Despite my deep belief in the value of virtual assistants, I’m beginning to question the value of the concept or rather, the label applied to the concept. Perhaps it’s time for a change.

The reason I say this is because the very term “virtual assistant” tends to throw up a lot of confusion and invites misconceptions about what virtual assistants are and what they do.

However, since the semantics are unlikely to change overnight, I guess the next best thing is to try and correct some of the misconceptions held about virtual assistants, clarify what they are not, and spread the word about how and why they really add value to their clients’ businesses.

A Virtual Assistant is Not a Personal Assistant…

The term “virtual assistant” is not the same as “personal assistant”. Still it’s common to associate virtual assistants with basic administrative tasks, such as email or diary management, or fielding incoming telephone calls.

Some VAs do specialise in this type of work, which incidentally, can be invaluable for small-business owners or busy managers who need to free up their valuable time.

At the same time, many virtual assistants are qualified professionals working in specific fields, such as website design, accounting, copywriting or marketing. These professionals bill themselves as virtual assistants because they work remotely, and perhaps that’s why the misconception exists.

A Virtual Assistant is Not a Low-quality Solution…

Of course exceptions exist, but in general, if you have a need for a skilled professional service provider to perform any task which can be carried out remotely, it’s worth hiring a virtual assistant.

It’s cheaper to hire a VA than a local service provider, not because the quality of workmanship will be low, but simply because virtual assistants often work as freelancers from their homes. This keeps their overheads low, enabling them to charge less for their services (no office to rent, no travelling to and from the workplace).

However, some virtual assistants (like those here at Virtual Done Well) are not freelance, but are employed by an organisation providing virtual assistant services.

Employed VAs are even more likely to provide a high-quality service, since they work in their employers’ offices under supervision, and are hired and trained to meet specific standards relevant to their service “niche”.

A Virtual Assistant is Not a “Temp”…

You can certainly hire a virtual assistant to fulfill a particular, time-bound requirement, such as the building of a business website. You can also hire a VA to handle a busy peak workload and then dispense with the service when things quiet down. But a virtual assistant is not a temp by definition.

For example, we have matched many of our clients with virtual assistants who now serve essentially as long-term members of their business teams, albeit from a remote location.

The beauty of hiring a professional VA is that the term of service provision is completely flexible, so your virtual assistant can be with you for a week, a month, or for an indefinite period, depending on the needs of your business and of course, the strength of your working relationship with the service provider.

So What is a Virtual Assistant?

3 Things a Virtual Assistant is Not

If a VA is not a low-quality, temporary personal assistant, what is he? Well, it all depends upon what you are looking for, because you can probably find a virtual assistant skilled in pretty much any business discipline you can imagine.

One day we might find a better professional job title than “virtual assistant” but until then, don’t let semantics get in the way of finding what you need.

Before you Google “website designers”, “marketing consultants” or “bookkeepers” in your search for professional business services, try a search on “virtual assistants” and look for one specialising in the activities you need to meet your staff augmentation or service requirements.

Alternatively, just contact us here at Virtual Done Well and we’ll match you with one of our courteous, professional, and highly skilled Virtual Assistants.

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