Mistakes that I Did When I Started as a Virtual Assistant
I was unprepared in a lot of ways when I started as a Virtual Assistant. I did not have a website, Facebook page or even a LinkedIn profile when I started out as a Virtual Assistant. I just decided that I want to be one and took action immediately. I was courageous enough to begin my journey. I knew that I would be able to learn the things along the way. I just had to believe in myself that I am capable of being a Virtual Assistant. I have worked in the office before as an Administrative Assistant and a Researcher so I was somehow brave and confident that I can pursue being a Virtual Assistant. Also, it is a just a matter of being able to adjust to working remotely and finding clients who are willing to take a chance on me. When I got the opportunity to work as a Social Media Virtual Assistant for my first client, it was a bit overwhelming but the client helped me to understand the different tools that she was using. I am tech-savvy and learn new things easily. Besides, I can always Google search for how to use a particular software if a client did not explain it to me. I thought that I was doing okay but found myself exhausted sooner than I expected. I asked myself how can I keep being a Virtual Assistant if I cannot enjoy what I was doing.
Before I made changes to my Virtual Assistant business, here are my mistakes that I did when I started as a VA:
Not joining a Facebook group for Virtual Assistants
When you are a member of a Virtual Assistant online community such as Facebook and LinkedIn groups, etc., you will be able to read a lot of threads about different topics and they will make you more knowledgeable. I didn’t know about Facebook groups when I was just starting out. It would have saved me a lot of time trying to figuring things out on my own if only I knew. I like reading the threads because I want to learn from other more experienced Virtual Assistants how they handle their business, set their rates, design their websites, construct their packages, find clients, establish a system, build a long-term relationship, and so much more. I have also connected with other Virtual Assistants online and it’s nice to get support from a fellow Virtual Assistant. I am a member of different Facebook groups for Virtual Assistants nowadays. It is good to read the posts of other Virtual Assistants because I can relate to them. Being a Virtual Assistant in the Philippines is not common so it is quite challenging to have VA friends whom I can actually meet in person. I do have a VA bestie and I met her via LinkedIn. I am glad that I can reach out to her when I need help and vice versa. The Virtual Assistant Savvies is the biggest Facebook group (that I know of) for Virtual Assistants. If ever you want to post and ask something, you should search first the topic within the group because I am sure that there are VAs who have asked the same question. Please see the screenshot below.
It is a very supportive and encouraging community. I was able to find out how to create a proper workflow system through this group. The posts that I like the most are the ones about software or app that the Virtual Assistants are using such as Dubsado, Asana, Trello, Planoly, Canva, Tailwind, and so on.
Not setting boundaries.
This is the worst mistake that I did. I allowed myself to be absorbed by the tasks that I was working for my first client and did not set specific working hours. I even talked to a client when there was a typhoon here in our hometown. I felt that I could not say 'No' because I was trying to prove myself as a reliable Virtual Assistant. I even told her that there was a typhoon but we still continued talking. She was not considerate at all.
Make sure that you work with clients who are not very strict, respect your own schedule, and value you.
One of the most important thing that I changed is that I don’t add them as Facebook friends anymore. I used to communicate with my clients through Facebook messenger. Initially, it was okay and convenient. After a while, I have realized that I should just use messenger for connecting with family and friends only. I highly recommend that you find other ways to communicate with your clients such as emails, project management software (for example Asana, Trello, etc.), Google Hangouts, Skype, etc. If you are comfortable using Facebook messenger, it’s fine too.
Also, inform them of your location so that they are aware of how long they can wait for your reply.
Not thinking as a business owner
I have worked as an employee before I became a Virtual Assistant. It was very challenging to switch from having an employee mindset to an entrepreneur mindset. I should have made decisions that are sustainable and beneficial for my business from the start. For example rates. This is one of the important aspects that you have to think wisely. I used to have a really low rate and was not happy about it. It affected my self-esteem because I asked myself if this was really my worth as a Virtual Assistant. I was helping my clients build their businesses and I also have a business. It was also during this time that I have begun joining Facebook groups for VAs. It became evident to me that I was charging way too low. I was feeling anxious.
After a while, I decided to raise my rates and informed my clients. Before I did this, I have asked suggestions from other Virtual Assistants because I needed support and encouragement that I was doing the right thing. Actually, I should not have asked because this is my business and I am in charge of my rates and nobody else. They said that I have to know my worth and charge accordingly. I did that. Unfortunately, the clients did not accept my new rate. I became lonely but I got over it. It was a tough decision but I had to do it. At the end of the day, I am a business owner too.
I also enrolled in different online courses so that I can be more competitive and expand my knowledge. I have invested in these because I want to grow my business and be more badass in marketing myself.
Not speaking up
There were instances that I felt that I had to speak up but I did not. I got anxious because I was dreading the response from my clients. I avoided initiating a conversation sometimes that bothered me. I was thinking what if they did not like what I was about to say or might not work with me anymore. For example, tasks that I could not do because I was having a difficult time finishing it and not enjoying it anymore. I had still an employee mindset and not considering what truly makes me happy. Things have changed since then. I am assertive now and tell my opinion to my clients politely, of course. It has also improved my willpower in terms of declining to work with certain clients who are not a good match for me. I give importance to how potential clients see me as a partner in growing their businesses. If I am able to speak up and offer my advice to my clients, I know that it will be a long-term partnership. Do not be afraid to speak up. Your mental health is more valuable than anything else. If you cannot say how you feel, it devalues your worth.
I am grateful for my mistakes. I would not be where I am today without these. Mistakes are opportunities for growth. They pave the way to better things.
I have learned so much and been making better decisions.
I wish that I could have avoided these mistakes back then. However, I just want to focus on the fact that I have become wiser, resourceful, patient, diligent, conscientious, tech-savvy, and so on.
It has also taught how to be kind to myself.
I see myself as an entrepreneur nowadays and changing my mindset has been very helpful in how I approach things.
My advice is just to keep going, continue learning new technology or software, and be appreciative of your efforts too.