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Podcast – The Virtual Hub
21 minutes | Aug 3, 2020
How to Create an Online Course for Free with Chris Badgett
How to Create an Online Course for Free with Chris Badgett Want the transcript? Download it here. In this episode, Barbara Turley speaks to Chris Badgett of LifterLMS about the process of creating your own online course and membership sites, and how this will help you and your business especially in the middle of a global crisis.Some key points include:Getting your course ideas out of your head and actually creating themThe minimum tech stack needed in order to start an online course or membership siteTaking advantage of the current crisis and developing your business online Let us know what your key takeout has been from this episode and join the continuing conversation over in the Virtual Success Facebook Group. In this episode:02:11 How to create an online course for free06:22 SCIDL Method09:58 How to avoid getting stuck with the Tech Stack13:13 Taking advantage of the current crisis17:20 What does it mean to Pivot your Business18:30 Having the right Business Mindset this crisis19:44 Wrapping things up Intro: Do you find yourself running out of time to accomplish your work? Are you spending time doing things that you’re not that good at? There are effective ways to outsource these tasks so you can focus on your business. This is the Virtual Success Show. We bring the inside scoop on outsourcing success for entrepreneurs, by entrepreneurs. And now, here are your hosts, Matt Malouf, and Barbara Turley. Barbara Turley: Welcome everyone to today’s episode of the Virtual Success Show podcast where today I am joined by Chris Badgett, who I’ve had on the podcast before, who’s the founder of the LifterLMS membership site plugin. And we’re here today to talk all about membership sites and why now is the best time ever for you to get your course out of your head onto a learning management system. Like something like Lifter and get it out to the world so obviously, I’m Barbara Turley, your host of the Virtual Success Show podcast and founder of The Virtual Hub. Chris, welcome to today’s show. Chris Badgett: Thanks for having me, Barbara. I’m really excited to get into it with you today. Barbara Turley: Yes, so look, you know, I know loads of people over time have always wanted to create membership sites, online courses and you know as well as I do that people get stuck not just with getting the course out of their heads but getting it onto the platforms, the tech stops people and usually business stops people in that you’re running the day to day running of your business stops you, so now is the best time I think, for a lot of businesses to try to pivot fast and go this route. We’ll talk about kind of the best businesses that can do that in a minute but I was really inspired by your- recently you did a four day course creation boot camp, I think you’d call it online and with the idea of to help people to get a course out of their heads, get out of the weeds and actually get the course created. Can you give us the short and dirty version of how do we do that? And how do we make it less overwhelming? Because it’s quite overwhelming to do it. How to Create an Online Course for Free Chris Badgett: Yeah, well, first, I just want to acknowledge the huge problem and this isn’t a new problem because if you think about it, if you’re watching this right now, just raise your hand or smash the like button or whatever, if you have ever thought about writing a book, but you never actually wrote the book. This kind of- this is an age old problem right here too, with creative entrepreneurs and people who want to innovate and are really passionate about a topic or helping a certain type of person. So I see unfortunately, a lot of people get stuck in the weeds of like they’re looking at the mechanism, they’re looking at the course or the membership site, or the coaching program that they’re going to put on the internet and they’re really focused on it. But then there’s this giant gap between, “Alright, I gotta get these tools and I got to do some marketing, I got to do some sales”, But first things first. I need to figure out which course to make, how to make it, how to structure it. So we ran that four day, we call it a course design sprint challenge. I brought in a professional instructional designer from Europe to actually facilitate and lead the process. And really, the worst thing you can do is what I call going into the course creators cave. This is where we go into our home office and work on a course for months and for most people, it actually turns into years, and then it never actually launches or even if it gets built, it never gets like kind of publicly just done, it’s just kind of in, like that screenplay sitting in a box somewhere in your office. So the key to getting out of your head is to start with who, who are you going to help? Like a lot of times, with what I find to get people moving in unstuck is getting outside of the desire of making money online or having an online business. This is all good stuff, I’m not against it. But if we switch our mindset from this is what I need to I’m going to help this specific type of person achieve this specific type of results. It’s not about me and my expertise, it’s about you know, this target market and the result that I can dependably get them even in challenging circumstances, through content coaching and, you know, other resources. Once we have that mindset, we can start reverse engineering from the result, the various milestones that this target customer needs to go through, that we’re going to help them achieve through courses, content, exercises, tools, resources, group coaching, private coaching community, all these things. We put our customer at the center of our education business and not ourselves as a guru or expert and then we guide them on that path. So, and the key to that which we did in the four-day design sprint challenge was doing it out in the open with real people part of the problem with the course creator cave is you don’t have a feedback loop open. So you got to get your target market involved you got to get their feedback, you got to you know, I love this idea of co-creating with the market. You might even adapt the curriculum as you go because you’re finding like there’s other gaps and things they need before they can move on to the next milestone you thought they needed. Well, I could keep going on and on like guide me Barbara. Barbara Turley: I was about to say, like, you know, this sort of idea of creating it and actually it requires a lot of ready, fire, aim kind of approach a little bit beginning and for it not to be perfect and for you to be totally fine with that because you may need to go like, you might decide on module four is going to be this and then when people are going through it, you’re like, “Oh, we need to change that”. So I guess, maybe creating a live, I’ve often thought actually, should you just create like, you know, get 10 people who are interested in something and then get them together on a live Skype thing that’s just live and just do the initial course, sort of a live version of it, and then turn it into a course thereafter. It sounds to me like you should just do it on the fly. SCIDL Method Chris Badgett: Yeah, there’s actually a name for that. I’ve heard it called the Scidl Method, which stands for “Screw it, Do it live”, and what you do is you just figure out a way to get paid from- it’s not about getting a lot of people like you said, 10 people, 5 people, 3 people, it’s more about validating the idea. You could go and Skype, you go in Zoom, whatever you record