As a busy business owner who both hires my own VAs and places them with others, I can tell you that good quality VA’s are tough to come by. I’m not talking about even the whiz-bangy tech skills or the creative geniuses. I’m talking about a reliable, accountable, going to do what they say they will do kind of person. Crazy huh? $20+ / hour is nothing to sneeze at but perhaps there is a misconception in the VA world as to what a business owner really expects and needs for that $20 / hour. And it doesn’t take a lot of extra time on your part as a VA.
These 5 things might seem small and minor but when done by a VA, they frustrate the client and begin to make them doubt your abilities in other areas.
When these things are avoided, is when you move into the higher pay scale of professional VA services….even if you don’t yet have a ton of strategic skills or marketing talent. Because reliability and thoroughness are surprisingly difficult skills to find these days.
When you can avoid these small things, you become a reliable, dependable, detail oriented VA who is looking to be a partner in business for the long haul.
DON’T: Show up a little late for meetings.
Better late than never just doesn’t cut it in the life of a business owner. Even if they are habitually late, you need to be there on time. A few lost minutes at the beginning of a call can really set back the mood immediately. And, if they are always late, it demonstrates even more how busy they are and must rely on your accountability and willingness to be there no matter what. A late, busy business owner almost always has more work they can delegate.
DO: Show up a few minutes early, with all resources ready for action
When you are having meetings with someone who is always on time, it makes you show up better on time! And when you are having meetings with someone who is always late, it gives you that extra 5 minutes to grab another coffee thinking “oh, they’re going to be late too.” So just by showing up early and prepared you are subconsciously adding value to your client’s workflow and day.
Showing up ready to work (let’s assume this is an online meeting using video conference) means this:
- Your microphone and camera are working
- All the right files are open and ready for screen share on your computer
- You have a clear agenda of things to talk about —> Busy business owners often want a VA to guide them through the work. They’ve delegated it and it’s out of mind for them as they trust you will get it all done.
I just had a meeting with my assistant today and I said “I don’t have a lot for you.” and her answer to me was “Ok, good because I have a lot for you.” That’s the sign of someone who is staying on top of everything and I’ve successfully removed it from my mind. She was early and prepared and quickly settled my mind that was bouncing in a million directions.
DON’T: Leave small things undone
The devil is in the details right? Our team has a process each time we enter a new blog like this one. It includes quite a few steps but it’s clear and easy to follow. And when it’s time for me to review a post for publishing and I find one of those things undone, it makes me wonder…..are they paying attention to all the details? How much more should I quality review? And if I’m quality reviewing this much should I just do the work myself?
Examples of small things I find left undone:
- Not using agreed upon naming conventions
- Not moving a task all the way through to completed in our Asana board
- Leaving a blog post in their name as the author
- Forgetting to add the right tags to a post
- Not updating the subject line when an email is prepped
- (oh this is a biggie that drives me crazy!) Not putting the final files in an organized way, with the proper name, into the shared team folder where we can all find them
DO: Be a Finisher through every last detail
As a business owner paying $20+/hour, I don’t want to have to go back and check the small things. That’s why I’m hiring you and not a $3 / hour overseas VA.
It’s such a good feeling when I go back into a project or file a couple weeks later and find things all buttoned up with a neat little bow. Files are where we need them and easy to locate. Everything is spelled correctly. Instruction trails are left behind. It’s easy to take that work and reuse it for the next task.
As a business owner, I pay you to be my detail person. Because quite often, business owners, CEOs, founders, entrepreneurs….they are those visionary types of people doing amazing things….but details don’t come easy to them. Details aren’t their zone of genius, but it is for a VA.
DON’T: Not follow-up
Everything is done from your end. Whew! Check that one off. It has moved onto to the next person’s plate. Do you:
a. Sigh with relief! You’re free!
b. Fret and worry if it’s going to be done
c. Pass it on with a lot of detail and check back in a day or so to be sure the next person is making progress
I see so many VA’s live their day choosing “a” and live to check things off their Asana or Trello list. But your client isn’t paying you to check things off the list. I know those red overdue notifications drive you type A’s crazy but checked off lists don’t bring complete results.
DO: Handoff and then follow up, especially for your busy business owner.
If the next step is for your client to complete, your work isn’t done. Follow up with them regularly so it doesn’t fall off their radar. Suggest another way you can expedite that to completion more quickly even.
If it’s someone else’s turn (a graphic designer, web developer, etc) follow up with them. You don’t have to know all the tech details to follow up on progress and see how things are going. This saves a ton of back and forth time for the client themselves.
See the difference there? And it barely takes anymore effort to follow up. It demonstrates that you are a forward thinker, see the big picture and adding value your client will recognize and think “I can’t let this one go. She’s G-O-O-D.”
If you need motivation remember this, the client does not see results until every last step is done, not just yours. Results are what brings them revenue and allows them to keep you on contract.
DON’T: Make typos and grammar mistakes – You ARE a Detail Person!
Do I need to explain further? I don’t know a single VA who says “I don’t care about the details.” All VA’s out there are advertising this skill yet I find mistakes even on their own posts, emails and websites. Yikes! This one is obvious so let’s move on.
DO: Review every word, sentence and paragraph in every blog post, email and social media post you create
A busy business owner is going to BRAIN DUMP raw creative content to you that isn’t polished (maybe unless they are an author themselves right?) But I meet a ton of business owners who want you to grab the magic inside their brain and make it look pretty. This is my dream by the way but I just haven’t found a VA who can totally capture my voice. But they can polish up raw words into well formatted content. And that means they better find my typos and correct some grammar mistakes along the way.
This one is easy folks. If you don’t like this aspect maybe you should rethink being a VA?
DON’T: Not speak up when you notice something
So you’re in there poking around on a website and …. you see their credit card is about to expire or … the wrong link is used … or a reader made a comment about an issue.
Or let’s use this example.
If your task was to audit a library of blog posts to be sure they were all categorized properly, and you uncovered an issue with image formats on each post, what should you do?
a. Assume your client already knows
b. Update them automatically without asking
c. Make your client aware, get approval to do the work and finish all the details
C is my preferred answer for VA’s I hire so that I’m completely aware of the issue, their experience to fix it and how many additional hours I’ll be billed.
DO: Add value by finding other things that need correction or updating
When you can save your client time or money in advance, with just a few extra moments, you’re golden. This is that level I describe as “reading their mind”. You truly become invaluable when you know your way around their content and assets and have taken pride in ownership with what you do there.
And, when you do this it’s job security. You are creating your next project (that’s needed and valuable, not just making up work.)
See how that extra 30 seconds of notifying, noting and following up can completely change the results you bring to your clients? And in turn, bring you higher rates and income.
There’s never been a better time to be a High Quality Professional VA.