A VA By Any Other Name

This post is being written due to a conversation being conducted over at the IVAA about a certain individual “VA” who seems to be very passionate that she is right about a few items which involve us all.

First, this VA seems to believe that only she has the “correct” definition of a VA and that if you don’t fit within her narrow view, you aren’t a VA.

For instance, according to this individual, as a VA you cannot work with any other VAs or run what is called a multi-VA practice.  You cannot involve any contract workers or have any other persons working for you.  You cannot perform anything but administrative work – no web work, no graphics – just “administrative” work.

Let me take each of those one by one.

1.  You cannot work with any other VAs or run a multi-VA practice.  To some extent I agree.  I’ve always had a problem with the term “multi-VA” although I have never done any research on exactly what and how this is all set up.  To me, the only VA in any relationship is the one with the signed contract from the client, making everyone else a subcontractor of that VA.  In my own practice, I retain other VAs to take care of those items at which I am not proficient – graphics and WordPress set up etc.  This does not make me a “multi-VA” practice, but a really good client for lots of VAs. 😉

2.  If I did not have the assistance of those who are contract typists to my company, I would not have the ability to do anything but work personally for 5-6 attorneys.  After doing that for several years, I decided I wanted out of the day to day grind and started finding the tech (thanks Sharon!) and peeps I needed to have in place to process the work; while I turned my concentration on becoming an expert and the “go to” girl for lawyers and those in legal who wish to know about virtual assistants.

3.  A VA only performs administrative work.  Really? I’m curious exactly what tasks would be considered “administrative” by this individual. When I worked brick and mortar, I could find myself one day working on a layout for a print ad (graphics work); typing up litigation documents the next (secretarial); and reconciling credit card statements the next (bookkeeping).  Aren’t all of these tasks “administrative” in nature?  Not according to this “VA”.

Many years ago I had spoken with this person – after all they work with lawyers too, and I quickly realized that she was not even a very good VA to the clients she had – from her choices in tech to the way she spoke, I could see lots of attorneys having issues.

However, my dear old mom instilled in me that if you don’t have something nice to say, zip it!  So I decided to just divest myself from this person; to not participate in anything she put together and to do my best, when our paths crossed, to differentiate myself from her as much as possible.  In others words, I’d be professional, but not friendly.

This has worked for many years, but here I am in 2009, again seeing this person’s name and their crazy assertions on what a VA is and isn’t and I had to speak out.

In the end, I want to be more than one voice railing against the loud and obnoxious voice of another.  I want to be the VA who stands toe to toe and lets her know it’s not her way or the highway.  Didn’t we all deal with enough of those nasty mentalities when we worked in the “real” world?  Didn’t we have to bite our tongues and take it because we needed the job?

Not anymore!

If you believe as I do –

  • a VA can perform whatever service s/he wishes
  • a VA can work with whomever they want
  • a VA can run a practice involving more than just themselves

then, please leave a comment and let your voice be heard.  I’ve also set up a LinkedIn Group called VA’s Unite! Feel free to join and let the world know that the other 99% of VAs have a voice too!