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Virtual Heroes: The Growth of the Virtual Assistant

Building and expanding a business is a difficult task, when the management of the business in its existing form takes up much of the time. The administrative, office-based and creative tasks behind running a business, although time-consuming and often repetitive, are vital to the continued operations of the business. With the explosion of opportunities on the Internet, and moves towards a global economy, an extensive range of businesses is finding that they can greatly benefit from the help of a Virtual Assistant.

Definition of a Virtual Assistant

Virtual Assistants (VAs) are independent, trained professionals who provide support in terms of administrative, office, creative, technical, managerial and personal. Their skills and talents can be focused on carrying out various important daily and weekly tasks for clients, working on projects or campaigns, or even as far as becoming vital partners in the running and operations of companies. VAs work on a contract basis and from their own premises, using the very latest in electronic and advanced methods of communication, allowing them to cross geographical boundaries without issue.

The Skills and Services of the VA

VAs' are professionals who have been trained and gained experience in areas, roles and companies that are directly related to, or expressed in the services that they offer. Their skills cover a large range of office-based activities, including secretarial, administrative, creative, marketing, research, organisational, book-keeping and accounting, and specialist secretarial services for legal and medical firms. Tasks that a VA will carry out include word processing, audio typing, proof-reading, article and newsletter writing, spreadsheet & database management, diary management, events organising, travel arrangements, Internet research, web design and marketing campaigns.

Conveniences to the Client

The need for, and convenience of VAs is growing rapidly, with small and medium sized businesses looking to outsource more and more of their tasks, for various reasons. They are ideal for clients who are not in a position to afford a new staff member, or looking to engage in one-off projects over fixed time scales where a new and permanent member of staff would be expensive and impractical. The client also benefits from not having to worry about employee benefits, holiday and sick pay, pensions, space, equipment and other items related to permanent members of staff.

Geographical Coverage of the VA

VAs enjoy and offer the benefit of being relatively unrestricted geographically. Clients have been known to utilise services of VAs located several miles from them, even in different countries. Electronic mail, fax, telephone and the Internet allows for assignments and projects to be completed between the client and the VA, without suffering issues that can occur with being unable to meet, differences in time zones and excessive amounts of paperwork.

Growth of Virtual Business Opportunities

The world of the Virtual business is growing and expanding into other areas of business. At one time, the virtual world was used as a support tool for the other business operations that took place in the physical world, but recently there has been a sharp increase in companies who are choosing to operate the majority of their business online. Examples of business types that are maintaining a solely online presence are Law Firms, Managers, PAs, Market Researchers, Auditors, Florists, Journalists and Real Estate firms. This list is by no means exhaustive, and is rapidly growing.


'Virtual Assistant' is still a relatively new term in the business world, but the profession is taking shape rapidly. More and more businesses are realising the benefits of using a VA, and appreciate the advantages of being able to delegate tasks out to an individual who is already trained and experienced, flexible, and will only charge for the work done and time taken. With so many skilled and varied Virtual Assistant services out there, finding one to match your business should be a piece of cake!

Michelle Payne-Gale, owner of Essence Business & Admin Support Services, specialises in Virtual administration, Marketing, & creative support for start-ups and growing businesses. Additional articles are available at: View the Essence blog at She is also an active partner in the creation of a new Caribbean tourism website,

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