What is a virtual assistant contract?
Working with a virtual assistant is a new experience for many online business owners. As a virtual assistant, you can set the terms of the relationship by proposing a virtual assistant contract. This is a helpful tool to address questions regarding communication, time zone differences, and confidentiality. This blog details the following questions that you may have about Virtual Assistant Contracts.
Virtual Assistant Contract:
- Why do you need a virtual assistant agreement?
- What should be included in a virtual assistant contract?
- Sample virtual assistant contract template
- Virtual assistant contract template FAQs
- Receive virtual assistants payments easily
1. Why do you need a virtual assistant agreement?
There are a few reasons why it is smart to create a virtual assistant agreement to protect your virtual assistant business.
1.1. Define your expectations
Your clients may make unreasonable demands until you clearly define your business expectations. A contract will help your clients understand what you expect, such as communications (e.g. you prefer to use Slack, with email as a backup). In addition, your client is going to be trusting you with sensitive information about your business and customers. Therefore, it is fair to have a confidentiality clause in your agreement.
Your clients will also have their own needs, which should be defined in the contract. For instance, your clients want to know when and how much to pay. Therefore, your contract should be clear about compensation, including payment schedules (e.g. weekly, monthly, etc.).
1.2. Set boundaries
You can also use a virtual assistant contract to define boundaries between the client and your business. For example, your clients might be in the United States while you live outside the US. In this situation, you may want to set boundaries relating to public holidays and time zone differences to prevent confusion.
1.3. Operate your business professionally
Most business owners aim to have a long-term relationship with their virtual assistants. For this relationship to last, it should be defined professionally, which means having a written agreement or contract. If you are ever interested in selling your virtual assistant business in the future, having contracts with your key clients can help.
1.4. Clarify the nature of the business relationship
When you work with virtual assistant clients, it is vital to define the nature of the relationship. Your clients may not be sure if you expect to be seen as an employee with benefits or a business owner working on a contract basis.
Assuming you have multiple clients, it is typically best to describe yourself as an independent contractor. You may also want to state that you do not expect employee benefits like health insurance.
2. What should be included in a virtual assistant contract
The specific details you cover in a virtual assistant contract will depend on your specific business. Most virtual assistant business owners consider covering the following areas in their agreements.
- Job description
- Company Overview
- Compensation structure
- Confidentiality expectations
- Requirements for technology (i.e. you might need access to systems etc.)
- Dispute resolution process
- Intellectual property
- Industry-specific requirements
2.1. Managing Contract Complexity
If you are inexperienced in creating contracts, you may be tempted to create a highly elaborate contract. This inclination is understandable because you might have had bad past experiences working with others.
With that in mind, remember what a virtual assistant contract can and cannot do. A contract is not a replacement for open and direct communication. Further, a contract does not eliminate the need to learn each client’s specific needs.
3. Sample virtual assistant contract template
The following sample virtual assistant contract templates give you a starting point to create your contract. To retain your clients, remember to accommodate their requests and needs reasonably. If the client requests substantial changes, it is wise to prepare an updated contract that clarifies the changes in a single document.
For convenience, we have created separate Google Docs versions of these sample virtual assistant contracts:
Remember to take the time to carefully reach each sample and customize it to the needs of your business.
3.1. Sample 1 – Entry Level Virtual Assistant
The following basic agreement is suitable for a virtual assistant focusing on entry-level business support tasks. Sections in BOLD CAPITALS require customization to meet your company’s specific news.
This virtual assistant agreement (“Agreement”) is made DATE. between [VIRTUAL ASSISTANT, hereafter referred to as the “VA”] and [YOUR Company, hereafter referred to as “the Client”
- DESCRIPTION OF SERVICES.
Beginning on START DATE, the VA will perform the following services:
- Internet research
- Data entry
- Create business reports
- Transcribe business call recordings
- Other duties as assigned
- SERVICE LOCATION.
The VA will work at a place of their choosing. The Client requires that the place be sufficiently quiet that the VA can conduct meetings when required,’
The VA will work up to 20 hours per workweek between Monday and Friday. Public holidays in India and the United States are excluded. It is expected that business emails and messages will be acknowledged within 24 hours.
