Virtual Assistant Is Not A Title

VA is not a title. It’s an Industry. Like many of us, when we’re first starting out, we become part of the VA industry and we take on the title of Virtual Assistant. Which, is really not a good thing.

First of all, if you’d rather listen to this than reading it please check out the podcast below.  

Titles don’t mean as much in the entrepreneurial world or the solo-preneurial world as they do in corporate America.

For instance, when I was in corporate America, my title was Senior IT Project Manager.

Well, a lot of stuff hung from that title, like what I did, who I worked for, which department, how much money I made, and so much more was actually rolled up into my title.

Now when you become your own boss, titles really don’t matter. They don’t carry the same amount of weight as they did when you were an employee.

Nobody Really Cares What You Call Yourself

No disrespect but what clients want is somebody who can solve their problems. You could call yourself Queen of Sheba as long as you solved your client’s problems.

The point is titles don’t really matter to your clients.

Now back to why you need to stop calling yourself a Virtual Assistant.

When you’re talking to people, whether it be family, friends or even prospective clients at a networking event and they ask you – “What do you do?”.

And, you answer – “I’m a Virtual Assistant”.

You’ll most likely get one of two responses.

  • You get the deer in the headlights look. In other words they really have no idea what that means.
  • They assume you’re an admin in one way, shape or form.

I didn’t want to be known as an Admin – because I wasn’t one. I was not offering admin type services  – I was offering back-end systems and techie services.

The types of services that gave my the freedom I wanted and didn’t keep me tied to my desk certain hours a day like admin work does.

So… when I talk to somebody and they’re like, “Oh, Virtual Assistant. You can answer my phone or you manage my email.” I’m like, “Uh, no. That’s not what I do.”

I quickly realized that using VA as a title or as a business owner wasn’t working for me.

I had to spend too much time trying to explain what the heck it was that I did. So, I changed my strategy to thinking about Virtual Assistant as an industry NOT a title.

And… really that is what it is, it’s not a title, but I know for most of us who’ve come out of corporate American or any JOB with a title, that’s what we kind of glob onto.

We want to call ourself a Virtual Assistant. But… it’s time to move on and away from being a “VA”. Remember people, don’t know what it is, they assume you’re an admin.

Start looking at VA as an industry and focus on what you do for your clients. How you help them – that is where you need to shift your focus.

If you need a title for your business card or an event, use something related to the services you offer. For example Email Marketing Manager, Transcriptionist, Social Media Specialist, etc.

Stop Spending Money On Business Cards

They don’t work! Instead use a Benefits Flyer™. It’s something I came up with myself many years ago because when I handed someone my business card (especially if it said VA on it), we had the same old conversation. “Well, what is it that you do? Can you explain that to me?”

So… I dropped both the business card and the title of VA and went with a flyer that says, “Here’s how I can help you.”

I’ve included a link to “How to create a Benefits Flyer™” at the end of this post just in case you want to know more.

Going forward you want to focus on how you help people and the results they get and not on a title.

For instance, let’s say that I am a social media manager and my focus is the travel industry.

So when someone asks, “Hey Susan, what do you do?”

I answer, “Well, I help family-owned travel agencies manage their social media.”  Then people immediately understand what I do.

Use this simple formula: I help, WHO (who do you help – your target audience) RESULTS (what results do they get) and HOW (how do you help them – what do you do).

A few more examples to help you, are:

  • I help Business Coaches (WHO) get in front of their audience (RESULTS) by managing their social media (HOW).
  • I help Yoga Studios (WHO) get more clients (RESULTS) by writing great copy (HOW).
  • I help Virtual Assistants (WHO) launch a successful business (RESULTS) by teaching them how to create and implement systems (HOW).

I know it takes time for many people to come up with these – to summarize them in one sentence.

It took me a long time – it’s part of getting clear on who you help and how. Be patient and practice – it will come. Play around with it. It may not roll off your tongue immediately but it’s really something that you want to start focusing on.

Oh and on a side note… I know many people think that the VA industry is made up of nothing but administrative assistants and that couldn’t be further from the truth.

As I mentioned, I’m not an admin, never wanted to be, never was one. I’m not knocking admins they have great skills but it just wasn’t something that I wanted to do.

