I get lots and lots and LOTS of enquiries from ladies – and some men – wanting to become a VA and asking for advice on how to get started. I’m happy to help and point them in the direction of where they can get useful start-up information (including my podcast). I know other long-standing VAs who have the same experience.
Of late I’ve become aware of organisations out there who purport to be virtual assistant networks or organisations who will help you get started and give you all the training you need, etc etc.
Like everything else – buyer BEWARE! Do your due diligence. Make enquiries. Be sure to check out the owner of the site and their credentials. Recently it has come to light that there is one owner of a business who charges quite a bit for membership of her network (more than 10 times two of the other networks in Australia) and offers advice and mentoring for $150/hour – but in her own words doesn’t work as a VA. I question then how she can mentor newbies in being a VA.
It is important to know exactly WHAT a VA is – and primarily a VA is an independent business owner – working as a sole operator or in partnership or as a multi-VA practice. I stress the word ‘independent‘. If you are paying someone a percentage of what you earn from client referrals then you are working for an agency – you’re not an independent business owner. If they are raising the invoices to the client and deducting the commission before you’re paid, again you’re working for an agency. If you’re happy to do this then that’s fine of course, but understand you are an agency employee – not an independent contractor VA. As such, under current legislation you are entitled to superannuation from this agency and if they are not paying you super they’re breaking the law. If you sign a contract saying they are not obliged to pay super this is not binding under current law.
You should never EVER have to re-assign your domain name to a particular network and if they offer hosting you should not have to give ownership of your domain to them. This is what keeps you independent! Your domain name is your intellectual property and you should never assign it to someone else. You should never be asked to do so by networks you join and if you are asked, think twice about joining.
There are three legitimate, established networks in Australia should you require support, collegiality and learning opportunities from like-minded business owners:
These three networks offer a range of services to newbie VAs including email discussion groups. Of course they also offer support to established VA practices. And you won’t have to take out a second mortgage to join.
You will find lots of overseas networks too.
Please, do your homework. Be sure that whoever you get your training, support and mentoring from actually knows not only about the industry but has a track record working as a VA themselves. And don’t rely on asking them. Do some research at other networks. Ask around. See if there is any objective information on the owner.
There’s no need to spend loads of money getting the advice and support you need to start up your business – expect to spend something of course but you have options – and research, research research!
©Lyn Prowse-Bishop – www.execstress.com