What’s Going On In The VA Industry??

I have been having a conversation behind the scenes with Nell Taliercio this past week, regarding Virtual Assistants (VA's) and some major issues in the industry...

It being such a sensitive topic, we kept the discussion between ourselves. But we both felt that someone should speak out, and that we certainly weren't the only two people in this situation.

I approached Nell with some questions, hoping she could shed some light on what I saw as a growing problem within the VA industry, following two posts on her blog titled The Best VA On Earth and 5 Questions Friday...

In those posts, I learned that Nell herself was once a Virtual Assistant and that she also outsourced work to Virtual Assistants. So I saw her as someone with experience on both sides of the coin.

Over the years I have hired full-time employees, part-time employees, freelancers and contract workers, taken on interns, and of course worked with virtual assistants. And through it all, I've had some of the exact same issues to deal with each and every time. I actually touched on this recently when Alice released her new Outsourcing Guide.

The main problem being finding people that show up, stay on task, complete their work... and continue to do so.

To give you some insight, here's what happens to a solo entrepreneur:

You find yourself overwhelmed, or in a position where it would benefit you greatly to take on some help. You search for, find and hire an assistant. Outsourcing many of your tasks to that assistant frees you up to dig into other projects that require more time and/or creativity. Things work out beautifully, your business grows exponentially, and you are very pleased with the results.

One of 3 things generally (almost always) happens next:

  • Your virtual assistant quits, for whatever reason.
  • Your virtual assistant stops performing to standards.
  • Your virtual assistant raises their rates dramatically.

It may be that they need to move forward with other things in their life or business. It may be that they got an incredible job offer they cant refuse, and you totally understand and support their decision. It may be anything - even something you agree with.

But all of a sudden you now have an impossible workload. Not only do you have all of the new projects in various phases of completion that you began when you hired your VA... but you now have your original Task List back in your hands as well. Or at the very least, you have the added task of finding and training a new assistant while temporarily juggling the priority tasks.

It's a never-ending cycle... *sigh*

Ideally you could find someone to work with that you could count on at least through one complete phase. 90 days, 6 months, whatever it takes to develop or launch or complete your current project. Right? Good luck.

Let me just stop there and say this: I'm not the perfect person to work for. I'm nice, I'm flexible on timelines and deadlines, and I pay - but I'm not the most organized person in the world, and I'm not the most efficient "manager".

If I were, I probably wouldnt need a personal assistant so badly πŸ˜›

Ironically, I find myself much more efficient when I have an assistant on board - whether an on-site employee or a VA. It keeps me on task, gives me more time and freedom to focus on those little details, and generally allows me to be much more productive.

Getting back to the issues...

If I hire an on-site employee, I generally pay them about $7/hour. I live in a very economically depressed area (middle Tennessee) and jobs are very hard to find. I pay more than $1/hour over and above what very few jobs are available - and I offer flexible hours and location. Plus I'm fun to work with (hehe).

If I hire a Virtual Assistant, I pay as much as $25/hour. To be completely honest with you, I outsource the exact same tasks to a VA that I would to an on-site assistant. Yet the rates are generally at least 3x higher.

No big deal, really. Its actually worth it to me not to have to manage a staff (even a staff of one), and Virtual Assistants dont usually require the amount of training or supervision that an employee does.

The problem I have is that I get the same end result out of a $7/hour assistant as I do with a Virtual Assistant that I pay premium rates of $25/hour or more. Lack of work ethic, lack of availability, quitting with insufficient notice, etc.

At three times the hourly rate, I expect more from a VA.

What I dont understand is why so many VA's are unhappy with their position. Or why they constantly discontinue their services or raise their rates astronomically...

If you work a full-time work-week at $25/hour, you would earn $1,000 per week. I'm sure there are administrative tasks involved, so lets assume a VA works 32 billable hours per week - and takes 2 weeks in vacation days each year. That's an annual income of $40,000 - or $800/week. (40 billable hours and no vacations would be $52k)

That is in sharp contrast to paying someone local $7/hour for a full work-week (40 hours) with 2 weeks off every year, which totals $14,000.

