In recent times, numerous Virtual Assistant companies have been springing up all over the place, promising fast, efficient service for very low rates (think $5 per hour in some cases), with large teams of VAs behind the scenes. Most of these firms are based in countries such as India, the Philippines and China.
So, if you are a one-man operation based in a Western country with a higher cost of living such as the US, UK, Australia or Canada, charging somewhat more than $5 per hour, are these firms going to put you out of business? How can you possibly compete with them?
The answer is, you don’t strive to ‘compete’ with them. What you are providing is a very different service.
Let’s take a step back and look at these large VA firms which have been made popular by books such as the Four Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss. I have come across people who have actually tried a range of large VA firms, with poor results. It sounds appealing to have access to a big team of cheap VAs behind the scenes but often this causes problems in that you don’t know exactly who is going to be helping you out at any one time.
‘Bigger’ can mean more impersonal, less attention to detail, more scope for misunderstandings and standards of service and work which leave much to be desired. Clients complain of being treated like a number, just another entity on the conveyor belt. They complain of having their time wasted delegating a whole pile of work that just doesn’t get done to any reasonable quality, and they have to start all over again, looking for a good, reliable VA.
If you’re a one-man Virtual Assistant operation or a small operation based in the Western world, you will be charging more than $5 per hour. You may be ‘smaller’ and more ‘expensive’, however remember that you are bringing the following to the table:
- personalised service
- better command of the English language
- pride in delivering a quality end result
- transparency as in who is actually completing the work
- full accountability as to meeting deadlines (no potential to pass the buck to anonymous colleagues)
Make sure your marketing materials reflect who you really are. If you’re a one-man show, that’s fine. If you have a small team of trusted VAs that you subcontract to, that’s fine as well. There’s no need to pretend you’re larger than you really are, and there’s definitely no need to be intimidated by the plethora of mammoth, cheap VA firms.
There are lots of clients out there who are looking for EXACTLY your kind of personal service. Not everyone is looking for the $5 per hour VA firm (especially not when they dig deeper and discover what kind of service this really is!)
Be transparent, put a photo of yourself on your website and so on. Write an interesting, engaging bio, describing your background, your story, a little about your personal interests. Let your prospective clients feel they know you. If you launch your business with this attitude, you are on the way to success.
What are your questions, thoughts and comments about the above blog post? Have any of your clients tried some of the large VA firms? Feel free to share any stories or experiences you have!