I’m not a fan of the word “fair” (a cousin of “reasonable”) when used in relation to our fees because it’s usually code for “cheap” and “work for free” and “I’ll give you my skill and expertise for practically nothing.”
What is fair about that? Fair means fair to both parties, not giving something away of value to the other party while sacrificing your own needs and worth.
But the way it’s typically used, especially in Virtual Assistant circles, it’s about giving away far too much to clients for nothing. I have never in my life come across an industry so completely entrenched in devaluing itself and earning poorly. It’s so completely insane.
So let’s look at what’s really fair…
If your expertise costs a client several hundred dollars a month (for example, I get paid $1200-1600 a month for what roughly amounts to a 20-hour retainer) and as a result of working with you, that client:
- gains X number of hours back in his pocket to focus elsewhere and enjoy more life and freedom;
- has his business run more smoothly, thus reducing administration and increasing profitability;
- gets more done and makes faster progress;
- makes more money above and beyond what he pays you each month due to your support…
Wouldn’t you say that’s “fair?”
And I’m on the higher end of the scale. If a client paying you even between $9600-16,800 a year ends up increasing their annual income by $10,000, $15,000, $20,000 or $50,000 and beyond as a result of your skill and expertise helping them accomplish more, achieve goals, and move forward, I’d say that was a bargain.
It’s certainly a far more equitable (fair) exchange and it’s what is meant when we use the term “value.” Value does NOT mean coupons, discounts, two-for-one sales or otherwise devaluing your service and giving work away for free.
This is all the more reason we need to stop calling ourselves “assistants.” (I prefer Administrative Consultant, myself). We are experts in our own right–that of administrative skill and expertise. The word “assistant” inherently puts you in a subordinate role and lower perceived value ranking. People don’t consider “assistants” as experts.
A simple change in terminology can have a dramatic effect on your professional self-esteem and how prospective clients view you: as an administrative expert whose skill and insights can help their business move forward, not a flunky who’s just there to order around.
And remember, just because someone is new in business doesn’t mean their skill and expertise is any less valuable. And that’s what clients should be paying for… not your time.