Dear Danielle: What If I Don’t Have 5 Years Experience?

Dear Danielle: What If I Don't Have 5 Years Experience?

Dear Danielle:

I have been a Licensed Massage Therapist and Energy Worker for the past 25 years. It has been a good ride, however, I am ready for the next chapter. For 20 of those years, I was self-employed. Which means I do have some business back ground. I am very focused and pay attention to detail. Recently, I moved from Colorado to Oregon. I took a job working at a dry cleaners and am wanting a bit more from my life. I started looking at becoming a ‘virtual assistant’ when I ran across your web site. I can totally see the difference and I really resonate with what you say with regard to an Administrative Consultant. This is what I want to attract into my life. I also enjoy your sense of humor. So much of what you have to say, I am in alignment with. However, I was reading where you state that you have to have at least five years of administrative experience. I took a few steps back when I read that. As I stated, I do have some business back ground. I also worked on an as needed basis as an event planner. But I do not have the five years background in  Administration. Basically, I am just beginning to look into the idea of working from home in this capacity. I would still need to continue working at the cleaners for awhile. I would love to hear your thoughts on pursuing this as my next adventure. If I do not have the experience you are suggesting that I have, are there courses that you would recommend? I would appreciate your feed back as to how, or if I should proceed forward with this. —Name Withheld by Request

Let me clarify a few points that I think will help you.

First, this isn’t a regulated industry. Meaning, there are no special training or licensing requirements to start an administrative support business.

Anyone can start an administrative support business if that’s what they decide to do. There are no “business police” who are going jump out of the bushes and arrest you.

That said, like any industry, we do have our standards and expectations for those who would enter our ranks.

As a profession, we want to encourage those who are professionally and competently qualified to be in this business.

There are people out there who think all they need is a computer and Internet and anyone can do this work. And that’s simply not the case.

Would you hire a lawyer without a law degree? Or a web designer who had never designed a website before? Or a contractor who’d never built a home before?

But it’s more than mere skillsets. There are certain sensibilities and critical/analytical thinking skills that are only gained from actual experience and can’t learned from a book or a class.

That’s what the five-year actual experience standard is about. It’s more of benchmark.

We want our profession to be respected and to be taken seriously. Those who aren’t qualified end up having a negative impact on the industry’s reputation.

So as a profession, we do have an opinion about who should be in this industry.

BUT no one can tell you that you can or cannot start an administrative support business.

Just go in with your eyes open. Clients are demanding. Their businesses are important to them, rightfully so. They don’t want to be anyone’s guinea pig learning on their dollar. If you’re in business, they expect you to already have a business-level of qualification and expertise.

That said, if you feel that you are competently skilled and qualified and able to support clients at a professional level, then go for it. No one can tell you otherwise.

The question to ask yourself at this point, though, isn’t what YOU want to do, it’s what do other people need that you have the skills to do that they will pay for? That’s where you’ll find a more profitable path for figuring out what kind of business is best for you.

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