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An Expense and Time Worksheet to Help Determine Billing Rate
By Nina Feldman & Marlene McCall

Wondering about the overall costs and time involved in running a VA or Office Support practice? Here is a worksheet researched and put together by two experienced business owners for the Pricing Roundtable at the IVAA 2nd Annual Summit, October 24, 2003 and updated in 2018.  Free!


Professional Coaching and Consulting with Nina Feldman

Want to know whether you’re qualified to be a professional transcriptionist? I can check your work and give you feedback. Need a critique of your VA website or marketing material? Having a problem with a client and don’t know what to do? Establishing or modifying your pricing strategy? Trying to promote to a particular target market? Wondering if you’ve covered everything in a complicated estimate? Having an ethical dilemma? I can help! Consultation is available by prior appointment. Please send me an e-mail and we’ll work out a time for you to call.

One hour sessions – $60.00


Quickbooks allows you to download a trial version for 60 days with no risk. (If you have access to more than one e-mail address, you could probably do this several times.) has excellent tutorials. You can get unlimited lessons on any program for just $25/month, with no long term commitment. 

. Ed2go has a number of affordable (under $100) online courses in everything from accounting fundamentals to a whole bunch of versions of Quickbooks One of the members of my network highly recommends them.

. East Bay community colleges in the Peralta district, such as Laney, Merritt, Berkeley City College, and The College of Alameda, also offer local and online QB and accounting classes. Go to and search “Quickbooks.”

. Intuit/Quickbooks community is a place where your peers can answer your sticky questions about Quickbooks and other Intuit products, accounting, and best practices (you do not need to be a QB Pro Advisor to use this)

They also offer the opportunity to download a free trial for QB and various tutorials:

. San Francisco City College offers accounting and QB courses for credit and non-credit.

. FREE and inexpensive bookkeeping tutorials:

. QB is available fairly affordably at (often with a rebate if you have used Quicken or Quickbooksbefore). You can also get older versions cheaply at

. Free online webinars for QB power users: Quickbooks Power Hour and their Facebook page

Block & Lowell has a QB blog with lots of good tips.

For people interested in non-profit accounting:

The Simplified Guide to Not-for-Profit Accounting, Formation, and Reporting by Laurence Scot.

A complete and easy to understand guide to the fundamentals of how not-for-profit organizations are formed and run, as well as their structure and the unique accounting and reporting issues they face.Providing you with a comprehensive understanding of how to maintain the “books” of a typical nonprofit entity and comply with numerous reporting requirements, The Simplified Guide to Not-for-Profit Accounting, Formation & Reporting equips you with everything you need to know to form a Not-For-Profit, setup an accounting system, record financial transactions and report to donors and regulatory bodies.

Topics include:

  • Step-by-step guide to forming a Not-For-Profit and applying for tax exemption
  • Becoming familiar with unique Not-For-Profit accounting rules such as classifying contributions/grants and recording restrictions, allocation of expenses to programs and supporting services and investment classification and reporting
  • Budget development, payroll processing and accounting for personnel costs
  • Shows how to prepare and understand required Not-For-Profit financial statement and their components
  • Provides you with a broad understanding of the numerous filing requirement required by donors, grantors and government regulatory agencies

Practical and comprehensive in scope, The Simplified Guide to Not-for-Profit Accounting, Formation & Reporting offers a wealth of practical information to accountants and non-accountants alike for understanding Not-For-Profit financial transactions, financial statements and the many internal and external reports they must prepare.


Using Contracts with Clients – Where to Find Contracts Online

Q: “I have a hard time with handing contracts to my clients. I don’t want them to feel I don’t trust them. Any suggestions?”

A: I used to feel that way when I first started my business, but when I found that at the end of a job some clients would say, “You never told me that!” or “I didn’t know that!” I steeled myself to put things in writing. I put a simple one-page document called “General Customer Information” on the back of my fee sheet, with a signature line at the bottom, and made sure every client signed before we worked together.

To my surprise, people were not only not insulted, they seemed pleased that I was making things clear for them. I try to emphasize that my putting things in writing is for their benefit, so we both know exactly how things will work, what the charges are, etc.

I found, too, that new clients, when they saw my information sheet, seemed more likely to think, “Oh, she must really be professional and experienced; she has everything in writing!” It actually helped them feel more confident in the quality of the service they were getting from me.

I recommend care and discretion in using formal or overly legal-sounding language; it can be intimidating. No need to be wordy; short and sweet is fine. Just make sure there’s a place for the client to sign. Include the contract inside an e-mail and let them know they can type their name it and e-mail it back to you to you. Make sure that they do sign and return it before you start working for them.

