The Definition of 'Virtual Assistant'

The virtual assistant industry has grown in leaps and bounds over the last 25 years. Trends are changing where people are finding that by cutting out the time it takes to commute, they are more productive and achieve their goal of running a successful business much faster. As their business grows, small business owners are finding that outsourcing many office administrative tasks to a virtual assistant is becoming more and more beneficial to the success of their business.

As you read through my website,, you will notice I have published many blogs and videos about the virtual assistant industry. These include such topics as 'What is a Virtual Assistant?", "How to work with a virtual assistant", "Partnering with a virtual assistant", and on and on. While I have worked as a virtual assistant for over 7 years, I have noticed that the meaning of the term, 'virtual assistant' is not fully understood. ( provides the provides the following definition of a 'virtual assistant':

"A virtual assistant (typically abbreviated to VA, also called a virtual office assistant) is generally self-employed and provides professional administrative, technical, or creative (social) assistance to clients remotely from a home office . Because virtual assistants are independent contractors rather than employees, clients are not responsible for any employee-related taxes, insurance or benefits, except in the context that those indirect expenses are included in the VA's fees. Clients also avoid the logistical problem of providing extra office space, equipment or supplies. Clients pay for 100% productive work, and can work with Virtual Assistants, individually, or in multi-VA firms to meet their exact needs. Virtual Assistants usually work for other small businesses but can also support busy executives."

As I read this definition and I listen to business people who say, "I am seriously considering hiring a virtual assistant to come and work in my office for a 2 or 3 days a week". By saying this, they are missing the point: Virtual assistants work in their own remote fully equipped office location, hence the title, "virtual assistant". So many times I hear someone say they want to hire a virtual assistant but I am convinced that very few people truly understand the concept of outsourcing to a virtual assistant.

Many people seem think the virtual assistant industry is very new and just started growing. Actually, the first website representing virtual administrative and secretarial support was, a virtual administrative support company which opened its doors in 1985 and published its website in 1996. Home Secretarial Services is still offering services today. Also, the first virtual assistant to start her own business and pioneer the virtual assistant profession was Anastacia Brice. Based in the United States, she is the founder and Chief Visionary Office of AssistU which provides training, coaching, support and certification of virtual assistants. Also, there are virtual assistant associations in Canada and in countries around the world.

Like any professional, virtual assistants are well educated with certifications and/or university degrees and have a number of years of experience in their field of expertise. A virtual assistant has the right to expect to be respected and acknowledged as a specialized professional like any other professional would expect to be treated in the business environment.


Other reading:

Virtual Help Is On the Way

Virtual Assistant Industry

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