Virtual Assistance 101: What a Virtual Assistant is NOT

Okay, so last week we talked about what a Virtual Assistant IS. This week I want to talk about what a Virtual Assistant ISN’T. This is important because what a Virtual Assistant isn’t, plays a big part in the misconceptions surrounding Virtual Assistance.

A Virtual Assistant is not a telecommuter. A telecommuter is an employee who works several (or every day) days from home. A telecommuter generally reports to a supervisor and his or her work is overseen by said supervisor. A Virtual Assistant does work from home, but she reports to no one but herself

A Virtual Assistant is not an employee. A Virtual Assistant is a self-employed entrepreneur and business owner. She decides her own hours and business polices polices. She pays her own taxes and expenses. She alone determines what services she will or will not provide, when she will work and how much she will charge. She owns her own equipment and supplies. A Virtual Assistant is an equal partner in her clients’ success.

This is important. There are clients (or potential clients) who treat VAs like glorified employees. And, unfortunately, there are Virtual Assistants who allow themselves to be treated as a glorified employee. However, if the independent contractor and employee lines are blurred too much, both the VA and/or client can open up trouble for themselves with the IRS.

A Virtual Assistant is not a “single-service” provider. Remember the definition of Virtual Assistance? A Virtual Assistant offers across the board administrative services; therefore, a VA does not offer only one service exclusively. For example: A VA may offer proofreading services; however, if that is her only service, than she is a proofreader, not a VA. Or, a VA may offer graphic design services; however, if that is all she offers, than she is a graphic designer, not a VA.

That’s not to say that a Virtual Assistant doesn’t offer the above or other services as a companion to her Virtual Assistant practice. There are many VAs (like myself) who offer web design or copy writing or other services according to their expertise alongside their VA services. These side services have their own prices and policies that are different from the VA business.

One last thing: Sometimes on the ‘net I’ve come across a “top ten ways to work from home” article or blog post that includes Virtual Assistance as an option. That’s great and all, but often on these lists you’ll find Virtual Assistance lumped in with doing surveys or cold calling.

Virtual Assistance is NOT some easy way to make a quick buck from home. Virtual Assistance is a career choice made by smart, talented, experienced women.

Now that we’ve covered what a Virtual Assistant is and isn’t, we will move on to two different areas of Virtual Assistance: Becoming a Virtual Assistant and following that, (for those who don’t want to be a Virtual Assistant but rather need assistance) how to choose the right Virtual Assistant for you.

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