It is often hard, when starting out as a VA to determine what information you should be seeking, whether something can be sourced elsewhere, or whether you should be doing it all on your own? I participate in several VA forums and often see new VAs asking for items that they really should be sorting out for themselves. Things like contracts, rates sheets, brochures, business plans and other items.
What should they expect help with and what should they be doing on their own? The key word here is ‘expect’. In an employee world we get everything given to us in relation to our employment – we’re told how much we’re going to be paid (unless we’re in the fortunate position of asking for a particular rate of pay), we’re told what the contractual basis of our employment is, we’re given the materials to work with – in other words we do as is expected of us by our employer and we get what we expect of them.
But when we are working for ourselves, the reality is there isn’t anyone to tell you what you should be charging, what your contracts should consist of, how your brochures should look, and so on, and if we don’t have any prior experience and no knowledge at all, it is hard to make decisions about these things. The shortcut? Why not ask other VAs if you can use what they’ve already spent time putting together? Saves you time, saves you effort, saves you having to think about it right? Wrong!
The process of putting these items together, doing the research and the sums, working out what’s right for us, finding out our legal obligations in relation to our geographic location for our contracts, and working out our rates based on our skills, experience AND geographic location (cost of living) is all part of developing the image for our business, and building and moulding what it will be. There is no shortcut to a learning process if it is something that will become part of us. It’s not learning something by rote or copying off our neigbour’s book in class – it’s putting in the hard work and moulding and shaping something that will have our image, our personality, everything that is about us and what we represent and offer in a business. This can only come with time, effort, experience – I’ll repeat that one – experience and so on.
This is different to what a franchisee might experience – they’re learning a system and duplicating what has already been put in place. But for each individual VA you aren’t duplicating what someone else is doing – you are moulding and shaping your own business and offering services based on your own experience and skills.