This post is for prospective clients interested in hiring a virtual assistants.
I don’t know where this disconnect is coming from, but I have to have a little plain-speaking talk with some of you.
This is an area of growing concern, and for your sake–and our sanity–I need to educate you on the topic of hiring contractors.
Contractors, such as virtual assistants, are not your employees.
They are independent professionals, just like yourself, who run their own businesses.
They have their own policies, procedures, standards and schedules. For most Virtual Assistants, it is their pleasure to share this information with you during a consultation.
With an independent contractor such as a Virtual Assistant, you get lots of advantages, some of which include:
- More time.
- More energy.
- Better focus.
- Faster progress.
- Less stress.
- Easier business.
- More resources.
- More money.
(Check out our Client Guide article on the topic: The Benefits of Support
I could list a ton more advantages and benefits, but I think you get the idea.
You do need to understand one thing, however–hiring independent contractor is not a way to get an under-the-table substitute employee you don’t pay taxes on.
- When you hire an independent contractor, you don’t get to tell us what you’ll pay. We determine our own professional fees based on business economics and what will sustain our businesses profitably. You have only to decide that the value is there for you or not.
- You don’t get to tell us how to do the work that will be performed or what equipment we use. You only have a say in telling us what you want accomplished or the results you want achieved.
- We don’t “report” to you so we will not be filling out time reports or any other kinds of “reports” for that matter, nor attending employee meetings (virtual or otherwise) because we are not your employee or part of your “team.” We perform work from our own facilities.
- You don’t get to tell us when the work will be done or what hours you expect us to be available. We manage our own time and work according to our own business schedule. Our relationship is one of business and client. Our only concern and obligation to you is that we accomplish the work we’ve been engaged to perform in the manner and timeframe agreed upon.
If you want or need someone who is solely dedicated to your business only, who you can supervise and manage, and who you can pay employee wages to, then you need an employee or a telecommuter (a telecommuter is someone who fits the legal definition of an employee but works from home).
That also means you need to follow employment laws, which means deducting taxes and paying your share as an employer, as well as paying for the legally-defined employee’s equipment and expenses.
Keep in mind that just because you both sign an independent contractor agreement, you are not protected from liability if the relationship doesn’t meet IRS or FLSA rules that determine whether an independent contractor is really an employee.
The law does not uphold agreements that are illegal in the first place, and if the IRS determines this is the case, it is you who will be paying penalties and back taxes on those “independent contractors,” not to mention any other benefits and reimbursements they would have received as an employee in your company.
And look, since I’m speaking plainly, I realize that it hurts to part with money and paying taxes is painful.
But we’re in the same boat. We independent contractors have businesses to run just like you.
We can’t work for peanuts, and we have to ensure our profitability so we can stay in business and continue to give great service to clients.
It’s a two-way street, and business economics applies to both parties.
And frankly, if someone isn’t just innocently ignorant about these things, and is really intentionally looking to cheat Uncle Sam (and in the process, the person who should have legally been classified as an employee in the first place), my first thought is what else are they going to be shady and unethical about? I don’t want anything to do with anyone like that.
So do us and yourself a favor.
Please treat us with the same demeanor and professional respect as you would expect to be treated yourself as a business owner.
Keep in mind the dos and don’ts I’ve listed above, and you’ll very happily find yourself in a great business relationship with an independent virtual assistant contractor who can give your business great skill, value and flexibility and help it grow beyond what you could ever accomplish all by yourself.