Colored bar that says Frequently Asked Questions

FAQs

Have more questions about being a virtual assistant, or about The Virtual Mentoring Program? If so, you’re in the right place as we’ve taken on the questions we’re asked most frequently.

Have questions we haven’t tackled here? Feel free to email us and we’ll help you get the answers you’re looking for!

Frequently Asked Questions about  Being a Virtual Assistant

What is virtual assistance?

We get really excited talking about this. Virtual assistance is such an amazing profession to be involved with!

Anastacia created the original “definition” of what a VA is and does when she created the VA profession in 1997, and AssistU has embraced that ever since.

Here it is:

Virtual assistance is a branch of the administrative profession.

The professionals are called virtual assistants, or VAs.

VAs are owners of tiny businesses that provide administrative, operational, and sometimes personal support while working in long-term collaborative relationships with only a handful of terrific clients who can be down the street or across the world.

Using phone, email, as well as other amazing technologies and vast resources, VAs support their clients’ needs, across the board, without having to ever step foot inside the clients’ offices.

We like to think of VAs as modern day sidekicks to their clients. It’s a powerful position in the relationship and we wrote a blog post about it that you might enjoy reading.

What isn't virtual assistance about?

As you move around the ‘net, you’ll see a variety of definitions about what Virtual Assistance is, and what VAs do. AssistU has always had a strong and distinctive brand of Virtual Assistance which we believe is the highest and best standard for the industry as a whole.

Our brand is about VAs providing administrative, operations, and sometimes personal support, across the board, in long-term and collaborative relationships. So, a VA is a person who supports a client, across the board, administratively and personally without being geographically present in the client’s location.

Having said that, from our POV, a VA is not someone who provides consulting services. That person is a consultant. A VA isn’t someone who only provides bookkeeping services. That person is a bookkeeper. A VA isn’t someone who only provides marketing support. That person is a marketing consultant or a marketing assistant. A VA isn’t someone who books speaking engagements. That person is an agent. Nor are VAs Tax Advisors, Accountants, Medical Transcriptionists, Event/Party Organizers and Planners, Web Designers, or professional business and personal Coaches.

What makes a person a VA, from our perspective, isn’t that the services can be performed at a distance, but rather that the services that are being performed are administrative in scale and scope, and are provided with the desire to support the client across the board, not with just one specific function or task, no matter how ongoing that might be.

While it’s possible that a VA may offer additional services, those who offer limited, or non-administrative services are not, in our opinion, Virtual Assistants.

Are we judgmental? We don’t believe so. There’s certainly room in the business world for whatever any business owner wants to do. However, we feel, and have always felt, that there needs to be a strong definition of what this profession is about; in order for Virtual Assistance and VAs to have a future (especially outside of Asia), we need to distinguish ourselves and what we offer as distinct from all others.

At AssistU, through our brand, we have been doing that since we created the profession more than two decades ago, and it’s part and parcel of what we stand for.

Help me understand—don't small business owners tend to do it all themselves?

They usually do, at least in the beginning. But sooner or later, as their businesses grow, they painfully discover that it’s impossible to do it all and have great lives. Something really has to give!

Fortunately, they can do something about it, by working with a masterful VA.

What’s in it for me that I can’t get in a job?

Working virtually in your own business can be especially powerful for many reasons, including:

  • Gaining independence and control over your own life.
  • Being successful on your own terms.
  • Changing the paradigm from working for someone and running on that corporate gerbil wheel to owning your own company and choosing with whom you will work.
  • Working at home lets you spend more time with your children, pets, aging parents.
  • Only doing work you love.
  • Doing diverse work.
  • Getting to contribute in a way you may never have been permitted to before.
  • Getting to use your creativity freely.
  • Doing dynamic work with interesting people.
  • Having no commute and no pantyhose!
  • Working with people who genuinely appreciate your contribution.
  • Being a pioneer in a new profession.
  • Setting your own hours, taking as much time off as is desired.
  • Devising a schedule that works best for you and your family.
  • Receiving compensation that genuinely honors the contribution you make.
  • Not having to any longer be at the mercy of a corporate structure that doesn’t see you or honor you as a true professional in your own right.

You might consider becoming a VA because of any one reason in the above list, or for a reason not shown. What we know is that the only job security in the world is the security you create on your own. The corporate world will continue to ask you for more, while giving you less. And downsizing continues… there is simply no way for you to know how long your job will be viable. If you want to, and are ready to create your own destiny, becoming a VA might be just the way to do that.

How do I know if being a VA is the right career for me?

If what you’re reading is exciting to you, if you’re a woman with great admin/ops skills, if you genuinely love being of service, if the idea of supporting a busy human jazzes you, if you are insatiably curious, love to learn, and love being a resource for people, if you want to create a company of your own visioning – one where you’ll do work you love with dynamic people, and make a really good living from anywhere you want to work, chances are becoming a VA is right for you.  If we can help you figure that out, please book an Office Hours session and we’ll do exactly that!

What qualities do I need to be a successful VA?

Every awesome VA we know has the following qualities:

  • Accepts personal responsibility for herself and her experiences.
  • Has open ears, an active mind, a ready heart and a can-do attitude. Willing to learn new things and easily adaptable to new ways of doing things.
  • Likes to simplify things in her life and work.
  • Can easily focus. Can give each task or piece of work complete attention. Not easily distracted.
  • Is quick; able to get it, whatever it is, rapidly.
  • Is intuitive. Listens well. Can hear what’s said and what’s not said.
  • Is proactive. Takes the bull by the horns. Sees something that needs attention and takes care of it.
  • Is self-confident.  Trusts her gut instincts. Loves to say “yes,” but won’t hesitate to say “no.” 
  • Is super-communicative, even when the conversation may be hard. 
  • Is discerning. Can easily tell what’s important and what’s not. Can “read the room” and understand what’s appropriate and what’s not.
  • Hates drama and refuses to bring it to the party.
  • Thrives on her own, and also wants community, collaboration, and connection.
  • Reaches out for help when she needs it. Refuses to struggle or waste time trying to figure something out on her own if she can’t find the answer quickly when help is available.
  • Commits. Knows that starting a business is an investment, not a way to make money fast. Focuses on her Plan A rather than counting on a fall-back plan. Looks for partnerships—long-term relationships with partners, not quickie tasks or one-time assignments. Is willing to make life changes to accommodate the work that needs to be done to reach goals and make dreams come true.
  • Has the ability to say the following statement and mean it: “Life is pretty darn good, just as it is—there are no major personal problems I’m aware of that could get in the way of my success.”

