Episode 20: How to Outsource for Success: the secret to hiring and training a virtual assistant to grow your business and spend more time doing what you love

September 9, 2019

In this episode, Jaime Jay discusses how hiring a virtual assistant can lighten your workload and give you more time to focus on the money-making activities in your business and the things you love to do. He’s share how to figure out what to delegate and what not to delegate. How you can save money delegating,  how to work with a team, and the power of having systems. This is information every author and entrepreneur needs to know! Don’t miss it!

Resources mention

Website: www.Bottleneck.online



Ellen’s interview on 3DayMBA Podcast 

Culture Eats Strategy 

Books by Mike Michalowicz

Profit First,
and The Pumpkin Plan by Mike Michalowicz

How to Crush it in Business without Crushing Your Spirit,
How Entrepreneurs Can Overcome Depression and Find Success by Ellen Violette

3 Key Points

It is expensive to hire and fire employees

Document everything you do so that it is easy to give it to a virtual assistant to follow and implement.

Make a sheet with three columns and for each task ask if this is something you must do or can you delegate it? And does it give you energy or not?
Then outsource those thing that you can delegate that you don’t enjoy doing.

Show Notes

[00:51] Jamie Jay is a connector of personalities and brands. He constantly challenges himself to be a better human being. He’s also an amateur hockey player and starter geek who truly enjoys helping his clients rediscover themselves, their companies, and how to realize their why. Jamie has worked with clients in Canada, the United Kingdom, America, Philippines, other countries in Asia and in Mexico. He’s the co-founder of and operator of publishing company where he helped create, publish, and distribute a regional real estate publication. I did not know that. He’s the recipient of an army achievement medal from meritorious service, hosted a top 100 business podcast on iTunes and a lot more.

[01:49] How do you hire a virtual assistant?

First, Jaime said he was a big fan of what Ellen does. He said, “… I’ve been able to witness that firsthand with my good friend Christopher Lochhead. You did an amazing work with him, so yeah, kudos to you for that. It’s just absolutely amazing.” The book is Niche Down, Everybody Niche Down, that’s the book Ellen did.

[03:16] So the name of Jaime’s company, Bottleneck, came from a friend, and it is perfect because a lot of business owners or leaders or managers, they’re their own bottlenecks and they don’t even realize it.

Jaime said that was the case with him; he was his own bottleneck He had to figure it out, let himself go and trust in other people, so that they can help do some of those things that just do not give him energy that they love doing anyway.

He thought nobody else can do anything as well as he could do it. It takes a while to let go because it’s the baby, and it’s everything so you want this to be so good.

Understanding what systems and processes are all about, helps you create workflows to delegate to make that system run more effectively. Every time you grow a little bit more and a little bit more, you start recognizing different friction points in areas that need to be worked on or improved upon in your businesses, and every time that happens, the workflow needs to be tweaked or the system needs to be tweaked in order to overcome growing pains.

Virtual assistants are fantastic because you don’t have the overhead, especially in a challenging economy. The first thing to go in that type of economy is the advertising and marketing budget. The second thing to go, people lay off.  And Jaime thinks it’s coming.

[7:07] Ellen wrote a book called, How to Crush it in Business Without Crushing Your Spirit, How Entrepreneurs can Overcome Depression and Find Success and a lot of the stories were people dealing with the recession.

It taught Jaime how to run a tighter, cleaner ship. What he found is not all solopreneurs need a staff, right, but help sometimes, to build a website or to do graphic design or to write the book. You have the framework, but if you’re going to have somebody write a book for you or editing that book or doing whatever it is, formatting that book, all of that stuff, that might be something one person can do. But when you try to scale something and grow, there’s no way one person can do all of that.

Jaime has a podcast, Culture Eats Strategy, and he wants to write a book based on the interviews and one of the biggest challenges he has is making sure that even though he can get it transcribed, going through it.  There are a lot of weird words or sayings or long words or different terminology, it doesn’t come across. So, you still need someone to help with that, so why not have a virtual assistant go and transcribe everything for you. There’s just a bunch of different things that a virtual assistant can help you out with.

