What is a Virtual Assistant?

 Updated 9/02/2022

So, what is a virtual assistant, and where did the title originate? Does it mean the same thing as a secretary or personal assistant? Let’s delve into the subject of virtual assistant and see where this modern word originated.

The term originated in the 1990s as the ability to work remotely due to the internet and the ability to share documents made it a reality. You can read more about the history in this article.

A virtual assistant is a person who provides various services to entrepreneurs or businesses from a remote location. There are a host of things that virtual assistants can do, including:

  • Social media management
  • Event management
  • Managing calendars, appointments, and emails
  • Preparing reports
  • Personal tasks like booking hotels and restaurants
  • Simple digital marketing tasks

And it can be a never-ending list!

Some business owners who hire virtual assistant can be confused about what a VA is.  Often, VA/Client relationships turn sour because of misconceptions about what a VA does for a client and how they do it. 

Whether you are a VA or a client looking for a VA, this article will tell you all you need to know about the dos & don’ts and the expectations a business owner can expect. 


What a VA is…


  • an independent contractor, remote worker, freelancer, or business owner 
  • skilled at what they do, they don’t need micro-managing 
  • reliable and hardworking 
  • able to work well on their own, they don’t need constant supervision 
  • a home-based business owner, although some VAs prefer to be location independent, they don’t work with clients in their offices 
  • VAs helps other business owners in their business with tasks they don’t have time for or with skilled services they don’t know how to do 
  • business owners who are committed to helping other business owners make a success of their business 
  • a person who deserves respect


What a VA isn’t… 


  • an employee of the person who contracts them 
  • a miracle worker, they can’t fix a broken business 
  • not mind readers; they need guidance from the person who hired them 
  • a punching bag when things go wrong 


A Virtual Assistant (VA) is a business owner and understands how important it is to protect and nurture the reputation of the business owner who hires them. VAs help and assist business owners with their daily, weekly, and monthly tasks and can be a great asset. 

Although VAs often meet with their clients on a video call or in person, they don’t physically work in the client’s office. They are not personal assistants, secretaries, or assistants. Sometimes their duties might overlap with these but being a virtual assistant is a different profession entirely. 

A Virtual Assistant deserves respectful treatment. Business owners that incorporate saying “please” and “thank you” goes a long way. 


Why do people decide to become VAs?

It all starts with this question. WHY! WHY is the pivotal point of any decision. Here are some of the most common reasons people decide to become VAs:

● Most likely, they want to stay at home with their children while being able to earn a living

● They want to be able to work flexible hours

● They always wanted a business they can call their own

● Maybe they like to help people and earn money

● And, because they want to make their own choices, be their own boss, and have freedom in their work environment

We will discuss mindset issues in the next article, but if you want a head start, you can check it out now.  

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