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September 14, 2021
Satisfying hyper-connected customers: How to exceed expectations and still have a life

Long gone is the era of “we will follow up with you in 4-5 business days”. Online chat services and social media are now effective ways in which users can reach out to businesses, and they expect answers instantaneously.

But keeping up with those inquiries often requires extra hands, especially for smaller, leaner organizations 

Engaging with an always-online audience

This presents an obvious challenge for business owners: What if you regularly  get inquiries after hours, when you and your small team  are taking a well-deserved break from work? In the age of smartphones and always-connected  audiences, if people don’t get a response right away to their questions, they become anxious and annoyed: “My internet is not working. Do something!”, “you sent me the wrong item. Fix this now!”, “my phone stopped working. Help me!”  Even inconveniences that would otherwise be seen as small can trigger bad customer reviews at any moment because of that desire for an immediate response. 

This is a struggle that many small businesses encounter while they are growing: Should you risk  leaving all your customer inquiries or potential leads to when you’re available next, or try to match your audience’s expectations  at the risk of burning out your team? Is there another option?

How a virtual assistant can help

Handling after hours customer inquiries is exactly the kind of task small businesses should consider outsourcing. Whether it’s emails, questions on Facebook from prospective clients or a lead requesting to schedule a meeting, a virtual assistant can keep your customer service machine running while you’re offline.

A virtual assistant can help your business achieve an engagement “boost” that otherwise would be more difficult to achieve on your own by matching (or beating) the expectations of your audience. Virtual Gurus can match you with a virtual assistant who is skilled in customer service to fill the gaps in your team’s schedule. Let us help you achieve your desired work-life balance, while your business continues to impress existing and potential customers.

If you’re looking for more ways a virtual assistant can help your business, check out five ideas here.


September 7, 2021
Marketing resources for beginners

Are you a newbie in the marketing world? How can you equip yourself to take advantage of any opportunity and jump into content creation and marketing at work? Time to do some digging for resources. Here are our favourites:

 

Content creation

• Content ideas Answer the Public & Frase.io 

• Mockups mockmagic

• Custom motion graphics Jitter Video

• Interactive content Genial.ly 

• Email templates Really Good Emails

 

Copywriting

• Copy generation Snazzy.ai 

• Rewrite suggestions Wordtune 

• Find my audience Find My Audience 

 

Help with the strategy and planning

• See your competitor’s Facebook Ads Facebook Ads Library 

• Hashtag generator Hashtag Stack 

• Title generator Title Generator 

• Influencer profile analytics We Find

 

Learn some new skills

• Hubspot Academy Hubspot Academy

• Quintly Academy Quintly Academy 

• Facebook Ad Blueprint Facebook Blueprint 

• Future Learn  Future Learn 

 

The marketing world is constantly changing, but feel confident that the technology and tools that accompany it will keep evolving as well. Keep yourself up to date on the latest and greatest tools to keep that feeling of confidence for any marketing role that pops up for you. We hope that this inspires you to get out there and Google search your heart out! There’s so much more to learn.


August 31, 2021
The stars are aligned: Why a VA career makes more sense than ever

Most of us recall a time not so long ago when people built a life around getting an education, acquiring skills, getting a job, and spending their entire life with that one organization. They progressed through various positions and sailed quietly into retirement, having collected 5-, 10-, 20- year badges along the way.


The times they are a-changin'

As Bob Dylan crooned, things have been changing. We still aspire to ‘grow up and become …’, but how we manage our lives has altered significantly.

Education has begun to mean acquiring a single, specific expertise. Generalists are slowly becoming a thing of the past. When an  organization needs a job done, they now often look for just that skill. 


Structural shifts

The investment in infrastructure around workspaces was traditionally a large part of managing the labour market. Organizations invested in offices, technology, and physical facilities; and employees made the commute to work there. But in recent years, organizations started re-evaluating the ‘ROI on the workspace.’

As office space and infrastructure became expensive, the technology to communicate remotely became cheaper. We now have high-speed connections and all kinds of collaboration tools across multiple platforms. We Air Print or join video conversations wherever we are, across different time zones. We no longer have to limit our job search to our own geographic areas. Remote work is here to stay.


Starting a remote ‘gig’ career

In my life’s journey, I travelled the accepted route: school, job, family. A few years ago, though, I began to feel the need to make choices regarding the work I took on and the time I spent on these. I didn’t want to get off the treadmill, so to speak, but to adjust its direction and speed. 

I was done with eighty-hour-weeks and felt the need to have more control over my life. I hadn’t given this a name, but it fell somewhere along the continuum of wanting to take on ‘project-related’ and ‘subscription-based’ work.

I did some research and saw that there were a few options. There were a few popular platforms where I could promote my skills and experience and hope for the best. 

I tried some platforms, but for me it was a bit of a nightmare. I had to do the ‘soup-to-nuts’ for each project: market myself, compete on rates (not quality!) and deliver when all I wanted to do was provide the service. I didn’t want anything to do with marketing, billing, and collections.


Finding the right fit: Virtual Gurus!

I continued with my research and came across this interview with Bobbie Racette. What she said resonated -- Virtual Gurus offered a platform where I could promote my skills and find part-time project-based work, while not having to worry about haggling on price or chasing down contracts or invoices.  

I reached out, and the rest is history! I’m thrilled to be part of the Virtual Gurus community of virtual assistants. It really is the perfect option for anyone who wants to capitalize on the trend towards remote, part-time work. 

If you are looking for an additional voice, you can also read about another VA's perspective on the rewards of a virtual assistant career here.


August 17, 2021
If you want something done … Delegate!

Every entrepreneur or business owner knows that running a business is all about execution. It’s about making sure the right things happen at the right time to the right people. The problem comes when there are many fires to put out at the same time. You need clear direction and support to make sure nothing slips through the cracks. Delegating those smaller fires gives you time to focus your company’s larger, more impactful work. 

But delegating isn’t easy; it’s a skill that must be practiced and honed over time. The better you become at aligning the right people with the right tasks and responsibilities, the more effective you become. Billionaire Facebook mogul, Sheryl Sandberg, has admitted, “I have to force myself to trust other people with my work because I know that’s how I grow.” Notice she said she has to force herself to trust others with her work. Here are some ways to do just that—and make the most out of delegation:

Delegate in 3 easy steps (A-B-C)

A - Analyze your workload

Before you hand off your responsibilities to another person, you need to do the work of analyzing your workload. Organizing a work week isn't one-size-fits-all. We recommend our favorite method of task analysis, the EISENHOWER MATRIX:

B - Break larger projects into smaller tasks

It is very easy to get overwhelmed when thinking about how much work needs to be done, so break tasks down into smaller chunks, and assign them accordingly. Use this chart to get brainstorming task ideas:


C - Communicate & Collaborate

Once your plan is ready, it is time to communicate and collaborate. Communicating with those whom you are delegating tasks to is important not only because it is their job to execute on your tasks, but this is where you build that essential trust in the delegating process. It is also important to be clear and consistent for this step to get exactly what you want from everyone involved. Some tips for how to do this:

  • Add detailed instructions for the task right in Google Docs then share the link. Include screenshots, links to sample work that you like, links to brand guides and asset folders etc. 
  • Use Loom to record an instructional video. Do you want to save even more time? Instead of spending hours perfecting instructions, record your screen as you would normally perform any task. Instructional video done!
  • Provide a link to an entire folder of documents you wish to be processed in a similar manner.
  • Communicate specific deadlines or the limit of time you want spent on the task.

We all know delegating is not as easy as ABC, but this gets you started! 

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Ready to start delegating those tasks? We have two exciting options for delegating  your to-do list today: 

  • Need help with larger, ongoing projects? Work with one or more of our superhero virtual assistants. Get started now and we’ll match you with your perfect VA (or team!) in minutes.  
August 3, 2021
Dynamic work environments: finding your office/remote balance

It's been over 18 months since Covid-19 rocked the world and forced us to get creative with how we connect, work and live our daily lives. As a result, many frontline businesses jumped online. They became delivery, and pick-up focused, while corporations developed remote systems for their teams to connect and function from home instead of the office. 

Productivity-wise, we know that working remotely has been more successful than expected, so much so that 74% of companies surveyed by Gartner Inc. will be keeping a portion of their employees permanently remote. But to keep business growing and efficient, how do you bring your in-office team and remote individuals together? 

A dynamic work model or hybrid environment allows your business to be flexible, leveraging what technological investments you have made to survive this latest disruption. It also provides work/life balance to your employees.

Check out our top three ways to put your remote/office business in perfect harmony. 

File sharing (and creating and syncing)

The proverbial cloud was in place before Covid; travel and out-of-office meetings meant we needed access to the most recent version of a file versus a copy made days ago. This need for access to information did not go away during the pandemic. More than ever, this information needs to be organized so that it is easy to navigate for multiple users. 

SharePoint, Dropbox and Google Drive are excellent file management systems; preference will be based on a company's needs and size. Whether you're looking for files in-office or from home, you'll always only see the most recent file (although some packages allow for historical versions of files to be kept, which could benefit your organization). 

Could this meeting be an email? Or a Teamwork Chat?

Ben Franklin said, "In this world, nothing is certain except death and taxes." He forgot to mention meetings. Pre-covid, meetings were easy to book and book unnecessarily. A dynamic work environment forces you to look at your meetings - are they all essential? Could you book them for less time and be as, if not more, efficient with fewer people? Perhaps a project management software like Teamwork would help keep your team organized instead of running in circles. Remember, a dynamic work environment is flexible; too many weekly meetings will feel like a structured 9-5 that many people have outgrown. 

Virtual water cooler

One of the difficulties with working remotely is the ability to foster and maintain relationships. Do you miss catching up with colleagues on Monday mornings or after a long week on a Friday afternoon? This interaction doesn't have to disappear; it just needs another format, a digital one. 

At Virtual Gurus, we use Slack religiously. With our Virtual Assistant community all over Canada and the US, it's impossible to hold in-person gatherings, even without a pandemic. We have a water cooler channel to foster a sense of team and camaraderie, where anything but work can be discussed. We also have a monthly coffee chat to facilitate casual work conversations. VA's can chat to, listen with and meet Virtual Gurus members and staff. 

Now that you've got your dynamic work environments in order, be sure to make sure to manage your time and work-life balance. Check out our tips & tricks post here.

July 27, 2021
Can Timeboxing increase productivity?

As a business owner, it can feel like every new project, new meeting, or even new client is a major kitchen renovation. It's more time, more energy and sometimes more money.

On Monday, you want to come out of the day knowing you did your absolute best - giving your 100% in everything. Then, the week speeds by and the to-do list is no smaller; it’s bigger.

I have found a tool that has helped me compartmentalize my days - it’s known as Timeboxing, originally named by Elon Musk.


How do we get it all done in a normal workweek? 

“In time management, timeboxing allocates a fixed time period, called a timebox, within which planned activity takes place. It is used by several project management approaches and for personal time management.” - Wikipedia

It doesn't always work, but if I have a forecast of my week, it helps me know what I have room for and can say yes to, and when I really must say no.

In some lines of work -- in communications or project management -- it might BE your job to talk to people all day; you'll want to schedule these interactions into your day. And remember: these "meetings" will create more items on your "to-do list"; you'll want to schedule things in as well.


Consistency is key with the Timeboxing Technique

Timeboxing is very effective to do weekly and daily. Things are bound to shift. It's essential to be disciplined but also to allow for a  bit of movement.

Timeboxing helps you stay in control when you feel out of control, and you have the power to shift timeboxes around. Many people find that consistency with this process increases their productivity AND frees up more time for leisure.


Here is my 7-step process for Timeboxing a week:

  1. Take out a calendar that gives you an overview of the week. You can use paper, a planner, whatever you prefer. 
  1. Carve out your work time,  your “office hours.”
  1. Schedule your breaks and self-care time.
  1. Look at your responsibilities. These may include clients, projects, meetings, etc.
  1. Establish how many hours you can work this week. 
  1. Divide your client load into the hours from #5, and allow for some wiggle room. Be sure to have time blocks to go through your inbox, and send out any necessary communications. 
  1. Schedule an "overflow day," but do not rely on it. Be sure to use this time to catch up. On your overflow day, it's like you are out of the office - no new work and no meetings.

Now you have your base - your "best-case scenario." This exercise will give you complete control over your schedule, and life will be blissful in a perfect world.

The value is in the planning, not the plan 

The benefits of Timeboxing are that you know:

  1. what you have to say 'no' to, to make your plan happen, and 
  2. what is worth a schedule change.

Do your best to stay in the box you are in at the time you are in it. For example, turn off messaging apps and notifications on your phone. Take away your distractions. 

Try this for a couple of weeks, and let us know if your productivity and leisure time increase. Timeboxing also forces you to look at everything you do every week. When you see it all on paper, you may begin to find tasks that you can delegate to other teams members or a Virtual Assistant.

July 13, 2021
5 strategies to survive (and thrive) after losing a client

It happens -- we all lose clients. Sometimes you see it coming, sometimes you don’t know what hit you. Either way, losing a client can be the worst.

I’m a VA and I took on a new client a while ago. I was pumped. I’d had my own company in their field of business for many years and I figured it was going to be a perfect fit. Things were set to go swimmingly.

But not so fast. Communication was challenging right from the beginning. Despite trying different approaches to connect, we never got to a good place and the client decided to end the relationship suddenly.

I was stunned, but there was no time for hand-wringing. It was time to clamber up and out. Drawing from experience, I knew it was time for a plan.

First things first. I needed a strategy to:

  1. Deal with the shock.
  2. Do the postmortem.
  3. Recover.
  4. Find the silver lining.
  5. Get on with it.


Dealing with the shock

After a few rounds of ‘deep breath, hold and exhale’, it was time for reflection and an honest examination of what I might have unwittingly contributed to the situation. After all, my objective was to be honest with myself and grow. Ideally, I’d have a light bulb moment in the hope I could avoid enduring a repeat experience.

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“When you make a mistake, there are only three things you should ever do about it: admit it, learn from it, and don’t repeat it.”

– Bear Bryant, Former College Football Player

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The postmortem

I worked through every would’ve, could’ve and ‘should’ve that I could come up with. I revisited all the basic building blocks of the role, re-lived my initial interview, and reflected on the ensuing relationship. With an experience as short as this one was, it didn’t take very long!

I reminded myself of the tried-and-true Pareto Principle; if you haven’t heard of it, it’s the 80-20 Rule. In a service business, it can translate to ‘80% of your stress will come from 20% of your clients’. They’ll be the ones that you just don’t click with, no matter how hard you try.

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“Life is 10 percent what you make it and 90 percent how you take it.”

~ Irving Berlin

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Recovery 

It’s surprisingly easy to get fired when you’re working as a contractor. It might be just because you make somebody uncomfortable by being a bit too honest with a difficult truth. Sometimes your personalities are a bad match. Sometimes it has nothing to do with you at all.

When it’s time to wave the white flag and concede defeat it’s not time to beat yourself up. If you’re lucky enough (like I am) to have great support from your VA team, take advantage of that resource. 

They’ll listen to you and help frame your experience as a learning moment. They’ll help cushion the blow, put it in perspective, and get you back on firm ground. They’ll remind you that it’s not so much what happens, it’s the story we tell ourselves about it, and how we move forward and deal with it.

When all is said and done, be your own best friend. Look after yourself, develop coping strategies, and guard your health. Sometimes you just need to take a break in the action, hug a buddy, or walk the dog.

Remember, if you can move past the sense of injury, you’ve mastered it.

Finding the silver lining

In the end, being fired was a gift. It took the knot out of my stomach and put the spring back in my step. I was free!

Now I could get back doing what I love doing – building my business and supporting clients that appreciate what I bring and my communication style.

Get on with it

You’ve been self-reflective and taken a hard look in the mirror. You’ve learned what you could from the experience. Now it’s time to be gentle with yourself and move on. Accept that there’s no getting away from it, dealing with difficult clients when you’re flying solo is stressful. You’ll be forever forced to confront every personal perceived weakness and inadequacy.

You may find yourself second-guessing your self-worth, far more than you’d ever encounter in a regular workplace. But it also reminds you to treasure the wonderful clients who lift your luggage every day. Focus on them and put the others in your rearview mirror. The view through the windshield is always better.

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“Life is like riding a bicycle, to keep your balance, you must keep moving.”

~Albert Einstein

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For more client relationship advice from a VA perspective, read 4 Easy Tips for Building and Maintaining Client Relationships

Looking to add to your VA skillset? Check out 5 Virtual Assistant Courses Every VA Needs to Take.

July 6, 2021
Creating an executive email management system: 2 perspectives

Part 1: The virtual executive assistant’s take

“Ooh, I’m a sucker for a good spreadsheet!” is, I’m a little abashed to admit, among the phrases I spoke to my future boss in our preliminary interview. Luckily for me, she has a great sense of humour, and happened to be looking for somebody who could wrangle a spreadsheet with aplomb. 

Prioritization: Sorting through the inbox

When she brought me onboard as her executive assistant, my boss asked that I take a look at her email management system to see if we could come up with something cohesive, centralized, and easy to use. I opened a doc and we started brainstorming. 

I started with a basic quadrant breakdown - Urgent vs Tomorrow’s Problems and Action Required vs For Review. This helps prioritize the workflow in the day in a grid that’s easy to understand and visualize.

As with any new relationship, learning each other’s communication patterns is the first challenge. A simple grid like this worked for us to establish which tasks would fall under which categories, and for me to learn the ins and outs of the business itself. 

Refining the system: Google sheets to the rescue

While simplicity is beautiful, I knew we could do one better - so I made a spreadsheet! 


Offering more specific categorization without losing the simple visibility of the quadrant system, a task management spreadsheet like this allows for precise customization. On a call, I screenshared the bare-bones sheet so we could build it to her specs. 

She wanted to be able to see the date the task was assigned as well as the “type” of task it was - Documents for Review, for example, could thereby be lumped into a pre-booked afternoon for mass perusal. *thumbs up* 

We also decided on a colour-coordination scheme that matched the one she was already using. When a specific Urgency or Status is selected from the drop-down menu, it automatically changes colour. Conditional Formatting and Data Validation functions are your best friends here! 

Finally, for extra satisfactory flair, I added a checkbox beside the task to be clicked when complete. When the box is checked, the row has a line drawn through it for easy visualization of your progress towards inbox zero for the day.

The finer points of email management 

The task management spreadsheet has been a success for our teamwork, and I’m just getting started! By navigating email permissions we can attach links to relevant docs and emails in her inbox. We can also colour-coordinate our notes to each other, to more easily see when someone else has updated the sheet. Currently I manually migrate the crossed-out tasks at EOD to another sheet, but I’m working on a way to automate that. Calendar integration could come next, too. The sky’s the limit!

Building systems and relationships at the same time 

As much as I love a good spreadsheet, I must say the best part of the process for me has been getting to know my boss. Working together towards something mutually beneficial that we can be proud of has got our working relationship off to a great start. I’m looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish together - a great spreadsheet is just the beginning!


Part 2: The boss’s take

I used to live in my inbox. Nothing got done if it wasn’t in an email. I triaged from most recent and went backwards. (I probably shouldn’t admit this but I had over 600 unread emails). You can see how this would be a problem. And as our team became more and more reliant on Slack for communication, I spent less and less time in my inbox. Which created an even bigger problem.

So, when Breanna started as my VA and we discussed my goals, the first thing I knew I needed help with was getting the inbox under control.

I’d tried a few things in the past - tagging and folders primarily. But since I wasn’t in my inbox, that didn’t really help much. I still needed to sort through what was important and go from there.

I knew what my goals were:
1. Prioritize incoming emails 

2. Delegate any emails that I didn’t need to deal with to the appropriate person

3. File anything of interest for later reading

4. Manage subscriptions

5. Delete spam

Testing and iterating

At first we tried using Slack, where Breanna would give me the highlights of what needed my attention and what could wait. This was okay and achieved the goal of keeping me from going down the rabbit hole. But depending on the amount we slacked that day, the message would get lost and so didn’t necessarily keep me on track to get the important things done.

After some time working together, Breanna let me know she’d been brainstorming how to tackle my inbox and asked if I’d be okay with her spending some time building out a skeleton. It was a great way to approach things… rather than going full out on building the solution, she gave me a prototype that we worked through together. Then we put it into action.

First it was a google doc but that was clumsy to keep updated. The next iteration was a spreadsheet (and for my team who know how much I dislike spreadsheets, they’ll be pleasantly surprised about how much this one actually works for me.)

Finding our groove, and freeing up time!

Breanna reviews my email a couple of times a day and adds anything that I need to deal with to the spreadsheet. She categorizes each entry by status (follow up, review, action required, perusal, in progress and complete) and urgency (today, tomorrow, this week, etc.). The links to relevant docs are right in the spreadsheet as well so I don’t need to go searching for them.

As I complete the items on the list, I can change the status to complete and then they get filed. Breanna keeps an eye on the due dates and gives me a nudge if I’m coming up to a deadline. I can also add in notes and ask her to do a first pass on written docs or confirm the math on expense reports. This saves me a ton of time and keeps me on track.

When I do get the urge to hop back into my mailbox, anything on the email management spreadsheet is starred so I can do a quick review of only starred emails and decide if I want to quickly respond.

There are still a few kinks that we’re trying to work out but so far, it’s freeing me up from the time I used to spend trying to deal with the number of emails I receive. 

A solid foundation for even greater productivity

I love that Breanna used a completely different and out of the box solution to my goals. And that she took the initiative to develop a prototype that she thought would work for me once she got to know how I work. Next up… my Google drive. ;-)

June 30, 2021
Pouring the foundation for a successful VA business: Developing your niche

If you’re considering working as a Virtual Assistant and you’ve been doing your homework, you’re probably aware that the industry is trending toward demand for specialized vs. jack-of-all-trades skills. VA's who have the most diverse skill sets and software experiences get the most work. 

It’s more likely that prospective clients are looking to add an asset to their business - someone who sees the bigger picture and can help them achieve their business objectives - the nuts and bolts execution are icing on the cake.

Success these days means positioning yourself with a skill profile that makes you stand out from the crowd.  With that in mind, you need a plan to achieve your ultimate objective, a thriving and satisfying VA practice.

Consider the following road map as a pathway to your success.

Start with clarity - your ‘why’

It’s inevitable. There will be over-the-moon days; others will be the pits. You’ll need solid bedrock laid down to steady you through the wobbly times.

Everybody’s ‘why’ is their own.  It can be a partner, family, your fur baby, your passion for community service. Maybe it’s travel, accelerating retirement plans, or learning new things. It could be a sense of freedom or a desired lifestyle. When you have ‘one of those days’, you need to be able to shake it off and put it in the perspective of your ‘why’.

Self-examination

To create and build a business you love, start with recognizing what makes you tick. Think of building your business as an extension of yourself. Ask:

  • What do you enjoy doing?  By definition, what you enjoy doing will almost certainly be what you excel at.
  • What activities can you get lost in? What are you passionate about?
  • What books do you like to read? What are your favourite movies?
  • How do you spend your free time? Hobbies? Sports?
  • Do you care about politics, local news, community events?
  • Are you a history buff?
  • What gets you out of bed in the morning?
  • What’s a great vacation destination? 90 degrees in the shade? Furry mittens, snow boots and a roaring fire?
  • How do you measure success?  Money? Status? Appreciation and recognition? 
  • What do you value? What is important to you spiritually, morally, ethically?
  • How do you relate to people? Do you love centre stage, or would you rather watch from the sidelines?

Brainstorm

Your exercise in self-examination will warm up your brain and prepare you for some private brainstorming.  Enjoy a leisurely mental stretch. Make notes as ideas come to you.  There are no wrong questions and no wrong answers.


