Many people are confused about what a Virtual Assistant is and isn’t. Many think that a Virtual Assistant is an employee who works from home, no, that’s a Telecommuter. Others think that a Virtual Assistant is someone who is looking for a job, but can’t find one, so they are just seeking to find administrative work they can do from home to make money in the meantime …no, that’s a Freelancer. Still others think that a Virtual Assistant is equivalent to a temporary employee….no, a Virtual Assistant is not an employee at all!
What is a Virtual Assistant (or VA)?
A Virtual Assistant is a highly-skilled, experienced administrative professional, turned entrepreneur, who provides a wide range of administrative and business support services, typically to other business owners, entrepreneurs, and busy professionals.
Yes, it is true, many Virtual Assistants do provide administrative support and can handle almost any task that an on-site administrative employee could handle, but unlike an employee, a Virtual Assistant isn’t just working at a “job” in an administrative position for an employer or “boss”. On the contrary, she is a business owner running a business who’s product or service involves providing administrative support services to clients who retain her to work with them.
A Virtual Assistant is technology-savvy and creative. She is able to support and communicate with her clients remotely from her own fully-equipped office through the use of a variety of modern technology and communication media, such as fax, Internet, Email, Telephone, Instant Messaging, Text Messaging, Flash Drive file transfer, Cassette Tapes, Digital Audio Files, Overnight Mail Services, Snail Mail, Courier, Online File Sharing Tools, Collaboration Software, Remote Computer Access, and other Internet-based software, tools, and services.
A Virtual Assistant works one on one with her clients in an on-going business relationship. This is the foundation of Virtual Assistance. She typically works with a small clientele to allow her to provide the client with personalized attention and to get to know and understand the client’s work style, how his business works, and what his goals are. By working with the client on a continuous basis for the long term, she becomes familiar with the Client’s support needs, which helps her to better service him and become a valuable resource and partner in his success. She adds value to the relationship by representing the client and his business in the best possible light to create a professional image in the eyes of the client’s own clients and business prospects. As a business owner herself, she has a vested interest in helping the client succeed and goes the extra mile to provide exceptional customer service because her success depends on the client’s success and total overall satisfaction.
A Virtual Assistant’s purpose is to help the client lighten his workload, streamline his business processes, maximize his productivity, enhance his profitability, optimize his time, and provide solutions to help make his busy life easier. The Client/VA relationship is meant to be the foundation of an effective team that enhances the client’s business and helps him create a better work/life balance.
What a Virtual Assistant is NOT
A Virtual Assistant is neither an employee nor a subordinate. She is a self-employed business owner and service provider who’s status is that of an independent contractor or vendor, which means she is responsible for paying her own employment and business-related taxes, insurance, benefits, and overhead expenses. She works for herself and is on an equal level as the client. She doesn’t work “for” her clients, she works “with” them to form an on-going, collaborative-style business partnership. The Client-VA relationship resembles the relationship one would engage in with their Accountant, their Attorney, their Business Coach, or a Consultant who is helping them in their business to take care of certain things.
A Virtual Assistant is not paid a fixed salary at an hourly rate chosen by the Client, like an employee would receive or work for. She charges a professional fee for services rendered at a pre-determined rate set by her, which is based on her level of experience, knowledge, skill set, the overall value she creates for the client, and the costs involved in running her business in order to bring her services to her clients — much like an Accountant, Doctor, Lawyer, Consultant, or professional Business Coach would charge a professional fee for their services.
A Virtual Assistant is not a decision maker for the client’s business, nor is she responsible for establishing goals and strategies for the client’s business, although she may assist the client with these things. She is the client’s right-hand and often times becomes the client’s sounding board or brainstorming partner.
Are you still confused about what a Virtual Assistant is and isn’t? I’d love to hear from you on the subject and your experience working with a Virtual Assistant.
Author bio: Lisa Salem is a Professional Executive Virtual Assistant, Marketing Virtual Assistant, and experienced Transcriptionist. As the President and Managing Member of Monarch Virtual Assistance LLC, she has over 30 years of administrative and business management experience. Lisa works to promote the Virtual Assistance industry and to make it stand out as a true profession of excellence. Her style is easy going, yet focused, with emphasis placed on going the extra mile to exceed clients expectations by providing quality service, excellent value, and total satisfaction to ensure long-term dedication, loyalty, and results.
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