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Developing an entrepreneurial mindset while you’re still an employee

Consider it paid on-the-job training...

I frequently answer questions from administrative professionals who are exploring the idea of starting a Virtual Assistant career and are still working full-time or part-time jobs as employees for someone else. Some express disappointment in themselves at not having yet taken the leap, but I love to remind them that, while they are still in their employee roles, there are things they can be observing and learning that can help them later on when they embark upon their VA journey.

My journey, I openly write and talk about, included more than one return to Corporate America over the years before eventually settling full-time into my business. One particular stint back in 2004 (three years into my VA journey) included working at the award-winning global professional services firm Accenture as an Executive Assistant to four Vice Presidents. I physically worked from the company’s Reston, Virginia office, but my execs were located around the country. We communicated mainly by email and a proprietary portal, and of the four guys, I only ever met two of them in person – no more than twice. It was the first time in my administrative career that I had ever worked in a role where I didn’t have daily, in-person interactions with my bosses. It was eye-opening for me.

How so? In the sense that it gave me wider insight into virtual teams as a business model: what worked, what didn't, what could if thoughtfully tweaked, et cetera. I observed, took mental and sometimes physical notes, and added it all to my knowledge base so that I could someday implement what I was learning into my fledgling VA practice, which at that time was only a part-time hit-and-often-miss business. The months that I worked at Accenture – before the day I was carted out from the building and sped to the hospital in an ambulance due to the start of then undiagnosed heart issues – confirmed for me that virtual teams could indeed work seamlessly. If a global company could do it, why not a small business as well? I’d always believed that, but seeing how to make it work and having the language to explain it to others – that’s what made the difference. Operating with a stronger mindset that my business could indeed be successful in spite of the popular disbelief that virtual assistance was even a thing moved me forward in it.

What about you? Are you currently exploring launching a VA business while still working for someone else? In looking at your day-to-day tasks, are you noting where you can implement certain processes once you’re working for yourself? Are you honing your skill set, whatever it may be? Are you tuned into how stellar service delivery, strong communication skills, a high level of professionalism, et cetera, play into the success of any business regardless of its size? Can you explain it all to someone and pitch a set of services to them that could help their business grow?

Whatever your current specific role in the company, organization, retail establishment, fast-food restaurant, school system, et cetera, you work for, there are things you can be learning that you can someday make part of the overall strategy for your VA practice when you launch or expand. So take wide-eyed advantage of every opportunity right now as a business lesson for future use.

Let me know your thoughts…


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