As the VA industry grows, so does everything that the term encompasses. When we are employees we often think about ourselves as working in a profession, but what is a profession?

According to the English Oxford Dictionary ( a profession is “A paid occupation, especially one that involves prolonged training and a formal qualification.”

How do we equate this to how a VA works?

We are paid – tick, but do we have prolonged training and a formal qualification – no. That’s not to say that VAs aren’t highly skilled professionals – they are. I only have to look at my members community to know this, but there is no formal qualification to set yourself up as a VA. In fact, many of us will have come from a range of professions as there are no ‘traditional routes’ into becoming a VA.

Every VA is different and describes themselves differently

In the recent Time to Elevate Service we had over 50 different job titles, with some of the top responses being:

  • Virtual PA
  • Online Business Manager
  • Digital Marketing Specialist
  • Social Media Manager
  • Virtual Business Partner
  • Virtual Assistant
  • Virtual Administrator

We also know that the types of business support services offered by those who identify with the term ‘VA’ vary vastly – covering everything from traditional PA support to social media to web design and marketing.

Across each of these different job titles and services offered we see a number of commonalities emerging – these are what I would define as the basis of the VA way of working

  1. Providing a service to clients for a cost

No one will argue with this fundamental for all those working as VAs – you are charging a client for work you do – whether you do this hourly or on a fixed fee basis this is what we are all ultimately doing.

  • Flexible hours

All those working or identifying as VAs work flexibly for their clients, they don’t always provide ‘normal’ 9-5 cover and support as working as a VA is very often a lifestyle choice.

  • Remote working

The vast majority of VAs work remotely from their own homes or offices, using their own equipment. Some will have ‘in-person’ meetings with clients or visit their offices but this is far from the norm and we are now seeing an increase in the number of those working in this way as digital nomads.

  • Developing their skills

VAs know that the digital world is changing daily, they are looking for opportunities to develop their own skills to move with this and better serve their clients.

  • Professional Business Owners

One thing we must remember here is that those working in the VA way are business owners in their own right – their services should be considered on a par with those of a consultant. If they are doing it the right way, they will have things like insurance, data protection registration, terms & conditions, contracts etc in place.

As being a VA isn’t  a profession you won’t find a standard approach to running your VA business so you will need to be innovative in the way you run your business so that you can stand out as the professional and unique business owner you are. However, if you follow the VA way of working you can identify with other VAs regardless of the title you give yourself.

As an organisation for the VA way of working, we provide advice, training & guidelines based around how to run a professional & safe online business – and we are proud to support the industry of freelancers and professionals as it grows!