Elyse wrote to me to ask me if I could teach her more about the old adage, “Fake it til you make it.” You see, Elyse is new to this whole VA thing, and has those feelings of being an imposter—you know, the ones just about everyone has when starting something new.

Here’s what I shared:

When you’re new at something, like being a VA, it’s natural to feel like you don’t have the “goods” to help clients. What I’d love for you to remember, Elyse, whenever you doubt yourself, is that you do.

You’ve been an admin for 20+ years, and you’ve supported your senior-level boss remotely for the past three years, doing everything from scheduling, to undoing messy situations, to making complex travel plans, to helping him get started with social media—all very much things that a VA might help her client with. And those aren’t your only skills, are they? I imagine that in the past 20+ years you’ve amassed a wide range of skills that you can parlay into remote admin skills. After all, sitting down the hall from your boss isn’t that different from sitting half way across the country from a client. Whatever you’ve learned to do without being face-to-face are absolutely the goods you think you’re lacking. That’s really good news.

Whatever you do fake—make sure that it's attitude, and confidence, rather than know-how

And based on what you shared with me, one thing you are lacking is the business know-how to run your own business. And that’s something that it’s important to learn so that you can get your foundation set appropriately.

So, “Fake it till you make it,” in your context would be meant to remind you to act “as if” you are already doing the thing you want to be doing, to the degree that you can. And Elyse, to a great extent you aren’t faking. You’ve been doing the work of a VA, only without being in business for yourself. And as soon as you get that piece nailed, you’ll wake up to realize that you actually aren’t faking any of it any more, but you’re actually doing it, with great skill, finesse, and grace. And your clients will delightedly thank you.

And I have only one cautionary bit of advice for you. Whatever you do fake—make sure that it’s attitude, and confidence, rather than know-how. You don’t want to lie to clients about what you can do for them. When you don’t know, don’t pretend. You can do lasting harm to the clients or their businesses and end up in a lot of hot water. Instead, approach literally everything with great confidence, and let the client know that although you haven’t ever done THAT before, you believe that you can figure it out (for instance), and you’d love to try. A can-do attitude can get you much further along than almost anything else.