Now if I walked up to somebody on the street and said, "Hey, I'll pay you $1,000/week to work from home on your computer. You can work any hours of the day you like, even late at night in your pajamas, as long as you get in 40 hours. The work is easy - I'll even train you for any tasks you dont know how to do. What do you say?"

What would you say?

To make a long story short, I'm confused as to why Virtual Assistants are unhappy with an annual salary of $40-50k for doing administrative tasks from home. Specifically when they are the ones that set their rates and offered their services.

I would suggest any VA who is currently unhappy with their gross income to log on to http://salary.monster.com and find out exactly what the expected salary would be for their location and position. Factor in that there is no commute, that you are home for your family/children should a situation arise, that your hours are flexible, etc - but even without all of that I would expect you find yourself earning far more than the median market pricing.

On the flip side, many start-up entrepreneurs or online business owners simply cannot afford the "going rates". If you look at Workaholics4Hire, for example, you have to pay a $1,000 retainer upfront to have an assistant on call. And writing services start at a minimum of $200 per project (including articles, blog posts, content pages, reviews, etc).

We need a solution.

Visit any work-at-home discussion forum and you'll find hundreds (if not thousands) of work-at-home moms that would absolutely love a legitimate home-based job that paid $10/hour.

Yet, somehow, business owners cant seem to find and keep reliable, affordable help...

You might ask yourself why someone would choose to be a Virtual Assistant, doing many of the tasks that an online business owner or Internet Marketer would do... but only earning ~$40-50k/year.

Here's the answer: Most online business owners dont earn $40,000 in net income during their first few years in business. There are expenses, there are major financial risks, and there are a heckuva lot more than 32 hours involved in their workweek.

Some people prefer a "job" which has more security and a more relable income. Others prefer the entrepreneurial route. It seems to me that a lot of VA's are straddling that line. Working set hours at set rates, yet also managing it as a business. I can see where someone with an entrepreneurial spirit would eventually find their "job" stifling...

I'm at a loss as to what the solution is, myself. I would love to hear from entrepreneurs and professional VA's alike and get your take on the topic and on the current issues in the VA industry.

I just want to hire someone that is self-motivated, efficient and readily available. That someone will need to keep themselves on task, and sometimes even keep me on task. Yes, I know I'm asking a lot - but at premium rates I feel those expectations are fair.

Nell - I'd love to hear your take on this. As someone who has been a VA, and someone who has both hired and lost VA's, what are your thoughts on finding and hiring and keeping a personal assistant? This is a topic I would love to see covered by The Answer Lady.


p.s. This letter turned into more of a rant than was intended. I'm ALL for outsourcing and consider it a key element to long-term business success. I'm just quite frustrated at the moment, and looking for a solution to an ongoing issue that I have been dealing with for over 10 years, with various assistants...

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About Lynn Terry

Lynn Terry is a full-time Internet Marketer with over 17 years experience in online business. Subscribe to ClickNewz for the latest Internet Marketing trends & strategies, Lynn's unique case studies, creative marketing ideas, and candid reviews...moreΒ»


  1. Alice Seba says

    The problem I see is that a lot of "VAs" also want to be "Internet marketers". They are too distracted in trying to make their own many ventures work. My best experience comes from hiring people who are VAs and that's what they do. There are exceptions, but I see that as a big problem.

    Another problem in the work at home mom area is undercharging and overbooking. They don't charge enough to earn what they need. They also don't even take into account the amount of time they need to be including to manage their own businesses...which isn't time they get paid for. So to make up for it, they just take on more and work, leaving a bunch of unsatisfied clients.

    Turnover is going to happen. You are going to have retrain people, but if you create your own training manual (something the final Outsourcing Sweetie product will help users do! πŸ™‚ ) and keep it to train new people, it's a whole lot easier.