it, that becomes the first version of your course and then you just keep improving it. I know course creators like, who have been launching the same course every year, twice a year for like 10 years and it gets better and better and better. I like to say that the course launch it’s not the finish line, it’s actually the starting line. And when we have that mindset, running that first version live like you’re talking about is a great way to get moving and get started with real people with a feedback loop open so that the course creators not in the cave, in a vacuum, you know, where all the dragons are that like, sabotage the project. Barbara Turley: So this is this whole concept that you’ve been talking about actually, it’s like a collaborative approach with your ideal client or customer who you may already have, because that person might need or that company might need more help or whatever. So it’s about listening to the market, collaborating with them on creating what they need. And then being okay with the fact that the first iteration of that course might not be as slick and perfect as you want, but you’re getting feedback and you’re probably still creating a huge amount of value for people who actually take you up on the course offer. Guess that’s kind of where we’re going with it. Chris Badgett: Totally, totally. My friend Danny says, “If you put some time constraints on it like you don’t have to create the transformational program, your life’s legacy, all your expertise in one”, that’s very dangerous. Imagine you’re on a plane from, Sydney to Los Angeles and that’s all the time you’ve got, maybe a shorter ride, maybe like a 2 to 4 hour ride, and your target market sits down, that person sits down in the seat next to you. And you’re going to help them get that result and you have four hours to do it by giving yourself that constraint that can also help you with not putting, trying to put cram too much into the program, especially the first version. Barbara Turley: Well, I guess the way to do that then is to have a launch date and to announce it, we’re starting in two weeks time. Chris Badgett: That’s all we did with a four day boot camp we had we had nothing and we just set a date, a month before and we got ready and launched it and did it live. Barbara Turley: Yeah, and as you were saying to me off air just before we did this is that you would change a lot of things in the second iteration, you learn a lot from it but that’s the whole point. I guess it’s like starting a business. I mean, you know, we all start businesses and years into it, you’re like, “Oh, it looks so different now than what it was when we first started it”, it’s so much better, some might be worse. But typically you sort of collaborate with your clients and get feedback and, iterate as you go. So I guess it’s the same with a course. Now the second thing, so getting out of your head, I always think is the first problem people face that go overwhelmed with that, they don’t just start, the next thing people get overwhelmed with is the tech. So let’s talk about the tech stack. Because people think that to have a course you have to have like all the bells and whistles, you have to have all the password-protected sites. And as you’ve said, for the initial iteration, maybe all you need is a Skype group. But eventually, you do want to put that course into somewhere that you can start to refine it to make it look a bit more slick. So talk to me about, How do we not let the tech stack stop us? Because a lot of people do get stuck with that, part from getting a VA to build it but let’s get into that after. How to Avoid Getting Stuck with the Tech Stack Chris Badgett: Yeah, it’s a great question, I do see a lot of people get into tech weeds. And I’ve seen millionaire course creators who have nothing but a Dropbox file with a bunch of videos in it. Like when people buy the course they just get access to that Dropbox folder. And I bet if you’re watching this now, you could do that. If you deliver a lot like we talked about, all you need is like a Zoom account or a Skype account and a PayPal account or whatever, like it can be very, very miniature and having a mindset of minimalism is really important. You know, if we get into WordPress as an example, if you already have a WordPress website, I see people sometimes get into, especially if they’re newer to WordPress, there’s all these like page builders and fancy layouts and all this stuff that like, let’s go back and just remember that the person is buying our course. They want the content, they want the transformation, they need the information, they might need you to kind of lay out steps of what to do like assignments or supporting resources to like, help facilitate the learning, the fancy layout is not worth getting sidetracked on. So minimalism is super key especially for the first iteration. I love that you said outsourcing it, this was this was such a problem in our community at LifterLMS that we created, what we call LifterLMS Experts Program so that like people could be like, you know, there are other people who like build WordPress sites all day long, it can do it for you or like in your world, Barbara with the virtual assistants. I’ve had a virtual assistant for the same one for like six years, and I have no idea where I would be without Kathy. And it’s just like, where do you want to spend your time, it’s hard to not- like think about this whole thing of writing a book, like you know, guilty I tried to write a book. You just needed a computer and a word processor course creation. We’re getting into videos, we’re getting into audio, we’re getting into website, like there’s more tech than the book author thing. So if you thought writing a book was hard, courses, go minimal, use the the camera that’s already in your laptop and the audio stuff that’s already in your laptop. If you already have a WordPress site for marketing drop it in the free version of LifterLMS build out the outline based on the tips we just described of helping a specific customer get a specific result even if you haven’t created the content yet and get moving hook it up with Stripe or PayPal. Like this is the minimum tech stack and that’s it. That’s how you start. Barbara Turley: There’s a free version of the lifter plugin for WordPress, which is great. Chris Badgett: Yeah, so that’s the thing I learned in this four day bootcamp is, this instructional designer dude was like, we weren’t even halfway through it. We already had the prototype built inside of a WordPress site with lifter, it was done, it was like, so you can actually prototype your course idea for free. You don’t have to invest a ton of money, you can get a free paypal account, you know, free lifter. And you know, you have to pay a little bit for your domain name and your website, but you probably already have that anyways. So the money doesn’t need to get in the way to start. Taking Advantage of the Current Crisis Barbara Turley: Yeah, and look at the moment. I mean everything. I keep saying this and all these lives we’re doing I mean, the reality is yes, we are going through a crisis time, yes, a lot of businesses have been smashed. But I can tell you one thing we know for sure, everybody’s online, everybody’s on Facebook, everybody’s listening to podcasts. Everybody is online because we’re all at home right and it’s probably the best time ever to actually think about if you’re not online, you know, there’s lots of strategies, you can just start a podcast, you can start a membership site, you can get your online course created, you can get your business digitalized pretty easily. And capitalizing on this moment in time, it’s a moment in time and it