How has your start to the year been?

Have you shaken off 2020 and got your focus fully on the months ahead?

Or are you still experiencing some challenges or struggles to make being self-employed, freelance or a business owner work for you?

If you’re unsure what needs to be in place for VA success, here’s a simple checklist for you.

There are 20 points in all. I’m sharing 10 of them today and the remaining half next week.

I appreciate this is not an exhaustive checklist – running a sustainable business and achieving VA success involves much more than this. But it’s a good place to start to get you thinking and doing.

How many of these first 10 can you tick off this checklist?…

A Checklist for VA Success

1. Have a Professional Website

Yes, you can get by with a LinkedIn profile and perhaps a Facebook page. But if you want people to see you as professional, you’re going to want to have your own website.

You can create one yourself or invest in a web designer. Much depends on your time, tech skills and budget. The important thing is to have something that both looks good and serves your audience.

There is plenty of good advice out there on how to create a great website. If you tune into episodes of my Podcast, Virtually Amazing, you can find experts with some great tips. Hear Simon Graves talking about building your website, Gary Spinks giving tips about writing the copy, and John Cassidy talking headshots and photography.

2. Know your Niche or Market

If your answer to the question “Who do you help?” is “Everyone” – you’re wrong!

No successful business serves everyone. Not Facebook. Not Google. Not Amazon. Not Apple.

The clearer you can be about your target market, your niche or ideal client, the better. It helps you to understand your market, it helps you know how best to help, and it helps you to communicate that to your audience.

Do you work with company bosses, leaders, team managers? Do you work with solopreneurs? Do you work with creatives? Do you work solely with women? Do you work with corporates or smaller businesses?

Get clear about who you love to work with and help.

It makes becoming a success much, much easier.

3. Know where to find your Audience

Once you know who your ideal client is, you’ll want to go find them (and make it easy for them to find you).

There are two places where people hang out – offline and online. You can create marketing and promotional activity around both types.

A Checklist for VA Success

Offline covers things like in-person networking, public speaking, talks, presentations at events, conferences and exhibitions. Sales letters, posters, newspaper and magazine adverts, leaflets, etc.

Online is largely about your website, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, social media groups and advertising, emails, video, landing pages, sales pages, lead magnet PDFs or online courses.

4. Understand Client Challenges and Problems

When you know your ideal client, it’s easier to discover and identify the challenges, struggles and problems they are facing.

You’re most interested in the ones where you have a solution you can offer them.

When people see you are good at what you do, that’s one barrier overcome. When what they read and hear from you demonstrates you understand them, that’s a huge hurdle tackled.

When you understand their ‘story’ and get your story straight, it helps to create a genuine, emotional, connection. That’s the place where business and sales get done.

5. Write down your Skills, Experience and Knowledge

If you’ve not got a CV it’s a good idea to create one (even if you’re not looking for a job). If you have one. but it’s been gathering dust in an ancient folder on your computer, dig it out and take another look.

It’s a good idea to set down your skills, experience and knowledge. Sometimes we forget the things we used to do. The things we are still good at. The things we could offer as an additional service to our clients and potential clients.

Not least, it may just give you a boost to know you’ve actually achieved a lot more than you’ve given yourself credit for.

Chances are you are already a success for one or more reasons. Don’t be bashful about sharing the highlights or the relevance of your past.

6. Audit Your MS Office and Microsoft 365 Know-How

As a VA you wear many hats. If you’re running your own business, you wear a few more: CEO, sales manager, finance director, head of marketing, director of HR, chief cheerleader and so on.

But what your clients care about is what you can do for them. How can you save them time, money and hassle?

That means they expect you to know how to do stuff quickly, efficiently and confidently. You should know how to use Microsoft applications like Word, Excel, Outlook and PowerPoint better than them.

If your Office or 365 ‘know-how’ is a little flaky, it’s time to step up a level. You should be able to find exactly what you need in my range of online courses but if you need some help choosing or deciding, just get in touch.

You can also find some options to pay in US Dollars or Australian Dollars.

If you use (or know you’re going to be using) all the core Microsoft Office applications you might want to check out my Tomorrow’s VA Hub, aka ‘The Full Monty’. All my courses in one place with a big saving compared to buying courses one by one.

7. Get to Grips with Microsoft Teams

Of all the Microsoft tools available, for many VA’s there is one that is going to be essential to learn. And that’s Microsoft Teams.

Unless you’ve been on a different planet, you’ll know that the use of Zoom and Teams has just gone through the roof in the past 10 months or so. This is because organisations have had to accelerate their use of remote working – and prepare for hybrid working to stay.

If your clients are corporates or SME businesses, you’re going to need to have mastery of Microsoft Teams under your belt. You’ll even find coaches, trainers and speakers using Teams now (which is why I also designed a course specifically for them).

Don’t leave it six months or a year. Get sorted with Teams so you are ready to go when your next enquiry comes in or your client next calls.

8. List and Review your Services

This may seem like an obvious one. But you would be surprised how many VA’s hear people say “Oh, I didn’t realise you did that as well”.

Make a list of your services. If you have products or packages, list them, too.

Once you have it all set out, you can then have fun working out the hours you do, the amount you charge (or should be charging, to make a decent amount), and how many products you need or want to sell as part of your overall income.

Make sure your prospects and clients know what you offer. Never assume they know. Often, they do not.

Do you talk about all you do on your website? In your blogs? In your Social Media posts?

9. Compile Case Studies and Testimonials

When you’ve done a great job for a client, the ‘thank you’ and the payment are both welcome.

But it’s not the time to be shy. When people are really happy and grateful for your skill and expertise, ask them if they would be OK to provide a short testimonial. You can even offer to guide them or write something for their approval.

If the work has been more involved or part of a longer project, there may be the potential to create a case study as well. These can become very powerful resources for your successful marketing.

10. Do a regular Review

You can make business as complex or as simple as you want. But one thing is for sure.

You need to keep an eye on how you are doing – and do that regularly. It’s not enough to leave it a year because the world is moving too fast for that.

Build review into your quarterly, monthly and even weekly activity.

What do you review? Simply treat your work and operation like any other successful business would.

Things to review can include:

  • Income
  • Expenditure
  • Client Numbers
  • Sales of Products or Packages
  • Marketing – Website
  • Marketing – Offline activity
  • Marketing – Online activity
  • Client Satisfaction
  • Cashflow Forecast
  • Technology Resources
  • Support Requirements (eg training, coaching, mentoring)
  • Your health and wellbeing

Build review time into your diary and calendar. And remember to block out some time for planning as well. This is all part of getting started, staying afloat and growing your VA business in sensible phases.

And there you have it. Part one of my checklist for VA success in the year ahead.

What parts of the list are you going to focus on?

Shelley Fishel
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