You’ve set up shop as a VA and you’re plugging along, but you may have missed something along the way. While you support other people’s businesses, you’re a business owner yourself. If you want to attract high-quality clients and build a solid business, you need to get a solid foundation in place in your own business.
How can a client expect to hand their business over to you when you don’t have a solid foundation in your own business?
So let me just go ahead and say it.
Virtual assistants, YOU are an entrepreneur. Your business needs to be taken care of just as much, if not MORE than your clients.
I see way too many virtual assistants starting their business the wrong way. I mean, they have all the right intentions. But let’s face it, most women that become virtual assistants are awesome at their skill set but are clueless about what it means to run a business.
That’s why I am writing this post. To help you figure all this business know-how out.
The first thing you need to set up is proper business systems. Systems are the bare bones of your VA business.
So, what is a system?
A system is a set of repeatable actions that are predictable and reliable. Think, wash, repeat, wash repeat. Here are some ways you can create some systems today to make your business run smoother and easier so you can stop with all this busy work and get on with making money!
When a prospect reaches out to you.
Usually, when you have a prospect that reaches out to you there is a song and dance. They email you, you respond, you keep writing back and forth until you’ve scheduled a call to discuss how you can help them with their business.
Why not systematize all this back and forth? Here’s how:
Create a canned email in Gmail and write out a standard response to anyone who emails you about your services. Clearly, you’ll have to personalize this a bit but the bulk of the email should be the same.
Here’s a great example of a canned email you can write to your prospects:
Thank you so much for reaching out to me. I would love to learn more about you and your business and discuss how I can help you. The first thing I would suggest is checking out my FAQs page if you haven’t already done so. I set this page up to answer many of the questions you have about working together. If you have a question that wasn’t answered, just let me know!
After reading my FAQs page, I’d love to schedule a 20 minute “get to know” you session so we can talk about your business goals and the ways I can help.
Click here to book a time that works well for you.
I look forward to speaking with you!
Now you’ll notice in the example email above I mentioned an FAQ page. I highly recommend that you set up an FAQ page on your website if you haven’t done so already. Here’s why…
Your time is valuable.
You get asked the same questions time and time again, right?
How much do you charge? What are your work hours? When can I expect a response? Do you outsource to other VAs? Do you handle rush jobs? Can I forward my calls to you? Etc, etc.
Seriously folks. You have got to start streamlining your business. It makes ZERO sense to recreate the wheel every time you speak with a prospect.
So, build out that FAQ page, like today. You can keep adding questions and answers to the page over time. Remember, time is money and you don’t have any time to waste.
When it comes to scheduling.
How many times have you emailed someone back and forth just to find a suitable time for a conference call? Man, what a colossal waste of time! I want you to set up a way for prospects to click on a link and see your availability and pick a time based on when you’re free. Check out youcanbook.me. It’s awesome and they have a free plan to get you started or you can use something more robust like ScheduleOnce.
What’s awesome about scheduling software is you get to say when you’re working and when you’re not. No more explaining to prospects or clients what you’re doing and when. You simply update your availability and you’re done. Remember, you’re the BOSS. You don’t have to answer to anyone about what you do with your time so long as you’re getting the job done.
Another perk of using a scheduling software is your clients will think you’re way ahead of the times. They will be impressed that you have such a fantastic system that saves them valuable time because time is money! And you look like a BOSS. They will be jealous that you have your biz so buttoned up, they will want to set up a scheduling system, too (hello!).
Getting ready for the introductory call with your prospect
The most important thing here is to keep these calls limited to a certain amount of time. I like to stick to 20 minutes because it’s enough time for someone to get to know me, my style and to figure out if we’re a good fit but go with your gut.
You don’t want to let this call become a free for all. You want to structure it as much as you can by coming prepared. Create an introductory call sheet that has questions that you want to ask each prospect. Questions like (and these are just examples, feel free to use them):
Tell me more about your business and the clients/customers you serve?
How long have you been in business?
How are your main competitors?
What does your day to day operations look like?
What is working for you in your business? In other words, what are the things you love doing day in and day out?
What is really NOT working for you in your business? (hint, this is the stuff they should outsource so pay attention here)
If you could change one thing as it relates to your business and systems, what would that one thing be? (another thing to really pay attention to, it will give you loads of info on how to respond)
One of my favorite questions is “if I were to wave a wand and solve your more burning problem right now, which problem would you want to be solved?”
These are just examples so you’ll want to come up with your own introductory call checklist.