may not happen again, so you just kind of try to get out of your own way and get this stuff up and it actually is not difficult. You can get VAs to help, you can hire people online to help but you can also do it yourself if that’s what you really wanna do, but it’s time to sort of get there. So that brings me to something I want to discuss about pivoting. So some businesses are now going to have to pivot. You know, I’ve seen amazing stories out there like there’s even a shop in Sydney. I heard the story of a shop in Sydney, Australia, that is a chocolate shop, right? They sell chocolates and they very quickly pivoted and got their shop up online. And they did more sales than they normally- now it was Easter, so let’s be honest, that was convenient at the time but they managed to do like explosive sales, even though the shop was closed during a time of crisis time because they got fast and pivoted and got their shop up online. So let’s talk pivot stories, you put out an article, I think it should be today about a SaaS company that got their online course using LifterLMS but got their online course up fast and the idea was to stop churn, stop cancellations and help their customers to get more success and to create more sales. So talk about how can we use this as a pivot story. This is a pivot opportunity. Chris Badgett: Yeah, there’s a lot of lessons in what Adrian Toby of groundhog did with his pivot to having a, adding an academy to his business. So, um, the first thing is, he was able to move extremely fast because he was already a techie. So he already knew WordPress, but you could experience the same results just by outsourcing to a VA, like the WordPress part like he had his Academy up, it looked great in like a day or a week or something. And then he went about creating the course, he actually created three courses. One was a quickstart course and how to use the software. Another was how to use his software for his most popular use case customer which funny enough is actually a course creator. And number three, he created a partner program that people could join the, where he trains them on how to sell basically to become power affiliates and promotional partners with his company. He had all that up and running like in less than a month. And you know, it reduces churn, it helped people activate into a software. And you know, it just added value to his community, so he didn’t have to hire more people to manually deliver those, you know, activities. He did it through education in a scalable way. But the pivot is everything. I mean, just to go on one small tangent, I remember when I was new kind of getting started an online business later in life, I was 30 at the time, I was at a chamber of commerce meeting and I heard- I was really passionate about video marketing, and I heard the woman on stage leading this thing like hundreds of people in the room and she introduced me, the new member. And I heard her say the name of the business that I named, which was Business Showcaser and I was like, Oh, that sounds terrible, that sounds terrible. And I just pivoted, I mean, here I am as an LMS software entrepreneur. I’ve been through like, hundreds of pivots. It’s literally the key to success. What does it Mean to Pivot your Business? Barbara Turley: Actually, I want to just add there, you know, the pivot doesn’t have to be changing business like so everyone thinks pivoting, is changing what you’re doing. But there are different ways of pivoting in this type of crisis. I mean, you can pivot anytime but sometimes you just add on something. Sometimes it’s a change in how you deliver something. So maybe you’re used to delivering something in person, and now you have to do it online. Well, that’s pivot, it can be the same thing, just a different version, how you deliver, but also it can be [inaudible] Chris Badgett: A couple ideas just to throw out there, like I’m an entrepreneur, so I can’t turn it off. I have this like, problem solving personality type. So like restaurants, I’m like, you know what, why don’t you create courses on how people can make your signature dish? Have your chef make a course on how to make the thing people buy the most of your restaurant so that people can make it at home while everybody’s on quarantine. I’m literally like, if you’re a gym owner or personal trainer, like this is not new, like yoga DVDs and at home fitness and P90X and all this stuff, like anybody can do that. Like and it can be even better than like a DVD experience now with, that gym owner needs to like come online, just keep doing what you’re already doing. Just mix up the delivery mechanism a little bit. Having the Right Business Mindset in this Crisis Barbara Turley: Absolutely, yeah. I think it’s just you know, I think it’s a mindset thing too, though. Some people just go straight into the negativity of the whole thing. Business is gone, everything’s decimated, I’m terrible and you know, that might be the case for some businesses, but there are businesses out there that are, you have no choice but to just, you know, find the opportunity wherever you can and that’s kind of what we’re talking about here is that don’t let- you know, if you’ve got an online course you’ve been thinking about it, whatever, just get it up there and just get it out to the world. This is the best time ever to do it and don’t worry about- I mean I don’t even worry about who’s watching these Facebook Lives, doesn’t really matter actually. Because as you keep consistently doing things and you keep putting stuff out there especially in a time like this it will stick and consistency is key of course so that’s the thing. So Chris where can they find out more about you? About LifterLMS? I know you’ve got a great a very very vibrant Facebook group that I’m a part of too and lots of other course creators are in there. Where can they find out more? Wrapping things up Chris Badgett: Oh, you can find me at lifterlms.com. I have a podcast for course creators called LMScast and if you just look for LifterLMS on Facebook, you’ll find our Facebook group. So if you’ve thought about making a course go check that out as well. Barbara Turley: Yeah, absolutely. There’s great tips in there and actually you’ve got your, the 2 hour synopsis of your four day, so that’s today of the four day course creators extravaganza that you just did. So that was that’s really insightful information for anyone to get going. Well, thanks so much for joining us, Chris today on the Facebook Live podcast and if anyone can hear this pitter patter of rain going on my roof at the moment, so that’s great for a podcast but anyway and these times we have to do what we have to do. And everyone if you’re enjoying the podcast, you can catch this on iTunes, on our website, as well as thevirtualhub.com. Give us a rating give us a thumbs up, let us know what you’d like us to talk about. And until next time. Thanks, Chris. Thanks, everyone. Chris Badgett: Thanks, Barbara. Outro: Thank you for listening to the Virtual Success Show. If you found this show helpful. Take a moment to share it with a friend so that we can all grow together. The Hosts Matt MaloufMatt Malouf is a passionate business coach, speaker, author and entrepreneur on a mission to help entrepreneurs around the world break the shackles of mediocrity and reach new levels of personal and business success. Barbara TurleyBarbara Turley is the Founder & CEO of The Virtual Hub, a company that specializes in recruiting, training and managing superstar ‘Virtual Assistants’ in the social media, digital marketing and systems automation space. The post How to Create an Online Course for Free with Chris Badgett appeared first on The Virtual Hub.
