Do you need qualifications to be a Virtual Assistant?
Have you ever wondered if a lack of a degree or formal qualification is holding you back from running a more successful business?
The logical part of your brain probably says, “don’t be silly, of course not.”
But is there still a bit of doubt in your mind?
The doubt that we’ll call Ms. Imposter Syndrome, who says, “Hey! That client will think you’re a fraud because you don’t have a degree!”
Or perhaps Ms. Comparisonitis who scoffs, “You’re not fooling anyone, you’re not as good as so-and-so because she has qualifications.”
If so, keep reading because I’d like to unpack this with you.
The legal considerations
Before we go too far into the article, there’s one thing we need to address first.
Are you required by law to have specific qualifications to offer your services?
Some services require certification or licenses that are attained through specific qualifications and experience.
For example, if you’re a bookkeeper charging clients for BAS services then you’re legally required to hold specific qualifications and documented experience to be registered as a BAS agent.
So, make sure you’ve got what you need to run your business legally.
Do I need qualifications to be a successful Virtual Assistant?
The short answer is no.
Aside from services that have requirements (like BAS agents), there are no formal qualifications required to be a Virtual Assistant, Online Business Manager or Social Media Manager.
If you do have qualifications relevant to your field, then fantastic! It’s helpful to have that knowledge and training behind you. Formal training provides in-depth knowledge on the topic that is acquired in a relatively short period of time.
But if you don’t have those qualifications, it doesn’t mean your business will be a flop.
It doesn’t mean that you’re any less able to achieve outstanding results for your clients.
It doesn’t make you any less of a business owner.
In the 13 years I worked as a graphic designer and virtual assistant, do you know how many times a client asked for my qualifications?
You see, most of your clients won’t care about your qualifications. Some may, but most won’t.
What they do care about is that you can get them results. They care that you’re a good fit for them. They want to know they can trust you. That your values align with theirs.
With that in mind, your potential clients will still want reassurance that you’re capable and can get results.
How to demonstrate your capability
While a qualification or degree is one way of demonstrating your knowledge and abilities, it’s not the only way.
Here’s how you can show your clients that you’re the right choice:
Gather and share testimonials
Clients love to hear personal accounts of how like-minded people have gotten their desired result after working with you. They want to know that, if they invest in you, that you can do what you promise.
This is where social proof comes in.
If your previous clients can provide glowing testimonials or case studies, that is evidence that you’re great at what you do. Once you collect those testimonials, remember to share them on your website, your social media and in places like Google My Business.
Referrals from your connections
If you’ve ever received client leads from word-of-mouth, then it’s because someone loves what you do. They believe in your skills, and your ability to get the right results. Much like a testimonial, word-of-mouth recommendations provide reassurance to the potential client that you’re the right choice.
Another way of demonstrating your abilities is to share previous work.
This can come in the form of a portfolio, or samples of previous work. If you provide creative work like graphic design, web design or copywriting, then you can share past projects to give your potential client a feel for your style and final product.
Service providers that offer results-based work such as social media, Pinterest, SEO, marketing and podcast management can share results from improvements in metrics (for example, an increase of followers, engagements and leads).
By sharing examples of real results you’ve achieved, you’re providing evidence to your potential client that you know what you’re doing.
Demonstrate your understanding of their challenges
There’s a quote from NLP pioneer and master practitioner, Wyatt Woodsmall, that says,
“When you can articulate another person’s problem better than they can, they automatically and unconsciously credit you with knowing the solution.”
As service providers, we’re in the business of solving problems. Problems your client likely experience may include:
- Lack of time
- Lack of skill or desire to complete a task or project
- Too much overwhelm or stress
- Yearning for a specific result or outcome to be met
If you can show you understand what they’re struggling with they’ll believe you know how to fix it. You can talk about their problem in your website copy and your messaging. Show them you get it.
Better yet, educate them on the solution through your content. That will build more credibility and trust, encouraging them to take the next step to contacting you.
