How to Become a Virtual Assistant

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A Virtual Assistant Article by Irene Boston

Beginning her career in advertising and then managing a business management college in London, Irene escaped the rat race in the early 90s and now lives in Norfolk.  As well as her VA business, Irene wears other hats as a writer and as an established landscape photographer.

Being the cheapest means you are 'cheap' in all the meanings of the word - never say you are the cheapest, it may work for the supermarkets but many will still travel miles to buy their food from M&S - set your standards high and stick to them in all aspects of your business. Irene takes this further with her article below.

What is your reaction when a potential client, having received your quote, queries your price? What do you think when clients claim they can "only" pay you X per hour, because that's all they pay their employees? What do you say when they insist they could employ a temp for less money than you, a Virtual Assistant are charging?

Do you humbly accept what the omnipotent client says without a fight? Or do you politely but firmly stick to your guns and insist that this is the price you will charge for that particular service? If the latter, then you already have the right attitude to be a Virtual Assistant and can ignore the rest of my ramblings. If the former, then read on....

In another article I discuss the transition from employee to self employment. Of necessity, the mind-set of an employee has to be totally different from that of a business owner. This mental adjustment can be quite difficult, particularly when you approach the question of fees with a client. As a newly fledged business, it can be very easy to accept absolutely everything a client demands. This can range from how they want you to do the task, to how much they are prepared to pay for it. It is a difficult balance to strike between alienating a potential client and allowing him or her to walk all over you.

Some clients will sense this inexperience and try to take advantage of it. They will give you all kinds of hard luck stories as to why they can't possibly afford your fees. Others will do the hard sell approach and claim they can find the same services elsewhere for less. Keep calm, be polite but stay firm and never undersell yourself or your VA business.

However, don't say that you can't afford to do the work for less. It may be true, but it wouldn't be wise to admit poverty to a client! Just state clearly something like, "although I am prepared to negotiate on some prices or projects, to reduce my fees on this occasion would compromise the quality of service I can offer".

Above all you have to start realising and believing that you're no longer an employee. You are providing a professional Virtual Assistant service in the same way as an accountant does. I'm willing to bet that very few clients tell their accountant what they're prepared to pay them! More likely, it's the other way round. We must all bear in mind that because "secretaries" are traditionally regarded in some quarters as the lowest form of life, it doesn't mean that you should continue to perpetrate that myth. It's time to ditch that humble attitude. You are an independent contractor providing an efficient, reliable service at a price which will earn you a satisfactory living.

One of the most important things you must seek to project is confidence, even if you don't feel it. You must at all times give the impression you know exactly what you're talking about - even if you don't! Don't be hesitant when discussing your prices, particularly over the phone.
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