29 minutes | Jul 20, 2020
Office to Remote: The Tech Stack for a Seamless Transition with Peter Moriarty
Office to Remote: The Tech Stack for a Seamless Transition with Peter Moriarty Want the transcript? Download it here. In this episode, Barbara Turley speaks to Peter Moriarty of itGenius and discusses the how-to’s of setting up your company fit for a virtual environment. They talk about creating the right systems and processes in order to effectively manage a remote team. Some key points include:The tools that you need in order to have a great task and communication flow in your business.Challenges working in a virtual environmentWhy you should eradicate emailsWhat does it mean to have the right mindset shift Let us know what your key takeout has been from this episode and join the continuing conversation over in the Virtual Success Facebook Group. In this episode:02:02 Roadblocks when setting up Cloud Based System04:30 Important G Suite features07:40 Task Management, Systems and Processes 11:58 Working in a Virtual Environment15:22 Why Task Management by Email never works19:21 Tips in getting through this remote setup successfully26:28 Remote Business Playbook28:09 Wrapping Things Up Tools Mentioned:AsanaTrelloPodioG SuiteDropboxZoomSkypeSlackZapierOntraportActive Campaign Intro: Do you find yourself running out of time to accomplish your work, are you spending time doing things that you’re not that good at? There are effective ways to outsource these tasks so you can focus on your business. This is the Virtual Success Show, we bring the inside scoop on outsourcing success for entrepreneurs by entrepreneurs. And now, here are your hosts Matt Malouf and Barbara Turley. Barbara Turley: Hey, everyone, welcome back to another special edition episode of the Virtual Success podcast where we’re now taking it live online to cope with this COVID-19 crisis that we’re currently all in right now. Today’s guest, I’m talking to Peter Moriarty from itGenius and he’s given me so many tips already before we’ve even started this show. But really what I want to talk about is so many companies have been scrambling to try to move people into a remote or work from home situation over the last few weeks. Me included, I at The Virtual Hub had to move 110 staff very quickly into work from home situations and it was something apart from the issue of not having computers, the actual online or the systems, part of it was very easy because I had actually set it up that way. But I know a lot of companies have been scrambling trying to do this and not really getting it right. So, Peter’s here with us today to talk specifically about how to set your company up to make sure that the next time, hopefully, we never have to do this again. But if you do, you can move fast and that your systems are portable. So Peter, welcome to the show. Thank you so much for joining us. Peter Moriarty: Thank you so much for having me. I am thrilled to be here. Barbara Turley: So to kick off, can you tell me, I’m sure you see this all the time in your experience with working with companies. A company who comes to you and wants to be more cloud-based or wants to be more nimble in terms of moving people around, what are the major roadblocks and problems that you see in their setup? To kick off. Roadblocks in Setting Up a Cloud-Based System Peter Moriarty: Yeah, I’d say it’s always people. But people are always the roadblocks. It’s either processes that are in place, or ways of thinking they’re in place, which are the biggest blockers. And technology change requires people change. And so when you’re going through a process of you know, everyone’s been through a bad technology change at one point in their life, whether that was you know, working in corporate and having someone implementing your system without training people properly, or just, you know, switching from a PC to a Mac, and the first couple of days, kind of not knowing where the buttons are, you know, the frustration and the the fear, it’s not just a fear of change for stop, but it’s certainly, you know, fear of something new and in some ways, maybe to take baby steps. And so, whenever we’re leading any technology change for any business, we always go back to, you know, what are the people, who are the people that are involved, and what are the steps that they need to go through as humans to be ready and okay with that change. So it’s all a change management process, the technology is just the tool or the strategy that’s being implemented. Barbara Turley: So you find it at the moment, I think what would have happened then with a lot of companies is that people have just been sent to work from home and told, like, here’s zoom, here’s a couple of tools, show up for the meeting tomorrow. I could just imagine how it would work and then people are thinking, “Do I need to download something?”, “How do I get on the meeting?”. Peter Moriarty: Yeah, I’m expecting the first couple of weeks will be fine. because it’d be like, “Yeah, I’m on zoom, and I’m working from the kitchen table, and isn’t this fun and great!”. And then after then, the poor work boundary sets in or you know, the instant messaging overwhelm sets in, all the burnout sets in when people aren’t working well, or, you know, maybe they haven’t set up their workspace properly. And so they’ll literally have physical fatigue in their body or maybe they’re not getting outside the house for 15 minutes every day and they start getting the cabin fever settling in. So, I worry for the challenges that will come in the coming weeks and months. Barbara Turley: Yeah, right, okay. So talk about, let’s talk about G Suite. I mean, that is the kind of, you know, I know you do lots of change management, you do a lot of consulting and we’re a G Suite user, we are client of yours. Talk to me about, I mean, G Suite, I already know, like, we’re not using it to the level that we should be, right? So talk me through some of the major features that you see people not using effectively enough within let’s say, G Suite. I’m still asking this for my own benefit as well. And, you know, how can we quickly sort of turn some of that stuff on and figure out how to roll it out? Important G Suite features Peter Moriarty: Yeah, for starters, anyone who’s considering adopting G Suite, the easiest way to explain like what G Suite is and why you might consider using Google Cloud over the Microsoft ecosystem, or you know, any kind of hodgepodge of other things is that you know, G Suite is like the Tesla you know, Tesla doesn’t have a drive train. It doesn’t have a million moving parts cooling system, all these electrical systems and the energy and all those different bits to make a gasoline car work, you know, petrol fuel injection, all those things, Tesla just has a couple of moving parts, I think there’s only five or 10 moving parts in the whole car. And that’s about it. So G Suite is simpler. It’s a bit like moving from a Windows machine to a Mac, it’s simpler but all the things that you need are there. And what I love about that is it means that you get out of your own way, and you’re able to just get work done. So most businesses will have Dropbox for their files, they’ll be using Zoom for their video conferencing, they’ll be maybe using Skype for chat, or Microsoft Teams, or whatever and they’ll be using Office for documents. And they’ve