How is a Virtual Assistant Different from an Online Business Manager (OBM)?

How is a Virtual Assistant Different from an Online Business Manager (OBM)?

Find out how to choose the right support for your needs.

If you run a business, you know how quickly you can start to feel overwhelmed and overworked. It doesn’t take much to go from smiling because you got this, to panicking because the work is piling up and sliding out of control.

The good news is that you have options when it comes to delegating tasks and lightening your load.

Virtual Assistants and Online Business Managers are both excellent solutions to the problem of feeling like there are never enough hours in the day to get it all done. These two roles may seem similar at first glance, but they are actually quite different in terms of their responsibilities, skills, and the type of value they bring to a business.

In this post, we’ll explore the key differences between a Virtual Executive Assistant and an Online Business Manager to help you determine who is the right fit for your business needs. You might even realize you need both!


Executive Assistants vs. Business Managers: What’s the Difference?

An Executive Assistant is a professional who provides administrative and clerical support to business owners and executives, usually at the C-suite level. Their primary responsibilities include managing schedules, making travel arrangements, taking phone calls, drafting emails, organizing meetings, and performing a range of jobs to ensure you can focus on strategic decision-making and other high-level responsibilities.

On the other hand, a Business Manager is responsible for overseeing day-to-day operations, including managing employees, developing and implementing strategies to achieve the company’s goals, and monitoring financial performance. Business Managers generally have decades of experience in a business setting and are highly skilled to keep their finger on the pulse and ensure your company is running smoothly and efficiently.


Why Hire a Virtual Executive Assistant?

Virtual Executive Assistants exist to take the busy work off your plate so you can focus on the tasks where you supply the most value.

For example, at VEA, our Executive Assistants not only handle typical administrative jobs, but they are also happy to take on tasks of a Personal Assistant like booking dinners, vacations, ordering household basics, and even sending flowers and gifts. Think about it – when your personal life is tended to, you have more brain space to focus on the workday.

How do you know it’s time for an Executive Assistant? Here are several common signs:

    • Your inbox is overflowing.
    • You move a lot of meetings because you don’t have control over your schedule – your schedule has control over you.
    • You can’t imagine shutting off while on vacation. Too many things would slip through the cracks.
    • You’re constantly sidelined by small or distracting projects that take you away from the tasks where you shine.

An Executive Assistant can even drop work blocks into your schedule, giving you permission to simply focus rather than be pulled into last-minute meetings that sabotage the day. They can also help you strive for “inbox zero”, a productivity strategy and philosophy that seeks to declutter your mind by decluttering your inbox through methodically deleting, sorting, and clearing incoming emails.

The right Executive Assistant can transform how you structure your week and make it more productive!

“An Online Business Manager having a remote meeting via Zoom to present reporting, insights and direction”



Why Hire an Online Business Manager?

An Online Business Manager is like your “Chief of Staff” who can handle daily business functions, giving you more capacity to focus on business development. Online Business Managers bring both administrative and operational big-picture perspectives to internal operations, and they integrate strategy and leadership to streamline your business.

More than handling your administration functions or bookkeeping tasks, an Online Business Manager is your right hand and can identify vital moving parts and resources within your organization and fit them together. With an Online Business Manager overseeing the daily business functions, you can refocus on business growth, company culture, and anything else that gets you to leap out of bed in the morning.

How do you know if it’s really time for an Online Business Manager? Here are just a few signs:

    • Important tasks get pushed out due to lack of bandwidth.
    • You have that nagging feeling of never having the time to strategize on anything new.
    • Winning a new business doesn’t feel fun, it just means more work you already don’t have time to do.
    • Communication with your team is slipping.
    • Keeping up team morale is getting more difficult.
    • Recruitment and hiring are too rushed or don’t get done at all.

More specifically, an Online Business Manager can manage your staff, your finances, and take the lead on marketing initiatives. This doesn’t give you carte blanche to take a step back and let your Business Manager run the show, but rather you now can have a person who has the bandwidth to execute your vision.

While your Online Business Manager facilitates events and operations, you, as the owner, are recharged to place your company’s mission front and center and expand your company’s vision – something you might not have found time to do before. What do you think? Does this sound like the person you’ve been waiting for?


