Updated: Feb 27
I’ve heard allllll before. Time and time again. And then some more.
‘What if I don’t have the right experience to be a Virtual Assistant?’. ‘I’ve never been a Personal Assistant so I can’t set up as a Virtual Assistant’, ‘I can’t offer services that clients want.’.
And I’ll give the same answer that I give every. single. time.
The beauty of running your own business, is that you tailor it to your strengths and offer the services you feel comfortable offering.
There is no Virtual Assistant exam. There is no official qualification that gives you a certificate with a stamp on it that you can proudly display on your insta-ready home-office wall, (incidentally, if you want to know how to set up a home office space in any home, find out here!). There are no bouncers on the doors of the Virtual Assistant community, checking your employment history before letting you in.
So that’s the good news! In theory literally anyone, including my 4-year-old daughter, can decide they want to be a Virtual Assistant, come up with a company name, tell everyone about it and start offering some sort of services.
In order to be a successful VA, earning actual money from real-life clients, and crucially to maintain the integrity of the community as a whole, you do have to have certain skills. Without these, you will find yourself with an undoubtedly gorgeous but completely useless website, an empty diary and an equally empty business bank account.
So take a deep breath, and read on.
Those of you who live your lives in organised chaos, do NOT freak out! I’m not saying you have to be the Marie Kondo of the VA world, (if you don’t know her, look her up. She has seriously upped my wardrobe game!). I’m not even saying you have to have your personal life organised, if you prefer to have an element of fluidity in your days.
What I AM saying, is that you must know how to be organised. You’ve got to be able to organise other people’s diaries, prioritise tasks, make lists, tick off the lists, make new lists, tick off those lists and manage your own time effectively. You’ve got to be aware of the tools that enable organisation – whether you choose to use them when you take off your VA hat is entirely up to you!
I’m not going to sugar-coat it. Running your own business can be a challenge. There will be times when you post a poll on your stories and don’t get a single response. There will be leads who don’t convert into clients. There will be tech challenges that make you want to launch your laptop out of the nearest window and bury your head in ice cream. If you are likely to run screaming at the first sign of difficulty, then running your own business, (in any field), is not going to be for you. There, I said it.
Problem solving ability
Ever successfully navigated the tantrum of a screaming toddler? Made a delicious meal from two eggs, a tomato and half a bunch of asparagus because you forgot to buy pizza at the shop? Rearranged a bedroom because the dressing table didn’t have enough light?
Problem solving is an essential skill for any aspiring Virtual Assistant. Let’s not forget, your clients are paying you to solve some of their problems, (not their dinner-based problems, most likely, but still). The chances are, they are short on time - you are there to help solve that problem. They may be struggling to organise their emails - in you step, brandishing your magic wand. They may want a beautiful PowerPoint making but have all the creativity of a paperclip. Again – there you are, solving their problems like the superhero that you are.
So there you have it. Three skills that will have your Virtual Assistant business flourishing and clients banging down your virtual door.
You don’t need qualifications, 15 years employment as an Executive Assistant or graduation from the Virtual Assistant University (which doesn’t exist).
However, if you’re the person who can explain to the client, for the 10th time, why saving their documents as ‘doc 1.doc’, ‘doc 2.doc’ IS going to make it difficult to find the newsletter they wrote last week, (and set up an effective filing system for them), then Virtual Assistance could be the career for you.
If you're interested in starting up as a Virtual Assistant and want an idea of what's involved, get my FREE Virtual Assistant Start-up Checklist here.