  2. Matt Levenhagen says

    Lynn, thanks for sharing your experience with VAs.. I have yet to go that route.

    I've worked mostly with partners where we split the tasks of running the biz to our strengths.

    Recently I put together a team of 4 individuals that all get a cut of the action. They all get a small percentage of whatever part of my business they are helping me with.

    This is working out really well for me so far. And it is fluid. I expect people's situations to change and allow for that change. It just comes with the territory; if you build that in, it's less stress. πŸ™‚

    I feel having a team of people instead of relying just on one is a big benefitl. You are spreading your risk; you don't rely to much on one person and can adjust and shift rolls as needed.

    I do have the advantage because I run a private forum/community and recruit from within normally or bring those aboard I've gotten to know elsewhere online - in a community setting.

    I am able to get to know people before I approach them to help me with my business. This is very important to me.

    Plus.. all my partners do run their own IM businesses.. in my situation I prefer it that way because that makes them better at what they do for me. And I can do it because I have more people involved to spread the workload.

    And.. all of them are full-time IM. So they are always only a PM or e-mail away.

    Just some thoughts..

    Great blog in general Lynn.. πŸ˜€


    -Matt Levenhagen

  3. Many thanks to you both - some great suggestions here. Alice, I look forward to the course! πŸ˜‰

  4. Bonnie Davis says

    I'm a VA and I have a VA. One of the issues that drives instability in the VA industry is our clients. We suffer from the feast and famine cycle that many self employed individuals do. So this means that there are times when the VA is overworked and lets your assignments slide to please another client.

    Our clients don't send us work until the last minute. Sometimes they don't pay and often
    they stop working with you without an

    If a VA does not have enough clients then their attention may be given to searching for new clients rather than servicing the clients they do have.

    Many people call themselves a VA even if they don't have the appropriate skills or training to meet client needs. There is no licensing or certification required so we see so many people laid off from jobs as engineers, auto workers, etc. setting themselves up as a VA. This is a huge problem for the poor clients who hire them.

    I have actually prospered by the flakiness of
    most VA's. I'm more stable, committed and
    on time so I doubled my rate to reflect those

    Having credentials and licensing would really
    help prevent unqualified people from claiming
    they are a VA... this probably won't happen
    in my lifetime.


  5. Thanks, Bonnie. Its great to hear from someone within the industry and get an inside perspective.

    That's the second time today that I have read that the issues are caused by the client. Interesting.

    I'm not beyond thinking that the fact that I keep having these problems may be a reflection on *me*. But if I wanted to be a "people manager", I would hire employees. I dont. I want to do what I do best, and that's the reason I pay VA rates for the work I need done.

    As I mentioned above, I've had the same issues from a $6-7/hour employee that I have with a $20-$30/hour VA. Quality of work, being dependable, etc.

    With outsourcing being SO important to solo entrepreneurs... what would you recommend we do to find an assistant we can work well with?

  6. Bonnie Davis says


    I've been in the business for seven years and can't tell you there is a solution out there. However, there are companies like Assistant Match who do all the background checks, actually contact references, etc. They are very selective when adding a VA to their service and they manage the VA themselves. This solution might help.

    Consider asking colleagues for recommendations... I get most of my clients this way. Asking the VA to sign a six to nine month contract may help and ask other VA's for recommendations.


  7. Thanks for the long post regarding this issue. Now if I ever hire a virtual assistant, I will be prepared for what may happen.

  8. Thanks, Bonnie. Unfortunately all of my peers are having the same issue, and are hesitant to make recommendations at this point. Its becoming quite an "epidemic" to quote one of Kelly McCausey's recent posts...

  9. Perhaps for his next 'trick', Ferriss will write a book titled "The 40-Hour Work Week" that outlines how Virtual Assistants can capitalize on the outsourcing frenzy his last book created πŸ˜›

  10. Gazelle Simmons says

    Hello Lynn,

    I was sent a link to this blog by Sandy Naidu with dotcommothers, who regards me as a "very hard working person and a reliable person" and I also happen to be a Virtual Assistant.

