Advice Needed

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Alunasa

Guest
Hello everyone,

I've been an administrative assistant for over five years and just recently, my husband and I both stumbled into becoming Virtual Assistants. I say that we're VA's because he isn't on payroll and is classified as an independent contractor, so was I. We just don't have a business of our own.

At any rate, I'm in need of some advice. I have a severe mathematics learning disability called Dyscalculia and as a result, I'm not able to do work that even remotely involves math. To complicate matters, as a part of my disability, I commonly transpose, add, omit or substitute numbers. 4521 becomes 5421 or 4520 for example. You can see where this would become a problem where data entry is concerned.

While I am extremely weak with numbers, I've been blessed with writing ability and I'm skilled with customer service. Basically, if it doesn't involve numbers - I'm fine. My problem is that I've gotten traditional jobs and Virtual Assisting clients who failed to understand that I am not good at mathematics and know next to nothing about accounting. A few weeks into the work, they'd make a request like this, "I know you don't like math but I have a few simple invoices that I need done. Just use quick books, it's easy." Suffice to say, I was forced to quit and end my relationship with the client.

What would your advice to me be in regards to the way that I approach clients (I would rather not tell them that I have a learning disability, as that most people equate that with low intelligence) and the type of work that I should look for.

Also, I have formal journalism training and have some editorial skills, so VA work that involves writing may be an option, but in my experience it's hard to find enough of this.

Thank you in advance,
-Alunasa
 

Tess

Administrator
Staff member
Alunasa, I think this is where networking with other VAs who *do* offer this kind of service can be a really important difference between keeping the client happy or losing them altogether.
I think it's perfectly all right to let clients know repeatedly that you do not offer specific services or types of services and there isn't really any reason why you'd need to let the client go completely because of this. There are a number of services I don't offer and it hasn't stopped me from developing great long term relationships with my clients.

In any case, if you have a few other professional VAs who you know offer the services you don't or can't then you can always subcontract those types of jobs out to them - keeps your client happy because they get what they're asking for and keeps you from having to lose a regular contract over such a small issue.

Networking at a forum like this can be a great way to develop those inter-industry contacts, and we even have a section on the forums where you can post requests for overflow assistance. Hope that helps!
 
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Alunasa

Guest
That's a great idea. I'll have to start making friends here and send out "distress" signals if that happens again. Still, I always hate telling someone that there isn't something that I can't do or will not do because it always comes off sounding negative. Do you know how I can turn it around for myself? Make it sound more positive?
 

Tess

Administrator
Staff member
I don't think it has to be a negative at all, and you certainly don't have to offer reasons. If there's a service I don't offer I just let clients know, plain and simple. It doesn't feel like a shortcoming because everything else I *do* offer is done with the goal of efficient perfection in mind. There isn't anyone who can literally offer every single service - I offer just about everything *except* book keeping...not my forte...

Being prepared in advance with the knowledge that you have a few people you can call on can go a long way toward building up your confidence when dealing with situations like this - but even without that, don't let it make you feel bad or as if you're somehow less professional!
 
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Alunasa

Guest
Thank you so much for all of this support. I feel considerably better about it now. I've spoken to my husband and he said that he could handle some of the simple math, and help me out with data entry, but when it comes to accounting I'll have to find someone here. I'm so glad that I found this forum, it's by far the best one that I've come across in my search and the most friendly at that!
 
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Alunasa

Guest
That gets me thinking. My husband is Bilingual (English and Spanish). While he is kept very busy with all the customer service calls and emails he does, we might be able to get a bit more business by offering some Spanish support too.
 

Tess

Administrator
Staff member
Yes, definitely - I'd really suggest sitting down and brainstorming all of the services you know you are skilled to offer (together or individually) and use that as a jumping off point for which direction to start marketing, which industry to cater to, etc.

It's great to have a wide range of services to offer, but I think you'll find that targetting your offerings to a specific category of potential client or a specific skillset will help you narrow down your target market and so reach your ideal clients more effectively.

That doesn't mean you can't have a nice long menu of services though!
 
A

Alunasa

Guest
At the moment, I need to get a few clients and I'll pretty much take the first few jobs that I can get. Once I can take my time to be picky and get the 'fun' jobs, then I'll narrow down. I'll probably specialize in writing, editing and proofreading services, and also provide customer support. At least, that's what I'm thinking right now.

Are ads on Craigslist and the like effective?
 
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