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Old 08-06-2012
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Smile Share Your Experience(s) If You Have VA'd for Family or Friends
Hi Everyone,

I haven't been approached by any family or friends to work with them as their VA, however, I have been asked for 'free' advice on what to do to enhance their business(es)

As a general rule, I will help anyone who asks me, however, if we get past the general explanation as to 'how to do something' to being asked to actually do the work, I have referred family members and friends to my website to select a consultation or VA package. I do not discount either because they get the same expertise as anyone else.

Have you been approached by family or friends to be their VA? If so, how did you handle that issue?

Did you agree to work with them? If so, how did you handle billing?

If it is your policy not to work with family or friends, share with us why you have not.

Janine
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Old 08-06-2012
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Default Re: Share Your Experience(s) If You Have VA'd for Family or Friends
Great Question Janine!

I haven't been approached by Family or Friends but that is probably because I've made it very clear- I don't mix business with my personal relationships.
In the past, I have had bad experiences combining friends/family with any type of money relationship.
I've also seen others have the same problem, so I am quite firm when it comes to that situation.
My husband has tried many times to talk me into buying from his cousin when we are ready to remodel our kitchen (cousin has taken over the kitchen/bath store that has been in his family for many years). I refuse to do it, even if we could get a discount. There always ends up being bad blood.
I know that if anything went wrong, hubs would just let it slide while I would insist on it being made right, family or not. That would be the problem.

So, I am happy to answer questions and do very minor things for them but, if it appears we are waltzing near "time to pay" territory, I send them elsewhere. :-)

Mind you: this is the exact same cousin who asked me about a new website years ago and how much I would charge him to do one. Gave him a very fair estimate (was trying to make nice at the beginning of our marriage) and he took my design ideas and hired someone else.

~C
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Old 08-06-2012
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Default Re: Share Your Experience(s) If You Have VA'd for Family or Friends
Well Janine, I haven't been approached by anyone in my family, no one has their own business. I only get approached when someone can't do something on the computer, or it's not working right, that type of thing.

But I was asked by a friend of mine to set up an online business for her which would be a website, shopping cart, etc.

Now I have to say I have been trying to get her to start an online business for the longest time. She is a teacher and she really hates technology.

So one day, out of the blue, she asked me to set up an online business for her. She really has no idea of how much work there is to setting this up.

She offered to pay me a percentage, I guess for students that sign on with her, but that doesn't work for this situation. I sent her back an email explaining that this would take a lot of work and time, which I did not have.

So I found a VA who did this type of work who also offered different packages along with various features.

I sent that to her and that was the last I ever heard about this request.

I guess she saw what was really involved and how much it cost and decided not to go with it.

The thing is a lot of people have no idea what we do and why it costs what it does. But if technology was so easy, everyone would be doing it.
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Old 08-06-2012
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Default Re: Share Your Experience(s) If You Have VA'd for Family or Friends
I have had some friends approach me, but have been firm about pricing. My rates are already really too low (will be changing them soon). I find that I spend the same amount of time researching for them or coming up with ideas and they never come back. I dont see it as a loss though. I figure that if they ever need something they are serious about they'll come back or I shouldn't have been working with them to begin with. Like Christina said, I'm more than happy to point people in the right direction and even give them advice but if they dont want to pay for the services they sort of get a "google this and that" end answer from me. It may be that I have younger friends, but they do sort of have a haggle mentality when they approach me to begin with and they even laugh or brush me off when I mention a consultation and contract etc. Havent yet had a personal friend hire me as of yet and I sort of just think that if its meant to be it will come together.
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Old 08-06-2012
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Default Re: Share Your Experience(s) If You Have VA'd for Family or Friends
Hi Janine,

I've never had a formal policy regarding taking on family and friends as clients but I have had several family members who were clients in the past. One was my brother who hired me to help format an instruction manual and then was quite taken aback at the amount of time it was taking. He said he would take it over himself and then shortly afterward came back to have me finish the job. He had discovered while doing it himself that my time investment was perfectly reasonable and I was able to do it quicker than he was. It was a learning experience for both of us and not a bad one. It taught me to check in regularly with clients if there was any question around how much time was being billed to ensure both were comfortable to continue. It also helped reinforce my belief in myself and my abilities which was important as I was still new to being a VA. The other client was another family member who knew what he wanted, didn't care how long it took and was willing to pay whatever needed to get the job done. I billed both in the same manner I would bill any other client.

I think if it came up in the future it would depend on the person and what they needed from me to decide whether or not to go ahead but I would certainly take on either family member again as clients if they were in need of my services.

HTH!
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Old 08-06-2012
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Default Re: Share Your Experience(s) If You Have VA'd for Family or Friends
I have worked with a family member however I also worked with this person in the JOB workplace too. Friends, never. If I am approached by a friend I offer to help them find someone however I will not work with them.

I do mentor a friend, however I do not charge her for that service. She is like a sister and needed some input as she moves up the corporate ladder. It is more of a friend mentoring because she knows business than a business mentor who is also a friend.
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Old 08-06-2012
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Default Re: Share Your Experience(s) If You Have VA'd for Family or Friends
I have done a little bit of work for my brother.

He's in the Agricultural industry and wanted to create an agreement for his customers to sign - so I created one for him, plus I did his brochures to advertise, and now it may look like I'll be doing some of his bookkeeping *sigh*
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