Sometimes on the VA forums I see people asking questions that really should be directed to others more equipped and qualified to answer those questions. For example, should I have a business license? Or, if in Australia, should I be registered for an ABN or GST?
While people on forums can answer these questions, if the forums are global, rather than national, then the new VAs run the risk of receiving advice that really isn’t relevant to them in their location. Who should they be asking? They should be checking with local business websites run by local government offices, or better still, their accountant. No-one in business should be without an accountant. I know there may be a thought that asking an accountant for information could be expensive, but the reality is you can’t do without an accountant. Better to be armed with the facts and set up correctly when you’re first starting out, rather than having to fix problems or correct things many months or a year down the track, once you have to do a tax return.
Likewise, if you’re asking for information on what rates you should be setting for your services, or what contract you should be using, it is very important that the information you get and choose to act upon, is appropriate for your situation and location. No use deciding to charge the same rate as someone else if they’re located in a different country and with a different currency and cost of living, let alone different skills and experiences to you. And if the contract they use works for them, doesn’t mean that legally it’s the right one for you.
It is important for anyone new in business, not just VAs, do the research and their homework. By that I mean, research what is relevant for you in your country and/or state, on a local level. Locate the government business sites and also tax sites where you can get relevant information. Find a local contract and work on it to rebuild it as your own. There are often draft contracts available online. Or find a solicitor who works with small businesses. But again, make sure you source the information from your own country first. Building from scratch and creating your own content is most important when developing a business. If you use someone else’s rates and then another person’s contract, there is no ownership in that and you wouldn’t be able to answer why you set that rate, or used ‘that clause’ when speaking with your accountant or a solicitor.
Very important that you build your foundations right, in the way that is just for you, not someone else. It’s these important things that help you develop ownership for your business and helps keep you on track as things grow.