Whilst attending networking events, I have noticed that not many people are familiar with the term Virtual Assistant. Indeed, I think some may think is it some form of robot or virtual online help, perhaps built into a car. So I thought I would write a few lines to explain.
Where did the term come from?
It is believed that the term Virtual Assistant was first used by Thomas Leonard, a coach and speaker, who founded Coach U. He travelled throughout the US living in a Winnebago and had an assistant who helped arrange his travel. With no physical office, and constantly travelling, he never met his assistant, Anastacia Brice, and once referred to her as his “Virtual Assistant”. He continued to use the term and encouraged other coaches to have a VA to assist with their businesses.
Who was the first VA?
Having done some research, there doesn’t seem to be a definitive answer, but two of the pioneering VAs were Anastacia Brice and Christine Durst. Secretaries were working from home back in the 1980s, but with advances in computer technology in the 1990s it became possible to provide administrative support further afield, even to other countries, hence the term ‘Virtual’ Assistant.
Stacey Bryce went on from being a VA for Thomas Leonard to establishing the VA training business, AssistU, and Christine Durst wrote “The 2-Second Commute” book.
What does a VA do?
A Virtual Assistant is someone who is self-employed, works from their own office, providing administrative support to business owners, or busy people, in any location.
They may provide traditional PA support or specialise in a particular skill such as social media management, book keeping, or an IT system like Mailchimp or WordPress.
Support is usually provided on an hourly basis, by the project, or on an hourly retainer package, which provides great flexibility, especially for small businesses.
Thank you for reading.