Clients, clients, and more clients.
Read any Virtual Assistant support page and you’ll see post after post of VA’s of all experience levels asking how they can get their first or more clients. Of course, they want clients. Clients = money. It’s the reason we do Virtual Assisting. We as VA’s offer services and get paid in return.
The thing is there is no direct or right way to score clients. Sure, there are 100’s of tips and suggestions, pins, workshops, freebies, and posts in the blogosphere shouting promises of increasing your client base. But even if you follow them religiously, actually getting clients isn’t guaranteed, and what works for one person, may not work well for you.
Besides, shouldn’t clients be coming to you? Isn’t that the ideal way this is supposed to work?
The big question you should be asking yourself is “are you really ready for those clients?” Have you set yourself and your business up to succeed? Do you have all your processes in place? When your first client actually does come to you, you can you give them the best and smoothest process possible? You could get 10 client leads, and if your communication and processes aren’t ready, those 10 leads won’t matter when they won’t hire a VA that doesn’t have a professional system and look in place.
Believe it or not, if you’re starting out new without a list of clients in place, don’t fret! You’re in a great position. You have plenty of free time right now that isn’t being put to client tasks. Use it wisely! Focus on getting your processes in place instead of worrying about how to get your first client.
Services + Rates:
First, before you do anything, make sure you have a good understanding of what specific services you’re going to provide, and what you’re going to charge for those services – whether by hours or by packages. Sure, you may want or need to fluctuate here and there, but having a general list of services and the cost associated with them is your foundation. After all, how will you know how to sell yourself, and how will a client even know what to come to you for. I guarantee, one of the first things a client will want to know after they figure out what you offer, is how much they need to pay.
For pay, I’m not talking about guesstimating what you think is a good rate based on what others charge, although that’s certainly a good reference to keep in mind. I’m telling you to calculate what number you actually need to pay yourself to live off of (whether weekly or monthly – whatever time period you want to use to calculate it), then add about 30% in taxes, and then make sure you can cover your business fees in that time period too. Divide by the number of hours you’re planning on working in that time period, and you should have a base, a minimal hourly rate to charge clients. If you are a professional or have more experience, you charge more. It’s pretty simple.
Once your services and rates are in place, you need to define your working hours. This includes what times each day your office is “open” for calls and general inquiries, but you should also really think about how many hours you honestly can give to your clients and business.
If you’re just getting started and you still work a full-time job outside this new side-hustle, maybe it’s only 12 hours a week for which you’re able to commit. This means you may only be able to take on one client who needs you 10 hours a week – and leaves you 2 hours a week to build your own business (answer emails, market yourself, etc.). If you’re ready to jump into this full-time and have no other commitments, you may be ready to take this on a true 40+ hours a week, with office hours 9-5pm.
Regardless of what you’re able to commit to, make sure you know and stick to your hours. Otherwise, you will become over-committed, overwhelmed, and burnt out very quickly. Clients should be made aware of your availability as well. You don’t want a 10-hour retainer client calling you at all hours asking questions, taking up valuable time. Be transparent, direct, and clear.
Terms and Conditions:
Although not the most fun part of running a business, having your terms and conditions laid out for all your clients and potential clients to see protects you and filters out any potential clients that may have a problem with any of them before reaching out to you. I strongly suggest you get legal counsel to review your actual terms and conditions. However, I started my rough draft by using another’s VA page as a template for my own, editing where I saw fit. Put them on your website, in your proposal, and definitely in your contract. The more information the better.
These days if you don’t have a website or at least a free Facebook page for your clients to find information, you’re truly missing out on a much-preferred way to connect with clients. Customers prefer to browse and research prior to making any interactive decisions, including email and phone. Plus having a website is a great place to ‘home’ all of your services, hours, contact info, and provide more background information about you and your qualifications. The use of photos and videos is a huge selling point you just can’t get with a phone call and a business card.
Congrats! You finally have your first lead. Now what?
Well, you may have already communicated back and forth with an email or two, set up a Discovery Call or video conference to find out more about your client and their needs, and to distinguish if you’re a good fit for each other. Now comes the work. If you used your pre-client-time wisely, you created, edited, and finalized your Proposal Template, and are ready to start filling that baby out with your new lead’s information, problems, and proposed solutions. If you didn’t get your Proposal Template in place, you’re probably now scrambling to come up with something very quickly (because a proposal should be sent within 24-48 hours). And on top of that, you’re trying to make it look professional and consistent with your branding. How stressful. What fun is that?
Get your proposal in place BEFORE you get your first client. Fill out the template, and send it off right away. Let your client know you’re organized and ready to go for them.
Ditto on the contract. This should definitely include your terms and conditions too, and be revised by legal to make sure it’s watertight.
You’ll also need to know your process for getting the contract signed. Whether through email-printing-scanning or with applications like Hellosign.com, which have both free and paid plans, have a plan in mind when your client is ready to sign on the dotted line!
If you’re really on your game, and maybe still have some time, create a Welcome Packet too. Include all of the specifics information your client will need to work with you. This may include applications and log-in info, scheduling, and your process. Anything you didn’t include before would go here, along with a nice specific welcome letter to the client welcoming them onboard.
Process and applications:
Behind the scenes, many VAs use specific programs for their services and general business. This may be as simple as having a bank checking account to collect your payments (necessary), to something more technical like an Acuity scheduling application or a Dubsado.com client management system account (optionally based on needs). Make sure you don’t pay for programs you aren’t using yet (most have trial periods or free versions), and keep your processes and applications as simple as possible. Clients shouldn’t be overwhelmed by working with you, as it’s your job to make their life easier!
If you don’t currently have any clients, don’t be discouraged. There’s plenty to be working on. Get yourself set up and running right now as you won’t regret it later.
This post was contributed by:
Lauren Austin Creative
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