On various VA forums I often see (newer) VAs seeking services for use in their business that are cheap or free. Whilst there are programs and services out there that don’t cost a great deal to obtain, the reality is that a lot of what you source for your business is going to cost you money.
Remember you are running a business. That any expenses you incur on behalf of clients should be billed accordingly. Or, if you purchase new software so you can service a particular client, look for ways to build on that service so you can also provide support to other clients. Plus that expense is tax deductible.
I know it’s hard at the start but no-one should be going into business with no cash at all. Apart from your computer and other hardware, software, printing equipment, etc, there will be other things you’ll need along the way and they are going to cost you money. So it’s up to you to find ways to recoup those funds in the services you provide. Some examples for you:
- A client asked me to investigate ACT!, a database program he’d seen promoted at a networking event. When I began to check into it I found that a PC Authority magazine my husband had did have a free copy of an earlier version. I installed that and experimented with it and once confident went and purchased the upgrade. That did cost me a couple hundred dollars but was worth the investment. Today I service 5 clients with this program and have recouped my funds (and time) over and over and over again. I’ve also become a kind of ‘ACT! expert’ and many people refer to me when they want to know something.
- A number of clients wanted me to source web hosting for them and look after their sites. I was already happy with my web host so referred the hosting to him but because he was busy with many other clients, he offered to rent me a VDS (Virtual Domain Server) so that I could have control of my own hosting clients. This costs me on a monthly basis but I now have many other web hosting clients and cover the costs every month. End result is that my own web hosting is very low cost.
- Another client wanted me to check out different shopping carts and autoresponder services. I researched several and did a cost comparison for her. In the end she chose one of the more expensive monthly onces because it had everything she was looking for, and she didn’t want to be shifting large lists from place to place. She has since built up her business to cover those costs. After about 2 years of using the program I also elected to pay for a monthly use of the same program and sought ways to generate more income to cover those costs. That has been worthwhile to do and I’ve been able to utilise all the extras that service provides, including their Affiliate program.
There’s an old saying that says “You’ve got to spend money to make money” and I believe this to be very true in many cases. If you want to provide quality services to clients and in return, receive quality payment, you need to be prepared to use the tools and services that are worth their $$ value. It’s up to you to make the best possible use of them and look for ways to increase your client base with those tools and services.