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What's a VA?
by Tash Hughes of Word Constructions (www.wordconstructions.com.au

Itís another term floating around on the internet and amongst small businesses, but what on earth is a VA?

VA simply stands for Virtual Assistant

A VA does many of the tasks traditionally done by a secretary, typing pool or personal assistant. The difference is that the VA isnít based in the clientís office, and often never even meets the client in person.

How does a VA relationship work?

Anyone needing some office support can contact a VA to arrange getting some work done. Once the VA and client have agreed on the tasks to be done and the cost, the VA usually does the work from their own office. Some VAs will also do filing or organise a local office.

Depending on the tasks and distances, the finished work is then forwarded to the client via email, courier or hand delivery.

What does a VA do?

VAs do a range of tasks; some VAs will offer a full range of services while others will offer only a few services.

VA services include:

  • Typing minutes from notes
  • Answering generic email enquiries
  • Typing and formatting reports and documents
  • Data entry
  • Basic bookkeeping
  • Printing or photocopying
  • Stuffing envelopes
  • Mail merge and printing letters
  • Booking travel arrangements
  • Scanning and faxing documents

When would someone use a VA?

While a VA wonít replace a full time personal assistant, a VA is a great option when:

     Staff are particularly busy

  • Key support staff are ill or on annual leave
  • Specific projects need doing, such as a mailout of invitations or annual statements
  • Transferring from one system to another means a lot of data entry
  • There is a backlog of work that no one has time to manage
  • Work needs to be done urgently Ė a VA is more likely to work out of business hours

Why use a VA?

There are advantages to using a VA rather than part time and temporary staff in the above situations.

By working from their own office, a VA means that the client doesnít have to provide a desk, chair, lighting, heating and other facilities for the worker. This saves the client money and hassles.

A VA is paid for completing certain tasks whereas staff needs to be paid for set hours, even if there isnít enough work to keep them busy. And obviously, a VA doesnít get paid for holidays, workers compensation or sick leave.

The same VA can be used repeatedly which allows for a working relationship which the VA is interested in fostering. This is more effective than a temp agency where each temp has to learn about the business before completing a project.

For small and medium businesses, a VA is an easy and cost-effective way of reducing staff workloads so that everyone can focus on building the business.


Clear communication is critical to the success of any business, but it is often left to care for itself in many businesses. Tash Hughes is a professional and skilled writer who makes technical and otherwise boring information accessible for everyone a business needs to communicate with. Next time you need webcopy, articles, newsletters, reports or any other business document, visit www.wordconstructions.com.au to see how Tash and her team can help your business succeed.


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© 2003 - 12, Tash Hughes