be proactive in wood typeThis is Day 15 in the 31 Days to Become a More Efficient Virtual Assistant Series

Previous post: Tips for Communicating with Prospective Clients

“Entrepreneurs: The only people who work 80 hour weeks to avoid working 40 hour weeks.” – Lori Greiner

Yes, we own our own business and that means we get to chose when we work but without consistency, reliability and proactive communication we’ll soon begin to erode the trust our clients place in us.

Our clients are likely very busy and have a business to run and their clients don’t necessarily care “why” work isn’t getting done. If we’re unreliable, we cause a negative impact on our client’s integrity and reputation. If they lose clients, we may very well lose a client too.

How We Can Be Reliable and Proactive

  • Always let business owners know your typical office hours (this conversation should take place when you’re communicating with a prospective client).
  • Be sure to let your clients know anytime your hours change (maybe you’ve decided to close up shop every Wednesday afternoon).
  • Alert clients as soon as possible if you have an upcoming out of office – are you having a baby, are you heading to New York for a conference? Let them know as soon as possible as well as how often you’ll check email, if you’re available by phone, etc.
  • In the event of an out-of-office, offer suggestions on who may be able to cover any daily duties you have.
  • If you have a client centric email address, be sure to set up an out of office auto-reply and discuss, with your client, who should be the point of contact if it’s an emergency.
  • Do you have an unexpected influx of work? January is always my busiest month of the year and all of my “daily work” clients know that. I need them to know about this busy time of the year so they can plan accordingly and know on why I will likely respond slower than usual to email.
  • Consider having an emergency plan in place. I have one in place with another virtual assistant and we call it our “if we get hit by a bus plan” and it basically works like this: in the event we do get hit by a bus or some other unfortunate event befalls us it’s likely our family members will be the first to know. My mom and one sister are my designated emergency contacts and both know how to get in touch with my point of contact. My point of contact has the email addresses and phone numbers for all of my clients so it will be easy for her to contact each of them in the event of an emergency. Since I live in Florida I also have a plan in place in the event of a hurricane.

You may be thinking, “Doesn’t everyone do this?” No, unfortunately not. I’ve heard so many crazy stories of virtual assistants who just randomly go MIA. I know someone whose virtual assistant didn’t tell her she was having a baby. She went MIA for a year! And after a year she tried to come back as though nothing had happened. Do you think that business owner will ever refer that VA to someone else?

Anyone can throw up a shingle and say, “I’m a virtual assistant!” It’s enticing. We can be at home with our kids, we can work at home in our pajamas and we can do our laundry whenever we want. Maybe it seems glamorous. It’s not. Being a business owner involves a lot of sacrifice.

We have people counting on us. Are you a person who can be counted on? What sacrifices are you making? I’d love to hear about your own sacrifices, or even ups and downs, about being a virtual assistant in the comments.