The more of them you have nailed when you start, the easier you’ll find this business. But if you need to do a bit of work to develop some of them fully, don’t let that scare you, and for goodness sakes, don’t let it stop you from moving forward toward becoming a VA if that’s what’s calling to you!

Are my current skills enough to start a VA business right now?

Probably not.

Perhaps you have great office and relating skills. Maybe you spent a lot of time working virtually during the pandemic. Maybe you use your computer and the web all the time. That’s perfect!

Still, we’ve found that learning to build a virtual business and develop a successful thriving practice as a virtual assistant, there are things most people do not have, no matter their work history—and they’re critical to long-term success.

We firmly believe that anyone considering this as a profession needs additional training. We are certain that people who learn to put a solid foundation under their VA business, and get great VA-specific training to really understand the power created in the relationship between the VA and the person assisted, will get their practices up and running much quicker than those who try to do it on their own.

You and your business deserve every advantage. The Virtual Mentoring Program is the very-best advantage you can get.

Do I need to be young to be a VA?

Gosh, no! VAs come in all shapes, sizes, ages, and from varied locations and cultures. At AssistU, our youngest VA has been in her 20s and the oldest is in her 70s. As long as you’re young at heart, you’re young enough.

I'm a man; can I be a VA?

Of course you can! You should know (and probably do already if you have the kind of experience we think new VAs should have) that this is a profession vastly dominated by women. That’s not a barrier for you, just a fact.

One thing to note about us, though—we train women, not men. It was a decision we made after many years of willingness to train men and women, not seeing many men interested in being VAs and watching almost all of those we had trained fail to create VA businesses, or contribute to our community. When the last one left us, and after several years passed, we noticed that the community (at that point comprised of women only), had developed a genuine sisterhood; a sorority of sorts (in fact, they call each other “AssistU sisters!”), and we decided to honor that energy by solely training women from that point forward.

Can I be a VA part-time?

You can be a VA part time. What you can create for yourself really depends on what “part time” means to you. You’ll want to consider, though, that we’re teaching what you need to know to create a profitable business. The idea being that you are doing this as a new career rather than a way to make a little extra bank.

So, if you are looking at a career here, then, in simple terms, that means you’ll want to create a business able to pay you a fair wage, pay all it’s usual and customary expenses, pay for what most people think of as “benefits” (like health care, retirement contribution, and holiday/vacation time off), and have a bit left over (that’s the profit). The likelihood that a part-time VA practice will be able to do that is low; especially if you live in a larger urban setting where expenses are simply higher than in other places. To be clear, though, “full time” for an AssistU VA isn’t the same as “full time” would be for an employee. An employee would be expected to give 40 (or more) hours/week to be “full time.” For a VA, “full time” is likely closer to 30 hours/week, and it’s broken into the hours she works with clients (billable time) and the time she works on her business (doing things like bookkeeping, paying bills, learning, and marketing) and isn’t billable.  Billable time per week is likely about 25 hours (VA work is 100% brain-engaged work, and it’s hard to do more). Unbillable time per week is probably under five hours consistently.

If working 30-ish hours/week feels good to you, you’re golden.  If you’re thinking of more like 5-10 hours/week, we’re not a great fit for your needs because we wouldn’t be teaching you to build that sort of “part time” gig.

How will I find clients?

Like any other business owner, you’ll market your services to clients who need them. That’s the short answer, and we get that it might sound intimidating, but The Virtual Mentoring Program will show you many different ways to do it so you can choose the ways that feel best to you, and after graduating and becoming a graduate member of our community, you’ll be eligible to subscribe to The Registry—our VA referral service. There, you’ll be able to connect with clients looking for VAs, and who like and want what AssistU VAs do and stand for.

It seems like there are VAs everywhere. Are there enough clients to go around to fill their practices?

We’ve been asked that question for the past 20 years, and the answer has always been the same: yes!

Although VAs can work with any person or business, we see them working most often with owners of microenterprises (the new-ish term for a tiny business with fewer than two employees and making under $250K/year). According to the US census, microenterprises account for 95% of the 28 million US companies they track. That’s almost 27 MILLION in the US alone.

If we only consider that number, and knowing that, as a VA, you’ll only need a handful of clients at a time (the sweet spot for AssistU VAs seems to be four!), do you reasonably think you couldn’t find four in 27 million that are perfect for you?

And let’s say that there are 20,000 US-based VAs (there likely aren’t, but let’s play with that number), and each needs four clients (so, 80,000 clients). Does it seem unreasonable to think that there aren’t 80,000 in that 27 million?

Even if those 20,000 VAs needed four this year, and another four next year, we wouldn’t get close to maxing out on possibility in the market.

And remember, that’s in the US. Your practice isn’t bound geographically, and worldwide! The number of microenterprises is so big, that worrying about this should be something you never think about again!

 

What kind of work might I do for clients?

Remember that AssistU VAs offer administrative, operational, and personal support, across the board, to their clients. So all of your clients’ needs can be handled for you; you can do the work yourself, or you can make it happen. The beauty of virtual assisting is that almost anything can be done across the distance with the willingness to find a way to make it happen.

VAs help clients with everything under the sun, from replying to email, to making appointments, to laying out program materials for workshops, to arranging travel, to planning meetings, to being the client’s gatekeeper, to managing social media posting, to setting up webinars, to providing exquisite customer care to your client’s best customers, to managing a weekly ezine, to doing simple website updates, to creating simple graphics, to making recommendations for how the client can reduce expenses and manage her bottom line… truly, the possibilities are limitless. What’s key to realize is that you get to decide about the work you do in the admin and ops realms. The rest of it—you can find a resource for.