It almost forces business leaders to format and systemize, to protect their businesses by establishing workflows because that does two things: Number one, the virtual assistant understands exactly what is expected of them because there’s a step-by-step process there. And number two, it helps systemize the business because if anybody ever goes to sell the business,  you can get a lot more money for a business. It’s very hard for somebody to come in and buy a company when there are no systems.

The neat thing about it is you can do a Zoom call like this and explain it, exactly how you want it done or share your screen and click the mouse around, and then you have the assistant say, “I need you to document that. “Can you please put a step-by-step process exactly how you carry this out?” And bam, it’s done, and you didn’t create it.

Ellen added that when she started doing her podcast, working with a web person,  there would be certain things she couldn’t do and so she had help making little video snippets and that was great!

What would you say to somebody like Ellen who has been burned and is now gun-shy when it comes to hiring a VA?

Ellen shared that she had no problem hiring people, but then got sued. She didn’t do anything wrong and the VA lost, but it was painful. Then she had a VA who quit when Ellen had an emergency over Christmas. The VA was irate that Ellen contacted her on a holiday.  From that Ellen learned to ask, “Are you available for emergencies on holidays? She didn’t hire anyone for a long time. But now has a team minus a VA.

[12:49] What is the difference between a VA and a team?

A  virtual assistant is a human being. There’s always going to be things that may slip through the cracks or people will get upset; there’s always that risk. However, going back to systems and processes of protocol, a workflow an SOP, a Standard Operating Procedure, have these in advance. If you do not have these right now, and you don’t even think about hiring anybody, still do everything as if it’s the last time you’re ever going to do something. Meaning document, document, document.

By systemizing, by documenting everything you’re going to come across things you would’ve never thought of.

There are tons of those questions that come in that people don’t think of when they start off. So, having a good understanding of what your processes are for your entire business, all the tasks that you’re responsible for and all the tasks that you’re responsible for now, that you can delegate to someone else, 80% as good as you or better. That’s going to help clear up a lot of that.

[15:12] What is the global impact of outsourcing?

First, the difference between a team and a VA… you can have a team of virtual assistants. At Bottleneck, what happens is you get a team leader assigned to you, and you talk to that single point of contact-not one person can do graphic design, web development, sales etc. But you can have one point of contact, and then they build a team underneath them.

A virtual assistant is someone who works remotely. In some cases, people have teams that all come into the office. They can see in brick and mortar, and what’s the big difference, and people say, “How am I supposed to run somebody or work with somebody if they’re working remotely systems?” Systems and processes.

It’s been proven that remote workers get more work done than they do in the office because of the water cooler and things like that. And they’re project-driven, they’re deadline-driven. In an office, you can lean over, if you were in an office and you asked a question about how to do something, someone can lean over to your computer screen and just go, “Oh, push that and that, and then it’s done.” But the process wasn’t documented.

[16:49] So the next time someone else starts, you’re going to have to lean over and say, “Oh, do this and this,” wherein they can just say, “Oh, I can pull up that workflow.”

As far as the global impact, it’s called the ripple effect, and because of the Internet, the business world has never been smaller. The talent pool has never been bigger. You can go anywhere in the world and pull from some amazing talent in Europe and Africa, in India and the Philippines, in America, Canada, UK.

You can have a conversation with no delay to anywhere in the world. Because of that,  it makes a global impact. Now some people may say, “I cannot believe you’re outsourcing to people in the Philippines, that’s crazy. You need to hire U.S.The problem with that is this is really expensive to hire in the U.S., and if you can’t start and grow your company, how in the world are you going to become successful and spend your hard-earned money in your local community, which Jaime does to help the local economy.

Ellen added that her team is American because she was able to find good people who had prices she could afford that made sense for certain jobs that she’s doing. It doesn’t mean everyone she hires forever will be in the United States, but right now they are.

It’s not expensive to reach people now; It’s free on Zoom and you can talk to somebody that’s never been there before. So, that’s that global impact-the ripple effect, meaning that if they can impact somebody, no matter if they’re in the U.S. or anywhere, we’re all human beings and  to be able to provide a position for somebody all the way across the world and see that person who’s never had a car before buying the first car in their family, feels awesome!