Envision roles that match what you’ve come up with in your self-study.  Make a list of possible matches. There are no wrong answers. Don't be surprised if you come up with several possibilities - that's a good thing.  Sift through the potentials. Sleep on it. Have a couple of bubble baths. You'll come to a conclusion.

Position yourself to land the roles you want

Think on three levels

1. You’ve decided what a plum role looks like.

2. Now, it’s time to develop the right mindset. Think past offering garden-variety admin skills. Instead, you want to offer a 'value added' proposition that positions you as a strategic asset to a client, not just a support admin. Think in terms of planning, systems, processes, and implementation. 

Leverage your knowledge and skills to present yourself as a strategic partner capable of helping your client identify their goals and jointly work on an implementation plan.  For example, you could become a social media specialist to build the client’s brand organically. Or you can promote yourself as a rock star Mailchimp'er to help keep your client connected to their base.

3. You’ve established what you want to do.  You have a plan to bring value and the means for your client to measure that value.  Next step? Be sure you’re prepared to make good on your proposition.

What do you need to know to bring 5-star outcomes? Are any industry certifications necessary? Do you need to refresh or upgrade your skills? What equipment do you need? Do you need specialized software?

Defining your dream client

Now it's time to hone in on who you want to work with.  The ‘perfect’ role in the ‘perfect’ field will still be a nightmare if your client is unreasonable and impossibly demanding or if you just don’t see eye to eye.

Ideally, you’re connecting with someone who values you and appreciates your contribution right off the bat. It’s great when it happens that way, but more often than not, your relationship will take some grooming.

Your initial interviews are the staging ground.  Try to make their video meetings. Most experts agree that 70 to 93 percent of all communication is nonverbal, so you’ll miss a lot over the phone.

Ensure you have a complete understanding of what’s expected - what you need to do and how you need to do it. If you have a schedule you need to adhere to, make sure it’s a mutually good fit with your clients. Talk about performance expectations, i.e., acceptable response times. Find out how they like to communicate, the manner and frequency.  How do they value performance?  Does speed trump attention to detail? 

If any of these fundamentals don’t fit, the chance of success (and you keeping your sanity) is doubtful.

It’s a process, not a sprint to the finish

You may be thinking, “Okay, sure, that would be great, but I don’t have time to be picky. I need to make money”. I get it. I don’t imagine many of us start from a position of independent wealth. That’s okay. It’s a process that can evolve.

Take the time to build, do what you need to do. Get started and keep moving, one step at a time.

June 21, 2021
Social media: How often should you post?

Your social media channels are key tools in building brand awareness, demonstrating the value your business provides and driving sales. In order to reap these benefits, however, you need to post a regular stream of quality content that provides value for your followers.  

But you don’t want to go overboard either; you need to focus on the quality of your content just as much as the quantity. Avoid posting mediocre or irrelevant content just to fill a quota. Most platforms serve up content based on algorithms that favour the most engaging posts. If you post too often, you run the risk of cannibalizing your own performance.

How often should you post on social media?

The answer varies, depending on the platform and your goals. Here’s a look at four of the most common social media platforms.

Facebook

An analysis by Hubspot concluded that large Facebook accounts with more than 10,000 followers topped out on engagement at 1-2 posts per day. However, the optimal frequency for smaller accounts was less than 6 per month, if maximizing engagement per post was the goal.

Use these numbers as a starting point and decide how much incremental overall engagement is worth your team's time to plan, create and post more frequently.

Instagram

Union Metrics studied successful brands on Instagram and concluded that consistency mattered more than frequency. They noted that most brands posted once or twice per day, but the best schedule for you will be one you can maintain.

Plan daily if you can manage it, or at least 2 posts per week. Any less than that, and you might as well not bother having an Instagram account. Keep in mind that your posts can be a mix of feed posts and Instagram stories.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn frequency recommendations are similar to Instagram, based on Hubspot's data. The marginal effectiveness of LinkedIn posts maxed out at 2 per week, with large performance drops after 7 weekly posts.

Since LinkedIn usage drops on weekends, 2 to 5 weekday posts each week should be a good target for most organizations.

Twitter

This is the one channel where volume is relevant -- and even necessary -- to maintain any sort of share of voice. Since Twitter feeds move at lightning speed, the average lifespan of a tweet is just 18 minutes. Still, there is a limit to the engagement you can drive.

Rival IQ studied top-performing Twitter accounts and found that the average tweet frequency for the most successful accounts was 12-13 per week. That's twice daily, or even more if you only post on weekdays.

That kind of volume might feel impossible if your team is lean. Keep in mind that your tweets can (and should) be a mix of original and curated content, including retweets. To stay relevant, some of this needs to happen in real time, but you can use scheduling and curation tools to help manage your posting volume. For optimum efficiency on Twitter, look for a tool that enables bulk uploading of tweets.

The bottom line on frequency: Managing it all

The social media beast requires constant care and feeding. Ensure you have - or hire - the resources to sustain it.  

If you’re not ready to hire someone full-time, consider bringing on a part-time remote team member or virtual assistant to manage your social media channels. Virtual Gurus has a large pool of  talented VAs who are masters of social content. Get started with us today and offload your social media management worries to us.

June 15, 2021
3 additions to your VA toolkit that will save you time and effort

Being a VA requires you to be an expert multitasker. There are multiple clients with multiple deadlines, all vying for your expertise at the same time. With so many balls in the air, it can be hard to juggle them all at once.

That’s why we put together a list of our favourite tools and apps to help you stay on top of your projects, which will make tackling your to-do list easier than ever before.

Workona

It’s an all-too-common occurrence. You’re working on several projects at the same time, and your web browser reflects that. The tabs are numerous and are accumulating at an alarming rate, making it more and more difficult to find what you’re looking for. You’re overwhelmed, and you need a solution NOW!

Enter Workona! Workona is a chrome extension that allows you to clump your tabs together in groups, and switch between those groups seamlessly. No longer will you have to worry about losing your place on a website, and you can say goodbye to having a crowded tab bar (the best of both worlds)! You’ll be able to find exactly what you’re looking for at all times and can pick up exactly where you left off when switching between projects.


Canva Pro

Canva is a great, easy-to-use graphic design app, but the pro version has a bunch of extra goodies that’ll save you a ton of time on your client’s next design project. Canva Pro opens up their entire stock photo and element library to users, saving you time and effort when scouring the internet for design elements. It also has an equally easy-to-use content planner that will allow you to schedule unlimited posts across all the major social platforms right in the same window.

With all these awesome features, Canva can essentially replace a stock photo subscription, a content scheduling software and a design software subscription, all at a relatively inexpensive clip.

Calendly

Scheduling meetings can be downright hectic. Everyone’s busy and finding a time that works for everyone can require a ton of back-and-forth correspondence. Calendly makes it so scheduling your next meeting is as easy as clicking a button, saving you a ton of sweat equity, while also keeping your inbox free and clear of clutter.

The days may be getting longer but your workday doesn’t have to! Experiment with these apps to see a boost in your productivity today!


June 7, 2021
VA tips & tricks for top-notch productivity

The sun is shining, the birds are singing, the temptation to ditch the desk and explore the outdoors is real. If you read our earlier blog post about managing work-life balance, you know we don’t see the outdoors as a bad thing. So let’s get you working smarter, not harder, to maximize your time inside so that you can spend your free time as far away from your desk as possible.


Here are three ways to increase your productivity. 

No email until noon

Impossible, right? Would you believe me if I said that email was a distraction in your day and not helpful? That it prevents you from starting your day off on the right foot? According to New York Times bestseller James Clear, he spends the “morning pursuing my own agenda rather than reacting to everybody else’s agenda.”


How do you want to spend your morning? Finish a bookkeeping task you didn’t quite get through the day before; write your next blog article and social content to support it; write everything down you need to do and prioritize as needed. Help yourself help you help others. 

Figure out when you’re most productive

Some people are early birds (with or without worms), while others are midday warriors or night owls. In short, there is no generally correct right answer for when society is most productive. Studies have found that our circadian rhythms and biological clocks run our lives, so we have to accept them and use them to our benefit. 


Optimizing your days based on when you’re most alert will help you complete tasks and make you feel more accomplished. If you find yourself lagging through the day and then feeling like you’ve hit an energy bomb in the late afternoon or early evening, you’re likely a night owl and need to find other things to occupy your mornings with; maybe check your emails! 

Take breaks

A big workday can sometimes feel like a 10-course meal, cumbersome and just too much. But the only way to get through it is to approach it one bite at a time. 


Every time you complete a task, take a break. 

Get up and stretch. 

Refill your coffee mug or water glass. 

Take a quick walk around your block. 

Clear your mind and mentally prepare for your next task. 


Dividing up your day with little pauses throughout will make it feel more manageable, maybe even enjoyable. Treat your breaks like rewards, and you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish in a day.

For more helpful tips read 10 Productivity Apps to Start 2020 With a Bang.


May 31, 2021
Ready to soar: VG gets a fresh look

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably already noticed our new look. We’re thrilled to finally unveil our refreshed website and brand identity, and we’re even more thrilled about how they’ll help us tell our story and accelerate our growth.

Painting a mission-focused picture

Our new visual identity makes liberal use of stars; in fact we’ve featured one right in our logo. These represent our North Star -- or stars, really -- our amazing virtual assistants. Our VAs are the reason we do what we do. 

Our new tagline, ‘We're your people,’ represents the two sides of our Talentplace. For VAs we're creating a community where fractional administrative professionals can learn from and share with one another - really giving them a feeling that they have a home with VG. For clients, we're there to support them in whatever way they need as they build their business. It really speaks to our whole model and approach.

‘We’re proud of what makes us different,” says our CEO Bobbie Racette. ‘We have a crazy strong social mission to provide employment opportunities to underrepresented individuals. With the current economic situation, we feel that it's more important than ever to share our why. We hope to do just that with our brand refresh. Access to our tech was also really important for both clients and VAs so we’re streamlining our tech stack to allow us to keep up with the growth."

A foundation for rapid scaling

As a virtual organization, our website is at the core of everything we do, and we’ve given it a complete overhaul. Our new site is designed to give visitors a streamlined experience that is easy to navigate. New and prospective clients and virtual assistants will be able to find the information they need and connect with us in as little as a single click. 

The website refresh wasn’t just cosmetic; there were just as many changes under the hood. Our new site will be faster to load, thoroughly optimized for SEO (helping more prospects find us), and seamlessly integrated with the rest of our technology stack. It’s also significantly easier for our team to update and maintain, leaving our team with more time to focus on strategic priorities.

Next-level collaboration

‘Over the past year and a half, we’ve focused our efforts on understanding the manual, hands-on parts of our business that could benefit from automation,’ says COO Margaret Glover-Campbell. ‘We’ve taken huge leaps forward in making stronger connections between our clients and our virtual assistants, and building our team. We stripped everything back to the basics to make sure we’re growing from a solid foundation. Now we’re ready to build from that renewed foundation to truly accelerate our growth.’ 


It took months of hard work by many members of our team (including a few of our talented VAs!), and the tenacious support of our agency partners at Paper Crane. Thank you to each and every one of you for helping our North Stars shine even brighter than before!

May 25, 2021
Meet our newest partners

Working together is a powerful thing. That’s why our partnership team is hard at work building a community to support our clients in practically every area of business. Here are three of the newest organizations to join us, each with a unique product or service relevant to VG clients.

Apollo Insurance 

The team at Apollo knows that being a small business owner takes courage, dedication and hard work. They've made at least one task easier by creating insurance products specifically tailored to the unique needs of small business. Business owners can get the insurance they need in minutes through Apollo’s online portal

Of course, partnerships go both ways. Virtual Gurus will help insurance brokers and agents streamline their business operations by providing access to our marketplace of highly-skilled Virtual Assistants. 

Notary Pro

Notary Pro is Canada’s online notary marketplace. They make it easy to find a notary, with convenient online appointment booking and flexible evening and weekend hours. Their  technology, software, and processes make for a better notary public experience. VG clients get 20% off services through Notary Pro’s website.Through this partnership, Notary Pro lawyers and notaries will gain access to our marketplace of highly-skilled Virtual Assistants, enabling them to unlock more productivity by delegating administrative work and focusing on their expertise.


Canadian Women’s Network

The Canadian Women’s Network (CWN) leverages the power of our Silicon Valley network and CWN Connectors to deliver educational programs and introductions to founders leading high-growth businesses. Visit CWN online to learn more about their mentorship and investment programs, as well as on-going interactive workshops and webinars to help you build market traction.

Canadian women entrepreneurs can now focus on growing their businesses faster by leveraging VG’s marketplace of Virtual Assistants. By delegating administrative tasks to our VAs, they’ll have more time to  focus on their big strategic imperatives. 

More partners to explore

We have many other partners offering everything from legal services to software and more. Check out our lineup and start harnessing the full power of the Virtual Gurus community!


May 18, 2021
How to ask for customer reviews

When potential customers are looking for a business online, they are likely looking for more than just a website. More often than not when they type your name into a search engine they are looking for a series of online reviews to help them make a decision. In a recent study, BrightLocal found that 87% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses in 2020 – up from 81% in 2019. So it’s clear: online reviews are important for your business.

It may be awkward to ask for reviews but these have become an expected part of doing business. Satisfied customers are usually happy to share their experience online, so why not ask?

Here are four techniques that you can use to ask for online reviews.

1. Design a landing page for collecting reviews.

A great way to encourage customers to share their experience is by creating a page dedicated to collecting reviews. The landing page can be created through review generation software, a survey form or a review widget embedded on your company website. Once this is set up you can develop a communications plan to drive customers to this landing page to leave reviews.

2. Use email.

This is one of the most effective ways to ask for reviews. Using email helps you to connect your request to a recent transaction and target your requests based on customer loyalty and satisfaction. The email can direct the customer to the site where they can leave their review. Make the email personalized and keep it short.

3. Use SMS.

In this age of voice dictation and bite-sized reviews, it’s easier for consumers to write a review directly from their phone or tablet. This means that if you send a review request via SMS, it is highly likely that the customer will click through. Research shows that SMS open rates are as high as 98%, compared to just 20% of all emails. Due to character limits, crafting the request may be more time-consuming, but it will yield strong results.

4. Ask for reviews at point of sale.

Asking for a review at the point of the transaction is the most immediate and personal way to connect with your customers. For online sales, you can easily link to your review landing page in your order confirmation email. For sales at a physical location, you can have a device on hand for customers to complete a review online. You may also use a tablet or point of sale system to collect customer information and send an immediate email or SMS review request.

———–

Asking for reviews can boost your reputation, build relationships with customers and amplify your search presence. They also have a long shelf life as they can be used across a number of marketing channels. If you are active on social media and encouraging people to share stories about your brand, take it a step further and ask for online reviews.

May 7, 2021
Balancing Work and Family: Mother's Day VA spotlight

With Mother’s Day right around the corner, we wanted to catch up with a couple of our virtual assistants who do a great job balancing their work with Virtual Gurus with their at-home life as a mom.

Mercy U has been with Virtual Gurus for 3 months and works as a VA. She has three kids, one girl (18) and two sons (7 and 5). In her spare time, she likes to read, listen to music, and is an avid traveler (when it’s allowed!).

Karen S has two kids, a 15-year old boy and a 12-year old girl, and has been a Virtual Gurus VA since September 2020. When she’s not at work, you can find Karen taking walks, reading and relaxing.  

Here’s what they had to say:

Virtual Gurus (VG): Why did you want to join Virtual Gurus as a virtual assistant?

Mercy: Joining VG afforded me the opportunity to do what I love to do in the comfort of my home as a result of the pandemic.

Karen: I love working with people and helping them solve their problems.  I’ve worked in many industries as well as running my own business and I enjoy the variety of clients that VG has access to.

VG: What’s your favourite thing about your role with Virtual Gurus?

Mercy: I control my time as a worker and get to work and interact with clients while protecting the health and safety of my family.

Karen: The people I work with.  There is a great team at VG that have a lot of heart!  I also love the flexibility it affords me.

VG: What’s been the biggest challenge when balancing your work life as a VA and your home life as a mom, now that the lines are more blurred than ever before?

Mercy: For me, my kids are not used to mommy being at home all day, all week. So, it is taking them a while to adjust to the whole “working from home’ concept, constantly asking “mommy, are you going to ‘work’ today?” lol.

Secondly, and very importantly, working with clients from different time zones. Understanding that by the time I get up to start my day, someone on the other side is hours ahead of me, and still having customer satisfaction paramount in my head.

Karen: I think it is knowing my limits and making sure my kids understand when I am available and when I am not.  Luckily, I have understanding employers who are not thrown by my children popping onscreen to say hello.

———

Happy Mother’s Day!

April 15, 2021
Virtual Gurus secures $1.7M additional funding to accelerate growth

Plans to advance technology, invest in machine learning and increase employment opportunities

CALGARY, Alberta — Virtual Gurus, the talent marketplace that matches businesses with skilled and qualified American and Canadian virtual assistants, has secured an additional $1.7M in funding to accelerate growth of their technology solution, begin work in machine learning, and create additional opportunities for underrepresented individuals.

Virtual Gurus is receiving more than $980K from Western Economic Diversification’s Business Scale-up and Productivity program. The company has also secured an additional $700K from its very supportive shareholders including Raven Indigenous Capital Partners, the51, and other key investors. This brings Virtual Gurus’ total funding to $2.9M.

“Through initiatives such as our Business Scale-up and Productivity program, we’re helping western Canadian firms take their proven ideas to the national and international level,” said the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages, and Minister responsible for Western Economic Diversification Canada. “I’m proud that our government is investing in the growth and success of a company like Virtual Gurus, which is truly on the leading edge of developing innovative digital solutions that help address business needs while creating jobs for Canadians.”

Since the second half of last year, the company has experienced rapid revenue growth and the momentum is increasing. To keep up, the company has aggressive plans to bring on more staff and increase the talent pool.

In addition to staff growth, Virtual Gurus is investing in machine learning as a way to increase the efficiencies of qualifying and onboarding virtual assistants. Machine learning will also improve the matching capabilities of the Talentplace hub – the main tech engine that connects organizations with the back-office support they need.

“Virtual Gurus has entered a period of hyper-growth,” said Stephen Nairne, Chief Investment Officer of Raven Indigenous Capital Partners and board member. “Bobbie and her team have proven that despite a global pandemic and difficult economic backdrop, they can pivot and scale the business, while maintaining its underlying social mission. Bobbie has put the right team and processes in place to further accelerate growth and Raven is extremely pleased to provide additional resources to help Virtual Gurus fulfill its transformative potential.”

“Our North Star will always be our virtual assistants,” commented Bobbie Racette, Founder and CEO of Virtual Gurus. “I’m excited that the technology we’re developing, including the potential for machine learning, is going to allow us to scale even faster and provide a better user experience for our clients and our virtual assistants.”

Virtual Gurus’ North Star is providing meaningful job opportunities for people from underrepresented communities including those of Indigenous descent, the LGBTQ2+ community, single, stay-at-home mothers, and those with disabilities. As of January 2021, 91% of virtual assistants were female and 40% self-identified as being an underrepresented individual. Virtual Gurus plans to grow its virtual assistant community significantly, with a focus on diversity and inclusion to create jobs for those who don’t fit the ‘typical 9-5’ mold.

As Virtual Gurus continues to grow, it will also expand askBetty, its live ‘tasks on-demand’ product, making it even more accessible across other technology platforms. These administrative tasks – think research, file formatting, data entry – are completed by virtual assistants who earn supplemental income through the platform. For more information, visit askBetty.io.

About Virtual Gurus

Virtual Gurus is a talent marketplace that leverages its proprietary technology to match organizations with highly skilled Canadian and American virtual assistants. Whether organizations need a dedicated assistant, special project support, or help with occasional tasks, we’re your people. Learn more at www.thevirtualgurus.com | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn

About Western Economic Diversification Canada

For more than 30 years, Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) has been working to diversify the western economy while improving the quality of life of western Canadians. It has a mandate to build a strong, competitive West by focusing on business development, innovation, and community development, as well as advocating on behalf of Westerners by representing the western perspective in national programs, policies, and projects.

March 26, 2021
Tips & Tricks for VAs: Managing your time & work-life balance

Spring has sprung! …and distractions abound…

With the coziness (and cold) of winter gone, our bodies are aching for movement, more Vitamin D, and fresh air; this can make time management hard. But, thanks to the beauty of #VAlife – we CAN get our work done and maximize our ‘me time’!

Here are some tips and tricks to help you perfect your version of #worklifebalance:

Write Everything Down

There is nothing worse than remembering something just before the deadline. If you’re a visual person and obsessed with stationery and office supplies 🙋‍♀️  write it down in your favourite notebook. Tech-savvy? Use a project management software like Teamwork where you can create thousands of tasks with deadlines and reminders.

Get the Ugly Task Done First

Every once and a while, you get a task that you just don’t want to do. Instead of having it follow you around the house and into your #metime, attack it head-on and get it off your to-do list. And, once you start it, it may not be as bad as you had thought it’d be.

Get Outside!

You may be one of the lucky few who has little to no snow left on the ground. If you’ve got a patio or backyard and a long enough extension cord, sit outside for a task or seven! Or, simply take your next coffee/water break outside #babysteps. A change of scenery can do wonders for your creative juices!

Set Boundaries

Navigating #covid and working from home can be a lot! Remember to set boundaries for yourself, especially when it comes to work. Have you ever looked up from your computer and the sun’s disappeared? It is okay to take breaks, step away and even decide to get back at it tomorrow.

If you’re toying with the idea of becoming a Virtual Assistant, learn why being a VA could be for you here.

March 19, 2021
How to host your next virtual event like a boss

Virtual events have always been a convenient way to bring people together.

Now more than ever, you don’t have to worry about coordinating venues, traveling and other associated costs. However, shifting from face-to-face events with plenty of networking and engagement opportunities to a digital space is much easier said than done. Online events require even more creativity to keep people engaged and have a lasting impact.

Here are six things to keep in mind when planning your next virtual event:

Create an event website

To grab the attention of your audience, an eye-catching website will kick-start your event promotion and entice your prospective attendees to register. It is the key to getting the attention of your audience and providing them with the information that they need to attend your event. Be sure to communicate the purpose of the event, time and date(s), an agenda, and speakers list. Whether your event is for networking or educational purposes, you will need to ensure you are dedicating time to attract prospective attendees.

Keep registration as easy as possible

Using an all-in-one event registration platform such as Eventbrite or Showpass is a critical way to keep track of event attendance and collect important information about your guests. Consider including optional fields as long registration forms may lead to frustration, with your attendee exiting the page before completing the form. Be sure to. Also be sure to optimize your registration page for mobile devices and find a platform that automatically sends a calendar invite after registration is complete.

Communicate how to attend the event in advance

Inform your guests ahead of time if they need to download an app to join the event and provide them with a password in the confirmation email or calendar invite, if required. Encourage them to complete their online profile in advance so they can make the most use of their time to connect with others during the event itself.

Get attendees involved

If you have a large audience and they are not expected to contribute to the event, consider using one-way webcasting. However if  your event will have two-way communication consider using question and answer capabilities, real-time polls and/or survey and online discussion boards available. Schedule time for feedback and discussion after each session so your attendees can engage with the speakers as well.

Think outside the box

If you normally cater your event and your budget allows, consider delivering food to each guest. For additional impact, you can also deliver branded swag items such as hats, pens or stickers. Encourage your attendees to take a selfie and post a pic using the event hashtag. During the break, keep your guests engaged with virtual games and live entertainment. Even though it’s virtual, you can still book a musician, a comedian or a DJ.

