It might sound like strange advice to give a VA… to act like a fortune teller. You may be picturing a woman in a tent or shady backroom, hands hovering over her crystal ball. Someone inviting you to pick from a deck of cards in a spooky, cartomantic experience. Or have visions of being told in a dramatic tone that you will meet a “tall, dark handsome stranger”Be a Fortune Teller for Business But I’m talking about something different.

A Different Kind of Fortune Teller

I’ll explain more in a moment. First, let’s put things in context. When you get paid as a VA it is your reward for a job well done. It could be for your expertise, knowledge and skill in one or many tasks, including:

  • Writing reports
  • Creating spreadsheets
  • Managing and analysing the numbers
  • Producing eGuides or lead magnets
  • Putting together effective presentations
  • Managing a client’s inbox
  • Creating and developing resources
  • Adding branding and graphics to rough documents
  • Assisting with virtual or remote team meetings

And the list goes on. Being a VA, you get paid for what you get done.

But there’s more to it than that.

Being a smarter VA, you also get paid for what you know. Here’s what I mean. Companies, organisations and solopreneurs are facing new challenges every day. They are busy. Often stressed. Often stretched. People who can help them both lighten the load and enlighten them about what may be around the corner, are going to be in high demand. I’ve talked before about the advantages of keeping on your ‘radar’ for what’s happening in your field – and the industries or sectors you serve.

You can do this in a variety of ways.

Join relevant groups on social media. Join networking groups or online communities. Attend webinars. Attend online events. Ask your audience. Carry out surveys. Run polls. Watch the news. Listen to the radio. Look out for documentaries and features about business, the economy and society. Your radar will help you to understand the current challenges, issues and problems your clients and prospects are facing. That can really help you when marketing and promoting your essential VA skills. People like doing business with people they like. People give preference to doing business with people who they not only like – but who they feel have a good grasp of their particular situation, goals and aspirations. However, that’s just one step towards becoming ‘indispensable’ for your clients. The next stage is this.

Become a fortune teller for them.

(And I don’t mean relying on bits of paper from broken cookies). Be a Fortune Teller for BusinessThis is about widening the scope of your ‘radar’ to explore the likely FUTURE challenges and changes ahead. Some big corporations already have ‘fortune tellers’ in their team or buy in consultants – who might be called things like trends analysts, forecasters or futurists. But for the SME business owner or solopreneur, that level of expertise is usually prohibitive, simply on cost.

They would love a simpler, less expensive solution.

And that’s where the smarter VA can step in and offer support – and get paid extra for doing so. If you can offer a version of that fortune teller or futurist role, you can demonstrate the extra value you bring to prospects and clients. It’s a bit like the intuitive Executive Assistant who can read the mind of their boss and put things in motion ahead of time. That’s a special skill. It’s something you can charge for. Either as a project fee, ongoing retainer or increased hourly rate. Businesses, organisations and teams want to be up to date and fear falling behind. If you can offer intel, ideas, advice and solutions to help clients stay ahead of the curve, you are going to be in the ‘most wanted’ category, at the top of the league of VA’s.

How do you get started?

There are many ways to expand your radar and become a fortune-telling superhero. Here are seven suggestions for you: 1. Join LinkedIn groups of the trade press for the sectors or industry your clients are in – and for business in general. Simply be a ‘fly on the wall’ and observe what’s happening in the world. 2. Follow Thought Leaders and Professional Futurists on Social Media. You don’t have to be the expert. You can see what key figures – and people who are ‘in the know’ – know… and share that knowledge with clients. 3. Read the Newspapers – the paper version or online, it doesn’t matter. These are a strong resource for news and features. Your local library usually has a selection available, either in print, online or both. 4. Read Business & Industry Magazines – This is where you can discover more about current challenges, emerging trends, forecasts and statistics. Subscriptions typically offer introductory rates or check with your local library for free. Business publications you may want to explore include The Economist, HBR (Harvard Business Review), Forbes, Fast Company and Bloomberg Businessweek. Remember to look for specialist magazines that cover the sector(s) your clients are working in. 5. Look for up-to-date industry research and trends reports – A little bit of searching online and you might be amazed at what’s available out there. Your clients may not do this so you can impress them when you send an update, share a report summary or highlight a trend to watch out for. 6. Keep an eye out for new books being published – Not only might a single title be of interest to a particular client or prospect, but this is also a way to spot emerging trends. For example, you’ll now find more books coming out about brand storytelling – because that’s very “in” right now in marketing. And bookstores now have dedicated shelves to books on ‘smart thinking’ – all leaders like to associate themselves with that phrase. 7. Observe your Clients’ Competition – It may help to see what new products, services or practices other companies are doing. You can alert your client to new ideas others are using or even suggest something that the competition has missed. Visit company websites, check out Social Media business pages, drop in on conversations and announcements online. You will no doubt find other ways to stay up to date and spot things which you can valuably share with clients and prospects. When people receive something with a note saying, “I saw this and thought it might be of interest to you”, they will notice the effort and usually appreciate the intention. Do that on a regular basis and your name is going to crop up in company conversation – for all the right reasons. You never know what it might lead to. Footnote: If you want to stay up to date and ahead of the curve with your MS Office and Microsoft 365 skills, you will find my range of lifetime-access online courses a valuable friend. Shelley Fishel

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