Criticism: How to Use it to Improve Your Virtual Assistant Business

As you continue to develop your virtual assistant business, no matter how fabulous your service is, you’ll run in to criticism from clients. Here are five tips to help you use criticism to improve your virtual assistant business: 1. Do not become defensive: The person giving you feedback might have a reasonable point, which you'll never pick up on if you're busy thinking about how to defend yourself. Do not blame someone else or make excuses. Instead, stay professional and learn from this situation. 2. Look for seeds of truth: It’s not easy to take an honest look at yourself and your weaknesses, but you can only grow if you’re willing to do this. Criticism opens you up to new perspectives and new ideas you may not have considered. If the criticism has merit, listen to the feedback objectively and be sure you understand it. 3. Get a second (or third) opinion: Often, it’s very difficult to step back from the situation and assess it accurately. When that happens, ask a trusted colleague, mentor or coach for their opinions. 4. Take corrective action: When the criticism is valid, consider your options to rectify the situation or resolve the problem. Then put your plan in to action. 5. Do not beat yourself up: Even though we’d all like to be perfect, we are not. Receiving constructive criticism is a good thing – although it doesn’t usually feel very good at first. When you discover weaknesses and work on them without getting down on yourself, you’ll experience Read more [...]

The Signs You’re Too Scared to Be a Virtual Assistant

I just read a great article on the blog Make a Living Writing titled The Telltale Signs You're Too Scared to be a Freelance Writer. The signs shared by this author that indicate you're too scared to be a freelance writer are the same signs that indicate you're too scared to be a successful virtual assistant: 1. You don't have a website. That means you don't really have a business. 2. You have a website but YOU are not on the website. You don't have your  photo on the site and don't share information specifically about who you are on your About page. 3. Your contact page only has a form to fill out. People want to be able to reach you -- don't hide from them! The full article provides some other great insights, so please be sure to read it by clicking here: The Telltale Signs You’re Too Scared to be a Freelance Writer. Want to overcome your fear and earn great money as a virtual assistant? Check out my Expert VA Training program. Participants of both the Small-Group-Coaching and One-On-One Coaching levels of the training rave about how much their confidence increases during the program. Read more [...]

How to Benefit from Non-Billable Hours as a Virtual Assistant

As a virtual assistant, you not only have to perform the tasks required by your clients, you also have to perform the tasks of a small business owner for yourself. Those tasks include invoicing, accounting, marketing, learning, and keeping your computer in working order. The time you spend on these tasks are non-billable hours, which means you cannot invoice your clients for this time. As an example, I work about 15 non-billable hours each month for my virtual assistant business. Here's what I do in during my non-billable hours: Invoicing clients and accounting: This takes me about 4 hours each month (which is about an hour per client). Many VAs are faster at this than I am. Keeping computer in working order: I spend about 4 hours a month on this, which includes backing up my computer, updating software programs, defragging, etc. Having a fast, efficient computer is well worth the time it takes. Marketing my business: Since I don't have room to take on any new clients, I spend very little time on this. I might spend 1 hour each month answering emails from potential clients and referring them to VAs who have graduated from my Expert VA Training program. Learning: Although I am an expert in my area of specialization, I still have to stay on top of what's new. I spend about 6 hours  a month reading, attending webinars and teleseminars, and participating in a marketing mastermind group. How do you know how many non-billable hours you should be working and how you Read more [...]

4 Ways to Improve Your Virtual Assistant Business Today

There are many ways you can improve your virtual assistant business in one day, especially when you add that one day's accomplishments to the following day's accomplishments and the day's after that. That's called consistency, and it really pays off. So let's start that ball rolling today with 4 things you can do right now: Raise your prices: If you're undercharging for your services, write an email to all of your existing clients and let them know that 60 days from now your prices will be increasing by $5 per hour. Change the prices on your website right now, so that all new clients get the new price. Don't you just love giving yourself a raise? Back up your computer: This may seem like a small thing, but it's a HUGE thing if your hard drive fails. And hard drives fail every day. It's not a matter of if your hard drive will fail, but when. Do not put this off until tomorrow! Contact two companies to ask for referrals: Call two companies you admire who have the same target market as you but offer different services. Offer to refer clients to them, and ask them to refer clients to you. Do this again tomorrow and the day after that, and you'll soon have a steady stream of clients contacting you. Schedule a free strategy session: Ready to build a multi-va team? Perhaps you want to expand your business by creating products, developing training courses or consulting programs. Give me 60 minutes, and I'll help you determine the exact next steps you need to take to achieve Read more [...]

3 Rookie Mistakes that Damage Your Virtual Assistant Business

Just like most new virtual assistants (VAs), when I first started my VA business, I made many costly mistakes. One of my primary goals is to help others avoid those mistakes. Here are three rookie mistakes and how to avoid them:   Chasing the "hot" skills: Many VAs who are not earning the kind of money they want to earn make this mistake. They spend a lot of money learning the latest skill that they've heard is in demand. VAs who do this believe that if they learn the skill that is needed by a lot of people those people will magically call them and say, "I need you!" Unfortunately, that does not happen. To avoid this mistake, and get all the high-paying clients you can handle, focus on building a foundation for your virtual assistant business. Setting prices too low: As women, we tend to undervalue our experience and skills and believe that we aren't "qualified enough" to charge higher prices. Without emotion, assess your skills and knowledge, then set your prices according. The average hourly rate for USA-based VAs is $45. If you're charging less than $25 per hour, raise your rates. As your expertise increases, continue to give yourself raises until you're at (or above) the national average. Getting stuck in analysis paralysis: Should I create packages? What hourly rate and project rates should I charge? Does this logo make my website look fat? If you find yourself in a never-ending spiral of uncertainty, make a decision and go with it for a while. If that doesn't Read more [...]

