Who is a Virtual assistant? What is virtual assisting? This and more are questions I get whenever I introduce myself as a virtual assistant or talk about my virtual assistant business. And I imagine every other VAs gets it too. Since I am dedicating this blog to talking about virtual assistant business and selling our skills, it’s only wise that I start by answering the obvious question.

Why do you need a Virtual Assistant?

Scenario 1:

When you’re trying to grow a business (online or anywhere else), one thing you’ll never run out of is ideas. From new product ideas to marketing and sales to improving your customers’ experience, you’ll find yourself imagining a lot of possibilities for expansion.

Now if only you had enough time to implement and test all of these ideas, you won’t be here right?!. Then, there are probably tons of tasks you need to complete and a never-ending To-do list.

It can get so much and so overwhelming that you barely are able to make time for other things in your life and enjoy the “freedom” of working for yourself (one of the things that made you start this business).

Time is the one resource that we can never get more of.

Scenario 2:

Most company owners/executives face a similar challenge — employees not showing up to work on time, not completing tasks, or getting the job done but still having to get paid at month’s end (whether or not they do the work).

Enter… A Virtual Assistant (a VA). Call us Online Service Providers or Virtual Assistants or whatever.

Who is a Virtual Assistant?

Virtual Assistant is a term used to describe a Business owner who offers skilled services or a range of services to another Business owner or company from a remote location in exchange for an agreed-upon fee (a fee that’s only based on the job done, no employee benefits, no allowances, nothing else).

Virtual Assistant is a term used to describe a Business owner who offers skilled services or a range of services to another Business owner or company from a remote location

You will collaborate with this professional online, often through email, video calls, and task management platforms (such as Click Up, Trello, Asana, or Dubsado).

And, Yep, they are Business Owners! No Employees!

A Virtual Assistant can be located in your country or they can be located overseas.

They can be anywhere and offer their services to anyone anywhere in the world.

Location doesn’t matter, as the work a VA does for you is often done and delivered online (hence “virtual”), from the prospecting to onboarding and contracts to payments, to actually doing and delivering the work.

Meaning you don’t have to be in the same location or office, working at the same time.

The other exciting part is this – The services a Virtual Assistant offers range from Administration all the way over to graphic design and tech …. AND everything in between!

Not all Virtual Assistants offer the same services!

You wouldn’t approach a Virtual Assistant who offers Website design and tech services to do Administration, Marketing, or content marketing work. Even though some VAs have a wide range of services depending on their skill sets, Virtual Assistants have their own “niche”.

It’s a common and popular misconception that only online entrepreneurs can work with VAs. This is not true.

In reality, a lot of brick-and-mortar businesses can benefit from remote help. A few examples that I’ve encountered include real estate offices, advertising agencies, financial advisors, insurance agents, non-profits, religious institutions, and healthcare practitioners (such as therapists, dieticians, counselors, etc.).

What Does a Virtual Assistant Do?

In a nutshell, a Virtual Assistant can take care of all the tasks that can be done remotely – bookkeeping, creating and maintaining a website, setting up and managing your social media presence, creating promotional materials (such as newsletters, brochures, posters), data entry, scheduling appointments, fundraising, launching, managing your blogs, content creation, operations, etc.

The list goes on and on!

There are literally a ton of services you can offer as a Virtual Assistant, and you might be surprised to find out just how many virtual assistant jobs and opportunities there are when it comes to finding something you’ll enjoy doing.

3 Things You Need to Know About Virtual Assistants

Now that you’ve got the short answer to the question, “Who is a Virtual Assistant?” here are three essential attributes of a VA to keep in mind.

These are good details to know whether you’re in the market for a VA or are thinking of becoming a Virtual Assistant yourself!

  1. A VA is an independent contractor, not an employee.
    Virtual Assistants are often small business owners themselves, operating as independent contractors with a roster of clients.

This has several implications. Most importantly, VAs are responsible for paying their own taxes and securing their own benefits. That responsibility is factored into the rates they charge their clients.

