I recently attended a business networking that included the likes of this country’s top small business owners. While I was perusing the room, I met a small business owner who owns a consulting firm in metro LA area who expressed his interest in acquiring a virtual assistant. As he learned more about my business he began to ask me about the differences between a virtual assistant and a secretary. Most business owners simply don’t know the difference. Taking on the challenge, like a true entrepreneur, I gladly debunked some myths about virtual assistants.
Virtual assistants (VAs) are independent contractors that provide professionals administrative, technical, and creative assistance to small businesses. VAs provides services ranging from appointment scheduling to search engine optimization (SEO). So what‘s the main difference between a glorified secretary and a virtual assistant? Flexibility. Virtual assistants provide more flexibility for businesses in availability, financially, and also offer more services than most in-house assistants.
Here are some other differences:
|Works from a remote office||Works in business owner’s office|
|Provides administrative and other various business support tasks||Provides administrative tasks|
|Works with clients regarding the long term needs for their business||Focuses on tasks-based projects|
|Works with a small group of select clients||Works with any client|
|Charges per hour or monthly retainer||Fees are based upon the type of project|
|Client does not pay payroll tax, sick pay, or holiday pay||Client pays payroll tax, sick pay, and holiday pay|
|Collaborates with client to understand their business||No need to understand the business in order to complete a task|
|Client only pays for time spent on project(s)||Client pays employee for time spent in the office|
|Business support on an “as-needed” basis||Client pays employee for time spent in the office for the duration of the contract|
Virtual assistants can scale services up and down as budgets fluctuate and charges only for productive time.
Quick note: When vetting a virtual assistant, do the following:
Write down a description of qualities you are looking for in a VA.
Check their professional references.
Effectively communicate your business needs.
Set realistic goals – set specific goals for a specific timeframe.
About the Author: Priscilla Walker is the president and CEO of Your Dependable VA, Inc., a virtual assistance company. Your Dependable VA provides professional office assistance to small businesses. We offer business support so that business owners can free up their time and energy to focus on running their company without getting burned out.