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The Reasons Behind Bad Virtual Assistant Experiences

I read an article last week by another virtual professional that grabbed my attention. They stated that while attending an event, they learned that the virtual assistant industry was possibly getting a bad reputation. Apparently tales of bad VA experiences far outweighed the good at this particular event. To add to this disturbing information I then received an e-newsletter in which it was disclosed that the average client/VA collaboration only lasts 6 months. The main reason for such a short lived business relationship? The fact that most virtual assistants have no idea what their clients really want.

Being someone who teaches both how to work with a VA as well as how build a successful VA business, I can see some underlying reasons for these facts.

First, I’m aware that those individuals with bad VA experiences are always going to be quicker to share them than those who have a successful, long term and happy relationship. Sadly, the virtual assistant industry has been wrongly portrayed as an ‘easy’ way to work from home with little or no experience. This means there are a lot of people out there claiming to be a VA who just don’t have the skills, experience and training needed to provide high quality services. I’m sure there are plenty of clients that have had the misfortune of finding that out the hard way, and they are more than happy to share that bad experience with the masses.

As for the brief nature of the VA/Client relationship, although it is possible some of the problem is inexperienced VA’s, I believe it can be traced back to the fact that few clients really prepare themselves or their businesses to work with a virtual assistant. Yes, I said prepare.

Business people who would never consider entering into another type of business arrangement without research and preparation are blindly jumping into the virtual assistant pool with their eyes closed.

A virtual assistant could have the most impressive credentials and references ever and still not be the right fit for your business. If their work style, communication methods and experience don’t match your needs, the relationship is doomed to fail.

What’s the answer? Preparation and effort. But just how does one prepare to work with a VA?

Over the next few posts I’m going to touch upon some top secret points that I’ve found to be crucial in helping businesses looking to work with a virtual assistant. It can also help virtual assistants themselves give clients and potential clients a clearer picture of how to make virtual assistance work for them.

If you’ve ever considered working with a virtual assistant (or you are a virtual assistant) you won’t want to miss this series of posts. Make sure you subscribe to my feed either via RSS or E-mail.

Next post: Understanding the Unique Needs of Your Business and Yourself

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12 Comments

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by TMarieHilton, T.Marie Hilton. T.Marie Hilton said: New on the blog "The Reasons Behind Bad Virtual Assistant Experiences" http://bit.ly/9yRn8u […]



  2. uberVU - social comments on April 5, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by TMarieHilton: New on the blog “The Reasons Behind Bad Virtual Assistant Experiences” http://bit.ly/9yRn8u



  3. Lisa Olinda on April 5, 2010 at 7:42 pm

    I am always surprised when people are blindly encouraged to be VAs by others. I do not feel that it is an easy field to break in to. I have received many phone calls from potential VAs and I counsel them to plan on taking 12 to 18 months to establish a good client base and procedures.

    It is not just a matter of producing a business plan. You need to take the time to find out what you want to offer, how you want to bill, etc. You will need to manage your time. When will you be on call? You have to train yourself to be a boss and not be an employee.

    I believe that an excellent secretary/assistant doesn’t always make an excellent virtual assistant.



    • TMarieHilton on April 5, 2010 at 7:59 pm

      Lisa,
      I totally agree with you. I groan inwardly every time I see someone refer to being a VA as ‘easy’ or ‘quick’. And you make a great point about taking the time to find out what you want to offer. I know some established VA’s disagree with me when I say you should do your best to determine a niche first. While I agree that it is possible to gain clients and run your business being a ‘generalist’ I think it makes it even harder to build a successful business if you go that route.
      It’s a huge step from being an employee to being a business owner. Too many virtual assistants are trying to run a business while still stuck in that ’employee’ mentality. In the end, doing so not only hurts them but the entire industry as it ‘trains’ clients to view us more as employees than ‘business collaborators’.
      Thanks so much for dropping by and leaving your thoughts!
      ~Tina



  4. Lisa Olinda on April 5, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    I am always surprised when people are blindly encouraged to be VAs by others. I do not feel that it is an easy field to break in to. I have received many phone calls from potential VAs and I counsel them to plan on taking 12 to 18 months to establish a good client base and procedures.

    It is not just a matter of producing a business plan. You need to take the time to find out what you want to offer, how you want to bill, etc. You will need to manage your time. When will you be on call? You have to train yourself to be a boss and not be an employee.

    I believe that an excellent secretary/assistant doesn’t always make an excellent virtual assistant.



    • TMarieHilton on April 5, 2010 at 3:59 pm

      Lisa,
      I totally agree with you. I groan inwardly every time I see someone refer to being a VA as ‘easy’ or ‘quick’. And you make a great point about taking the time to find out what you want to offer. I know some established VA’s disagree with me when I say you should do your best to determine a niche first. While I agree that it is possible to gain clients and run your business being a ‘generalist’ I think it makes it even harder to build a successful business if you go that route.
      It’s a huge step from being an employee to being a business owner. Too many virtual assistants are trying to run a business while still stuck in that ’employee’ mentality. In the end, doing so not only hurts them but the entire industry as it ‘trains’ clients to view us more as employees than ‘business collaborators’.
      Thanks so much for dropping by and leaving your thoughts!
      ~Tina



  5. Virtual Assistant on April 6, 2010 at 7:40 am

    Just cant stop my self to comment on your blog. Good post. Actually freelance VAs those who are not serious are doing all this.



  6. Virtual Assistant on April 6, 2010 at 3:40 am

    Just cant stop my self to comment on your blog. Good post. Actually freelance VAs those who are not serious are doing all this.



  7. Sandy on April 7, 2010 at 6:15 am

    Based on my personal experiences it has usually been bad communication that has led to a bad relationship. It is not good assume that everything is clear – you need to really make it clear as to what it is you are after exactly in your project..Looking forward to reading your future posts…



  8. Sandy on April 7, 2010 at 2:15 am

    Based on my personal experiences it has usually been bad communication that has led to a bad relationship. It is not good assume that everything is clear – you need to really make it clear as to what it is you are after exactly in your project..Looking forward to reading your future posts…



  9. tarakris on December 31, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    I have yet to have a bad experience with my cleints. I really listen to my “potential” client’s needs before we begin a working relationship. We must be on the same page! Understanding the ins and outs of their business takes time but developing a great working relationship is instant. I have decided not to work with two clients because we were just not a good match. Develop a list of non negotiable questions to ask them at the very beginning. If any of their answers are not in-line with yours, that is a red flag. They may be the client, but you are the boss!



  10. Do Virtual Assistants Have Too Much Competition? on February 22, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    […] to their business.  Add to that the number of virtual assistants that truly did hop on that bus without the needed experience and skills.  Trust me, there are a lot of them.  That brings the number of truly professional virtual […]



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