Things to Know About Onboarding Clients
There are a few things many online business owners struggle with and onboarding is one of them. So, we are going to discuss things to know about onboarding clients so YOU don’t struggle.
Just like the word “funnel,” this can mean different things depending on where someone is in the process. Onboarding new customers? Or long-term clients? Onboarding potential clients or prospects?
It can be confusing, but here are just a few ways to sharpen up your onboarding processes:
* Keep Your Promises – If you say something, not only should you do it and stick to it but you should also do it a little better than they expected. Don’t promise an easy refund and then make it hard. Don’t promise a “complete” anything that is not really complete. You want your new customers to trust you at your word, and the only way they can do that is by example.
* Respond Quickly – When a customer has a question, you need to answer them as soon as possible. Even if you don’t have an answer to the question, you can let them know that you’re researching it and you’ll get back to them in a defined time.
* Show That You Care – Whenever you can do just a little thing extra to let your customers know you care, you should. For example, why not collect phone numbers and call everyone who purchases your biggest product or package? You should do this within the first couple of weeks to ask them how it’s going?
* Price Your Products or Services Simply – Don’t confuse your audience by giving too many choices on prices and services or projects. Stick to a few simple ideas and steps. Your customers will be more likely to convert. Have only 3 to 5 package choices. Too many and it gets confusing.
* Make the Sign-Up Process Simple – The fewer steps you have in your onboarding process, the better. You don’t want your audience to get upset about what you’re putting them through to become your customer. Make it as easy as possible.
Relationships are the MOST important thing in this business. If you follow these best practices, you’ll be able to maintain your relationships with your customer and learn more about them so that you can create even more solutions for them. After all, as we all know, it’s a lot easier to keep a client or customer than to get a new one.
Check out our course on Relationship Marketing. It will help you make decisions for your business growth for your future.
Legally Protect Your Business
Article Credit: FreeU Blog
Rewritten by Linda Henslee
Have you legally protected your freelance business? It’s a question that can send shivers down the most seasoned freelancer’s spine. In a previous FreeU blog post, we discussed ways to help prevent late or missed payments from clients. We also provided strategies for dealing with clients who don’t pay on time or have not yet paid you.
And we talked about how New York City became the first city in the United States to protect independent contractors and freelancers from nonpayment situations. A recent Freelancers Union article celebrates the second anniversary of the “Freelance Isn’t Free” Act and invites freelancers who have successfully filed a claim to share their stories.
But not all of us are protected by a law like this, and nonpayment situations are not the only things we need to guard against. The number of freelancers has grown by 3.7 million in the United States over the last five years, according to the 5th annual “Freelancing in America” study, but it’s still up to us to do as much as we can to safeguard our businesses.
With that in mind, here are five ways you can legally protect your freelance business:
*Please note that this blog post is not a substitute for professional legal advice. Consult the laws of your particular region and contact a lawyer for specific advice.
- INCLUDE THE APPROPRIATE ELEMENTS IN YOUR WEBSITE
“If you use a website or blog to promote yourself and your work, you need to ensure that you have legal protections. This is often the first place potential clients will stop, so you want to give them a solid first impression and show them that you are a professional on the up-and-up regarding the legal side.”
Eligibility To Access Freelanceu.com Programs And Services
How We Collect Information
How To Receive Consent
How To Withdraw Consent
Payment Data Storage
Security Of Personal Information
User Ability To Access, Update, And Correct Personal Information
Questions And Contact Information
User Information/Password Protection
Billing And Membership
Disclaimers; Limitation Of Liability
Governing Law; Jurisdiction, And Venue
And many other essential elements
“At its core, GDPR is a new set of rules designed to give EU citizens more control over their data. It aims to simplify the business regulatory environment so citizens and businesses in the European Union can fully benefit from the digital economy.”
If you collect data from clients or customers operating within the EU, you’ll need to ensure your website is GDPR compliant.
- CHOOSE YOUR BUSINESS REGISTRATION WISELY.
In our Freelance 101 course, we discuss how to build your brand and set up your business structure. As FreeU co-founder and instructor Craig Cannings says, your personal brand “Determines the distinctive way you want to be perceived and remembered by others.” It also “sets you apart and makes you unique in the Freelance space.”
To protect this uniqueness, register your business name and consider trademarking it. As Nellie Akalp explains in an article titled “4 Key Tips for Legally Protecting Your Business,” checking whether the business name you’ve chosen is legally available to use essential. For example, in the United States, you can do a trademark search to see whether anyone else has trademarked a particular business name. You can also do a name search to ensure another company in your state isn’t already using it. She explains, “Registering your name allows you to operate your business under that name legally, and it ensures no other business can use your name in your state.”