Watch the time

One way to combat screen fatigue is to keep your event 90 minutes or less. Be mindful of your attendees’ time. It’s better to end on a high note and leave with your guests looking forward to your next virtual event.

March 12, 2021
Celebrating International Women’s Day at Virtual Gurus

Read below for short interviews with a few of our team members

At Virtual Gurus, we’re proud to celebrate the fact that 95% of our virtual assistants are female and our C-Suite is led by two powerful females: Bobbie Racette, our Founder & CEO and Margaret Glover-Campbell, our COO. In recognition of International Women’s Day held earlier this week, we’d like to introduce you to a few other inspirational team members who work behind the scenes. We spoke with Jade Stevens, one of our talented Web and Design Gurus; Mary Eagle Speaker, our new Virtual Success Partner and Jenine Angell, one of our personable Sales Managers about their experience working with Virtual Gurus.

Jade Stevens, Web and Design Manager

How did you begin your career with Virtual Gurus?

I was brought onto Virtual Gurus by a previous account manager to work on websites, primarily. I was excited by the opportunity to work with a wide variety of clients and be a part of an exciting, growing company. I feel like I’m part of something special.

What do you love about working with Virtual Gurus?

I love the clients that I’ve been blessed to work with and that I set my own schedule (have been since 2012 so this was a nice addition to my lifestyle).

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

International Women’s Day is a reminder to honour all who’ve come before me and worked hard to ensure gender equality. I love the message of “choose to challenge” to create a more alert world (via the IWD website).

Mary Eagle Speaker, Virtual Success Partner & Assistant

How did you begin your career with Virtual Gurus?

My goal has always been to support other Indigenous people and organizations. So when I decided to become a VA eight years ago, I could only hope that my expertise would be in demand. This has proven to be true and now I get to work with many Indigenous and non-Indigenous companies alike.

What do you love about working with Virtual Gurus?

Working with the Virtual Guru’s team truly has been an extremely rewarding experience! Knowing that my skills are valued and appreciated has brought me so much joy and confidence. I can honestly say that becoming an Indigenous Virtual Assistant has been the best career move I ever made!

Jenine Angell, Sales Manager

What do you love about working with Virtual Gurus?

We are a team first! I love supporting a team of dedicated individuals that sincerely want to help underrepresented individuals feel part of a community of success. There is such a joy in being a part of a team that seriously wants us ALL to succeed. Don’t get me wrong, we all want to kick butt but we do it in a way that inspires and encourages one another. That’s a train I want to be on!!

Why did you choose sales as a career?

I’ve been in sales my whole career, whether it’s leading a team or being an individual contributor. Selling is about helping. By helping individuals or businesses succeed I feel like I’m focused on the bigger picture – the brighter future and supporting people in a way that aligns with my values. DO good. BE good.  

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

I think EVERYDAY women should celebrate who we are as women and what we bring to the table with our unique lens, insight and perspective.  To have a day designated to women is somewhat like your birthday… It’s great to have the accolades and love in a moment but how do we move to know that the dynamic women in this world shouldn’t need to face barriers to have a voice, a vote, or have control of their lives and worlds.  We’ve got it and it needs to be part of our everyday… Let it shine!

March 5, 2021
Virtual Gurus vs. askBetty: Two powerful tools to achieve more with less effort

Virtual Gurus and askBetty powered by Virtual Gurus are two powerful tools that will help you to achieve more for your business, with less effort. Outsource projects and tasks you don’t have time for to a team of virtual assistant professionals that understand your business and specialize in the skills you need to get your task list done efficiently. So – what is Virtual Gurus? askBetty? And, how can they help your business to succeed?

Virtual Gurus

Virtual Gurus is a Calgary-based business operating across Canada and the United States, that matches virtual assistants with niche skills to clients who need support in those areas. Oftentimes, the clients we work with are looking for specialized support but don’t have the resources to hire in-house, salaried staff. They are looking for cost-effective solutions to traditional staffing. Our monthly subscription model allows you to select the number of hours you need to outsource your tasks – which means that you’re only paying for the time that you’re virtual assistant is working for you.

Our Virtual Gurus Marketplace matches you to your perfect, dedicated North American virtual assistant. Select your new, remote team member based on the skills you need, the time commitment you require, and availability. Our in-house team will help you to adjust your remote team and requirements as needed, and as your business grows. By having your very own dedicated virtual assistant, they will quickly get to know you and your business and become a true addition to your team – whatever may be the size of your business.

askBetty

askBetty is powered by Virtual Gurus and an extension of the virtual assistant services we provide. Sometimes having a dedicated virtual assistant on a monthly subscription basis might not make sense for your business – we get it. Each business is unique and has its own needs that change regularly. But, what if you still wanted to outsource your tasks and get items ticked off your to-do list but didn’t want the monthly commitment? That’s where askBetty comes in!

askBetty connects you to on-demand, live virtual assistants to help with those itty-bitty tasks. Need help proofreading a document going out to an important client? Need a second set of eyes on your social media posts for the week? Need someone to transcribe those meeting minutes and send them out to your team? Could use some help booking corporate travel for your next business meeting? Want help researching a caterer for your next virtual staff party? askBetty can help you with all of these and so much more!

Connect with our team today to learn which solution is best for you and your business. We are thrilled to help our clients to grow and scale their businesses with our Virtual Gurus and askBetty virtual assistants and can’t wait to speak with you soon.

February 26, 2021
Bobbie Racette of Virtual Gurus named Business Changemaker for 2021.

Bobbie Racette of Virtual Gurus and askBetty to receive the Report on Business Changemakers award from The Globe and Mail.

We are pleased to announce that our CEO and founder, Bobbie Racette has been selected as a recipient of the 2021 Report on Business Changemakers award.  

Changemakers is a new editorial award program produced by The Globe and Mail’s Report on Business magazine. As one of the 50 recipients, Bobbie was recognized as an emerging leader transforming the business landscape.

“I’m honoured to be recognized as one of Canada’s 50 Business Changemakers. I’m proud to be leading a talent marketplace that focuses on diversity and inclusion and gives people the opportunity to work remotely.”

Winners were selected by The Globe and Mail’s award-winning editorial team based on the candidates’ ideas, accomplishments, and impact. The nominations are then evaluated by subsequent interviews and supported by reference checks.  

“As the Canadian economy recovers from the pandemic, many people are seeking ways to make business more sustainable, inclusive, innovative and fair,” says James Cowan, Editor of Report on Business magazine.” The 50 Changemakers on our inaugural list serve as inspiration and instruction for any business leader seeking to effect meaningful change.”  

Editorial coverage of all 2021 Changemakers can be found in the March 2021 issue of the Report on Business Magazine, distributed with The Globe and Mail on Saturday, February 27th, now available online.  

About the Globe and Mail  

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s foremost news media company, leading the national discussion and causing policy change through brave and independent journalism since 1844. With our award-winning coverage of business, politics, and national affairs, The Globe and Mail newspaper reaches 5.9 million readers every week in our print or digital formats, and Report on Business magazine reaches 2.1 million readers in print and digital every issue. Our investment in innovative data science means that as the world continues to change, so does The Globe. The Globe and Mail is owned by Woodbridge, the investment arm of the Thomson family.  

About Virtual Gurus

Virtual Gurus is a talent marketplace that matches organizations with highly skilled onshore virtual assistants. Whether your organization needs a dedicated assistant, special project support, or help with occasional tasks, Virtual Gurus has you covered.
Thevirtualgurus.com | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn

About askBetty

askBetty leverages human virtual assistants through an easy-to-use Slack app. Betty will help you achieve more with less effort, directly from Slack. Just type “Hey Betty” and she’ll get to work immediately.

February 19, 2021
Prepare to have a stress-free tax season

Bookkeeping and Accounting Expertise

Preparing for the upcoming tax season can be an overwhelming and difficult task. Our virtual assistants have a thorough understanding of various accounting practices and are well-versed with bookkeeping best practices and the majority of bookkeeping software to help save you money and time.  

Free Up Your Time

Whether you’re a business owner or a busy entrepreneur, time is valuable. Scrambling for statements, sorting through receipts, and reconciling monthly expense reports (on top of the countless other items that require your constant attention) when you have a business to run!

Save Money

Hiring an in-house, salaried accounting assistant or bookkeeper can be costly and inefficient, especially when there is a lot of downtime outside of tax season. Our virtual assistant services are conveniently packaged in monthly subscription bundles. This means you’re only paying for the time required for your accounting and/or bookkeeping needs. That’s it.

Allocate Your Limited Resources Efficiently

Limited resources are often a struggle for small businesses. Hiring a virtual assistant to focus solely on your accounting and bookkeeping needs can help relieve this imbalance and get you ready for tax season in a flash. After all, who doesn’t enjoy saving money, optimizing ROIs, and balancing their books?


Virtual Gurus is a one-stop-shop for virtual assistance. Connect to your perfect match through our marketplace today.

February 12, 2021
So you want to be a virtual assistant?

Go from a brand new Virtual Assistant to fully booked in no time with these 4 Steps

In 2021 our environments have changed. Employment opportunities have shifted. Businesses have pivoted to being primarily remote at an all-time high. Not only are people struggling with learning technology, but also with hiring good remote talent.

Some positions in the workforce have become memories while others are booming. It can be scary starting something new.

It’s no surprise that Virtual Assistants are in high demand and now is a great time to pivot into a secure source of income that you can do right from home. All you need is a computer, a skill, the ability to communicate well with people, and an eagerness to learn.

So how do you do it? How can you get paid sustainable work quickly?

Here are 4 steps that will get you started with clients faster than you probably expect.

  • Assess your skills
  • Start right away
  • Find a thriving community of support
  • Learn more from a proven mentor

Write down all the things you know you could do for people remotely today

Then from that list circle the things that give you energy. Things you feel like you know well, and you actually like doing.

Before becoming a Virtual Assistant, I went from driving a meat and deli truck to a Cosmetician almost overnight. As someone who went from warehouses to highways, and then to bed using my pillow as my makeup remover, and shampoo to wash my face, it was quite intimidating.

As I walked the aisles of thousands of skincare and makeup brands I began wondering if I would ever be able to help customers navigate through the brands and choose the right products for their needs.

My Cosmetic Manager Leigh Anne said to me, “Karen, take a look at this list of all the luxury and dermatological brands we carry. Please start by choosing 3 brands. Use them, study them, get to know them inside and out. Once you have a full 3-month experience and knowledge, you can move to another group. You will find big similarities. It will be easier to learn.” She was right. I was one of the top cosmeticians within a year and had many clients requesting consultations daily. I knew each and every brand inside and out which also fuelled my confidence on the sales floor.

Starting with 3-5 things and doing them well will set you up for success and allow the room and space needed to grow and adapt to your new position. You know you learn and adapt well, but establishing your anchor of expertise will also establish a level of trust and credibility with your clients, and quite frankly yourself.

Get started right away

You will get better with practice. It’s something that has to be done. There will always be a first client. You might feel a little uncertain, but just dive in.

In the book “The Talent Code” Daniel Coyle speaks of “the sweet spot” which in paraphrasing means learning by doing, learning and correcting, and learning and doing all over again – in that sequence. This was the road to becoming great at what you do. The art of deep practice.

Find a thriving community of support

Applying to work with a well-established agency like the Virtual Gurus will help you more than trying to get hired on your own. You will have support and mentorship with others just like you.

You are still working for yourself, choosing your own hours, but you will be paired with clients looking for those powerful 3-5 skills that you have indicated. Moreover, there are things like promoting yourself and invoicing that automatically come off your plate freeing up more time to learn and grow more into your new position.

Learn deeper in one of your core interests from a proven mentor

I got my first job when I was 15. It was at Dairy Queen. My manager Gail was in charge of training staff. She had been in the family business since she was 4 and at the time I was hired she was in her early 20s. If there was anyone that knew the ins and outs, and upside downs that this job could bring it was her.

The first thing we had to do is the special DQ shape and ‘D’ on the top of each cone and sundae. She not only taught us what to do, but she also made us dive right in and practice with a bucket beside us until we had it mastered. She also went over what not to do; how to properly serve customers, mistakes and difficult experiences she had along the way, and her resolutions.

I learned a lot from that job, and at a very young age, I became a confident team leader because I was given guidance from a mentor that could teach from all angle points.

The Virtual Gurus Academy offers courses for Virtual Assistants to hone their skills and gain experience from a Virtual Assistant’s point of view.

Sure, you can search for tutorials on YouTube and get a condensed version of learning new skills in the virtual space, however, it is usually taught from one point of view, and most of the time you have to piece together and search for hours to get a process.

With Virtual Gurus, you can start broadening your skillset with a variety of courses tailored to and created by Virtual Assistants.

Check out the Virtual Gurus Academy here and begin your career as a Virtual Assistant today.

Take a closer look at what it means to be a VA. Read more on A Typical Workday in the Life of a Virtual Assistant.

January 29, 2021
askBetty helps you tackle your to-do list in Slack

Without a doubt, 2020 was a problematic year full of challenges. As the pandemic continues to force many professionals to work from home, folx are juggling multiple tasks in work and life.

Wish you had a personal assistant to handle those mundane little tasks that add up? Just want to get stuff done?

We’re excited to officially launch askBetty, our Slack App powered by Virtual Gurus that gives you instant access to a live virtual assistant.

Why askBetty and who is she?

askBetty helps you delegate your to-do list, all on Slack. Simply type “Hey Betty” into the Slack app and you’re instantly connected with a personal assistant who can complete admin or concierge-type tasks throughout your workday.

Reimagine your to-do list

Betty can easily tackle bite-sized concierge or administrative type tasks, enabling you to focus on other high priority tasks. Have you ever felt overwhelmed by your to-do list and you just don’t know what to tackle next? This is when askBetty will come in handy. Regardless if you are scrambling to find a last-minute birthday gift, or need help formatting an ugly Word document, Betty will have your back.

What can Betty do for you?

Through a tailored one-to-one conversation, Slack users can ask Betty to handle a wide variety of tasks for them. Here are some examples:

Audio transcription

When you think of mundane tasks, audio transcription might just come to mind. Simply say “Hey Betty” in your Slack app, upload the audio file and it will be transcribed by one of our assistants in whichever format you request. Want to add your logo? No problem! Need to highlight action items for each speaker? Sure thing.  

Proofreader

Whether you’re part of an agency or a freelancer on a mission to optimize your digital presence, we all can appreciate the second set of eyes to ensure the content is accurate and engaging.

The life of a content creator is fast and furious with multiple deadlines coming down the pipeline and it is easy to glaze over and make mistakes. Get Betty and her team of savvy VAs to proofread your next post, allowing you to spend more time on those tasks that require creativity and inspiration.

Get sh*t done today

Ready to delegate your to-do list in Slack? Here’s how to get started:

  1. Add the askBetty Slack App
  2. Open the app to create an account
  3. Use promo code 4FREE-BETA for four free tasks on us!

Learn more at: www.askbetty.io

– – –
Read the askBetty press release here.

January 22, 2021
Transformation Thursday with Native Women Lead: Growing and scaling a multi-million dollar venture in tech

Native Women Lead recently hosted Virtual Gurus’ founder and CEO Bobbie Racette to kick off its 2021 Transformation Thursday Retreats. This retreat’s topic was “Growing and Scaling a Multi-Million Dollar Venture in Tech & Workforce Development” and Bobbie shared her personal story, as well as some advice for first-time entrepreneurs interested in creating tech companies. The following blog post was transcribed, reformatted and edited by askBetty, Virtual Gurus’ new Slack app that gives users instant access to a live personal assistant.

Oh hi there! I’m Bobbie, the founder and CEO of Virtual Gurus. I’m a Cree-Metis woman from Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. Before starting Virtual Gurus, I worked for other people as a Sales Director, and in the oil and gas industry as a Rescue Technician.

Growing up…

I came from a nontraditional family. My mom Lorna, raised my brother and I, with my other mom – the love of her life. We were raised in an LGBTQ family in the late 70s. My mom is from a reserve outside of Regina, Saskatchewan but she really wanted to go to the city and raise us in a way that we were able to take care of ourselves and learn what we needed to learn. She struggled to find work herself so she became an entrepreneur. She was actually the first female Indigenous house builder in Saskatchewan! She was such a hard worker and I think that’s where my brother and I get our work ethic from.

I have struggled with a skin disease called polymorphous light eruption so I couldn’t go out into the sun at all without protecting my skin. I didn’t go to school from grade two until grade 9. I became kind of a recluse and was really shy. I couldn’t talk to people and I struggled with public speaking.

Overcoming fear and rising to success

I knew that in order for me to move forward with Virtual Gurus and to scale the company, I had to get over that fear. One of the most important things about being a business owner is that you have to hit fear head on, and not be afraid of what’s going to happen because really, you’re your own worst critic.

Using my experience as motivation to build Virtual Gurus

At Virtual Gurus, we don’t just provide virtual services, we focus on making a social impact. I’m a marginalized folk, and I’ve always struggled with finding work so it was very important to me to be able to provide work for other marginalized folx. Many of our contractors are Indigenous, people that immigrated to Canada; part of the LGBTQ community, people who are transitioning genders, single stay-at-home moms who are trying to make ends meet, or students who are trying to put food on the table while they’re trying to learn. We have expanded our platform to provide work to those people.

Here are key takeaways for folx interested in starting a business:

  1. Leverage community support.

It’s important to leverage your community support systems. Some great examples are Native Women Lead, your local startup community, and local accelerators. These communities and startup programs helped me more than anything. I started traveling a lot and leveraged opportunities to get myself out there. Now you can imagine being somebody who is deathly afraid of public speaking having to do that! It was a bit scary but I realized that if I wanted to move Virtual Gurus forward, I really had no choice. I needed to put myself out there.

  1. Bootstrap your business as long as possible

When I started Virtual Gurus, I literally had $300 in my pocket, and the “Bank of Mom” was running out. I didn’t have money to pay my rent and I was borderline homeless. I was in a really vulnerable situation. I realized that my choices were to go for it or not.

So, I went from $300 to $1.3 Million and I did that without raising a round of investment capital. I bootstrapped the company and lived off of the capital that Virtual Gurus was bringing in to keep building the company. I did not pay myself a salary until the second period and that salary was just enough to get by and pay my rent. I worked in a coffee shop part time just to help offset my personal expenses.

Eventually I started focusing on reinvesting all the money Virtual Gurus was bringing back into the business. I only recently started paying myself what I now call a liveable salary.

I wanted to raise the valuation of Virtual Gurus as much as I could on my own before I raised a funding round. I was able to close $1.25 Million for my first funding round from our lead investor, Raven Indigenious Capital Partners. We are using that money to scale the company this year. We went from six employees at the beginning of 2020 to 20 full-time salaried employees at the start of 2021.

  1. Build relationships

One of the other things about building businesses that is super important is obviously relationship building; it is one of the hardest things I struggled with.

When you are raising your funding round, you need to stand up in front of somebody and pitch your company. You have a pitch deck and you need to pitch them on why they should give you a million dollars (or more). It is one of the hardest things to do. I pitched over 170 times last year and every single one of the investors said, “No”. I had two choices. It was either to let it beat me down and let Virtual Gurus fail or let it pick me up and understand that these are things that I need to get better at.

I realized I was approaching the wrong investors. I shifted my mindset on what Virtual Gurus really was, which is a social impact company. And I started pitching to impact funds, which is when everything finally came to fruition. We ended up closing the funding round at $1.25 million all because of building relationships with the right investors. So, it is very important to make sure that you are building relationships with the right people.

  1. Discover your North Star

Our North Star is our people. It’s important to know your reason, your why. If you don’t know your reason, then you’re probably starting a business for the wrong reasons. The Virtual Gurus operations team has grown from six to 20 staff in the past 12 months. We are a fun group of people that laugh and bring our dogs to work. We’re definitely a diverse bunch. One of the most important things is making sure that your staff understand your vision, where your values are, and what your mission or North Star is.

I’ll close with my main motto which is: be bold, be brave, be you. I encourage all of you to follow this too.

January 15, 2021
Find your perfect virtual assistant through the Virtual Gurus' Talentplace

If you’re struggling to keep up with your daily business tasks, increasing customer demand, and fast-changing growth, look no further for specialized business support. Leverage Virtual Gurus’ talent Marketplace or as we like to think of it, a talentplace, brimming with freelance professionals with years of experience and expert knowledge in specialized fields, looking for their perfect client match — could it be you?

What is the Virtual Gurus’ Talent Marketplace?

Our Marketplace is a talentplace where clients across North America are matched to talented freelance professionals (virtual assistants) onshore, right here in Canada and the United States. The Marketplace place serves as an extensive database of professionally-trained and experienced individuals who are available for outsourcing tasks and projects on a monthly subscription basis. This means that you can leverage talent-as-a service for your business needs and have direct access to marketers, bookkeepers, social media managers, web and graphic designers, administrators, and more all on the same monthly package.

How Can I Utilize This Service for my Business?

There are so many ways that our virtual assistants team can help your business to grow and succeed. We specialize in a vast number of services including:

  • General administration
  • Executive administration
  • Social media management
  • Accounting and bookkeeping
  • Web development
  • Graphic design
  • Digital marketing
  • Customer service
  • Real estate administration
  • Video and podcast editing
  • Blogging and copywriting
  • And so much more!

With hundreds of assistants accessible through our Marketplace, you can be sure to find one that meets your unique needs. Having a monthly plan with us helps to control your monthly budget – you are only paying for the time that your virtual assistant works for you (with packages starting at 10 hours a month), no need to worry about full-time salaries and overtime anymore!

Read more on how to find your perfect virtual assistant through the talent Marketplace.

Find Me My Perfect Match!

Want to increase your business efficiencies, free-up your valuable time, and in need of cost-efficient solutions to support your business needs? Let us help you today and find your perfect virtual assistant match. Get in touch with us here. Your perfect match from our talentplace is waiting for you!

January 8, 2021
How to prepare your business to hire a virtual assistant

2021 is your perfect year to grow and expand your business. One way to grow your business is to hire a virtual assistant. While virtual assistants can help you manage time, you need to spend a bit of time upfront to onboard them and set them (and yourself) up for success.  

Here are four questions to ask yourself before bringing a virtual assistant onboard:

1.  What do I want to outsource?

As an entrepreneur, a startup or a small business there may be many tasks that you need done but your limited time and resources will not allow you to get it done yourself or hire full-time staff. That’s where hiring a virtual assistant comes in! Knowing which tasks to hand over to your virtual assistant can make a big difference in the success that you experience. This may appear challenging at first, but in consultation with your team, you can decide if you want an expert in a couple key areas or you want a jack of all trades. Deciding on what you want to outsource early in the game will keep your assistant engaged and you will experience great results.  Here are a few key areas to consider:

·         Personal and administrative tasks

·         Marketing and social media

·         Web design, development and maintenance

·         Customer service

·         Content creation

·         Research on your competitors, vendors and consumers

·         Sales and prospecting

·         One-time project(s)

2.  What are my expectations?

A good virtual assistant wants to be able to meet your needs in a timely manner, in the way that you would like. After deciding which tasks you want to outsource, make sure that you are clear on the priority areas. Determine which tasks are urgent so that you can share the big picture for your business along with the level of urgency and timelines for various tasks. If you require quick turnaround for some tasks, or will have peak periods where you expect your remote assistant to answer phone calls or respond to emails at short notice, communicate this. Determine which tasks will be assigned daily, weekly or monthly, how these tasks should be done, and the frequency for reporting. Set timelines for providing feedback so that projects/tasks can be completed in a timely manner.

