Starting Your VA Business pt 5 – Sshhhh, it’s a secret!
Starting your VA business? Do you feel like you have to start your VA business in secret? This isn’t the best scenario for you, but first let’s make sure you have to start in secret.
Are you afraid to tell your boss?
The first thing to do is know where is the fear coming from. It can’t come from assuming. Fear can often cause irrational thoughts and poor decision making. What has your boss or employer already expressed and done that you know for certain you would get fired if you started your VA business. Cross out the feelings and write down the facts.
Would starting your VA business in secret be unethical?
If you are keeping the work a secret because you are working during company time and with company hardware and software this is considered time theft and it is unethical. Additionally, you are putting your client at risk because anything done on the company hardware and software is now owned by them. One of the main points in a VA contract is that the client always owns their work – physical, in the cloud, and the intellectual property no matter what you create for them. Don’t put yourself or the client in this position.
You’re not sure of the risk.
Transparency is a highly valued quality in businesses. Yes, there is always the risk that your boss will not be a fan of you starting your VA business. However, there are very limited scenarios where an employer can fire you for it. Part of taking calculated risks is looking at the great potential what ifs, like your employer sees you as a go getter, wants to support you, can or knows someone would love to work with you as a VA!
Starting your VA business is something that you’ll naturally want to shout from the rooftops! Any time a business opens there is some kind of grand opening – even virtually. Starting your VA business in secret, not being able to update your LinkedIn profile, and not having a public website that your boss may find means your clients are actually going to want to meet you. Think about it. They can’t verify you on LinkedIn because you can’t say you’re a VA there. You don’t have a website for the potential client to look over. They can’t contact your boss. Networking in person is your key to success.
But what if you do fear your manager or boss finding out about your business? When updating your LinkedIn profile, perhaps you should “unfollow” them on LinkedIn (they won’t know unless they search for you) and make sure that when you list your VA business, you choose the option not to share it with your network.
Despite all your precautions, what happens if your manager does find out? Instead of being supportive, your manager may be infuriated. This is when you need to go through all the “what if” scenarios in your head and formulate a response for each. What if my boss demands to know how much time I’m spending on my VA business? What if my manager is unsupportive? What if it seems like they want to fire me? Sadly, as much as we want current employers to be supportive, that is not always the case.
One thing that will help understand the risk is to read your current employer’s handbook. Usually there will be information in there regarding taking on extra employment. Most, but not all, employer’s say that taking on another job is allowed, provided it never interferes with your current employment. This means that you are allowed to set up your virtual assistant business, as long as you do not work on it during company hours. Almost all handbooks also state that you cannot use their own hardware for anything outside of what relates to your employer’s business.
Keep in mind that your clients will want references and if you can’t provide a reference from a company that you’ve worked at for years you’ll have to explain that in a professional manner.
A vast majority of people believe they are a good judge of character, especially in person. Within a five minute chat you can describe what you, how you can assist the client, and why your employer doesn’t know – which is why your LinkedIn isn’t updated and you don’t have a public website. Quickly the potential client can make the decision to work with you and trust you.
Starting your VA business in secret may not be the best possible scenario. However, it doesn’t mean it can’t work. You’ll just need to get out in person be more innovative online.
If you feel like you do have to start your VA business in secret you’ll need a safe space more than anyone. The Association of Virtual Assistants is here to be that safe space for you. Let us support you and out loud!