great clients are usually not doing … is having conversations.

Actually talking to people is what will get you clients.

It’s how I got my first client. And the one after that. And the one after that. And pretty much every client I ever got.

How I Got My First Virtual Assistant Client

When I was 7 months pregnant I was leaving my regular job. I knew I wasn’t going back because I lived outside the city and I didn’t want to pay for daycare and basically have my whole paycheque going to that and the gas for the commute.

My boss asked me when I could start working again, because the financial work I did was really important to him. He used to do it before I did, and he had only trained me. He knew I had the expertise and it would be easier to have me just do that work (and split up the rest of my job tasks to someone else) – and it gave me the opportunity to earn enough money each month to stay home and still contribute to my household.

A conversation about my boss’s needs and my needs got me my first client.

When I realized a bunch of years later that I was actually a VA, I joined CAVA and I got my ‘next’ first client by responding to an RFP. She was an editor in New York City who I signed after a GREAT conversation, and we worked together until I stopped doing VA work in 2018. She also sent me countless referrals over the years and became a great friend.

When I took my Virtual Events certification through VAClassroom (now FreelanceU), I started talking to my audience and connections about my new services – and I got another ‘first’ client. My first telesummit, that turned into another, that turned me into ‘Telesummit Girl’.

You see?

You will always be looking for a ‘first’ client of some kind.

Many of you are still looking for that actual ‘first’ client.

You need to speak to people in order for it to happen.

You will never know what clients need until you talk to them. Some of them you will be able to help, and some of them you will not be able to help. But then you just keep moving along to another conversation. The numbers are on your side.

The clients WILL come when you are talking to people about how you can help them.

And you will never get better at conversations until you start doing them.

I challenge you to make a list of people that can reach out to, to have conversations about supporting them. And then start reaching out to them. Build relationships daily. It is a great skill to build as a business owner, and one that not many VAs are using. Make it work for you!

To get more tips on networking to find clients, check out my free training videos on Youtube.

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 a 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

Just One Hour Can Make a Difference in Your VA Business

It is often said that time is a non-renewable resource, especially in your Virtual Assistant business where time is money.

If you waste an hour - whether it's an hour a day, a week or a month, you could be wasting valuable time.

Many VAs bill their clients by the hour, so it stands to reason that they are hyper-aware of time - but are still not always able to control it well.

When we don't have a lot of clients, we waste time doing research and setting up our website ... usually more time than we need to.

When we do get clients coming in, we often run from client task to client task and don't pay much attention to our own admin or marketing tasks.

What if I told you an hour can make a difference in your business?

It's true.

When you get really clear on what you need to get done - and you focus on just that, you can actually stretch that hour of time into what seems like a lot longer period of time.

Here are a few ways an hour can make a difference in your VA business:

One Hour a Day

I recently attend an event where Jack Canfield (Chicken Soup for the Soul, The Success Principles) was speaking. He shared one of his daily routines - he spends 20 minutes a day reading, 20 minutes a day meditating, and 20 minutes a day exercising. That's an hour. You may not think you have a spare hour, but if you realize that he says his best ideas come when he quiets his mind, the you realize what great advice this is. If you can find 20 minutes a day for each of these activities (and really, who can't?), you can set yourself up for Jack Canfield kind of success.

One Hour a Week

I am reading a book called Clockwork by Mike Michalowicz as part of my business book club. It is about how to put your business on autopilot (so to speak). There is a big framework, of course, but one of the most important pieces of information I have gotten from this book is to spend an hour a week 'designing' your business. That means looking at your numbers, considering your goals, and analyzing your strategies. Many VAs never do this, but it is so valuable. You want to make sure that everything you are doing is leading you towards your goals. Focusing on the design for just one hour every week is an excellent way to keep on top of your goals.

One Hour Whenever You Need It

I often tell this story about my cousin Justin. He gave me some of the best business advice I've ever heard (and he hates it when I credit him, but I do anyway). He told me once that if you feel like you are overwhelmed and too busy, take an hour and spend it in your project management system. Look for things that can be done more efficiently, delegated, removed completely, or completed quickly. When you have too much to do the sense is to run from one thing to another but it's much more effective to take another look at what you have on your list. It works, I tell ya! I do it all the time. Try it.

