During my last round of Virtual Assistant interviews for a position with my company, I heard several variations of the same question.
“Sir, is this an affiliate position?”
“Well, I expect you to know something about affiliate promotions, but that won’t be your job. You’re interviewing for a Webmaster position.”
“No sir, will this be a salary job, or only affiliate commission? I can’t accept affiliate position.”
A bit of questioning revealed that many would-be employers have had the great idea of hiring Filipino VA’s on commission, or only paying them once they started generating enough affiliate income to cover their wages. What a great idea! A true bootstrap operation.
Unfortunately, reality intrudes upon this dream. The type of worker who would accept this proposal is either;
1. Independently wealthy, or (much more likely),
2. Going to send you plagiarized crap scrapped from the bowels of the Internet in the hope that you will pay them before you are slapped with a DMCA notice.
For a moment, put yourself in their position. Do you ever wonder if your employer has enough money to make payroll this week? Will McDonalds sell enough Double Quarter Pounders to keep paying minimum wage? Silly question, right?
Not if you are a Virtual Assistant working for a person you’ve never met. At least if you work for McDonalds and they don’t pay, you could use your key to the freezer room and steal barter your time for enough hamburger patties to eat for the week (and a few extra to give your landlord in lieu of rent this month).
The Virtual Worker has no such recourse. No matter how highly you may value your thoughts, websites, and articles; they are not really resalable on the open market for cold cash. So stealing your articles and trading them at the local market for baby formula is not really an option.
This explains why presenting yourself as an actual business is essential when working with Virtual Employees. At a minimum, this requires a tax ID, a business checking account, a PayPal Merchant account (which you can’t get unless you have a business checking account), and enough cash to pay your worker for completed work.
Sounds like a lot of trouble and expense to set up, doesn’t it? Not really. In the US, these are all fairly simple to set up and almost all can be done online. Even the IRS, noted for archaic ways, will now issue tax ID’s for businesses online. For my readers outside the US, you are going to have to jump through a lot more hoops to get recognized as serious.
As for the expense, the tax ID is free. Setting up the bank account can be very low cost (as long as you refuse the upsell to “Premium Business Checking”). I used $50.00 to open my business checking account at my local credit union. And the PayPal application is free.
It CAN get expensive; if you go overboard and pay for a logo design, a website, business cards, letterhead stationery, and all the other crap that you have been enticed to believe “real” businesses must have. Stick to the basics. A real business is one that makes money, not one that gives out fancy business cards.
Yes, this is the boring part of business, and yes, it has to be done. You have to be set up to both make and accept payments to be seen as a “real” business.