3.  Which methods of communication are best for me?

Now that you have organized all the tasks that you want to get started with, create a clear line of communication in order to benefit from a smoother partnership with your virtual assistant. Your virtual assistant will have many tools at their disposal for communicating with you but not all of these tools may work for you. Decide on your preferred form of communication, along with your work hours, your availability to respond to emails, attend meetings or take phone calls. Are there other people on your team that should be included in all, or some communications? Decide on who these people are and make them aware so that they are not caught off guard by an email from your virtual assistant.

4.  What resources will the virtual assistant need access to?

You may already have some tools and resources that the virtual assistant will need to use. Create a list of these resources with relevant login details, as necessary, and assign a contact person should the virtual assistant need help with getting started with any of the tools. Along with the various tools and resources you may also need to provide standard operating procedures for using them. These instructions will eliminate frequent emails seeking clarification. If you know what you want to get done but do not have the tools, fret not – your virtual assistant will be able to make recommendations.    

As with any new hire, the preparatory work is inevitable. But getting this part done will set you up for success in working with a virtual assistant. Once you establish tasks, expectations, communications processes, and resource needs you will be on your way to experiencing the growth that you desire for your business.

December 18, 2020
Why 2021 is your year to become a virtual assistant

Let’s face it, 2020 was an unusual year. It has altered life as we know it for not only many Canadians and Americans but for people all around the world. My name is Laura and I’m a virtual assistant here at Virtual Gurus, specializing in marketing, social media management, blog creation and so much more. I am going to tell you why this is the year you should embrace the changes that have been thrown at us and start that side hustle you’ve been dreaming of.

1.     More Time

First and foremost, many of us have more free time at home than pre-pandemic. I think we can all agree that we’ve been inundated with pockets of time here and there that we wouldn’t once have had. Our weeknights and weekends aren’t as busy as they once were. We aren’t traveling like we used to. We’re ordering groceries online and using delivery services. And many of us are working remotely and no longer commuting – even that is a huge chunk of time that we’ve been given back. That’s why this is a great time to grab the reins and take advantage of this gifted time. Why not use this time to earn some extra income? It’s a win/win!

2.     Flexible Income

This is a factor that we don’t like to face, but if we’re being honest 2020 has shown us that at any second life can change drastically. Businesses have had to close their doors – some temporary and some permanently. This is why it’s beneficial to have multiple streams of income. Getting into the virtual assistance world gives you a flexible back-up plan and another source of income. You can always start small, just a few hours here and there. However, there’s ample virtual assistance work out there and if you ever find yourself in a bind, you can increase your hours or add additional clients. It really is the most flexible side hustle.  

3.     Work Anywhere

Have you ever wanted to move to a tropical island but still maintain your career? Me too. As a virtual assistant, you can work almost anywhere as our work is 100% remote and client meetings happen virtually. Flexibility with location is an added benefit to those that may not always want to be stuck in one place. You have the freedom to roam!  Even if it’s only from your bedroom to your living room until this pandemic is over.

4.     It’s Fun!

Becoming a virtual assistant is not only a wonderful way to channel your creativity but a great way to develop a new skill set. You get to meet people from all over the world and make meaningful, lasting connections. You get to choose what inspires you – do you want to create graphics? Do you want to offer administrative support? Do you want to write blog posts? You get to pick your niche and run with it. There is such a realm of diversity when it comes to providing virtual assistance to businesses across Canada and the United States.

I hope this article has inspired and encouraged you to look into the many benefits of becoming a virtual assistant. This job can be done virtually anywhere, is a great way to utilize spare time, gets your creative juices flowing and provides you with multiple sources of income. What’s holding you back!?


Ready to become a Virtual Assistant?


Explore the Virtual Gurus Academy for courses on How to Become an Assistant.

Read more on 5 Virtual Assistant Courses Every VA Needs to Take.

December 11, 2020
How a virtual assistant can help your business in 2021

With 2021 just around the corner, it’s time to reflect on the OH so crazy 2020 we all had and how we can improve in the new year. When you think about your business in the new year, what goals have you set for yourself and your business? Do you want to become more organized and efficient? Do you want to see your business grow and scale? Do you want to ramp up your social media game? Whatever your goals for your business may be, Virtual Gurus is here to help you achieve them. Here’s how our team of virtual assistants can help your business in 2021.

Executive Assistance

Managing and growing a business is tough, especially when your day is consumed with administrative tasks. Increase your productivity and upgrade your business with one of our executive virtual assistants.

Executive virtual assistants can help with:

  • Email management
  • Calendar management
  • Scheduling and attending meetings (via Skype, Zoom, Google Hangouts)
  • Taking and distributing meeting minutes
  • Travel arrangements
  • Event planning
  • Personal banking
  • Client facing communication
  • Creating Excel sheets & PowerPoint presentations
  • Copywriting

Data Entry

The world is becoming ever-increasingly dependent on digital technology. Record keeping, the need for consistent, accurate and dependable data entry has become obvious. If you’ve ever run a business from the ground up you will know how time and energy consuming it can be. The last thing a business owner needs to be investing their time in are the mundane tasks that don’t grow their business. Why not hand it off to your dependable virtual assistant who can likely do the task faster than you can. Why not focus on the growth of your company instead?

Email Management

If you looked at your email inbox right now, how many unread emails would you see? If you’re like most people it is likely a number that might make you blush. Then there is the matter of actually finding the emails you need NOW. The email vortex has taken more than one business leader to the edge of insanity and what makes it more frustrating is that it is all so unnecessary. By hiring a talented Canadian-based virtual assistant to solve your email vortex, your mind can be free to focus on more important matters.

Calendar Management

Have you ever been on the receiving end of a double-booked calendar? If yes, then you know how frustrating it can be from the client/customer side to take time out of your day for an appointment only to have it not be there waiting for you at the scheduled time. And it is worse if you have had to travel for the appointment, isn’t it? If booking appointments is a big part of your business you can’t afford to risk these double bookings and a lack of time buffers that can potentially upset a prospect or client. Your remote worker can ensure that your calendar never causes wires to get crossed and your prospects, customers and clients stay happy.

Sales & Marketing

All businesses need to market, period. Without marketing, nobody can ever learn about how their world can benefit from working with your business. However the marketing landscape continues to change at speeds that are hard to keep up with which can easily drain hours from your day. Let your Canadian-based virtual assistant (VA) take on the tasks to keep an ample flow of leads and sales flowing into your business while you are doing the operations that only you can do. With CRM management your Virtual Assistant will ensure familiarity with managing your business’ CRM’s based on your specific business needs and what you are currently using for software.

Marketing virtual assistants can help with:

  • Lead generation
  • Lead management
  • Lead follow up
  • Lead nurturing
  • Email Marketing (VG’s will ensure familiarity with email marketing
  • based on client specific needs and what the client is currently using for software eg MailChimp)
  • Monitoring engagement, analytics
  • Content development/content marketing
  • Proposal development (Powerpoint, InDesign, Word)
  • Copywriting/editing content
  • Prospecting
  • Scheduling meetings
  • Email management
  • Designing marketing materials (print, web sales support collateral)

Social Media

These days if you don’t have a social media presence, it can be as if you (and/or your company) doesn’t even exist. It’s become one of the first ways prospects can learn about your company and engage with it as well. If social media isn’t your ‘thing,’ it quickly becomes a daunting and unenjoyable task. This is where the Virtual Gurus come in. Our Canadian-based virtual assistants LOVE social media and would be happy to handle your online social media presence.

Social media virtual assistants can help with:

  • Managing accounts across multiple platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest, etc)
  • Creating content
  • Deploying content through management software (Canva, Hootsuite etc)
  • Adjusting content based on analytics
  • Engaging with users as required
  • Improving engagement
  • Conducting industry/competitive research as required
  • Posting paid social media ads
  • Monitoring analytics and metrics
  • Designing ad content

By having one of our virtual assistant experts take care of your business needs, you’ll have more time and energy to invest into the vision and mission of your company in 2021! Let’s make 2021 a year of efficiency, success, growth, and achieve YOUR goals together!

November 27, 2020
3 Ways a Virtual Assistant Can Save Your Business Money

Are you a business who is looking for new ways to cut down on costs? Virtual assistants are cost-effective solutions to traditional in-house employees. Our short and sweet blog post today gives you 3 ways a virtual assistant can save your business money.

Pay Only For the Time that You Use

Pay for only the time that you actually need with a virtual assistant. At Virtual Gurus, our virtual assistant services come in convenient and economical packages starting at only 10 hours a month. This means that if you’re only looking for a bit of support, you’re not overspending on an in-house salaried employee. Speak to one of our team members to figure out which package is best suited for your business needs.

No Need to Pay for Benefits and Vacation Time

With salaried employees or part-time staff on your payroll, you’re oftentimes also spending on their benefits packages and vacation time. This is not the case with a virtual assistant who is a freelancer assigned to you. They are in charge of their own benefits and take care of it themselves. When they take vacation time it is at no additional cost to you. In many situations, our virtual assistants also like to travel while they are working which allows for them to work as a digital nomad from all corners of the globe!

Save on Office Costs

With more and more teams switching to remote platforms, the need for a traditional bricks and mortar office space is slowly becoming more obsolete. Freelancers are set up in their own home offices with their own tech, equipment, and supplies. This means that you save money on a monthly lease and all the additional expenses that come with operating from an office building. No need to worry about ordering office supplies, getting the printer repairman in, or paying for that hefty lease anymore!

Are you looking to work with a virtual assistant but want to learn more? Contact us today to let us know what your unique needs are and we’ll find you your perfect match! It’s as easy as that.

November 20, 2020
5 Reasons To Become a Virtual Assistant

Have you been considering becoming a virtual assistant for a while now, but aren’t sure if you should take the plunge? There are SO many reasons to become a virtual assistant, that it would be impossible to list them all in this post. From more flexibility in your day-to-day life, to having more control over your future and freedom, to earning a supplemental income — there is bound to be at least one reason that aligns with your goals and motivations. Here are our top 5 reasons to become a virtual assistant.

Be your own boss

In a time like now, there is so much uncertainty with employment and the future of the job market. Offices are shutting down, workplaces are shifting to remote workspaces, businesses are downsizing and trying to cut back on costs wherever possible. Being your own boss means that you never have to worry about leaving your job security and career in the hands of someone else. When you’re your own boss, YOU have the power to control your own destiny and to secure your own future.

Build Upon Your Skill Set

Getting a little bored doing the same routine tasks every day? As a virtual assistant who works with a variety of clients, no two days are ever the same. Each day presents new challenges and projects that might challenge you to work outside of your comfort zone and “regular” skill set. Being a virtual assistant is a fantastic opportunity to dabble in new areas that you would have never had the chance to before, to broaden your skill set, and gives you new opportunities to grow your areas of expertise.

Flexibility

Work when you want, where you want. One of the biggest perks of being a virtual assistant is having flexibility and choice with your work schedule and location. Many of us have a dedicated home office space or area in our homes where we can perform our work in a quiet, distraction-free environment. Others enjoy travelling while working, giving them the chance to explore the world and work at the same time, as a digital nomad. When taking on new clients, you’re able to agree on the hours you will work for them and your weekly or monthly schedule. Having that flexibility can be instrumental for those who live in remote areas and don’t have immediate access to employment, work-from-home parents, and those looking for more options to match their lifestyles and work-life-balance needs.

Work with a variety of clients

One of the most exciting aspects of being a virtual assistant is the opportunity to work with a wide variety of clients. Clients can be located across Canada and the United States, and can come from a range of backgrounds and industries. This is a great way to experience work in different industries, with different cultures, with different communication styles, and is a fantastic opportunity to build your professional network.

Earn Supplemental Income

Do you already have a full-time or part-time job and are looking for a way to supplement your income? Are you a stay-at-home parent who would like to fill your child’s nap time hours with a few hours of work? Are you retired and looking for something to do with some of your spare time? Whatever your reason may be, being a virtual assistant allows you to earn supplemental income. Whether you want to side hustle for only 10 hours a week or just on weekends, this is a great opportunity to set aside some additional income.

There are hundreds of reasons why becoming a virtual assistant may be one of the best choices you’ve ever made. Our 5 reasons only comprise a small fraction of the long list of reasons. Have you been considering making this career move for a while now and want to learn more about becoming a virtual assistant with Virtual Gurus? Click here to learn more about what we do and how you can be involved.

November 13, 2020
5 Signs You Need to Hire a Virtual Assistant

With remote work on the rise, more and more businesses are seeking out support from virtual assistants. Virtual assistants increase workplace efficiency, free-up your valuable time, and are cost-effective solutions to in-house employees.

Take a look at these all too common scenarios.

You’re spending way too much time trying to manage all of your social media profiles.

Your email inbox is getting bigger each day.

You’re missing important client requests and big project deadlines.

You keep forgetting about your meetings — both in your business and personal life.

You’re feeling overwhelmed and burnt out.

Do any of these sound like you? Take back control of your life, your business, and bring on a virtual assistant to help you and your team get your business back on the right track. Here are 5 signs you need to hire a virtual assistant.

You Don’t Have the Skills To Complete Certain Tasks

Need a photo for your website edited with Photoshop but don’t know how? Looking to optimize your social media posts to reach a bigger audience but aren’t sure what that takes? Want to start a blog for your business but don’t consider yourself to be a grammar guru? Stop spending time trying to figure things out and start delegating tasks that require niche expertise to a virtual assistant who specializes in those areas. Learning new skills can be wonderful when we have the time for it, but oftentimes as a business owner our time is limited. Work with a virtual assistant to complete these tasks and who can show you the ropes with a few new skills to add to your skill set.

You’re Struggling to Meet Deadlines

Life is busy. And, when you have your own business, life can get completely chaotic. Finding the balance between your business and personal life can be difficult to achieve with so many moving parts constantly at play. Our kids are doing virtual school from home and need constant support, we have calendars full of Zoom meetings between big project deadlines, we need to make sure our social media posts are going out every day, and we’re constantly being bombarded by an overflowing inbox. Get your virtual assistant to take care of the items you simply don’t have time for and get your life and business organized, so that you’re one step ahead for all future deadlines.

You Need Support, But Don’t Want to Hire a Full-Time Employee

One of the biggest reasons why business owners are adamant on doing everything themselves is to keep the costs associated with having full-time employees at a minimum. We get it. We know that having a team of in-house, full-time employees can be costly (paying for vacation time, office supplies, and benefits all add up), which is why virtual assistants are the perfect solution for seeking additional help. We believe in providing cost-effective solutions for outsourced assistance. With a virtual assistant, you only pay for the time that you use. Only need 10 hours of help a month? No problem. We’ve designed our virtual assistant packages to meet the needs, the hours, and the budgets of any size business.

You’re Ready to Scale Your Business

Are things ramping up with your business and you’re ready to scale? Having a virtual assistant there to support you while you grow your business can alleviate a lot of the pressure that comes with scaling. Outsource the tasks you don’t have time for and let your virtual assistant take care of the rest, so that you can focus your attention on the important things.

You’re Using Too Much Of Your Time On Tasks That Don’t Generate Any Revenue

Are you finding yourself working on administrative tasks and not spending enough time on the revenue-generating tasks that require your personal expertise? Coming up with copy for your social media posts, editing photos for marketing promos, managing client enquiries, and taking care of your month-end bookkeeping are all things that take up your valuable time and don’t generate revenue at the end of the day. Use your time more effectively and get a virtual assistant to take care of the administrative side of your business, so that you can focus on your sales.

Do these 5 signs sound all too familiar in your life? Take back control of your time, your business, and bring on a virtual assistant to help you and your team get your business back on the right track. We’ve helped hundreds of clients to prioritize what’s important for their business, get back their valuable time, save on costs, and grow their businesses. Let us match you with the perfect virtual assistant to help your business.

November 6, 2020
How a web-savvy virtual assistant can help your business to succeed

Websites have become the new business cards — the very first impression your business creates for your prospective clients. A website tells your prospective customers what your brand is all about, helps your brand to establish credibility, allows you to reach a wider customer base, and provides a platform to convert prospects to life-long customers. This means that it’s absolutely crucial that your website is well-designed, user-friendly, and up to date. Hiring a web-savvy virtual assistant will ensure that any problems that arise are handled quickly and efficiently, so that your energy can be invested in keeping the vision of the company moving forward. Here’s how a web-savvy virtual assistant can help your business to succeed.

Website Maintenance

There’s nothing worse than a customer visiting your website to find outdated information or components that flat out don’t work. It’s crucial that the information on your website reflects your business’ current offerings and that each element on your website functions the way that it’s meant to. This means that your images load, your videos play, your opt-in forms work, your blog is updated, and that all of your plugins are up to date. By having your own web-savvy virtual assistant to keep on top of maintenance, you can rest-assured that your online presence is intact and doing its job.

Website Design

Getting a custom website designed can be expensive. Virtual assistants who specialize in website design are cost-effective solutions to building your dream website, while keeping costs under control. Our web-savvy virtual assistants are well-equipped and professionally-trained to build beautiful, SEO-optimized websites, custom tailored to your needs. Whether it be integrating an e-commerce platform, setting up a blog page, building in scheduling functions, linking social media platforms, and ensuring that all pages are designed with your users in mind, our virtual assistants have got you covered.

Content Creation

Need help creating original and compelling content for your business’ website? The content on your website should reflect the voice of your brand, be professional, be accurate, and have the ability to captivate your target audience. It’s vital to have content for current customers and future prospects to understand what your company stands for and how your company can benefit them. Our team of web-savvy virtual assistants know how to write creative, fresh, and curated content that appeals to the masses. We know how SEO-driven content works and how to keep your customers engaged.

Having a website is crucial for any business. First impressions count and show your customers that your business is serious about what it does, what your business stands for, and the goals you’re striving to achieve. Build your online presence and give your business another platform to connect with your customer audience with one of our web-savvy virtual assistants.

Need a web-savvy virtual assistant for your business? We’ve got a whole lineup of virtual assistants who specialize website maintenance, design, and content creation, ready to help your business achieve greater visibility and to grow your customer base

October 30, 2020
5 Reasons to Outsource Your Bookkeeping to a Virtual Assistant

Save money, get back your time, and balance your books with a bookkeeping virtual assistant. We provide onshore, vetted, and highly trained bookkeeping assistants. Here are 5 reasons to outsource your bookkeeping to a virtual assistant.

Free Up Your Time

As a business owner, there’s nothing more valuable than your time. If you’ve been spending more time than you should training yourself on the latest bookkeeping software, sorting through receipts, and managing monthly budgets (on top of the countless other items that require your constant attention), then it may be time to seek outside support so that you can take back your time and refocus on what’s most important.

Bookkeeping Expertise

Stop making mistakes with your financial records and keep your books organized with expert help from a bookkeeping specialist. At Virtual Gurus, we hire virtual assistants in general and specialized areas. Our bookkeeping assistants are experienced, specialized assistants who are professionally-trained in bookkeeping and accounting. They have a thorough understanding of various accounting practices and are well-versed with the latest bookkeeping software. This means that you can have peace of mind knowing that you’ve outsourced your business’ books to the pros.

Save Money

Saving money is one of the most important reasons why you should outsource your bookkeeping to a virtual assistant. Having an in-house, salaried bookkeeper can be costly and inefficient, especially when there is a lot of downtime. Our virtual assistants are freelancers who work by the hour. This means that you’re only paying when you need work done – it’s as simple as that. Going through the process of hiring and training can also be a huge cost to your business, which is minimized when you are matched with one of our skilled, pre-vetted, and experienced bookkeeping assistants.

Remote Is The Future

We’ve all seen the effects the pandemic has had on traditional, bricks-and-mortar businesses and offices. Traditional employment is shifting – and businesses are pivoting to meet the challenges of our current situation. Remote work is the future and many of us have now tested the effectiveness of working from home. With all of the technology we have available to us now (Zoom, cloud-based programs and software, remoting into our office through our home computers), working remotely has never been easier.

Allocate Your Resources Efficiently

Many businesses have employees who wear many hats. You may already have an assistant who is juggling your calendar, inbox, phone calls, and office management, while trying to get your books balanced at the end of each month. What if you could give your assistant more time to focus on their tasks and reallocate their responsibilities to achieve greater efficiencies? Have each member of your team focused on their unique tasks, work, and projects, so that they are producing their best work, by the time it needs to be delivered.

There are dozens of reasons why you should outsource your bookkeeping to a virtual assistant – freeing up your time, getting bookkeeping expertise, saving money, preparing your business for the future, and allocating your resources efficiently is just scratching the surface. At Virtual Gurus, we’ve already done the heavy lifting for you. We’ve pre-vetted each individual who works for us and assess their skills to find the perfect match for your business.

October 23, 2020
7 Free Tools to Help You Grow Your Small Business

Happy Small Business Week to all of the small businesses across Canada! We are celebrating YOU this week and everything that you have accomplished. In our last post of our small business series (read our other posts 8 Ways You Can Help Small Businesses in Your Community and Support Small Business Week: Why It’s More Important Now Than Ever Before) for the BDC Small Business Week, we are featuring 7 free tools to help you grow your small business.

Wave

Wave is a simple accounting and financial software that is designed to help small businesses manage their money smarter. The free version has a wide-variety of functions, including: creating and managing invoices, managing receipts, building reports, tracking expenses, and accepting customer and client payments (just to name a few).

Learn more about Wave here.

Hootsuite

We are big fans of Hootsuite. Hootsuite allows for social media content management across multiple platforms in one, easy-to-access online space. You can schedule posts in advance, curate content, and access analytics with ease. The free version allows you to manage up to 3 social media networks. So, you can choose your three top-engaging networks and start building out your social media strategy.

Learn more about Hootsuite here.

Mailchimp

Mailchimp is a web-based email marketing software that provides loads of free, user-friendly features. Keep your customers and clients connected to your business by sending out awesome promotional emails and materials, which are easily designed and delivered through the platform. Other functions include setting up mailing lists and building marketing campaigns. Mailchimp has been the leading email marketing software for years – and, we can definitely understand why.

See for yourself and learn more about Mailchimp here.

Planoly

Wondering how to curate your Instagram feed so that it gets an A+ in aesthetic? Getting your Instagram to appear more cohesive can be a total game changer. For small businesses that are more visual in nature – flower shops, bakeries, catering companies (to name a few) – having a well-done feed can attract new customers and clients. All it takes is a bit of time to plan and some great content to get started. Plan out your posts through Planoly, which is a visual tool to help plan and schedule your social media content. It shows your feed as it would appear on a phone so that you have an accurate picture of how your business is being perceived by others.

Learn more about Planoly here.

Grammarly App

Good communication is imperative for businesses. When communicating with your clients and customers, you want to demonstrate professionalism – which starts with good grammar skills. The Grammarly App allows you to respond to customers and clients through your phone, ensuring that everything you write comes across the way you intend.

Get the Grammarly App here.

Zoho CRM

Managing customer relationships is critical. Zoho CRM is one of the leading CRM solutions on the market. Manage your sales, marketing, and support in one comprehensive CRM platform. Ensure that no leads are slipping through the cracks with efficient contact management. Zoho CRM has an abundance of amazing, free features that are sure to help any small business or team to grow.

Discover all of Zoho CRM’s features here.

Square

Taking payments from your customers or clients, but want an affordable and portable solution? Square is a free POS software that comes with a free magstripe reader you can pop into your phone or tablet. They charge a 2.75% transaction fee for each payment process, but other than that the software and equipment is at no cost to you. Bonus features include access to your analytics, reporting, a basic CRM, and inventory management.

Try Square here.