    Lynn, the biggest problems I find is getting clients who can delegate work, pay their invoices when received (this has become such a problem that I only work via retainer after having clients fail to pay their invoices), and find a suitable match.

    Clients tend to think of VA as employees. VA's are not employees. They are partners with you to grow your business. When you compare an employee with a VA, it's like comparing a business owner with a CEO. They are not the same.

    When VA's quit without notice, it's usually because they have a better offer from another client. I've never quit without two weeks notice and have a contract that states I can't.

    If you work with a VA without a contract then you have an at will relationship which can mean you get caught in the lurch. If you treat a VA like an employee, then they behave like an employee.

    If you are unsatisfied with a VA, find another one. You are in charge of what transpires as much as the VA is and since you aren't satisfied, you can either let this VA know what isn't working or find another one.

    It all depends on what you are looking for and how you work together. I've had clients quit sending work with no notice. I don't blame them, I simply find their replacement.

    Partnering with a VA requires like minds that compliment each other. You don't buy the first car you test drive and you don't commit to a long-term relationship with the first VA you hire.

    If you want to find a good VA, send out projects first to see how you two communicate, how you work well together, how satisfied you are. Then sign a contract and keep this person as your VA.

    I can tell you that I limit the number of clients I have. I keep no more than three monthly clients and take on no more than one project a week. Why? Because I can only work between 25-30 per week due to marketing my business, networking with others in my community and having to keep my attention on my clients.

    If a VA takes on too much work, then the quality suffers. If a VA takes on too little work, then they end up bankrupt. Keeping the happy medium is a tight rope walk. Throw in that everyone is looking for the cheapest VA they can find and you get the old adage come true.

    You get what you pay for!

    If you pay $25 a hour for someone who finishes work faster, better and with fewer hassles then you should be willing to pay that someone what they are worth. You are getting a highly skilled person who has the ability to work unsupervised and successfully complete many project without your hands on guidance.

    If you just need a warm body in a chair then $7 an hour is just fine but again. You get what you pay for! This person has no incentive to be efficient, no concern for the quality of their work and no concern for how their work effects your business.

    My problem is finding clients who appreciate my 20 years of experience, who want to leave a project up to me to complete in the best manner, who enjoy knowing that their work is getting done for them and lastly who can communicate effectively what they want me to do.

    I'm not a mind reader, , I'm not a gofer, a Girl Friday or the cheapest worker. I'm not an employee and I take pride in my work.

    I am hard working because if I don't work, I don't eat.

    I am efficient because I want to get your work done and back to you for the next project coming.

    I am reliable because if I weren't I would still be in business after almost 10 years.

    By the way, I've never earned $40,000 a year because my clients go on vacation at different times of the year, my workload varies throughout the year with next to no work from June - August and my expenses including my own equipment, taxes, supplies all come out of anything I make.

    To be perfectly honest, I've usually made just about what you pay your employees while still having to run a business to boot.

    It would be easier to find a job but not at fulfilling, not as satisfying and defintely not as challenging which is why I continue to work as a VA.

    Lynn, I wish you all the best in finding the VA for you. The solution to your problem is to find a good VA and never let her go. Take care and God bless.

  11. Hi Gazelle, nice to meet you πŸ™‚

    I appreciate your detailed reply. I see that there are obviously problems on both ends of this industry - for both the clients and the VAs.

    One thing I have heard over and over (both here and through other blog posts & research) is that a Virtual Assistant is not an employee, and is more of a business partner.

    Personally I dont think it compares to either. But if I had to pick one, I would choose "employee" as the closest comparison. As for getting what you pay for, as I said in my original post... I got the same end results, just with a major difference in cost.

    I would like to hire a personal assistant that is at least somewhat familiar with basic internet marketing and current web development trends - and I dont mind to do any additional training necessary. Whether that person works for me, or is in business for themself, honestly makes me no real difference...