One + One = Three

Choosing between an Executive Assistant and an Online Business Manager does not have to be an either/or equation. The best solution may be to hire for both job functions. In an ideal scenario, your Business Manager prioritizes tasks and delegates them to your Executive Assistant, so you can tackle the areas where your time is best spent.

You need support, but you don’t need a full-time resource. These job functions are virtual, which means your Executive Assistant or Online Business Manager is used to working on a fractional or part-time basis, within a flexible schedule. It’s really between you and your person to come up with a schedule that works for everyone.

What do you think? Want to learn more? Reach out to VEA anytime to talk about your specific challenges and how VEA can support you and your business goals.


Tovey Blake
Operations Manager

Frequently Asked Questions about Online Business Managers (OBMs)

Q: How do I onboard an OBM?

A: The team at VEA will guide you through a step-by-step onboarding process to ensure your OBM is brought up to speed, quickly and efficiently.

Q: What if I only need help during peak seasons?

A: An OBM exists to streamline processes and encourage organizational growth – something that requires year-round attention to be done effectively.

Q: How can I be sure I will get an OBM who understands my needs?

A: VEA prides itself on HAND MATCHING every OBM to every client. We will work with you to get it right.

Q: What if I quickly realize I don’t need an OBM?

A: Our OBMs work on a fractional, contract basis. You are under no obligation to renew the contract when the term is up.

Q: Can VEA help me make sure I am getting the most value from my OBM?

A: Absolutely! Your dedicated account manager at VEA is happy to share tips on how to get the most out of your relationship with your OBM.

How to Effectively Manage Your Time with a Virtual Executive Assistant

How to Effectively Manage Your Time with a Virtual Executive Assistant

As time goes on, more and more business owners are joining the movement of working remotely. Having a brick-and-mortar location is no longer considered essential. Working remotely allows for more flexibility in your day, it is more cost-effective with lower overhead costs and it saves time not having to commute. 

But how do you prevent your business from taking over your whole life when it is so accessible? How do make sure you still have time to focus on the big picture and not spend countless hours on tedious administrative tasks? 

You get yourself a Virtual Executive Assistant!

Using Your time effectively


How does a Virtual Executive Assistant help?

Maybe your first question is, what can a Virtual Executive Assistant do to help me? 

Most experienced EA’s can bring order to chaos that you were too busy to even notice was taking over your mind and maybe even your personal life. They can keep all the administrative tasks running efficiently allowing you to focus on the big picture. Here are just a few services that a Virtual EA can offer.

Email Management: 

It is easy for emails to get out of hand. Losing one or two and forgetting to reply to a client or customer do to sheer volume is not just a “you” issue. It is in fact quite common. Let your Executive Assistant streamline all incoming emails. Many have worked with multiple personality types and will have a few previously proven successful processes, so you don’t need to figure one out yourself. They can ensure you never miss an important email again.

Email management is our bread and butter. Recently we helped a client who receives 120 emails a day down to checking only 10-20. How? We set up filters and rules in his inbox and matched him with a Virtual Executive Assistant who is an hour ahead of him. She gets to his emails an hour before him, clearing out and unsubscribing to emails that are not relevant or don’t need his attention. When he starts his computer in the morning, he only sees what needs his attention. Saving him from reading up to 100+ emails a day!

Calendar Organization: 

An effective use of an Executive Assistant’s time, is managing your calendar, booking appointments, and adding in scheduling notes. A meeting needs to be booked, rescheduled, or cancelled; they can handle all of that with ease. Need a reminder to do a certain task? They can find that time for you and set up notifications making multitasking a breeze.

Travel Organization: 

Booking a flight, hotel, car rental, or even a vacation can be a tiresome task. Our Executive Assistants do it all the time for multiple clients, so they know just when to book and bunch of tricks and tips to help you. Having a points issue? Let them take it over. Need some restaurant ideas or possibly a fun activity close to the hotel. Your EA can handle all the research involved. Whatever one of Virtual Executive Assistants don’t know, they have a support team of over 75 other people they can turn to for help before reaching out to you.


Have a new project idea, or an upcoming event, or maybe you need some information on how to do something? The internet is a wealth of knowledge, but it can not only take hours of your valuable time, but it can also be exhausting sorting through that much information. You can often find yourself falling into one rabbit hole after another. Your Virtual Executive Assistant can handle that. They can gather all the information you will need and summarize it, making your job easier.