As a VA, will I really get to call my own shots? Won't clients be my bosses?

If you’ve spent most of your working life as an employee, it may be hard to believe that, as a VA, you really do get to call your own shots. But we promise…you do!

In the US and Canada, there are two types of “workers.”  They are employees or self-employed/business owners.

Employees work for the business owners and the business owners are the bosses.

The bosses they tell employees when to work, where to sit, when to have lunch, how much time they can “take off,” and when they can be away, and they take responsibility for withholding taxes, making sure the work environment is safe, providing equipment and support for it, maybe offering benefits like health care…all the things.

But no one tells the bosses what to do. They call the shots.

When you create your VA biz, you will be the business owner and “the boss.” And in being that, you not only “get” to call the shots, you “have to.” It’s part of your job.

So, you’ll decide when you work, what tech you’ll use, what services you’ll offer, what your fee will be, you’ll pay your own taxes, etc.

Will clients try to tell you what to do? Maybe. Customers try that with businesses of all sizes, all the time. But that doesn’t change the reality that you get to do things your way.

In fact, doing things your way is part of what will make you and working with you so very appealing to the best clients for you.

The best clients are smart enough to step back and let you offer what you offer because they know that you know more than they do about admin and ops.

Anastacia has been telling a story for many years that illustrates this:

When you have a problem with your toilet and can’t fix it yourself, you call a plumber. The plumber arrives, looks at what’s going on, and tells you what he can do, when he’s available to do it, and what it will cost. Chances are, you’ll say, “Great! Please do that!” You won’t, in fact, say, “Wait. I want you to do it at 930p tonight. I want you to use these tools, and I will not pay you more than $7.”  And why wouldn’t you?

Because if you knew what to do, you’d already be doing it. And because you don’t get to tell a business owner (or someone who works for one) how to do the job you’re asking him to do.

Seems silly to even consider that scenario, right?   And if a client did that, the plumber wouldn’t do the work. That’s the bottom line. 

It might take you a bit to really embrace that you’ll be calling your own shots, and possibly walking away from clients who aren’t a great fit for what you do and who you are. But you’ll get there. The Virtual Mentoring Program really helps with that!

How long does it take to build a successful VA business?

Like most things…it depends.

Traditional business wisdom says it takes an average of five years before a business owner is happy with her business. After their work with us in the Virtual Mentoring Program, AssistU VAs often do it in significantly less time, usually in under three years, and some in as fast as two.

To be clear, that doesn’t mean they have years with no work and then things magically happen and they have full practices and happy businesses.

It means they start, they get some clients, they work at their craft, they make some mistakes and grow from them, and, over time, it builds to the point where they have full practices they love.

It’s not the starting that takes years—that happens for most of our graduates almost immediately after they finish The Virtual Mentoring Program. It’s the being blissfully happy part that can take some time to grow into.

A big element of what makes a difference as to how long (or short) it will take for you is how much focused time you have to devote to working on your business after the program ends. Note that we said “focused” time. Time in a quiet space without distractions, not time sitting at the kitchen table with the TV on, the dog barking like crazy, and the kids tugging at your sleeves.

If you can only carve out one focused hour per week it’s going to take you longer to build your business than it will take someone who can commit five focused hours per week, but you can do it.

If you have five focused hours per week, it will take you longer than it will take someone who can commit 10 focused hours/week, but you can do it!

If you have 10 focused hours/week it will take you longer than it will take someone who can commit 20 focused hours/week, but you can do it!

Whatever time you can carve out can get you to your goal, as long as you work the time you have.

The thing to remember is that it’s not about how fast you can do it. It’s about taking consistent action, and the right actions to get you where you want to be.

In the VMP we can help you figure out how to carve out the time, and we’ll give you the right actions to take. Then it’s up to you!

Can I really make enough money to support myself?

Yes, yes, yes!!!

That said, what you can earn depends on your skills, the kinds of admin and ops work you want to do, your experience, how many billable hours you want to work, and how you position yourself for the people you market to.

No matter what else you’ve heard on the web, professional VAs are not making “good money” when they’re earning $20/hour. Even $30/hour. Please don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.

As a business owner, you simply cannot be profitable at that rate, and here’s why you really need to be profitable, and not volunteering for yourself. We offer the only training you can get that will help you know, down to your bones, whether you’re profitable, and what you need to do to get there.

Generally speaking, a new VA with administrative and/or operational experience who graduates from our program can expect to command $40-ish per hour immediately. More experienced AssistU VAs who have been in practice for some years bill $60 per hour, on average. Some of our VAs are billing at rates that are $75-$100+/hour. The majority of our VAs are earning high-five figures or six figures in their businesses without creating an agency or having subcontractors (something else we don’t teach!).

If you need to earn (before taxes) more than high-five figures, please understand that’s a very hard row to hoe as a VA because the work we do is so mentally taxing, and there’s only so much of it a person can do (and bill clients for) without her head exploding.

Will you train me to scale my business so that I can have a VA agency with employees?

We do not. We teach you to create a business as a solo VA that will be able to be sustainable, profitable, and joy-filled long term.

Generally, the people who are drawn to us are also drawn to doing the work of a VA, not to managing a bigger company with employed (or contracted) VAs they arrange for clients of the agency.

But, if you create your own successful solo business, foundationally, you’ll be much better prepared to scale, if that’s really what you want to do.

All that to say that if you still want us to train you, you have to be prepared to create a business as a solo-VA. We won’t help you plan for anything else.

If you know you want to create an agency from the beginning, we’re likely not the right place for you.

Once I become an AssistU VA, how much of my earnings do you take each month?

Zero. Never have; never will.

Other companies take up to 20% of every dollar you earn, and while we understand that model, it’s not ours. In our model, you pay us to teach you what you need to know to start your own business and be successful in the ways that are meaningful to you. Beyond that, we never take any of the money you make with your clients–that simply doesn’t feel good to us.

Tell me more about your program--can it really help me start a virtual assistant business?

It absolutely can, and will if you apply what we share with you.

Here are two easy steps to learn more!