got to kind of like try and put all those things together, whereas the Google ecosystem is simpler. But if you just kind of do everything the Google way, then everything works nicely in there. So what works really really great is using Hangouts chat, which is a bit like Slack, right? And many people are using slack as well. Hangouts chat is a bit like slack but it’s got really great integration with your calendar and integration with Hangouts for video calls as well. Google rebranded that is as Meet and so you can be chatting to someone to chat back and forward and you realize, “Hey, you know what, actually, we need to jump on a video call and have a quick call about this”, you click one button, and then bang, both of you are in a video call. Or maybe you’re working on a Google document and you want to share that with a colleague, if you drop the URL into the document, it’ll automatically share that document with the person that you just sent it to in chat. So you don’t have to, you know, do the double sharing type thing. So there are a couple of things that are built in. The other things just broadly with Google is all of the AI integration. So you know, they’re auto composing emails, now. They’re giving you suggested replies in your email inbox, and even in the Gmail app, Google now say that, over 30% of all emails, over 30% of all emails through Gmail, are actually using the AI suggested replies, which is just crazy, you know, it’s only been out for six months now. And now 30% of emails are being written by at least in part by AI. So those little bits and pieces that make your day easier. That’s what I really love about the Google ecosystem and I think even using a Google spreadsheet instead of an Excel sheet sitting in Dropbox and waiting for it to synchronize back and forth, you know, many businesses, not even using something like a live document to share information together. Barbara Turley: Yeah, I mean, I know, look, we’re not, I got some tips of things we should be using G Suite. But I know that one of the reasons we were able to move very quickly, and work from home was because we are G Suite user. And we do heavily use the drive and the live document sharing and you can just do that from anywhere, I mean, it’s, you know, we don’t have servers, we don’t have-, everything that we do is in the cloud. So I realized in this move that, so the people said to me, how did you move that many people that quickly? And I was like, I don’t know, like, we just got them home and the next day, we were all doing the same thing again, the next day anyway. So it was actually easy. Task Management, Systems and Processes Peter Moriarty: Yeah, I think for a lot of businesses they’re still in the mindset, you know, even if they may be using Dropbox for their storage, they’re still in the mindset of, “I work on this document and then I put this document on the server”, and then the next person, you know, this ever might just be Dropbox, then the next person works on it. Whereas when you really embrace the Google way of working, which you guys obviously have, then you have the opportunity to say, “Okay, well, we’re going to co-create a document together”. Think about when you sit on a meeting, and you’ve got three or four different people, right? And task management comes into this as well, so we start talking about Asana and other task management apps. But think about when you’re sitting on a meeting, and you’ve got three or four people in the meeting. Now each person takes their own version of the notes of what was said in the meeting, and their own version of what the action items were, that is worrying, right? No matter who’s running the meeting, you’ve got different people with different versions of what they should be doing. Whereas if you were on a meeting, and you opened up one Google document and you had action items there, or you had, shared common notes there. Then you’ve got all one common set of information and data from that meeting, even better if you’re using something like Asana, then you’ve got one thread or one task for whatever that objective or strategy or task is and then everyone is able to drop their notes in there. And so we’re really big on actually flipping the switch to collaborating and being remote, you have to do that. What a lot of businesses are probably doing is sitting on Zoom, and everyone’s got a pen and paper, and they’re writing their notes on pen and paper. But those four people are doing four completely different things and so, if you were a business who resisted setting up a cloud based task management system, I know you guys are big fans of Asana as well, or using something like a Google Doc to share together, if you’re not forced to do that now, then in a couple of weeks time, you’re going to be really hurting when that project dropped off, or that staff member didn’t do what you wanted them to do, or someone promised that do something on a meet three weeks ago, and you’re pretty sure that you said that, you know, you told them to do it, but they didn’t actually do it. And now you don’t know because it wasn’t documented anywhere. Barbara Turley: Do you know what I love about this, the direction this is taking is that you know everyone thinks that you know, getting the right people solves your problem or getting the right systems solves your problem or having deep process solves your problem. And I’ve found that I’m sure you’ve heard through the journey of building collaborative type businesses that are virtual and all that sort of thing, that those three things need to work in synchronicity together very much so. Because I went through a terribly painful experience a few years ago where I was like we have Asana, we have deep processes. You know, we have our communication flow, we’ve got rules around how we use these things. And we were still seeing mistakes, until we introduce the huddle and the huddle was where we came together every day. And then we had rules around if somebody says something in the huddle, then you have to update and tag the person who you passing the baton to next, and all this kind of, so it almost feels like the crux of the remote working or the virtual business is actually centering around the word collaboration, where all these tools and systems are in come into it. As opposed to you know, have we got Zoom, have we got G Suite. It’s how you use it and how the team interacts. Peter Moriarty: I really believe the tools are there to facilitate the humans working as a team. And so as you say, when you’re on a huddle, and someone says, I’m going to do this, then someone that you may have chosen one person to be your scribe for the meeting, and we often do that, one person will be the scribe. And in our Asana threads, and we use the I think it’s called the progress or the update feature in Asana. But we’re always doing an update there, and we have a list of notes, so that’s minutes and then we have actions and we tag each person against that actions. And then it’s their responsibility if they want to create an individual task or whatever, but this is what you’ve committed to. And, you’ve used the example of huddles, which is a repeating, I presume, daily meeting. There may be a weekly meeting, there might be a weekly all hands, there might be a monthly all hands, whatever your cadences of the meetings inside the business. The