When choosing a business structure, you must determine whether you’d like to register as a sole proprietor or an incorporated business. Our Freelance 101 course gives a comparison of the two structures. In a sole proprietorship, “YOU are the owner and personally
liable for the business,” but in an incorporated business, “shareholders in a corporation are
not liable for corporate debts.”
The article above puts it this way:
“An LLC and corporation, on the other hand, establishes your business as an entity separate from you, the owner. Your assets and liabilities are independent of those of your business. So, if your business can’t pay its bills or gets sued by a client, your bank account, home, retirement funds, etc. will have some protection.”
But in an article titled “Branding Yourself: Why Freelancers Need a Personal Brand,“ Xavier Morales, Esq. warns that an LLC “doesn’t offer umbrella protection for your brand.” Consequently, he recommends trademarking your logo and business name by registering them separately.
- DETERMINE WHETHER YOU NEED A BUSINESS LICENSE.
This blog post section will be shorter than the others because business licenses are not always needed. It depends on what type of service you provide. A Freshbooks article titled “Freelancing 101: 7 Legal Documents All Freelancers Need” recommends checking your city, county, or state’s websites to determine what required permits or licenses. It explains,
“Business permits and licenses come in many different forms. In some areas, it may be necessary to have a general business license from your city or county to run a company. In other cases, your profession may dictate your licensing requirements – plumbers, contractors, estheticians, and accountants are just a few freelance occupations requiring a permit to demonstrate proficiency.”
In my home province, I can go on the local website, indicate what city or municipality my business operates in, enter a keyword to describe my business, and then select from several permits or licenses that may apply to me. If you’re unsure whether your business needs a license, check your local website for more information.
- CHOOSE THE RIGHT TYPE OF INSURANCE FOR YOUR BUSINESS.
When it comes to insurance, there are many companies and many different options. I recommend researching your area and sitting with an insurance expert to determine what’s best for your business.
If renting an apartment, you may need to include terms in your tenant insurance permitting you to conduct business on the premises. If so, the insurance agent could ask whether you’ll have clients on-site and whether you’ll have merchandise on-site. For example, a guitar teacher may have clients come to her apartment for lessons, but a freelancer or virtual assistant can conduct business through video chat or by meeting at a coffee shop. You may need to ask for special insurance if clients will be coming to your house to do business or if you’re selling merchandise.
Some other terms to consider including in your insurance policy are
Professional Liability Insurance (a.k.a. Errors and Omissions insurance)
General Liability Insurance
Commercial Property Insurance
Cyber Liability Insurance
As an example of Professional Liability insurance, the Insureon website says a client could sue a web designer, stating that a project delay caused errors in technical plans and resulted in lost revenue. Professional Liability insurance could then pay for an attorney and judgments if the case is lost, even if the designer didn’t make an error.
Similarly, Cyber Liability insurance can protect you from a data breach lawsuit if you collect sensitive customer data and someone steals your electronic data. As the article says, the type of work you do will determine the coverage you need, and letting your potential clients know you are insured can give you an “edge over your competitors.”
- PROTECT YOURSELF THROUGH YOUR CLIENT AGREEMENT.
In a moment of naivete, I once asked a client, “Would it be better for you if I have a contract?” She wisely replied, “Actually, the contract will benefit you.”
According to the article above,
“A contract is not a guarantee that nothing bad will happen or that you are guaranteed to get paid (always a big concern!), but they can certainly help you to avoid issues and resolve disputes. Worst case scenario: if either of you needs to take legal action, the contract can be good evidence of what you both agreed to at the outset.”
Consult a lawyer for more detailed advice on what to include in your contract.
For this blog post, we’ll highlight the following elements to consider:
Ownership of Ideas
Creating a payment schedule can help prevent nonpayment situations. For example, my contracts typically state my rates, when the client is invoiced, and when the client’s payment is due.
A termination clause will prevent you from being left high and dry by a client or give you an escape hatch if you’re in an unhealthy client relationship. You decide how much notice to provide for the contract to be canceled by either party.
Copyrights and ownership of ideas are especially important for freelancers who do creative work. An article titled “The Complete Guide to Freelancing” stresses that it’s important to specify who owns the work once it’s finished. Who owns it? Does your client? Can you display examples of the work in your portfolio? Consult the copyright laws of your region for more information.
