Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Definition Virtual Assistant - Good or Bad?

In the past and of late, I've seen some lively discussions revolving around those who believe that the Virtual Assistance Industry (as a whole) should define, in black and white, the definition of a virtual assistant.

I take issue with that outlook and would like to debate the matter here.

This kind of thinking brings many questions right off the bat:

* Who or what is going to head up this healthy venture - one organization, one person, one group?

* Who is to say which organization/person/group is the right one for the task? A Board of Directors? Where will they come from?

* Who will vote? Everyone? Or only those defined as virtual assistants?

But if there is no organization yet in place to define what a virtual assistant is, then how are we going to know who can vote, if that is even a choice?

Etcetera ...

Let's digress with a flashback.

The scene: You're on a VA message board when Jane Doe posts the following:

"I am a new virtual assistant and have just received my first client inquiry. One of the questions he asked me was, 'What exactly is a virtual assistant?' I'm not sure how to respond. Any help would be appreciated."

That's a heavy question. Think about it for a moment.

If the people who want to define a VA have already put in black and white that a VA must be a business, for instance, yet this client would like Jane to work as an independent contractor, payable to her by name using her SSN (versus an EIN), then can Jane be considered a virtual assistant?

And, if Jane decides to buck the system and call herself a virtual assistant anyway, what repercussions, if any, will befall poor Jane? Will the definers revoke her right to breathe? Will she be jailed or fined or kicked out of the tree fort forever?

Come on; let's get real. The very fact that these people are able to work as virtual assistants is because of the way our country (U.S.) is structured. It's the very notion that a person can go out a make a good, honest living doing whatever the heck he/she wants to do that makes us so great! It's freedom; it's the American dream. And slowly, it's becoming the global dream.

If you want to be the best toenail painter on the planet, have at it and good luck to ya.

If you want to be the guy who scrubs poo from the elephants' butts down at the zoo, hey, go for it if that's what makes you happy!

And if you want to be a person who provides administrative services virtually and work as a sole-proprietor and have payments made payable to the order of Your Name and deposit the money into your personal account, do it - all within the limits of the rules, regulations and laws in your area.

There may be a time when Jane Doe will decide to actually take the steps to become a business. But I, for one, don't believe that a handful of naysayers need to be the ones to tell people who can and can't be defined by a term - virtual assistant.

This is splitting hairs. I mean, if someone called a heifer a cow, I wouldn't beat them about the head for it.

This is what I say: "With definition comes regulation, and with regulation comes enforcement, and with enforcement comes great responsibility."

What say you?

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