  1. Visit our page about The Virtual Mentoring Program.
  2. If you have more questions, visit our Frequently Asked Questions About The Virtual Mentoring Program at the bottom of the page you’re currently on.

Frequently Asked Questions About  The Virtual Mentoring Program

Tell me more about The Virtual Mentoring Program and what I'll learn

The Virtual Mentoring Program (VMP) is a highly intensive, 16-week program designed to guide you in becoming successful as a virtual assistant (VA).

Offered just three times each year so that we can consistently update and upgrade the information we share with you, we blend course materials with self-paced and cohort-based learning in 11 class modules.

What that means is that you get to do your work when you want to, while going through the program alongside others you can learn and grow with.

We layer that with 1:1 mentoring, weekly group learning labs where we do deeper dives into each module, monthly group coaching to help you grow as a human, and the support of community—both the small-group of your cohort, and the bigger AssistU community.

It’s all designed to give you the strongest start possible in getting your practice up and running in the least-possible amount of time.

What we teach are the skills that every VA needs to be successful, and none that they don’t. These are not skills like creating a better PowerPoint presentation, or web design, or how to do a complex mail merge from a certain contact management software package, or how to set up a follow-up sequence for email marketing, or workflows and automations.

The skills we discuss are more important than those, and more subtle. They are skills that will sustain you in your business and in relationships with clients regardless of the specific work you do, or don’t do with them. You have many of the task-related skills you need, already, and can learn others you may decide you need anywhere.

What we offer, you’ll find nowhere else. We urge you to look.

We also support the broadening of your understanding of virtual assistance and what you want for your business and yourself. Because it’s so important to your success, we also spend time helping you understand how to create and sustain a solid small business and have an amazing life.

We take you from A to Z, giving you a roadmap of success!

Here are some highlights of the program:

  • Virtual assistance defined
    • We’ll show you how the AssistU brand of virtual assistance is vastly different than what many others are doing, and why it leads to greater happiness, as well as personal and professional fulfillment.
    • We’ll also explain the various definitions you’ll see as you move around the Internet, in case one of those appeals to you more.
    • And we’ll share the various business models VAs use so you can appropriately choose what you most want for yourself.
  • Putting a foundation under your business to support you in creating your business your way
    • We’ll teach you about the “who” of business, and why it’s so much more important to your success than anything you’ve ever experienced before.
    • You’ll learn the legalities of starting a micro business, and what you’ll need to do to start yours.
    • You’ll do a business plan to focus you on the nuts and bolts of your business. (It’s not scary. We promise!)
    • You’ll identify support teams to help keep you on track.
    • And if you need to transition out of current employment, we’ll help you create a solid plan to do that without putting you or your family at risk.
  • Skills necessary to do Virtual assistance well
    • How much of what you know and do now is an asset, and what new skills might you have to learn? We’ll show you.
  • Equipment needed to communicate and work effectively with those you assist and their customers
    • What do you need to have now versus what can wait till later? We’ll tell you so you won’t overspend!
  • What’s the difference between being a VA, and doing VA work? We’ll teach you
  • Your Home Office
    • Learn what you need to know about the space you work in, the decor (it matters!), working with vendors, your supplies, collateral materials, etc. You’ll want to create a very specific image, style and reputation. We’ll show you how.
  • Practice Structure And Money Matters
    • Learn about setting up your business in a way that is attractive to clients, but which also honors you.
    • Explore the differences between working in an office and working at home. What do you do about distractions, boundaries, time management, and finding balance between the work you love and the life you love? We’ll teach you!
    • Work you love vs. other work. Do you know the difference? And would you believe us if we told you you can absolutely build your practice around the work you love and do easily (and never do anything you really hate again!)? We’ll help you shift to see those possibilities.
    • Set standards for your virtual business. We’ll show you how and what standards you’ll need to create in order to be successful.
    • How to value your services, set your fees, and be profitable. It’s easy, when you know how!
  • Juggling
    • There are many ways to stay sane while handling the work of several clients. We share what works for successful VAs so that you can decide which is best for you!
  • Marketing
    • Will you have to sell yourself? No! We have a different model of getting business that leads you to pull the right clients toward you, rather than having to push yourself on them. And it all starts with being able to powerfully share what you do. You’ll learn ways to find and start the ball rolling with the kinds of clients you most want.
    • Worried about competition? You’ll have none! We’ll explain why.
    • Why and how to break free from the worry that you don’t have what you need to be a great VA, and that getting what you need involves learning and doing things you know aren’t a good use of your time or talents.
    • Learn how to communicate effectively, efficiently, and show up confidently with prospective clients about working together, so that you move toward working with the clients you really want to support
    • Never want to market again? Find out how to create a stream of referrals and possibly a waiting list of ideal clients.
    • How to assess client fit appropriately to get into the best relationships and stay away from the worst
    • Learn why focusing on marketing via Social Media isn’t your best bet, and what will be.
  • Setting Up Great Processes
    • You’ll need great processes for a variety of things, including marketing, interviewing, bringing new clients into your practice, deciding what to learn and how to grow…all sorts of processes and we’ll share the ins and outs of how to create them and what to include to make sure they serve you.
  • Creating Strong Relationships
    • Identifying your ideal client and creating an ideal client profile so that the relationships you move into allow you to give and receive at the highest levels possible
    • We are experts in creating and maintaining strong virtual relationships. We’ll teach you what you need to know to begin to unleash the power in relationships to serve your clients well!
  • Handling Conflicts
    • We hate conflicts, but they happen. Learn how to handle conflicts and come to a great understanding with another human when you’re not face to face.
  • Keeping Your Business Fresh
    • There’s never an end to what you can learn and do! We’ll help you uncover a specific direction for your business and your client relationships.

Alongside the main program sections, we also help you learn more about :

Internet skills: People take the Internet for granted. They tend to think they know how to use it well, but often really don’t—at least not as well as they need to in a business context in order to be successful VAs. We show you what you need to know to become a power internet user, and introduce you and practice with you the use of technology that will allow you to better and more easily work and collaborate with your clients!

