How To Not Suck As A Virtual Assistant – Dos & Don’ts

I wanted to name this post “why most virtual assistants suck” but I didn’t, because well…THAT would be insulting but it would have been appropriate considering the conversation I had a few weeks ago.

That conversation was with a friend of mine who happens to be a former client AND a successful online entrepreneur/podcaster.  She told me this:

“Reese, most virtual assistants don’t have the kind of work ethic you do. They suck. They over-promise and under-deliver and what’s worse is they charge a lot of money for their shitty services.”


Two things went through my head after I heard this.

  1. I felt a sense of pride knowing that the work I did as a virtual assistant was valued and that I am one of “those” VAs, the ones that clients will spend top dollar on.
  2. I took it personally because I’m fiercely protective of the VAs I work with and coach.  I’ve trained nearly a hundred women (and a few awesome dudes) how to be THAT kind of VA. The ones that rock it. Better than the rest.  The ones that go on to be the VA to some of the most successful entrepreneurs and it makes me cringe when I see VAs screwing it up.  I’m here to put a stop to that. To call every VA out and show them what it means to be remarkable.

Because what’s the point of doing something half-ass.


I’m making it my business to ensure that any VA (or aspiring VA) that reads this post or works with me one-on-one will never be THAT virtual assistant that over-promises and under-delivers.

I am here to make sure you never. ever. suck and it all starts with this.

  • Treat your client’s business like it’s your own.
  • Never accept anything less than excellence
  • Show up. That means if you say you’re going to do something, do it. No matter what and if you can’t, say so.
  • Be proactive. Think 2 steps ahead. Always.
  • Own up to your mistakes.  We all screw up. We’re human. Own it and most importantly LEARN from your mistakes. That’s how you grow.
  • Push yourself to learn something new every single day. Don’t accept mediocrity and don’t get too comfortable.

Here’s what I mean in case it wasn’t clear enough.

When you’re working on your client’s stuff, that’s their business baby folks. That’s one of the most important things in their life. I can’t tell you how many VAs I’ve met that don’t check their work before they send it back to their clients.  This is one of the most basic things. You’ve got to go over your work with a fine-toothed comb before you submit ANYTHING to your clients.

This means reading anything you write on your client’s behalf or testing to make sure links work before clicking the publish button.  This means when you communicate with their clients you are professional, thoughtful and you go the extra mile. You get the point.  Pay attention to the details. That’s how you treat your client’s business – like your own.

Never accept anything less than the best

Let me preface this with no one is perfect.  That also means that no matter how many times we check our work we are bound to miss things sometimes. It happens to all of us. We’re human. But this isn’t about missing a spelling error after you’ve reviewed the document 10 times because your eyes just can’t see straight anymore.

No, this is about the way in which you approach the work that you do. You approach it with seriousness, with full attention and you take notes. You ask the right questions, you pay attention to what’s NOT being said. You get to the bottom of things because you’re thorough and you don’t accept anything less than excellence.

Excellence doesn’t equal perfection. Excellence is about setting a high standard for yourself and focusing on getting as good as you can possibly be.

Show Up

We are what we repeatably do. Therefore, excellence is not an act, but a habit. – Aristotle (enough said).

Be Proactive

This is a hard one to teach because not everyone has the ability to anticipate the needs of others. This is what rock stars are made of. Virtual assistants that can anticipate the needs of their clients will have full client rosters.  It’s no wonder why being proactive is considered to be one of the most important habits of the worlds most effective people.

Own your mistakes

I learned how to speak Hebrew by opening up my mouth and making mistakes every single day. It was because of the mistakes that I speak Hebrew at the level I do now.  Had I have been upset by people correcting me or if I would have been too shy to open my mouth, I would  be speaking at a pre-K Hebrew level today. But I’m not.

You’ve got to be ready to make mistakes but the key here is to own them, learn from them, and move the hell on. Your clients will appreciate you for this. Oh and one thing, if you make a big mistake, something that will cost your client either in time or money, compensate them for this by not charging them.

Show them that you value them and your commitment to excellence.  If you bought something from a clothing store only to find out once you got home that there is a rip you didn’t see, you’d return it and expect either an exchange or a refund, right? The same applies to the work you do for your clients. You give them what they asked for and if you can’t, refund them.

This also applies to getting the work done according to a deadline. Can’t meet the deadline?Tell them and be prepared for how that’s going to effect their business.   Remember you’re a pro, and pros show up, do the work when they say they will and if they can’t, they say so ahead of time, not when everything is on the line, at the last minute.

Learn something new every day

I had a friend that had something like 5 or 6 college degrees. He was a forever student. I’m not suggesting you get a degree in various fields but I am suggesting that you learn new software, learn about sales, learn about marketing, learn about finances, learn about podcasting, learn about how to run teleseminars.  Learn something new and often.

This is the spice of life and this will help you be more attractive to prospects because you have a solid knowledge base.  There are plenty of ways to pick up a new skill. Join a course, read industry articles or check out a book from the library.  The most successful business owners go to seminars, conferences, join courses, read books about their industry, network with other business owners and stay up-to-date.  Should’t you?

What do you think about all of this? Let me know in the comments. It’s going to be an interesting discussion. I can just feel it.