Another VA is buying their first house; that’s the ripple effect in a global impact.

It’s a mindset. It doesn’t matter what country they are in, there are nice people everywhere. This is where being selfish is good.

[21:33] How do you hire people?

If you reach out to Jaime, he’ll give you a free hire checklist. It’s a spreadsheet, and it’s got all these steps on what you should do two weeks before, one week before, on the day of the hire, 30 days after, 60 days after. It’s a neat little checklist where you can kind of go through and it’s got a lot of things that people don’t think of doing in the beginning.

So, contingency plans are really important. What if someone doesn’t show up? What if you’re working with them for a year, and they say, “Hey, can I go on vacation?” What are you going to do for that week or two weeks, or one month, or what if you’re going on vacation? Or, what if they get sick and go to the hospital? There’s a whole bunch of different things you need to have that contingency plan in place for. So, that’s something that you need to think of. But how do you hire?

Simple but not simple.

The first thing is every single person should start writing a delegation roadmap. It will give you an idea of what tasks you should be doing and what tasks you can outsource to someone else. You can write on a spreadsheet up at the top “Tasks” and then you’re going to have three columns. You put the task. For each task assign two values. Number one, is this something you must do or can you delegate it to someone else? Yes or no. The second one is does this give you energy or does it drain you of energy? And all of the tasks that you can delegate to someone else and that drain you of energy, now all of a sudden you have a task list, a job description.

Then you can go through that job description and kind of start segmenting it out, this is all web, this is all this, this is all this or whatever, this is administrative. Then prioritize them. Ask yourself, “Which ones do I need done first?”

A lot of times. people are too trusting, and they just give everything to their virtual assistant all at once, and there’s total chaos because there’s no workflows or systems or processes in place and that doesn’t work. So, own what you’re tasking. Make sure that you write down everything, give little bits of pieces in the beginning, get a good working relationship going with that person. Make sure that this person understands you correctly. They’re writing out the workflows, and you can then have a good dialogue going back and forth.

As soon as they start nailing the smaller tasks, it’s less important. Maybe you start giving a little bit more responsibility and a little bit more responsibility, and this can happen over the course of the first thirty days. Take the time to train, take the time to be with them. And a lot of people that are super busy say,” Just hire me; I’m a rock star, but the best person will fail if they aren’t trained properly. So, take some time to train them, book it off in your day, schedule an hour a day for the first two weeks and just sit down and make sure that you’re going back and give them assignments and tasks.

Make sure that the method of communication is clearly stated to them. “This is what I expect you to be doing. This is how you communicate with me. What is the best way of communication?” Little things like that go a long way, and then after that two weeks, you can start seeing, “Okay, I don’t have to train them as much they’re getting this. I can get back and give back a little bit.”

Then in ninety days, you’re running a completely different business. It’s tasks that are busying up your day that take you away from focusing on what matters most, your 30,000-foot goals.

Should you be going to an event where you can meet all these people and generate more opportunities for your business? Heck yeah, shaking hands. So, you’re the face of the business. Should you be worried about returning that email? No. Should you be worried about updating the bookkeeping? Not unless that’s something that gives you energy, then, by all means, do that.

But what happens is you start ticking away at all of these little mundane details that are repetitive in nature. If you start taking away at all of those, all of a sudden it starts opening up you have more free time. When you’re less stressed, you’re way more creative, and you need to have that creativity, that spontaneity, the things that if you need to take a break and go on a hike for a second to clear your head to get more thoughts on writing this book or whatever, we maybe have writer’s block or whatever that may be.

Take a break because guess what? Everything’s going to be handled. So, if someone else has an emergency, have the virtual assistant create an email and set it up for you. Important tasks, bills, personal, have them set all that up for you so you don’t have to come in in the morning and see 500 emails. You come in the morning and you’re dealing with five to ten emails.

[26:55] What do you say to people who say I can’t afford it?

Then they probably can’t afford it. So, you do need to be in a place where the finances are okay. But that’s why having a virtual assistant is a lot easier. That barrier of entry is a lot lower than hiring somebody from the US, or Canada, or Europe where the prices are higher.

