When you first start your business, there are many people that are not going to understand what it is “you do”.
And when you first enter the world of being a VA you have no idea how long things are going to take, how much to charge, what to charge for etc.
(Show of hands!)
Even if you have done the type of work before, the time it takes can change entirely depending on the type of client you are working with.
The best advice that I can give when starting out (and trust me I learnt the hard way and am still trying to rectify this!) is to start with an hourly rate.
An hourly rate is straightforward, there is no confusion and you get paid exactly the right amount for what you are doing.
When I started, I thought I would start with packages as I saw everyone else doing them and sure they made sense! What I didn’t know anticipate was the:
1. Expectation around it
2. Scope creep (totally a thing)
3. Value of time
When we work in an office environment or for others, we truly have no concept of time. Yes, I am organised too and can prioritise very well – but TIME is completely different my friend on this side of the fence.
Time is something that you need to relearn when it comes to your VA biz (side note – ALWAYS make sure you use a time trakker eg toggl or Xero projects … don’t worry we will cover that later)
Having an hourly rate can protect you. Knowing your internal hourly rate also helps. This will help with scope creep and also protect you from not charging yourself out at $5/hr (yes that happens!)
Tip: If you don’t know how long to assign to a project or task that you have been asked to complete, ask the client how long it normally takes them.
Estimating time is a very tricky thing, which is why when I started offering packages, it didn’t work. One client paid for a 5 hour package and in ONE task I chewed it up, leaving the client thinking well that was a bit of a waste and me thinking I had done something wrong.
I hadn’t done anything wrong, I just underestimated my time.
This is such an important thing to get your head around, and it may take you longer than you think. Some days you might think “why am I not getting this!” … just know we’ve got you because it’s totally a thing and YES you ARE NORMAL.
You can still totally package your hours together if you would prefer … but didn’t you just say?
Yeah I did – but the difference is, you have ALREADY determined your hourly rate, so what you can do is …
Say for example someone wanted you to develop a word doc for them. You think it will take about 3 hours, you have already determined your hourly rate is $45/hr. You can then go back to the client and say “I can do a package price for you for $135” (we are talking AUD here people).
The language “package” is also great! When you use the word “package” clients often assume that you have given them a discount or a great deal – which is also great!
You will most definitely move into package-based pricing as you move forward because it doesn’t require you to trade time for money.
Instead of paying you for your time, the client is paying for your deliverable.
Ultimately, you have to do what you feel comfortable with and what feels right for your business.
Hourly rates are a good way to start and will prevent you from “unknowingly” decreasing your rate for service.
For me – I wished I had of started with an hourly rate to begin with … things would have been so much simpler!