New Year Plans for Your Virtual Assistant Business

This is the time of year when we're all thinking about the new year. If you have a virtual assistant business, or are planning to start a virtual assistant business, it's important that you take the time to plan for the new year. Here are three plans I highly recommend you put in writing now so that the new year is your best year ever: Vacation: Wonder why I put this one first? Because I've found that if you don't plan your vacation first, and stick to the schedule, you won't take vacation. And that'll soon cause burn out. So how much vacation do you want to take this year and when will you take it? Budget: An annual budget for your virtual assistant business is a plan that helps you stay focused. For example, you can use your budget to help you determine how much you need to earn, how much you can spend on training/coaching to grow your business, and how much you need to set aside for software and other office-related materials. This is incredibly helpful when it comes time to determine if you can afford to pay for training you'd like to take or buy a new computer. Action Plan: Exactly what do you need to do each month in order to achieve your goals for the new year? You can set goals, but until you have an action plan in place to achieve those goals, nothing will happen. Take one goal at a time and write up a step-by-step action plan to achieve that goal. This holiday season, my team of Expert VA Coaches have made a few FREE "MORE Clients MORE Profits Breakthrough Read more [...]

3 Traits Needed to be a Successful Virtual Assistant

Last week, I wrote a blog post about 3 Skills Needed to Be a Booked-Solid Virtual Assistant. Many virtual assistants (VAs) make the mistake of thinking that experience with and expertise at in-demand skills are all they need in order to create a successful business. Not so! Just like any other business owner, as a virtual assistant, you not only need skills, you also need a particular set of traits. Today, I'm going to talk about three personality traits needed: Confidence. I cannot emphasize the importance of this trait enough. If you do not project confidence to clients, they will not want to work with you. Just last week, I referred a virtual assistant to a potential client. I thought they'd be a perfect match. The VA had all the skills needed, and I know from working with her that she's an expert at those skills. The potential client emailed to let me know that she decided not to work with the VA I recommended. That rarely happens, so I asked for feedback from the potential client to hopefully provide a better match for her needs. The potential client told me that the VA didn't project confidence, and she wanted someone confident in themselves and their abilities. Be sure you're not only good at what you do, but that you also sound like you're good at what you. Reliability. This means that you do what you say you're going to do. I surveyed a wide variety of VA clients and asked what problems they had working with VAs. The number one problem they had was that VAs Read more [...]

3 Skills Needed to Become a Booked-Solid Virtual Assistant

You've decided you'd like to work from home and start your own business. Becoming a virtual assistant (VA) is one of the businesses you're thinking of starting. To help you determine if you have what it takes to become a booked-solid virtual assistant, review these three skills needed to excel as a VA. Excellent written communication skills. As a virtual assistant, you communicate with clients primarily through email. If you struggle to get your thoughts across in an email, now's the time to improve those skills. I highly recommend Lynn Gaertner-Johnston's training course How to Write Email That Gets Results. The course includes Lynn's booklet 110 Tips for Writing Email that Gets Read, which you can also purchase separately at http://syntaxtraining.com/our_products.html. If you're not certain if your writing skills are good enough, send me an email at kathy@expertvatraining.com, and I'll give you some feedback. Outstanding organizational skills. This doesn't mean you know how to set up a filing system. Working as a VA requires much more. You have to juggle the needs of multiple clients, prioritize and keep track of and meet deadlines. Computer skills. You do not need to know how to program a website (unless that's the service you're offering) or build a computer from scratch. But you do need to know how to use the software programs necessary to provide the services your clients need. At the very minimum, you need to know how to use Microsoft Office software programs Read more [...]

How to Write Holiday Messages to Virtual Assistant Clients

It’s that time of year: time to say thank you to your virtual assistant clients and colleagues. If you’re like me, you occasionally struggle with the appropriate things to say.

Well, struggle no more because I just received a newsletter from Lynn Gaertner-Johnston of Syntax Training with everything you need to know to write thank-you messages and holiday messages to fit any situation:

While you’re on her website, subscribe to her blog and her newsletter. You’ll get an abundance of fabulous writing tips all year long. You can send me a thank-you message later…

Thank you for reading my blog posts!

Kathy Goughenour, Expert VA Trainer and Coach

7 Most Common Internet Marketing Mistakes

I used to read a book to my kids where Big Bird from Sesame Street said " it's o.k. everyone makes mistakes". This statement is especially true when it comes to marketing an Internet business too. Let's take a look at seven common Internet marketing mistakes you might be making yourself! 1. Not having a website. If you don't have your own website, how will anyone know you're in business? How will they know you're legitimate? 2. Not building a list. It is amazing how many websites do not have a sign up form to build their own mailing list. Because most people will not make a purchase on their first visit, it is important that you get their name and email address for future follow up. Plus having a mailing list is an asset you can cultivate for many years to come. 3. Not pre selling before selling. People have so many options on the Internet today that they want to be informed before they make a purchase. Pre selling a visitor is smart business and not doing it is a mistake that will cost you potential customers. 4. Not having a blog. Chances are your top competitors have a blog and are beating you are your own game. Plus search engines love blogs and having one is an excellent way to build relationships and increase traffic. 5. Not getting enough quality traffic. For some reason many Internet marketers do not treat their website as an Internet business. Every business needs visitors coming into their store if they expect to make money. If you are not getting Read more [...]