Writing Skills: We know what clients want from their VAs, and strong writing skills are one of the hottest things requested. We help you strengthen your existing skills, because if you can’t write well, you can’t be successful as a VA.

Self-Care: We know that to have a terrific business, you need to have a terrific personal life. We also know that the corporate world doesn’t care about you, and one reason you’re likely considering being a virtual assistant is to get off that ever spinning gerbil wheel that keeps you from having the life you want. We help you work toward balance and taking time for yourself.

By the time you’re finished, you’ll have nearly 100 hours of study and mentoring behind you – all designed to support your success as a virtual assistant in your own profitable business!

**Please note: We do not train you in the use of specific programs/apps, although you’ll use a variety of programs/apps during your time with us (like something for email, a web browser, a way to track your time, etc.). Each VA will use a variety of programs/apps in her practice, and it’s up to her to learn the programs she wants to use. We do actively encourage continued learning and growth with regard to hard-skills that we don’t provide training for, and as they become available, share external resources and listings of classes available for additional training in those kinds of skills.

How is the program organized and how much time am I expected to devote to it each week?

Our program is a beautiful blend of self-paced and cohort-based learning combined with private mentoring.

What that does is give you the flexibility of doing your work when and where it works best for you, while having you begin and end the program with a small group of other learners who will become fast friends and terrific colleagues, as well as your anchor as you learn and start your business (and probably far beyond!)

There are 11 class modules. Many people do one each week, but we give you 16 weeks to do our 11 classes because we know that life can throw curveballs.

The program is very much text based (vs. video or audio). That’s important for you to know in today’s video world.

It’s that way because the world in which VAs interact with their clients is predominantly text based (emails, Slack messages, postings in collaborative workspaces, etc.). We want you to get used to and practice taking in written information, processing it, and organizing it appropriately for yourself during your time with us, because it will make you a stronger VA when you work with clients.

Each class has primary lessons, plus next-step action items to complete, a checklist to help you make sure you’ve completed what you need to, and resources to support the lesson material.

In addition, most classes include a case study for you to consider a solution for, as well as suggestions from us about what might be the most beneficial response, so you can both build your solution-finding muscle as well as hear how someone vastly more experienced (that would be us!) suggests thinking through it and handling it.

Additionally, there are weekly facilitated discussions of class modules with Anastacia, and a monthly group coaching call with her to support your growth as a human. AND 24/7 access to the AssistU community of VAs, with a very special private area for you and your cohort.

The goal of it all is to not only give you what you need to learn to start this business, but also to support you in stretching and honing your skills, so that you’ll be able to happily and successfully work in the virtual world. We want you to feel absolutely comfortable working with clients at a distance. Besides Next Steps, the program also encourages you to do things which will forward your growth as a person, which will also forward your growth as a virtual assistant.

As you move through the program, your mentor will never be far away (virtually, of course!), and available to help you with any questions you have or snags you run into, and the same is true for the members of your cohort and our entire AssistU community!

And as far as how much time you’ll want to devote to this each week, you’d want to plan at least five hours. Some modules may take more and some may take a little less. The amount of time you’ll spend will depend completely on where your knowledge and skill currently sit. Where you’re already strong, you’ll spend less time with a module. Where you’re not as strong, you’ll spend more time with a module.

Other programs send out modules on a pre-defined schedule. Do you?

That’s called “dripping” and we don’t do it. We give you the entire program on the day you begin.

We do that because you’re an adult, and a soon-to-be virtual assistant, and you need to be able to organize yourself and plan how you want to work through the program.

Like many others you’ll find in the program, this is a learning experience that’s built in (there’s always a method to our proverbial madness!) to the program and that will accelerate your growth and ultimately help you in your business. We can’t give you that experience if we’re controlling when you get the materials for the next class.

On a related note, with all the good stuff at your fingertips, there can be a real desire to leap ahead and explore what we teach later in the program even when you’ve only just begun. We do suggest that you don’t do that, and, instead, work through the class modules in order because each builds on the one before it and leaping to class module 10 during week four is more likely to confuse you than help you.

16 weeks? That's a long time. I need to make money fast! Can't you sell me an ebook?

People spend years in school to learn a profession and start a new career.

We’re suggesting you commit 16 weeks. That’s the equivalent of a single semester. Or about the time it takes to train to be a personal trainer. Or a medical coder. Or a real-estate broker. Many professions take years.

All that to say that there aren’t any professions we know of where you can get professional training and get from where you are to being truly ready to do the work, fast.

If you need to make money fast and feel certain that you want to do it as a VA, there are tons of people online who will hire you and pay you far too little, or will sell you an ebook or even a course and tell you you can be making money in 30 days.

The thing is, you can, but not smartly.

You won’t feel confident in 30 days.

You won’t have the time to really think through what you want and need, much less create it for yourself in 30 days (and if you use templates, then you’ll look like every other VA who used those templates. Ew!).

And, most importantly, whatever you create won’t support you well, long-term without having to be done again as you get smarter about what you want, and how you want it.

We are the foundation people. We make sure you take the time and do the thinking, and have the foundation that will allow you to take your VA practice wherever you want it to go, now and for decades to come.

You can do that right, but you can’t ever do that fast.

Surely getting it right the first time is worth 16 weeks of your life, yes?

 

Why 16 weeks to do 11 class modules?

We give you 16 weeks of mentoring in which to complete the 11 class modules because life happens.

Someone gets sick, or there’s a vacation, or maybe one of the classes is a bigger stretch  for you and you’ll need a bit more time to complete it.

We’d rather give you the time and have you not need it, than have you need it and not have it. If you can finish in 11 weeks, we’re fine with that. Just know that we’re offering you more time…just in case. 

 

Where do I go to take classes?

There are no classes to take. The Virtual Mentoring Program is 100% self-directed and cohort-based learning, meaning the program itself leads you through the work-in your own time, at your convenience, from the comfort of your home or anywhere else you prefer to study. Your mentor and entire cohort are along for the ride to help you with whatever you need help with!

Who does the mentoring and can I mentor with Anastacia?

We have a wonderful team of rock-star mentors; all AssistU grads. They are experienced and successful virtual assistants who have a particular bent for delivering our program and mentoring new virtual assistants!

