Business Owner or Order Taker? The Empowered VA

Share this

The transition into being a business owner can be a steep learning curve, particularly if you have previously been in “employee mode.”

As a VA, you are now in charge of everything to do with your work and life organization. You do the scheduling, you find the clients and you pay the bills.

You also need to take charge where clients are concerned and learn to take a proactive as opposed to reactive approach, especially if you want to feel empowered in your business.

This is one area where people often trip up, especially if they are relatively new to being a business-owning VA.

It’s important that you feel empowered in your own business, from setting expectations with clients to managing the “business” side of things. Let’s look at some strategies for nurturing an “empowered VA.”

Get the bonus content:
5 TED Talks Empowered VAs Should Hear

#1. Minimize Fear

If you go into business allowing yourself to be ruled by fears and “what ifs”, this is precisely what can lead to reactive behavior, leaving you feeling under-empowered in your business.

Fear is quite normal — we’re all wired to have fear as a kind of survival mechanism. In our brains, the unknown can be dangerous, possibly a threat to our entire livelihoods. You’ll see it take form with thoughts such as “what if the client leaves?”, “how will I pay my bills?” and “what if they don’t like me?”

We can’t really say “forget your fears” because that doesn’t make them go away. They still exist, so the important part for remaining empowered in your business is acknowledging that they’re there and looking for ways to minimize them.

Psychologist Sherrie Campbell wrote some “equations” to empower the business mind which are quite brilliant. On fear in business? “Belief + Action = Fearlessness”

“A sound business mind comes from believing in yourself, your purpose and the direction of your business pursuits. Belief is similar to commitment in that belief slices away all meandering.”

Is it possible that you’re sometimes fearful because you’re not entirely clear on your purpose and direction? If you’re wavering, unsure of your unique value, who your ideal customer is or whether you should serve a certain niche, your lack of confidence can lead to indecisiveness and inaction.

[Tweet ““For actions to be bold beliefs must be strong and determined. This is fearlessness.” – Campbell”]



If fearlessness is about belief plus action, you need some strong beliefs to fuel that action, right? Sit down and write out a clear purpose and direction for your business. To do so, try answering a few questions:

  • What are my unique skills?
  • What are my values?
  • Who needs the skills which I offer?
  • Who is my ideal client?
  • What is the purpose of my business?
  • What are my goals for my business?
  • What actions do I need to take to get me to those goals?

When you have some clear answers to these questions, create a business plan which provides you with a roadmap. This is not only a sensible thing to have for any business, but helps to alleviate fears by having a plan to follow.

#2. Get Help Where Needed

You can’t be expected to be an expert on everything when it comes to your business — none of us are, especially early on in the game.

There are a bunch of things you need to know about setting up a business, for example:

  • Setting up the right business structure.
  • Choosing a name and setting up a website.
  • How to market and find new clients.
  • How to do your bookkeeping and what your tax requirements are.
  • How to schedule work and manage clients.
  • How to budget so that you have a buffer if you’re ever lean on work.
  • When to ask for help — do you need to hire an assistant of your own?

Any one of these things can potentially put you in a spin when you haven’t had to deal with them before. If you let something like the bookkeeping get out of control, for example, you’ll end up feeling like things are spiralling and you don’t know where to start. You don’t feel empowered.

You don’t have to go it alone in this business — there are avenues to help you! For example, take an online course which teaches you business basics — Udemy is a good resource for these.

Other places to look for help include:

  • Other VAs – need someone to help with your books? You will be able to find someone who specializes in that area and will happily take those over.
  • Online communities – there are several groups of VAs out there willing to share advice.
  • VA mentors (We recently interviewed Tracey D’Aveiro)
  • Local business mentors. There are often groups locally such as through your Chamber of Commerce or local BNI chapter.

Bottom line: you don’t have to stress out on your own when there is something you’re not sure about in your business. No one knows absolutely everything, even after years in business so don’t create extra burdens for yourself by trying to tough it out alone.

#3. Set the “Rules”

We’ve spoken a bit previously about the importance of setting expectations with clients. This is a big part of being empowered in your business. You’re not an employee or an “order taker”, you are a business owner who is in charge of every aspect of your own business.

That includes a right to refuse requests if they are outside of what you have agreed to.

You wouldn’t go to your dentist, pay for a teeth clean but expect them to give you a new crown with that, would you? The same principle works for any VA clients; you don’t have to agree to do work they haven’t paid for or which is outside of the tasks you have agreed to do.

Of course, we always recommend you use clear contracts to establish any business relationship. You will save yourself all sorts of possible headaches if you do and you will have something to fall back on if anything does hit the fan.

We always look for ways to simplify setting out your “rules.” It’s always easier if you have some kind of system in place so that you don’t feel like you’re chasing your tail. A great strategy is to prepare your own “Business Handbook” which you can share with your clients.

Your business handbook should set out all the basics of your business. When are you available? When are you not available? What services do you offer? How can clients communicate with you? If you have a standardized set of procedures, it helps you to simplify and take control of your business. From the customer perspective, it also ensures that there are no grey areas. They will appreciate clarity from you.

Another benefit to using a system such as a business handbook is that you can keep it somewhere where you easily update it with any new information. It’s much easier to send out an updated handbook than to type out an email to each client!


What’s in your “rulebook?”

Final Thoughts

When you go into business for yourself, you want to be able to enjoy what you’re doing and feel that you’re in control of things, right?

You don’t want to be an “order taker”, reactive or feel like things are spiralling out of hand. Be clear on the purpose and direction of your business so that you can devise a good plan. This will help to minimize fears you may have about being in business.

Seek help where you need it — you don’t have to do everything on your own! Also, make sure you set the scene for having clear rules with your clients. This way you demonstrate that you are in charge in your business and not simply there to take orders.

Get the bonus content:
5 TED Talks Empowered VAs Should Hear

Empowerment includes complete control of your responsibilities. 
Learn how easy it is to master your entire Virtual Assistant business.

Loved this? Spread the word

Related posts

Virtual Assistant Salary: The Definitive Guide
Communication is Key to Success
Technology You Need to Run Your Business… and How a VA Can Help
Remove Clutter from Your Day