Will My VA Charge a Setup Fee?

“Let’s get started!”

Fantastic! We love your enthusiasm, but we want to make sure the cart doesn’t go before the horse. You have built your business and the processes within it a particular way; you hold the keys to the kingdom. We need at least the castle blueprints before we can breach the gate efficiently. Sometimes those blueprints are very detailed. Other times, they are scribbled on a napkin or trapped in your head.

If you are wondering about a set-up fee and if it pertains to you and your business, here’s a few flags that are a sign you might need the extra time and help.

You are a fairly new business (~6 mos or less)

Congratulations! Welcome to the wonderful world of following your dreams and being your own boss! Most businesses don’t start with a host of patrons and investors, so a new business is probably a naked business. You don’t have the “armour” of tried and true processes or digital tools to protect you against uncertainties. Not to worry though, we can help! We have templates, workflows, and other tools to help you build a starter armour set.

All the processes are in your head

This may or may not need a setup fee, but we’ve found that if it’s not documented somewhere, we’ll probably need to spend extra time to get things ready to go. If your processes are all stuck in your noggin, we need to get them out! If you can do so on your own, well… no setup needed. If you need some help dumping everything out and sorting through it, that’s where a setup would come into play. We know how to guide and ask the right questions to get all the knowledge we need to get the job done.

Technology is NOT your friend

If all those project management, CRM, and digital tools just make your head swirl, it’s a pretty good sign you will need a setup fee. Being virtual, it is vital to have everything we need to complete our tasks in a digital platform. This is not to say you need to use it too! You are the business owner; the only thing you need to know is it’s taken care of. However, we still need to gather your processes and mold them to fit the right digital tools for your business and, you guessed it, set up those tools!

At the end of the day, you can rest assured no matter how organized (or disorganized) your business is, Office Mercenary can take care of the problem. We will do everything in our power to provide the resources you need to avoid a virtual assistant setup fee, but, if it is needed, you can trust us to create a solid foundation for you and your business to succeed.

Learn to Let Go

No, we’re not talking about that song that millions of people (mostly young girls, but we won’t judge) were obsessed with. We’re talking about your business, learning to delegate, and knowing how hard that can be sometimes.

I want you to take a second and ask you to think about why you went out and started a business in the first place. Starting a business is a brave and dangerous thing. You could have kept working for someone else, had a steady paycheck, and left business growth in the hands of others. You chose a different path, one that is more personal and arguably harder. But why?

Flexibility? More time for the things you loved and wanted to be doing? Wanting something your own? Knowing you could get things done as well or better your way? Some strange combination of those and more?

Honestly, that’s why we went into business too. We get it. 

With all the time, effort, blood, Let your business go some so that it can growsweat, and possibly tears, your business feels like your baby. And like your baby, it’s hard to let go. You spent all this time making it this far, handing any aspect of it over to some stranger can feel wrong, scary, and generally bad.

The thing is, while your business may feel like your baby, ultimately for you and your business to grow and thrive, you can’t treat it like your baby. If we’re going to really dedicate ourselves to this analogy, you need to treat your business like your school age child- let them spend some time out in the world, interacting and learning from others so they become more functional. 

You’ve done what you’ve needed to get where you are, but did you really get into business to spend most of your time answering emails? Handling admin tasks? Doing bookkeeping? Fretting over social media and marketing? Unless you specifically started a business for one of these items, probably not, and then, it’s one or two of those items, not everything. This is both the physical and emotional reality of your own business: there is only so much time and you need to focus on revenue generating items and what “sparks joy.”

Of course, we’re going to focus on things that our virtual assistants Do more of what makes you happy.can help with, but it’s something to consider with any number of experts. What are you good at? What do you enjoy? Now, honestly, what are you not great at and hate doing? Everything still needs to get done, but it might not be happening either as often as it should or, sometimes, at all. Handing these things off gives you more time for the things you enjoy doing, things that make you and your business more effective and profitable, and bonus mental health points for not stressing about what you aren’t able to do. 

It would be nice if there were a magic wand to wave that would make us ready mentally and emotionally ready to hand parts of our business off, but there’s not. There are a few steps to help make the transition easier though (See our blog on Where to Start). Some of these may take time it feels like you don’t have, but remember – we’re aiming for long term success! The time and money you spend handing things off ends up returning to you multiplied.

What does all of this come down to? Be honest with yourself and what you want out of your business and your life. There’s plenty of fears, both reasonable and unreasonable, when it comes to letting someone into this huge part of your existence. If you do it right however, it can lead to much more joy and prosperity than you could believe. The second you really believe that, letting it go becomes much easier.

Where To Start With A Virtual Assistant?

You’ve made the leap and decided it’s time to hand off some of the tasks within your business. Congratulations! This is a giant step forward in your business success!

