by Rosie Shilo
VAs are awesome. I just wanted to get that out right from the start. They are usually very giving of their time, knowledgeable and keen to keep learning. They have so many great attributes. But one area that they can lack strength in is setting boundaries. Frankly, they can be too nice.
So when we have VAs working with VAs, lines can blur very quickly. On one hand, as a fellow VA there can be a lot of respect and mutual understanding; understanding the challenges, the juggle, the constant evolution. But on the other hand, we can sometimes be a bit blasé about expectations, timelines and deliverables. Because, you know, they understand.
And because VAs often get along so well, they just never quite getting around to putting agreements and expectations in place. And those lines just get blurrier and blurrier.
Here are some examples that I’ve seen where VAs working together hasn’t worked so well.
- VA takes on a subbie transcription job but doesn’t confirm receipt of files or communicate about progress of the job until it’s done a few days later. By then, the VA who needed the work done has asked someone else to help because they were so unsure that the job was actually in hand.The issue with this job was a lack of communication. No agreement put in place and no process expectations. Sometimes someone can take on a job and because they are working on it they assume all is well in the world, while the client is freaking out because they haven’t been kept in the loop. A small step such as an email saying ‘File received. Will commence this evening and have finished product to you by 5pm tomorrow. Any issues and I will call you promptly. Now go and relax’ would have eased the pain of the client and avoided the double up. The VA who failed to communicate receipt and progress of job would not be able to expect payment even though they may have done the job. The process and the confidence you give to the client is all part of the service.
- VA works closely with a fellow VA and send them out to meet with prospect about a job quote. Fellow VA is asked by the prospect if they’d like to work directly with them and take out the original VA as middle person because it’s ‘easier’ and ‘Fellow VA’ agrees. No agreement was in place to prevent this, even if it’s a breach of general business ethics.This particular issue is one that makes me particularly cross as it was a breach of business ethics and also a friendship. It was a very strong case for agreements needing to be set up between friends as well as strangers. In this case, the VA who took on the client claimed she had done nothing wrong. There was nothing in writing to support the VA whose business the second VA was representing. Even people who you think you can trust can completely misinterpret what you feel are basic morals and let you down. Agreements must be in place and must clearly state what the expectations around restriction of trade are.
- VA starts working with another VA providing customer support but then starts to feel like they should be doing more work for the VA business and gets frustrated because they aren’t getting asked to do more, and/or the VA business gets other VAs on board to help with specific tasks.Sometimes when VAs work together they can become very close. Friendship and business lines can easily become blurred and things become awkward if you think the contractor or subcontractor isn’t the right fit for a particular task within your business. Again, communication and planning together can really help with this. At the end of the day, the VA who owns the business has the right to work with whomever they select and they will usually select the person they feel is the best fit. This can be hard to stomach if you’re the VA who hasn’t been selected for the task. Remember that you should work in your zone of genius and you shouldn’t expect another business to hire you for a task purely because you are now friends. Hard, I know!
As you can see from the above cases it can be very easy for lines to blur when VAs work together. Yet VAs working together are most likely to be the ones without agreements and processes in place. Please look at what you need to do to ensure your expectations and those of your fellow VAs are clear and aligned. Things can go wrong and it’s not always where or when you expect it.
Keep being awesome!
PS – Hey, can you do me a favour and share this? I’d love for more VAs to read it and make sure they aren’t doing these little things that can be holding them back. Thanks so much!
PSS – Here’s the link if you want to book a Discovery Session with me.