So, so true, Melanie.
Right now, I see a great misalignment of understandings and expectations, which is something my organization is working hard to realign.
For VAs, one of our greatest common frustrations is that we get contacted by business owners who for some reason think we do everything under the sun. They often expect a Virtual Assistant, which is a profession unto itself (we`re the administrative experts) to also wear other professional hats such as web designer or copywriter. Those are completely different skill sets and professions that don`t have anything to do with administrative work. There are VAs out there who happen to also have those professional backgrounds (myself included), but it`s important for business owners to understand that that work is not administrative work, it`s something separate. It`s sort of like asking your attorney or your plumber or what-have-you, "Yes, and while your at it, could you do my taxes, build me a house and fix my car." None of those things is related, but that`s the kind of logic we are persistently dealing with.
The other misalignment is when business owners want to make an employee or staff member out of someone who is running an independent business. I have vendors that I have long-standing relationships with. They know my business and get to know it and me the longer we do business together. They take care of me and value me as a customer, and I am completely loyal to them. But I certainly wouldn`t expect them to attend my team meetings. They have a business to run. And for the same reason, I wouldn`t have time, nor inclination, to attend a client`s team meetings either. It`s not necessary to the work or the relationship.
So I think there`s a need to clarify what each side means when it uses the term "team." What Virtual Assistants do and how we work with clients is very unique, and as in my case, my clients very much do consider me a team member. But it`s a team member in the sense of being "on their side" and very committed to their interests. It`s not in the sense that I`m expected to be involved in any way at an employee level.
So from my perspective, once a business grows to the point that they need a team in place, they really need employees or telecommuters, rather than Virtual Assistants. Likewise, businesses with a level of need beyond 20, 30 hours a month really do need employees and not VAs.
Simply put, VAs really are the best option for small businesses and business owners who don`t have the time, space, budget or a large enough workload to warrant in-house staff.
Danielle Keister, The Relief Virtual Assistance
Administrative Support Services for Business Consultants and PR Professionals | Founder, Virtual Assistance Chamber of Commerce