Virtual assisting is one of the money making ideas that has gained a lot of attention over the past few years. It offers the employers the flexibility of hiring professional assistants without having to worry about providing office space and benefits, while offering the virtual assistants the flexibility to work from home, dorm or a cafe nearby, and on a schedule that best fits their lifestyle. It is a great win-win situation that is made easy by the ever-involving Internet landscape, and the trend seems to be for this to become more mainstream over the next few years. If you have decided to give virtual assisting a shot, then you are in a good place to catch the rising tide. Just make sure you avoid these basic mistakes at all costs, and you should be well on your way to making a good income on a flexible schedule.
Honesty, as a virtual assistant, is very important. Being caught in a lie can not only be embarrassing, but it can also cost you a client. Try to be honest in all dealings with your client. Lying is an inexcusable act to most businesspeople (not everyone is Bernie Madoff). Even a small white lie can break the trust that the client places in you. In the world of virtual assistance, where you don’t get a chance to work face to face and access the person in flesh and blood, the trust that you build over a period of time is of paramount importance. Lose that, and you will very likely lose the client (and all the referrals he could potentially make).
Yes, it happens. Something can get lost between your computer and your client’s, but when that does occur it’s your job to resend that stored information. When you actually LOSE the information, as in you deleted it and can’t get it back, this may be a deal breaker for some clients. If you cannot be trusted to keep and maintain important business information, you cannot be good for business. Also, being disorganized is like kryptonite to the professional VA. So be very diligent in how you organize and store information.
Professionalism is the talisman that all VAs wear proudly. If you cannot keep your private and professional lives separate you might end up personally getting the boot from your client. Yes, as a VA you are working from home or your dorm room or the café down the street, but being able to keep the distractions to a minimum is very important. The client doesn’t want to hear that your cat spilled coffee all over the files you were supposed to scan and send him. Keep your cat, girlfriend, kids, in-laws, cousins, and nosey roommates out of your work area.
Rudeness is an unattractive trait even if your clients cannot see you. If you are snide, end your conversations in a huff, or are overtly rude (say something inappropriate without remorse), you are most likely to put an ugly hex on the working relationship. Showing respect to your client even when your client is being rude or stupid is important. They are paying you for your services and sometimes those services require that you suck it up and deal with the client’s quirks. By no means should you stay if they are continuously bashing you, but if you can emotionally handle the onslaught, by all means…
This one flows well from the Being Rude point mentioned above—getting angry with the client in a way that the client can see or hear is a bad idea. Say whatever you want about the client once the chat is over or the work day is done, but expressing your anger inappropriately to the client can lose you the deal. There are appropriate ways to show anger to your client. Write them a respectful email detailing what it is they did that made you angry. Never yell at, cuss out, or flip the bird to them during a video chat.
Using Bad Language
Your sailor’s language may be appropriate for bar hopping, dorm room parties, or the occasional bad driver, but using bad language with or around your clients is unprofessional. Be civil in your communication with your client, irrespective of how cool the client appears to be. When you are reliant on the payment of a client, you cannot afford to take a chance that the client may not mind.
If you want to find a money making idea that requires little work, you should try taking online surveys. Being a virtual assistant requires real work with real clients who have real deadlines. When you slack off on the job you are sending the message that you would rather not have to work—remember always, your client can make that happen for you in a snap.
While this one is seems like a close cousin of slacking off, there are other reasons to being late and missing deadlines – e.g. underestimating the time it takes to get the work done. If this seems like the case, be honest and professional and let your client know as early as you can, so they can plan for it.
Also, while most virtual assistant schedules are flexible, there are some that require that you maintain a strict working hours. If you chose to work with such clients, make sure you do what is required of you. If you are supposed to be at your computer working at 8 AM EST every morning, you’d better actually be there working at that time. No, not every client will be able to tell if you are really there, but that is part of being honest. Also, there are some clients that will require you use desktop VA software that requires you to log in and log out to keep record of your time worked.
Taking Too Much Time Off
As a virtual assistant working from home you’re going to be far more tempted to take time off. And the way the society is, the people around you may assume that you are “free” to take care of things around the house, the school etc. Before you give in to this, remember that while you may work from home, the client who is paying you is depending on you to keep their business running smoothly. Taking off too much time (sick days, spontaneous vacations, you want to take a shopping day, hangover from too much parties etc…) can cost you a client.
Disrespecting Client’s Clients
The last (last of this list because there are way more mistakes that could be listed) mistake you can make as a virtual assistant is being disrespectful to your client’s clients. Even if your client bad mouths about their clients to you (this is unprofessional on their part), you should never speak ill of them. It isn’t your place, and it is highly inappropriate. This means that no matter how much your client rails against that one client that never pays on time, you should always be respectful and cordial to them in correspondence. If you are rude to your client’s client, your client may lose their client and you may lose yours. See how the cookie crumbles?
Being a virtual assistant is an incredible money making idea you can use to earn a full time or part time income, provided you get a few things right. This article covered some of the basic mistakes to avoid. The other articles in our VA section cover other tips and tricks of the trade. Overall, be smart about it and you can be on the road to an awesome work from home career that can make you quite a bit of steady income. Good luck!