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julieensor

Training courses for VAs

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I am looking for quality training that is ultra-inexpensive or free. It should be internet-based and should be independent study (not required to work on a set schedule with others). Ideally, there would be no interraction with others unless I have a question.

 

I have heard of free courses available on the web, but I have never really researched this. What types of classes are offered? Any particular sites you would recommend? I could use software training in FrontPage (still just picking my way through) and MS Access.

 

I would also like to have some general bookkeeping training. I have done light bookkeeping for a company I used to work for, but that really only consisted of using Quickbooks to pay the bills, print checks, and reconcile the bank statements. I don't know anything about payroll or certain rules that should be followed for easier tax prep. This would be helpful for my own business record-keeping, and I would like to be qualified to offer more bookkeeping services than just bill paying, invoicing, etc.

 

Basic web design would also be good. This is not a service I would be qualified to offer at any point in the near future, but I am very interested to learn more about it. With practice on my business site and my husband's personal site, I will hopefully begin to get the hang of it. I'd love to have pointers to make my work easier, though, and it would be great to be on the road towards offering this as a service in the future.

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Looks like a great site, thanks! They seem to cover a huge variety of topics. Looks like a great deal for the money. All-you-can-learn buffet! ;)

 

Does anyone know of a site like this based in the US? While this site would be great for learning software programs and web info, I'd prefer to take a bookkeeping course from a US company.

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I want to caution you on using a lot of free training classes. The same argument we use for potential clients when they balk at rates hold true for some of the classes that we want to take. Now I don't know what the classes Lynn suggested are all about, as I've never taken any of them, so I can't offer an opinion.

 

Why do you want to take more classes? So you can have a laundry list of services to offer? Taking these classes may give you more services to offer but are they going to bring you more clients?

 

Do you have a "specialty"? Something that will get clients in the door and then use them to get more work? With one of my clients, he needed someone to design a sales page for him. I did that...as time progressed I would hear him mention things and I kept replying "I can do that". Over time, I now have all of his work, whether it's marketing or web stuff or data entry. I got him in the door through my specialty. I didn't promote the laundry list of things I could do.

 

How about classes to enhance your business/marketing operations? The best thing I ever did was to get a coach. I started out with VA Training's 8 week class and the results were astronomical that I continued with my coaching!

 

I'll also say that you get back what you put in. Often times if you pay for something, you're more likely to put everything you have into it because it's money out of your pocket. I used to take free classes from B&N University. I took one on Forensic Science and one on how to get a book published. Because they were free classes and no one really cared if I did the homework, I found myself forgetting about the class half way through and never returned.

 

The same goes for college. When my parents were paying for my education, I was out drinking and socializing and not really caring what was going on in the classroom. As a result, I dropped out after just a semester. When I went back to school several years later, and *I* was paying for it out of my pocket, I did the best that I could, because I didn't want to waste my money.

 

Just a few thoughts...I think continuing education is a great thing. The day I stop wanting to learn is the day that you need to put me in the ground. But make sure it's what will help you grow your business and you're not wasting your time.

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I know in the very early days of my business, I couldn't afford any more schooling but did sign up to this websie (ZDnet University online which is no longer offered). I wanted to learn html and brush up on my word, excel and other software skills like photoshop. They allowed you to take whatever course you wanted and however many you wanted for $7.95 a month. Being a self-taught type of person, I sponged up a whole bunch of classes. It was the best thing I ever did for my business. Fair warning though, without a disciplined personality type, learning online without someone swatting you with a whip now and then to learn may not be for everyone. You really have to focus, have an agenda with milestones leading to deadlines. You can't be a procrastinator. Fact is though, I am a very stubborn type of person and once I make up my mind, nothing gets in my way and typically I achieve it if I want it bad enough. That is where passion comes in. If you love what you do, you will do it ;)

 

 

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Fair warning though, without a disciplined personality type, learning online without someone swatting you with a whip now and then to learn may not be for everyone. You really have to focus, have an agenda with milestones leading to deadlines. You can't be a procrastinator. Fact is though, I am a very stubborn type of person and once I make up my mind, nothing gets in my way and typically I achieve it if I want it bad enough. That is where passion comes in. If you love what you do, you will do it ;)

 

Wonderfully said Tawnya. I did most of my undergrad work online so that I could take more than 4 classes a semester. They were tough and I had to stay disciplined to do them. While it worked for me, it didn't work for everyone. It's too easy to just not do it because you don't have to GO somewhere.