Start at the right place and timeBut, where exactly are you supposed to start? You may or may not already have a list to pass off (if you’re having trouble letting go, read THIS), but is there something better to start with?

The short answer is YES, but because your business is unique, that starting place will be too. Here’s what we recommend you start with to assess what works best for your specific needs:

First, having some sort of structure for your business. It’s difficult to bring in anyone to help if you don’t have an idea of how you want your business to run in an ideal setting!

We like to start by mapping out your business from a bird’s eye view, something we like to call a MACRO MAP. (You can schedule time with us to have us help you make one for free!) This is not a spot to get super detailed, you’re really looking for the main steps that move a customer along. This may also start giving you an idea where choke-holds might be to hold back progress. If you already have a team it’s also a good place to solidify who should be doing what in the company. With a team, if something with one other person or group is causing constant headaches, delays, etc., this is something else to keep in mind where adding a virtual assistant to support part of that team may be helpful.

Our example is based on a service-Sample Macro Mapbased company, like a landscaper. You move through, there’s a few spots where your apprentice helps with sales and does more with projects, but mostly it’s the owner running everything. Project #1 is probably something smaller, like replacing bushes. Project #3 might be designing a new backyard. Project #2 would be something like the design and full replacement of the backyard landscaping, where both the owner and apprentice might be involved.

After this, some people find it helpful to assign pricing values to each of these large steps. The final sales pitch, the primary service provided, networking, and similar items that generate revenue are probably worth the most to your company. The specialized skills you have, that you’re a master at, are clearly not entry level work and you should price your time accordingly based on the things where it really matters that you are doing the work. One the other side of the coin, following an initial script, sending emails, and necessary but easy, monotonous tasks are not high end business functions and should be priced based on that. If your specialized time is worth more than the entry-level tasks, and you’re still doing those basic items, your business is technically losing money. If an apprentice or other higher end employee is doing basic tasks, you’re not losing as much money, but you still are.

With that, you can then assign items you want to hand off to a virtual assistant. If you still have Macro map sample with virtual assistantmultiple tasks and would rather start with one or two, then go back to what causes the biggest headache or what you like doing the least as the starting point and the VA can grown into the remaining pieces.

At the end of the day, your company can not grow if the most valuable asset (YOU) is bogged down answering questions via email that get asked 10 times a day, which is why developing a partnership with a virtual assistant to start, or continue growing, your team is a great decision.

How’d you come up with the name Office Mercenary?

People have mostly responded well to our business name, a chuckle being most frequent, with an aside of it being ‘cool’ or ‘unique’ but still fairly obvious what we meant. The question we get a lot though is “How’d you come up with that name?”

When I left corporate-landia, I was pretty fried. I had spent years as the go-to person when no one else knew how to do something and was charged with figuring it out. This meant I had an oddly broad skill range with a vague idea that small businesses might like access to some of that. I took a little time to reset, which included some gardening, doing work on the house, napping, and re-reading some of my favorite books, which skew heavily to sci-fi and fantasy, while I figured out what I was really going to do with myself. 

I had been going through a big chunk of my Mercedes Lackey collection, going  straight from the Vows & Honor trilogy into By the Sword. In these, the heroines all spend some time with mercenary groups, but especially Kerowyn in By the Sword. There’s a point where it’s discussed about using the right mercenary group for the right thing. Mounted units don’t go in front of the infantry. Don’t put people in a lot of armor in charge of sneaking anywhere. Don’t let the mage go barreling into rooms to test for traps or see if there’s hostiles since they’re “squishy.” It’s the same concept if you’ve ever played Dungeons and Dragons honestly.

At the time I was thinking how this concept with mercenaries was the same as in an office. Get the right person for the right job. Some skills cross over well, others don’t, so maybe consider that when you need to expand someone’s job description. If you find someone with the ability to be versatile and cover a range of items or a large amount of work, you take care of them (or put more and more on them until they burn out, which is less ideal). But most truly small businesses and solopreneurs couldn’t straight up hire people like that and afford the benefits and other perks, much less have work to keep them fully busy.

I knew what type of virtual assistant I was going to be, specifically being that helpful catch all. Then came titling. I spent a lot of time playing with a “Jill of the Office,” like a Jack of all trades, but just for office work. I ended up fidgeting with some items while putting together the design for my business cards that brought back my thoughts to mercenaries and battle. The pin from my grandmother and letter opener my mother passed on to me while setting up my home office, both in the shape of swords. This led my brain back to the books and how these mercenaries were meant to get in, do what they were best at, and then get out of the way for others to do the same thing. And that’s exactly what I wanted to be: someone who could do what was needed and get out of the way so small business owners could do what they were best at. 

And the concept of an office mercenary was born.