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Virtual Assistants, what we are and what we aren’t.

I love my job, but here in my local area the title ‘Virtual Assistant’ draws a lot of blank looks. So here are a few highlights.

Virtual Assistants are a growing niche of service providers. The definition I like is:

A Virtual Assistant, (VA), is an independent entrepreneur who provides administrative, creative, and/or technical services virtually from a home office on a contractual basis.

If you’re thinking that’s a pretty broad definition, you’re right.

What we are:

Independent contractors. We handle our own overhead. We make our own decisions. We are professionals who work in partnership with other business professionals.

Skilled professionals. A good VA will have at least 5 years of corporate brick and mortar experience before she strikes out on her own. She’ll have a good handle on all the basic administrative tasks, and will probably have specialized knowledge in some area like bookkeeping, document generation, or even marketing that she builds her client roster around.

Individuals. If we’re going to be working together, please take the time to be sure we’re a good fit just as you would hiring a permanent executive assistant in house. Perfect skills aren’t going to help if there’s constant miscommunication due to different work styles.

Virtual. Meaning that we have our own offices that we work from. You don’t have to find a place to put us in your home office.

Team players. How well your business does matters to us. We want to play an integral part in helping you succeed. Its about building relationships with our clients and getting an in depth understanding of how we can help you.

What we are not.

Lackeys. We’re seasoned professionals who make a living handling projects for other businesses. If you need absolute control over a project or change your mind constantly, then a Virtual Assistant is not going to be the right choice for you.

Employees. This means we handle our own overhead, but it also means that we’re professionals running a business. We’re not always going to be able to handle last minute emergencies. We’re not always going to be immediately available by phone. We’re not usually going to be willing to work in your office.

One size fits all. It is very important to find a VA who has both the right experience and the right personality to work with you and your business. We have a huge variety of skills, and often we specialize in the things we do best, even though we’re qualified to do other things. If you need a book keeper and a copy writer, look around. You may find the perfect fit in one assistant. You may find a copy writer you love who doesn’t have the book keeping skills you need. Keep the copy writer and hire a different VA to handle your book keeping. By figuring out the specialties you need, you can get more for your money.

I’m sure you can find an exception for each and every one of those points, but they’ll get you started if you’re thinking about adding a Virtual Assistant to your team.

I think once you do you’ll wonder why you waited so long.