Having the right tools in place for your small business can help your business to grow efficiently and with ease. Try out some of our favourite free tools today. Do you use a free tool we haven’t featured here? Let us know what it is and what you love about it in the comments section below.

October 16, 2020
8 ways you can help small businesses in your community

Next week is the BDC Small Business Week – an annual celebration of small business ownership, entrepreneurship, and innovation across Canada. This year’s event is more significant than ever before, as many small businesses continue to face uncertain futures with the devastating effects of the pandemic. Small businesses are essential in our local communities and our economy. They provide employment opportunities, they stimulate new growth and innovation, and they are unique establishments that bring character and diversity to our neighbourhoods.

Next week, join Canada in celebrating the accomplishments of small businesses and the outstanding contributions they make in our local communities. Here are 8 ways you can help small businesses in your community.

Buy a Gift Card

Have a favourite place you like to shop? If you shop at a business regularly, getting yourself a gift card to use helps that business the very moment you buy it, and saves you from needing to spend money down the road. Got a few friends who you want to promote your favourite shop to? Get them a gift card, too (even if it’s only $5)!

Don’t Cancel Your Subscription or Membership Just Yet

Many of our favourite service-type businesses that charge subscription fees or memberships cannot physically open their doors or provide their offerings online. If your local yoga studio has shut down its doors and cannot offer virtual classes, you might want to consider continuing to pay your monthly membership and getting that credited to your account for future use.

Offer Your Expertise

If you’re a professional or creative with a unique skill set, your expertise might be greatly beneficial to a small business. Whether you’re a lawyer who can hop on a quick call to offer some legal advice, an accountant who can waive the fee for preparing this year’s tax return, a social media manager who can help with business promotion, or a web developer who can set up a basic online shop – your expertise is extremely coveted during this time.

Get Store Credit

Bought something and decided you didn’t want it after all? Instead of returning it for a cash refund, consider returning it for a store credit instead.

Start Learning With Virtual Classes and Workshops

It seems that there is a virtual class for anything imaginable these days. From Italian cooking classes with Nonna, to wine and cheese tastings with a cheesemonger, to lively salsa classes with your local Latin dance school, there is something for everyone.

Leave a 5-Star Review

Small businesses rely on positive reviews and feedback to attract new business. Leaving a 5-star review helps your favourite business to rank higher in search engines – so, if you’ve been meaning to leave a review for a while, do it now! Share your positive experiences, the amazing products the business carries, the great quality of their services, and anything else you love about your favourite local business.

Skip the Big-Box Stores and Shop Independent Retailers

Many small businesses have shifted their operations to an online e-commerce platform. When possible, buy online from independent retailers and avoid big-box stores. And, if you haven’t already – check-in with your favourite local businesses to see if they’re providing home delivery or curbside pick-up options.

Share the Love on Social Media

Does your favourite small business use social medial? Repost, reshare, and retweet information, products, and services that they’re offering. Your social media platforms are an extra platform for them to spread the good word! And, if they don’t – you can still share some awesome content about them on your channels.

Supporting small businesses is more important now than ever before. This upcoming week, we hope you join us in recognizing and celebrating the achievements of our vibrant, innovative, and diverse small business communities across Canada. How are you helping small businesses in your local community?

Learn more about the BDC Small Business Week in our post Support Small Business Week: Why It’s More Important Now Than Ever Before.

October 9, 2020
Support Small Business Week: Why it's more important than ever

There are more than 1.2 million small and medium-sized businesses in Canada – with 20% of those businesses found right here in the Prairies (Business Development Bank of Canada, 2020). These businesses help to fuel our economy – both locally and nationally. With the pandemic still being a pervasive threat, local businesses are struggling immensely to keep afloat, with many of them closing their doors for good. If small businesses continue to shut down, large corporations will take advantage of all of this vacant competitive space. This means that our consumer choices will become less diverse, mass production will supersede quality, jobs will be replaced, and our pricing options will be far less competitive. Our local small businesses need us now – and, our choices now will affect our future forever. Let’s take action, help local businesses, and support small business week across Canada.

What is Small Business Week?

Small Business Week (October 18th – October 24th 2020) founded by the BDC (Business Development Bank of Canada) is an annual celebration of entrepreneurship and small business ownership across Canada. During the week, thousands of small business owners and entrepreneurs come together to recognize the accomplishments of individuals and groups in our local business communities, to network with like-minded and forward-thinking entrepreneurs, and to learn from one another throughout a jam-packed week of events on a wide range of topics.

Why It’s Important Now More Than Ever

Learn From the Experts

Attend events led by industry experts who are offering their years of wisdom and guidance on a variety of topics. These are fantastic opportunities to expand your knowledge of our local and Canadian business environments, discover tools and resources that are available to you and your business, and learn new strategies for business growth and success.

Celebrate Entrepreneurs Who Are Succeeding in Times of Crisis

Come together to celebrate the entrepreneurs who are attempting innovation (even if they aren’t unsuccessful), coming up with creative solutions, adapting to the challenges of these unprecedented times, and transforming their businesses for success. They need our support and encouragement now more than ever.

Grow Your Professional Network

By attending events and engaging with individuals and teams across the entire country, you will have exposure to hundreds of new contacts to add to your professional network. Connections are powerful and an instrumental component for creating new opportunities for yourself and your business.

Discover New Opportunities to Support Local

Many of us have been doing our part to support local businesses. We buy from our local shops, dine at our local restaurants, and share our love for them all over our social media accounts. For more tips on how to support your favourite local businesses, click here. But, there are even more ways we can band together to support our local business communities. Discover new opportunities to support local and how you personally can be part of the change.

Mark your calendars, because we’ll be at the BDC Small Business Week and we hope that you will be there, too! Learn more about Small Business Week and the exciting line-up of events here.

October 2, 2020
5 Ways a Virtual Assistant Can Get You Organized

Struggling to stay on top of your work and personal life and need help getting your to-do list done? Take back control of your life and get organized with a virtual assistant – your very own personal helper that will help you and your team to get organized for business success. Here are 5 ways a virtual assistant can get you organized.

Email Management

Is your inbox overflowing with pending action items? Are client requests being overlooked and not dealt with in a timely manner? Missing important details for projects that needed immediate attention? Stop feeling overwhelmed by your evergrowing email inbox and get a virtual assistant to organize, sort, delegate, and respond to emails on your behalf.

Scheduling

Are you juggling the demanding schedule of your full-time work, while trying to shuffle around your client meetings? Are your clients getting frustrated with delayed responses to their meeting requests? Are you missing important events on your calendar due to mismanaged scheduling? Have a virtual assistant organize your calendar just the way that you like it and have peace of mind knowing that all of the events, meetings, and deadlines you’re responsible for are accounted for.

Clean Up Folders and Online Storage

Is your Dropbox or Google Drive a total mess? Is your team having difficulty locating necessary files for critical deadlines? Keeping your online storage organized can be a tedious task, especially when you have a mountain of pressing items you need to take care of. Virtual assistants are organizational whizzes and can get your online folders and storage sorted in a flash.

Bookkeeping and Expense Reporting

Keep finding receipts in your car, purse, and all around your desk, that need to be accounted for? Was your May monthly bookkeeping due 5 months ago, but you’re struggling to find the time to finally get it done? Is your team overdue on filing their expense reports for refunds they needed a few weeks ago? Get yourself and your team financially organized and stress-free with a virtual assistant accounting extraordinaire, so that you can focus on the financial month ahead – not the one 5 months ago.

Social Media Management

Got a lot of social media items on your to-do list, but don’t have the time to post them? Do you pay for content scheduling software, but don’t have time to actually schedule your posts? Are you struggling to keep on top of client comments and messages across your social channels? Whether you have content scheduling software or not, a virtual assistant can ensure that all of your social media posts are going out when they need to and that your community’s messages are being managed effectively.

Undoubtedly, there are countless benefits to hiring a virtual assistant to support you and your team. Virtual assistants are affordable alternatives to full-time, salaried staff and provide the ability to scale, efficiently. There are many tasks and projects that a virtual assistant can help you to get done, but being organized should be the first item on your list. Get a virtual assistant today and get organized for business success.

Contact us today for a consultation or click here to discover our virtual assistants’ skills and talents through our marketplace.

September 25, 2020
5 reasons why you need a content calendar to manage your social media marketing

Social media plays a critical role in customer acquisition, retention, and growth. And, with so many social media platforms available to us, it can be difficult to plan and manage all of our business’ content effectively across each channel. A successful social media strategy begins with the mighty content calendar – an essential tool that all expert social media strategists and managers use to plan and deliver their clients’ content. Have you explored the idea of using a content calendar but still uncertain of its benefits for you and your business? Here are our 5 reasons why you need a content calendar to manage your business’ social media marketing strategy.

Plan In Advance + Get Organized

Get your team all on the same page and organized with advance content planning. Content calendars allow you to curate and schedule your content on a weekly or monthly basis (and longer!), giving you the peace of mind that your content will be published when you want it to be. Looking at all of your content laid out visually in a calendar format provides for easy strategizing, ensures that you aren’t making any errors or omissions, and allows your team to collaborate with one another more effectively.

Keep All Of Your Social Media Assets in One Place

Many content calendar softwares provide large amounts of cloud storage for all of your social media assets. Upload videos, images, and graphics all to one place, so that your team can access your social assets easily when they need them.

Evaluate and Monitor Performance

A large majority of content calendars have integrated functions to evaluate analytics and track performance. Monitor how your social media posts resonate with your target audience, so that you can determine what social content is working and what isn’t serving your business anymore. Many content calendars allow for weekly, monthly, and yearly comparisons, giving you many options to track your business’ performance over customizable periods.

Track Lead Generation

Wondering where your new customers or clients are coming from? Want to know if your social media ads and posts are drawing new leads to your business? Many content calendar programs provide access for tracking your leads. Tracking URLs can easily be added to your social content, whether it be ads or posts, then monitored to determine the success of your content for customer and client acquisition.

Allows Virtual Assistants to Manage Your Content Effectively

If you’re working with a virtual assistant to manage your social media accounts, then getting your business set up with a content calendar is essential. Giving your virtual assistant access to a content calendar will allow them to plan out all of the copy and associated visual content in advance. This allows for greater efficiency for both you and your assistant, gives you easy access to review all posts before they go out in a clean and organized format, and allows for last-minute modifications to be made quickly and conveniently.

There are dozens of reasons why having a content calendar for your business’ social media is essential. Managing, evaluating, and improving upon your marketing strategy across multiple networks is a huge challenge for any individual or team, without the correct software in place.

Still unsure how a content calendar can better serve your business’ marketing needs? Many programs provide free trials or inexpensive subscriptions, giving you time to explore if working with a content calendar is right for you.

September 18, 2020
A Typical Workday in the Life of a Virtual Assistant

Hi! I’m Alexa. And, I’m here today to share with you my typical workday as a virtual assistant. I am the Virtual Gurus’ Social Media Manager and the writer behind all of the blog posts you’ve been reading lately. I’m excited to share with you a little taste of what goes on in my daily work life here at the Virtual Gurus!

As a virtual assistant, I wear so many hats each and every day. I am so fortunate to learn and develop my skills across multiple clients, industries, and platforms, which is an opportunity I never had before. In my previous in-office roles, my days would be mundane and repetitive – I would do the same tasks every day, take the same lunch break every day, and see the same people every day. I would spend most of my days on autopilot mode completing tasks that didn’t challenge me and help me to grow as an individual.

Now, as a virtual assistant, no two days are ever the same, which is part of the reason why I love my job so much and what keeps me motivated throughout my work week. This is the typical day for my life as a virtual assistant.

5:00 AM

5:00 AM?! Don’t spit out your coffee just yet! I’m an early riser by choice. I love waking up early to ease into my day with my morning coffee and tending to any email requests that came in overnight. Waking up early also allows me the flexibility to shuffle around my day as needed. I work full-time across 4 busy clients, which means that I will often have last-minute or urgent requests popping up throughout the day. So, if I need to get something done right away, I have the time in my schedule to do this. Having more hours in the day allows me to run errands when I need to, go to appointments, and get to the yoga studio every day for my sanity (focusing on your personal health is critical as a remote worker).  

8:00 AM

Mornings are when I’m most creative and imaginative. Usually while I’m eating breakfast, I’m checking in on my clients’ social media accounts, researching trending topics, brainstorming new ideas for content for social media and blog posts, and dreaming up new creative strategies for my clients.

9:00 AM

As I know that I am my most productive self first thing in the morning, this is when I start to tackle all of my big writing projects. As a social media assistant, I’m writing all day long. I know it’s physically and mentally impossible for me to produce my best writing pieces at the end of day, especially for longer pieces – so, I try to get these done first thing.

Typically, I can be found:

  • Writing blog posts (which I’m doing right now!)
  • Arranging social media calendars and writing copy for posts
  • Editing press releases and client articles
  • Creating copy for websites, social media profiles, email newsletters, and landing pages

11:30 AM

Most of my clients operate in a timezone a few hours behind mine. This is perfect for me and my schedule as I like to have the bulk of the work done for them by the time they wake up. Right before lunch, I check in with my clients, provide any updates on projects, and send any requests for action items I need from them.

12:00 PM

By my lunch break, I’m usually in desperate need of a break. This is when I completely disconnect myself from work (including my own personal social media accounts), eat a fuel-filled meal, and give myself some time to reboot for the afternoon ahead.

12:30 PM

The life of a virtual assistant is unpredictable and each day is completely different. Some days I might be racing back to my desk after lunch to work on a pressing deadline, others I might have time to go run some personal errands, get my groceries done, do laundry, and sneak out for a much-needed yoga class. I find that getting out of the house for an hour helps me to feel re-energized and gives me more mental clarity for my afternoon tasks. Brain breaks are important!

2:00 PM

Through lots of trial and error over the years, I have figured out which tasks are better reserved for the morning and those best completed in the afternoon. I know that I write better in the morning and that I’m better at tackling graphic design projects in the afternoon. Figuring this great mystery out has helped me to allocate my time more efficiently and be more productive throughout my day.

I usually spend my afternoons:

  • Editing videos for social media, YoutTube, and blogs
  • Creating graphics for social media posts
  • Designing the creative elements for websites, landing pages, and Pinterest channels
  • Working on branding and logo design

4:30 PM

By the end of the day, I write a task list of all the things I need to get done tomorrow in order of priority. This is particularly important come Friday, when I need to wrap my head around what big projects I have on the go for the week ahead. I do my last check-in with clients and provide an update of what I’ve accomplished for them on that day, and do my last follow-up on any outstanding action items.

5:00 PM

The work day is done and so am I. I have been making more of a conscious effort to disconnect from my phone and work on personal development activities that fuel my spirit and passions in life. Maintaining that work-life balance is instrumental in my mental health (especially during COVID-19), well-being, and to keep me more engaged in all aspects of my life.

Are you a virtual assistant? What does your typical workday look like? Share with us in the comments below.

September 14, 2020
What to prepare before you begin working with your virtual assistant

If you’re new to working with a virtual assistant, figuring out how to delegate tasks and to work with your virtual assistant effectively can be a bit of a learning curve at the start. Don’t fret – we’re here to make the transition to remote support easier for you and your business. Selecting the right virtual assistant to support your business and the types of tasks you need done is crucial. We at the Virtual Gurus have over one hundred professional and skilled assistants in our marketplace with a wide range of experience spanning everything from legal administration to graphic design – which means there is a perfect match for every unique business. Once you’ve chosen the right virtual assistant for your business it’s time to get organized and ready to work with your new remote helper. Here’s what to prepare before you begin working with your virtual assistant.

Determine the areas of business you need support with

Before you get on your first call with your assistant, make a list of all of the tasks and items you need help with.

Are you struggling to keep afloat with the constant influx of new emails and calendar requests? Are you behind on your monthly reconciliation reports? Are you in desperate need of a creative eye to create ads and social media graphics? Are you in need of a community manager to handle your seemingly endless social media interactions and comments? Are you looking for a grammar expert to proofread client documents?

The more specific you can be with your list, the easier it will be for you to delegate tasks and to communicate with your assistant exactly what you need done.

Prioritize your task list

Once you have your final task list ready to go, rearrange your tasks in order of priority.

Are there any tasks you would like your assistant to get started on right away? What current projects are you struggling to hit deadlines for?

Having a clear understanding of what needs to take priority is instrumental in the beginning. This will keep you and your assistant from becoming overwhelmed in this period of new transition and can help to eliminate any potential conflict with time management. If there are any tasks or projects with a deadline that you know of already, write it down so that you have it handy for your first call with your assistant.

Set a frequency for the tasks you will need help with

If you have ongoing tasks, whether it be daily, weekly, or monthly, set a clear expectation with your assistant for how often you need these tasks completed and when. This will help your assistant to better arrange their calendars and understand what is expected of them.

Create a contact list for your team

Communication is key when working with your virtual assistant. Virtual assistants have access to computers, phones, webcams, and a variety of messaging apps and software that can better your communication flow. Select the method you would like to communicate with your assistant, whether it be by email, direct calls and text messages, or video conferencing, and be consistent in your choice. Create a contact list with key members of your team that will likely need to be in contact with your virtual assistant. List their preferred method of contact and how they can be contacted.

Get all your login information and passwords ready to go

If you will need your virtual assistant to access any of your accounts, whether it be your email, social media channels, or bookkeeping software, get your login credentials ready to go. Generally, many accounts will require two-step verification on your end the first time your virtual assistant will access your accounts, so be prepared to do so when the time comes.

Get ready for your first call and training

Once you have all of this information ready to go for your first call with your virtual assistant be prepared to leave some time in your schedule for any required training sessions. Your virtual assistant might need training on your internal processes and with the software and programs your team uses. This can be done over your first call with your virtual assistant or over a series of Zoom calls where you are sharing your screen and demonstrating what needs to be done.

With any new hire and any new job, there will always be a learning curve at the start – this is inevitable. Once you and your assistant begin to build momentum in your communication and task delegation, the work that you accomplish together will become second nature for the both of you and your other team members. Get organized and be prepared for your first meeting, so that you set yourself and your new virtual assistant up for the greatest success for your business – right from the start.

Looking for remote support for your business? Get in touch with us today – we’re here to help your business grow.

September 4, 2020
How to find the perfect virtual assistant through the Virtual Gurus marketplace

Is your email inbox getting fuller by the second? Are you double-booking client meetings? Is your monthly bookkeeping only completed every 6 months? At the Virtual Gurus we have all worked with clients who were having difficulty managing their day-to-day business tasks and understand how to get you and your business organized for success. Finding the perfect virtual assistant to support you and your business is easy. Let’s take you through the process and show you how to find the perfect virtual assistant through the Virtual Gurus Marketplace.

Step 1: Determine the reason (or reasons) you are in need of a virtual assistant.

Make a list of all of the tasks you need taken care of and what skills and technical knowledge are required to complete them. Do you need someone who is an expert in social media and digital marketing? Or, do you need a quick typer who excels with data entry tasks?

Step 2: Pick your personality type.

Once you’ve created your list of tasks and hard skills, think about the type of virtual assistant you would like to work with – their personality, their attitude, their time management abilities. Soft skills are as equally important as hard skills. Make sure you have an idea of what type of virtual assistant would work best with your personality type and with your team. Do you want someone who is independent and resourceful? Or, is the type of work you are delegating to them best done with clear and specific instructions?

Step 3: Head over to our marketplace.

Once you’ve got your list of required hard and soft skills, with your required tasks clearly defined, head over to the Virtual Gurus marketplace, select the type of support you need, how many hours you require, and start exploring your support options in our extensive database.

Step 4: Read the bios and get to know our virtual assistants.

Each of our virtual assistants have their very own bio which highlights their strengths, their previous work experience, their academic experience, hard and soft skills, and unique qualities that make them stand out. We have virtual assistants who have bilingual and trilingual capabilities in various languages as well as those who are proficient in American Sign Language.

Step 5: Be aware of the details.

Take note of the virtual assistant bios of location of the assistant, the schedule for which they are available, their top skills (make sure they match your list), and the match percentage (this will be able to tell you if they are a strong candidate for the work you need).

Step 6: Select the assistant you would like to work with or request a consultation to discuss your unique needs further.

Simply select the assistant you would like to work with or hit the “request a consultation” button if you require more information about our team. One of our Client Success Managers will be able to match you with the perfect assistant for your business.

If you’re struggling with your day-to-day business tasks, look no further for specialized administrative support. Virtual assistants increase efficiency, free-up your valuable time, and are cost-effective – allowing you to prioritize what’s important and save on overhead costs. Let us help you today and find your perfect virtual assistant match. Get in touch with us here.

August 28, 2020
5 creative projects a virtual assistant can help you with to get your business up and running

Getting your business up and running can be an immense process, especially a creative one. Successfully positioning your business in a creative way that appeals to your target audience can have a significant impact on the growth and ultimate success of your business. Do you have a creative vision you need help to execute? Hiring the right virtual assistant to provide support for your business’ creative needs will save you time and money by delegating tasks so that you can focus on your actual business, rather than working on time-consuming, creative elements. Here are 5 creative projects a virtual assistant can help you with to get your business up and running.

Website Design

Websites have become the new business cards. Without one, potential clients and customers might look elsewhere for their needs, which means the future profits you desire end up on the cutting room floor. A well-designed and user-friendly website developed with your company’s objectives in mind can make the difference to whether a prospect stars the conversation that converts them into your business’ raving fan. Virtual assistants can build beautiful, custom-tailored websites, optimize SEO, integrate e-commerce platforms, develop content, and link your business to your social media platforms.

Social Media

Curating social media accounts that are effective and eye-catching can have a tremendous impact on your business. Coming up with new ideas to produce original content and managing multiple social media accounts is time-consuming and requires creative expertise. Virtual assistants can help to strategize, execute, and realize your business’ social marketing goals and gain traction to grow your client and customer base.

Logo and Brand Design

Having a strong brand and logo will differentiate your business from the rest. Virtual assistants can help you to develop your brand design and logo, and to execute your vision strategically. Simply communicate what you aspire your business brand to achieve and let the creative experts take care of all the graphic design work.

Create Marketing Materials

All businesses need to market, period. Without marketing, nobody can ever learn about how their world can benefit from working with your business. The marketing landscape continues to change at speeds that are hard to keep up with which can easily drain hours from your day. A virtual assistant can take on the creative tasks to get a ample leads and sales flowing into your business while you are doing the operations that only you can do.

Blogging

Have lots of ideas to share with your customers and clients, but have no idea how to articulate them? Blogging can be challenging if you’re not familiar with best writing and SEO optimization practices. Hiring a blogging expert who knows the ins and outs of optimizing blog content for SEO can have a tremendous impact on reaching new customer and client bases.

There are countless reasons why choosing to work with a virtual assistant on your business’ creative projects is invaluable to you and your business. Virtual assistants are cost-effective, increase efficiency by outsourcing tasks, free-up your time, and provide specialized support in niche areas. Hiring virtual assistants with expertise in website design, social media, logo and brand design, marketing materials, and blogging, will allow you to outsource all your creative tasks to experts who can execute your vision and strategy, so that you can focus on what’s really important for your business.

Connect with one of our creative experts today.

August 14, 2020
Remote work destination of the month: Cottage getaway

People haven’t been able to travel very far these days. Many of us have been in quarantine and practicing social distancing for almost half a year now while working from home — which means our travel has been limited to snack breaks at the kitchen fridge, enjoying the great outdoors from our balconies, and endlessly reorganizing our homes to give the illusion that we are constantly in a new place.

But, what if we could travel close to home, work remotely during our time away, all while doing so cautiously and safely? Introducing this month’s remote work destination of the month — the great Canadian cottage getaway! Enjoy a “mini vacation” getaway from your home office in the fresh air and actual great outdoors while maintaining your regular work schedule.