Utilizing Your Virtual Executive Assistant

Now here’s the difficult part. It’s not always as easy to connect with someone virtually as it is in person. You don’t have someone right beside you, watching what you do, seeing firsthand the ways they can help you. Difficult but not impossible. Here are some ways to effectively manage your time with a Virtual Executive Assistant.

Designated Weekly Meetings: 

Once a week at minimum. However, you will probably require 2 or 3 a week, in the beginning, to help with the onboarding process. Even a quick 15-minute meeting can help you build a relationship. Don’t be shy, turn the camera on every once in awhile and you will see how much easier it is to develop trust and understanding! Tell them about your day and what you have coming up next. A little small talk can go a long way. Our Executive Assistants know where they can help and are always listening for ways to make your life easier.

Handing over your Inbox: 

It can be a bit overwhelming handing over such a personal thing. We get that. But it is one of the most effective ways for your Virtual Office Assistant to learn your business on a day-to-day level. Start off by having them just organize it, then slowly pass over responsibilities as they learn how you would like to handle things

Once you are fully comfortable, this can free up so much of your day by only be notified about emails that actually require your attention. No more seeing high numbers of unopened mail while most of it being newsletters. Which they can also help you unsubscribe from if needed. Another lengthy task that take up too much of your precious time. Do you even remember the last time you shopped at Best Buy? No need to still get their electronic flyers.

How to Videos: 

Loom videos are a great way to show your EA how to do something. It can avoid unnecessary mistakes by showing them how to use a certain application or something that needs to be done in a particular process or a more effective way to do something. No need to take the task back, just show them on a video they can refer to whenever they need a reminder.


Now that you know how a Virtual Executive Assistant helps and how to utilize your Virtual EA, off-loading and outsourcing tasks should be a breeze when you hire the right one. A proactive Virtual EA will keep you ahead, remove the bottlenecks and help you work in the areas of your business that drives growth.

Our EA’s a VEA have years experience working remotely, and often know the questions to ask before you do! We have a team of support behind each of them and a low monthly minimum hour requirement. Start off with just a few tasks, you can always add more hours as you see firsthand what your Executive Assistant is capable of. Now that you know all this, how can you not afford to hire a Virtual Executive Assistant?

Book a call for more information:

Derek Burbidge
Manager of Sales and Marketing

Tips for Maintaining Work-Life Balance Using a Virtual Executive Assistant

Tips for Maintaining Work-Life Balance Using a Virtual Executive Assistant

“Work to live, not live to work.”  How many times have you heard this from friends and family, or have seen this motto on promoted in a meme on social media?  For many Small Business Owners, working to live is easier said than done.  

Let’s face it – if you don’t work to run your business…then there IS NO business.  So, what can you do to turn the tables?  You could go back to a ‘9 to 5’ again…but then again… NOT!  You love your small business and are hungry to make it thrive. Your business is a big part of who you are, and you’re not prepared to give it up, no matter what the cost.  So, then what?  

Maybe it simply means that you need to work smarter, filling your days with the business you love, and less time spent doing business tasks that, while are necessary, are not your jam.

Unorganized computer desk

If you feel like your work-life balance is more off-balance than balanced, it’s time to enlist the help of a Virtual Executive Assistant.

1. Take Back the Night

Or your nights…and your weekends!  As a Small Business Owner, you attend to your core business and the needs of your clients all day.  Your business is all consuming and it’s what pays the bills!  Unfortunately, that may mean you are stuck doing your business administration work after hours, often eating into your much needed free time.  You know – making client invoices, reviewing the day’s emails, basic bookkeeping – that kind of busy work that must be done, but is so time consuming and tedious.

You need and deserve a break!  Hiring a Virtual Executive Assistant could be the solution you are looking for.  By offloading administrative and routine tasks to a Virtual Executive Assistant, you can open time for yourself to make your nights and weekends FUN again.  Finally check out that new restaurant you’ve been wanting to try, escape the city for a weekend, catch-up with friends, go for a run, binge that Netflix series everyone is talking about – the sky’s the limit, and a Virtual Executive Assistant can help take you there by giving you the gift of free time.

