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5 Common Things Virtual Assistants Generally Do That I Can’t Be Bothered With

Michelle Dale - Tuesday, September 11, 2012

This is kind of a strange post for me, I have in the title that the things I am about to discuss in this post I “Can’t Be Bothered” with (this phrase is used a lot amongst us Brits), and really I mean it. You know when your heart sinks and you get an internal sigh and your eyes roll, well that’s me when I think about those 5 things below. They are simply not what I would consider a good use of my time in my business, and in some cases they are just simply not necessary if you run your business in a certain manner, line up your ducks and use your chess pieces wisely. I’m not knocking the fact at all that for some VA’s they work great, and so when I am asked about them by VA’s, I won’t dismiss them at all, I can’t deny in any way that they don’t work, because I know for a fact they work well for some people, but they really aren’t my cup of tea, and maybe you’ll find this interesting, they’re all from personal experience and I’ve included some true stories.

1 – RFP’s (Request For Proposal)

RFP’s, I get it, I know they work, but I can’t be bothered with them. If you want to work with me, I invite you to check my website, read my testimonials and submit my contact form, or book an appointment then we’ll talk. On a recent consultation I was talking to a potential client who was a lawyer, and she read somewhere that if you’re looking for a VA you should submit an RFP, so she did on several VA sites. She said that what came back was a load of rubbish basically, people who seemed more desperate for work/money than caring if they could actually do what she needed. From her perspective as a client, she wasted her time and wouldn’t bother with that again, at the same time she was doing RFP’s, I happened to follow her on Twitter, that’s how she contacted me.

2 – For Hire Sites

These are things like Elance, oDesk etc…. I have occasionally used oDesk to hire, but never to sell my services, so that tells me that if I (me) hire from there, then you can find decent clients on there, I think I’m a decent client, but this kind of bidding war is so not for me or for VMF… I recently connected with someone on LinkedIn and they asked me the question:

“I wonder what would happen if I just posted that on elance and how would you compare that?”

My response – “The people who use my services don’t use Elance, so the best way to find out the answer to your question is to post it and to see what you get back.”

Seriously I can’t be bothered, I have it in my head that there really is no comparison between what I do and what someone on Elance does… but I can’t be bothered to try and explain it, it’s a waste of my time and the client really needs to experience it for themselves, it is the absolute best learning curve you can send a client on – tell them to go try it. Anyway I offered him a $1000 a month retainer, he disappeared for over a month and then came back to me. I can only think that Elance didn’t go so well for him.

3 – Long Winded Proposals (without payment)

I can’t tell you how much time I’ve wasted on long winded proposals, they’ve either ended up in the client taking my advice and trying to do it themselves, or taking it to a “local” company (that really bites, and I’ve really kicked myself on occasion about that) or they end up doing nothing… Sometimes, I’ve thought to myself when it looks like you have enough time to write one of these essays (the proposal) for nothing, then it may look slightly desperate, so now, I don’t bother.

So unless the client is over a certain threshold (e.g. potentially an income of £1000 a month or more) I’ll send the client an estimate, with the costing and a bullet point rundown and explanation of what they’ll be getting, and showing that I can provide a detailed proposal after payment if they wish, or feel it’s necessary. Then after they have made the payment (it could be a deposit if the service is over £500 or in full if under) then I’m happy to spend my time on a detailed proposal. Commitment needs to be mutual between client and VA.

4 – Taking Payment in Arrears

Okay point 3 leads me nicely into point 4, and I wanted to highlight this. I don’t take payment in arrears (unless the invoice is over £500 for example a stand-alone project and then it’s a 50% deposit and 50% on completion), for a few reasons. The first being that I have a team, and I don’t ever want to be out of pocket. If you hire people to help you in your business, you’re liable to pay their invoices, and you don’t want to ever put yourself in a situation where you can’t pay, or you have to foot the bill from your own income. The second is that when I get paid in advance I can get things done and out the way with a comfortable feeling inside, that feeling, knowing I’ve been paid and I can move ahead makes me happy and more productive. Hanging around waiting for money owed doesn’t make me happy or productive. It’s that simple folks.

5 – VA Forums

This one is the most ironic, because I actually have a VA forum, in fact I have two forums, they are great for support when you need it, so don’t get me wrong I LOVE my forums and my members, I jump on the forums around once per day to see if anyone needs my help, and from what I have seen, my members are busy, they are getting work done and they jump on when they need a bit of motivating, have a question, want to vent, share a story, share something uber-awesome or need advice.

Here is another story (and I have never mentioned this before on the blog) – I once had a pingback from a very popular, established  VA forum mentioning my name and a link to my website. It was someone (a new member) asking if anyone has ever taken my business programmes. Whilst I was not a member of this forum, several people who had taken my programmes were, and their membership with them dated back to several years before they found me online. Several people posted and said they’d taken my programmes and worked with me directly and gave really amazing feedback on how it had helped them – I later found out every single one of them had been banned and deleted from the forum and the post was also deleted… WTF.

To any and all of my members reading this – If anyone wants to recommend or post a review in my forums for any kind of tool, programme, system, eBook, course, person, coach, mentor etc… that has helped them, and they genuinely think it will help other people too, (and do feel free to state the reasons why you think it would help), I will not delete it, I have no reason to – you have full freedom of speech.

That very one-sided incident basically put me off VA forums (apart from my own of course!), I don’t have time for people who are not out to help other colleagues wholeheartedly, it irks me when folk have some sort of condition or some other hidden agenda. It reminded me of the watercooler at my 9-5, another reason why I quit my day job 7 years ago. I can’t be bothered.


All of the above points really depend on the “type” of VA business you’re running (there are many varied ways to set-up and run an online service business), in my VA services company I consistently need to generate an absolute minimum of around 10,000 Euro a month on retainers (currently around $13,000 USD) of course for some VA’s it’s much less, but to do that, I really need to eliminate all of the above so I can focus on the things that I know work for me. Which is not those 5 things….

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Hi I'm Michelle, an entrepreneur specialising in virtual assistance, a digital and real world nomad, and a down-to-earth mother of three.

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