Tools of the Trade: Tips and Tricks for being a Successful Virtual Assistant

Spend a little time in the beginning to establish your systems, tools and processes that will allow you to build and grow your virtual assistant business into an outstanding success.

Organize Your Business

Bookkeeping

Always check with an accountant for any tax-related questions. I’ve learned the hard way; it is easier to keep track of your spending all year long then have to spend 2-3 weeks intensely putting it all together during tax season.

  • Spreadsheet: simple yet effective way to track your income and expenses when getting started.
  • Quickbooks: Website with a variety of package options including self-employed tax bundles.
  • Xero.com: Web-based tool with low-cost plans and a free 30-day trial.

Document Storage

With most clients, you use their file storage system to keep their documents, graphics, etc. such as Microsoft OneDrive, Google Drive, or Drobox. However, you have files too. Some of these include:

  • Client contracts
  • Business receipts including your stationary costs, software, education, etc.
  • Content you create for your business.
  • If your client does not have a file storage system for the documents and graphics you create or edit for them, keep a separate folder for each client.

Project Management

Keeping track of your tasks is essential for you and your client to know what you are doing and how things are moving along. Whether it’s one-off projects or regularly scheduled tasks like blog posts and social media content, task tracking is essential.

  • Teamwork: free with paid plans available and a 30-day free trial: extremely easy to use and share task info. This one is my favorite!
  • Trello: free and paid plans available with the paid plans offering more functionality, storage, and project management options.
  • Asana: free and low-cost paid plans giving a more visual view of task management but can be bit clunky to use on a regular basis.

Passwords

Keeping your passwords and your client’s passwords private protects you and protects them. It allows you to create secure passwords that you don’t have to remember and keeps your accounts plus your clients accounts safer with extra protection.

  • LastPass: free tool that allows you to share individual passwords as well as store all your passwords in one place. Paid plans are available but are not necessary to maintain passwords. Most common password tool.
  • 1Password: subscription service is inexpensive and easy to use. 14-day free trial with multiple plan options including personal or business plans.

Communication

No matter who you are, where you and your client live and work, communication is the cornerstone for your relationship. Over communicating can affect your long-term self-care. I recommend separating personal from business communications. For example, keep a separate business phone number and it sets clearer boundaries for you and your client. Get a business phone number from:

  • TextNow: sign-up free with iOS and Android apps, plus desktop apps for Windows or Mac, In the United States, you can buy a cell phone or simply use your own with the app installed. North American free calling and texting options available.
  • Google Voice: available in the U.S. and has personal or business plans at low price points.
  • RingCentral: choose between monthly or annual payment plans, free trial and some plans include fax service and integrations with Office365, G-Suite, Slack, etc.

Client Management

Lastly, there is the overall “client management” part of running your virtual assistant business. Establish and confirm exactly what you will do in your role:

  • What do they want you to do, when do they expect it and what can you realistically do for them?
  • Get access to their systems. If you’re running their social media, access to their accounts, determine if you are creating graphics and how that process flows in their business.

Key point: as quickly as possible when you receive access: make sure it works. Login right away and confirm you can do what you are expected in that application. Let the client know the results of your testing, especially if the access does not work correctly. Do not delay your ability to work (and get paid) because the access is not working properly.

As soon as you complete your first big win for your client (whether it’s 2 days or 2 weeks into working with them), ask for a testimonial. You may work with them for an extended period but capture that initial excitement with that first bit of work you do for them. You’ve solved a problem for them and made their life easier; as the saying goes, strike while the iron is hot!

Whether you’ve got 1 client or 50, having your business systems and processes in place sets you up for success with every single client and will show future clients you are well worth your rate! The easier you make your life, the easier it is for you to provide stellar service to your clients.

About the Author: Michelle Forsyth

Author Coach, Productivity Coach & Motivational Speaker

Michelle Forsyth is an author coach, productivity coach, motivational speaker, and bestselling author based in Canada who hosts the You Can Do It Too! Podcast and has been featured in online summits and group coaching programs as a guest instructor. Sign up for her free weekly momentum building tips via her website.


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