technology tools here are used to facilitate accountability of the people who are promising what they’re going to get done. Working in a Virtual Environment Barbara Turley: You know what I found as well. A lot of people have asked me in the past, you know, how on earth have you built this company from afar? Have you done it virtually? Have you done it by not being in the Philippines? I’m not based in the Philippines. And I’ve always said, I think because I was the remote person building it. I mean, I have an office based operation, but it did start out work from home, so we were all remote. It actually forced me to create a virtual environment, a very very successful virtual thing. Because you don’t have the chance to tap someone on the shoulder and just, you know, over the watercooler and actually- well you kind of do because you can chat message them or Skype message them or whatever you’re using. But what I found the danger with that and the same thing happens in an office environment is that because you can do that, and if you’re doing that, you got to be careful how instructions are being passed over because one day it’s a Skype message, the next day it’s a phone call, the next day it’s a Zoom meeting, and then you have, like it gets missed because people are like, but I told you that and you go “When? Oh, you sent me a Skype message. Oh, well, it wasn’t in the flow”. So I’ve had to clean all those things up by being in a virtual environment as well, because somebody will say, I Skype messaged you, and I’m like, but it wasn’t in the task in Asana, so therefore you’re expecting people to remember what to do. And in a virtual environment that’s heightened even more, because people are not actually, you know, they’re not listening across the floor from each other and you know, reminding themselves of conversations. Peter Moriarty: Yeah, I think there’s a couple of challenges there. One is in an office setting, you’ll have you know, a whiteboard and the top five strategy or top projects or top, you know, customers that you’re chasing, or whatever, there and everyone sees that, and that’s really easy. Having that shared line of sight for the whole company is challenging to do remotely, it’s something that you’ve got to, you know, be reminding and reminding and reminding about. Yes, having tools or tasks is the, you know, the easiest way to do that. But you’ve got to have some way of doing that. I’m pretty disciplined, the second issue that you’ve raised there is like, you know, the different channels of communication. I’m pretty disciplined that we have two ways of basically contacting each other. We have chat if it is urgent, that’s only if it is urgent, and we have Asana for everything else. We don’t do emails, don’t do emails. Don’t do Facebook chats, don’t do Instagram, nothing else. And if someone messages me in chat and I can say it’s not urgent. I say, “Thanks. Asana this to me”, that’s it. It’s, “Hey, Asana me.”, Great, I’ve seen it and received it, but Asana me. And that discipline or policy effectively of saying, this is what we’re going to use these tools for. If you’re strict with them, and you’ve got to lead it being the you know, if you’re the organization owner and manager, then that will keep things nice and tight. And works every time because it doesn’t work unless you do that. Barbara Turley: Let’s dive into email. So I have so many things I want to unpack there because you’re like, I mean, we sing from the same hymn sheet, but that’s the reason we’ve been successful. We’re not new to remote working. So we’ve been doing this for years, and email, the amount of clients that come in and we actually try these days now to take on a client that is saying they want to do instructions to VAs by email, because we’re just like, I can’t really explain why. But in my experience, it just never ever, ever, ever, ever works, doing instruction and task management by email. Talk to me about your experience with that and whether you’re echoing the same, like why did you move away from email for instructions? Why Task Management by Email never works Peter Moriarty: Oh my god. So I mean, I’ve run an IT help desk for over 10 years. So we live in and breathe, you know, productively communicating with 20,000 employees and the customers that we support, but 1500 businesses 20,000 employees across them. Email, business owners receive hundreds of emails per day, we all know that as a fact. The simple analogy that I have on why you should get out of your inbox is that if you were to go out to the street and open your letterbox every day, and flick through what was in your letterbox and take out the ones that were important, but leave everything in there and never pick up the bunch of letters and put them on your kitchen table for sorting. If you just left them in the mailbox on the street all the time, it would get so overflowing that you would start to miss the important ones and that’s what happens with our inbox. And so when you have a mix of staff emails, supplier emails, customer emails, and then the 80% of junk and marketing and newsletters and everything else, then you so quickly becoming overwhelmed, you miss what’s important, and that’s the most critical thing. So email is just, it is also a slow and a kind of crappy communication medium because it’s a formal medium. You have to say, dear so and so here’s my email instructions, kind regards, hope you had a lovely day, blah, blah, blah, here’s my signature, right? Whereas sometimes you just need to actually say something quickly, or say yes or no or that’s great, or that’s not great. Which is why Google is trying to bring in their AI to you know, to stop the beast of email. But the the most important one is if you have your tasks and your communication threads with your team, in something that’s not email, instant messaging is not the be all and end all, something like Asana or Trello, or whatever is the best, because it’s non urgent, but it’s still structured threads of conversations. What that does, is that allows you to have the work time, which is you communicating with your team, and the other people time, and the other people time should be scheduled, it shouldn’t be all the time. If you’re the kind of person who has emails popping up on your desktop, switch them off, switch off the email notifications on your phone, and do it when you schedule, when you choose to engage in working with those. Don’t be a slave to those emails because like I checked mine once a day or even sometimes every second day, it’s just not important for me to get in touch with us. But for many business owners, and I won’t do want to talk about one tool here. If we have a moment, many business owners if you are the person that everyone is coming to, then it’s going to be hard for you to remove yourself from that and that is a process that you will need to go through overtime. Barbara Turley: Yeah, I was gonna just touch on that for a second. So if someone out there is listening and you’re thinking, “Oh, we use email”, it’s not going to be simple, you’re not going to turn that off tomorrow. But when clients come to me and they say, “I really want a VA to run my email”, and I love digging into that question and going, “Okay, let’s look at that, like is that really?” Because my theory is, well, why don’t you eradicate email first. Now, that