In the first part of the article Top 10 Skills for the Savvy 21st Century Virtual Assistant we looked at five key skills which you will need to hone in order to propel your virtual assistant (VA) business into the future. These were Communication, Customer Service, Information and Communications Technology (ICT), Time and Personal Management, and Virtual Collaboration skills.
Part II highlights the final five of what I have identified as the Top 10 Skills for the Savvy 21st Century Virtual Assistant:
Leadership: Are you ready to lead your business to success? In my view, leadership is very different to management and not all managers are good leaders. When you think of great leaders, what comes to your mind? Is it their decisiveness and determination to succeed? Or is it their integrity and ability to say Yes, where others have said No?
Leadership is about visioning, seeing the whole and its parts and seeing what others are unable to see. It also requires a passion, a drive and a determination to succeed, which motivates the leader to convincingly share that vision with others. Can you visualize where your business will be in the next two to three years and are you taking steps to get you there?
A leader must also be a motivator, being skilled at networking and demonstrating social intelligence (being able to connect with others and thus influence their actions). Above all, a truly great leader is humble and therefore willing to share knowledge and watch others grow. How can you use your influence to propel others to success? Will you share your knowledge and passion with a client or another VA today? Are you leading as a VA?
Entrepreneurial: Change is challenging, and as you enter the world of virtual assistance you are now called upon to operate at a different level. You are no longer an employee, rather you are an entrepreneur. You will now need to develop the following competencies/capabilities:
Financial competence in handling your business and managing your cash flow. You will need to maintain financial and business records along with appropriate systems for tracking and scheduling tasks. You also need to identify the best pricing structure for your business in order to obtain optimal financial returns. For example, will you be using an hourly rate or will you provide your clients with package options?
Administrative capabilities for the day to day running of your business and to align activities with goals. Marketing will also be important in gaining customers; for what is a business if there are no customers? To understand your market, take time to review the industry in which you operate. Today there are many VA forums and websites which provide resources, tools and developing standards for the VA industry.
Self-motivation and resilience to drive you towards making your business a success. Where do you put your energies? I have found that self-motivation wanes, when I am tempted to take time off to go to the beach with the kids or when a friend calls for assistance. Resilience is tested too when you are unable to close that sale.
Problem Solving: As you interact with your multiple clients and the members of your project teams, there will be challenges. The savvy VA will need to be able to assess and resolve problems, and recognize the assumptions being made in a given situation. Use effective decision-making skills to help you ask the appropriate questions and reduce the stress associated with making difficult decisions. Use available information, creativity, reasoning, and past experiences to develop solutions to problems. Weigh the possible outcomes of your decisions.
Negotiation: To secure contracts and gain new clients will require negotiating skills. The virtual worker will need to be convincing and have a warm virtual presence to close the deal.
Effective negotiation will require building trust, listening actively and empathically to what is said; and learning to interpret the spirit behind the words. To negotiate successfully you must be able to convince your prospects that you can meet their unique needs and desires. Aim to achieve a win-win solution where there are differences.
Creativity and Innovation: The importance of innovation in creating wealth has long been realized. Through innovation you will be able to reduce your costs and increase your productivity. Are you able to view situations from different angles and come up with original ideas? A good way to start your creative juices going is to ask: What do my clients need? While you cannot create a product or service which is already in existence, why not ask, how can I enhance it? Can you develop a new relationship or service? What about business expansion? Seek to become more innovative and thus make your business more innovative.
The world of virtual assistance is exciting and challenging. Yet if you take the time to hone these Top 10 Skills it will increase your chances of success. I am not equally proficient in these ten skills, yet I am confident that as I pursue my personal development I will grow and become more effective.
You, the Savvy 21st Century Virtual Assistant, are a knowledge worker, and as such I invite you to invest in upgrading and refining your skills and knowledge base to increase your efficiency and grow your business.
Eunice Nisbett is the Owner of Savvy Corporate Planners+ a Caribbean based administrative services and virtual assistance consultancy, providing innovative solutions for administrative challenges. Learn more here: http://www.savvyvirtuals.com
We want to thank Eunice for her “Guest Blog” post and invite you all to engage with her in the comments section. This is Shilonda Downing for Virtual Work Team LLC.