On Becoming a VA

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Now that the VA industry has been alive and kicking in Australia since 1996 – longer of course in the US and Canada – there are more and more people out there wanting to become virtual assistants and get on board what seems to be an ‘awesome’ way to make money from home.  (Of course, being a VA is about more than that.)

Riding this wave of interest naturally comes those who offer training, coaching and other support services for the newbies interested in getting started.

A word of caution. Be sure that you investigate these training opportunities carefully. And not just the courses – but the qualifications of the person running them. Two years in business does not make one an expert – particularly given the statistics that less than 10% of businesses that start in Australia survive five years. Personally I wouldn’t be seeking advice, training or coaching from anyone who has been in business for less than five years. What you’re getting is no doubt what they’ve picked up but you can get that from any number of discussion boards, online conferences (run by highly experienced and long-standing virtual practitioners) and podcasts.

Whilst it’s highly commendable that relatively new VAs are wanting to share their ‘wisdom’ my personal belief (and experience after over 10 years in practice) is that anyone with 1-3 years in business is really still a newbie, finding their feet, learning how to attract and keep clients, and discovering their niche. This does not qualify them to run training IMHO. And in fact in some cases they most likely are sharing what they have learned at training opportunities, courses or conventions they have attended themselves. Commendable but should they charge for it if newbie VAs can attend these events themselves and learn direct from the more experienced VAs running these courses? I’m not sure of the answer to that.

My advice is to source support and help directly from people who really walk the walk and talk the talk, and who have the experience (demonstrated from years in practice) to truly guide you.

There are a number of courses available for new VAs – one of the newest Australian-run courses is VA Trainer. This is run by Kathie Thomas one of the longest-standing, most experienced virtual assistants in the country. My recommendation would be if you’re looking for local training and you’re happy to pay for it, you can’t go past this one.

Conferences abound now. The Australian VA Convention started last year and is one I would recommend for on-site learning opportunities. And of course the Online International VA Convention is coming up to six years running with an almost astounding array of learning opportunities offered over three days of online webinars.

The Australian Virtual Business Network has a library of nearly three years’ worth of webinar recordings on topics of interest to VAs – newbies and established practitioners for just $5 apiece.

And launched this year The Virtual Business Show is Australia’s first internet radio show/podcast, also covering topics of interest to VAs and other virtual business service providers, which is completely free and accessible via iTunes subscription or RSS.

So be careful. I am not trying to stop people starting up coaching/training courses or other learning opportunities. But what I am saying is be sure to source your support, learning opportunities, training, coaching and mentoring from VAs who have been around longer than a couple of years.

Clearly those VAs must know something about business success so who better to learn from?

© Lyn Prowse-Bishop – www.execstress.com

5 comments

  1. Lyn, I soooo totally agree with you. I am astounded at how many training/coaching VAs are out there now and what qualifies one to be an expert. What also astounded me a few years ago now is when the first VA ‘university’ opened up. I’m sorry, but how does one qualify to open up a university and what credentials allowed them to do so. I look at places like Melbourne University and think how on earth can an online training business call themselves a university?

    It is commendable that VAs want to share their knowledge and we are one of the very few industries that share openly without expectation, but I sometimes do wonder what the motives are for those who offer training/coaching after a couple of years.

    Newbies to the industry to need to do their homework and take on these courses fully understanding what they are in for and the qualifications and experience of the person or business who is running them …

    Great post!

  2. execva says:

    Thanks for your comments Anita! I agree – one thing that sets our industry apart is the willingness to share info. And I have no problem with people being paid for that if that’s what they want to do. But I’m not confident 2 years in business qualifies one as competent to train others!

  3. I also agree 2 years is not long enough to be training others. I’ve been a full time VA coming up to 2 years and find I am still learning. My business today is so different to what it was 1 year ago and believe it will be different again in another year or five! It is so satisfying when your business is a success I guess you want to share your knowledge with EVERYONE and help others do the same. When I look at training I want the coach to have AT LEAST 10 years + experience to be viable….

  4. execva says:

    But Alicia you’ve had your business since 2001 … though perhaps not full time! 🙂

  5. Your right Lyn – part time since 2001 and it wasn’t ‘virtual’ or ‘full time’ until early 2009 and I haven’t looked back!! 🙂

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