An hour is an important increment of time to Virtual Assistants. Many of us bill our clients hourly.

But don't forget about your own business. It's important to make sure that you are taking good care of yourself, and your plans.

Whether you take an hour right now, every day, or every week, you'll be heading in the right direction!

For more tips on time management, check out my free VA training videos on Youtube. There are more than 50 free videos there for you!

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 a 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

3 Things You Must Know Before You Create Virtual Assistant Packages

If you don’t have a few things in place before creating packages for your VA services, you will have trouble developing packages that work for you.

I hear Virtual Assistants talk a lot about creating packages in the VA groups and forums. But there is often confusion around what that actually means.

The first thing you should consider is why you want to create a package to begin with.

If you think it’s because you can make more money than charging hourly, you are not technically wrong, but that’s not really the best reason to create packages.

The way to make more money in your VA business is to get better at delivering awesome services to your clients, so you can get more work from your existing clients, and you can get more clients, period.

But packaging your services is a great way to do a few things, such as:

  • Control the profit in your business by setting rates that are fixed, with profit included
  • Avoid scope creep by defining exactly what it is you do for your clients
  • Clearly communicate to your clients what you will do for them, and how much it will cost them
  • Earn more money per hour by getting faster / better / more efficient – instead of less money because you stop billing by the hour.

Packaging your services takes a lot of grunt work to begin with (if you do it correctly!), but it can be  a great way to start to build and grow your business.

You must know (or have) 3 things before you offer your clients package pricing:

  1. A complete list of services you will provide for your clients.
  2. Procedures for each task that is included in those service offerings.
  3. An accurate estimate of time that it takes you to do each task.

Talk about grunt work!

If you don’t have these things in place right now, the you are not ready to create service packages.

But the good news is, you can start getting these things ready right away – by tackling one task at a time, you can start to create the list and the procedures, and add to it every time you do something new.

List of Services

To put together a package for your clients, you have to define specifically what you are going to do for them. This is usually a combination of things that go together, usually by category (ie communication,  or marketing tasks) or by specific task (ie client care – handling contracts, payments, emails, scheduling, etc).

Do it now: Start to make your list. You must define exactly what you can do for clients, before you can build a package from it.

Procedures

Yes, this is the grunt work! But really it’s just writing down what you do and when you do it. Doing a newsletter for someone in Mailchimp? Write down the steps to do it. Step 1, Step 2, Step 3. Don’t leave anything out. Procedure documents help you to free up brain space when you go back to do a task a second time – to make sure that you do it the same way, every time, and that you don’t leave out any steps. Procedures are very important when you are bringing in subcontractors – and if you business grows quickly, you won’t have time to do it then.

Do it now: Start with the next task you complete. One at a time – slow and steady wins the race! You’ll be surprised how much brain space you free up, and also you can build a procedures file pretty quickly!

Time It All

The most important part of creating packages is to get the pricing right. To do that, you must calculate the time it takes you to do every single task in your business. That sounds daunting I know, and it should be! You probably do a lot! But it’s essential. So take those procedure documents and add up the time it takes you to do each step, to get your billable task time. It’s also a good idea to add in 20-25% of extra time to allow for tech issues, or other problems. Speed is not the key – consistency is!

Do it now: Time out everything you do. Be sure to eliminate distractions when you work so that you are focused on the task at hand. Multiply your time for each task by your billable rate to get your ‘per task rate’.

Creating packages is a great way to grow your VA business and provide clear services to your clients for a fixed amount.

Everyone loves clarity, and packages – done right – gives both of you that clarity.

If you want a more indepth lesson on creating packages, have a look at my self study lesson How to Package Your Virtual Assistant Services. It walks you through the entire process so you can get your packages created and start making more money today!

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 a 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 Important Reasons to Document Your Business Procedures

Creating business procedures for your Virtual Assistant business helps you with more than just productivity.

"The only difference between a mob and a trained army is organization." - Calvin Coolidge

When I work with Virtual Assistants to help them make their business better, we often talk about developing standard operating procedures.

Many VAs don’t have something like this in their business. They often feel that if they are the only one doing things that it’s not necessary.

But I’ve got 5 reasons  that might change your mind!

