TeamworkThis is Day 29 in the 31 Days to Become a More Efficient Virtual Assistant Series

Previous post: How to Maximize Your Billable Hours

In an earlier post I mentioned one of the most difficult things for new virtual assistants is finding clients. Have you considered the benefits of subcontracting, at a lower rate, for other virtual assistants? There are virtual assistants out there that primarily only support other virtual assistants vs. having their own clients.

Before you wince at the thought of working for a lesser rate consider some of the factors below on why this can be a valuable avenue to explore:

  1. You’ll spend less time marketing your own business: successful, established virtual assistants often have more work than they can handle. By aligning with another VA you’ll have the possibility of work literally just being handed to you.
  2. Subcontracting can lead to referrals: although I have my referral list, I’m very hesitant to make referrals to people I’ve never personally worked with and so I often make referrals to the virtual assistants who have successfully subcontracted under my supervision. In many cases this has lead to new business for the subcontracting VA, at their normal rate. I’ve even given some of my clients to virtual assistants who subcontract with me.
  3. Learning new skills: in a sense you’ll be gaining unfettered access to someone else’s brain. You’ll be learning “best practices” because the VA you’re working with will be giving you the roadmap to follow for each task/project.
  4. Increased awareness of possibilities: as a result of working with a number of clients, across various industries, we are further exposed to tools and programs to aid in achieving desired objectives. This gives you invaluable exposure and will help you become well rounded.
  5. Less overhead: you’ll likely be able to have more focused days and less unbillable time because you’ll be spending less time on the admin time required to run a full-fledged business.
  6. Transition into business on a part-time basis: there are fewer risks starting a VA business on a part-time basis because you can keep the steady paycheck of a traditional 9-5. You’ll also have less pressure because you’ll be assigned tasks, which are unlikely to be time sensitive, and don’t require you to always be “on”.

 How can you ensure a successful relationship with another VA?

It’s possible subcontracting relationships may be more demanding than a typical client due to the added responsibility the VA has in successfully managing the task.

Three ways you can facilitate a support position when subcontracting with another virtual assistant:

  1. Be proactive: always make sure you have everything you need prior to starting a project, even if it’s not time sensitive. Do not wait until the last minute only to discover you’re missing some crucial piece of information.
  2. Quality: always double check your work and try to troubleshoot things on your own.  The virtual assistant you work with will be the one who will be taking the heat if you make mistakes because ultimately it’s their responsibility.
  3. Recognize the “hidden cost” factor: One of the biggest reasons why I chose to work with subcontractors is because I can give them lower hanging fruit and earn a bit of money on it. But once I start losing money, then there is absolutely no advantage to handing off the task. Why is that? Let’s say the subcontractor is paid $25/hr. and I am billing at $48/hr. As soon as the subcontractor takes twice as long, I am losing money. Not factored into that figure is the unbillable, admin time I have for teaching, task assignment, quality control, etc.

Being a subcontractor with another VA isn’t for everyone, but it’s a path to consider (especially if you’re just starting out). I’d really love to hear from the virtual assistants who have found other benefits to supporting a VA in the subcontracting role.