Updated: Jan 16, 2022
Since 2020, the Virtual Assistant Industry has grown in popularity as a career of choice for many disenfranchised employees looking to set up a business from home that allows them to utilise the skills they’ve built up in employed roles over the years. Let’s face it, the world is definitely changing, and the demand for remote support is growing exponentially, so it’s really not surprising.
While some will be happy to potter along and set themselves up slowly, others will want to save the stress and hassle and get it right the first time, and will naturally look to other experts in the industry to help them as they begin their VA journey…. I know I did when I started out in 2008, and it honestly made all the difference!
But these days there is so much information that it can be downright confusing. You start to search and all of a sudden your head is swirling. You might even pop a post into a Facebook network asking for recommendations, and you end up with 30 responses to sift through.
Ouch – gives me a headache just thinking about it.
So what should you consider when contemplating mentoring or training, whether in relation to setting up a Virtual Assistant business, or any other business for that matter?
Here’s my top tips of the 5 most important things to consider when engaging a trainer or mentor:
1. How do you learn best?
If you want to learn, it’s important that the training or mentoring is delivered in a way that supports your particular learning style. In general, there are 3 ways that learning can be delivered:
Self-guided (self-paced) Online learning – This is usually delivered via a Learning Management System usually accessed via a login to a cloud based platform. Self-guided (or self-paced) Online learning is great if you’re self-disciplined and have the time to actually do the program. Important to ask how long you have access to the program, and also if there’s support available when you have questions or run into roadblocks - and what is available post-program.
Zoom / Webinar delivery – This type of delivery has become very popular as it allows the learner to engage with a trainer in real time from the comfort of their own home or office, whilst still receiving the benefit of a personalised delivery. If it’s a group program, then it is very important to ask how many people will be attending, whether it’s being recorded, and if you are able to engage with the trainer during the delivery. For some people, a one-on-one option works better, so if that's important, find out if that’s available.
In Person – Some people find that the best way to learn is to be in the same room as their trainer. It allows for less distraction and more accountability, and loads more interactive support opportunities.
2. Does the trainer have relevant industry experience?
If you want to learn how to ride a bike, you don’t go to a learn to surf school. It’s much the same concept when you are wanting to start up your own business. Sure, the trainer or mentor may be IN business, but do they have experience in the industry you’re wanting to get into? And if so, how long?
Sorry, but under 5 years in the industry just doesn’t cut it… seriously!
When you start a business, there is so much to learn, and the reality is that you need to make mistakes to get good at what you do. Anyone who says they are an expert but hasn’t done their time I’d give a very wide berth to… no matter how beautiful their websites are, and how inspirational their story is.
We have some amazing industry leaders in the Australian VA Industry – all of them have been in business for well over 10 years, and they have the scars to prove it. Some have also written great books, will have fabulous networks, and will be actively advocating for the industry.
3. Does the trainer or mentor have reviews or testimonials available?
Look for solid recommendations and reviews, and don’t be afraid to ask for them either. Even better are video reviews and testimonials because you KNOW that the reviewer is the real deal.
4. Do you have a clear idea what outcome the program will deliver?
For a lot of training, especially business training and mentoring, the outcome can be vague or even non-existent... they'll give you great info, but at the end of the day, it's all up to you to get anything done.
Look for programs that actually deliver SOMETHING. For example, a program that includes website set up so that you’re fully launched; a suite of templates and guidance on how to use them; access to jobleads upon completion; or a quality certification etc.
5. Is there ongoing support post-program?
Very important to check and see what sort of opportunities are available if and when you need support in the future (most new VAs do). For example, is there some sort of network you get access to with the program that delivers support, and / or is the trainer available for emails or calls if you get stuck?
Getting started in your own business should be fun, and if you sign up for a program you want to make sure it’s exactly what you need.
Once you’re set up though, and you have your first client through the door, it’s the most amazing thing ever!!!