doesn’t mean you don’t need a VA because you may need them to deal with customer support tickets or whatever way it is coming in. But you’ve got to try and eradicate email so that the only emails coming to you, as the owner are like, I mean, I only get things like someone wants to interview you on the podcast or very minimal sort of things come to me directly and everything else needs to be funneled into, is it supplier support, customer support, is it staffing like all our staff stuff is like you it’s inside of Asana and chat is only for very quick, urgent things the same as you so it is a process you need to set up but I would encourage anyone and look on this podcast on our website, the Virtual Success Show podcast, I’ve done many shows on this with my co-host Matt Malouf, we’ve talked about this ad nauseum. There are so many shows in there on how to do this on a deeper level. So go check those out. What are your final tips, Peter? For people, you know, currently in this remote scenario, they maybe have a mishmash of systems going, what’s your sort of top two or three tips for people to get through this time successfully? Tips in getting through this remote setup successfully Peter Moriarty: Yeah, look, I’ll simplify it. But I want to make the point on the email and managing your inbox, I think, Barbara, you’re in the comfortable position of having transcended to a leadership position of a CEO of a business. And that, it’s just not appropriate for anyone to be emailing you, for anyone, anyone whose earlier stage in the business there is a business shift that you need to go through to remove yourself from being that primary point of contact. And you know, perhaps that’s what you’re referring to in the other shows that shift has to happen and that’s a common mail. Let’s get really simple, it’s a common mailbox. It’s help@ or support@ or info@ or sales@ or whatever@ your domain.com that your customers are trained to email that is no longer going to you anymore. And that is a journey that you have to take. But when you take that journey, not only is that going to help you on a day to day basis, because it means that you and your team will provide better support to your customers. That’s a mindset shift as well and that mindset shift is this business is not me, this business is a service. Barbara Turley: And that is a shift that a lot of business owners never get to and it doesn’t just apply to your email that applies to everything, it’s the brand. I mean, I know we’re on doing these podcasts, but I’ve been you know, we’re the leaders of these businesses, but you’re very much promoting I mean, The Virtual Hub, which is my business, has very much its own brand, it stands up by itself. Same for you with itGenius and the stuff that you’re doing. I mean, it’s still a journey, it’s still a journey. Peter Moriarty: It absolutely is and look, I love for anyone to email me, I don’t mind getting emails at all, but you know, don’t email me or call me when your emails are down, that’s what my support team are for but I want to simplify the tech stack. So we’ve got this concept of you know, what’s the remote work tech stack? What do you need? I simplified it down to three C’s, really simple, Connect, Coordinate, Communicate. So Connect is how do you get the basics done with your team? And that’s, in our case, Google Hangouts, Google Meet, Google Drive, the Google ecosystem, right? That’s the foundation of how do you actually get work done when you’re not sitting in the same office, and you don’t have a service sitting there, or you don’t have people to yell at across the room. And Google’s G Suite tools make it really easy to get done. Most people know what those tools are, so I don’t need to delve into it. Coordinate is the next one. How do you coordinate your internal work? So a task management system and we’re talking Asana or Trello or Podio, or whatever. Our pick is Asana, we happen to be an Asana partner as well. But that’s really easy to get started with great interface, free for up to 15 people which is awesome, really great app been using it long, long time, you guys love it as well, which is great. I would also say in coordinate as well is how do you coordinate delivery to your customers? So you’re going to need some kind of customer database. That would be a CRM system, like maybe an online marketing system like an Ontraport, or Active Campaign or it might be something that you use more internally for relationship management. So we happen to resell Copper CRM, talks to G Suite, of course, and everything else that we do. But that’s for sales team who want to do relational sales. Now, if you’re sitting in an office, and you’ve got three people there, you can say, “Hey, how’s that customer going?” Or “How’s this customer going?” Or, “Hey, you know, that deal? I haven’t heard you pick up the phone and call that customer in a couple of weeks”, right? All that stuff just happens kind of naturally. But for our sales manager who has sales people all over the place, we need to have a programmatic system to actually see, okay, which customer has gone stale?, which deal needs some help? You know, what are the higher, more important deals that I want to filter up and bubble up to the top and jump into, so you’ve got to use something there. A spreadsheet might be if you have no CRM system or no sales tracking right now, a spreadsheet, a Google Sheet might be where you start, that might be enough, but you really got to have that down. Number three is Communicate. And so we already talked about communicating by email switching to a common mailbox rather than using individual personal mailboxes to interface with the customers, that’s super important. Phone system is the next one. You know, most people, many people have just kind of picked up and gone back to using their mobile to do business. Now, the problem with that is it’s the same as using your personal email, you really need to have a business line if you’re a business and be able to work from there. So we have a cloud based phone system that happens to be called Dialpad. There’s plenty of other competitors out there as well but that works on your computer works on your phone, but when you dial out, use the internet, dial out from a Sydney or a Queensland or a Victoria number, wherever you need your business to look like it’s calling from. And so that would be number three, is communicating with your customers but not allowing them to, you know, text you at 11 o’clock at night and say “Hey, is that project done?”, which is just so so common. And so if you can set up these tools correctly, and go through that mindset shift, if I’m building a business, or a product or a service that is not me, tied to me intrinsically, individually, then these tools will help facilitate you having a business that you actually love that doesn’t actually control you and control your life. And so, in the rush of, “Oh, I have to work from home now”, you know, don’t slip into the, the old poor habits of allowing others to dictate your boundaries around time, because that’s a pretty slippery slope. Barbara Turley: Absolutely. You know, and I see so many people that, you know, they’re, they’re slammed because they’re on the phone all day with clients, and they’re trying to refer stuff back to their team. And, like, in my business, I noticed [inaudible], like, nobody