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What Is A Virtual Assistant?

Get to know how a virtual assistant’s role can help grow your business

For businesses not ready to take the jump into hiring their first full-time employee, hiring a virtual assistant may be the answer. Before you hire one, it’s important to be able to answer the question “What is a virtual assistant?”

From the technical to the benefits, as well as important aspects of virtual assistants to keep in mind, here is a quick guide to help you look at the big picture on whether your business could benefit from the addition of a virtual assistant.


What Is A Virtual Assistant?

We all have ideas on what a virtual assistant is, but the correct term for a virtual assistant is as follows:

“A virtual assistant is an independent contractor who provides administrative services to clients while operating outside of the client’s office. A virtual assistant typically operates from a home office but can access the necessary planning documents, such as shared calendars, remotely.” -Investopedia

This is the definition that I like to give my clients considering hiring a virtual assistant. The only aspect this definition lacks is the fact that virtual assistants have different areas of focus and specialization. No two are alike. 

For this reason, the largest hurdle in hiring a virtual assistant is making sure they are the right fit for your company. Many specialize in marketing, project management, or operations. So make sure to write down what you need to outsource first before trying to find a virtual assistant that specializes in what your business needs.

As you can tell, the technical definition of a virtual assistant is pretty open to interpretation so you should be able to find one that fits your needs. What is not open to interpretation is the nuts and bolts of how they work for your business.

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Virtual Assistants = Independent Contractors

Virtual assistants are independent contractors. For those that need a little reminder on what a contractor is, here’s a refresher:

“An independent contractor is a person, business, or corporation that provides goods or services under a written contract or a verbal agreement.”Wikipedia

Virtual assistants are their own business, even if they are a business of one. They are not remote employees for your company. They are simply a business you are outsourcing work. That is extremely important to remember to avoid employee misclassification.

Two important items to remember about hiring a virtual assistant are:

1. You cannot control their hours

2. You cannot control their process

Virtual assistants are their own business with their own set of processes and tools they use to perform their services. The only aspect you can control is the end result. 

With this in mind, let’s take a look at the benefits of hiring a virtual assistant.

Benefits Of Hiring A Virtual Assistant

Virtual assistants can start at only a few hours per month. This is perfect for those business owners looking to start slow then ramp up in the upcoming months as the trust builds, and you get to see their quality of work firsthand.

Secondly, as an independent contractor, a virtual assistant doesn’t cost you employee taxes or overhead for that matter. You pay them their rate or fee while they are responsible for paying their own taxes. This can become a money saver for your business!

As the working relationship grows, you will start to notice that most virtual assistants are flexible. Depending on their schedule, you may be able to add more tasks to their scope of work with more opportunities for them to grow as a part of your team.

Remember when we learned that virtual assistants are their own business? Well, many tend to forget that tidbit! As the relationship grows, be sure to continue to treat them as an independent contractor and not an employee. Otherwise, you put yourself at risk for employee misclassification and significant IRS fines. 

Ready to Hire a Virtual Assistant?

So tell me, did you learn something new about virtual assistants that you didn’t know before? Most importantly, will you be hiring a virtual assistant for your business soon?

When it comes to hiring your virtual assistant, I can help you find the perfect-fit team member for your business. Start with my Three Easy Steps to Identifying Who to Hire here!


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