At VEA, our Virtual Executive Assistants come to the job ready to work, armed with experience and skills that let them hit the ground running.

2. Get a New Rhythm (And We Don’t Mean Dancing)

As a Small Business Owner, you know that there are administrative tasks that simply must be attended to during working hours.  The problem with these tasks is that they can be noisy and demand immediate attention, cutting into the productive routine of your day.  Answering client inquiries, scheduling appointments, returning routine phone calls – these are just a few of the administrative interruptions that can wreak havoc on the precious time of your daily business.

Yet there is no doubt that the completion of these tasks in a timely manner, while not your core business, are critical to your success.  Why not hand these tasks over to an Virtual Executive Assistant and consider them done!  Our Virtual Executive Assistants are experts at time management, making it easy for them to juggle many balls in the air at the same time.

There also may be personal tasks that need attention during the day, that ever-growing nagging list of to-dos that you can just never get to:

  • making a dentist appointment
  • booking lunch with a friend or colleague
  • finding that perfect gift for your significant other.

These kinds of things are important in your life too, and somehow you need to find the time to get them done.  But like the shoemaker’s kid, they are the last to ‘get the shoes’.

Our Virtual Executive Assistants are double agents and also complete basic Online Personal Assistant tasks.  Having helped other Small Business Owners just like you, our Virtual Executive Assistants can easily slip your personal tasks in amongst your required business administration work.  Not only that, but they also come equipped with tons of experience and may be able to provide you with suggestions or ideas of things they can help you with that you may not have considered.

3. More Time = More Business

Do you ever feel like you are busy all day, jumping from business task to meeting, and back to business task – but you are not making any headway?  Frustrating, right?  

This kind of exhausting, busy tempo is all too familiar with Small Business Owners because there is just so much to do and so little time.  But there is also the possibility that you could need some help with time management.  One of the beauties of having a Virtual Executive Assistant is they are one step removed from your core business, so they can step back and look at the bigger picture of your day with a fresh perspective.  

A Virtual Executive Assistant can help you by managing your busting-at-the-seams calendar, helping to create some much-needed space in your day.  By being mindful of how and when appointments are booked, your Virtual Executive Assistant can create time blocks in your day for focused time.  And focused time is what small business owners need.  Focused time offers you uninterrupted THINKING time, which is what you need to brainstorm ideas to maintain your businesses or push it to the next level. 


So, to summarize, if you are a Small Business Owner who needs help creating more time in your day but are hamstringed by an overload of administrative and personal tasks or by a lack of time in your daily calendar, it’s time to consider getting help.

You know you don’t want to commit to a part-time or full-time salaried employee, so a Virtual Executive Assistant could be just the ticket:  no overhead; on demand and flexible services; experienced, professional, and ready to work.  A Virtual Executive Assistant could mean the difference between you working to live – and not living to work.  And let’s face it, isn’t that what life is all about?


Derek Burbidge
Manager of Sales & Marketing

How to Effectively Manage Your Time with a Virtual Executive Assistant

Maximizing Efficiency through Task Automation for Virtual Executive Assistants

Picture it, you just had your kickoff meeting with your Virtual Executive Assistant and are so excited to get started, you have so many tasks that need completing and you want to track their progress.  But…

  • Where does your Virtual Executive Assistant start?
  • How will your Virtual Executive Assistant maximize time and efficiency?
  • Can your Virtual EA utilize task automation?

Lucky for you, you have a Virtual Executive Assistant that is quite talented in this area.

Task automation is using technology to complete tasks instead of manually handling them.  This technology automates time-consuming and repetitive tasks to keep the workflow’s productivity and let’s you and your team members spend your valuable time on revenue-making tasks.

Task automation systems benefits businesses of all sizes.  They can speed up information retrieval and streamline daily tasks.  Streamlining tasks by using automation software can help reduce business errors, improve productivity and free up your valuable time to work on other aspects of your business.  It also creates workflows, therefore becoming more efficient.  Gone are the days where using Outlook to manage tasks seemed to work efficiently.  There is a better way to do it.