 

There are also some classes that I struggled with online because I needed to "see" or "hear" it. Geology was not the best thing for me to take online. Somehow I managed, although I'm not sure how. Statistics was another thing that I think would've been better for me to take in a normal classroom setting. Looking in the book and reading how to work a problem was difficult for me. But like Tawnya, I was bound and determined to get my degree the fastest way possible and taking it in the classroom wouldn't work for me.

 

Good luck!

 

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Thanks for the great responses so far! I totally agree with both of you on the need for dedication and willingness to put in hard work in order to get results back from your efforts, but I have to say my personality is more along the lines of what Tawnya was describing. I have always done much better learning things on my own with a good guide (book, software, etc) and some time working on it, rather than in a classroom environment listening to a lecture or watching someone else do the work. That's why I'm looking at online training. Also, I have very limited capital right now. My father (my first client) has been using my services for a couple of months, and he has graciously offered to pay for quite a bit of work in advance to help me get the business going. This will give me the money I need to get started, but I really have to be very selective about how I spend the money. If I spend money for training or a coach or anything else like that right now, I will not have money to buy business cards, mailing materials for direct mail, membership in IVAA, etc. The coaching and all will have to wait until I have some money coming in to pay for it. This is actually something I have already been looking at.

 

About http://www.VATraining.com... I have actually already looked at their training products and services. I think they have a great set up, and I love the work/coaching exchange program. It all looks really great, especially since I know and respect Dale & Becki from their posts here. Even though the programs are VERY reasonably priced, I simply do not have the cash yet. In the meantime, I already have subscribed to their newsletter, and I look forward to joining in sometime in the near future.

 

About reasons for pursuing more training... I am planning to get the MS Office Expert certification soon for Word and Excel. This is something that I hope will help bring more clients in. However, I feel that I have quite a strong list of services to offer already. The reasons I would like to get additional training are different depending on the subject, but for the most part I am just wanting to learn things to help me run my business and brush up or strengthen the skills I already have. My most recent position in an office was as a marketing financial reporting analyst, rather than an administrative role. I have lots of experience in the administrative work, but it has been a while since I have done those tasks in an "assistant" capacity, so a little refresher might be good for me.

 

I would like training in bookkeeping because I have basic bookkeeping skills that I would like to expand. I have a couple of people I have met that might be interested in this type of service, but I want to be confident in my skills before I offer such a vital business service. I think a "real" paid course would be best for this, but that is more of a long term goal since I don't have the funding right now. For now, I was just interested in a small do-it-yourself type of bookkeeping course to give me a refresher since I haven't really done much bookkeeping for several years. This will help me with keeping my own books, too, so I don't annoy by CPA (also my good friend, for now) at the end of the year.

 

I would like training in web design at some point for my own business. I don't really have the creative talent I believe it takes to be good enough at web design to offer it as a service. I want a great website for my business, but I do not want to pay for someone else to do it when I know I could learn it myself.

 

I have wanted training in MS Access for several years and just have not had the opportunity to pursue it. Several years back, I trained myself on Excel with some great CD training programs we had in the office. While I already knew how to do most of it (Excel is my specialty), I learned some great time-saving shortcuts and I loved going through the "class". I would like to do something similar for Access, but again I don't have the extra money to invest in expensive training. Actually, this particular topic is not something I ever plan to invest much money in. Because I have no experience with this program, I am not looking to be an expert, but I do want to have the skills to maintain a database with it, if needed. Too bad ZDNet isn't around anymore. It sounds like just what I'm looking for for this one!

