Ever been asked to work for free? I’m sure you have but if not, it will happen… sometime.
Many people do not value the skills and abilities that VAs have. Yes, we’ve been to school, many have gone on to college or Uni, or have even done courses in their adult years. Many have Certificates, Diplomas and other forms of documents that show they’ve put in the work required to earn them. And then years of working in the corporate world, or a particular industry, to later set up a business as a Virtual Assistant.
So why do people insult us by asking us to do a job for free? Often, as a guise to help us get our business started or ‘create a portfolio’. Or to give free advice on how to do a particular job… basically so they don’t have to pay us to do it? Or perhaps you’ve been asked to do it for ‘the exposure’. Trouble is the bills we pay don’t have that option for payment at all!
I’ve had all the above and more happen in my years of business and I want to tell you that I sometimes do something ‘pro bono‘ but it’s my choice and I’m usually the one that offers it, rather than being asked to do so. That way I can choose to support a locally based community group, where it is of value for others to know I exist, or perhaps a group further afield, an industry event I want to be part of, etc. But it is my choice and usually it means I’m not the one who’s been asked, but rather am the one who has offered.
I saw a discussion about this topic on a business forum and thought I’d bring it here as I believe it’s one that VAs in general need to be prepared for, when the time comes.
This image too, might make you think carefully for next time it happens. Click on it to enlarge so you can read it properly, and start from the centre. Oh, and please pardon the language – I didn’t create it but thought it a good one to share.
Kathie is the owner of VA Directory and is former past President of the Australian VA Association. She founded the Virtual Assistant industry in Australia in the mid 90s, having already been operating a home-based secretarial service. Today the VA industry covers a multitude of office-based services for clients worldwide.