The VA industry is very, very diverse just like a business. There’s people here from HR, IT, like myself, people who do sales and marketing, systems and technology and many more.

So…  don’t think that you have to be an admin if you don’t want to be.

You can learn the skills and the systems that you need to make a difference and that helps you quit your soul-sucking job or do whatever it is that you want to do.

Remember… clients are more interested in results NOT what you’re called. Focus on that!

Here is another article talking about why you need to ditch titles and switch to talking to what you do and how you help your clients.

What’s your title?

I’d love to know!

If you know someone who might benefit from this information, please share.

Don’t forget to leave a comment if you found this information useful – I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks for reading – Susan

Join the FREE VA Training Vault

You’ll have immediate access to more than 15 hours of how-to video information about the VA industry. Get to know The Techie Mentor™ and learn how to get started, find clients, and much more.

Written by Susan Mershon

Susan Mershon started The Techie Mentor™ in 2013 to teach Virtual Assistants her no-fluff approach to the systems and skills they need to build and automate a successful business.

With a strong base in project management, Susan brings her love of systems and teaching to offer in-depth training and mentoring to new and experienced Virtual Assistants.

She’s taught over 5,000 students her unique systems and strategies that focus on offering high-end skills that give you the freedom to work when and where you want.

To learn more about The Techie Mentor™ and the systems and skills she teaches without all the fluff or hype go to The Techie Mentor website.

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59 Comments
  1. Swati Rapotra

    Hi Susan, Absolutely epic post! Here I found the exact information I wanted and didn’t know who to ask.

    Reply
    • Susan Mershon

      Thank you so much Swati and glad it was helpful to you! Be sure to subscribe!

      Reply
  2. Anitra

    Susan, Thank You for this article. I love it especially since I was just think about and talking titles recently. Even on my live video’s I talk about VA as an industry instead of my title. I’m very adamant about not saying I’m a VA because yes it’s true people either have their idea of what you do or have on clue about what you do.

    I’m a Tech & Systems Detail Connoisseur, who takes care of the important little technical system details that give coaches more time to focus on their clients needs and gives them more freedom to enjoy the other things they love.

    Reply
    • Susan Mershon

      Hi Anitra, thank you for taking the time to comment and you’re kind words! I love your title, and your “tag” line is very clear on the who and how – congrats!!

      Reply
  3. Dawn Beech

    Great article, well said Susan. If you think people in the US misunderstand the VA Industry, it’s definitely a mystery here in South Africa, so great to have a mind change on the title ;o)

    Reply
    • Susan Mershon

      Hi Dawn, thank you so much and for taking the time to comment – much appreciated.

      Reply
  4. Tina PereteTina

    Thank you so much ffor this post. This has given me time to think of what I shall say next I was ask of what I do.

    Reply
    • Susan Mershon

      Hi Tina, you’re most welcome and thank you for taking the time to comment, I appreciate it. Be sure to come back and share what you come up with!

      Reply
  5. Drell Torres

    WOW! You just empowered every individual not to look as mere VA but totally we’re an industry! Thanks for your inspiring thoughts! Kudos!

    Reply
    • Susan Mershon

      Thank you Drell, much appreciated 😉

      Reply
  6. Edna

    Thank you. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this article It is very helpful. Some of my fellow VA are still stuck with though of ‘Virtual Assistant’ as a title. I want to get away from “Virtual Assistant” since most of my friends do not know what it is as if it is a robot like ‘Siri’. I am new to the industry, but I have experience as a temp. (I signed up with various staffing industry). I had worked mostly with mid-sized company and a few small businesses in the construction/financial industry providing administrative tasks: answering phones, bookkeeping, preparing tax and maintaining/updating/creating customer database via MS Access. I have trouble articulating the benefits clients receive. So I don’t know my specialty, yet.

    Sincerely,
    Edna Vidrine

    Reply
  7. Dineisha

    I provide professional administrative, technical and business to small businesses, entrepreneurs, consultants etc

    Reply
    • SE Mershon

      Thanks Dineisha for commenting 😉

      Reply
  8. Dina Eisenberg

    Great conversation, Susan. That’s the reason why I’m excited to have you as a guest on Blabpreneur! Can I offer a different point of view.

