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VA Question of the Week Archives

Our question of the week is your opportunity to get answers straight from us. If you would like to submit a question please complete and submit the form at the bottom of this page. To see some of our most frequently asked questions check out our FAQ page.

Do I need a contract to use with new clients? (Submitted by Bonnie D.)

In short - the answer is an unequivocal YES! And don't you *dare* take one step further without establishing your own contract to use with your clients. Why?

First of all, written contracts help establish you as a professional business, and let the client know you are serious about your business, your policies, and the way you conduct transactions. It helps to set the tone that you are an independent business owner, and not an employee. You get to say - "This is the way we work, and you accept our policies by signing here."

Secondly, and most importantly, is that a contract can help to prevent costly lawsuits in case you run into someone who wants to challenge the way you represented yourself, or the way you choose to do business. When you use a clear, well-written contract, your clients should understand all of your policies, or at least will have to acknowledge that they agreed to your terms up front.

Using contracts can also help to aid you in collections in case you run into a client who decides not to pay. If you ever need to collect an unpaid bill, it is incredibly hard, if not impossible to do so without proving that you had an agreement in the first place. I can't tell you how many times I've seen new VAs coming to one of the online forums for advice on what to do about a non-paying client. The first question is always "did they sign a contract?"

Your contract can, and should, include as many pages as you deem necessary to explain it all to your clients. Some things you can include:

  • The types of services you provide
  • Your business hours, and how you may be contacted
  • The cost of services, and when payment must be received
  • Retainer agreements, if you use them
  • Minimums, increments, and "roll-over" policies
  • Warranties for your work
  • How disputes will be resolved

An important thing to do is to consult a legal professional before you use your contract to ensure that what you (or someone else) has written is legally binding in hte state you reside (and the state your client resides in, if you have out-of-state clients.)

Learn more about contracts, and get a BONUS sample contract in The Ultimate Guide to Becoming A Virtual Assistant.

As someone just starting out as a VA, my biggest concern is will I be able to build up a sustainable clientele that will earn me a livable monthly income? - Lorraine

Building a sustainable client base requires that you know who your ideal client is, and that you not be afraid to turn away clients who are not a good fit for you and your business model. We suggest defining this (on paper, not just in your head) so that you can have a clear vision of who you are looking for to become your client. If you spend your time and energy on taking on just any work that comes your way, you may miss out on good opportunities and your ideal client because you are too busy tending to work that you don’t enjoy.

The second thing is to make sure that your VA business is solid – that everything is in place and ready to go – contracts, policies and procedures, and a business plan to start. You don’t need to know everything, but you need to know where to go for information and resources when you need them (we discuss all of the above in our start-up guide).

The third thing that you need to do is network, network, network! In-person networking, as well as social networking will be beneficial to you and your VA business. There are several networking groups you can join or visit, for free and for a fee. We discuss the ins and outs of several networking groups and ideas in our start up kit, as well as review the major social networking sites.

Another factor that new VAs struggle with is setting the right price for their services. There are a lot of things to take into consideration when setting prices – the competition, the market, and the value of what you are providing. In our bonus materials, we include a spreadsheet that will help you calculate exactly how much you need to charge in order to earn the income you want and deserve.

I am in the beginning stages of planning my VA business. Can you tell me what software I should have if I’m just starting out?

Since we don’t know what type of services you plan to offer, we’ll cover some of the basics needed to provide various administrative services. As a virtual assistant there are many services you can provide to your clients by having the following programs and you can find quite a few of these programs for FREE!!


Have a question about starting or running your VA business?

We want to make sure you are getting the support that you need while running your new virtual assistance business. In addition to the VA forums we recommend in our start-up kit, we’d also like to give you a way to contact us directly with your most pressing questions.

Just fill out and submit the form below and your question may be chosen as our VA Question of The Week!

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