 

About training for business/marketing operations... As a new and inexperienced business owner, I am very interested in learning more about this subject, but I cannot pay someone to teach me. So far, I have been learning primarily through books (VA The Series by Ennen & Poelker, The 2-Second Commute by Durst & Haaren, Getting Business to Come to You by Paul & Sarah Edwards, and of course my newest purchase Making Dollars Out of Cents: 101 Tips for the Frugal Marketer by Heather Jacobson :) ). I have been trying to soak up as much info from these books and this forum as I possibly can, and I have already begun to work on much of the marketing and business advice I have found. I am always on the lookout for more sources of great business/marketing advice for my new practice!

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I would like to add my 2 cents here -

I am taking a couple classes through my local community college. I applied for (and received!!) financial aid, so I am taking these classes basically for free. I was awarded money through a Pell Grant and then through a community college fund. My tuition was paid for and although I had to pay for my books and fees up front, I received a check for over $200 a couple weeks ago that just about covered what originally came out of pocket (within about $50). I am going to take a couple more classes next semester and where I live (CT) the community colleges have a program where you can be registered at one college, but take classes at other community colleges in the state. This is great for me because there is an online course I want to take offered at another community college!

 

Just as an aside - one of the classes I am taking this semester is an online Virtual Assistant course, and the coursebooks are the ones offered through Tawnya's VAS System. Learning a TON!

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Just as an aside - one of the classes I am taking this semester is an online Virtual Assistant course, and the coursebooks are the ones offered through Tawnya's VAS System. Learning a TON!

 

I highly recommend these books else I wouldn't have included them in my VAS System which is great for self - doers as I mentioned above.

 

Tawnya

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Guest Snoodrey

About the only training I've taken lately is self-paced with books I've purchased with Course.com, and I'm registered with Robert Half and their SkillSoft program, so I can take free courses and get my Microsoft Office Specialist Exams paid for. I don't have the money to take courses at any local colleges, so taking free courses in everything from QuickBooks to FrontPage and Microsoft Office 2003 is where things are at for me right now. Any courses I can take for free, I will certainly do so and without ANY complaining!

 

 

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About training for business/marketing operations...

 

Julie,

 

I don't know if they still offer it, but about 10 years ago I took a free class given by the Small Business Administration. It was called SEEDS and I honestly don't remember what that stands for, but they gave a lot of good training on starting and running a small business. You might check with your local SBA.

 

 

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Hello Everyone, I am new here and I would like to learn about being a VA. If anyone is looking for certifications...you can go to brainbench.com..you can take their tests for free and get transcripts ONLINE...but if you want it on paper..you'll have to pay before you take the test. I just take the tests and my potential lead can just view it online. Hope this helps ladies!

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I don't know if they still offer it, but about 10 years ago I took a free class given by the Small Business Administration.

 

I second that. See what the SBA has to offer. Where I live they set up the Center for Women & Enterprise specifically to teach women how to start a small business. They don't teach things like software programs, though. For that I would go to my local unemployment office. Where I live you can take all those kinds of courses, but they aren't online, you have to be there. Can't hurt to ask, though, what they have to offer.

 

 

 

 

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Julie, if you want to learn more about web design or just need enough skills to provide maintenance services for your clients, check out http://www.w3schools.com. All the free info you could ever want plus they have these cool screens where you can make changes to the HTML code and then see how it looks. NEAT!

 

Here's another great FREE resource from HP Office products: http://h30240.www3.hp.com/index.jsp

 

If you have the discipline and passion for both learning and for business as Tawnya mentioned, you can turn almost anything into a valuable learning opportunity. I took a couple of online courses back in the beginning but the vast majority of what I've learned has come from my colleagues, networking, getting involved, pushing my boundaries, reading, and just diving in and trying things!

 

Karri

Edited by Karri

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