Here’s what you do need
So far we’ve established that you don’t necessarily need formal qualifications to run a successful business. However, there are some skills or attributes that you will need if you want to thrive:
The drive to learn
Even though you don’t need a formal qualification, you still need the knowledge and skills to do the job, deliver results, and keep up with industry changes. Informal training and study can give you this. So, a commitment to your own professional development is essential.
Even if you have a formal qualification, there’s nothing that beats real experience. That’s why most qualifications and training include simulated experience as part of the study. Because we learn through doing – and making mistakes.
The ability to draw the line
What’s an essential attribute you need when providing a service? To know when to draw the line. Don’t attempt to do something that’s way out of your depth. It could cause serious problems for you and your client.
If you’re not competent, then don’t be afraid to say so. You can always say, “Sorry, that’s outside of my scope, but I can help you find someone who can help.” Or simply, “While I’d love to help you with that, I’m not qualified to do so.”
So why is it still an issue for me?
If you read the previous sections and you’re still feeling a bit frustrated as to why you’re experiencing so much imposter syndrome about not having a qualification, then this section is for you.
It’s not your lack of qualification that is affecting you. It’s your ingrained belief about what qualifications mean.
Do any of these statements hit close to home with you?
- I have a qualification, but I feel like it’s not enough.
- I can’t charge higher rates because I’m not qualified enough.
- I feel like a fraud – no one would work with me if they knew the truth.
- I feel like I’ll never amount to anything because I didn’t go to uni.
If any of these statements feel familiar, then you’re not alone. Many business owners I’ve worked with struggle too.
The reason it still quietly torments you may come down to one of the following reasons:
You’re comparing yourself to others – you feel deep inadequacy because you think others in your industry have higher qualifications than you, which makes you feel less worthy.
You have unconscious bias – Influential people or events throughout your life led you to believe you’ll never get anywhere in life without a degree (even though it’s untrue).
You’re holding on to negative hindsight – thinking it’s too late to study now, and that if you had studied in the past, you’d be happier or more successful now (even though that might not be true).
These types of unbalanced thoughts indicate an embedded belief. A belief that tells you that your lack of qualification is what’s holding you back from a successful and happy business. It causes doubt in your own self-worth and ability.
Your beliefs and actions
When you experience thoughts like this, it affects the actions you take. Here’s an example:
Sally responded to a lead which she later finds out Alana also applied for. She knows Alana has a Certificate IV in Business Administration. This makes Sally feel uneasy because she has no qualifications and therefore thinks she’s not as good as Alana. She receives an email from the client who wants to arrange a Zoom meeting with her, but thinks, “why bother?” She turns up to the meeting feeling anxious, making her lose confidence in herself. The client did not end up choosing Sally.
Sally believed the reason she didn’t get the client was because she wasn’t qualified enough. But in fact, it was her anxiety and resulting behaviour and body language that caused the client to decide against hiring her
Our beliefs influence our actions, and our actions influence our results.
To overcome this problem, the answer is not necessarily to go and get more qualifications. I’m not saying that you can’t study – if you want to study, learn, gain more experience or qualifications then go for it! I’m a huge fan of ongoing development. However, studying will not remove the root cause of this issue.
To settle your unbalanced thoughts around qualifications, you need to address your deep beliefs about what qualifications mean to you. Modify those beliefs and it’ll no longer be an issue.
If you need help with this, you can book coaching with me and I’ll work with you on identifying and addressing these deep beliefs.
The bottom line
You don’t need a qualification to be successful, proficient, and happy in your business. But you do need the drive to learn and adapt to continually improve your skills and service.
Research, training, mentoring, and practise are things that will help you become the service provider you want to be. Let go of the need to be the best, the expert, or the guru. Instead, enjoy the journey of growing your business and doing what you love.
And if you struggle with feelings of inadequacy around your education or skill, seek support to help you release those unwanted self-expectations.
Michelle is a former Graphic Designer and Virtual Assistant of 13 years, who now provides coaching and training to VA professionals, helping them to grow a fulfilling, sustainable and profitable home-based business.
About the author
Michelle is a chocoholic, stationery obsessed Business Coach from the seaside town of Mandurah, WA. She specialises in working with Virtual Assistants and B2B service providers, helping them to grow a fulfilling, sustainable and profitable home-based business.
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