I started my business as a Virtual Assistant in 2005. Throughout the years I have conducted countless consultations with potential clients, and I have also interviewed and been on consultations with potential Virtual Assistants to hire within my own business, and there's one question, one very important question that's almost never asked on the interview or consultation, but in my opinion, is probably the most valuable one to know.
So what's the question?
The question can actually take many forms, you might want to choose one appropriate to your consultation or interview situation. Basically - it would be good for you to find out why the person you're consulting with or interviewing, does what they do...
- Why did you become a virtual assistant?
- Why did you start your own business?
- What drove you in this career direction?
- Why did you choose this industry / role?
If you're shortlisting candidates to become a part of your business, I would suggest you consider the answer to this question very carefully, above all others.
Why is this so important?I get asked quite frequently about what I "did" to become a Virtual Assistant. What courses did I take, what business advice did I receive, was I a secretary for 15 years, and was this a natural progression?
The answer is never anything of an academic, economic, financial or "business" related matter...
In fact, when I started my business, I was 24, I quit my job cold turkey, I had never operated, ran or knew the slightest thing about what it took to start or run a business - I honestly never even felt inclined to become an entrepreneur.I never took any courses or programmes, I never achieved any specific qualifications that were noteworthy, I even left school at 16 to go into full time employment and over the years before I quit my job, didn't do anything relating to the Internet - the extent of my experience when I started my business was knowing that AOL had chat rooms (I'll go one step further and tell you that I used to think AOL was the Internet), I had an email address and I could buy stuff cheaper on eBay.
I've never been to a business school, set foot inside a chamber of commerce, networking event or small business advice bureau.But - some might consider me far more successful than many college graduates, folk who've achieved countless certificates of merit, and academic achievements, and someone working a "stable" 9-5 job in the city for a fairly decent salary.
What's the difference?
Someone on an interview can give you all sorts of impressive answers as to why they do what they do - for example, they have years of experience, it's what they've always done, their parents did it, it was a sound career choice, they could even say they have a natural gift or ability for it.
But is that really what you're looking for?
The Answer Changes Everything.
Some might consider me pretty good at what I do, International Living Magazine called me a "trailblazer in remote working" - James Lynch from Big Value Big Business said "You pioneered the industry back when there was virtually no virtual assistants" - clients have written to me saying my "knowledge and skills are awe inspiring" and VA's I work with and coach have called me "Extra Terrestrial" and "Game Changing".
I love getting feedback like this - but the truth is, I can't say I did any of it for just the sake of business...
I have devoted almost a decade of my life so far to the virtual assistant industry, and I'll continue to do so, constantly trying to be better - a better Virtual Assistant, a better consultant, a better service provider, business owner, leader, coach, whatever... I strive to be better every day in my business - in every way.I do enjoy what I do, it's grown on me over the years to the point where I can say I love it, otherwise I would't do it - but it's something I came to learn to love as a natural outcome of the REAL reason why I do what I do....
- I do it because it allows me to pursue one of my biggest passions - travel.
- I do it because I can live abroad.
- I do it because it gives me the stability of not being concerned of losing my job.
- I do it because I get to be there for my kids anytime they need me.
- I do it because I get to choose my own hours.
- I do it because it allows me the flexibility and freedom of choice within my day.
- I do it because I don't have to commute.
I do it because it feeds, nourishes and nurtures my perfect way of life.You'll notice none of those answers are specifically related to being a Virtual Assistant or the type of industry or business I'm in - But seriously - who would ever want to let their perfect life go, or risk losing it...
So what does this mean for you?
I can't tell you how many consultations I've done with people where their Virtual Assistant has just dropped off the map. They've either closed their business, taken a job elsewhere, decided to go back to employment, given up, or taken another direction.
One of the many reasons they come to me is because I offer more than one virtual assistant to work on their business, plus myself, making the risk of them being left high and dry again practically non-existent.Those people generally all have one thing in common, in my opinion, the VA they were working with no longer wanted to carry on doing what they were doing because their work wasn't providing them with their perfect life - they needed to keep searching or had already found something else.
So does it really matter how a Virtual Assistant gets to where they are?Yes, because you can tell that if they do it for any personal reasons beyond being a virtual assistant, or earning money, something that drives them beyond the survival / work aspect - then you know you'll likely have a VA for life that will continue to strive to be the best they can be, because they know by doing that, they can maintain the kind of life they long to have lived, and want to keep living...
They'll want to be the best at (and keep doing) what they do, to live their best life.
Happy Virtual Assistant, almost always, equates to Happy Client ;-)