If you’re a regular reader of my blog you would have seen last week the post about a VA who had infringed upon two of my trademarks (my business name and my catch phrase) on her website. Her response had been she didn’t know and had engaged someone else to do her site for her.
Unfortunately ignorance is not bliss in this situation, as in many situations. The reality is she owns her website and is responsible for what is put on the site and even the business name she elects to use. In her ‘innocence’ she had breached the Trade Practices Act here in Australia.
If you are a new Virtual Assistant just setting up your VA practice there are many things to do to get started, and sometimes handing something over such as the creation of your website and even a decision on a business name (which is what happened in this case) can feel like a relief – until it all goes awry.
As the owner of your business you are responsible for every aspect of the business and all decisions should be made by you. It might seem time consuming and overwhelming at times and there’s nothing to say you have to have a website and a business name straight away – those things can come over time, but when they do, you must have complete control over the process. There are simple ways of ensuring an online profile until such time you decide upon a business name and have a website created. Here are some:
Create a profile at LinkedIn.com and use that as your professional bio. It is created under your name, not a business name and you can personalise the profile address just as I have: http://au.linkedin.com/in/kathiethomas
Create a profile at Facebook and use that for your business connections. You can personalise the address after you have a number of connections or simply purchase a domain and point it to your profile page as I have with www.kathiemthomas which leads to my Facebook page.
Register with VA networks that provide a profile page for you. Again, this can be under your name, it does not have to be under a business name. Depending on the network you may have some control over how the page looks or you simply might just have your services listed. See http://vadirectory.net/vadirectory/victoria/selby/ for an example.
In all cases you can use these page addresses as your webpage until such time you’re ready to get a website set up. If you’re planning to provide website maintenance as a service then it’s important you do your own site so you understand what’s involved. Be prepared for a big learning curve. But if you don’t plan to do that, you can engage someone else to do it for you. And it might be a good idea to engage an experienced VA to do the site for you as they have good knowledge of the industry, especially if you have no real idea yourself. An experienced VA can help guide you as to what is appropriate to put on your site and will definitely steer you away from copying content or other items from existing sites. This is something that should be obvious but if you haven’t had much input to the site and you’ve just handed it to someone else to do, the chances are you could run into trouble.
If in doubt, ask questions at the VA forums and make sure you do your research.