I know. Businesses are supposed to love, honor and obey all of their clients, all of the time. But you live in the same reality I do, and we both know that there are some clients that can be called a “good client” and some that get the title “nightmare client”. The nightmare clients are the ones who change their requirements or direction in the middle of a project. The ones who “lose” your invoice time and time again. The ones who disappear halfway through an initiative, suddenly not returning phone calls. As much as political correctness and some business wisdom would dictate that we should accept all clients who approach us, we actually do not. I don’t like nightmares, they keep me up at night.
Not everyone can be successful with a Virtual Assistant, and as a small business which has worked exceptionally hard to earn and keep a reputation of delivering consistent value, we want to work with clients with whom we can be successful. Not everybody is ready to bring an assistant on board. So, what makes you a good client for us?
Ability to delegate: Why would you want to hire a Virtual Assistant (or any assistant, for that matter) if you’re not comfortable delegating the work? Certainly, there is a process to establish and earn confidence in your staff – I get that. It takes time and there is always a learning curve. In fact, we often encourage new clients to build up what they’re outsourcing slowly, over time, so that they can feel more and more comfortable empowering the VA with additional responsibility as the relationship progresses. But if you know yourself to be a control freak (I happen to tend this way myself) it is unlikely that you will work up to successfully handing over enough of your tasks to make a dent in your life and free up your time. That is a losing situation – you get frustrated that you’ve invested training time but don’t ultimately end up with more freedom, and the VA gets frustrated that the work doesn’t appear. She is left wondering if she has disappointed you, and it’s not a winning situation on either side. Can you really delegate? Have you worked with an assistant before? Did that experience go well enough to encourage you to do it again?
Know Thyself: Clear business strategy and direction: Do you know where you are now, what your goal is, and your strategy for getting there? Do you have a business plan? A launched product or service? We can be most productive for a business that has a clear plan. If you are toying with the idea of launching a product, but do not know who might be interested in purchasing such a product, how to get it produced or your strategy for marketing it, you are not ready for a VA. If you have heard about social media and want to give it a shot, but you sell truck parts B2B, social media is probably not your best marketing tool. A client who knows what he wants is ultimately the happiest client, because he gets it!
Reasonable expectations: Everyone wants an excellent deal; that’s why people educate themselves and comparison shop. We provide a fantastic service at a very competitive cost, but if your expectations are not reasonable, we (and everyone else) will fail you. Researching, planning, executing and managing a social media campaign from scratch cannot be accomplished in 3 hours/week. Quality blog posts cannot be produced in 30 minutes. We will do an excellent job and most likely exceed your expectations, but let’s hammer out how long things should take before we begin working together. It behooves us to manage your expectations (that’s my job!) and it behooves you to come to the table knowing that tasks take time to complete.
Commitment: The first through the third date are really just interviews, right? It takes a while to get to know the person you’re having dinner with well enough to lay down your guard and be real. Professional relationships are strikingly similar, and there is always a learning curve at the beginning of any client-VA pair. Therefore, considering the initial time and effort investment put forth during the first month, it makes the most sense to view this relationship as long-term. Certainly, we have structured our business in a way that does not require any long term commitment (you do not sign a contract for a specified period of time and there are no fees to cancel.) That said, the most productive relationships are those which benefit long-term from the VA’s familiarity with you, your business, your clients, your product, your market, your style and your preferences.
Ultimately, the question may not be “Is the Virtual Assistant ready for you” but rather “Are you ready for the Virtual Assistant?” If so, let’s talk!
Submission by Hilary