She Got Laid Off and Launched an Innovative Virtual Assistant Company - Jenna Kutcher

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She Got Laid Off and Launched an Innovative Virtual Assistant Company

Jenna Kutcher 

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Some of the greatest ideas come when you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. When Bobbie Racette was laid off along with so many other people working in the oil and gas industry in Alberta, Canada, she decided to pivot into the freelance arena as a virtual assistant… Except she quickly learned that virtual assistant agencies left a lot to be desired. So Bobbie decided to do something about it. 

Bobbie Racette is the Founder and CEO of Virtual Gurus and askBetty. She and her team have developed a virtual assistant service that not only helps businesses offload some administrative and other tasks, but also provides employment opportunities to underrepresented people who might have a more challenging time finding work. 

You know I love outsourcing, so I’m eager to chat with Bobbie about the virtual assistant space, the challenges she faced when launching her company, why a VA can be totally game changing for a business, and how you can get started as a VA if you’ve always wanted to explore the possibilities of a freelance career. 

A Problem She Could Fix

When Bobbie was laid off from her administration job, she was among thousands of others who were trying to find administration work. She’d heard about freelance virtual assistant opportunities before and felt it was something she’d be able to do but according to her research at the time, there wasn’t a company in Canada who was providing virtual assistants.

Fast forward to now, Bobbie has created the largest virtual assistant freelancing platform in Canada called Virtual Gurus. Not only has she found a job for herself as the CEO of the company, but she also created opportunities for work for other people finding themselves out of a job, particularly people from underserved communities like people with disabilities, POC, and LGBTQ.

Ask Betty

Bobbie also saw an opportunity to meet the needs of business owners who needed one-off and bite sized tasks handled on a sporadic basis but not necessarily the support of a Virtual Assistant. Enter: Ask Betty. 

Ask Betty is a Slack app that allows users to purchase bundles of time for tasks. Then they can just hop into the Ask Betty Slack channel and request a task. Think like, “Can you transcribe this interview?” or “Can you book my flight home?” Betty is actually a collection of freelancers – mainly college students between classes or stay at home moms trying to make ends meet – who perform these tasks a la carte and on demand. 

This opportunity is incredible for both business owners and freelancers. Entrepreneurs can get the help they desperately need while freelancers can earn the money they want to earn on their own terms and timeframe. 

What is a Virtual Assistant?

“Virtual assistants have evolved,” Bobbie explained. The idea all spanned out of India in 1996 with the concept of virtually based workers who could help with generalized tasks. Now, and with Bobbie’s company, Virtual Assistants can do more than general tasks and are often specialized in various areas of business like accounting, marketing, scheduling and more.

A virtual assistant is often the best place to start when you know your business needs help because there’s no pressure to provide for that person’s entire income. Especially on Bobbie’s platform Virtual Gurus, a majority of the virtual assistants work in a specialized area for multiple businesses so you’re only paying for exactly what you need done. I think that’s important to remember because it takes the sting out of hiring, especially if you’re thinking about hiring for the very first time. 

More from this Episode

What area of business could you outsource to a virtual assistant? What can you do to ensure your virtual assistant performs the tasks exactly as you need them to? And could you be a virtual assistant? Bobbie Racette walks us through so many topics in the virtual assistant space (including how AI and machine learning is improving the field – so cool!) Press play to hear the full conversation. Visit Virtual Gurus to learn more about Bobbie’s company and Ask Betty.


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A small town Minnesota photographer, podcaster, educator and puppy rescuer, my happiest days are spent behind my computer screen sharing my secrets with the world. I'm glad you're here.

I’m an expert at online marketing, a nerd when it comes to the numbers, and my obsession is teaching others how to make a living doing what they love (without it taking over their life). 

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