As for Anastacia, she occasionally has the availability to mentor. If you’re interested in exploring possibilities, please get in touch.

Are there prerequisites for The Virtual Mentoring Program?

There are. Because we work with women who already have admin and ops experience to take them beyond what they already have the ability to do, and to create a VA business from there, here are qualities and experiences/abilities we require that you have before you apply for our program. Not surprisingly, they are also what you need to be successful as a VA.

The qualities we need to see in a mentee are:

  • Accepts personal responsibility for herself and her experiences.
  • Has open ears, an active mind, a ready heart and a can-do attitude. Willing to learn new things and easily adaptable to new ways of doing things.
  • Likes to simplify things in her life and work.
  • Can easily focus. Can give each task or piece of work complete attention. Not easily distracted.
  • Is quick; able to get it, whatever it is, rapidly.
  • Is intuitive. Listens well. Can hear what’s said and what’s not said.
  • Is proactive. Takes the bull by the horns. Sees something that needs attention and takes care of it.
  • Is self-confident.  Trusts her gut instincts. Loves to say “yes,” but won’t hesitate to say “no.” 
  • Is super-communicative, even when the conversation may be hard.
  • Is discerning. Can easily tell what’s important and what’s not. Can “read the room” and understand what’s appropriate and what’s not.
  • Hates drama and refuses to bring it to the party.
  • Thrives on her own, and also wants community, collaboration, and connection.
  • Reaches out for help when she needs it. Refuses to struggle or waste time trying to figure something out on her own if she can’t find the answer quickly when help is available.
  • Commits. Knows that starting a business is an investment, not a way to make money fast. Focuses on her Plan A rather than counting on a fall-back plan. Looks for partnerships—long-term relationships with partners, not quickie tasks or one-time assignments. Is willing to make life changes to accommodate the work that needs to be done to reach goals and make dreams come true.
  • Has the ability to say the following statement and mean it: “Life is pretty darn good, just as it is—there are no major personal problems I’m aware of that could get in the way of my success.”

The experiences/abilities we need a mentee to have are:

  • Located/based in the US or Canada.
  • High school diploma or equivalent.
  • Has at least two years recent (within the past five years) experience in an administrative and operations role or other support role (like customer care or a receptionist position), and can document the types of support performed.  Your experience is far more important than any higher-ed degrees you may have!
  • Has the ability to demonstrate above average knowledge and practical usage of computers, how the Internet works, of the web (especially doing basic web searches through sites like Google), of email (sending and receiving, using filters, out-of-office messages), and other technology tools.
  • Highly organized and can manage large numbers of files  (mainly electronic), and a ton of information.
  • Able to navigate working concurrently on multiple projects and tasks.
  • Has top notch communication skills—both written and verbal.
  • Speaks and writes English fluently, using grammatical and contextual patterns commonly used by US and Canadian English speakers. Knows how to communicate with complete words and sentences. Understands that emojis add context, but don’t ever replace content.
  • Manages time effectively.
  • Is self-directed, and able to figure things out when left to her own devices.
  • Has a home office set up already or has the easy resources to set one up during the course of the VMP.
  • Is dedicated to being the best VA she can be.
  • Has a highly developed sense of humor. Understanding of how to be light, and how to show up online professionally, yet with a definite and easy-going personality.
  • Is ready to create a successful business and a high-quality life.
  • Genuinely loves to serve and be in a support role. Wants the role that traditionally belongs to the Assistant to a CEO in corporate America (but as a VA, wants it without all the associated hassle it usually comes with!).
  • Has gotten all questions answered and is ready to move forward, seriously, into our program. (If you have questions that have not been answered, or are not sure you understand who we are, what we do, and how things work, please email us at hq@assistu.com; we’ll be glad to help you gather the info you need to make a wise decision about our program!)

Has the following minimum computer set up:

PC:

  • Should not be older than five years
  • Processor: 1GHz or faster CPU, or System on a Chip (SoC)
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 250 GB hard drive
  • Broadband Internet access (cable or DSL)
  • Windows 10, version 20H2
  • Word or Word Perfect
  • ISP-based email address, or, if you want to use a free, Internet-based email address, it must be Gmail. Yahoo, AOL, and all the others aren’t robust enough for business use, and we want you to have a strong start with us, immediately.
  • Chrome, or Firefox browser
  • Current virus protection software with updated pattern files/virus signatures

Mac:

  • Should not be older than five years
  • Processor: 1.6GHz dual-core Intel Core i5
  • 4 GB of RAM
  • 500 GB hard drive
  • Broadband Internet access (cable or DSL)
  • OS 10.9 Mavericks
  • Word for Mac 2011
  • ISP-based email address, or, if you want to use a free, Internet-based email address, it must be Gmail. Yahoo, AOL, and all the others aren’t robust enough for business use, and we want you to have a strong start with us, immediately.
  • Safari, plus Chrome or Firefox browser
  • Current virus protection software with updated pattern files/virus signatures

The computer you use must be your own. You will be required to try new technologies, and in some cases install new programs/apps. You must be free to do so.

Obviously, some of this is subjective. You really need, however, to have great foundational skills before you consider this step in your career. If you meet these prerequisites, if this still cries out to you as the right move for you, then we welcome you to apply to the Virtual Training Program at Assist U.

If, on the other hand, you know that you aren’t quite there yet, we encourage you to seek additional training and experience before you apply.

A local college has a VA program. Is there an advantage to doing The Virtual Mentoring Program through AssistU?

In our view, it makes far more sense to learn the skills you need to be a successful VA in the environment in which you’ll be working (from home, and virtually), and from those who are ultra-successful in this particular field, than it does to learn in an in-person, classroom (non-virtual) environment from academicians who may have never done this work, or don’t have the track record of success that AssistU has.

No one has been in this business longer than we have, have seen as much as we have, have built the body of work that we have, or makes the difference we do for our mentees. Our graduates have often said we are the Harvard of virtual assistant programs. We like to think of ourselves as a virtual “finishing school” for already skilled assistants. 

