What Is Virtual Assistance, Really?

This is probably one of THE most frequently asked questions I get, usually from folks who are starting to get an inkling that Virtual Assistance is something different from freelancing, telecommuting, secretarial services, virtual staffing and “team VAs.”

Virtual Assistance is a brand of administrative support that is, in fact, different from all these things.

It is a self-employed profession based on the concept of working in an ongoing, continuous, one-to-one relationship with clients in a right-hand professional capacity.

It’s completely the opposite of working on a sporadic, occasional or one-time transactional basis (that is a secretarial service), or as an employee or worker.

It’s also about working with clients in an across-the-board capacity.

That doesn’t mean that you do EVERYTHING for clients.

Rather, it means that you are providing some sort of package of administrative support to clients in an ongoing, collaborative basis.

The term “Virtual Assistant” is not a catch-all phrase to denote anyone who does anything virtually (e.g., someone who does web design is not a Virtual Assistant; that is a web designer).

And a virtual worker or remote worker is also not the same thing as a Virtual Assistant (those are telecommuters—employees who work remotely for an employer).

What distinguishes the Virtual Assistance brand is that the support is:

  1. Administrative
  2. Collaborative (i.e., ongoing, continuous and not project-based)
  3. Across-the-board (i.e., a rounded package of support; not any one single, line-item, transactional service)

Single, line-item administrative services are not individually Virtual Assistance. Those are simply secretarial services.

With Virtual Assistance, it’s the across-the-board, collaborative administrative support comprised of many different administrative functions that is the service. Get it?

If this is the brand and model of administrative service you are providing, you are a Virtual Assistant. :)

2 Responses

  1. Very well said, Danielle. There seems to be so much confusion within the different VA circles. In my prior secretarial service business, even though I had regular clients, the work I did for them was project oriented. As a VA, I am focused on partnering with my clients—knowing where they are at in their business, where they want to go with it, and how I can assist them in achieving their goals. This relationship is so much deeper than I ever experienced with my secretarial services business. I love it! It’s all about the relationships. 🙂

    Thank you for continuing to educate VAs and the public on what a VA is.

  2. Great post, Danielle! I particularly appreciate your emphasis on the aspect of support across-the-board. This is an important distinction, IMO.

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