1. Speeds Up Your Work

Writing out a procedure for how you do something might seem mundane if it’s something you know how to do, but it can actually help you get faster at completing that task. When you have to use brain space to think about what to do next, it can slow you down.

Okay, so it probably won’t take you an extra hour to do something without a procedure, but if you have even been distracted by something while you are mid-task, I bet you could be well served by having that process documented so you could just jump back into the step where you left off. Try it – you will be surprised!

2. Sets Standards In Your Business

Documenting what you do sets the standard for how you want it done in your business. Taking the time to write the steps out one by one when you do something the ‘right’ way ensures that you will not cut corners on the task.

Setting standards is a very professional thing to do and can set you apart from your VA colleagues. You can assure your clients that you take their work seriously and that everything will be done the same way, every time.

It’s like using a recipe when you cook. To make it the exact same way every time, you follow the recipe to a T (except for pasta dough and some bread, which depend on room humidity, but that’s another article). 😊

3. Determines Billable Time

When you have the detailed actions steps on how to perform any task (without missing any steps!), you can also set a standard amount of time to each of those steps. When you do things the same way and in the same order every time, it should take you roughly the same amount of time each time you perform that task.

Then you can take your procedures and assign billable time to those tasks. This is a good way to bill your VA clients – instead of billing them by the hour you can charge them per task. That way the faster you get at something, doesn’t affect the revenue that you make to do it.

Who wants to get better at doing something and then make less money to do it? Not me!

4. Allows You to Bring in Help

When you have procedures that are set to your standards, and that you know are accurate, you can bring in help anytime you like. If you want to have subcontractors do work for you, you can provide them with the documented steps on how you want the task done, and you can tell them how long that task should take them to complete.

Procedures are very important when other Virtual Assistants are doing work for you. You have less to check when you know that they are doing things exactly the way you want them to. And you have better control over your expenses when you can tell them how long something should be taking them to complete (if they are having trouble adhering to your timing, have a conversation about it and make adjustments where necessary).

5. Helps You Take Time Off

Along the same line as getting help, you can actually take time off more easily when your business tasks are documented.

When you have your clients look after a couple of things (I always have my clients run customer payments as necessary if I’m out of the office long term), you can provide them with a detailed how-to so they can get things done. Or if you have another Virtual Assistant acting as backup for you, you can also provide your procedures to them and you will know that they are doing things the way you would if you were doing them.

So, what do you think?

As much as developing the actual procedures takes time and might seem like a boring or time-consuming task, it is really an important part of your business. It is helpful in many ways and it’s something you should really consider doing.

You can start slowly. Whatever you plan to do next, write it down as you go. Continue with the next task, and before you know it you’ll be on your way to a full fledged binder of procedures. Have fun!

For more tips on getting good business foundation in place, watch this video on Boundaries and Procedures on my YouTube channel. There are more than 50 free training videos for VAs there!

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 a 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 Mistakes to Avoid in Your Virtual Assistant Business

Are you feeling unprepared to start your VA business? If so, you are not the only one.

We all started the same way. With no real knowledge of how it worked, and how we were supposed to get started. I did, too!

How you proceed with your Virtual Assistant business will determine whether you can succeed or whether you will fail.

There are many things that you need to consider when you are getting started or are growing, and you will make mistakes.

Identifying mistakes that can be easily fixed, or avoided all together, is what will help you get past the tough times and on the road to success.

Here are 5 mistakes that you should try to avoid (or fix!) in your Virtual Assistant business:

Learning New Skills to Get Started

Finding clients is hard enough when you first start out. Don't make it harder on yourself by spending money on something that you don't even know you can do or sell. You will need to get comfortable selling yourself to clients, which can be very difficult - and this will be made more challenging when you are trying to sell them something that you have no experience doing for clients yet. Training is great, when it is timed right. But you should never start your business trying to market and sell a brand new service or skill. You have admin experience. Start with what you know.

Charging Rates That Are Too Low

Recognizing our value is always a challenge as Virtual Assistants. We feel like what we do is not as valuable as what other people do. We struggle with selling our value to clients. And that translates to setting prices that are not high enough to sustain our business. When rates are set with intention (and by doing math!) and you know the value that you are providing the clients, they are probably going to be higher than you thought. But your business will thank you. Don't be afraid to set rates that earn you a profit and reflect your expertise.

