How it all started
A few weeks ago, during one of the UK’s increasingly common heatwaves and at a loss for a way to entertain my two young children that didn’t involve water pistols and each others’ faces, we went on a family outing to a strawberry picking farm.
Now, the whole ‘organised picking’ phenomenon seems to have passed me by during my own childhood, (aside from grabbing a few juicy blackberries from a random hedgerow here and there).
Since having my own children however, I’ve well and truly jumped on the picking bandwagon, (and the Christmas Eve box bandwagon…and the scooter bandwagon…and the ‘free play’ bandwagon…need I go on?!).
Anyway Last autumn we went pumpkin picking, (leaving weighed down with pumpkins but with considerably lighter purses), and when we saw that the same gorgeous, family run farm had their summer fruits ripe for plucking, we couldn’t resist.
We whiled away a happy few hours, watched the kids jump on haybales, sat in the long grass to spot crickets and forked out a small fortune for some face painting that my son rubbed off quicker than it had taken the lady to paint it, (leaving him looking less like Spiderman and more like a squashed spider).
Then came the main event, the big bonanza, the finale…the picking of the strawberries! (And raspberries, as it happens). We collected our punnets and happily pottered under the polytunnels, picking the juiciest, fattest fruits the bountiful bushes had to offer.
Then it came to paying. The fruits were weighed, and we handed over a princely sum of £12 for one punnet of strawberries and one punnet of raspberries. Now I’m no Martin Lewis, but I reckon that was around twice what they would have cost in the Supermarkets at the time of writing.
But guess what?
I didn’t mind. Not one little bit. In fact I gladly handed over that money, and what’s more, I actually considered it to be great value. And here’s why.
I wasn’t just paying for the baskets of brightly coloured berries that we took back to a picnic bench and feasted on. I was paying for two things:
a) The quality. These berries were hands down the sweetest, juiciest and most appetising I have ever had the pleasure of devouring. Bar none.
b) The experience. The beautiful surroundings, the wonderful staff, the obligatory photos, the hay bales, the picking, and even the pricey (and very short-lived in one case), face paint.
And this, my virtual friends, brings me, (in a very roundabout way), to the title of this blog.
Why a Virtual Assistant is like a strawberry
There are people who happily go to Aldi for their summer fruit
There are people who will splurge on Waitrose for their summer fruit
And, there are people who will always buy fresh from their local market or farm.
So similarly, when it comes to our wonderful community of Virtual Assistants and their potential clients:
There are people who will outsource abroad to get the lowest rate they can (no judgement here, it’s all about priorities)
There are people who will outsource to someone in their own country who has recently started out and is learning on the go
And there are people who will pay top dollar for someone who has direct experience in their industry, is an ex Executive Assistant or has 14 associates working with them.
The cream of the crop
My point is, there is a place for everyone.
However, if you want to be the ‘freshly-picked farm strawberry’, and charge accordingly, you absolutely must provide two things:
a) An exceptional client experience
b) Second-to-none quality
Now for all you aspiring or fledgling Virtual Assistants reading this and panicking because you aren’t an ex Executive Assistant and don’t have 14 associates to whip out of your hat, panic not.
Yes, delivering a client experience and quality that would leave John Lewis looking more akin to Del Boy may be somewhat easier with some years of experience under your belt…but you’ve just got to work out what this looks like within the realms of your expertise.
What is your Virtual Assistant superpower?
Do you have the patience of a saint that can enable you to teach even the most tech-phobic of clients how to move away from their wall planner and embrace an online calendar?
Are you an incredible communicator who is able to keep your anxious client in the loop every step of the way?
Are you the goddess of all things creative, and able to design your way out of even the trickiest of problems?
…and to pre-empt those pesky mindset monkeys of yours, you WILL have something to offer.
So, get out a pen, jot down every single one of your skills and expertise, and pick out, (see what I did there?!), exactly what it is that makes you the juiciest, freshest strawberry at the farm.
If you're interested in starting up as a Virtual Assistant and struggling to nail down your service suite, get my FREE list of 55 services you can offer as a Virtual Assistant here.