Be smart and careful always. Any travel that you do should be done with immense caution still and you should not be travelling if you feel unwell or feel that you could be a risk to others.

Canada is home to some of the most incredible cottage country destinations — from British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast oceanside paradise to the pristine lakes of Ontario’s Muskoka region. There are tons of reasons why Canadians love heading to the cottage or cabin for a weekend getaway – fresh lakes and beach-lined coastlines, the fragrant smell of pine trees and evening bonfires, swimming, paddling, and hiking as part of our daily exercise, and disconnecting from big city life distractions while connecting with ourselves, our loved ones, and nature.

With remote work on the rise and many organizations adopting it as a permanent reality for their teams, more and more city folks are heading to their cottages and cabins to set up shop while soaking up the best of Canada’s scenery and nature. But, what if you don’t have a cottage and you want to get in on this new remote work cottage life? There are so many options to make this work from home set up a reality for you, too. Check out our list to get your search started:

As a remote worker, having a reliable Internet connection is the most important thing you will need to consider before anything else. So, how do you ensure that your cottage vacation rental has an Internet speed that serves your type of work?

  • Read the property description thoroughly – Does the property have WiFi? Is the property off-the-grid? Make sure you read all of these details carefully.
  • Message or call the host of the listing – Ask the host what the quality of their Internet is and if it’s suitable for working. You can also ask the host to quickly conduct an Internet speed test and to send the result. This can be done easily and for free on loads of different sites or directly through Google search – simply type “Internet speed test.”
  • Read the property reviews carefully – Others who have stayed at the listing you are researching might mention the quality of the Internet in their reviews.
  • Research portable Internet options – Does the listing not offer WiFi but you’re set on staying there? Does your Internet or phone provider service the area through portable WiFi options or through data? You can contact your Internet or phone provider to see what the best solution is for the area you are looking to stay in.

Pro Tip: If the listing you are looking at doesn’t have direct access to the Internet, you can check to see if your phone provider services the area and the strength of the service. If it does service the area, you can mobile tether or pair your device to your computer. This means that your computer uses your phone as a WiFi hotspot, which uses your phone plan’s data to provide your computer with Internet access. You can call your phone provider to ask them to change your monthly plan temporarily to increase your data plan during your mini remote work vacation.

Want to guess where I just wrote this blog post from? That’s right – Ontario cottage country! I have been doing this regularly throughout this COVID-19 summer and don’t have Internet access. I strictly use my phone to tether my data to my computer and use about 10GB of data for a week’s worth of work. Have you been getting away to cottage country while working remotely? Share your experiences in the comments below.

August 7, 2020
Free and inexpensive tools and programs for small businesses

Are you a small business owner who is looking for tools and programs to optimize your business operations? We are experts in working with small businesses and know which tools and programs help entrepreneurs to streamline their business processes and operations. Here are some of our favourite free and inexpensive tools and programs for small businesses that our virtual assistants and clients absolutely love.

Canva

Ever wonder how your direct competitor is making all of those fancy graphics and designs for their marketing materials, website, and social media? They’re probably using Canva! Canva is an amazing free and user-friendly tool for graphic design. It is incredibly easy to learn and the platform provides a seemingly endless variety of styles and tools to make beautiful and unique designs for all of your business needs.

Mailchimp

Want to keep your clients engaged and connected to your business? Start sending out email newsletters to keep them in the know with any news for upcoming events, promotions, or new services and products that your business has to offer. Mailchimp is a phenomenal platform to send out newsletters, set up mailing lists, and design and build marketing campaigns. It is very user-friendly and has been the leading email marketing software for years, for a good reason.

Dropbox

Got a lot of files you need to manage and store across your team? Dropbox is THE solution. Dropbox allows you to bring all of your files – photos, documents, and videos anywhere and share them easily with your team. A variety of files can be uploaded and shared, without any compatibility issues, making Dropbox a great solution for large video file sharing. Dropbox integrates easily with Microsoft 365 and Slack, and provides an approachable, user-friendly platform.

Hootsuite

Does your business use social media often? Never worry about posting social media content again and get yourself organized with Hootsuite. Hootsuite allows for social media content management and scheduling across multiple platforms in one, easy-to-access online space. You can manage multiple accounts at once, with multiple social profiles by adding specific streams to your Hootsuite dashboard. Scheduling posts in advance, curating content, and accessing analytics are just some of Hootsuite’s user-friendly features.

Wave

Keeping track and managing is important. Wave makes it easy. Wave is a web-based (and free!) accounting and invoicing platform. It allows you to manage payroll, keep track of expenses and manage receipts, perform credit card processing, and perform a variety of other business banking tasks. It’s perfectly designed to cater to small businesses with small teams.

Having the right tools and programs for your small business can make a significant impact and help you to streamline business operations. Try out some of our favourites today to see if they’re a good fit for your business. Let us know some of your favourite tools and programs in the comments below.

July 30, 2020
Why your small business needs a blog, now

Every small business needs its own blog. Blogging is instrumental in building brand awareness and visibility for your business to drive more traffic to your website and attract new customers and clients. Whether you own a flower shop, a restaurant, a veterinary clinic, a bed and breakfast, an auto repair shop, or whatever else – if you have a website that already promotes your services or products, you absolutely need to have a blog as well.

Websites and blogs work hand-in-hand. Each time you write a new blog post on your website, you are giving search engines access to find your work and you increase your chances of having your small business be more visible on search engines. If the content you are putting out in your blogs is consistent and relevant, you are ultimately making it easier for search engines to find your blog and to rank it higher on their sites for the masses to find. This is called SEO or search engine optimization. You are optimizing your blog and your business to be visible on a large-scale platform. Blogs are not difficult to set up, especially if you’re using a website building platform such as Squarespace or Wix. And, if you need help, we are more than happy to show you the ropes.

Optimizing Your Blog for Search Engines to Find

There are tons of ways to make your blog posts SEO-friendly. By no means is this very brief list exhaustive and you will need to utilize other strategies to increase your visibility further, but here are 3 fundamental, quick tips to get your started:

  • Use relevant keywords – Ensure that the post you are writing reflects the keywords you have chosen. Be concise and show intent when writing your blog post. Have these keywords repeated several times throughout your post and within your title. You can use both short and long-tail keywords, but it is recommended to have both.
  • Change the URL for your blog post – Your blog post URL should clearly demonstrate what your blog post is about. Search engines use URLs to determine what that page is about. Be sure to include your keywords within your blog post and keep it relevant to your title.
  • Include images with alt text – Incorporating images into your blog posts is crucial. Depending on the website building platform you are using, when you upload an image into your blog there usually is a field to include a description for your image, also known as “alt text.” Use descriptive text in this field to show what your image is about. Remember, search engines can’t actually see your image, so they will rely on the text you provide to determine what the image is about.

If all of this SEO talk has got your head spinning a bit, don’t fret. We’ve all been there. SEO is actually fairly simple to learn on your own, even if you’ve never heard of it before. All you need is to dedicate a bit of time to researching and learning some of its more leading strategies and tips to get you going in the right direction. And, it’s a learning curve – you will continue to learn more and more as you keep blogging.

Small businesses need as much exposure as they can get – especially in this time of economic hardship. Giving your small business another platform to connect with your audience provides immense opportunities for attracting new clients and customers, which in turn will drive more business directly to you and help your business to flourish.

Need an expert in blogging for your small business? We’ve got a whole lineup of virtual assistants who specialize in blogging and SEO, ready to help your small business achieve more visibility and to grow your customer and client base. Contact us today to get matched with your perfect virtual assistant.

July 24, 2020
Onshore or offshore virtual assistants — What's the difference & why does it matter?

The Virtual Gurus is a proud Canadian company matching onshore talent with small businesses, companies, and startups across North America. The question surrounding onshore and offshore virtual assistant outsourcing has been a hot topic in the industry for years – Which option is better for my business? What are the benefits of each? And, what are the disadvantages? Depending on the type of business you operate the answers to these questions may vary immensely. But for us the answer is simple – we firmly believe that keeping our team completely onshore provides value and peace of mind to our clients and propels positive social impact within our local communities, nationwide. Here are some of the reasons why we keep our virtual assistants onshore.

Cost

There is no question that offshore virtual assistants are more cost-effective to those that are onshore. The key difference in cost is the value of having locally-sourced, onshore assistants – the value of working with someone within your timezone, who understands your markets and demographics inside out, who understands your communication style, and to work with clients who support creating sustainable employment opportunities within the Canadian marketplace.

Managing Deadlines

Working with virtual assistants in your timezone is imperative for managing deadlines. When working with an assistant remotely, you are relying on timely responses to your queries and time-sensitive tasks. It can be difficult to ensure that deadlines are being met if the individual you are working with is operating a day ahead of you, in a completely different timezone. Real-time conversations via chat, phone calls, and video conferencing have a great impact on the efficiency and timeliness of delegated tasks. Problems can be resolved instantly or within a shorter timeframe, giving you more freedom to focus on what’s important.

Communication

Having a virtual assistant who is a native English speaker and who understands your culture and communication style is more important than you may believe. Your virtual assistant could be tasked with writing responsibilities – having sound knowledge of the English language and grammar skills is a necessary skill for all written tasks and communication. You don’t want to delegate a task and worry about micromanaging and additional time spent reviewing the work they have produced. When someone is fluent in a language they also understand different styles of communication in that language – whether it be sarcasm, humour, or general tone of language, these are important while communicating with your virtual assistant and with the work your virtual assistant produces.

Social Impact

The most important reason why the Virtual Gurus only works with onshore assistants is because we want to create positive social impact in our communities across the country. We believe in providing fair wages and creating sustainable employment opportunities, focused within marginalized communities across the country.

“The social impact of Virtual Gurus is what I am most passionate about. We hire virtual assistants across North America and have been able to provide employment to marginalized communities as well as those who may have a harder time finding work. This includes stay-at-home parents or single parents, Indigenous peoples who live in remote communities, people living with alternate abilities and the LGBTQ community. They all deserve opportunities and a fair wage.”

-Bobbie Racette, CEO and Founder of the Virtual Gurus

Choosing the right virtual assistant for your business is crucial when you are investing your time and money into your assistant’s onboarding process and retaining them as a key member of your team. Hiring offshore assistants may be cost-effective in the short-run, but may lead to costing your business more in the long-run if issues arise surrounding effective time management and communication styles. As a client who works with onshore assistants, you are helping to create more sustainable employment opportunities across Canada and to create positive social impact within your local community – now that’s real value.

Read more from our Founder and CEO, Bobbie Racette, why the Virtual Gurus, Canada’s largest virtual assistant platform, only has onshore assistants here.

Do you work with a virtual assistant? What are your thoughts on the benefits and challenges of working with onshore and offshore assistants? Let us know in the comments below.

July 17, 2020
7 ways an executive virtual assistant can assist and support your team

Remote work is here to stay. More and more startups, small businesses, and large-scale organizations are turning to virtual assistants to outsource tasks and seek business support and development. Virtual assistants increase workplace efficiency, free-up your valuable time, and are cost-effective solutions to in-house employees. But, did you know that you can hire a virtual executive assistant to assist and support your executive team? Here are 7 ways an executive virtual assistant can assist and support your executive team.

Email Management

Are you a busy executive who is struggling to keep up with your seemingly endless influx of emails? Virtual executive assistants are pros at managing hectic inboxes. Get your virtual assistant to label, prioritize, organize, and respond to emails on your behalf, so that you have ample time to address the emails that require your personal attention.

Scheduling + Calendar Management

Scheduling meetings with potential and new clients, managing press interviews, arranging investor meetings, and carving out blocks in your schedule to meet with your team can be difficult to coordinate all at once. Virtual executive assistants not only can manage your busy inbox, but your busy calendar as well. Leave it to your assistant to sync your calendar with your email invitations, reach out to clients, investors, and team members to coordinate meeting times that work for all parties. Find peace of mind knowing that your busy life (both professional and personal) is organized and taken care of for you.

Travel Arrangements

Whether it be a business trip or a personal holiday, arranging travel can be a tedious task for a busy executive. Comparing prices for car rentals, flights, travel insurance, and accommodations eats up a lot of precious time. Delegate price comparisons, researching of destinations, and making and confirming reservations to your executive virtual assistant, so that all you need to do is get on the plane – worry free.

Attending Meetings + Minute Taking

A critical component of any meeting is having clear, well-written notes taken throughout the meeting and distributed to all relevant parties afterwards. Minute taking is imperative to provide clear summaries and next action items to your team – keep everyone on the same page with the same information, so that your team is working together effectively. As your second set of ears, executive virtual assistants are active and careful listeners that can attend meetings with you or on your behalf, document the details of the meeting, distribute meeting minutes to your team, and answer any questions in regards to the meeting. Never worry about missing a single important meeting detail again.

Personal Banking + Expense Reporting

Got a whole slew of monthly bills to pay, but no time to do it? Need to submit your end-of-month expenses to your accounting department, but don’t have time to go through all of your receipts? Executive virtual assistants are detail-oriented, banking and expense reporting experts who understand the high-level of sensitivity and privacy of your financial information. Take comfort knowing that your bills have been paid on time and that your expenses have been submitted accurately – each month.

Event Planning

Need to plan a team outing, holiday party, or training conference? Executive virtual assistants are skilled in researching caterers, venues, and event rentals, and can handle all event coordination responsibilities. Strategize with your assistant, communicate your vision, and delegate the rest to them. Simply show up and enjoy the event, knowing that all of the details have already been taken care of.

Communications + Writing

Executive virtual assistants have a wealth of experience working with corporate and business communications. They have ample experience writing and editing client-facing communications, press releases, professional bios, web content, social media content, blogging, and email marketing. Leave the written and communications components of your business to your virtual assistant.

Hiring an executive virtual assistant is a smart business decision when looking for administrative support for your executive team. Virtual assistants increase efficiency, free-up your valuable time, and are cost-effective – allowing you to prioritize what’s important and save on overhead costs. Hiring an executive virtual assistant with expertise in email and calendar management, arranging corporate and executive travel, minute taking, personal banking and expense reporting, event planning, and communications, will allow you to outsource your executive administration needs to experts who will ensure that your executive team is assisted and supported in every way possible.

Contact us today to get matched with the perfect executive virtual assistant for your business needs.

Ready to take the next step, but want to be better prepared for what to expect? Read 5 Tips to Work Successfully With a Virtual Assistant.

July 10, 2020
4 Essential Cloud Storage Solutions to Protect Your Files

As a virtual assistant or a remote worker, having your files easily accessible, protected, and backed up and ready to go whenever you need them is imperative. Gone are the days where people sent attachments of static documents that didn’t allow for collaborative, real-time editing and access. Cloud storage services allow for seamless, real-time collaboration and sharing of documents, files, photos, and videos. You can keep your workflow with your clients and team efficient, without worrying about compromising the security of your files and documents. Here are 4 essential cloud storage solutions to protect your files that the Virtual Gurus team swear by.

Microsoft Office OneDrive

OneDrive is a cloud storage solution from Microsoft that allows you to access all of your files in one place, securely and efficiently. OneDrive works best for those who use Microsoft Office products and programs already as it easily integrates with these applications, such as Outlook and Microsoft 365. Another perk of subscribing to OneDrive is that it comes with Microsoft 365, so you don’t need to pay the additional subscription for Microsoft Office programs.

Google Drive

Google Drive is a popular cloud storage solution for PC and Apple users alike. Google Drive is similar to OneDrive and supports its own versions of document authoring tools such as: Google Docs, Google Slides, and Google Sheets. Google Drive also stores unlimited high-definition photos that sync automatically from your phone or computer and it comes with its very own photo editing software. Google Drive has powerful search capabilities built into its systems – it can search within photos and documents by basic keywords.

Dropbox

Dropbox is one of the very first successful cloud storage solutions that paved the way for other competitors. Dropbox allows you to bring all of your files – photos, documents, and videos anywhere and share them easily with your team. A variety of files can be uploaded and shared, without any compatibility issues, making Dropbox a great solution for large video file sharing. Dropbox integrates easily with Microsoft 365 and Slack, and provides an approachable, user-friendly platform. This cloud storage solution works particularly well in large teams as you can create Dropbox spaces, which are essentially shared folders transformed into collaborative team workspaces.

iCloud

Like OneDrive is for Microsoft users, iCloud is for Apple users. iCloud is an amazing tool for Apple users and allows for transfer and access for all products and services offered by Apple. Enjoy seamless use across all of your Apple devices, including: laptops, iPads, and iPhones. iCloud additionally saves applications and information from your Apple devices, so that if you get a new device you can easily import all of this previous information with ease – no need to worry about downloading all of your apps and information from scratch. Files sync automatically across devices, leaving you feeling confident that all of your information and files are constantly being backed up and are secured.

Sending static attachments within emails is a thing of the past. Cloud storage solutions allow for seamless collaboration and transfer of documents between you and your colleagues and clients. Integrate one or a select few of these 4 essential cloud storage solutions into your workplace, so that you and your team are working together efficiently, collaboratively, in real-time, and most importantly, securely. What cloud storage solutions do you and your team use to get your work done?

July 3, 2020
4 Ways to Manage Your Time Effectively as a Virtual Assistant

Are you a virtual assistant who works early mornings, on weekends, and late into the night? Managing your time effectively is a key, foundational skill you must have as a virtual assistant to avoid burnout, to succeed with your clients, and to produce the best work that you can for them. At Virtual Gurus, we have a team of over 100 virtual assistants (and growing quickly!) who have mastered the art of effective time management and we’re thrilled to share some of our favourite tips with you. Here are 4 ways to manage your time effectively as a virtual assistant.

Keep a Task List and Check it Regularly

Task lists are more important than you think. We might try to convince ourselves otherwise – that task lists are a waste of time. This is totally false! Pressure and an overwhelming amount of daily tasks can even make the person with the sharpest memory lose track of time while immersed in a time-consuming work assignment. It happens. Keep a daily log of all of the itty-bitty or big tasks you have on your plate for the day and put them in order of priority. Prioritizing your lists and having that visual in front of you puts all of your work into clear perspective.

If you want to have even more clarity on the tasks you have to complete, we always like to follow the rule of creating a weekly task list that breaks down each day individually. That way, if you fall behind on something you can evaluate how this will affect the rest of your work week without any big surprises come Friday afternoon, right before your weekend is about to begin.

Seek Help When You Need It

There’s no worse feeling as a virtual assistant than getting stuck on a task that you don’t have a single clue how to approach. It’s okay! We are only human and we aren’t expected to know everything, but as virtual assistants we are expected to use the resources that we have in order to solve problems we don’t have the answers to. We know, sometimes we can be stubborn and insist on solving everything on our own. But, our clients’ time is precious and OUR time is precious, too. So, why not ask someone who has the solution or can provide you with guidance, so that you can get back on track in the quickest time possible?

If you don’t have a direct contact to approach about the issue you are facing, seek out YouTube videos and online forums – these are great resources if you are struggling to connect with someone to help you.

Limit Distractions

Create a space in your home that limits as many distractions as possible. If possible, try to get yourself a room or area of your home that is your dedicated work area. In your work space, make sure that you aren’t surrounded by any objects that could be distracting. Oftentimes when we’re feeling those lulls throughout our work day, those objects can be more tempting than we might think.

One of the biggest distractions we all face is undoubtedly our phones. If you don’t need your phone for the work you’re doing, put it far away from you and only check on it during your designated break times. As a virtual assistant many of us do rely on our phones for our work, so this may not be the most realistic tactic to keep ourselves productive – we get it. Get your mind into a conscious effort to only use your phone for work-dedicated tasks and as soon as you find yourself scrolling through your social media feed, shut it down right away, stretch your legs briefly, and refocus on your work.

Set Your Work Hours And Stick to Them

As virtual assistants we are often working all sorts of schedules based on our clients’ needs and time zones. But, as virtual assistants we also have the option to create a schedule with business hours that work for our own busy lives. So, make a schedule and actually stick to it. Whether it be Monday to Friday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. or weekends only, set a schedule that is realistic for how much work you are actually capable of doing in any given week and that creates balance in your home and personal life. When taking on a new client, always advise them of the hours you can work within. If you can’t work weekends or evenings, be transparent and let them know from the very beginning. This will also help to gain the trust and confidence of your clients.

The life of a virtual assistant can be unpredictable and chaotic – believe us, we know! With so many clients on the go, it can be difficult to manage all of your daily tasks and projects without implementing effective time management strategies right from the beginning. Set yourself up for success and for work weeks full of productivity with 4 of our favourite tips for effective time management.

What are some time management skills you rely on to keep yourself working at your very best?

June 26, 2020
5 Tips to Work Successfully With a Virtual Assistant

Bringing on a virtual assistant to your team can save you hours of work, lower your costs, and get you back on track to focus on tasks that really matter – but only if you are maximizing the use of their talents effectively and managing your time working with them efficiently.

Learn how to optimize your virtual assistant’s time and their work output with our 5 tips to work successfully with a virtual assistant.

Regular Communication

A top priority when working with a virtual assistant is communication. Effective communication should not be overlooked and is a key foundation to success when working with a remote team member. When working with a virtual assistant, it is imperative that you provide clear and concise instructions for the work that needs to be completed. Checking in with your virtual assistant and scheduling regular meetings is critical, especially in the beginning, to ensure that your virtual assistant is clear on the tasks that need to be completed, to build trust and confidence in one another’s abilities, and to form a working relationship that lasts.

Here are some of our favourite Simple Tips to Communicate Effectively Across Remote Teams.

Delegate Tasks

Working in a virtual setting is completely different from a physical office environment. Having an understanding and being reasonable about which tasks can be completed remotely needs to be in place from the very beginning. First, draft a list of tasks that you would like for your assistant to help you with. Then, consider carefully which tasks could reasonably be completed remotely.

Generally speaking, virtual assistants are well-equipped to complete a wide variety of tasks from home and are skilled in specialized areas, such as social media management, bookkeeping, day-to-day office management, sales calls, digital marketing campaigns, real estate administration, and tax return preparations (just to name a few).

Once your task list has been finalized, delegate these tasks accordingly and ensure that your assistant is able to complete them remotely.

Provide Reasonable Deadlines

When delegating tasks, it is important to share your clear expectations of deadlines. If they are routine tasks performed on a daily basis, make sure your assistant is aware of your expectations and that they are equipped with the right tools to complete these tasks daily. If there is a deadline or multiple deadlines, make sure you communicate these in a timely manner with your assistant – preferably at the same time you are delegating the project or task. Of course, virtual assistants are only human and there are limits for how much work they can produce within a limited timeframe. By giving them a reasonable timeframe to complete the work you need done, you are allowing them the opportunity to return high-quality work to you and ensure their success.

Use the Right Tools

When working with remote team members you must use the correct tools to ensure your team is working together collaboratively and efficiently. Using tools such as Google Drive, Slack, Zoom, Dropbox, and Trello will have your team working together with ease. Make sure you do your research on what tools your team will need to collaborate. Keep it simple as you don’t want to have too many tools, which might cause more confusion among team members. Make sure your virtual assistant is trained on the tools you will be using and is comfortable executing their tasks with these tools.

Check out our recommendations for the Top 7 Tools Every Virtual Assistant Needs.

Document All Your Processes

Documenting all of your processes might seem like a tedious task at the beginning, but will save you a whole lot of time in the long run. By creating manuals or detailed guides on what tasks need to be completed and how, you are showing your assistant that you want them to work independently, be resourceful, and take initiative with the work you are delegating to them. Having these processes documented for your assistant to refer to also minimizes room for error and allows for quicker training of new assistants.