Getting Stuck in the Research Phase

There is a lot to learn when you start a VA business. Probably more than you thought there would be. But many VAs get stuck in the research phase - looking for advice or simply Googling things and taking free trainings. I've seen VAs spend weeks on their logo and company name, or more than a year on their website. You need to get out of research phase and make a decision. Your business is a living, breathing thing - and it can (and will!) change. Your business name and logo are decisions. Your website should be simple. It will change. Don't let it hold you up. You need to get started to get clients, and you will never start if you keep researching. 

Never Saying No

Clients will ask you to do whatever they need. It is up to you to say yes to things you want to do. It is also up to you to say no to what you don't want to do. You are a business owner and the client does not get to decide what you do for them. If you have a client contract, it should include a scope of work that you discussed before starting to work together. If the task they request is not on that list, you can say no. Saying no is your right, and you need to exercise it so that you stay happy in your business. Your clients will be happy when you are clear, and you can always help them find someone else to do the tasks you don't want to do.

Not Setting Boundaries

Boundaries are a very big part of being a business owner and yet they are grossly overlooked, especially by Virtual Assistants. We are helpers by our nature as support professionals, and so saying no and setting boundaries can be difficult for us. But setting things like business hours or work time helps everyone know when you are working and when you are not - so that you can balance everything in your life. Just because you are at home doesn't mean you are available to everyone all the time. Set boundaries and be sure you follow them yourself. Again, clarity is the key, and it keeps everyone happy.

Are you currently doing any of these things?

Avoid these mistakes or fix them if they are part of your business right now.

I challenge you to identify what you are doing that could use a change.

Get help with something if you are having making the change yourself.

It's your business - and your health, and your life. Setting yourself up for long term success helps everyone around you. But especially you. You are worth it!

For more tips on how to take action and get moving, watch this free video: Take Action and Stop Making Excuses on my YouTube channel. There are more than 40 free training videos for VAs there!

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 a 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

3 Simple Ways to Get Clients for Your VA Business

If you are struggling to find Virtual Assistant clients, this article is for you!

When we start our Virtual Assistant business, most of us don't realize the work involved to get clients.

We meticulously launch our website, get business cards printed, and expect the clients to start calling. Or we expect to join job boards and fill our client roster easily.

That's not always the way it works. In fact, most of the time it's very different.

While writing blog posts and posting to social media is an important part of your marketing, it's not enough to get clients easily. Your posts need to have an audience - and that takes work to build.

To get clients for your business, you need to do outreach. You need to find your clients and connect with them.

Here are 3 simple ways you can reach out to people about your VA business:

Contact 100 People You Know

When you start talking to people about your business, the first place to begin is with who you know. Make a list of 100 people you know (it's okay if this list starts with your mom - mine does too!). Maybe not all of these people will be your clients, but they can certainly help to spread the word about what you are doing - provided that they understand what you do. You will see quickly that you know a lot of people. Once you have your list, start reaching out to them by email or by phone. Introduce your business, tell them exactly what kind of clients you offer services for, and ask them if they know anyone who might need your services.

Attend A Networking Event

Going to a networking event is a great place to find potential clients. Everyone is there for the same reason - to network with other business owners. Make sure when you choose an event to go to, you always have a goal of how many people you want to connect with. Often the local networking groups have Facebook groups where you can connect with the attendees before and after the event. When you network with a goal in mind, you will have much better results.

Find Strategic Partners

The connections you will make in your business are not always going to become your clients. Some of the best people you can connect with are strategic partners. These are people who can potentially refer business to you. Usually they are in contact with your audience or market, but they are not providing the same services as you. Your VA colleagues can be great strategic partners. If you don't provide the same services as a colleague, you can refer business back and forth to each other. When you make your list above, identify potential strategic partners on it and reach out to them as such.

Getting comfortable with outreach is going to be one of the best things you can do for your VA business. The more conversations you have with other business owners, the better you will get at it. And the more connections you make, the more potential clients and referrals you will have.

What are you doing for outreach in your business? If you are struggling to find clients and you are still hiding behind your computer, I challenge you to do these three simple things to see how it impacts your VA business.

For some more ideas on how to get clients for your VA business so that you get clients, read this blog post: Where Do I Find Clients for My VA Business?

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 a 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