Education and the Virtual Assistant - from the very beginning we are educating ourselves in new systems and ways of working. When the decision is made to start a business, we need to learn about business, how to run a business and what we need to do to turn our idea into a thriving business. We learn about promotion and marketing and where to do it. We learn about the possibilities of virtual working, the tools we have access to that make us efficient or enable us to perform tasks for our clients. We become much better at assessing our skills and in finding skill gaps that we need to fill.
Write a list of everything you did; from that initial decision to go it alone, to getting your business up and running; or if you haven't yet started, a list of everything you think you will need.
The list will be quite long. It will include items that you perhaps have, or had, no experience of.
From that list, how much did you already know and how much did you have to learn? It is a safe assumption that you will need to educate yourself to be able to manage all of the tasks on your list.
The importance of ongoing education:
We are working in a fast-paced technological world. It changes constantly. To run a successful online business, you have to be able to keep up with these changes and be aware of how they will affect you and your client base. Keeping yourself up to date with the latest tech news, advances and trends is essential. Allow space in your schedule for your own education and reading time, you need to stay on top of your own business in order to provide the best service to your clients. Some people make the mistake of focusing purely on client work and let their own business take a back seat. That is potentially a recipe for disaster. Your business and you need to adapt to keep pace.
Where to go for education:
There are many places where you can go to learn whatever it is that you need to learn. These are some of the resources that I can recommend from my own personal experience:
For updates and information, Google is a fantastic resource. Google Alerts are easily set up and will deliver content, on subjects of your choosing, directly to your inbox.
For quick tutorials on practically any subject YouTube is the place to search. It can be time consuming so I might help to ask someone before you start, which leads me to…
Forums and Groups - Facebook groups are invaluable sources of support and information. Virtual Assistant (VA) group members span those who are at the beginning of their new venture to those who have a number of years' experience in running their online businesses. Investing time and energy in groups can be extremely rewarding and a great learning experience.
VA Coaching is probably the best way to get great training specifically tailored to the skills you need. There are a lot of VA Coaching businesses to pick from but I can recommend two that I have personally had experience with, both are run by established people with many years of experience:
The Techie Mentor is owned by Susan Romig Mershon. Susan is a great coach and role model who delivers very interactive and detailed courses. Susan coaches in many of the technical tools as well as the 'getting started' courses.
The VA Handbook is owned by Jo Munro. Jo is a role model who I have been following since before launching my business. Her clear and very practical approach is a revelation and she has coached many 'newbies' through their paces in order to help them become successful VAs.
Both of these ladies run courses that will get you started and courses which provide ongoing education. They also both have fantastic and very active Facebook groups.
What to learn:
So, now you know where to find information that will allow you to create an ongoing programme of education, the next thing is to decide what you want to learn. Or rather what you need to learn. Understand the skills you have. Know what services you are offering. Listen to potential clients, find out what they want. Armed with this information, you will find your skill gaps and you can start to work out what you need to do to fill those gaps. There is no point in trying to learn everything, you'll never do it. You will simply become overwhelmed. Be selective and focus only on the skills that you are comfortable with and will create revenue for you. That is not to say that you can't step outside of your comfort zone, just that you need to understand your own capabilities. Get to know clients and your business and allow yourself to grow naturally.
Your ongoing education will be unique to you. Think about what you do and who for, use that as a guide when planning your future educational needs.
The learning goes on and should never stop. You owe it to yourself and the health of your business to step on to the continuous cycle of self-improvement through education. Whether it's a 5 minute tutorial on YouTube or something more in-depth, keep going and above all - enjoy it!