The wonderful thing about living in an ever-changing, digital world is that we create the rules as we go.
The difficult thing about living in an ever-changing, digital world is that we create the rules as we go.
As someone who’s diving into the world of online work, I bet you can relate!
It can be daunting to look at all the jobs out there and wonder, “But what am *I* qualified to do!?” Well, friend, I’ve got good news for you. Ready? Take a deep breath. Here it is:
YOU DO NOT HAVE TO KNOW ALL THE THINGS.
I mean it! These days there seems to be some confusion between what makes up the duties of a Virtual Assistant, and what would qualify as the expertise expected from a business consultant. (Sometimes even business owners can be confused about the roles of these two professionals, or what type of help they need in their businesses. Living in an ever-changing online world really is tricky!) Let’s look at just a few of the similarities and differences.
What is a Virtual Assistant?
VAs are what you might think of as the ‘administrative assistants’ for online business owners. VAs will perform a hodgepodge of tasks
A Virtual Assistant DOES:
- Make herself available to work for a business owner on an agreed upon schedule each week or month
- Or, give time frames of when a task or project will be completed
- Provide business assistance and support in a variety of areas, subject to the VA’s abilities and client’s needs
- Usually work for an agreed upon hourly wage or on retainer
- Learn new skills, but with the ability to say no to more hours or more new tasks
- Take responsibility for her own areas, doing excellent work and meeting deadlines
- Communicate with the client as an independent contractor on what her ongoing availability is
- Serve as an at-will contractor, either the VA or the business owner can end the working relationship at any time (provided no contracts or agreements to the contrary were signed)
- Have the ability to fire clients when the working relationship no longer works for them
A Virtual Assistant DOES NOT:
- Give unsolicited business advice or coaching to their clients
- Feel responsible for the wellbeing of the business
- Need to be available outside her stated working hours
- Take extensive, expensive trainings (unless she wants to due to personal interest!)
- Function as an expert in business
- Have to work exclusively for just one client, but she can
What is a Business Consultant?
Business Consultants offer specialized support in their areas of expertise. You might be a Pinterest Expert, Marketing Strategist, Graphic Designer, or Landing Page Builder – among countless other roles!
A Business Consultant DOES:
- Offer expertise in an area she has training or experience
- Demonstrate a proven track record in her area
- Have a level of authority in her area, giving a business owner advice within that area
- Charge a premium price for either one-time or ongoing services
- Have many clients at one time
- Refer her clients to other, trusted professionals for jobs outside of her expertise
- Have the ability to fire clients when the working relationship no longer works for her
A Business Consultant DOES NOT:
- Work outside of her specialized focus for the business owner
- Feel obliged to become or function as a team member (though she should work well with others and might need to collaborate on a project)
- Make herself available to business owners for an indefinite amount of time – business consultants usually set their own working parameters
Both VAs and consultants will likely be working with clients remotely (people they’ve never met in person) and will likely be finding their own clients themselves…buuut that’s about where it stops.
The big idea here is for everyone to be on the same page, so everyone can give their best work.
My very first client was a wonderful business owner who loved me dearly. But though she hired me for some copywriting, quickly I became her consultant on Pinterest, advertising, SEO, etc. There were two issues with this: First, she stopped respecting my boundaries of working hours, and second, I didn’t get a raise.
And honestly, I wasn’t an expert in those areas, and while I did some good work, I wasn’t the best person for the job. The real trouble was that she treated me like a business consultant in terms of the type of work she wanted me to, like a salaried employee in terms of contacting me all hours of the day, and like a new VA in terms of hourly pay.
It was, obviously, unhealthy and not sustainable.
You’ve got to nail down how YOU want to function, communicate that clearly, and then stick to it!
Got questions? Leave us a comment or ask us on Facebook!