Are You an Employee or a Business Owner?

The Commonsense Virtual Assistant
The Commonsense Virtual Assistant

Sometimes new virtual assistants think of themselves as employees. But you are not! You work for yourself. You are a business owner!

Since you are a business owner, you need to understand what it takes to run a successful business. It takes more than just having the skills your clients expect you to have to help them in their businesses.

You need to now how your clients think and what they want. You also need to know what you want – what you expect from your business.

To help you succeed as a business owner and get out of the employee mindset, the book, The Commonsense Virtual Assistant – Becoming an Entrepreneur, Not an Employee, was written.  Here are what some readers have said:

“This book is a must read for anyone looking to get into the virtual assistant industry and it is a blueprint for success for those who are already in the industry. It guides you through a mindset shift that shows you how to operate as a highly successful online business.”Lucinda Cross, Life Coach, Vision Board facilitator, Business Mentor

“While this book is directed towards Virtual Assistants, business owners of all industries will find it very useful in their pursuit of the American Dream of owning their own business. It will help you understand and overcome the limitations you place on yourself, consciously and subconsciously, that stand in your way of becoming a confident, successful business owner. It helps you develop an understanding of how your customer thinks, why you think the way you do, how to best utilize resources, and put processes into place to help you become the successful entrepreneur that is in every one of us!” – Michelle Randolph, Gold Force Administrative Support

“This book is a great reference for anyone considering a career as a Virtual Assistant (VA). It is well-written and gives a roadmap of the entire VA process from how to think like a VA, the skills needed and even to to how to operate your VA business. I especially love the resource chapter.” – Sandy Plarske, Elite Administrative Services

To get your year started right, begin by reading this book. The Kindle version is available at Amazon for only $3.99.

You Don’t Want a Job and I’d Like to Tell You a Few Reasons Why

You Don't Want a Job: Why Self-Employment Reduces Your Risks & Increases Your RewardsMy 10th book was released July 27th. It’s called You Don’t Want a Job: Why Self-Employment Reduces Your Risks & Increases Your Rewards. If you’re already a self-employed, it contains loads of information from great psychological resources that’ll make you feel good about your choice, and help you make the most of it. Here are a few of the ideas from the book, which you can buy from us right here.

[S]ince no one else is going to take the trouble of making sure that we enjoy our work, it makes sense for each of us to take on this responsibility. — Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, p. 101-2

Self-Employed Doesn’t Always Mean Entrepreneur

Not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur.

Some are cut out to be freelancers.

Entrepreneurs want to create. They want to be in the driver’s seat. They do not fear the fires of risk. They like finding new people, making connections. They want to choose their own deadlines and make their own way.

Some folks don’t fit that description. That doesn’t mean they should get a job. It means freelancing instead of entrepreneurship.

Freelancing is hiring out your talents to a number of different people. It’s like having lots of bosses. Except you get to choose them, not the other way ’round.

Working freelance (the word comes from “free lance,” as in, a mercenary who was good at one thing: fighting wars, whoever was paying for it) means you don’t have to convince clients they need your help. Your clients are entrepreneurs who appreciate the skills you bring to their business. They understand you. Your marketing is simpler because it’s aimed at other business folks, not end users. Your pricing is less subjective. You don’t have to set your own deadlines. You know what needs to be done every day.

Entrepreneurs and freelancers get the same benefits despite their different personalities.

You Have Control

One objection I hear to the concept of entrepreneurship is that “you’re just trading one boss for a whole bunch of bosses: your clients.”

Well, sure, if you’re doing it wrong.

Control is not a gift you’re given, it’s a power you wield.

When you’re the boss, you have control over the 4 Ts.

You control what tasks you do.

You control the techniques you use.

You control the time you work.

You control the team you work with.

I can hear you yelling about the last two from where I’m sitting. “My buddy is never around because he’s always rushing to meet a deadline.” “My sister’s clients are all jerks, but she needs the money.”

Covered in my other books, I’ll briefly dispel those here:

If you schedule properly and maintain good client relationships, you should rarely, if ever, be forced to work at a time you’d prefer not to. I keep my goal dates (I don’t even call them “deadlines”) flexible enough that if I want a day off, I can take one. What that also means is that if I wake up at 4am and feel like working, I can, because then when I’m tired at 9:30 I can take a nap.