At VEA, we like using project management software that is user friendly to both our clients and our Virtual Executive Assistants.  Software such as Monday  are the top-3 preferred software we use.  Each software provides high levels of efficiency to keep track of task progress.  , planning, visibility, productivity, flexibility, and future insights on the tasks you need completing.

Benefits of Task Automation

  • Increased Productivity

The software helps your Virtual Executive Assistant maximize the time in completing tasks assigned.  As most software can be integrated easily with other programs, this allows your Virtual Executive Assistant to streamline tasks more efficiently.  It also tracks the progress and collaboration with other team members within your organization.  Basically, you can see who your Virtual Executive Assistant is collaborating with to get your tasks done and who is collaborating with your Virtual Executive Assistant.

  • Bigger Picture

Finding ways to save money, corporately, is a high priority.  In using task automation software, you can have the non-revenue tasks shifted to your Virtual Executive Assistant which leaves you to focus on the revenue making tasks. As an owner, you take on many “hats”, however, being your own Executive Assistant should not be one of them.

  • Improving Customer Experience

As you are no longer doing the non-revenue tasks, you can focus more on your customers or clients.  While you do that, your Virtual Executive Assistant is in the background making sure that all tasks are done smoothly ensuring you are organized.

  • Consistent and Improved Quality

Using this software will provide consistency and improved quality with the product of work you and your Virtual Executive Assistant have completed. Your Virtual EA will also create templates to easily duplicate new boards with the automation already created.

  • Use of Virtual Executive Assistant Time = Less Billable Hours

By using this kind of software, the Virtual Executive Assistant can spend more time doing the task than planning the task.  This equates to less billable time to you.  Another way for you to save money!

  • Streamlined Information Sharing

To have the ability to share information with the click of a button is what we love to do.  Having transparency within tasks is crucial to your Virtual Executive Assistant.  As they are not able to walk into your office and ask whatever they need to with an instant response, being transparent in the tasks allotted can save time and money.  It will also provide you with accuracy in the completed task.

  • Analytics

Are you the type that needs to see the “hard numbers”?  Good news! Task automation can give you those “hard numbers”.  You pull reports to show where you are at with projects and tasks at any given time.  With such greater levels of insight, this will allow you to make informed decisions.

  • Provide Security

The software provides security against internal and external threats.  It also assists with data backup and recovery options. With the permission levels available you can assign who sees what and what their permissions are. There will be no accidental deletion or edits on boards that your team doesn’t need access to. Unlike pen and paper or certain trials or payment plans in certain software like Slack, your communication doesn’t disappear over time. It can be archived instead of deleted.

  • Centralizes Data Access

It will aid in developing a centralized platform for cloud-based data access, manipulation and storage.  By integrating the software with your established workplace database, it makes it simple and safe for everyone to facilitate quick data exchange.

Use with your Virtual Executive Assistant

As you use task automation software tools with your Virtual Executive Assistant, collaboration is essential.  We recommend that you have weekly meetings or calls to facilitate in keeping tasks on track.  Being clear with your Virtual Executive Assistant in using this software can build your trust in your Virtual EA while clearly communicating projects, tasks and expectations.

You may also use this time to readjust and reprioritize tasks within the software.  We also understand that sometimes there just isn’t enough time to have weekly meetings.  Making good use of this software can also replace having daily or unnecessary check-in meetings with your virtual Executive Assistant by just making adjustments in the tasks themselves.  Your Virtual Executive Assistant will see the changes and act efficiently to complete them. Saving those “this could have been an email” meetings.


Our experienced team of over 75 Bookkeepers and Virtual Executive Assistants in Canada have a vast knowledge base in task automation software. This will help you get up and running quickly with your Virtual EA and task automation software to grow and scale your business.

Derek Burbidge
Manager of Sales & Marketing

The Benefits of a Virtual Executive Assistant for Small Business Owners

The Benefits of a Virtual Executive Assistant for Small Business Owners

As a Small Business Owner, you know that time is money. Just think about your time on those pesky administrative tasks, holding you back from the heart of your business.  You know – email and calendar management, the interruption of phone calls, social media posting…all of the daily things that need to be attended to but take you away from your core business.

If this sounds all too familiar, it may be time to explore how Virtual Assistant services could be of benefit to you, your business, and often your staff or family.