    The title question is tricky. I like to see a more defined, niched title like ‘Webinar Support Specialist’. My expectation is that this teammate is an expert in her field and will bring not only technical but strategic expertise to a team. I think a more specific title allows clients to select you faster, deepen their trust faster and let go faster.

    My niche is really unique and unusual. I’m curious what you’ll say about my pitch, Susan.

    Im an Outsourcing Matchmaker. I love teaching overwhelmed solopreneurs how to know when it’s time to delegate and what to do to select and lead a smart, caring team who helps them survive and soar!

    My niche is licensed professionals like nurse entrepreneurs, lawyers as well as encore entrepreneurs. So lovely to meet so many new resources 🙂

    Reply
    • SE Mershon

      Thank you Dina for your comment. I like to hear different points of view and I understand yours from a client’s perspective. My main goal with the post was to get people to think outside of using titles or just using I’m a VA. Your comment adds more relevance to the discussion – thank you! And you’re pitch is very clear to me – who you serve, what you do and the benefits they get!

      Reply
  9. Leanne

    Online Support in Administrative Services, Research and Resume Services

    Reply
    • SE Mershon

      Thanks for sharing Leanne!

      Reply
  10. Linda Hansen

    Hi Susan! Thanks for another awesome post.

    I help free up time to do what they do best by handling their bookkeeping, websites and social media marketing.

    How did I end up with such an array of clients and niches? How do I specialize, or at least consolidate that statement? LOL

    Reply
    • SE Mershon

      Hi Linda, thank you! Who is your target market?

      Reply
  11. Whitney

    This is a great post! I’m still working on my pitch and narrowing down my target market. What I have so far: “I provide virtual administrative support to small business owners in order to help them optimize their time by increasing their productivity.” I’m still working on it 🙂

    Reply
    • SE Mershon

      Whitney – great start and thanks for sharing!

      Reply
  12. Kate

    Great article
    Susan! My title is “Webinar Support Specialist”, and my elevator speech is:

    “I assist health and wellness coaches in overcoming their administrative frustrations and take their webinars from stressful to successful.”

    Reply
    • SE Mershon

      Love it – thanks for sharing Kate!

      Reply
  13. Kathryn

    Also when working for yourself you can assume many titles and if using clients’ email accounts you wouldn’t sign yourself off as “Virtual Assistant”, you will adopt a title which will fit the type of work you are contracted to undertake under the client’s banner.

    So your contract would reflect that role you are doing, but your next client may be totally different. So makes sense that “Virtual Assistant” is an industry and an “Assistant” is a title within someone else’s company, so they are an Assistant to a superior. However, you could take on an Assistant role for a client if that is what is called for.

    But in your own company you are not someone’s assistant, you are your own boss, and your capabilities have to be flexible to take on different roles when the need arises, unless you are going to specialise in one area.

    Reply
    • SE Mershon

      Well said Kathryn, thank you!

      Reply
  14. Sheila

    Thanks for this blog Susan! As usual, I have learned from you, my favorite VA Mentor! I have revised my elevator speech to the following:

    “I enjoy providing my clients with two essentials: an exceptional work product and a reduction in administrative related costs.”

    Please let me know what you think. 🙂

    Reply
    • SE Mershon

      Thank you! I understand the reduction in costs, but not clear on the product or who you do it for? Does that make sense?

      Reply
  15. Kim

    I’m thinking of having Real Estate be my niche, but until I 100{118470d0f4f3718dfdd0f3eeb2eb014ae26d46ca78c59b6a979d3ffc612de011} decide I’m using: I help small business owners stay on track while managing HR related tasks and social media.

    ? sound ok?

    Reply
    • SE Mershon

      Small business owners is rather vague – it’s a huge market but until you decide I think it’s fine. It’s clear what you do 😉 Thanks for posting.

      Reply
  16. Sonia

    I help entrepreneurs clear their to-do lists so they can focus on what’s important.

    Reply
    • SE Mershon

      Thank you Sonia!

