I read a great post yesterday which was written by a highly regarded VA Colleague of mine who was speaking about the importance of providing a service that you actually have the skills and expertise to offer with any level of confidence.
It got me thinking - and, I have plenty of time to think because I’m still away on summer holiday (yay!) - about how much damage is done to the integrity and credibility of our Virtual Assistant industry in Australia (and the world for that matter) by those who try to offer services that they clearly don’t have the background or skillset to back it up – you know, the ‘fake it till you make it’ crowd!
Now, don’t misread what I’m saying here... I’m all for up-skilling and adding to your service offering – in fact, I firmly believe in doing this – but please don’t mistake this for the belief that a quick search on Google or YouTube, combined with the ability to type equals competence in a new Key Service Area.
To illustrate my point, let me pose this question: Would you consider having brain surgery performed on you by a plastic surgeon who has assured you he or she has ‘read up and was confident they could do it anyway’?
I know that’s a fairly extreme example, but it absolutely rings true when it comes to people in our industry providing a service that they simply don’t have the background, experience or qualifications to offer –YET!
What’s even worse is that our potential clients really do notice when we get it wrong... and they can be very verbal about it as I’ve seen recently on some Australian business Facebook sites where our local industry is being really run-down due to some of our industry operators providing less than adequate services and, in the process, giving the WHOLE industry a bad name.
I have been around as a VA for 10 years, and have worked with many different VAs... a lot are great, but I’m sad to say that some have seriously let me down simply because they have tried to do work they shouldn’t be doing because they lack the expertise.
Whereas, those who are experienced in their Key Service Area are the VAs I admire and trust implicitly because they absolutely know their stuff. In some cases, I collaborate with them to win work... For example, I might bring in a VA who is skilled in an area that I’m not (such as social media management) and pitch for a job lead that requires both administrative support (my Key Service area) and social media management.
Over the years I have built a great network of amazingly talented professional VAs who I can call on to collaborate with me in order to win additional work which falls outside my scope. It’s a win-win for both of us when it happens – and it happens a lot!
This means that I can stay absolutely true to my service area, and focus on doing my very best, striving to exceed my client’s expectations because I know darn well that I can deliver.
In some instances, I have had the opportunity to learn on the job. In these situations, it’s been at the express invitation of the client, and they have sponsored my up-skilling (whether it be learning new software that we are going to use, or even sending me to a Conference to learn and bring value back to implement in their business). Don’t mistake this for one minute as being a ‘fake it till you make it’ approach. It is something the client was well aware of, and supported me .
There are some other amazing options for VAs to learn, such as VA Classroom University, Virtual Assistant Conferences (these are great for professional development, and also provide opportunities to network with your VA colleagues), or various VA networks which provide access to webinars and key information for their members.
So, where do YOU stand? Are you offering a service that’s based on what you absolutely CAN do, and do you know beyond a shadow of a doubt what you do well? My advice is to focus on these, no matter how small your service offering is... and up-skill in your own time if you need to!
In the long term, your commitment to integrity and authenticity will contribute to the overall growth and sustainability of our own amazing VA Industry.