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How Being A Virtual Assistant Can Change And Evolve Through Natural Progression

Michelle Dale - Friday, March 18, 2011

I felt like having a ramble on the post today. This video is about the progression which happened to me going from offering VA services as a Solo-VA, and how the business and my VA role in the business evolved, over time, it’s a personal experience, not applicable to everyone, it depends on your business model, but it may be useful for you to see how things changed for me naturally over a period of time.

Terminology is a very grey area in this industry, we call ourselves all sorts of things, and clients call us all sorts of things as well – obviously the most common term for providing services to assist others online is “Virtual Assistant,” but we can differentiate the different types of virtual assistance there are out there and “online business manager” or “online business consultant” are commonly used, and best describe to clients what I personally do now, so I have used these common terms in this video to indicate a natural progression from when I started out as a VA.

But, no matter what happens, despite this transition and how things change in the business, I will always be proud to call myself a Virtual Assistant, and I will never forget my roots, and where this all began. If you don’t want to listen to me rambling on in the video, you can read the transcription below

Transcription Of Video:

I want to talk to you today about when you finally realise that you are making the transition from being just a virtual assistant to becoming more of a sort of online business manager, an online partner. When I first started out in this industry, in this business, I was basically a virtual assistant. I was completely solo. I worked only with the skills that I personally knew how to do myself to the best of my ability and that I was able to actually provide services on. Obviously, I was working on my own. There was only myself I could rely on in terms of providing services so I literally just stuck to the things that I knew about, the things that I knew that I could do well and over time as I progressed I got additional requests from clients wanting different things so I basically found a way to offer those things, whether it be learning the skills myself, looking to other VAs to help me out or looking to hire members of my team. Eventually, now, everybody on my team is in-house so everybody basically works for VMF. We’re a great team. We work really well together. We’re highly effective. We’re extremely efficient as a team. This basically all happened over a period of time. Once you realise that you need to expand your team, you need to become a multi-VA team, you could consider yourself at that point, “Yes, I’m an online business manager” – because you are managing your own team. When I started hiring VAs and other people, other service providers to join my team it really didn’t feel like I was an online business manager. It felt still like I was a VA and I was just bringing people on board to help me in my VA practice.

So, when was the moment that I thought to myself, “I’m an online business manager?” It comes to everybody with enough experience. The reason I’m telling you this is because I think being an online business manager is so much more than what people are saying it is. It’s not just about being a really good project manager. It’s not just about being a really good boss or someone who is able to manage a team of people and coordinate different projects and tasks and assignments. The day that I realised I was a good online business manager and I really made it with the clients is when clients’ started telling me about their business more. They started updating me about information about things that they were doing, about how their business was affecting their lives. In some ways it was more like becoming a kind of someone to talk to who wasn’t directly related to you or a friend or a colleague or a husband or a wife or any of those people. It was like someone that you can go to when you need to discuss business and you need a completely impartial opinion or you just want to vent and you want to tell someone what you’re thinking, what your thoughts are. You need an opinion. The time that I realised that I’d actually really made it as an online business manager or online business consultant is when people started coming to me and asking me what I would do in their position. What would I best advise them on what they can do or that type of thing? Not only that, people would come and tell me things that were happening in their lives, personal circumstances, ideas that they have for projects, not necessarily anything relating to what we were doing at that time for them, the task in hand or the services that we were providing at that time. It was kind of like, “I’m thinking about doing this in the future. Is it possible? Is it feasible? Could you help me with this? How do you see it coming together? How are we able to work together with this idea that I’ve had?” It’s a fantastic, amazing feeling when you have that from a client.

Going from somebody who was basically processing admin, processing tasks, starting out and then working with a team, to bringing people on board to helping me so I could then basically realise my own dream of having a really successful business and then to have other people, particularly clients of course, coming to you realising that you have an extraordinarily successful business and wondering how possibly you could help them gain the same success. It’s an amazing – amazing feeling. This is when I realised at that point, when I started getting people contacting me basically for my opinion and seeing if working together was possible, that’s when I realised that I’d made that transition from a virtual assistant. I think when you’re looking to decide for yourself whether you’re going to call yourself a virtual assistant or a consultant or an online business manager — think about your relationships with your clients, first and foremost. Think about how they respond to you. What do they ask of you? Is it virtual assistant stuff or is it a little bit more than that? Have you actually, now, made that transition from going from somebody who is generally sort of a reactive person who sort of processes tasks but gives your opinion, and it’s always good to be both. It’s always good to be both proactive and reactive because, at the end of the day, even if you’re proactive and you say to your client, “Thank you for the task. Of course I’m happy to do it for you but there is a better way. There is another way of doing this.” They may come back to you and say, “No. Absolutely. I’ve thought this through. I want to do it my way.” As a service provider, if you want to of course, you should still meet the client’s requirements but as long as you’ve told them that there is an alternative and you think that something is better.

As an online business manager and as an online business consultant I am very, very happy and very pleased when clients’ come to me and basically randomly tell me about things that are on their mind, things that they’re doing in their own lives that could affect their business. To me, that’s a real entrepreneurial trait, to go to the person who you see as the other side of your business, as a big part of your business. When I realised with my clients the point where I’m actually a really essential part of their business and a really key element into their business that’s when I think to myself, “God, this is really all worthwhile. This is why I’ve been doing it for as long as I have” – because it’s just an amazing feeling that someone has put their trust in you and their faith in you, that you’re really going to give the absolute best and honest advice and reliable advice that you can.

So, in my mind’s eye that’s what an online business manager, an online business consultant is. It’s when your clients will actually come to you on a more sort of personal level and say, “Look, this is what I’m doing in my business. What do you think? What would you do? How can we work together on this?” That’s really what you’re looking for. I think that is really when you can say that you’re making the transition from virtual assistant to something so much more, when your clients are basically coming to you on a personal level to share their information, their thoughts, their ideas randomly just to get an impartial opinion and see what you think.

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Hi I'm Michelle, an entrepreneur specialising in virtual assistance, a digital and real world nomad, and a down-to-earth mother of three.

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