So if you’re thinking of hiring a VA for minimum wage, you should probably consider whether you’re financially ready for one.

Another implication is that Virtual Assistants usually set their own hours. A solid VA contract will outline the services or deliverables that a Virtual Assistant will work on and an agreed-upon deadline. However, a client shouldn’t dictate a VA’s work hours, unless that’s specifically stipulated in the contract (for example, if the VA is hired to reply to emails between 8-10 AM).

In addition, a client cannot ask a VA to be on-call 24/7 or to drop everything and tend to their business needs.

My first Nigerian client as a new VA expected me to work like his employee, and I’ve encountered many US/UK clients who treated or expected me to work as an employee. And I had to spend time educating them that a VA is not your employee, but a business owner that is offering her services to you.

One aspect I’d like to point out is that a 9-5 employee rarely works for the entire time they’re in the office. In fact, according to a 2016 survey by Gallup, the work engagement of most employees is at a staggering thirty-two percent. Oftentimes businesses end up paying for unproductive hours and disengaged employees.

If you’re outsourcing to a VA at an hourly rate, you’re only paying for dedicated productive hours.

So while you might end up paying more per hour (and you should!), you’re actually only paying for productive work hours. I see this as a win-win scenario for both clients and Virtual Assistants.

  1. A VA is a skilled professional
    Just because someone chooses to work from home doesn’t mean that their skills are not transferable to an office environment. Because they are business owners themselves, Virtual Assistants often deal with the intricacies of different departments – they do their own marketing, sales, contracts, and onboarding, as well as continuously learn new skills.

One of the main reasons business owners choose to bring a Virtual Assistant on board is to plug a knowledge gap – the VA has specific skills that no one else in the business has.

It may seem that being a VA is easy work, especially if you’re still thinking of it in terms of clerical work, such as data entry. Keep in mind, however, that the experience needed to run marketing and PR campaigns, do complex bookkeeping, or organize events – all of which you can outsource to a professional VA – takes years of study and practice.

  1. A VA is a valued team member (and should be treated accordingly)
    I’ve heard of cases in which business owners have the wrong idea when they bring a Virtual Assistant on board.

They expect the VA to jump in from day one, and they often have unrealistic expectations about what’s possible when they delegate tasks to a VA.

True, a pro Virtual Assistant will be able to get up to speed quickly, but there should always be an onboarding process, just as it would be with any employee on their first day. During this process, the client should clearly communicate their expectations, as well as their standard operating procedures, do’s and don’ts, and general way of doing business.

One thing I’ll like to stress is, as a VA, or in your conversations when hiring a VA, is how important it is to communicate and behave like a professional at all times.

Due to the remote nature of this business relationship, there is a tendency, albeit a very rare one, for business owners to be “less than nice” to a VA and to forget that there is another professional at the receiving end of their brusque emails or phone calls.

This doesn’t happen very often but really it shouldn’t happen at all!

Before You Start Working AS a Virtual Assistant

I understand who a Virtual Assistant is now. How can I start working as a VA?

I get this question A LOT, so I’ve put together a mega-post to teach you how to get started as a Virtual Assistant. Grab a cup of coffee, put your feet up and enjoy!

Before You Start Working WITH a Virtual Assistant

“I’m a business owner, and I’d like to hire a Virtual Assistant. But can working with a VA be risky?”

I get it, giving out passwords and control over your various accounts to someone you’ve never met face-to-face might feel a bit nerve-wracking (until you realize what a game-changer it is for your business!).

I’ve outlined some strategies to help you find a reliable and trustworthy VA. Once you know what (and who!) you’re looking for, you’re on your way to freeing up your time – and getting back to what you enjoy most about your business!

Ready to start your journey as a Virtual Assistant? Check out: VA 101 Masterclass (my low ticket 5-video masterclass to get you started), and The Profitable VA (my 90-day jumpstart your VA program) for starting, building, and scaling a kickass Virtual Assistant biz!

who is a virtual assistant