    I'll keep shopping for that perfect person. I need someone that doesnt have an interest in taking on the risk and responsibility of a "business" and is willing to work at home for more-than-decent hourly wages. So maybe I need a telecommuter instead. At least now I am learning all the differences, and know better what to look for.

  12. This is definitely a timely discussion. And, I do believe it is a chicken/egg thing.

    For instance, I was telling my mom last year -- "But I don't know HOW to run a business. I just need help because I have too much on my plate. "

    I had VA's, but I was still in the middle of everything. I was assigning tasks that had to be sent back to ME. I was spending a lot of time juggling. I'm definitely working on empowering my VAs to run projects from start to finish rather than giving it to them in chunks. Personally this has enabled me to grow portions of my business that had been sitting in a holding pattern for WAY to long.

    I hope that, by laying out the big picture, it also gives my helpers the comfort in knowing that I do, in fact, have enough work for them for the months to come -- so they don't panic and go looking for more! πŸ˜‰


  13. Hey Nicole,
    I was just reading your 8 Outsourcing Tips - Great advice there!

    Personally, I dont want to be a business manager OR a people manager. I used to have an office on the square with a full staff - those days are behind me, and I like to keep them there πŸ˜‰

    I'm like you - I prefer to work with self-motivated assistants who are creative enough and interested enough to take a project and run with it - with plenty of outline and general direction of course.

    What started out as a "rant" has quickly become an incredible learning experience and helped me to sort my thoughts out somewhat along the way too. Many thanks to the responses so far!

  14. Nell Taliercio says


    If you'd like to try your hand at a telecommuter/independent contractor I can place an ad in my huge newsletter.

    Just let me know. I have more than a few (to say the least) subscribers who are looking for this type of work.


  15. I'm still trying to determine the exact differences between a telecommuter, freelancer, contractor, and virtual assistant. I have a general idea of course - but obviously (after this discussion) I was not spot-on about VA's (or at least not how they see themselves)...

  16. Gazelle Simmons says

    According to Wikipedia, these are the definitions of the following:

    Telecommuters spend at least part of their workday at home or a telecottage, using computers or other telecommunications equipment.

    Nevertheless, the main disadvantage for the home office is the inability to keep close watch over the employee's activities. For the telecommuter, the main disadvantage is the physical distance between the worker and the home office. Work materials are less accessible and coordinating communications can be awkward when many telecommuters work different schedules. Another disadvantage, again regarding office work, is that the boss or some other colleague might be ringing you for some urgent work, but you are fast asleep or not available, as most people who use the telecommuting method have their own timings on everything.

    A Freelancer or freelance worker is a person who pursues a profession without a long-term commitment to any one employer. Freelance practice varies greatly. Some require clients to sign written contracts, while others may perform work based on verbal agreements, perhaps enforceable through the very nature of the work. Some freelancers may provide written estimates of work and request deposits from clients.

    Payment for freelance work also varies greatly. Freelancers may charge by the day or hour, or on a per-project basis. Instead of a flat rate or fee, some consultants have adopted a value-based pricing method based on the perceived value of the results to the client. By custom, payment arrangements may be upfront, percentage upfront, or upon completion. For more complex projects, a contract may set a payment schedule based on milestones or outcomes.

    An Independent Contractor is a natural person, business or corporation which provides goods or services to another entity under terms specified in a contract. Unlike an employee, an independent contractor does not work regularly for an employer but works as and when required, during which time she or he may be subject to the Law of Agency. Contractors often work through a limited company which they themselves own, or may work through an umbrella company.

    A Virtual Assistant (or simply VA), is an independent contractor providing administrative, technical, or sometimes creative assistance to clients--usually to other independent entrepreneurs and solo and small business practices.

    A Virtual Assistant is an independent contractor, not an employee. They set their own rates, operating standards and policies, pay their own self-employment taxes, and manage the work and how it is carried out.

    Hope these definitions can help you find exactly what you need. Take care and God bless.

  17. Nell Taliercio says

    The telecommuters I work with are all independent contractors, Lynn. You'd likely handle them like you would a VA.

