Working from home as a VA that is. Periodically I get people coming up to me at an event saying they’ve been meaning to speak to me. They’re looking for options to increase their income, or to replace income that is no longer there. They have a computer at home, used to be a secretary 20 or so years ago, and how hard can it be? They’ve heard I manage a team of virtual assistants and they want to join my team – can do they so?
Quick questioning often reveals that they don’t as yet have the skills required to manage the jobs that we have come through. Yes they can type, and yes, they have a computer. But no, they have no idea how to upload or download a file, or even how to attach one to email. They’re not familiar with the current MS Word program but used to use the DOS version many years ago. They haven’t heard of digital transcription and didn’t know it existed. And most of the other programs they have no knowledge of, for example, Excel, Access, Powerpoint or even Outlook, just to name a few. There are heaps of other programs that are regularly used by VAs to carry out the various roles and services they provide.
I usually recommend that they do some courses to get their knowledge up to date and then go out and do some fulltime temping for at least 6 months to practice what they’ve been learning. After that they can come back to me and we’ll discuss where their skillset is at.
On odd ocasions I’ve allowed someone to join the team who has had borderline skills and experience (based on the criteria I use to allow VAs to join our team). Only one or two of those people have been able to excel as a virtual assistant and come up to speed in a short period of time but the others drop out very quickly, not even staying till the end of their 6 months introductory membership. The reason being is that our team members frequently discuss things via our forum that are somewhat above their current knowledgebase. They feel embarrassed and recognise they could not compete with the other VAs out there to service and look after clients, or if they take on a job that they really have not got the experience and abilities for, they lose confidence in themselves very quickly and disappear into oblivion – usually with one of our team members picking up the pieces to appease a disgruntled client.
If you, like others, are looking to see what changes you can make in your life for the New Year, and becoming a Virtual Assistant is something you’ve been contemplating, then it is best you read up as much as you can about the industry in general and check your current skills and abilities to ensure you could fulfil some client needs. Have a look at the sample job leads list I have on my VA site – if you know you can do some of these things, then you could certainly look at becoming a VA. Check out our blogroll and category listed posts for more information on what it takes to be a Virtual Assistant.