In an ideal world we'd all decide to start a business and have 'built-in" experience. Perhaps if we could order experience like we do a cup of coffee, we'd all be doing instantly well, but the fact is nobody is born with experience, and if we want to succeed at anything in life, the need for experience of some kind is pretty much a given.
I have many roles to play in my business, and each is defined by the experience I've developed over the years. From virtual assistant, I went on to consultant, then mentor for example, and I maintain all these roles in my business, but throughout the years there have been people (clients) taking a chance on me when I had very little experience.
"NOBODY WANTS TO WORK WITH ME."
I've had a number of VAs over the years say that they have no idea how they're going to get clients when they have no experience. Granted often times clients will go towards the more experienced VAs, but they tend to have been around longer, and may come at a higher premium because of that experience.
What makes a more inexperienced virtual assistant more appealing is that they may (temporarily while they are gaining experience) be willing to work for a lower rate than more experienced VAs.
I'm not saying this is always the case, and we can't deny that anyone who produces the desired results regardless of experience will likely be favoured, but as a general guideline, a higher level of experience indicates a higher rate. The VA is more confident, may have more leeway financially and can 'hold out' for full paying clients etc...
Let me put this into some context, at Virtual Miss Friday we began working with a Kenyan based transcriptionist some years ago, and at the time we hired her, we paid her full asking rate of $3 an hour - now, the rate she charges $15 an hour, and the only thing that's happened between $3 and $15 is experience.
PREDICTING THE RELATIONSHIP
When I assess a client / VA situation, particularly with a new VA, I'll always want to first of all know if:
a) The client is familiar with hiring or working with VAs.
b) The VA has successfully worked with clients before online.
Once this can be established, it's fairly easy to tell if the relationship will be successful. Let's explore this in more detail...
THE DOMINANT ROLE
When there's inexperience brought into a client / VA relationship, it would be most ideal for an inexperienced client who has never worked with a VA or hasn't been able to maintain a successful working relationship with a VA to work with an experienced VA. We can't always assume we know why a client / VA relationship isn't successful, but in many cases it could be because there's an inexperienced client partnered up with an inexperienced VA.
You wouldn't put a toddler in charge of another toddler, you wouldn't put someone in charge of navigating when they'd never read a map and it's best if there's a dominant role in a client / VA relationship, where someone who's had experience of maintaining a successful client / VA relationship (whether it be the client or the VA) is in it, and leading it.
Same goes for inexperienced VAs, it's not a good idea for their first clients to be ones that have never worked with VAs before, or who haven't been able to successfully hold down a relationship with a VA for any period of time.
LEADERS AND LEARNERS
Inexperienced VAs would be far better off working with clients who have delegated before, and maintained a relationship where the outcome has been favourable. It would be perfect for an inexperienced VA to join a VA team or work alongside another more experienced VA, which is what I call a 'supporter' role.
There will be a balance in the relationship because the one who has the experience is leading the other. A client can lead their VA and the VA will learn.
Again, this also works the other way around, if there's an experienced VA, they would be well placed with an inexperienced client, because they can guide them and help them develop their delegation skills.
By following the Leader & Learner guideline you'll most likely find a successful VA / client relationship where lack of experience from either side doesn't need to be an issue in the slightest.
In the first years of my business I took many learner roles as a VA, my long term clients during that time were leaders, the disasters were the clients who were also learning.
Later I began leading my clients, which meant I could work with less experienced delegators, and take more of a dominant role in the relationship, which requires a certain level of confidence that new VAs may not have yet developed.
Either way, if you're an inexperienced VA choose your clients wisely, as the clients who've held down relationships with VAs before will be able to provide the best source of leadership, while you learn.
THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY WRITTEN AND PUBLISHED IN SEPTEMBER 2015 AND UPDATED IN AUGUST 2020.