For many VAs, having an Associate VA or two gives them the opportunity to stop trying to do everything themselves. It enables them to have cover, if they need to take time away from their business and it also gives them to opportunity to offer specialist skills, they may never otherwise be able to offer.
Working as an Associate VA means you’re still running your own business, but you’re in effect, a subcontractor for another VA. It enables you to grow your business, whilst also supporting VAs in your network.
However, there are some important things to consider, when working as an Associate VA.
Look for someone with the same work ethics and values
It’s important that you only work with VAs who share your work ethics and values. Not everyone will see things the same as you, so you want to be working with people you get on with and have a good relationship with. If you value logic and have a preference for things being completed fast as opposed to perfect, you’re not going to be a good fit for a creative who believes in taking their time to get things done right, no matter how long it may take.
If you have a specialist skill, offer that to other VAs
Many VAs have a need for specialist skillsets, such as bookkeeping, graphic design, website design, copywriting etc. If you’re a VA that can offer those services, it not only makes you more desirable as an Associate, it also helps the other VA expand the services they can offer their clients – making it a win-win situation for all involved.
Work with more than one VA
Not only does that ensure you’re covering the hours you need, it also helps them get clarity on how much time you can afford to give their clients too.
Trial and contract – covers both parties. Will cover NDA, type of work, along with the payment method and timescales. It’s also important to have a summary of how the contract can be terminated by each party, as well as a statement about standards and expectations.
Communication is key
When you’re working as an Associate VA, you need to have a good rapport with the VA you’re working with. Communication is the key to any good relationship, and that’s no different here. You’re looking to achieve consistent, clear and regular contact between the two of you. It also pays to ensure you’re getting adequate, clear briefings for each project you’re working on too – along with clear deadlines and any specific preferences on the work itself and the tools you may need to use.
Ideally, you’re looking for weekly or fortnightly updates between the two of you. This helps clarify any new projects being worked on, along with any new clients you may need to know about, in case you need to take over or help the VA, at short notice.
Manners and etiquette
It goes without saying really, never let another VAs client poach you. If you’re working as an Associate and get approached by their client to work directly with them, please have the manners to let the VA know. Not only is it good manners, it avoids any potential contract breach too. It also gives the other VA an opportunity to either address the problem their client may have, or to come up with some kind of compromise or alternative payoff agreement with you to take on the client direct, if either of you would like to go down that route.
The business relationship
The relationship between a VA and their Associates needs to be professional. You already share values and ethics, but boundaries and respect from part of the relationship too. You’re a business owner in your own right, but you’re also a subcontractor for VAs you work with – so you need to be professional at all times, as you’re representing their business too.
As an Associate, you might have a minimum rate you are looking for, and a Lead VA might have a rate in mind that they want to pay you. Remember in the same way as working with clients, the Lead VA is outsourcing to another VA and you can say yes to the proposed rate and you can say no to the proposed rate! For specialist skills this rate may be higher than what is perceived to be an ideal Associate rate.
Working as an Associate VA not only helps you build your network, it can be a great way to help other VAs too. If you set the right foundations in place, it can lead to a long and mutually beneficial relationship for both parties, whilst also enabling VAs to offer more tailored solutions to their clients.
What are your thoughts about working as an Associate? Do you think it’s something that you’d like to do, or are you doing it already? What would you consider the most important aspects of working as an Associate, that VAs need to know? Why not share your thoughts and opinions in the comments box below!