It’s a common question I hear from those who are new Virtual Assistants just starting out. They’re keen to get their first clients and think because they’re new they should be charging low.
The answer to this is no, no, and a resounding NO.
Don’t undervalue yourselves. Just because you’re new to the industry doesn’t mean your value is any less. What about all the experience you have behind you? And I’m assuming you do have experience otherwise you should not be starting up a VA practice.
Ultimately there are many things to consider when you’re starting out. What is the annual income for what you were doing before you decided to start out as a VA? That is usually a good starting point to work backwards from to set an hourly rate for your services. You need to consider you will have expenses – it’s the nature of running a business: computer equipment, office furniture, software, paper, postage, insurances, taxes, phone, internet, etc. Anything you need to run your business should be classed as a business expense and it needs to be covered.
When you’re meeting with, talking to, or emailing your clients you should be speaking with authority with respect to the services you provide. Don’t confuse your ability to do something well with being a new business owner/operator. One shouldn’t override the other when it comes to working out what your rates should be.
Choosing to set low rates at the start will also cause other problems. Clients will expect it of you and can take exception to you raising your rates suddenly when you discover you are not covering all your expenses. They may choose to move onto another VA, especially if a working relationship hasn’t been well established. It can also affect our industry as a whole. While there is no legislation regarding how we set our rates and what they should be (and how could there be since the industry is global not national) it is important VAs do their homework and set rates that are right for them.
There will always be someone that charges lower – after all this industry spans many countries with different costs of living. You’re not trying to compete with VAs in other countries – you need to be operating a sustainable business in your own country and you will find clients that are local to you and appreciate your abilities. You might pick up some overseas clients but the reality is you can still support clients on a virtual basis even if they only live a mile away. Think about it. It makes sense to start out with what is right for you – not what someone else is charging.