When people ask me what I do for a living, I smile and say “I’m a VA.” They often respond with the question: “What’s a VA?” I explain that it stands for “Virtual Assistant.” I hear them ask: “What on earth is a Virtual Assistant?” So I thought I would write about this topic, for anyone who might be interested.
A VA is a small business owner providing support services to other businesses, remotely from their home office. A VA assists businesses virtually – with a task or project. “Virtual” refers to the method of providing the service, rather than the service itself.
“A Virtual Assistant (VA) is an independent entrepreneur providing administrative, creative and / or technical services. Utilizing advanced technological modes of communication and data delivery, a professional VA assists clients in his / her area of expertise from his / her own office.” – International Virtual Assistant Association
To correspond with your business, exchange work-related materials and receive project instructions – a VA may contact you via the telephone, internet, e-mail, instant message, Skype and/or online work spaces. VAs use their own computer, equipment and software. They may also communicate with their clients’ customers, vendors or associates in this way.
Some VAs are ‘generalists,’ performing administrative tasks such as:
- Virtual receptionist – telephone answering, taking bookings and making calls
- Organising email inboxes and responding when appropriate
- Scheduling appointments and meetings etc. into calendars
- Correspondence, data entry and information organisation
- Database maintenance
- Internet research
While others specialise in a specific target market, describing themselves as:
- Real Estate Assistants
- Travel Coordinators
- Business Coaches’ Assistants
- Speakers’ Assistants
- Authors’ Assistants
Others specialise in a specific niche service area that they are passionate about and talented in, such as:
- Event coordination
- Project management
- Client relationship management
- Transcription and/or translation
- Statistical reports, bookkeeping, accounting and bill payments
- Marketing tasks such as: market research, social media management, blogging and website maintenance and set-up, e-commerce, copywriting, editing, proofreading, publicity etc.
- Graphic design
Plus many more niche areas.
Many VAs are parents, and a vast majority are mothers. This is because a VA business can effortlessly slot into a parent’s life. They are able to pursue parenting responsibilities while still providing an income to the household.
In a nutshell, a VA is an independent contractor with multiple clients. These clients are not employers. Daily commuting, payroll, superannuation, personal and annual leave, extra office space, equipment and supplies – none of these apply when utilising a VA. The VA will invoice a client accordingly. This might be based on an hourly rate, or an agreed package or bundled amount. Businesses are able to collaborate with a team of VAs if required.