As members of the Virtual Assistant community it behooves us in VBN to help our colleagues in the field who are just starting out. Transitioning from regular 9-5 jobs into the world of VAs and freelancing, that’s not easy. Particularly for those operating on their own, without a team to offer advice or lend a hand. When a VA lands their first client, it’s an exhilarating moment, but figuring out what comes next can be a real puzzle. This is why we will provide useful advice to help new VAs, and even experienced ones. With these they can avoid making mistakes.
Set up a client on-boarding process beforehand
Do this before you have landed your first client, so you won’t have to scramble or wing it when the job starts. If you know others in the VA business, or you’re in a Virtual Assistant Facebook group, you can ask them how they did this. You can look it up online. Or resort to common sense. Ask yourself, what are you expected to do during your first day of work in a regular job. Then simply translate that to your current circumstances as a Virtual Assistant. This process entails:
Meeting with the client to discuss the precise kind of work expected of you, the type of tasks, the hours and rate of pay.
You don’t want to seal a deal with nebulous details and end up finding yourself in over your head. Ensuring that the terms and conditions for your employment are fair is simply in your best interests. So be sure the client specifies what you are supposed to do; the goals you are expected to fulfill; the apps, programs and tools you’ll use; the hours you’ll work; and how you are getting paid. You can even make a questionnaire they can fill in, prepare a daily planner or a lay out the work schedule in a spreadsheet.
By determining the specifics ahead of time, you can get a clear idea of what you’ll be doing when you start working and prepare ahead of time. And make sure these are tasks and responsibilities you can handle, don’t over-promise and under-deliver. This is how you can avoid a disastrous first day at work with your first client!
Preparing a contract and an invoice
This seems like a no-brainer but it’s very important to get everything down in writing when you seal the deal. Preparing your invoices is also recommended, since doing it on the last minute can result in mistakes. You don’t want that when money is involved. Maybe your client will prepare these for you, if so be sure to thoroughly scrutinize the fine print. By being prepared, you’ll not only look professional but also reduce the risk of misunderstandings and costly errors.
Ready to start? Call the client
Is it your first day of work with your first client? Give them a ring, say hello like any employee on their first day of work. Not only is this the polite and professional thing to do, but it’s also when your client can give you the finalized loadout of the day’s activities and when you can suss out whatever comes up in the last minute.
Ease yourself into the role
A good client will understand that any employee, VA or otherwise, will go through a brief period to adapt to the new job. So don’t promise your new employer that you can take a full load of work on your first day of work. Pace yourself and take time to familiarize yourself with the workflow, the processes of your client’s company or startup, the apps or programs you’re using to fulfill tasks or communicate, and so on. If you’ll be using systems that are new or unfamiliar, then you will need time to learn. So be sure your client knows this.
During this time, both of you and your client should be providing feedback to one another if there are any issues that need to be fixed or sorted out. This is also when you should look out for any red flags. You want to build a healthy relationship and work environment, or time to determine if it’s not the place for you.
Enjoy your new job
Got your first client? Started working for your new client, hooray! Of course there’ll be an adaptation and learning period. But once you’re settled in you’ll start chugging away like the awesome VA you are. Remember, every client and workplace is different. Likewise, clients should expect that every VA is different. As time goes by, you’ll not only get used to the job but also get a feel for each other’s unique attributes. Ideally, both of you will compliment one another and bring out the best in each other.
We hope this will prove useful, since we don’t want our fellow VAs to face difficulties that others have already overcome. Got any questions? Have useful advice you want to share? Feel free to drop us a line!