10 years ago I would have told you it’s a virtual secretary, someone who had left the corporate world and was now working at home and providing secretarial services virtually.
However, as with most things, the industry has evolved and today Virtual Assistants provide many different services, depending on their particular skillset. So it’s easy to see how people can get confused and wonder what a Virtual Assistant is?
On the front of my website I have this explanation:
We are like a PA only virtual – we operate from our office, not yours, providing virtual admin and secretarial support. VAs provide a wide range of support.
Here in Australia, a PA or Personal Assistant is like a Personal Secretary from older days – she/he supported the boss in every way possible in the office, but did not necessarily run personal errands as I know PAs have done in some other countries. They were a personal or private secretary, usually supporting one person in the office or sometimes more.
That’s my background. I was an EA (Executive Assistant) or PA for most of my corporate working life so I came into working at home with that mindset.
Today, though, if you have good office based/computer skills then you could be providing VA services to many clients without actually performing secretarial type work.
Wikipedia has its own description.
Whatever type of work you are providing it is important to remember that you are providing a personal service to your client base and they will become dependent on you for those particular things. Each client should be treated ‘special’, like the boss was back in the corporate world. Each should feel they have your undivided attention at the time you are providing their support needs.
It is equally important for clients to remember that VAs or Virtual Assistants are not employees but rather service providers and are therefore, individual business owners. They might belong to VA networks where it will be easy for clients to find them, but they are all individual business owner/operators and usually liaise with the client direct and bill them direct as well.