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What is a Virtual Assistant?

What is a Virtual Assistant and how is it different from other virtual secretarial services?

The Virtual Assistant (VA) industry has grown rapidly in the last few years and its definition has evolved as well. The entrepreneurs who founded this industry defined what the job entailed and set standards to be upheld. These standards are important for increasing the credibility of all of the home based professionals in this industry.

If you look at the term "virtual assistant" the name defines the job as virtual. This means the work is done remotely, usually in the assistant's home office. This distinguishes this profession from a telecommuter who is an employee that is allowed to work remotely. The VA is an independent business owner, working from their own office on a contract basis for a particular client. These are business owners and not employees of the companies they work with.

The second half of the name is "assistant". This term distinguishes the VA from a secretary or freelance worker. While a home secretary may perform an administrative task one time for a company, the VA's goal is to establish a relationship with a business. They work in a collaborative partnership with their client and perform specific services for that client according to their business needs. Most virtual professional assistants prefer not to be viewed as freelance workers where the name implies someone who performs a job on the side for some extra money. The VA is building their own distinguished home based business with long-term financial goals in mind.

The first virtual administrative professionals paved the way for future entrepreneurs and did an excellent job of setting high standards for the industry. The typical VA has over 10 years of high level administrative experience and is extremely proficient in a variety of software packages. They are skilled in business writing, office procedures, computer and internet technology. These are not home typists but highly educated, experienced professionals with skills that prove invaluable to the companies they assist.

If you are considering becoming a virtual assistant the main distinction to keep in mind is that you will own your own business and establish yourself as an invaluable partner to your client's business. Successful VAs take much pride in the fact that they help their client's businesses grow and prosper. Many of these VAs are kept on retainer by their clients and serve them on a continual basis with whatever services are needed. It is much easier for a client to use the services of the same virtual assistant who has extensive knowledge of their business and has proven their ability to provide quality work.

If you are an experienced administrative professional that is interested in starting your own home based business, you should learn more about what a virtual assistant is and determine if you have what it takes to become a Virtual Assistant.

Jan Harris is a veteran administrative professional with over 20 years of experience and currently works at home as a Virtual Assistant. She writes about how you can become a virtual assistant on her site: Virtual Assistants Guide

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