    The line between those who consider themselves full time (not working in the employers office at all), in the home, telecommuters (technically they are simply independent contractors, but because telecommuting is a more universally known term more people use that) and virtual assistants is pretty blurred in my opinion.

    They are both often considered independent contractors, but it seems VA's see themselves on a different level and they often charge much more.

    Again, this is my personal experience from working with VA's, following them on forums, and my extensive work with "telecommuters" (technically I/C's in the line of work I deal with).

    It really seems that defining people with a label is where the confusion comes in, because some people think of telecommuting as the person being a full time employee, while some see it as independent contracting, while sometimes people could see it more as freelancing.

    I don't believe the title means as much as the person you hire. If you need an assistant at $10.00 an hour, for 20 hours per week, handling admin tasks, they would be considered independent contractors, and you would not pay taxes or benefits then simply advertise that information and "interview" the people that come in to you.

    You might find that VA's apply, freelancers apply, telecommuters apply...you'd likely get a wide variety of people with different titles, but as long as they can perform the job at hand and meet your requirements then that is all that matters...to me anyways. πŸ™‚

  18. Erin Blaskie says

    Hi Lynn!

    Great post and I see you referenced our blog post (and commented) so I'm commenting back.

    I think my post was a bit misunderstood. The post talks about those clients who truly aren't a fit for working with a virtual assistant (which may not be you). I have had clients who were used to working with someone who was in their office or was full-time for them. Most successful virtual assistants have many clients and because of this we may not always be available as quickly (within a few hours) as an on-site, full-time employee would be.

    My post was directed more toward those clients who have never worked with a VA and DO have unrealistic expectations. These expectations generally include wanting a very short return time on everything; not realizing how long certain projects take (ie: thinking a blog design project only takes two hours instead of two weeks); not being very nice (I've had a few clients who were like that); etc. It certainly doesn't happen often (I have 40 clients in my practice and I've only ever had 3-4 'bad apples') but it is worth talking about because it's something that is eventually going to happen in any business.

    I wasn't taking the approach of blaming the client but rather talking about what people do when it IS the client. There are plenty of times when it lands on the VAs shoulders and there are many reasons for that too (which warrants a whole series of blog posts).

    I think the one thing that I do that prevents me from encountering too many bad experiences is that I plan my time well. I also have a team. We collaborate together to make sure the job gets done well and on time.

    Hopefully that helps clarify my blog entry. It wasn't an attack on clients as a whole but rather just looking for answers on what to do when that sort of situation does occur. I have a whole list of clients whom I love and who love me. It's all about finding the perfect fit for you and finding the synchronicity in your relationship.

    Once you find that perfect match, any issue that arises in their business (or yours) can be resolved by having a good heart-to-heart πŸ™‚


    Erin Blaskie
    Business Services, ETC

  19. Lynn, I've been following this discussion and I'm totally shocked, beyond belief really, about the problems you're encountering finding a reliable VA. I can't imagine why someone with that kind of opportunity at that level of pay wouldn't jump at the chance with the highest level of responsibility.

    It is indeed challenging because the independent VA must mind the business itself as well as work for you. That means the hardest part, marketing, plus all their own admin tasks. Still, I can't imagine there isn't someone out there, perhaps just starting out as a VA but with the necessary skills, who could fit the bill.

    I would love to do it, having done office work many times, because I still need a full-time day job and I consider my own reliability to be beyond reproach ... but alas, I lack many of the tech skills and can't afford the training.

    Good luck,

  20. Hi Ana,

    I can actually find people to agree to "jobs" all day long. Getting quality work, or keeping someone long-term, is the actual problem.

    I dont want to constantly look for a new personal assistant - I need someone I can count on. And I dont want to constantly double check the work and/or have to busy myself re-doing any of it...

  21. It is difficult to find good VA's/helpers that will stick around for the long-term. My biggest issue tends to be they overbook themselves. I struggle when people say yes I can do this, I'll do this but then you have to chase them up or they don't meet their deadlines.