So let’s fast forward to when you KILLED (because you’re a rock star, remember?) it during your intro call and now that prospect has just agreed to become a client. What’s next?
Let them know that you’ll be sending them your welcome packet and client contract and as soon as that bad boy has been signed you will send your first invoice (use FreshBooks for that). Once they’ve signed on the dotted line and paid, send them a link to your schedule so you can book your kick-off call.
Do not, I repeat, do NOT start working before you get paid. Partial payment is fine, no payment, no bueno.
Do not send a link to your schedule before you get paid. Follow the steps. Follow the system. Respect your time and your clients will respect it in return.
What systems do you have set up that are working really well for your virtual assistant business OR what systems have you created in your life that you’d like to share?
Leave me a comment below.
Rock on, Reese
0 thoughts on “Dear Virtual Assistant, You’re an Entrepreneur”
I’ve been using youcanbook.me for my Canva trainings and it’s been awesome! People can easily book according to my calendar.
Great tips Reese!
Lillian, why am I not surprised! 🙂
I love this article!
Im a bit stuck to where I am – and it even shows on my own website.
I want to make this year rocking awesome, not only for my business but with future Clients.
Great job on this article Reese, you rock!
Thanks, Marvy! Let’s rock this together, shall we?
Dear Reese,I’m in the process of setting up my VA business and recently had my first enquiry from a potential client. So your article was really timely and helpful for me to think about my systens and processes. I do have one queru though. You suggest sending out the first invoice and waiting for payment before sending a welcome pack and contract to the client. This seems strange to me and I did check what other VAs do and all said they send the first invoice after the contract has been signed. I would have thought most clients would be hesitant about paying any money before they’ve signed a cobtract especially if no work has taken place. Would love to hear more about your view on this. And thank you for all your great blogs and tips. They’ve helped me a lot. Nikki 🙂
P.s. sorry for all the typos. I’m on my phone and it was too hard to go back a check the message!
Nikki, I think you’re right! It doesn’t make sense to wait until payment comes through to send the contract. Contract first! I’ve edited my post. Thanks for the feedback!
Reese, you Rock! This email could not have come at a better time! I just revamped my site for 2015. Now it is time for me to revamp my business and with these tips, I know I can. I never thought about a scheduling system and the canned response email after an inquiry. I can say that I do the new client welcome pack (I use the one I got from you ;-)) and people have been so impressed! I also use Freshbooks and was wondering, you send an invoice prior to working? I have only one client now and I bill her hourly on a weekly basis. I work M-F and then on the following Monday, I bill her for the previous week. I think I may have to start using the pre-paid method.
Thanks again for this post…it was awesome.
Hey there Rebecca! I absolutely send an invoice prior to starting any work. It only took me getting burned once to learn to always get paid upfront. So happy you enjoyed the post! Please share it with any other VAs you think it would help. xo
I’ve been focusing on systems to try and refine everything that I do to save time. I do not currently have an actual scheduling system set up where clients can click to book time with me so need to get that going ASAP. And I see you mentioned freshbooks for the invoicing. I don’t really have a concrete system for invoicing outside of physically sending a paypal invoice around the same time I would send the contract and welcome packet. I’m going to revisit some of my previous resources from you on the client contract and email scripts this week. I’m getting more and more sharpened hanging around you!!
By the way, LOVE the new business butt-kicking verbiage additions to your site!!
Hey love! Yeah, systems are pretty important and you’re in such a great place now, Geniece so it makes sense to implement certain systems now, rather than later.Thanks for your compliments on the new copy! xo
Dear Virtual Assistant,
I love your story. I think because there are so many women in the world today that have been in your situation at one time or another. I have never worked from home because I have struggled with finding legitimate companies but if I ever got the chance, I certainly would do it. Just to be closer to my family and for convenience. If you have any information or pointers you could give me to get started I would love to hear from you! Congrats Reese!
My husband and I were just chatting about time in relation to being an entrepreneur. Time is money, quite literally. It’s really our only currency because the less of it we have, the more valuable we become.
Hi Reese, So glad I ran across your site. Creating a contract and a welcome pack are two things, among many, that I knew I needed to get done prior to launching my new Virtual Assistant business but had not started working on them because I knew it was going to be a huge amount of time. Then I found you! Thank you for providing a baseline that will help me to get started and not have to get bogged down on these sort of details when there are so many other tasks to tackle when trying to get up and running. Watch for me! My new business is Cavalry Business Solutions and I am hoping to launch around May 1st!