Sorry, I didn’t mean to mention chocolate.  

But there’s a colourful analogy to share which may help you develop your VA career and business.

Picture a box of Quality Street. 

The flavours of the tiny chocolates inside can be recognised instantly by their shape and the colour of their wrapper. 

Everyone has their personal favourites. 

So many to choose from, including Strawberry Delight. Toffee Finger. Caramel Swirl. Chocolate Coated Fudge. The Green Triangle (Hazelnut Noisette). Coconut Eclair. Orange Crème.  

Which of these do you like best? 

It’s also fair to say many people have at least ONE flavour in the box that they do NOT like – or would rather avoid. 

So what has all this talk of chocolate got to do with running a VA business, I hear you say. 

I’m going to share this analogy and you can let me know if it makes good sense. 

Imagine the box or tin of chocolates as an assortment of services a client or prospective client might ask a VA to do. 

For example, it might look like this. 

  • Write a report (Coconut eclair) 
  • Create a spreadsheet (Green Triangle) 
  • Put together a PowerPoint presentation (Strawberry Delight)
  • Send  the same message, but customised, to different people (Toffee Finger)
  • Create an Infographic (Chocolate Coated Fudge)
  • Sort and summarise a set of data (Orange Crème)
  • Produce an eBook (Caramel Swirl)

When you first start out as a VA, you will probably find yourself being asked to do a wide range of tasks. 

All the flavours of the tin (those you love and those you are less sure about). 

Clients, fairly or not, tend to have certain expectations. They will want you to: 

  1.  Know the core essentials of Microsoft Office
  2. Be competent with Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook
  3. Understand their brief and be able to deliver on time
  4. Be trustworthy and reliable
  5. Have the ability to solve problems and make their life easier 

It’s a fact of life that some VA’s can struggle at first. They have the heart to do well but not yet the skills and experience to manage or cope. 

In the more extreme cases, clients find the person they hired goes AWOL and incommunicado. 

That’s definitely not good for either party. 

Sometimes it just means VA’s are working all hours under the sun – often juggling that with raising a family as well. That can leave even the most motivated professional short on sleep, energy and focus. 

The VA market is expanding and the number of professionals offering services is rising. 

How you start and serve your first few clients can be the difference between sadness and success. 

Reputation in this business is everything. 

The way to become competent, confident and calm under pressure is to learn the necessary skills. Get to know the basics inside out so you don’t even have to think about how to do it. 

That’s what I teach in my online training courses for Microsoft Office. 

When the ‘how do I do that?’ is answered and in the bag, you can focus on making the best job of each task. 

And you’ll know the most efficient way to work – creating more time to impress your clients or make space for more business. 

That’s the smarter way to go. 

As your clients get to know what you can do (and how well you do it) they may see that you are particularly strong with specific tasks or types of work. 

You, too, may notice there are things which you love doing most or excel at. 

This may lead you to becoming more of a specialist VA. 

The expert at spreadsheet analysis. 

The expert at report writing. 

The expert at infographics and graphic design. 

The expert at creating social media posts. 

The expert at collaborative communications. 

You may find your clients (or yourself) choosing selected wrappers from the chocolate box. 

And having to deal less often with the flavours least to your taste. 

Wherever you are at and in whatever direction you choose to go, one theme must run through everything you do. 

That theme is quality. 

To your VA success (whichever street you are in). 

P.S. If you are keen to improve your skills, take a look at my range of online training courses for Microsoft Office. 

Learn in your own time. Where you want, when you want.  

Lifetime access so you can refresh your mind any time you need to... 

… and if you know you need to cover ALL the essentials in Microsoft Office you may find Tomorrow’s VA Hub (also known as ‘The Full Monty’) is right up your street. Quality, of course, guaranteed. 

I find Shelley’s training easy to follow and the very best thing is that you can do it all at your own pace and revisit modules if it doesn’t quite sink in the first time round! I have learned so much from her training and continue to do so! She is responsive to my questions and I learn something new with each module. I find Iam hardly ever having to Google or YouTube information now, so it really is saving me time in my work day. Time that can be better used by learning more about the business I operate in!
Thanks Shelley!

Tracey Whitehouse – Executive Assistant

I have been following Shelley on Linkedin for several years, and always loved her hints and tips. In May of this year, I had the opportunity to recommend Shelley as one of our workshop speakers at the annual HMC Heads’ PA Conference in Sheffield.

On receiving the brief Shelley quickly produced content for two IT Microsoft Skills Workshops covering nuggets from Outlook, Word and Excel. Shelley then delivered (virtually) these two fantastic workshops to over 60 PAs at our conference.

From initial enquiry to delivery Shelley is the consummate professional and it was my pleasure to have had the opportunity to engage with her.

I would have no hesitation in recommending Shelley to any individual or group.

Michaela Fletcher – Heads PA

Shelley is THE guru on all things Microsoft.

I love Outlook, use it every day, and think I have a pretty good understanding of it. But every time I attend one of her sessions I learn a lot more. Her knowledge is remarkable. And she delivers her knowledge in a really clear, engaging way.

Thanks Shelley

Kathy Soulsby

I have just spent less than an hour at one of Shelley’s presentations and my mind is truly blown! I thought I was fairly proficient in Outlook, but I had no idea it could do so much more! So many time saving tips and shortcuts to help me – I can’t wait to get stuck in and implement them all! Thank you Shelley – I would highly recommend!

Hayley Rose – Executive Assistant -Dalcour Maclaren

Shelley joined us for the annual HMC Heads’ PAs conference in May 2023, where she delivered two hands-on practical IT skills workshops for over 60 PAs in attendance. Both sessions were warmly received by all participants, and from a personal perspective it was an absolute pleasure for me to work with Shelley both offline in the extensive prep phase ahead of the sessions, and online during the day itself – sharp in subject knowledge, flexible in content delivery and everything executed with a really affable manner and “can-do” approach throughout. I would recommend her services wholeheartedly.

Gareth Johnson – Leader GRE Education

Heads PA Conference

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