    At this point, I have a pretty reliable team except for a few quirks here and there. I'm also managing outsourcing better. In the past I was outsourcing but was still very consumed with the back and forth... it didn't really make a huge difference.

    Now I give my VAs more freedom and flexibility and that seems to work well. I do like regular updates and to be kept in the loop... good communication is really important for me.

  22. Hi Lynn

    Great post and I enjoyed reading this. I have done work previously submitting articles, transferring newsletters to a new website, researching topics etc and could provide you with a reference. I would be more than happy to know that I had a long term contract, especially if it was 40 hours a week for 6months or longer. If it provided me an opportunity to learn as I went that could be benefical to both of us. My last contract was non-commital and went day by day and yes it was good money but did not last. I am looking for a full time, long contract and would be happy to discuss this further if you are interested. I consider myself to be reliable and dependable.

  23. Thank you, Sue πŸ™‚

    I will certainly keep that in mind, though I can tell you that I am not looking to hire a full-time assistant (150+ hours/month) at the moment.

    I'm probably going to start out with 8-10 hours per month, and possibly double that within 90 days. I just requested a quote from someone that was recommended, so we'll see how that works out.

    But I am keeping your email addy handy in the case that I can send some work your way πŸ˜‰

  24. I agree Mila - I love to find someone who thrives on the creative freedom that I extend - as I find they add a unique flair to your business if you let them.

    My problem has been that I can easily become dependent on them - which is about the time that they change course or whatever.

    The turnover in our industry is exceptionally high. No matter what type of person you hire or contract work to. That is something I've noticed across the board over the last decade...

  25. Diana Ennen says

    I'm glad you are addressing this so that hopefully we as "virtual assistants" can address it as well. As a Virtual Assistant Industry leader and author of numerous books on starting a VA Business, I've seen our Industry get started and bloom to where it is today. And it's awesome to see. Long gone are the days of "what is a VA" and that's really good news.

    It is sad to see so many are not having the good fortune of parterning with the right VA and that's unfortunate. However, I hope that businesses will continue to look for the right one and not give up on VAs all together. They are out there. They also continue to expand their skills and truly can be one of your greatest assets. VAs love long-term client relationships.

    I do believe that most VAs are dedicated and work extremely hard to establish a good working relationship with their clients. Most pride themselves on being a "business partner." We do partner with you so that your business will run smoother. If you haven't found that VA yet, keep looking. Again, they are out there.

    When I coach VAs, one of the things I really dwell on is their reputation. Some don't realize just how important that can be. If you do develop a reputation of missing deadlines, leaving behind unhappy clients, etc., that can effect your business. But most of us do realize this and we strive to be the absolute best we can be.

    I also subcontract with virtual assistants and I can truly understand how hard it can be at times. Communication really helps. Establish right from the beginning what the expectations are from both the VA and client.

    I hope this helps a little.


    Diana Ennen

  26. Wow, I can't believe I stumbled across this blog right after the blog on internet marketing and what the outside world thinks. Thank you for this too.

    Interestingly enough, I was thinking of becomming a viritual assistant as a way to generate another source of income. I have thought of all of these things everyone is talking about from both the VA's viewpoint and the client's viewpoint.

    I have been a legal assistant in the traditional work force for 20 years. I have worked my way up through the years. I am paid well for what I do, $65,000 plus family paid medical and dental benefits, retirement, etc. Part of the reason I am paid well for being an assistant is that I have built an excellent reputation in my community as the best of the best and partly because I'm paid to deal with jerk bosses all day. I'm not joking!

    When I say I am going to do something, I do it. Even if it I have to pull an all nighter to do it. People have to take more responsibilty for their commitments. If you say you are going to do it and the job took longer than you thought, too bad, do it anyway! I'm finding that many people take commitments lightly whether personally or professionally. That might be the root of the issue right there.

    People, take responsibility for what you said you would do!