In his article, “Essential Clauses All Freelancers Must Remember About Copyrights,” Abdullahi Muhammed warns that it’s impossible to protect ideas with copyright. For example, if you talk about an idea for an article with a potential client, you can’t prevent them from using your idea with a different writer. So, the key is to be careful about pitching your ideas before securing the project.
And there you have it – five ways to legally protect your freelance business. This is not an exhaustive list but a guide to inspire your research to determine whether you’re doing all you can to protect yourself.
What tips or strategies have you used to protect your business as a freelancer or virtual assistant legally?
Naming your Virtual Assistant Business
Coming up with a name for your virtual assistant business can be stressful and agonizing for some people. You brainstorm and come up with ideas, but nothing seems right to you.
You want something that reflects you personally as well as your business and what you do. It’s this big, important thing. It will be the name of your website and social media profiles. You’ll write it on tax forms, business plans, and your email signature. So you want it to feel and sound good.
And, for most virtual assistants, this will be the beginning of it all for you, the way that people will come to know you and your business.
So, it’s only natural that it’s a place where many VAs become stalled when it comes to setting up their virtual assistant business.
Don’t make it so hard, and here are some great tips for you:
- Know the rules and laws
Your business structure and where you are located may affect what you use for a business name, such as using part or all of your own name or certain terms. Make sure to check first. Better safe than sorry.
- Don’t make it too hard
Don’t use something that’s too hard to spell. People will find it difficult to find you and your website. Just because you know how to spell it, if it’s not a common word or phrase, others may type it wrong when searching for you.
- Play with words that relate to your services
Consider using a name that relates to the services you provide for your clients. Use a thesaurus to come up with different words that have the same meaning.
Great Tip Below
Here’s what Caroline Davidson, Owner of The Functioning Executive, had to say about her experience with this:
I didn’t want to use my name, so I took the term, “Executive Functioning,” and put a spin on the words. Executive Functions, simply put, is a term used for the cognitive skills a person needs in order to plan, organize and complete tasks. My business name is “The Functioning Executive”. I function in a support role to busy executives!
- Don’t pigeonhole yourself with a name
While I do encourage you to brand your business based on your services, don’t niche the name down too much. For example, maybe right now you offer social media services. That’s your main focus. So you call your business Susan’s Social Media Boutique.
Six months into working with clients, you decide that you are really much better at—and love—project management. But your business name says “Social Media.” Now you need to start a full rebrand, purchase a new domain name, and possibly pay to change some business paperwork.
It’s not that you CAN’T change your name. It’s certainly not impossible. But it’s best to think ahead about your business plans and goals and create a name that encompasses that.
- Focus on the outcome of what you do for clients
What kinds of results do your clients get from working with you? Think about physical as well as emotional outcomes. If they can relate, they’ll want to know more about you and be interested in working with you.
Another Great Tip
Here’s how Kat Salonga, Owner of Virtual, At Last! decided on hers:
My business name is Virtual, At last! As in “my business is goin’ virtual, at last!” I decided on it since it has the word “Virtual,” and I figured it might be good for SEO. I also wanted my clients to feel relieved and thankful that their business is finally launched online; my customers are usually non-tech savvy female entrepreneurs. It represents the feeling of triumph after all the hard work.
And another great explanation to get your wheels turning from Sencery Clemente, Owner of Tailor-Made Virtual Design:
I started by writing down all the words that I wanted to be associated with my business. When I think back on it now, it was really a list of values that I wanted my business to be founded on.
Then I started thinking of experiences I had in the past when dealing with service providers and wrote down the good and the bad about those experiences – those were mostly emotions of how the experiences made me feel.
After that, I looked at the lists and started to think about how I wanted my future clients to feel when they interacted with me and worked with me. I want them to have a unique and specialized experience because we are all different in what we need/want/desire for our businesses.
- Keep it simple- Use your name or initials
If you’re really struggling and nothing sounds right to you, then keep it simple and use your name, initials, or some variation of that. Again, just keep in mind the rules and regulations for where you live. In Georgia, where I live, if you’re a sole proprietor, you don’t need to register the name if using your own name in your business name. In other states, however, if you brand your business with your name, you can’t sell it in the future.
Are You Planning On Ever Selling?
Here’s what Jessica Scotten, Owner of Pineapple Relations, had to say about this when she was coming up with her business name:
I have no idea if I want to sell in the future, but future me can’t make decisions like that today, so I’ll plan on being prepared.
- Never underestimate the power of a great tagline
If you decide to use a simpler name or your own name, use a tagline to explain more about what you do. Sometimes coming up with the tagline makes figuring out the business name easier.