      Reply
  17. Laura

    My ‘job title’ on my email signature is “Time-slicer & Procrastination Buster”

    Reply
    • SE Mershon

      Love the Procrastination Buster!

      Reply
  18. Chrystal-Lynn El

    Great post Susan, I’ve narrowed mines down to a solutions specialist because that’s literally what I do on an admin and consultant level.

    Reply
    • SE Mershon

      Like it! Thanks for posting.

      Reply
  19. Kelly Pimm

    I am an Off Site Business & Administration Manager

    Reply
    • SE Mershon

      Thanks!

      Reply
  20. Yolanda Crowley

    “I help entrepreneurs in the health and fitness industry save time and money by outsourcing their administrative tasks.”

    That’s the elevator pitch, although I rarely say it. I need to go to more networking events. 🙂

    Reply
    • SE Mershon

      Love it Yolanda! Thank you for sharing.

      Reply
  21. Monica

    Hi Susan, indeed you are correct in saying that the VA title is a bit vague. I am a “VA” and find myself most of the time explaining, in a very long-winded way, what a VA does. However, here’s my message: I help freelancers, consultants and SMEs to save time and money by managing their office admin, business projects and streamlining processes remotely. Should I change it? Thank you!

    Reply
    • SE Mershon

      Hi Monica, thank you! To me it’s a bit vague but does your Target understand what you do? My question is what types of freelancers, consultants SME’s? What market are they in?

      Reply
  22. Christina Lemmey

    I’m a Multimedia Content Strategist who creates online content for internet marketers & small businesses.

    Reply
    • SE Mershon

      Thank you Christina for sharing!

      Reply
  23. Sara

    I was talking on the phone with someone on Tuesday and she mentioned that the title “virtual assistant” didn’t accurately describe what I do.

    I think we are so ’employee’ focused that it’s hard for us to ascribe big titles or responsibility to ourselves.

    Reply
    • SE Mershon

      So true Sara, the employee mindset is a hard one to leave behind. Thanks for posting!

      Reply
  24. Trudy Finlayson

    I’m a real estate entrepreneur and financial advisor helping homeowners & business professionals spend smart, invest wisely and create generational wealth.

    Reply
    • SE Mershon

      Awesome, thank you Trudy. Very clear and concise.

      Reply
  25. SE Mershon

    Thank you Helen! Great title – love Procrastinating Solopreneurs that is a target all of it’s own!

    Reply
  26. John Hardy

    The virtual assistant I subcontract for has given me the title of
    “administrative support specialist”, I support this business owner in helping her get tasks done.

    Reply
    • SE Mershon

      Thanks for sharing John!

      Reply
  27. Taryn Cross

    Awesome read. We have just discussed this very topic in our Mastermind Group and most of us fell short. The exercise was to say what you do in ten words or less. As can be seen, I am still battling. I run a company that meets your HR, marketing, legal and administration needs with a highly skilled team, we try and make your life less complicated. Thanks for the read.

    Reply
    • SE Mershon

      Hi Taryn, thank you for taking the time to post and comment. Glad you enjoyed it. Who is your Target Market? I understand the what and why but not the who.

      Reply
  28. Diane Coville

    Great post Susan. Per your formula above, mine is “I enjoy helping small businesses develop and implement strategies to grow their business online with customized Inbound Marketing and Social Media Plans”. You are correct, too, in that many people are unclear about the role of a Virtual Assistant.

    Reply
    • SE Mershon

      Thank you Diane for posting and for sharing your message 😉

      Reply
  29. Danny

    *digitally*

    Reply
  30. Danny

    Well I did have “Helping you to grow digitaly” but had some doubts. What do you think?

    Reply
    • SE Mershon

      Hi Danny, thanks for commenting. My question is helping “who” grow digitally and what does grow digitally mean? In other words how? It’s not clear to me 😉

      Reply
      • George

        True about the unstated meaning of growing digitally. I’m of the school that aims for a tag that gets them to ask. A number of business people who have heard my tag get be excited on that very point. My tag? “I do the work you hate so you you can do the job you love. ” I got a client just by asking, “What are the things you need to do that you’re too busy to get to?”

        Reply
        • SE Mershon

          Well said George – thanks for posting!

          Reply
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