Plus, you want to make sure that you get in and if you have five hours a week to start, work five hours and that’s your budget and cut it off. But it’s nice because you can scale with the virtual assistants, so as you grow as you get more comfortable, and here’s the other thing, once you delegate, it’ll free you up to do more things that are making money things, instead of doing business things.

A lot of times, people think something’s expensive that really is not if they really looked at the big picture. If you pay somebody $100 bucks an hour, but it frees you up to do something that makes $500 bucks an hour, does that make sense? Heck yeah. You just have to look at it. If you pay somebody at $14 bucks an hour, Bottleneck’s rate, you’re paying somebody at $14 bucks an hour does it make sense to free up your time? It’s leveraging time versus money. It’s mindset too.

Ellen added, there are times when she’ll spend money on one thing, and then on something else think it’s expensive when it’s the same price, or even less. And she has to say to herself, “Wait a minute. You’ve just spent all that over there and you didn’t think that was expensive. What the hell? So, you kind of have to talk to yourself.” Jaime agreed.

A lot of us get into business because of the lure of, “I’m a business owner, I love this, and I do love baking cupcakes.” But then when all the job aspects come into it, the payroll and all that stuff, “Oh, I can’t stand… the bane of my existence is payroll.” Outsource it. Get back into baking cupcakes and having fun and create different icings and different toppings.

The other thing  too is you can work with somebody to figure out what that system is. And it’s very time consuming to write out a workflow because every time you click the mouse button, that’s a step, you have to record that, take a screenshot and record it. Or, record it in video and screen capture and have the virtual assistant go through there and document every single step. Be as detailed as possible knowing these are living, breathing documents. That workflow or process can change as you grow. Then other steps can come in or new software comes out or whatever that may be.

But in working closely with your virtual assistant, thinking or creating systems together is awesome. Or if you have a system in place, get your VA to run with it. If they can improve on the process and cut down a couple of steps, by all means you still have to approve it and make sure that what they did is okay, but they’re living in that every single day, you’re not. So, they’re the ones that’ll find out the tweaks and the things like that and give them the freedom to do so.

[32:13] What is the power of kindness?

Well the power of kindness, #leadwithkindness-some people feel that leading with kindness is weak. Jaime thinks it’s okay to be nice but still be firm.  A great example of leading with kindness or the power of kindness is getting, empowering those whom you work with and work around. Mike Michalowicz, author of, Profit First Clockwork, and The Pumpkin Plan, was asked how he is so jovial and how does he get his staff on task without offending them and still keeping up their motivation. Mike explained, “What we do is instead of telling them, Hey, stop that. That’s just lame, you’re terrible.” He says, “Okay, that’s great, but let’s take that offline until later. Let’s focus on this for right now.”

It’s just little things like that to disarm somebody from going down a direction other than what it is that you would like, but it still empowers them. It still keeps them on board. It still keeps them motivated.

So, leading with kindness is being respected and respecting others and putting, not necessarily them before you, but in a way, you’re listening to them, they shouldn’t feel afraid to speak up. If someone has a suggestion, they should be able to let you know. You may not implement it, but you might say, “Thank you, so much, but never say “That it’s the worst idea I’ve ever heard.” That freaks them out from suggesting anything ever- that’s leading with kindness.

[34:32] Closing thoughts

Do some things as if it’s the last time you’re ever going to do it. Start documenting everything, Do your delegation roadmap today. Just sit down for an hour, close everything off and write down what the tasks are that you do in a given day and assign those to values. Even if hiring is not even on your radar right now, that’s a beginning of systemizing your business, and you will be blown away after you’re finished with it.

Ellen added that you’ll also figure out that maybe you do want to outsource this.

Jaime agreed.

[35:13] How can people reach you?

Go to bottleneck.online.


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About the Author

Ellen Violette

Ellen is an 3X award-winning book, including being named one of the Top 20 Book Coaches of 2022 by Coach Foundation. She's also a multiple #1 bestselling author, a 3-time eLit award winner, podcast host, and a Grammy-nominated songwriter. She has been helping entrepreneurs increase their credibility and expert status, become #1 bestselling authors, and make a bigger impact in the world since 2004. Her mission is to make the world a better place one author and one book at a time!



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