What’s a Virtual Assistant?


And the discussion continues…. regular readers of the blog will recall my What’s in a Name and Confusion Continues posts.

Recently the Sunday Life’s Sarah Wilson blogged about hiring ‘a virtual assistant in India’.  *sigh*

Yet again an Australian reporter encourages Australian business to head offshore for their ‘virtual assistant’ needs. Again, a professional virtual assistant is NOT an Indian, Filipino or Singaporean freelancer but an entrepreneur, small business owner who has years of office, administration and/or secretarial experience, many with business management or other similar qualifications.

The most disappointing thing about this post however is Sarah’s comment:

Also, I’ve been looking out for talk of VA use here for about 2 years and hadn’t come across any dialogue.

Quite simply, that’s amazing. Even the most cursory search for ‘Australian Virtual Assistant‘ turns up the three major Australian VA networks, plus blogs. I honestly don’t think Aussie journos try too hard… which is perhaps why they go to India in the first place. Quality content apparently isn’t high on the agenda.

It’s also disappointing that given the dire economic climate with which we are constantly being barraged in the press that Aussie journos don’t do more to encourage Australian businesses to ‘buy Australian‘. Australian VAs spend their income right here, in Australia, directly affecting our economy. Where do offshore VAs spend their dollars?

Whilst I understand businesses wanting to watch the bottom line and look for ways to save money, outsourcing offshore can actually cost you money in the long run.

Watch this space for guest blogger Warwick Merry who shares his experiences of outsourcing next. Unfortunately his is not a unique experience. And perhaps if more clients did post their experiences of outsourcing offshore we’d have less proponents of it!

Those of us trying to carve a business out of this industry can only hope some Australian journalists find these sorts of blog entries and ‘dialogue’ when next they search.

© Lyn Prowse-Bishop, http://www.execstress.com/


  1. Another great blog post Lyn. Could not have put it better myself. This is just sooo totally frustrating but we are now getting some great publicity due to this pathetic piece of journalism …

  2. Hear, hear Lyn! Or is that here, here 🙂 I hear you and yes, it should be focussed here in Oz. I find it amazing too, especially since I’ve been writing for years about this industry in Aussie business mags, on my blog and in other publications. Plus we’ve been in the SMH, The Age, Advertiser, Brisbane’s Courier Mail and other newspapers, oh and the Readers Digest as far back as… wait for it… February 2000!

  3. execva says:

    I know Kathie – just disgraceful that journos can say they can’t find dialogue. Their researchers don’t really try too hard IMHO. It’s right there in the most basic search. As Anita says though – hopefully this will give us some much-needed publicity!

  4. I think it’s because a certain type of journo thinks that outsourcing to a so-called VA in another country for peanuts makes a better story – more ‘wow!’ factor – than an informed piece on entrepreneurial trends here in Australia. They go for the easy spark of interest rather than contributing to deeper coverage of issues.

  5. Well said Lyn. Cannot believe a journalist in this day and age with all the media available (google etc) can be so misinformed about the abundance of Australian VAs.

  6. execva says:

    The important thing to remember is this should not be about an “Us versus Them”. I’ve always said that these companies serve a sector of the market – one I’m not interested in serving. I prefer to partner with clients who know professional service and see the value I provide rather than those going for ‘cheap’. But misinformation (as Tania says) is the key here and the fact journos say they’re doing the research when clearly they aren’t. Perhaps they should use a professional VA to do the research and get their facts straight! LOL!

  7. ‘Tis said that there is no such thing as bad publicity.

    However, articles of this nature, coupled with some TV broadcasts, display the unfortunately low standard of journalism so prevalent in this day and age. They would not be displayed on any blog or website of mine to publicise what I do.

    Hopefully it will have made a few more aware of our profession, but it has done nothing for a policy of “Buy Australian made”.

    Maybe the time has come for bodies like ACS and AVBN to garner sufficient funds to hire a publicity agent.

  8. execva says:

    Absolutely TK – if I had but a few more resources I would do just that! 🙂

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