Rock on,


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0 thoughts on “How To Not Suck As A Virtual Assistant – Dos & Don’ts”

  1. Hi Reese,
    First off, I like that you used the word ‘suck!!’ Being in business is tough. Owning up, doing what needs to be done, and not being just another ‘run of the mill VA’ is what it takes to stand out from the masses. And I absolutely treat my clients businesses as my own when I’m servicing them. If you’re going to half-a** then it’s pointless any way.

    1. Geniece my friend you can expect more posts of this tone from me going forward. Mama bear is coming out of the cave and I’m going to start growlin…:)

  2. Great Post! Going the extra mile, caring about your clients business and providing quality work is the way to go. If you are the best VA we will all benefit, and more importantly your business will survive!

    1. Thank you, Sally! Coulnd’t agree with you more. Going the extra mile, and providing the best customer service is that little extra something that you can do to create the best customer experience ever. It’s memorable and it’s the best marketing tactic you have.

  3. Thanks Reese – another post that hits the nail on the head. We all (this includes we “aspiring VAs”) want to be able to pitch ourselves above the masses, and I don’t know how we’re meant to do that if we’re offering mediocre services (at best) or lousy services (at worst). I agree that we should learn from our mistakes – I find that those lessons are the most important lessons I have ever learned.

    1. Thanks, Tracy! What were some of the biggest mistakes that became the best learning experiences for you as it relates to your VA biz?

  4. Bam! Excellent advice for us new VAs as well as those maybe getting too comfortable and not showing up and doing their best every day. I especially like the parts about committing to excellence and learning something new every day. You certainly have to stay on top of the latest advances in technology if you are to be a successful VA. The commitment to excellence should be a given, knowing that we are human and will make mistakes from time to time. How you handle the mistakes and make it right is the key to building your reputation for the best in customer service and client relations.

  5. Tania Stuart

    Hi Reese,
    Thanks for the slap on the forward. This was a wake call for me and I appreciate it. Great points. I will sure refer back to the article again.


    1. Tania! Hey there lady! So great seeing you here in the comments. Thanks for reading the post and letting me know you appreciate it. XO

  6. Thank you, Reese, for your valiant efforts and especially THIS POST to encourage all VAs to up-level to do their very professional best. We all need to band together to support this growing industry.
    I believe it’s the wave of the future for so many businesses all over the world. I don’t want anyone to have a poor impression of what we work so hard to do.

    We all need to be extra-professional and proud of the industry we represent, even if we do work at home and sometimes in our pajamas. . . What matters is what we do for our clients and how we help them be better and successful in their businesses, not how we look while we get ‘er done!

    “Excellence doesn’t equal perfection. Excellence is about setting a high standard for yourself and focusing on getting as good as you can possibly be.”

    I love this and I tweeted it, too!

    Thanks for your encouragement!

    1. Karen – Thank you for taking the time to read my post and write this awesome comment. It fuels me to keep on writing and you’ll be seeing more posts like this. 2015 is the year where I’m going to step more into what I feel is important and that is no holds barred advice to push you forward in ways you could have only dreamed of. I’m your biggest cheerleader and your toughest coach and I’ll always encourage you and push you. XO

  7. Hi Reese!
    Love this post! I’m not understanding the VA’s that do sucky work and giving us hard working VA’s a bad name. Don’t they want work?? How can you gain work and have a bad reputation? Every time I work with a client I treat their work as my own. We’re a team and I make sure I do my absolute best because being an entrepreneur my neck is on the line… my work is either going to make me or break me. I’m in it for my family and if I don’t do excellent work for them then I need to find something else to do as a profession.

    Thanks for sharing this! Big hugs…

    1. Lill dog (my new name for you, rockstar)! It’s funny, you’d THINK VAs wouldn’t want to do sucky work but trust me when I tell you that it happens and way too often. It’s just the employee that does just what is required and never wants to stay over-time or put in more time to get a raise or promotion. Comfort with the status quo I guess….

  8. Nice post Reese. You are actually the reason I had the courage to get stated and I follow your advice closely. My problem right now is not the work, its the fact that the business has taken off much faster than I expected, so I have too much to do and literally not enough hours to do it. I also need to sub-contrack some tasks, but can’t find qualified people to do it. So many I have found “suck” but you have to learn that the hard way. So everything you said here really applies. I think I need to work one-on-one with you, to figure out this transition phase. Meantime, keep writing these blogs….keeps me sane knowing others are dealing with the same issues.

    1. Rosanna, WOW! Thank you! To hear that I was able to give you the courage to get started and knowing that you’re business is so successful is just amazing. I have goosebumps. You can bet your bottom dollar that I will keep on writing. I can’t wait to hear from you so we can work together. I’ll bring the champagne.

  9. Great article Reese. I love your stuff! So true – all of it. When I started by business, I laid down some fundamentals that I wouldn’t walk away from and you’ve covered some of them: Providing excellent service, being genuine and totally respecting a client’s business as THEIR business, and being honest and upfront when making a mistake. I hate making mistakes, especially regarding someone else’s business, but acknowledging it without excuses and apologizing have always brought great results.So important is to learn from that mistake and try not to repeat it.

    Keep up the good work – we need these encouragements and sometimes a good kick in the pants.


  10. Great insight! I am ready to move with my plans to fully establish my business. Enough of the rat race. LOL. Thank you Reece and everyone who posted here…much appreciated.

  11. Thank you for this great post. As a fairly new, building my business VA, the advice you offered is so important for me to remember.

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