It occured to me today on one of our Future of Virtual Assistance calls that we are actually pioneers as virtual assistants, online business managers and the like.
Having worked in the virtual support industry for over 10 years now I actually forget that what we do, how we work and what we offer is actually VERY cutting edge in the big picture of the world. As I always like to say, my parents still don’t get what I do even after having read my book (as my dad said at a party a few weeks back “I don’t know what Tina does but she makes a great living at it.”)
I graduated from college in 1994 – at that point the internet was in it’s infancy. I don’t think I got my first email address until circa 95, and it was all dial-up baby (remember that sound? brrrrrrrrwiiiiiiiiiiiiiiizzzzbbbbbbbbbpppppppp) If future Tina had gone back to visit just graduated Tina and said “hey, you’ll be making your living 100% virtual from home, working with super cool entrepreneurs and training others to do the same” I probably would have laughed and said “yea, right… get back to the future there crazy woman.”
And yet I think that most of the people we know in the regular world (aka our non-virtual community) would say the same thing to our faces even here today. Most of my friends work regular jobs – teacher, nurse, corporate rock star – and we rarely if ever talk about work for the simple fact that they don’t understand what I do. Or perhaps i’ve never really tried to explain it properly to them? Hmmm… although I do know my best friend Tara doesn’t want to know – she’s a phys-ed teacher in middle school and neither of us gets what the other one does for a living, LOL!
My point here is this – for those moments when you are feeling frustrated with your business, with finding new clients, connecting with current clients, keeping up with all the technology and all of the ‘not so fun’ stuff that comes along with being a virtual support professional – remember that you are truly a pioneer. This industry – working virtually at all – is so brand new and so foreign to many people that we are blazing the trail here.
And blazing a trail can be hard work at times.
The most common question I get from online business managers and virtual assistants is around how and where to find clients. And as we talk about alot in the OBM Community it can be tough! Because what we do is so new most people don’t understand how we can help them. Say you are an online business manager or a virtual assistant and you might get a blank stare.
It is up to us to EDUCATE business owners on how we can support their business growth, because many of them really don’t understand how we can help. And it is the education piece that I think alot of us forget about and therefore end up feeling frustrated… when it comes to finding new clients consider yourself an educator first and foremost. Educating someone is blazing the trail.
We are all doing what we do for very specific reasons – for freedom in time, freedom to make more money, freedom to do the things we love to do. In my corporate days I always worked in a support role of some kind, and although I loved the work I hated being “boxed in.” This is why I love being in the virtual support industry as I get to still do the kind of work I love but on my terms. It’s up to me to become the professional I want to be, up to me to say yes to the opportunities that excite me (and no to those that don’t), up to me to enjoy being a solo-professional or look to build my own virtual support empire if I so choose. We get to make a choice in what we do, and I know that our friends in regular jobs generally don’t have this luxury.
This makes me wonder what our world will be like another 10 years from now. Will working virtually be more the norm? Will my parents finally understand what I do for a living? Will business owners understand when we say “I’m an Online Business Manager.”? That is very appealing of course, but in some ways I like being where we are right now blazing the trail. As they say here in cowboy land (good ole southern Alberta where I live) Giddy-up!