Working with a virtual assistant has immense benefits for you and your business – save time, save money, and focus on what really matters to grow your business. Practicing these 5 tips with your newly hired virtual assistant will ensure a seamless, successful working partnership for years to come. If you are looking to add a virtual assistant to your team, contact us today to learn about the types of services we can help your business with.

June 19, 2020
4 Easy Tips for Building and Maintaining Client Relationships

Clients are a key element to the pulse that keeps your business running and growing. Focusing and placing emphasis on your clients and how you build and maintain relationships with them is absolutely vital to your business’ success. When you nurture your clients and their needs, you are in turn nurturing your business’ health and ensuring that your business continues to thrive. Use these 4 easy tips for building and maintaining client relationships that last.

Communicate Regularly + Effectively

Regular and effective communication is key to building a strong foundation for any client relationship. No one likes to be left in the dark, so having an open dialogue that keeps everyone informed about tasks and projects at all stages is crucial. Over-communicating might feel unnatural, but is instrumental when working with others. Collaboration and achieving common goals with efficiency depends on over-communication. Let people know where you stand with your daily tasks and your next action items, so that everyone is always on the same page.

Be Transparent

Being transparent is crucial to earning your clients’ trust. Clients need to believe in you and your business and won’t be able to do so without transparency. People appreciate honesty, so admitting to yourself and your clients when you don’t know something is okay. Let your clients know what you are facing challenges with, reach out for clarification and assistance, be resourceful, and present a plan to mitigate any conflicts that arise.

Show Appreciation

Everyone wants to feel valued. Clients are investing their time, energy, and money to seek out services with your business. Let them know that their efforts are appreciated by you and do so regularly. Depending on the type of business you operate there are countless, creative ways to show your clients you really care and value their business. Whether it be sending your client a card, providing loyalty or discounts programs, or reaching out to them to simply check-in with them, these acts won’t go unnoticed.

Always Exceed Expectations

When you form a client relationship, there comes a set of expectations for the work you are going to complete for them. The client expects their needs to be met and that you will deliver on what you have promised to them, this is a given. But, when you exceed your clients’ expectations, not only are you delivering more bang for their buck, but – you are also adding an element of surprise to your clients’ day. This shows that you and your business above all others in the same industry are eager to go and beyond to retain your clients’ business and will set you apart from the rest.

What we must understand clearly from the beginning is that clients are an integral part of any business’ success and growth. So, when we build relationships and retain amazing clients right from the start, we are setting ourselves up for that success and growth. When we have happy clients that feel like their business is truly valued, this message will spread throughout the community and brings immense potential for new clients and business growth. Undoubtedly, each business is different and will require different strategies, however the Virtual Gurus’ 4 simple tips for building and maintaining client relationships are universal and provide a strong foundation for where to start. How do you build successful relationships with your clients that truly last? Let us know in the comments!

June 12, 2020
5 Real Estate Tasks to Outsource to a Virtual Assistant During COVID-19

COVID-19 has forced many real estate agents and brokers to do their jobs remotely. This is truly an interesting and challenging concept for an industry where people require client interactions and visiting properties to perform their jobs. Even home showings are now being conducted through virtual tours, to mitigate any risk of spreading the virus. The industry has changed, even if it’s only temporarily, and real estate professionals need to do the same. At Virtual Gurus, we have virtual assistants who specialize in real estate administration. They bring years of industry expertise and understand how to support real estate professionals in an online environment. Here are 5 real estate tasks to outsource to a virtual assistant during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Real Estate Administration

Managing administrative tasks can be challenging if you are working independently or in a small team. Doing it remotely can be considerably more challenging. Virtual real estate assistants are highly-equipped to manage the overwhelming day-to-day tasks that come with being a real estate professional. Calendar and email management, managing business and client lists, handling and producing routine paperwork, office supply management, distributing marketing materials, and preparing reports are just a few of the wide-range of tasks virtual assistants can provide assistance with.

Content Creation & Social Media Management

Producing and curating social media accounts that are effective and eye-catching can have a tremendous impact on your business. Creating original content and managing social media accounts is time-consuming and requires creative expertise. Virtual assistants can help to strategize, implement, and realize your real estate business’ digital and social marketing goals and grow your client base.

Research

Virtual assistants can research properties, property owners, public records, legal names, and provide reports on local and national real estate information. Most real estate information is readily available online and virtual assistants are experts in using the tools they have remotely to conduct their research.

Customer Service

Many virtual assistants have worked in client-facing roles in the past and understand the value of delivering high-quality, consistent customer service to ensure the success of a business. Virtual assistants are not only limited to tasks performed behind a computer screen, but can also be tasked with handling both inbound and outbound calls. Responding to client emails, handling inquiries, creating client satisfaction surveys, referral management, and preparing documents or materials needed for client retention are some of the customer service tasks that can be accomplished remotely.

Graphic Design

Whether it be editing listing photos using Photoshop or creating social media graphics with Canva, these are tasks that require a creative eye, attention to detail, and most importantly – time. Virtual assistants understand the importance of having a creative skill set under their belts to better serve their clients and can provide quick, efficient turnaround on graphic design projects.

At Virtual Gurus we know the real estate industry. Our real estate assistants are experts in the field and skilled with administration, content creation and social media management, research, customer service, and graphic design. We are a completely remote team and are well-adapted to provide assistance and support to our clients online. For a comprehensive list on how the Virtual Gurus can help your real estate business click here. Contact us today to get matched with your perfect virtual real estate assistant.

May 21, 2020
Simple tips to communicate effectively across remote teams

When working remotely, there is lots of room for error when communicating on a day-to-day basis with your team. The lack of an office environment where you are all physically visible and available to one another, the absence of body language in conversations, and the challenges of translating tone over messages or email, greatly impact our ability to interpret communication clearly with our team members. Let’s look at some simple tips to communicate effectively across remote teams.

Overcommunicate

Overcommunicating might feel weird at first – but, remember your colleagues have no idea what you’re up to unless you share this information with them. If you are working collaboratively with others, this is especially important so that you’re all on the same page for achieving common goals. It is easy to feel out of the loop when working alone from home. Set an example by overcommunicating your daily objectives and accomplishments, and encourage your team members to do the same.

Hold Video Meetings, Often

Whenever possible, gather your team members together and host a video meeting. Video meetings can be brief, effective, and most importantly show body language and reveal tone, which can be critical to interpreting conversations. Host a weekly meeting with relevant team members and keep everyone in the loop. For more on how to conduct highly effective virtual meetings with newly remote teams, click on our blog post here.

Report Unusual Circumstances Immediately

Life can be surprising and unusual circumstances can arise when we least expect them. Now that we are working from home, many of us face the challenges of juggling work while homeschooling kids, caring for other household and family members, or tending to the needs of our beloved pets (aren’t our pets just SO happy that we’re always home now?). With the current health crisis, we should also proceed cautiously if we fall ill, even if we believe it’s only something minor. Whatever the situation may be, if something arises that impacts your work or your work schedule, let your colleagues know. This allows time for them to prepare to take on additional responsibilities if need be.

Seek Clarification

No question is a “stupid” question. If you’re unclear about something, ask a team member immediately. This prevents unnecessary misunderstandings and miscommunication, and allows everyone to continue to work in their regular momentum, without needless conflict and errors.

Make Your Calendar Accessible

Have your calendar available to your team so that they can see when you are wrapped up with a client, project, or personal matter. Your team members will know when you are available to answer questions and have work-related discussions, without needing to ping you a dozen times to get your attention. If your schedule allows, block off a time in your calendar each day or once a week for your colleagues to get in touch with you.

Review + Edit All Written Communication

Before you hit the “send” button – take a minute to reread the email or message you have just written. This might seem trivial and like a waste of time, but taking that second or minute to review and edit your emails and messages can save a whole lot of time if the receiver misinterprets what you have written. People cannot perceive tone clearly over messages, so make sure that your messages are clear and concise.

Working remotely can be tough. Don’t complicate things more with ineffective communication. Use these simple tips to minimize errors arising from miscommunication and keep your team working efficiently, together. Got your own simple tips for effective communication across remote teams? Share them with us in the comments section!

May 15, 2020
5 Social Media Tasks You Should Outsource to a Virtual Assistant

With remote work on the rise, more businesses are turning to virtual assistants to outsource tasks and projects. Virtual assistants are cost-effective, increase efficiency, free-up time, and provide specialized support in niche business areas. But, did you know that you can hire a virtual assistant to manage your business’ social media? Here are 5 social media tasks you should outsource to a virtual assistant.

1. Community Management

Need someone to respond to comments and questions across your social media channels? Virtual Assistants can work with your Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts to manage your social communities. Community managers promptly reply to comments and customer inquiries, filter and delete spam comments, retweet and re-share information from others, and build engagement.

2. Content Writing

Have lots of ideas to share with your social media followers, but have no idea how to articulate them? Writing content can be challenging and is one of the most time-consuming aspects of social media. If you’re planning to post multiple times throughout the week, creating new and fresh content that isn’t repetitive is difficult. Hiring a virtual assistant who specializes in content writing can be a huge time saver for you and your business. Outsource this social media task to a virtual assistant who understands your industry and your demographic. Having someone who is an expert in best practices for social media content writing is invaluable and will surely help your business to grow.

3. Graphic Design

Having a vision for your social media accounts and posts is a great step in the right direction for beginning to build a social media presence. But, to properly execute your vision, you will need visually-striking, attention-grabbing, and creative imagery to support your social media posts. Outsourcing graphic design work to a virtual assistant who understands your brand and your vision can provide relief if you aren’t confident in your own creative abilities. Have beautiful images and designs created specifically for you, that will help support your social media and business strategies.

4. Editorial Calendar Management + Scheduling

Social media has many elements to it. It is much more than just creating well-written posts and beautiful images. Timing is a crucial aspect of social media. Understanding how and when to schedule posts can have a tremendous impact on how audiences discover your business. Planning monthly editorial calendars, scheduling posts, and correctly timing when posts are seen by different audiences, are just some of the tasks involved in efficient social media scheduling. Planning these tasks are important social media issues covered by a virtual assistant.

5. Social Analytics + Strategy

Understanding how your social media posts are translated by your target audience is critical to understanding how effective your content actually is for driving new business. Hiring a virtual assistant who is an expert in social media analytics is a cost-effective solution to marketing agencies, who generally charge much more, and provides individualized, focused support for your social analytics needs. Virtual assistants can produce and explain reports for what posts and channels are working for your business and driving traffic, and why others aren’t working as successfully. They can help you to strategize and implement new social media strategies that will increase engagement and promote your business properly to your target audience.

There are tons of reasons why choosing to work with a virtual assistant is an absolute no-brainer for you and your business. Virtual assistants are cost-effective, increase efficiency by outsourcing tasks, free-up your time so that you can focus on what’s really important, and provide specialized support in niche areas. Hiring virtual assistants with expertise in community management, content writing, graphic design, scheduling, and analytics, will allow you to outsource social media tasks to experts who can execute your vision and strategy, with absolute efficiency and ease.

May 8, 2020
5 Friday Team Building Activities to do With Your Remote Team

Friday? Fri-YAY! Having special office rituals on Fridays is customary for many workplaces – whether is be casual Fridays, providing a catered lunch, afternoon happy hour, a shortened work day, or taking the team out for an after-work activity. Friday is a way to celebrate all of the work you and your team have achieved throughout the week. Doing something special shows your team that you appreciate them, boosts employee morale, and cultivates and creates a great workplace culture. So, how do we translate these Friday in-office rituals to a virtual setting? Here are 5 Friday team building activities to do with your remote team.

1. Order Delivery and Host a “Lunch and Learn

Although we may not be able to provide a catered lunch through a Zoom call, we can still order delivery to each of our team members’ homes individually. Pair a home-delivered lunch with a weekly learning topic, and both you and your team are happily holding a lunch and learn together – virtually. Browse through your local food delivery service options in advance and plan accordingly, as restaurants have select delivery zones. Make sure each of your staff members can have access to a lunch and are within the delivery zone for the restaurant you end up choosing. And, if your team is too large to get the delivery options properly sorted, provide them with a stipend to order a lunch of their choosing within their delivery zone.

5 Friday Team Building Activities to do With Your Remote Team

2. Virtual Happy Hour

There might not be a boozy cart being rolled around the office late Friday afternoon, but that doesn’t mean you still can’t host a virtual happy hour! Invite your team near the end of the work day on Fridays for a casual drink (or two!) from the comfort of their own homes. Keep the setting professional, but informal, so that you and your team members can let loose a little after a long work week. Enjoy each other’s company outside of a structured, work environment and prepare some ice breakers or mini games to complement the virtual happy hour. This will allow you to get to know your team members better outside of their work roles and to develop a stronger team relationship.

3. Pub Trivia

Everyone loves a good pub trivia night out. And, since none of us can actually go to the pub during social distancing for a brain-exercising evening, why not host your very own trivia event with your remote team? Invite your team members to a conference call and split everyone into smaller groups or allow for individual play if you have a small team. Prepare a few rounds of questions, following a common theme, such as: history, geography, pop culture, science, arts, or get creative and think of a more specific topic. Keep the game play to about an hour and have fun testing your team’s knowledge of some fun, trivia facts.

4. Show and Tell

Take the exciting elementary school level activity of Show and Tell and bring it to your colleagues in your virtual workplace. As most of us are working remotely from our own homes, finding an object around the house that is meaningful to us or tells an interesting story shouldn’t be a difficult feat. Have each member of the team talk about something they find in their house and why it is important to them. This is a great activity to get to know your colleagues better and to develop an understanding of each your team members on a more personal level.

5. Go on a Virtual Tour

You might not be able to take your staff our for a team outing, but you can certainly get creative and take you team on a virtual adventure tour. Choose between a museum, a gallery, exploring a city or country through Google Street View, or get a bit more personal and have some fun exploring each other’s homes. Of course, consult your team beforehand to gauge everyone’s level of comfort if you are going to be giving each other home tours. Lots of museums and galleries are open for business online and allow free access to their exhibits. Click here for a list of museums offering free tours.

5 Friday Team Building Activities to do With Your Remote Team

Just because we are now working remotely during the time of COVID-19, doesn’t mean that we can’t continue to have fun and let loose with our colleagues. It is a stressful time for all of us, so incorporating some team building activities into our work week is a great way to redirect our focus and energy on to something positive and socially-driven. Each team is different in personality and size, which will dictate what types of virtual activities are appropriate for your group. Keep it simple at first, then build upon the activities as you go through the initial trials and errors. Engage your team members and ask for their feedback and input into your weekly Friday activities. Most importantly, have FUN and be CREATIVE – Fridays are a time to celebrate your team’s hard work throughout the week. Show your team members that they are each individually appreciated and organize an awesome Friday team building activity, remotely.

May 1, 2020
How to conduct highly effective virtual meetings with newly remote teams

The global health crisis has propelled many organizations and teams into the world of remote work. This new territory can come with a lot of challenges, especially if you and your colleagues have never had the opportunity to work remotely before. One of these challenges is being able to conduct a meeting in a virtual landscape, with the same effectiveness that would be achieved in your regular office environment. Learn how to conduct highly effective virtual meetings with newly remote teams from a team of virtual workers who do this on a daily basis.

Schedule your meeting correctly

Start your virtual meeting off on the right foot and be sure that the meeting is scheduled correctly and with sufficient notice for your meeting attendees. Send out calendar invites for your meeting well in advance – the sooner the better, so that everyone can prepare accordingly. Ensure that your meeting attendees are familiar with the platform you are using for the meeting (whether it be Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts, Video Messenger, or another platform) and that they can access the service through their device. Send out the necessary links, codes, and passwords to access your meeting at least 24 hours before the meeting, so that your meeting attendees aren’t scrambling to locate these right before the scheduled meeting time.

Prepare your space

Ensure that the space you are conducting your meeting from is as “meeting-friendly” as can be (whatever that means for you, and with the limitations we are facing during quarantine). Try to find a space in your home with minimal distractions. Having a clean, simple background behind you is ideal. You want your colleagues to be looking at you, not your background environment. If you will be holding meetings on a regular basis, convert an area in your home into a designated meeting space. This will save you a lot of time for set up and tear down after each meeting. Make sure that your children and housemates are aware of the time that your meeting is taking place, so that background noise can be kept to a minimum and there are no unexpected walk-ins to your meeting.

Look the part

Although many of us might be working from home in our comfiest clothes, a virtual meeting is not the time to show off your coziest pyjamas. You must present yourself professionally, if you want your colleagues to take you and what you are saying seriously. Even if you don’t think they can see what your wearing waist down, you never know what could happen. A toddler can burst through that door and all of a sudden everyone sees you chasing down your kid in a pair of sweatpants, while wearing a dress shirt. This is still an office environment, even if it may not feel that way. So, demonstrating to others that you are maintaining this level of professionalism will set the tone for the meeting and set an example for others to follow suit.

Test your tech

There is nothing more frustrating than a tech issue during a video conference call. It keeps others waiting and eats up everyone’s time. Before the meeting make sure that you and your colleagues all test your Internet (a quick router reset can increase the speed), that microphones and cameras have been tested through the platform you are using, and that your lighting is clear and bright (facing a window or purchasing a small, clip-on laptop light helps if you are in a darker environment).

Create a well-organized agenda

Having a clear and well-organized agenda is imperative if you want to have a smooth and efficient meeting. Distribute this agenda before the meeting so that your meeting attendees can review what is being discussed and prepare questions or materials if required. Limit each meeting to a few, big topics, with smaller sub-topics, so that no one is left feeling overwhelmed by the end of the meeting. Keep the topics relevant to everyone who is included in the meeting. Having a logical flow from topic to topic helps keep your attendees engaged and all on the same page throughout the course of the meeting.

Keep the meeting relevant, concise, and establish time limits

Everyone’s time is valuable and without question, the effects of quarantine are making many people feel workplace burnout right now. You want to ensure that your meetings are relevant to the people you are involving, that they are concise, and that your topics follow reasonable time limits. No one wants to be in a meeting that doesn’t apply to them or with discussions going in circles, with no end in sight. Be mindful of people’s time and set reasonable expectations for time limits on each subject. Move on from a topic if you feel that everyone has understood what has been communicated, or if you feel that it has been discussed for too long. Having someone act a meeting facilitator can help with keeping track of time, announcing when to move on to another topic, and managing meeting attendees and their questions within the chat box.

Conclude with clear directions and action items

Leaving a meeting feeling overwhelmed or unclear about what work is required from you and how to take action, are the signs of an ineffective meeting. You want to make sure that the end of your meeting is conclusive. Your colleagues should have a clear understanding of how that meeting applied to their roles and what actions they need to take next. If maybe one or two individuals aren’t clear about the meeting, stay on the conference call with just those select people after everyone else has left to clarify any questions.

Conducting highly effective virtual meetings with newly remote teams can be very challenging for teams transitioning to working within a virtual landscape. At Virtual Gurus, we are experts in virtual meetings and conduct all of our meetings over video conferencing. Follow our tips to make the most of your meeting time with your colleagues and how to create effective virtual meetings from start to finish.

April 24, 2020
Working from home during COVID-19: How to identify, prevent, and manage burnout

Newly working from home due to COVID-19? Yes, it can be more challenging than many of us had anticipated. The lack of physical cues that signal we are at a workplace, the absence of coworkers and management, the freedom of flexibility, the transitioning of an entire team or organization, the sharing of your workspace from home with your housemates, and dealing with the uncertainty of a global pandemic. These are just some of the many stressors that we are all facing for the very first time. It is absolutely no surprise many of us are feeling the powerful effects of workplace burnout right now.

Learn how to identify, prevent, and manage burnout while working from home.

Identify the Symptoms

The World Health Organization defines burnout as “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by three dimensions:

  • feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion;
  • increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and
  • reduced professional efficacy.”

Essentially, it’s the combination of emotions and reactions that result directly from being overworked and undergoing constant stress on the job. With the added layer of stress, anxiety, and uncertainty that comes with a global pandemic, burnout is becoming increasingly prevalent – and, understandably so. Don’t be upset or hard on yourself for not feeling like “you’re getting things right,” we’re all stumbling along this strange, steep learning curve that comes with such a widespread crisis. We’re all feeling isolated, confused, a sense of loss and grief, and panicked. Without question, these very valid feelings we are experiencing are affecting our work.

Uncertain if you are burning out? Take a minute to reflect and ask yourself the following questions.

  1. Do you feel your energy levels have been completely depleted or are depleting quickly throughout your work day?
  2. Do you feel a sense of negativity or cynicism about your job, your coworkers, or the organization you work for?
  3. Are you finding that your levels of productivity and output have diminished significantly and consistently?
  4. Are you experiencing a sense of frustration or helplessness when attempting to complete your work?
  5. Are you feeling more irritable than usual with work-related tasks or coworkers?
  6. Do you feel accomplished, proud, or satisfied when you complete tasks or projects at work – or are you struggling to find that sense of achievement you once had?
  7. How does your physical body feel? Are you experiencing any aches or pains that aren’t in your regular realm of “typical” body aches and pains?

Symptoms of burnout can vary greatly from person to person, and can manifest themselves both mentally and physically. So, be sure to check-in with yourself frequently and don’t ignore any signs. Keep track of your emotions and any physical feelings in your body that aren’t within your “norm,” and note these changes. The goal is to identify these symptoms as early on as possible and to implement prevention and management strategies to help keep burnout under control.

Prevention & Management

While there may not be a single, universal solution to prevent and manage burnout, there are more than a handful of strategies that you can experiment with to find which works best for you and your unique situation.

Identify the problem and determine whether or not there is a feasible solution. Although the state of the pandemic is completely out of our hands, are the other stressors that are affecting our work-from-home burnout something that we can control?

Here are some stressors that may be in our control and ways that we can resolve them effectively:

  • Office environmentHow is your work-from-home space set up? Is it separate from other members of your household? It is neat and organized? Do you have all of the essential supplies and equipment you need to get your work done? While everyone’s work-from-home environments will be different, is it possible to create a space that is your own, with minimal distractions? Find a designated space in your home that provides you with inspiration to get your work done. If possible, avoid areas with distractions or high-traffic areas for other members of the house (ex. a kitchen, living room).
  • Stick to a schedule – People who work from home often find themselves working more than they would in a traditional office environment. There is this sense that we need to over-compensate and put in more hours, as we are in a more relaxed environment. Many people are also putting in more hours a week than they normally would, due to being self-isolated, with nothing else to do. You want to maintain as similar as a schedule as possible to your regular office schedule. Allow yourself time in the morning before work to “get ready” for your work day. Give yourself breaks throughout your work day, like your normally would in the office. Take time for lunch and for a “water cooler” chat over video chat or with a member of your household. It’s OK to take breaks to stretch your legs and give your mind a little rest. Don’t go turning on the TV or anything, but give yourself 5 to 10 minutes every few hours to take a brief pause from your work.
  • Regulate your sleep cycles Another reason why sticking to your regular work schedule is so important is that it affects your sleep schedule. Your body craves a consistent sleep schedule. So, when you are staying up later than you normally would and waking up way later, then your whole internal clock is out of whack. Grogginess and being overtired affects your productivity and your functioning at work. Keep yourself refreshed and healthy with a consistent sleep cycle.
  • Exercise often and get outside – Being confined to our homes for days on end is suffocating. Some of us are lucky to have an outdoor space, which will prove to be very helpful for our mental health in the coming warmer, summer months. That being said, you do not need to have a backyard or balcony to better your mental health. Taking a walk every day in the fresh air, going on a jog, following a yoga class on YouTube, lifting some weights (or random, substitute objects you find in your home), are all great ways to energize your body and mind. In the summer months, try to get your exercise done outside (if possible) to give yourself a break from your home.
  • Communicate how you are feeling to your coworkers and to management – If you are finding that something that used to work isn’t working anymore in a virtual office setting, let your coworkers and management know. Undoubtedly, there will be tons of kinks that your organization will face and may be trying to work out while transitioning to remote work life. If you have an idea to improve the functionality of a process or system your organization has in place, present it to the relevant person or group and pitch how to solve it. If your idea is implemented, it will not only better your situation, but potentially others who feel the same way.