What are the weekly Learning Labs?

Every week, Anastacia or one of the mentors hosts our Learning Lab where your cohort will jump into a module (we do 11 of them…one for each module, in order) together. It’s a terrific opportunity to go deeper into the material than you’re likely to alone, ask questions, learn from the questions and ideas of your cohort members, and build greater confidence and competency in the material.

Tell me more about the coaching that’s included in the program

Our founder, Anastacia Brice, is also a highly-skilled professional business coach. Once each month she holds an hour-long group coaching call for our current mentees.

Those sessions are designed to really allow you to get coaching about your own challenges and opportunities and to help you grow as a human. You’ll also benefit from the coaching other mentees receive. We’re told this coaching is an invaluable part of the program.

If more coaching is desired, Anastacia offers additional one-on-one coaching sessions to our mentees at an additional charge on an as-needed basis. If you want to learn more about her as a coach, her coaching site can be visited here.

What's the tuition for the program? Are there any other fees?

The Virtual Mentoring Program tuition is a steal when you consider that you’ll get an entirely new business and career, for less than the cost of a year’s tuition and fees at a community college, and less than a single semester’s tuition and fees at a good, public four-year college or university. And let’s not even discuss the debt incurred at a private institution!

Chart showing different college and university tuitions in the US, ranging from $9,000 to $90,000 per year

Also, as an AssistU grad with an average fee and working an average amount of billable hours with your clients, you can recoup your financial investment in a single month once you build your business.

You can’t really do that with a learning investment made most places.

The tuition is $3630 USD. We offer the choice to pay it in a single payment or on a five-payment plan of $515 down, and four additional equal monthly payments of $810. We include 4% interest because we’re financing your purchase; if you can finance it another way and especially if you can get a 0% credit card that allows you to pay your tuition over a longer period, we absolutely encourage you to do that!.

As for other fees, there’s one book that’s required reading, and two that are suggested. All are easily available from your favorite online bookseller (and if you like used books, you can get them for less!).

I don't think I need mentoring. Is there any other option?

Nope. We know that our program is best when it’s combined with great support. It’s the only way we’re willing to make it available.

I have a full-time job. Can I do the VMP at the same time?

You can!

Look, we know what it’s like to have a busy life. Work, kids, cleaning, cooking, errands…all the things. We’ve helped program participants do it who had full-time jobs (with or without kids). We’ve helped women who didn’t have full-time jobs, but who found themselves with kids they had to take care of round the clock and homeschool during the pandemic. We’ve helped women who took care of aging parents or people recovering from COVID. So many different stories, but all very similar, at the same time.

We also know that if this is important to you, you’ll figure out how to make it work. We’ll help by sharing ideas with you that have worked for the maaaaany women we’ve trained who have also had to figure it out.

But you’re the one who has to make it work.

The real question is, do you want it enough to do what you may need to do to make the time for it? And by “it” we mean the four months of training, plus then the time you’ll need to build your business.

Will you ask your family for help? Will you say no to invitations, and step away from volunteer roles? Will you carve out an hour here or there each day? Will you give up your fav show on Netflix for awhile? Will you do homework instead of diving into a new book?

Only you know the answer.

And if it’s a no, that’s ok. Truly. No one has to become a great VA.

But if it’s a yes, we’d love to help you with it.

One thing to note about it, in case it helps. If you invest the time now, realize that this period of change to accommodate this new thing you want to do won’t last forever. At some point, you’ll likely transition out of your job (we help you figure out how to do that, too, without blowing up your life!), and work for yourself only. And then you’ll have more time to do the things that you needed to put aside for a bit.

And, if you’re wondering if this is the right time, our experience shows us that there’s never a right time. Or, maybe never a better time. We suggest you screw up all the courage you can muster, put yourself first, and go for what you want. You’ll never regret that, but you might regret waking up in the same place you are today a year from now.

We’ll leave you with two quotes that guide Anastacia when she’s making decisions about moving forward into something—or not.

Author Udai Yadla wrote:  “When you wait for the right time, you’ll never know when it’s already too late.”

And poet Chinonye J. Chidolue wrote: “No such thing as the right time, situation or place. You have all it takes. Just dig within. Exhume all the greatness inside of you and transform the world with an inexhaustible drive and without fear of limitations.”

Here’s to your inexhaustible drive!!

 

What happens if I fall behind or don't finish the program on time, or have some other problem that keeps me from progressing?

As much as we’d love to have an answer for every eventuality, it’s not possible.

What we can tell you is that our expectation is that you will make good use of your time with us, including the four weeks of buffer time we’ve built into the program, so that you finish on time. 16 weeks is ample time to do the program, even if you are sick for a week!

If you know in advance that 16 weeks is going to be not enough time for you because of something upcoming in your life (like a move, or having a baby, or a surgery with a difficult recovery), we’d suggest that you put the program off until you can clear your life and make the time to be present and focused.

We also promise you that we’re seriously compassionate humans. If something emergent gets in your way, we’d do our best to create a solution that works for all of us.

What happens when I finish The Virtual Mentoring Program?

If you successfully complete The Virtual Mentoring Program (successful completion means that you’ve performed well, you’ve done all the work of the program, you’ve interacted with your mentor so that she understands your thinking, you’ve displayed the qualities we look for in a VA, mentioned above, and that you have no glaring deficiencies that would cause you problems in your practice), you’ll be invited to sit for our rigorous final exam*.

If you pass the final exam (you need a grade of 85 or better, plus demonstration of good writing skills to do that), you become a graduate of the VMP, and receive a lovely certificate from us that you can share with the world if you like, and a sweet gift from us.

You would then be invited to remain in our private community as a graduate.  As a graduate, you’d pay for membership*, and gain access to additional trainings, vendor discounts, community events, the ability to subscribe to The Registry*—our fabulous referral service, and best of all, you get the continued benefit of being part of a strong and helpful community of professionals.

* Additional fee, subject to change. If you’re interested in the current fees for the exam, membership in our community, or a subscription to The Registry, please be in touch.

If I successfully complete The Virtual Mentoring Program, what guarantee do you offer that I’ll have a successful business?

