These days, everyone seems to be an expert. The dictionary definition is:
Expert: a person who has special skill or knowledge in some particular field; specialist; authority.
But it seems to be bandied about at the drop of a hat, especially in the online community. I am not, and have never claimed to be, an expert VA. Because there is always more to learn and, in my opinion, no “McDonalds of the virtual assistant world” who holds the key to a systemised business which runs itself and makes money as long as you follow the manual. Mine comes pretty close, but it’s not there yet!
But the reason there are quite so many experts out there is simple:
Expertise comes with a hefty price tag attached
If you are THE virtual assistant for driving instructors, the chances are there isn’t much competition. And because you know the industry you can suggest what they need, organise it efficiently, and help them run their business smoothly. Clients LOVE experts. They love to know they are buying the very best for their business.
But let’s say you are a VA who specialises in something which experiences a dip – let’s say the property market for example. Overnight your client base could disappear. What do you do? I know of several VAs who got stung by only specialising in one area – and having to start all over again when the market crumbles. Not only that but they will have overheads that aren’t so easy to cut back – subscriptions, tools they use, office overheads. A VA can end up in serious trouble!
- If the industry suffers a downturn, your income goes with it
- You must keep overheads flexible so that you can alter them quickly – don’t commit to long term contracts on your phone, web hosting, tools etc. which you can’t quickly cancel
- You only have one set of skills being utilised
- Client confidentiality may become an issue with competing clients
- You can charge more for your time because you will be quicker and more experienced than a general VA
- You remove a lot of competition by being a specialist – other VAs just can’t compare
- Marketing is easier and cheaper because you are targeting a small number of high-probability leads
Here’s how to protect yourself:
- No one client should provide more than 20% of income
- Don’t commit to long term subscriptions or services – you need your overheads to stay flexible
- Monitor income and industry trends closely
- Consider having 2-3 niches, rather than just one
- Have a niche which covers a type of business (e.g. mums, small businesses, start ups) rather than particular industries