Many people like to start their Virtual Assistant business journey by doing associate work for other VAs. It’s a great way to get a first client – that client being the VA – who I refer to as the ‘Lead VA’ and a superb way to get used to working from home if you’ve previously worked in an office environment.

As mentioned, as an associate your client will be the Lead VA and you will be like an assistant to them. You’re still a business owner, you’re still self-employed, but there are a few differences.

Here’s how it works:

Meeting the client

You may be asked to introduce yourself to the client, usually via Zoom or similar, so they know who you are. Sometimes, however, you won’t ever know who the client is, you’ll just be set work / tasks by the Lead VA and you’ll get them done.

If you’ve have an introductory call with a client as an associate, ordinarily you should not be the one following up. The Lead VA does all of this, unless the Lead VA has agreed in advance it’s okay for you to do this.

The Lead VA will want the client to be kept away from your rates / website, etc. especially if they’re below what the Lead VA is charging the client. More on that in a minute…

Who are you working for?

The client you’re doing the work for is not yours, your client is the Lead VA. The Lead VA has acquired this client off the back of their own marketing and reputation so you’re there to complete the tasks only. You’re not there to negotiate rates or discuss anything other than getting the set tasks completed.

Some Lead VAs might be happy to sit in the background and just pop up when they need to invoice their client – this is how I work with my associates – but you must clarify what is expected of you from the start – don’t assume as you could affect the relationship the Lead VA has with the client.

You charge less than your hourly rate

The Lead VA will be invoicing the client their full hourly rate and will pay you your associate rate. This is why your hourly rate has to be at the industry average and not below, which at time of writing is between £25-£35 an hour, so that your associate rate is lower – usually around £20-£25 per hour.

This enables the Lead VA to make a little bit of extra income to cover the marketing and time they’ve put in to building their business and reputation, which is ultimately why the client went to them in the first place.

You must remember, the client is only working with you because of the Lead VA presence in the VA world. Without their hard work you’d not have this gig, so getting paid less than your hourly rate is how working as an associate works.

When you’re more established you’ll be doing the same.

Contacting the client

Unless it’s been agreed that you can do this, you should avoid contacting the client direct. While I believe all clients should know if they’re work is being outsourced to a third party – GDPR and all that – some Lead VAs don’t do this so it might cause problems if you contact a client and they didn’t even know you existed.

Contracts / Ethics

I am in no way legally trained, but it is of course good to have an agreement in place so you know what’s expected.

One thing that will be certain is that you should not contact the client and / or offer your services direct. This is wholly unethical and will not stand you in good stead for a long career as a VA. You will upset the Lead VA who is likely to be far more established than you.

If you’re starting / have started your own VA business and want to avoid making costly mistakes in your journey then come and join my membership club. You’ll be so welcome.