We offer none. We can’t. We don’t create, build, or sustain your business—you do.

Remembering that our first prerequisite is being personally responsible for yourself and your experiences,  your success, or lack of it, will be controlled completely by who you are, and what actions you take or don’t take. We give you the information, coaching, mentoring, and access to resources, but it’s going to be entirely up to you to use what you’ve gotten from us, or not.

Does everyone get in to The Virtual Mentoring Program?

No. We only accept those we believe are ready for this journey and career path. People who wouldn’t be accepted are those whose application process indicates to us a lack of readiness—in skills or experiences—to likely be successful with the program. Oh, and men who didn’t notice that we train women only.

 

I don’t live in the United States. Is it open to international participants?

Although virtual assistance is a global profession and VAs can be anywhere and work with clients who are anywhere, we train VAs in the US and Canada.

Are there graduates I can get in touch with about their experiences with AssistU and working as VAs?

You bet. But first, we’d ask you to see the inspired comments, reviews and stories they share about AssistU here on our site. Then if you’d still like to reach out to a friendly graduate, let us know. We’re happy to provide contact information to help you get the information you need and want!

If I have more questions, how can I get them answered?

We’ve done our best to share all the important info about our program and our company, but we know there are always more questions. We want to help you get all the answers you need so you can decide whether becoming a virtual assistant, and being trained by us would be right for you.

We recommend that you connect with Anastacia live during Office Hours where she’ll happily answer your questions about the Virtual assistance profession, and what AssistU has to offer you.

Still have questions? Please get in touch with us. We have several ways for you to reach us, and we’ll be happy to make sure you get the answers to all your questions, and we can even put you in touch with some of our graduates, whose experiences with us say things so much better than we ever could.

Can I talk privately with Anastacia about the program?

If you’re a woman in the US or Canada who wants to explore the VA profession and/or our Virtual Mentoring Program, you absolutely can!

Anastacia holds Office Hours each week and we’d love to have you schedule a call with her.

You can also mentor with Anastacia directly if she’s available (please get in touch to check about that!).

She has also hand-chosen the team of graduates who volunteer to answer questions and trusts them to get you whatever information and answers you need so that you can make a great decision about the program and AssistU.

Reach out. You’ll find us not very far away.

I'm ready! How do I enroll in the Virtual Mentoring Program?

The program is currently closed. We will open for applications for our next cohort in the early 2023.

Here’s what we suggest you do between now and then:
Get on our VIP notification list so that you’re among the first to hear when we announce the start of the application period.

* If you haven’t talked with anyone at AssistU, or if you have things you’d like to discuss with us, consider scheduling time with Anastacia during her open office hours. She can make sure you have all your questions answered so that by the time the next cohort opens for applications, you’ll be ready to roll! (You can do this any time; her office hours are every Monday and Thursday from 2p-5p ET).  

 

Frequently Asked Questions About  AssistU

What's the culture like at AssistU?

It’s awesome! It’s full of love and focus on the work of being VAs as well as how to have great lives.

We (the company and our community of professional VAs) hold close to our hearts the tenets of abundance and collaboration, being completely supportive of each other and those we come in contact with, being friendly, gracious and kind, speaking our truths, and investing in zero-drama.

Yep, we did say zero-drama. We know we can’t have great businesses without having great lives. And we know that we can’t build great lives where there’s drama, so we stay far away from it. It’s not the biggest or best thing about our culture, but it’s certainly something most people find super surprising about us.

Do you really just train women?

We really, really do.

It was a decision we made after many years of willingness to train men and women, not seeing many men interested in being VAs and watching almost all of those we had trained fail to create VA businesses, or contribute to our community. When the last one left us, and after several years passed, we noticed that the community (at that point comprised of women only), had developed a genuine sisterhood; a sorority of sorts (in fact, they call each other “AssistU sisters!”), and we decided to honor that energy by solely training women from that point forward.

Why do you only train folks in the US and Canada?

After years of having the program open to people around the world, we made this choice. We very much believe in the idea that just because you can do something doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do. For us, it’s right to put our focus here.

What is AssistU's role in the history of the VA profession?

We love this question!!!

It’s difficult to pinpoint when, exactly, virtual assistants began working. We know that the Business Support Services industry (AKA Home-based Secretaries) was happening before AssistU was founded in 1997, and that predates the VA profession.

We also know that our founder, Anastacia Brice, was working virtually with clients in the mid-80s, long before working that way was easy or cool. She may or may not have been the first VA (although she’s often credited with that), but what’s absolutely clear is that she created the VA profession when she founded AssistU; in early ’97 it became the first organization for virtual assistants anywhere.

Since then, AssistU has been the leader in VA training and support, and is widely known to train the finest Virtual Assistants. That reputation has had us referred to as the “Harvard of Virtual Assistant Training.” With the highest standards in the industry, AssistU is always looking at what’s the highest and best for the Virtual Assistance profession, and the American and Canadian VAs that make their careers within it.

The industry’s seminal innovator, AssistU is responsible for the creation of such now commonly held industry standards as:

  • VAs working in business for themselves.
  • VAs working in long-term and collaborative partnerships (in the relationship sense) with their clients, rather than doing project work or piece work.
  • VAs offering a two-tiered fee structure (retainer, and pay-as-you-go).
  • VAs growing themselves so that they can be more attractive, ultimately attracting the exact clients they most want to work with.
  • VAs creating high standards for their virtual practices.
  • VAs seeing the value of their service to clients, and setting their fees in a way that honors them and allow them to earn a profit ($40-$100+/hour).
  • VA certification (AssistU offers the highest level of experiential-based certification in the industry).
  • VAs creating businesses that, often for the first time, have their work contributing in a positive way to their having high-quality lives.

More than two years after AssistU started training top-notch VAs, additional organizations began to emerge to support VAs in their practices. While many have come and gone, AssistU stands strong and vibrant.

And, while there are vast differences in the business models embraced and the view of the profession as a whole, the variety of organizations permit a new or aspiring VA to find the best support to meet specific needs. We think that’s terrific!

“There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.”
– Beverly Sills