Simple Sample

Here’s a sample of a contract that’s not too overwhelming. I find that when people see a lot of legalese, their eyes tend to glaze over and they neglect to read the contract at all. Having them sign something fairly brief, using the client’s name as “client” and yours as “service provider,” allows them to see you’re a serious professional but doesn’t make it seem like you’re going to sue them if something minor goes awry.

For example, in the case of a bookkeeper going onsite to a client’s office:

I, ___(service provider)___, agree to:

1)     keep all work confidential and not divulge, disclose, use for my personal benefit, or communicate in any manner any information that is proprietary to __(client)__

2)     make every effort to complete project(s) by agreed deadline(s).

I, ____(client)____, agree to:

1)     work with ____(service provider)___ to determine the scope of work and set clear objectives as it relates to the company’s accounting software, sales taxes and other tasks to be determined and agreed upon by both parties.

2)     allow access to my accounting software and supply all relevant business information to  __(service provider)__.

3)     be responsible for submitting clear documents to ___(service provider)______ .

4)     be present in the office and available for questions when ___service provider__ is onsite.

I, ___(client)__understand that:

1)    if I am unavailable to answer questions or am unable to provide documentation in a timely manner, _service provider_ may need to modify previously agreed deadline(s).

2)   rate for services is $__ per hour

3)   payment is due at the completion of each day services are provided.

I, ____client___, understand that:

1)     If I need to cancel a scheduled appointment, I will notify __service provider__ at least 24 hours in advance so that s/he may open unused appointments to others.

2)     There will be a fee of $___ if I do not call at least 24 hours ahead of time to cancel.

3)     Cancellations more than once in one month will be charged at 50% of the total hours scheduled unless rescheduled within the same week.

Both parties agree that the project will be a minimum of __hours_ and will negotiate ahead of time the length of each day. The project is anticipated not to exceed ___ hours.  This may be extended as agreed upon by both parties.

Client (print): _________________  Service Provider: ____________________       Signature: ____________________ Signature: _________________________
Date: _______________________  Date:_____________________________

For further ideas of issues to cover in a contract, you can check these websites. If you do use clauses from these contracts, consider re-writing them to come across as straightforwardly and simply as possible:

Bookkeeping contracts

General Independent Contractor Agreement forms

Make a contract to order from boilerplate clauses:
Work for hire agreement and more:

Sample independent contractor agreement and more:;jsessionid=0000UF521OD2e05LnefKazWF_84:10gg6gksc?context=/content&file=/BusinessTools/tools/indcon_m.jsp

Sample collection letters and more

Agreement for professional services and more:

Microsoft Template Gallery – forms and customer letters galore, including billing template:


Tawyna Sutherland of VA Networking provides a wonderful kit called Virtual Assistant in a Box.

You may find her promotional material makes her training sound too good to be true, but I can assure you it’s not. As a seasoned VA (for over 30 years), I have attended her workshops and found them vitally useful and relevant. I wish I’d had the advantage of this kind of information when I started my business; I would have been making money a lot sooner. Without this knowledge it’s very difficult to earn a living in the highly competitive virtual assistant industry.

Tawnya can help you earn what you’re worth by establishing a high level of professionalism and know-how. VA’s who want to make a good living at what they do are lucky that these VA’s are so generous about sharing how they got to that point and how you can, too.

Tawnya’s “Virtual Assistant in a Box”  program teaches you how to:

  • Set up the operations of your Virtual Assistant business easily and with confidence.
  • Write a business plan from scratch that will help you reach your business goals.
  • Show your potential clients what you can really do for them.
  • Establish yourself as a guru in your field so as to attract new and better-qualified clients.
  • Find your service niche in the Virtual Assistant industry and hone into your target market.
  • Keep your name at the top of your prospects’ and clients’ minds and help you to sell more of your services, online and offline.
  • Build a loyal base of “admirers” who are ready to hire you and retain your services month after month.
  • Effortlessly spread the word about your business via “e-marketing.”
  • Save thousands of dollars by developing your own marketing kit, from logos and brochureware to tradeshow presentations and press releases for additional exposure and traffic directed towards your business.
  • Capture the internet market by developing a business website online to create new revenue streams online.
  • Work with contracts that will ensure you have all your ducks in a row.
  • Develop a procedural manual in the event you get sick or want to just take a holiday and know that your business will run smoothly while you’re away.
  • Gain loyal clients through social networks like Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.

Tawnya also provides a number of valuable documents, including a CD-ROM with 125 business templates, e-books, tutorials, charts, articles, coupons and even Virtual Assistant business contracts.

Don’t try to reinvent the wheel! You will save enormous amounts of time and money by learning from one or both of these VA’s how and where to get started working as a VA.

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