Many of us are feeling the overwhelming effects of burnout while working from home. Be aware of the symptoms and check-in with yourself regularly. Identify the root of the problem and see if it’s something that is within your control and something you can fix on your own.

Be patient and kind with yourself right now. None of us are getting any of this right, right away. This is an incredible learning curve that we are all on and it’s going to take a whole lot of time to work it out. Don’t kick yourself for not being as productive as you normally would be. Don’t put yourself down if you feel like you couldn’t give your best for a project or task. It is completely OK to not feel like yourself right now (or even for a while) while working from home during this global health crisis. Reach out to others and surround yourself (at a virtual distance) with people who uplift you and provide you with the support that you need. Stay healthy and safe, and don’t forget to take care of yourself.

March 29, 2020
8 Productive Activities to Keep Your Mind Active During Self-Isolation

In this strange time in all of our lives, where many of us don’t even know what day of the week it is anymore, keeping our brains sharp and ourselves sane in self-isolation can be challenging. Make the best of the time you have in self-isolation with these 8 productive activities to keep your mind active.

Listen to a Podcast

If you’ve never listened to a podcast before, now’s your chance! There are an infinite number of podcasts available today for free. You are bound to find a podcast that suits your personal interests, whether it be business and technology, comedy, true crime, news and politics, or lifestyle and health. There is something for everyone.

Here are some of our top picks. The Daily by the New York Times keeps you plugged into what’s going on in the world, with a daily news segment condensed into 20 minutes. Stuff You Should Know by iHeartRadio is a podcast about anything and everything. Tune into this one if you want to learn some interesting, random facts to share at your next virtual dinner party. TED Talks Daily by TED covers absolutely everything under the sun by leaders and experts in their fields. You’ll feel like an absolute genius after listening to one of these.

If you want to discover more of our favourite podcasts, click here.

Take an Online Course

Whether you want to learn some new skills or subjects, or brush up on some old ones, keeping your skill set sharp and immersing yourself into new topics and fields is an incredibly constructive way to use your time. Who knows – building upon your skill set might even open up some new doors for you in your career or uncover some newfound passions and hobbies.

If you’re looking for courses to further your career as a virtual assistant, the Virtual Gurus Academy offers courses tailored specifically to this type of career development. These courses provide insight on a variety of topics related to virtual assistant work and are designed by experts in their fields who have personally worked as virtual assistants.

Learn more about some of our favourite Virtual Gurus Academy courses here.

If you’re looking for a broader range of subjects to explore, take a look at Udemy. Udemy is known for offering thousands of expert-led courses across various disciplines, including photography, personal development, and music.

Visit an Online Museum

8 Productive Activities to Keep Your Mind Active During Self-Isolation

There are hundreds of museums all over the world that are offering free, online visits through their galleries and exhibits. Travel to the Louvre right from your living room and see all of the incredible artworks up close and personal on your very own private tour. This might be your only chance to see the Mona Lisa without a sea of selfie sticks obstructing your view.

These are some other museums offering free, online tours:

  • Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto
  • British Museum, London
  • Musée d’Orsay, Paris
  • Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver
  • Uffizi Gallery, Florence
  • National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City
  • Rijks Museum, Amsterdam
  • Art Gallery Of Ontario, Toronto
  • MoMA, New York
  • National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul

Cook a New Meal Every Day

8 Productive Activities to Keep Your Mind Active During Self-Isolation

Time to pull out and wipe off those dusty cookbooks, and get creative in the kitchen! Whether you consider yourself the next Top Chef or are still reading the directions off the back of a mac and cheese box, this is a great time to refine your kitchen skills or to master how to not burn down your kitchen.

Cooking something new every day allows you to be creative and might even give you a new sense of pride and fulfillment. We are often so busy, that many of us simply do not cook anymore and rely on take-out. This is a great way to explore some new skills and learn how to cook up some delicious meals to show-off to your friends and family… virtually, of course.

Plant a Garden

8 Productive Activities to Keep Your Mind Active During Self-Isolation

Got a bit of extra space in your backyard or on your balcony? Get working on that green thumb and plant yourself a garden with some of your favourite herbs, fruits, and veggies. No idea what you’re doing? There are tons of resources online for how to create a garden that thrives in the climate that you live in. Having your own garden will also save you some trips to the grocery store and make social distancing even more effective. Start planning and order yourself some seeds – the planting season begins soon!

Learn a New Language

Our phones have made learning a new language as simple as checking our Instagram or Twitter every day. Although there are tons of apps available for learning new languages, our absolute favourite is Duolingo. Duolingo offers quick, daily learning exercises for over 30 languages, including: Spanish, French, and Chinese. It focuses on vocabulary, building sentence patterns, and basic communication skills. It is incredibly user-friendly, the curriculum is effective and well-organized, and its short lessons are designed for people with busy schedules.

Learn more about Duolingo here.

Watch Documentaries

8 Productive Activities to Keep Your Mind Active During Self-Isolation

If you are going to watch something on Netflix, why not learn something new while doing so? So, for your next movie night or day (who’s judging anymore?), pick something form the documentary category instead. There are hundreds of fascinating movies and mini tv series that cover everything from climate change, to World War II, to eating street food around the world, to controversial true crime stories. There is something for everyone – Netflix definitely makes sure of that.

Meditate

It’s no secret that taking even 5 minutes out of your day to completely quiet your headspace, provides great benefits to your mental health. We are all undergoing a tremendous amount of change and stress right now. Practicing meditation is an incredible stress-reliever and controls anxiety. We all need a little self-love and care during this time, so allow yourself a few minutes out of your day to calm your mind.

If you need a little guidance for your meditation practice, take a look at some of these top-downloaded apps: Headspace, Calm, and Aura.

We are all feeling the effects of this unprecedented pandemic and are constantly learning how to adjust, cope, and live in self-isolation. We have so much time on our hands now, which is something many of us craved a mere few weeks ago. So, let’s use this time we had always wished for in a productive, constructive way. Let’s make the best of this crazy time in self-isolation with some of these productive activities to keep our minds active. Let us know what you’ve been doing to keep yourself productive in the comments below.

March 20, 2020
How to build an effective routine for the most productive work-from-home days

Over the past week, many of us are now finding ourselves working from home, as social distancing is becoming the new norm in this challenging and uncertain time. Some of you may be completely new to working from home and might be finding your work days… oh, a little less productive than you had imagined them to be. For those of us who are seasoned remote workers, we’ve all been there. It’s tough to suddenly transition to remote work life, if you don’t have the structure and a proper routine in place. Here’s how to build an effective routine to make your work-from-home days the most productive.

Work From Home

Stick to the Same Routine

Wake Up and Seize the Day

Although you might not be travelling very far to begin your work day, you should still act as if you are going into an office environment. You need to keep your regular routine to kick-start your work day.

Rise and shine. Wake up at the same time you normally would – no, those extra minutes you now have because you no longer have to commute are not to be used for extra sleep. That’s what the weekend is for, right?

Shower and get dressed for work. OK, you don’t need to put on your best suit. But, try to avoid working from home in your jammies all day (I know, I know… they’re so cozy).

Fuel Your Body

Make an energy-boosting breakfast that will keep your brain working throughout the day. Now that you might have a bit more time on your hands, cooking from home is a great way to take complete control of your health and ensure you are fuelling your body with the proper foods that it needs.

Get Your Work Space Ready

Be sure to prepare your new, remote office space with the equipment and tools that you need to get your work done all in one place. And, try to keep it as neat and organized as possible, so that you are minimizing any additional stressors during an already very stressful time.

Work As You Normally Would

Clock-in to work as you normally would. Proceed with your work day with as much normality as you possibly can. I know things will feel strange and foreign for the first little while – that is totally normal and completely expected. So, don’t worry too much if you’re having a hard time. You will adjust, and your productivity and work ethic in your new work space will improve over time.

Utilize Your Time Wisely

Minimize Distractions

Working from home comes with a whole mountain of distractions that we aren’t normally exposed to and tempted by in a traditional office environment. Keep these distractions out of sight, out of mind.

Unless it is required for your job, it’s best to keep your phone on silent or out of arm’s reach. As it is such a stressful time right now, we might be tempted to reach out to our phones more frequently to check news updates on social media, or check in with our loved ones. Although I strongly encourage you to keep informed about the news and to connect with loved ones to support one another, use your phone intelligently and sparingly throughout your work day. You might want to consider temporarily deleting any social media platforms or de-activating your account if you find that social media use is contributing to increased anxiety.

With many of our commutes being completely eliminated, many of us will find ourselves with a lot more time on our hands. So, what to do with all those extra minutes (or hours) in our days?

Find a Creative Outlet

If we are in fact practicing social distancing with the vigilance and commitment that it requires, many of us will now be incredibly bored and alone. What a world we live in. Take this time alone or with your self-isolation partner to explore your creativity.

Read books, write books, sketch, paint, re-organize your house, re-decorate your living room (with items already in the house, of course – after all, we are avoiding unnecessary shopping trips), begin to plant a garden in your backyard, build something, cook, solve puzzles. Whatever gets you going and keeps your brain stimulated – do it. And, do it often.

We often say to ourselves things like, “If only I had the time to start painting. If only I had the time to cook a healthy meal for my family every night.” Well, now many of us do have that time. Use this time now, while we have it.

Exercise and Take Care of Your Mental Health

Anxiety levels are high right now. I myself feel it, and I know many others who are feeling overwhelmed right now. Although the gyms and yoga studios might be shut down, we have an amazing modern invention at our disposal – YouTube. YouTube has an infinite number of workout videos, from high-intensity cardio workouts, to calming yoga practices.

Many gyms and workout studios are now offering free Instagram live streams of their classes. So, take a look at your local gym to see if they are doing so as well.

If organized workouts aren’t your thing, get outside. But, proceed with caution and make smart decisions. Only choose outdoor environments where you can practice safe social distancing. Go on a bike ride, go for a run, take your dog out for a walk, take yourself out for a walk. Do what you need to do (at a healthy distance from others) to keep your body and mind active and healthy.

Transitioning to remote work life, while maintaining the same productivity in your work, as well as the balance in your work and home life, can be incredibly challenging. Be patient and adjust your routine as needed to get to that level of productivity you wish to achieve. Continue to share with your colleagues and friends what is and what isn’t serving you in your work-from-home environment. Bouncing ideas off of each other is incredibly helpful and appreciated especially by those who are completely new to this type of work-life balance.

Please share with us any tips and advice you have in the comments below.

Keep healthy and well, everyone! We are all in this together.

March 6, 2020
5 Courses Every Virtual Assistant Needs to Take

Whether you want to learn some new skills or brush up on some old ones, keeping your skill set sharp and current is essential to your success as a Virtual Assistant. Having a strong foundation of skills that align with your various clients’ specific needs will make you stand out in an increasingly competitive space.

Virtual Assistant Courses

The Virtual Gurus Academy is the online learning resource of The Virtual Gurus – Canada’s largest virtual assistant company. The Virtual Gurus Academy is the premier online academy designed for both new and established Virtual Assistants. Courses are tailored specifically to Virtual Assistants, with specialized curriculum for VA professionals in different industries. These courses are designed and instructed by experts in their fields who have personally worked as Virtual Assistants.

All courses are taught on a user-friendly platform and learning can be completed at whatever pace you choose (perfect for those with busy schedules and multiple clients on the go).

We personally asked our VAs about their favourite courses from our Academy and here are their top 5 picks for courses every Virtual Assistant needs to take.

Virtual Assistant Courses

Virtual Assistant Bootcamp

This 5-hour course is a comprehensive beginner’s guide to the essential skills Virtual Assistants need to develop and fine-tune to succeed in the competitive virtual workforce. This course covers administrative essentials, web platforms, SEO and basic social media, autoresponders and landing pages, and automation techniques. Build a strong foundation of these skills and launch your career as a Virtual Assistant with absolute confidence.

How to Run Highly Effective Virtual Meetings

Understand the ins and outs of conducting meetings with clients in a virtual setting. Virtual meetings can often be more challenging than those executed in person, due to the lack of a traditional office structure and the culture surrounding it. Learn how to create streamlined, highly productive, and effective processes for each meeting with every type of client.

Social Media Manager

You will walk away from this course with the knowledge, skills and systems in place for success as your client’s social media manager. You will learn the secret of the three E’s and the psychology behind the marketing. AND, you will master how to create content, how to organize it, and how to schedule it effectively.

Graphic Design Fundamentals

Unleash your creativity and learn to communicate effectively with your audience through the power of design. Understanding the fundamentals of graphic design will help you to communicate your client’s brand and vision with clarity and effectiveness. This course is for those who want to polish their social media presence, documents, presentations, blog, website and eNews letters. You will learn all about design elements and principles, typography, colour for print and web, design techniques, and what tools are best for your clients’ tasks.

How to Build a Powerful Client Intake System

In this course, you will learn the steps and systems for making a powerful client intake process. The intake process is a client’s first contact with your Virtual Assistant business and is the path that you follow after you have attracted a potential client. Learn how to create superior client experiences that will impress leads and potential clients even before they start working with you. Master how to build a client intake system and process that works for you and will attract high-quality clients to boost your business.

Whether you want to explore new skills or build upon your existing skills, taking courses to expand your knowledge as a professional Virtual Assistant will help you to position yourself strategically in an increasingly competitive space. Unleash your potential today and visit The Virtual Gurus Academy to learn all about the courses we offer.

December 13, 2019
10 productivity apps to start 2020 with a bang

For many business owners and entrepreneurs, time is as valuable as money. That means anything that saves time is considered important and it’s all about getting the most productivity out of your day and how efficiently you’ve done that.

As we head into a new year – and a new decade – we wanted to share with you 5 productivity apps (in no particular order) that we think will help you start the year running and never look back.

Evernote

A personal favourite, Evernote is basically a digital notebook that multiple people can access if needed. It serves as not only a note maker type product, but it also tracks your time and allows you to collect anything and everything you find online, which is great for research projects. This program auto syncs all your devices to ensure you don’t lose any important work. Evernote allows you to work on multiple projects at once in different notebooks and is a great way to collaborate on projects with other people. The best part is, it’s free!

www.evernote.com

Otter Voice Notes

Otter is a smart notetaking and collaboration app that entrepreneurs, students and journalists can use to get more value from meetings, calls, video conferences, interviews, lectures and other important conversations and information. Not only does it take notes, it also transcribes them for you, which is a game changer for people who don’t like to transcribe large files or need it done fast. While there are premium options, Otter transcribes up to 600 hours of work for free each month and offers unlimited storage of the uploads and syncs across all devices.

otter.ai

Grammarly

Whether you’re prone to making spelling mistakes and grammatical errors or not, Grammarly is a great addition to your computer or mobile device. Now only does it integrate with your system and automatically catch spelling and grammar errors as you go, but you also get weekly updates on how many words you’ve written, how many unique words you’ve used and more. There are free and paid versions, but you should be able to get everything you need out of this app without purchasing it.

www.grammerly.com

Slack

When it comes to online communication, there is no app that competes with Slack in our opinion. Instant online communication between coworkers, organizations and even friends and family, Slack allows users to instantly get a notification when they have a message. You can share files and create various channels. There’s not much more you need in an online communication app. It’s free for small groups but larger companies will need to purchase a plan.

www.slack.com

Hootsuite

Any social media manager or entrepreneur handling their own social media know what a time sucker it can be. Enter Hootsuite. Managing social media is an important part of any businesses’ marketing strategy and Hootsuite allows users to update multiple social media accounts without signing into each one. In fact, you can pretty much control everything – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn – all from this pretty easy-to-use app. The best part of this program is the scheduling feature, so you can just set your scheduled posts and let the program do the work. Plans start at $29 a month but there is a 30-day free trial to see if this is the right program for you.

www.hootsuite.com

Zoom

While we’re talking about online communication, we’d be amiss not to mention to Zoom, which is the go-to app for video calls, conference calls and webinars. It can be used for business or personal and you’re able to screen share, share files and so much more. There are both free and paid pro versions available.

www.zoom.us

1Password

Passwords are getting more complex by the day and then you must change them more often and it’s all getting a little hard to keep up with. That’s where 1Password comes in; no longer do you have to remember that strange word, letter and symbol combination. This app will track your login details for all the apps you use across the web. There is a free 30-day trial but there is a cost after that with personal and business plans to choose from.

www.1password.com

Taskful

This time management program tracks your daily, weekly, monthly and yearly to do lists all in one place and it divides your tasks to show you only what you need to do each day to meet your deadlines. Reminders and colour categories help you stay on track. This program is great for people who don’t want to forget anything they need to do in a day and it also reminds you to drink water and exercise more if you want it to. The best part is; it’s free.

www.taskful.com

CamScanner

Nobody has scanners and fax machines anymore. That’s okay when you have apps like CamScanner – and there are some other great ones out there that also do the same thing. It’s a digital world and there’s nothing better than being able to scan a document with your phone and email the documents within seconds. This app features a free download though there are also premium options available.

www.camscanner.com

Trello

Hello, Trello and thank you for saving us time. Trello is the ultimate app for managing multiple projects and provides a highly visual way to track your progress and accomplishments. From breaking down large projects into smaller steps and tracking different tasks and who is accomplishing them, this program can do it all. Do you enjoy the visual accomplishment that checking items off your to-do list provides? Then Trello is for you. There are free and paid versions available.

www.trello.com

Add these productivity apps to your business toolbox and you’ll slay your 2020 business goals.

Are you ready to get started with The Virtual Gurus?

Click here to start searching Virtual Assistant profiles today!

Or, click here to schedule a consultation to learn more!

Visit our services page to learn more about what we do.

Financial planning for small business owners

This is a guest post from True North Accounting, a trusted partner of Virtual Gurus

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When it comes to finance for business owners, having a thoughtful and intentional approach — including setting goals and priorities — as well as the tools to make business finance easier to manage, will set you on the path to financial well-being. 

Let’s explore some tips to give you greater control of your finances (personal and business) and much-needed peace of mind so you can focus on growing your business. 


1) What’s your vision?  

Long-term snapshot  

What’s your long-term vision for your life? This is a great place to start. Go full pie-in-the-sky on this one: what does a day in the life look like for you, 10 years from now? How are you spending your time? Is this what financial freedom feels like? 

3-year snapshot  

Next, describe what your life needs to look like in three years to be on track to achieving your 10-year dream life. How much is your business doing in revenue? What about profit?

1-year goals

Now with the long-term vision for your life (and your business), it’s time to actually set some goals for the next year. What do you need to accomplish in the next year to move you one-third closer to your three-year snapshot? 

2) Now, focus on your 90-day priorities

It’s proven that splitting big goals into quarterly priorities helps people focus and improves their chances of achieving the longer-term vision. If you were only going to accomplish a few things in the next three months to move you closer towards your dream life, what would they be? 

At True North, we want you to reach your financial goals and realize that dream life.  A good starting point is to have a realistic picture of your current financial situation.

3) What’s your budget? 

It's often difficult to separate business goals from personal financial goals. When it comes to compensation and earnings from your business, it makes sense to figure out your personal and family financial requirements first.

Step 1: Start with determining the monthly burn rate of your household

Start by building a household budget by exporting the last six months of your personal banking and credit card statements into an Excel (.csv) sheet. Then calculate your fixed costs and discretionary costs to determine how much you need each month to live. 

 

Step 2: Add additional costs that aren’t necessarily monthly: 

  • House downpayment
  • New car fund 
  • Kitchen renovation
  • Post-COVID vacation
  • Kids college fund or RESP
  • And how much you need to be investing for your retirement 

You’ve now built your household budget, which will help you on your road to financial stability.

Step 3: Pay yourself from your business

Using this household budget number (which is an after-tax amount), you need to figure out if this will be a dividend or a salary. This will help you calculate the gross amount to pay yourself from the business. Don’t forget to add your savings and investing amount to your household budget to figure out your pre-tax, target compensation.

To see this in practice, let’s say your household budget is $7,500.

As a salary, this would be about $10,000 gross salary or $120,000 a year.

If you paid yourself in dividends, this would be about $100,000. Keep in mind that the corporation would also pay about $11,000 in corporate taxes on the dividend. 

 

Step 4: Can your business afford to pay you that amount?

Next, calculate a budget for your business by taking your monthly financials from last year and using them as a starting point for the upcoming year’s budget. Apply the appropriate growth rates to revenue, and any variable costs associated with earning that revenue. Don’t forget to consider the fixed costs you will incur over the next year, including your own compensation as calculated in step three. Will you have a positive net income or are you forecasted to be in the negative? 

 

To make your plan work, you may need to adjust a few things:

  • Revisit your household budget
  • Reevaluate your business profitability projections
  • Review your future savings and retirement goals

You will likely need to explore a combination of all three. And if you’re just starting out, you may need to extend your business budget (target forecast) by two or three years to build up the business.

Step 5: Figure out your business budget 

Now you’re ready to copy your business budget into a new sheet called “Target Forecast.” You can play with the revenue and costs to figure out how much your business needs to make to hit your target compensation level, while still hitting your target profit margin.

If you’re using Xero, you can add your budget into your account so you can track Budget vs Actual each month and know whether you’re trending in the right direction.

4) Finalize your goals 

Congratulations! You've just created a realistic plan that will help you achieve your financial goals. You now know what needs to be done and you can start living and running your business in a more intentional way. 

This is when we’d recommend finalizing your one-year goals, and then the 90-day priorities mentioned earlier. 

5) Make a detailed, step-by-step plan 

Now that you’ve established goals and know where to focus your energy, it’s time to get granular. Break down your goals into small, achievable steps. When executed on, this action plan will move you closer towards your goals. Be intentional by dedicating time each day or week to work on your focus items. Every little step will help you accomplish those priorities and adds up to reaching the one- and three-year goals you set. 

6) Make things easier with these tools 

As you know, there’s a lot to manage as a small business owner. Entrepreneurs can leverage smart tools that streamline day-to-day tasks and take the stress out of financial security. Tools like Wealthsimple can help you create an investor profile and can recommend investments to match your risk profile and retirement goals, even if you don’t have a deep understanding of investing. Here are some other useful tools: 

 

  • Helm connects with Xero and helps forecast your future cash balance.
  • Xero offers accounting software that simplifies everyday business tasks like invoicing, collections and bookkeeping.
  • Youneedabudget (YNAB) helps you gain control of your budget and teaches you how to manage your money to get ahead.

7) Achieve your goals 

This one should be easy since you’re your own boss (which means you probably enjoy your job a lot more than the average person). Wake up and design each day with a relentless commitment to accomplishing your priorities. 

And get help if you need it. If you need financial support to get you through a tough period (say, a pandemic), lean into the loans and relief programs. 

8) Reflect on your success and repeat 

Review your past quarter and assess your priorities. Don’t forget to celebrate the wins and consider the losses. How can you apply your learnings to the next quarter with a focus on those one-year goals? 

Recreate your 90-day priorities each quarter with a focus on those one-year goals. Spend time each year revisiting your three- and 10-year snapshots and setting your one-year goals. Before you know it, you’ll be sailing into your 10-year dream goals.

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