As we leave 2020 and head into 2021, it’s both a time for reflection and focus. What a year we’ve all just gone through. For many, it may have been the most challenging they have ever faced – in their health, in their work and in their life. Let’s hope the new year and 2021 gives people much more to cheer about.

But it’s not been all doom and gloom.

Many people have found their businesses have not only survived but thrived. You just don’t hear much about those stories in the news. A common denominator in the cases of success has been focus. An ability to stay calm, see and hold the bigger picture, make a plan, take action, monitor results and keep on track.5 Focus Keys for VA Success Manage all those elements in play and it tends to work – whatever is happening in the world around you. Having focus often requires the ability to adapt, be flexible and have an eye for opportunities. The modern VA is much more than an administrative professional. The expectations of organisations – many facing huge challenges right now – are high. To attract clients, grow your income and develop your business you certainly need focus. However, it may also require some extra effort or even an expansion of your comfort zone. This is a little bit of guidance for you.

Introducing The Five Focus Keys for VA Success.

Here are FIVE areas of focus for the smart VA, PA and EA in 2021.

1. Knowledge

A bit of general knowledge and keeping up to date with the news, especially business news, will always help you in your professional life. If you work with clients in a particular industry, sector or niche, it’s a smart move to keep up to date with what’s happening. It can help you have better conversations with prospects and demonstrate extra value to those who pay you. Set aside time each week to focus on improving your knowledge – reading newspapers or magazines, scrolling through online articles, listening to an audiobook or podcast. It can not only give you extra confidence but also allow your paymasters to see that you have a thinking mind, curiosity and a deeper interest in their business. And if you can share with them useful information that they don’t know or may have missed in the ‘busyness’ of the week, that keeps you in their mind’s eye.

2. Know-How

The world is not getting less busy. Businesses and organisations have high expectations of their employees – and also outreach support professionals like VA’s. It’s more important than ever to have a good command of the Microsoft Office applications like Word, Excel, Outlook and PowerPoint. You don’t want to be wasting time working out how to carry out tasks. Your focus should be on finding and knowing the most efficient way to get the work done. That helps your clients. It also helps you, giving you more time for yourself or for expanding your current client base. And, if you didn’t know it already, having a clear grasp of Microsoft Teams (and all it can do – not just the obvious stuff) should be a priority. For many VA’s, especially those working with larger SME businesses or corporates, it is essential. As leaders and bosses contemplate how they will manage the Return to Work of their employees, they will be thinking about how to make the hybrid model work for their organisation. Some people in the office, some working remotely from home. For many, that means turning to tools like Zoom and Microsoft Teams. They’ll expect you to know it – and know it better than they do.

3. Creativity

Every individual or organisation you serve is facing challenges. They’re constantly seeking solutions. If you’re a VA who has a creative mind and can offer ideas, suggestions or ways to do things better, you’re going to be even more highly valued. 5 Focus Keys for VA SuccessWhen you’re researching for knowledge, learning about your client’s field or involved in meetings or discussions, you can pick up information and gain insights. If you can turn that into a solution, or possible solution, your clients are going to be ultra-impressed. This may not be something you can do instantly. But when you focus on it as a regular habit, you can build up your knowledge, add to your Microsoft ‘know-how’ and learn some simple problem-solving techniques. Even if you cannot help your clients straight away, you are building your creative ‘muscles’ for the future. And you may just find you start having ideas for your own business, too.

4. Collaboration

With collaboration as a focus, there are two ways it can work for you. Firstly, with your clients. Secondly, in working with others for mutual advantage. Organisations are going to have some employees in the office, some working remotely from home. Larger companies may have branch offices, across the country or overseas. Your ability as a VA to support how your clients’ teams, departments and sections can collaborate effectively is going to be important. Once you master Microsoft Teams, you may even be able to educate your clients in how best to use the technology. If you can improve efficiency, productivity and creativity at their end, they are going to see that as an added value from you. When you add more value, you can charge more. That on its own is a good enough reason to focus on it. The second approach to collaboration is to see who else you could work with – so it’s a win-win situation. For example, you may know a business coach who wants their audience to learn how to be more productive. You could offer to present a webinar training on that, be interviewed on a podcast or create online training they can offer to their list (and split the profits between you). You may know a web designer who has clients who struggle with the copy. If writing is one of your strengths, you might be able to offer a ‘review’ service or a copywriting service as a ‘bolt on’ service to the design package. Once you begin to be open to collaboration, you will start to see the possibilities. Go explore them in 2021.

5. Communication

Naturally, as a smart and conscientious VA, you are going to communicate well with your clients. With so much uncertainty around, it’s even more important to keep in regular touch – and to keep asking what more you can do for people. An individual or organisation might have hired you for a particular skill set but not know about what else you can do. Make sure you tell them. Whether you regard yourself as self-employed, freelance, a sole trader or a registered company you cannot ignore a simple fact. You are in business. That means you may face competition. That means people need to know you exist, what you do and how that helps them. That means you may have to do more of that important communication work – marketing. If you’ve not already done so, it’s a good idea to review your strategy and plans.

Ask yourself the essential questions. Questions like:

  • Who am I?
  • What do I do?
  • Who is my ideal client?
  • How do I help them?
  • What difference does working with me make to their work and life?
  • Why should people choose me as their VA?