And, if you change up your services or your market over time, you can tweak the tagline to match while keeping your business name the same.
- Make sure the name is available
When you come up with something, Google it and perform a business name search to make sure it’s not already being used. Then search to see if the domain is available.
Register Your Name Legally
Here is how Julie Hoflin, Owner of Your Versatile VA, handled it when setting up her business:
I checked the free trademark search websites to ensure it wasn’t already trademarked in either the US or Canada, and once that was done, I officially registered the name in my province. In my jurisdiction, by registering the name legally, a deeper trademark search is completed, and I felt so much better knowing if/when granted, I could rest assured I wouldn’t suddenly be told to stop using this name after investing time, money and effort into branding and establishing my biz under this name.
So there you have it. My best tips for coming up with your virtual assistant business name.
I want to give you one more reminder to always check the laws for your area—depending on your business structure and location; different rules may apply when it comes to naming your VA business.
What Have you Done for YOU Lately?
So maybe you’ve been thinking about starting your virtual assistant business, but things keep getting in the way. Or, more accurately, you keep LETTING things get in your way. Today’s let’s talk about just What Have you Done for YOU Lately?
I’d be interested in what you have to say so answer this question in the comments below.
Ask yourself this question:
Is it something you really want for yourself?
Then, please stop putting yourself last. YES…LAST!!
If you’re ready to do something for YOU then I invite you to join me in my private Facebook group.
In the group, you can find out things like:
- How to go from employee to a confident entrepreneur
- Deciding on your services
- Narrowing down your target market
- Figuring out your rates
You’ll step away from the group with confidence and clarity for your business. And you’ll be ready to rock it!
So, if you’re ready to do something for YOU, let’s get started!
Click here to get access: Facebook Group You’ll want to go to the Units section to access all the great information that’s located there.
Come on, what do you have to lose?
3 Strategies to Help Reach Your Goals
Are you where you want to be in your virtual assistant business right now? Today we’re going to discuss how you can use 3 Strategies to Help Reach Your Goals.
Because every successful business owner needs goals, am I right?
So, did you set goals at the beginning of the year, only to tuck them away and never look at them again? Oh my gosh, you didn’t do that, did you?
If you did, don’t beat yourself up about it. Today is a new day, so course correct and start working on what you really want your business and life to look like.
Here are 3 ways you can start working on your goals right now:
I don’t believe it’s ever too late to create goals and a plan to achieve them. Yes, some people do like to take some time at the end or beginning of the year to work on their goals (I’m one of those people.) If that’s you—or you want it to be—continue to read this article to help you with your own plan.
There is really no “right” time to work on this kind of thing. I think it’s less important when you do it and more important that you just do it, get started, and keep checking in with yourself along the way.
That’s how I like to tackle it. Yes, I create goals for myself at the end of the year, but then I keep them somewhere I can see them every day. I work on tasks that will make those goals happen. And then I regularly check in to see if I’m making progress.
Start the Day with Intention
I have a quick and easy way that I start my day so that I’m in the right mindset and stick with tasks that will help me reach my goals. I’ve always wanted to be that person who starts their day out with meditation and then takes 20 minutes to journal, sitting in a quiet space with a cup of coffee.
But let’s face it—that’s not my life.
First of all, I’m NOT a morning person. As much as I’d like to be, I’m just not and that’s ok. But here’s what I do when I start my day. First, I grab a cup of coffee and then get on Facebook on my personal profile to welcome everyone to a new day. This has become a ritual that I started a couple of years ago and everyone knows that if I don’t do that morning post, something is definitely up with me. They get worried and ask me if everything is ok.
After breakfast and getting myself ready for the day I go to my office to really begin my day. One of the first things I do is open my personal email to look for my email from “Notes from the Universe”. I love my “Notes” because they are so perfect for my goals and intentions for my business.
If you need a little more help to switch your mindset around to that of a successful entrepreneur, you can try this:
Changing from an Employee Mindset
Believe That You Can
If you want one more way to really tap into making things happen for you, I highly recommend you have a “Goal Journal”. Here’s where you can put all the goals that you can reference to keep you on track. I go through mine every quarter to make sure I’m doing what I need to do to get to where I want to go. This is a valuable tool you can use year after year.
So, here’s a quick recap. Set goals. Work on them daily. Start your day with intention. Believe that you CAN achieve your goals.
What are your thoughts? Have you tried any of the strategies above?
Leave a comment and let me know what works for you.