- PAYMENT FOR SERVICES.
The Client will pay a fixed monthly fee of $2000 to the VA. The VA must create and send an invoice to the Client every month. Payments will be made twice per month (i.e. 26 payments per calendar year).
Bonus payments will be available based on performance which includes timely communication, high-quality deliverables, and adding value to the Client.
- TERM AND TERMINATION.
The Agreement is valid for a term of six months and will be automatically renewed for another six months period.
In the event that the VA or Client wish to terminate the agreement for any reason, they may do so with 21 days’ written notice. Final payment will be issued to the VA upon receipt of a valid invoice.
The VA will not directly or indirectly disclose any information gained from working with the Client including but not limited to the following:
- Customer lists
- Financial data
- Trade secrets
The VA agrees to avoid directly or indirectly soliciting any customers from the Client’s business for the duration of the contract and for one year following the termination of the Contract.
- RELATIONSHIP OF PARTIES.
The VA is considered an independent contractor. The Client will not provide benefits such as health insurance, paid vacation, retirement savings, or any other employee benefit for the VA.
- OWNERSHIP OF WORK PRODUCT.
The VA’s creation of information, products, documents, inventions, and other materials (collectively defined as the “Work Product”) shall be the property of the Client.
Upon request, the VA shall sign all documents necessary to confirm the exclusive ownership of the Client to the Work Product.
If any provision of this Contract shall be held to be invalid or unenforceable for any reason, the remaining provisions shall continue to be valid and enforceable. If a court finds that any provision of this Agreement is invalid or unenforceable, but that by limiting such provision it would become valid and enforceable, then such provision shall be deemed to be written,construed, and enforced as so limited.
3.2. Sample 2 – Executive Virtual Assistant Contract
An executive virtual assistant typically has increased skills and experience, especially in communication. As a result, this type of virtual assistant offering can often charge higher prices. In addition, there are some additional points you may wish to cover in your contracts.
- Communication Requirements
Use the contract provisions in Sample 1 as your base. Then discuss adding additional sections and clauses to cover other issues. For example, your client may ask you to answer your phone calls and respond to emails on their behalf. These additional responsibilities may be subject to limitations.
For example, the client might exclude the VA from responding to certain people like family members or a handful of high-value clients. Designing these restrictions takes careful thought. If the client imposes too many restrictions on you, it will be tough for you to be productive.
- Working Hours
Beyond communication, hours of work may be an important point to consider. Your client may be located in New York or Miami and typically run their business between 9 am to 5 pm. If you plan to work different hours due to your local time zone, state these expectations in your contract.
- Hybrid, Remot,e or Traditional Working Arrangements
Traditionally, virtual assistants work remotely. However, this arrangement may not be ideal for some types of executive virtual assistants. For example, some clients might want a virtual assistant to work in their office or coworking space a few days a week.
As a virtual assistant business owner, you get to decide which types of clients you want. You might decide to only accept 100% remote client arrangements. You may still encounter some clients who want their virtual assistants to come into their office. It is up to you to negotiate in this situation by pointing out the value of modern digital communication such as video calls, phone calls, and collaboration tools. If the client still disagrees with you, you may have to decline to do business with them.
It is possible to discourage this type of client request by the way you set up your online presence. For example, you might write that you offer “100% remote” virtual assistant services on your website. Further, back up this statement with testimonials from clients who were happy to work with you on a remote basis. These decisions can help you attract clients who prefer to work on a remote basis.
- Credentials and Access To Information
The final topic to cover is access to infrastructure and credentials. For instance, your client may decide to give you access to a business credit card to make purchases. In addition, you may also need access to company email accounts. Further enhancing your confidentiality expectations may be wise.
3.3. Sample 3 – Technical Virtual Assistant
A technical virtual assistant is a person with above-average technical skills. For example, a highly technical VA might have top-notch WordPress skills. In this case, there are a few other points you may want to cover in your contract.