Working for jerks will make you a jerk. It is an immutable law that we become like those we associate with. Choose clients you wish you were more like. It takes guts to turn down money from someone you don’t want to work with, and I’ll admit to making this mistake more than once — and regretting it every single time.

You do not have to work 88 hours a week, nor do you have to work with jerks. You are the boss. If you work too much or with the wrong people, it is because you chose to, not because you had to.

Autonomy Over Balance

Anyone who always chooses the 4 Ts entirely at their own whim is going to struggle. We live in a complex intertwangled society, as gregariously social creatures. It goes against nature to seek total independence.

Another autonomy is over the balance of autonomy we choose.

When the economy shifts, I focus more on one type of project than another.

When I’m partnering with someone I want to build a working relationship with, I’ll use the tools they’re familiar with, at least at the outset.

When a beloved client really truly needs it now, I usually choose to pull out all the stops to deliver for them.

While I won’t work with jerks, either as my client or as a co-worker on a project, I have worked with folks who didn’t light my fire in every interaction. I’ve asked advice from folks who seem incapable of tact. I’ve read great information in deadly dull books and blog posts.

And every one was a choice. My choice. Choice to balance how much autonomy is right for this time, this day.

A Job Is Simpler

Life is complicated and messy. We tell ourselves stories to simplify it, to get a handle on it, to teach our children.

Oversimplification can be a useful teaching tool, a beneficial coping strategy. It can also fool us into believing that simple is better in cases where it’s not.

Having a job is simpler, tidier, than the messiness of creating your own business, whether entrepreneurial or freelancing.


Not better.

Joel D CanfieldEven though you know who I am, we’ll say it again, a little differently:

After losing two jobs in a row because companies went out of business, Joel D Canfield resurrected Spinhead, the web design company he’d founded in 1998. In the six years since his last job, Joel and his family have traveled full-time throughout the US and Canada for 18 months, created and refined multiple businesses, and spent nearly all their time doing exactly what they wanted to do instead of what they had to do. Read more about his newly released 10th book “You Don’t Want a Job” at

Virtual Entrepreneurship

Are you a virtual entrepreneur? What does it take to be a virtual entrepreneur? Lauri Smedley, a professor with over 20 years of teaching experience, has written the book, Virtual Entrepreneurship: Creating and Operating a Home-based Online Business. In the book you will learn how to get started and the dos and don’ts of virtual entrepreneurship from practicing virtual entrepreneurs from around the world.

Professor Smedley also hosts a weekly radio show about business, entrepreneurship, online businesses, and educating people about how to create and operate their own home-based virtual businesses. Joel and I will be her guests on March 14, 2011.

To learn more about virtual entrepreneurship, visit Professor Smedley’s page on Facebook.

We want to hear from you. What questions do you have about virtual entrepreneurship? Are you a successful virtual entrepreneur? Ask you questions and tell us your success stories!

Is It Time to Let Them Go?

Do you have a client that seems to be constantly unhappy? Perhaps they honestly feel you haven’t been taking care of their tasks and projects the way they’d like you to. Even when you’ve done all you feel you can they are still unhappy and loudly and unpleasantly let you and others know. It may be time to let them go.

If you’ve done all you can, it doesn’t matter if they are right or not. You will do more harm to your business keeping them as a client. As we state on page 39 in The Commonsense Virtual Assistant – Becoming an Entrepreneur, Not an Employee: ” If you decide that an ongoing relationship will do more harm than good to both of you, calmly, politely let them know that you’ve done all you can. Apologize that you haven’t been able to make them happy. Express a genuine hope that someone else who offers the same product or service will be able to do what you can’t. And that’s all.”

Have you had to let a client go? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

What’s Your Unique Selling Proposition?

At our monthly NCAE meeting Monday night, our guest speaker was Anne Sandler of PIZZAZZ Communications. She spoke to us about how we could each develop our USP – Unique Selling Proposition. Anne explains that your USP is your ultimate benefit statement. It should be one line and stated in about 7 seconds.

To develop your USP, write down who your customers are and what their needs are. Then write down your services and what you do to fulfill your client’s needs. Then what’s in it for your client? How do your services benefit them? Then you can take that to write down your Unique Selling Proposition.

Here at Chief Virtual Officer, our USP is: “I help my clients go from employee to entrepreneur.”