In our business universe, there are a multitude of business types including Sole Traders, Ltd Companies and Corporations to name a few. We all need each other to succeed, but here’s the thing…there is always a pecking order.
And one of us ends up at the bottom.
But, does it have to be this way?
A lot us VA business owners will work for SMEs, Consultants & even large Corporates. They need our support, advice and dedication to help their business grow. They will in turn have their own clients who need THEIR support, advice & dedication to help THEIR business grow and so on. Now ask yourself this, how do they position themselves? Do they think they are a valuable asset to their clients? Do they know their worth or do they do the ‘embarrassed head tilting’ when telling them their rates?
For some reason, there is still the idea that somebody who may have come from an ‘Admin’ background is less experienced, not as valuable or credible as those that the word ‘Consultant’ in their title….NOT THE CASE !
However, how VAs are perceived has an awful lot to do with how VAs perceive and present themselves. I can’t tell you how much my heart sinks when I hear the phrase “just a VA” uttered by a VA (or anyone else for that matter). Hardly surprising that one of my most used hashtags is #notjustava. Because, well, you’re NOT just a VA, are you? And you’re only at the bottom of the pecking order if you put yourself there!
Look at it this way, as a VA business owner, you’ve already demonstrated that you are (amongst many other things):
- A creator
- An entrepreneur
- A self-starter
- An organiser
- A risk-taker
You already have credibility above the millions of individuals who lack the confidence or ability to even TRY to go it alone – be proud of that!
And then you have your own areas of expertise: your specialist skills, your unique talents and strengths, your experience, qualifications, proficiency, gifts, flair, know-how, techniques, ingenuity…..hardly “just” anything!
I know that most of us have been conditioned to be modest, and not only are we reluctant to sing our own praises, but we also put ourselves down, often using self-deprecating humour to break the ice in social situations such as networking. Far too often I’ve heard VAs joke about what they do as “the boring stuff”. Aaargghhhh!!
This might seem like a fairly innocuous comment, but any “belittling” words, phrases or sentiments will diminish your credibility, downplay the capabilities and value of the industry as a whole, and keep VAs very much at the bottom of the perceived pecking order. Let’s lose the “boring”, and the “just” shall we?
I’ve blogged previously about how VA business owners fall into two camps: those who, like me, see themselves first and foremost as a businessperson, an entrepreneur focused on building the BEST business possible, OR those who want to focus on the transactional aspects of the VA role, for whom the business side of things (registering with HMRC, keeping financial records etc.) is, fundamentally, just a necessity to enable them to legitimately operate as a VA.
Whichever camp you’re in, you are a credible business owner who, far from just dealing with “the boring stuff”, performs a CRUCIAL role, with a great deal of skill and professionalism. As a VA to an SME, you ensure – by providing certain critical services – that your client can, in turn, service its clients and be successful.
Seen in this way, it’s clear that your relationship with your client is one of equals. You are not “below” them in the pecking order, and they are not “above” you. Your client may be an SME working with a consultant who is working with a corporate business. It’s a circular process in which each aspect is as valuable and essential as the next to keep the wheels in motion.
I know I’m fortunate to work with clients who see me as a partner rather than “just-a-VA”, and I know there’s a long way to go before all VAs are seen as equals to the businesses they support, but change can only start with the way WE see ourselves, with how we market, present and perceive ourselves.
So please, fellow VAs, remember who you are, what your values are and how far you’ve come already. Realise your worth and don’t be afraid to speak up about your achievements, successes and skills. You might be small, but you can have a BIG impact.
Don’t be afraid to stand up and talk about your best self and our industry with pride and passion. Don’t sell yourself short. Be proud of your achievements: you’re not JUST anything, and your work is far from boring!
Toot your own horn for a change, and never, ever, forget that YOU are responsible for how you present your value to others!
If you’re still looking to find ways of how to get your business out there or need to just #FineTuneYourBiz then check out details our next NW VA Conference being held in #Warrington on the 21st & 22nd of June next month