  27. Good point, Michelle πŸ˜‰

    Diana - thank you so much for the thoughts you shared. I am certainly not planning to give up the search (and cant afford to lol)... I requested a quote just this morning and have high hopes that will work out well!

    ~ Lynn

  28. Amber Miller - The Delegation Diva says

    Hi Lynn,

    I follow your blog posts and was shocked to read your "not so great" experiences with VAs. I am a VA myself and have been for a few years. I love my work, I love my clients and I am passionate about what I do. Unfortunately, not all may feel the same.

    I just wanted to comment and say that no matter what industry you are in, there will always be those who do not live up to their word, their standards and who compromise their work ethics for whatever reason that may be.

    I do want you to know that there are great VAs out there. There are great VAs who not only live up to these standards, but become more to you than just an "administrative assistant". There are VAs who value you and your business and truly see themselves as a business partner. They succeed when YOU succeed. I think that is where the distinction comes into place...

  29. I would agree with you, Amber - and thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    It can be really disheartening to start over again and again with someone new. I imagine a long term VA would be a huge asset to any business owner.

    I'm hunting for that perfect match myself now. In fact, I just received an email reply from one VA that was highly recommended... so off I go πŸ˜‰

  30. Lynn,

    If it is appropriate, could you pass my email along to the people that are VA's that are responding to your blog. I'd like to correspond with them to decide if this is something I want to pursue.

    Thanks for your help.

    Good Thoughts Good Things,


  31. Whoops, never mind, I just realized I could click on their sites and reach them. Thanks!

  32. No problem πŸ™‚ Are you interested in learning more about becoming a Virtual Assistant, or in hiring one? I noticed a lot of good information about becoming a VA across several of their sites...

  33. Lynn,

    Thanks for your help. I'm interested in becoming a VA.


  34. Diana Ennen says

    Hi Lynn:

    Thanks! I hope your search for a new VA is successful. I do have a teleseminar that I did with Joan Stewart on "hiring a VA." I have the CD of it and if anyone is interested, I'd be happy to send them a free copy of it. I also wanted to mention if you can think of anything else that I (or some of the VA Leaders) can do, let me know. Maybe talking about it can produce some results.


    Diana Ennen

  35. What a generous offer, Diana! I will certainly take you up on that. You can send it to:

    Lynn Terry
    PO Box 7245
    McMinnville TN 37111

  36. Nell Taliercio says

    Wowzas, this topic was more important than we might have orginally thought when we were speaking privately about it!

  37. No doubt πŸ˜‰

  38. Lynn,
    Thank you so much for directing me to this blog. I have really learned alot from it as a VA just starting out. The one thing that I can say I totally learned from this blog is to just get a couple great clients and keep them happy. Do your best and keep doing it no matter what. Don't get lazy. I work from home for a reason and I love it. Thank you again.

  39. Stephen Law, Telemarketing Expert here.

    I've tried 3 x VA Agencies in the last year and they were all rubbish. I almost ended up in litigation with the last one who claimed (wrongly) that I signed a 6 month contract without knowing it. My plan to find an agency VA to overcome anyone leaving was a disaster – with goodness knows who doing the work – so continuity went out the window either way.

    It's such a shame, as a few years ago I had two really good VAs but they went on to do other things. I've spent the best part of $1200 trying to find someone who can help. In the end, I've ended up doing the work myself.

    To be fair to most Vas, their work like mine is a question of knowing when to advise and knowing when to follow. Most VAs don’t necessarily have brilliant sales skills, and their work can be erratic, so I don’t think it’s fair to calculate their income on working every single hour of every day – people do get sick you know and are you asking them not to attend a funeral?

    I’m not sure that it’s fair to knock a VA for trying to improve themselves and raise their prices. My problem has simply been an issue with finding anyone who is willing to take on a small amount of work to begin with, so that I get a chance to see if we work well together. As an SME owner, I just can’t afford to keep chucking Β£100s at people only to end up doing the work myself.

    Kind regards,
    Stephen SL-Freelance

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