What sets a Virtual Assistant (VA) apart from someone offering office support services is not the fact you provide administrative support or that you work from a home office. It is the totality of the services you provide to support the growth of the client's business and the deeply collaborative nature of the client relationship. This is what sets you apart and makes a Virtual Assistant.
If you are only offering bookkeeping then you are not a VA but a bookkeeper. If you only offer editing then you are not a VA but an editor. If you are only offering office support services then are you a Virtual Assistant? I'll leave that up to you to decide and while some of you may think I am taking a hard line of this and some of you won't agree that is okay! If I can inspire some of you to expand your thinking all the better!
Totality of services means that while you do provide administrative services for your clients you are not limited to or by those services. Research, implementation, marketing, sales, project management, team building, office management, ghost writing and strategic planning are all areas that a Virtual Assistant can expand into with their client.
If you don't know how to do some things needed by the client be willing to learn, learn and learn some more. One of the wonderful things about being a VA is that you are constantly learning new things. Don't be intimidated by the unknown and know that you can find a solution to just about anything if you put your mind to it. You don't have to know the answers but just be willing to go out and find it. Do this by accessing your community of fellow VA's and other professionals. Even if you think you are not good at something, would not like doing it or don't have the skills for it try it on anyway, you may be surprised to find a hidden gift or passion (I know VA's who have!) If you try something on and it doesn't fit don't be afraid to tell your client and offer to find the right person to fit the bill. Be the source of resources for your client.
When you first begin working with clients you often will be doing smaller administrative tasks or projects very similar to what you did in your employee roles. As you develop the relationship, enter the entrepreneur to begin to see past the day-to-day running of the business and look beyond into the future and growth of the business. You can look at streamlining and improving systems and processes within the business and then to larger goals and visions for the business as a whole by collaborating with your clients.
By sharing your thoughts, ideas, and solutions and not being satisfied with the status quo you work in partnership with the client not for the client. Ask lots of questions and listen carefully to what your client is and is not saying in order to see beyond your current role.
When you are talking to potential clients you want to convey this by using words such as business solutions, growth and support. Broaden the description of what you are providing. Explain that you partner (not in an legal sense) with clients to support them in all areas of their business including administrative. Make the focus of the conversation on the success of their business in whatever form that may take. Talk about accessing resources whenever necessary and the assistance available from your professional community.
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