I apologise for doing that to you and I hope you’re not angry, but it’s really important to me that you become a good VA.
The reason I set those tasks
I once sent an email to 70 people including 22 personal trainees. I gave them an offer but mentioned at the bottom of the email that the offer wasn’t open to the personal trainees.
But 9 of those 22 personal trainees emailed me back to apply…
I don’t tell you this to embarrass them, it’s just that I was surprised so many of them replied. These are all really smart, sharp, competent people and, although I expected a couple to accidentally respond, 40% is astonishing.
It was fine because it was me, but if I was a client I would not have been impressed.
I set about wondering why the response rate was so high and what I could do about it. Because if 40% of them mistakenly replied to my email then you probably would have too.
Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply – Stephen R. Covey
Why this test was important
- Because it’s far better for you to make a mistake like this here with me than with a real client.
- Because it’s vital for a VA to be able to locate information and see the bigger picture.
- Because a client won’t capitalise or highlight instructions, they just write them in an email and expect you to read and follow them.
- Because the ability to solve problems and pay close attention to detail is an essential requirement of being a VA.
A client may trick you on purpose
I was speaking to a freelance lawyer whilst on holiday in Gran Canaria. She told me that whenever she hired a VA she always gave them a one-hour paid tester task but that she didn’t provide all the information they would need to complete the task.
Why did she do this?
She said she wanted to know how they would handle the situation. Ideally, she wanted them to find out the information they needed to complete the task, but at the very least she wanted them to contact her for the missing information.
And the sooner they contacted her the higher they scored.
She (correctly) said that good admin skills are not hard to find, but being able to solve problems is a vital skill which had to be present in the person she would entrust her business with.
If you didn’t pass the test
Then you only lost an hour of your time instead of a client and now you’re more prepared for when you do work with one.
Why you got caught out
You’ve worked in offices for years and you’re used to taking instructions and jumping immediately into action to start a task – just as Stephen Covey said.
You’re probably in ‘cruise mode’ and have become blind to a lot of things you do. You know what you’re doing, what’s expected of you, what the task is and who it’s for and you may not be giving it your full attention.
We all make mistakes, but you have a buffer at work and are protected by your job. When you’re a freelancer any mistakes you make will reflect on your perceived competence, abilities and sense.
You need to look at things differently if you’re going to be a business owner because mistakes can cost you clients.
It’s like The Great British Bake Off Technical Challenge – when a client gives you instructions, you need to read all the way down to the bottom of the page before you begin!
How to avoid messing up a task:
- If you’re not sure of the parameters of the task then clarify with the client.
- If you’re still not sure then ask them again.
- And if you’re STILL not sure then phone them.
- Do not be embarrassed to do this. It’s more embarrassing to balls up a task.
If you passed the test
Well done for spotting what I did but please still take the lesson from the exercise. It’s easy to do and you are not immune from making this mistake in the future.
PS: I won’t judge you if you completed the task and emailed me the doc. All emails sent to the Hotmail address I gave you are deleted.