What marketing are you going to do online? What marketing will you do offline? Everyone is expecting (or at least hoping) that 2021 will be a very different year to 2020. If you focus on these five areas and raise your game in each one, you will see the difference in 12 months. Maybe sooner. There is no reason why it cannot be a very good year for you – perhaps your best yet. Shelley Fishel

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The session was well structured and the explanation was very clear. It was amazing how Shelley managed to squeeze so much info in just one hour and a half! Colin’s support and contributions were also very valuable, and so were “Virtual Veronica”‘s. Thank you for a most interesting and useful training session at the Miss Jones Virtual Summit!

Laura Carizzo- Royal Norwegian Embassy in Argentina

I haven’t used PowerPoint in 20 years, this has really boosted my confidence.

Lyn Parker

Course is packed with so much valuable information in a easy-to-understand and follow language, even for a complete beginner. I can respect the fact that sometimes it’s very hard for an expert to break the information down to basics. but Shelley has done it brilliantly. I was sure that I knew quite a bit but Shelley has proven me wrong even at the very beginning of the basics of PowerPoint. Lessons are short and precise which allowed me to easily transfer the new skill into practice without being overwhelmed and to carry on adding on more with each lesson. I had so many ‘Aha!’ moments and for most of them I couldn’t believe I used to pay graphic designer to do it for me, now, thanks to Shelley, I am looking forward to creating, designing, converting my presentations all by myself!

Iva Freeman – Vertex Human Capital

Shelley was very thorough and knew a lot of tip’s for using Teams, thank you 🙂

James O’Connor – Cavannah Homes

Very informative, constantly getting everyone in the meeting involved, loved every bit of it!

Dylan Teal Hopkins – Cavannah Homes
Fantastic and informative training and great to see all of the exciting functions with Microsoft Teams.
Laura Rigby – The Apprenticeship College
Shelley was really clear in her teaching and went at a pace that was helpful to us. We covered all we needed to know to get us started, as a small team, using MS Teams. She was also very helpful in the run up to the session, with check in calls and ensuring our platform was set up correctly. I would highly recommend Shelley to anyone wanting to learn to navigate their way around MS Teams.
Leigh Dowling – Innuous

Microsoft Teams One to One Training Session

Shelley was approachable, easy to work with, and agile with answering questions to apply the session to my specific needs

Melissa Marshall – Present Your Science

A course on Outlook had been on the top of my list when Shelley asked VA’s what they wanted to learn.

It was a real case of ‘so that’s how you do it’ or ‘I never knew that’. I have to say that I learnt so many great tips it has definitely improved the way I work in Outlook and my inbox is looking colourful and organised and I can’t wait to share this knowledge with my clients.

Jacqueline Leake – JLeake VA Services – Outlook

A great course with lots of examples and step by step instructions. I can now confidently create infographics and as a bonus, I learnt a lot of new PowerPoint functionality that will enhance all my PowerPoint work and save me so much time.

Jessica Bailey – Integral Resource

I really like Shelley’s courses. She has a clear and easy to follow teaching style. In ‘How to Create Fillable Forms’ I’ve learned about the functions of the Developer ribbon which will mean I’ll be able to create a bespoke Returns Form for a client who has an online shop

Freya Henderson – Virtual Office Orkney

Shelley was really clear in her teaching and went at a pace that was helpful to us. We covered all we needed to know to get us started, as a small team, using MS Teams. She was also very helpful in the run up to the session, with check in calls and ensuring our platform was set up correctly. I would highly recommend Shelley to anyone wanting to learn to navigate their way around MS Teams.

Sarah Clements – Inuous

Absolutely superb course, easy to follow and to refer back whilst putting it all into practice! I was unaware of the extent you can customise a presentation and it’s just made me want to know more – what’s next Shelley?

Denise Williams

I thought I had a pretty good grasp of Outlook until I did this course! In her videos, Shelley is clear and concise, and the language she uses is straightforward and jargon-free. Each module is broken down into manageable chunks, which helps keep your attention and means the course is easy to fit in around other commitments. I’ve created email templates and implemented rules that are already saving me time, and as all the other things I’ve learnt start to become second nature, the positive impact on my efficiency is fast becoming clear. This course has been incredibly beneficial and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking to strengthen their skills and boost productivity.

Pip Doleman VA

I thought I knew Powerpoint really well, but I wanted to specifically learn how to use Powerpoint to create better infographics, easily and quickly. Shelley explains everything in a very logical and clear way, so I understood everything the first time I heard it. The most useful thing I learnt was that Powerpoint can do so much more than I thought it could. By also using the short cuts that Shelley showed me I am much quicker than I have ever been and I thought I was already quick!

Susan Marot

Shelley Fishel of Tomorrow’s VA has a wealth of experience in Microsoft Office. I met her in person 2 years ago at the PA Show in London. I also saw her in action in a fab workshop and knew she was the whizz that everyone had told me she was. I have since bought a lifetime access to her HUB and all the courses in there are a MUST if you are a VA on a mission. The courses will give you confidence in all the Office 365 components and will catapult you to dizzy heights

Alex Hughes