Here is some food for thought, or what we like to call the “Virtual Assistant Services Benefit”:

  • Focus on your daily business, not the daily grind.  

VEA’s Virtual Assistants go through a rigorous interview process to ensure they have the administrative skills they need to hit the ground running.  Not only do they have fulsome experience working in the Executive Assistant field, but they are also conversant in many of the software programs your company has come to rely on: the MS Office Suite; social media tools such as Buffer, Hootsuite and Canva; and a whole host of project management applications. 

As a small business owner, the inherit value is evident.  Without having to invest training time for a new employee, you can begin to delegate your non-preferred administrative tasks to your new Virtual Assistant as soon as you are matched, freeing you up to invest your time and energy in your business.  Immediate help = immediate relief.

  • No project too large or too small.  

Our Virtual Assistants are known for the ‘flex’ in their schedule. From the smallest detail to full-scale, time-consuming tasks, VEA’s experts can accommodate your administrative requirements in their daily schedules. Because they work flexible hours from their home offices, they are not bound by the 9 to 5 mentality.  And because our Assistants live in various time zones across Canada, you will be matched with someone whose working hours are best suited for you and your business.

  • Pay as you go. 

Because you are not hiring a full-time permanent staff member, you have the advantage of our pay-as-you-go Virtual Assistant Service.  This means that you pay for the time you use, without any idle hours wasted. With convenient monthly invoices and no hidden costs, you will know what your administrative expenses will be for budgeting purposes.  

And best of all, no time spent on payroll, benefits, or remitting source deductions. We also cross-train our Virtual Executive Assistants. If your Virtual EA goes on holidays or moves on from VEA you will have someone trained to take over, saving you valuable hours training someone new.

  • We keep you out of the weeds.  

Ever have that kind of day where you need to dive deep into your business to get things done, but you face constant interruptions by notifications, live chat, or phone calls? Our talented Virtual Assistants can help you rise above the weeds by working in the background to man interruptions while you attend to core business. 

  • Better, faster, smoother. 

Sometimes, it just takes a fresh perspective – that new-to-the-company kind of perspective that doesn’t carry the baggage of how things have always been done – to streamline your administrative processes.  Our experienced administrators can review your current processes and can offer suggestions for improvement.  They can also create new processes where none have existed before, helping you cover blind spots that might leave your business otherwise exposed.  

  • Bottleneck be gone.  

Are there are things that have remained on your To-Do list for far too long?  Consider delegating them to a Virtual Assistant – then sit back and watch the magic!  By offloading your time-consuming administrative tasks, you remove that stubborn bottleneck that stops you from getting things done. These tasks usually become a bottleneck for the obvious reason that they take your time and energy, but realistically, you don’t really want to do them in the first place.

  • Let’s get personal. 

Do you have less-than-zero time to plan or schedule things for yourself – personally or professionally?  A Virtual Assistant can also wear the hat of a Virtual Personal Assistant to help book personal appointments, make restaurant reservations, or plan that long-overdue weekend getaway.  Not only are Virtual Assistant Services of value to your business, but they are also of high value to you! 

Many of our clients start shifting their Virtual Assistant to a hybrid of a VA and virtual Personal Assistant once they realize that is an option. If a task takes you away from doing the important things, hand it off, whether that is business related or personal.

  • Make your social media…social again.  

Let’s face it – social media is time-consuming, often dropping to the bottom of your ever-growing to-do list. While our Virtual Assistants are not marketing experts, they can help you create a marketing plan using information from your past social posts, newsletters and your website. They can also assist in the active maintenance of your social media by creating posts and monitoring feedback and comments, so you can use social media as a powerful tool to connect with potential and existing customers.


If any one of these considerations twigged an “Aha!” moment for you or more importantly an “I need this!” It’s time to think about scaling up to include a Virtual Executive Assistant in your business game plan. Getting help will save you time and money, and reduce that all-too-familiar small business owner burnout.  As we always tell business owners we talk to “if you are needing a Virtual Executive Assistant now, you should have hired one months ago.” Let’s get those tasks off your plate to move you back into these key pieces that need your attention.

Interested?  Drop us a line to learn more about how VEA and our team of Virtual Executive Assistants can help you and your small business reach even greater heights.

Derek Burbidge
Manager of Sales & Marketing