- System Access
Carrying out technology work requires system access. That means you will need to ask your VA to create accounts to facilitate your work. For example, accounts to access your hosting account, your email marketing service, and GitHub may be needed. Describing what kind of access you plan to provide in the contract is a smart way to set expectations.
- Version Control
Version control is a common practice in software development. It is an organizational process to maintain different versions of a product. For example, your client might ask you to develop a new website or mobile app features in a test environment. Version control is especially valuable for more advanced technical work in case something goes wrong.
- Intellectual Property
When you work with clients on development projects, it is vitally important to be clear about intellectual property. You want to define who owns the code, designs and other materials created. The sample 1 contract covered this topic at a high level. It’s worth going to an added level of detail in this subject, however.
Some companies expect their technology consultants to carry insurance (i.e. errors and omissions insurance). Relatively few virtual assistants carry this type of insurance. If you do have this type of insurance, clearly state it with your client. IT may help you land high end clients who are more interested in working with professionals rather than price.
Many businesses, including small companies, suffer losses from cybersecurity attacks and hacks. Completely preventing these attacks is difficult if not impossible. However, you can take steps to reduce the likelihood and impact of these attacks. In the contract, you may find it useful to set out your specific security best practices. For example, you might strongly encourage the client to enable multi-factor authentication and use object lock technology to improve their security.
4. Virtual assistant contract template FAQs
Virtual assistant contract templates will get you started, but there is more to making this business relationship work.
4.1. What’s the difference between working with an individual and a VA company?
As a virtual assistant, you may get questions from clients asking whether you are a solo operator or a larger VA company. To thoroughly answer this question, put yourself in the client’s situation for a moment.
There are generally two ways to run a virtual assistant business: solo operators and VA companies. With a solo operator, you have a direct relationship with the client. This offers advantages such as negotiating and creating a contract that perfectly fits both of you. On the other hand, there is a downside – your client may be concerned about what will happen to their needs if you are ill or on vacation.
The other option for clients is to work with a VA company like Time Etc, Belay or Magic. These companies offer standardized prices for virtual assistant services. In addition, these companies have multiple virtual assistants on staff, so clients are less likely to be impacted by illness or time off work. The downside is that larger companies may be reluctant to negotiate and customize contracts to meet clients’ needs.
Whether you operate as a solo contractor or part of a larger company, it is important to be able to emphasize the benefits of your business structure.
4.2. Do I need a lawyer to review the contract?
We cannot give legal advice. If you have any questions or concerns about your planned virtual assistant contract, it is best to ask a lawyer. The good news is that you can have your contract reviewed once and use it for years to come.
4.3. How do I negotiate a contract if the client disagrees with me?
Start by recognizing that contract negotiations are nothing unusual. If you have found a virtual assistant client you like, it is worth discussing the contract with them.
If the client disagrees with the wording of a specific part of the contract, ask them to revise the provision. For example, your contract might state that invoices are paid in 30 days, but the client wants to pay in a different time frame. Propose alternatives such as making multiple monthly payments to see if that arrangement suits your needs better.
4.4. You have questions about the exact duties required by the client
When you start working with a client, you may not be sure which tasks are required. As a starting point, list the most common 3-5 tasks that most clients ask you to do. Please share this list with your client and ask them where they want to start. Offering this suggestion is a good way to get started.
If the client asks you to perform more complex tasks, it is smart to ask for training. For example, you might ask the client to record a Loom video showing the process. Investing time and effort in training upfront is wise because it helps you become productive more quickly.
If the working relationship works smoothly, you may start to feel comfortable requesting or proposing more complex or creative tasks to your VA. In that situation, you may want to revisit your compensation. If a client has been working with you steadily for months and you are generating more value for them, it is only reasonable to ask for more compensation.
5. Receive Virtual Assistants Payments Easily
Carefully creating a virtual assistant contract will take time. Once you find a client who is a good fit for your needs, make sure you try to retain them. One of the easiest ways to keep your clients is to make it easy for clients to pay you on time or early. Use CheckYa to send invoices, and you can get paid directly into your bank account.