would ever contact me. I mean, the team would only come to me, I mean, I actually see everything that’s coming in. So I know everything that’s going on, but it doesn’t go to me and we have all help at thevirtualhub.com and all those email addresses, but there’s really cool things you can do, just get people who are a bit more into the tech stack, a little tip and we’ve put a little integration in with Zapier to make all of the emails that come into help, they all drop into our customer support project in Asana. So people say to me, like every morning I can get a picture of pretty much everything that’s going on in the business by just going to Asana in the inbox in Asana because we have lots of zaps, actually through Zapier, that make like our calls dropping, we can see like in all of our pipelines in Asana, we can see how many calls came in, how many converted and it all drops into Asana, and it’s pretty easy, it sounds complex when talking about it, but zapier.com can do so many things with that to tie systems together. Peter Moriarty: Yeah, our team can help with that as well if you need help putting that together, but I think, you know, like the most important thing that you’ve highlighted there is that the business owner shouldn’t be the bottleneck. If right now to the listener or the watcher, if you are the person that is the conduit between business coming in, or jobs or work or projects coming in, and then it being funneled out to your team, No. Now, yes, it is important that you are the master delegator and that you are coordinating the machine and making it work. But it is not your job to be the conduit and the glue between everything. And so as much as possible, if you can have the work bypass, your job is to design the system, so that the work, the stuff, the things that need to be done, go past you, and go to the team and get done. And then your job is to tweak that machine and make sure that delivery is effective. Remote Business Playbook Barbara Turley: We are literally cuff from the same cloth. I absolutely 100% agree. And you’re running at the moment, tell me about your running a remote business playbook at the moment. Tell me more about that, where can people find out about that if they want to delve deeper. Peter Moriarty: Thank you so much for asking. We’ve been running a remote business for over five years now and successfully, the business has grown, exploded and done really well. We are taking everything that we know about running a remote team and we’ve put it into a series of eight webinars. We’re giving that away complimentary to our concierge members. And so if you’re not yet a member, have a chat to our team about getting in touch and have access to that. But that is effectively covering how to hire and build your team in the Philippines, how to, if you’re interested in that, but you know, mostly, How to build an international team? How to get the culture right? How to make sure everyone can actually get their work done remotely? How to do all of the tasks and the huddles? How often do we do things? And, you know, effectively, we’re not, we’re not business coaches, I’m trying not to be too prescriptive about how you should run your business. But what I do know is that we’re running a multi-million dollar business with 35 employees all working from home, and we’ve been doing that successfully for five years. And we’re just sharing what’s working for us and our customers are already telling us because we’re a couple of weeks in that they’re getting a hell of a lot of value from it. And so if you’re interested in that, please go ahead and reach out. If you’re interested in just checking out what we do, petermoriarty.tv, or head to itgenius.com. We’re streaming heaps of stuff on our Facebook Live and heaps of stuff on our YouTube channel as well, which will give you a bit of a taste of the stuff that we’ve got going on in the course too. Wrapping things up Barbara Turley: Yeah. And look, if I could just share I mean, you know, we’ve been a client by teaching us for quite a long time now and there’ve been many situations that your team have helped us out. So yeah, just an amazing team to deal with. Really spot on team, really well oiled machine. So thanks, everyone for joining. We’re going to be talking next week live again, all about membership sites, and how to get a quick membership site up and why now is the best time given you might have some time up your sleeves to be thinking about getting that digital course out there and getting you know more digital into the business that you already have. So Peter, thank you for joining us today. And everyone, we will see you next week. Outro: Thank you for listening to the Virtual Success Show. If you found this show helpful. Take a moment to share it with a friend so that we can all grow together. The Hosts Matt Malouf Matt Malouf is a passionate business coach, speaker, author, and entrepreneur on a mission to help entrepreneurs around the world break the shackles of mediocrity and reach new levels of personal and business success. Barbara Turley Barbara Turley is the Founder & CEO of The Virtual Hub, a company that specializes in recruiting, training, and managing superstar ‘Virtual Assistants’ in the social media, digital marketing, and systems automation space. The post Office to Remote: The Tech Stack for a Seamless Transition with Peter Moriarty appeared first on The Virtual Hub.
43 minutes | Jul 6, 2020
Scaling Your Delegation Game with Nigel Bennett of Aqua Guard Spill Response
Scaling up the Delegation Game with Nigel Bennett, Co-Founder of Aqua-Guard Spill Response Want the transcript? Download it here. In this episode, Barbara Turley speaks to Nigel Bennett of Aqua-Guard Spill Response about how to delegate effectively, how to grow your team, and avoid Business Owner Burnout. Some key points include:The importance of having a business coachHow to manage business owner burnoutWhy you need to invest time and energy in training your peopleThe importance of systems and processes in your business Let us know what your key takeout has been from this episode and join the continuing conversation over in the Virtual Success Facebook Group. In this episode:02:18 Aqua-Guard Spill Response05:52 Business Owner Burnout11:38 How to Delegate more effectively18:38 Organic Growth in your Business19:58 Processes and Systems 21:12 The importance of Life Rhythm in your Business27:35 Who should manage the people and the teams in your Business28:38 Keeping in touch with your team during this pandemic32:19 Nigel’s experience with Burnout Business Owners37:19 Fight, Flight, or Freeze40:34 Final thoughts42:23 Wrapping things Up Intro: Do you find yourself running out of time to accomplish your work, are you spending time doing things that you’re not that good at? There are effective ways to outsource these tasks so you can focus on your business. This is the Virtual Success Show, we bring the inside scoop on outsourcing success for entrepreneurs by entrepreneurs. And now, here are your hosts Matt Malouf and Barbara Turley. Barbara Turley: Welcome everybody to another episode of the Virtual Success Show podcast where I’m your host as always Barbara Turley. I do co-host this show with my co-host, Matt Malouf, who’s not with us today. But my guest today, I’m joined by Nigel Bennett, who is the co-founder and owner of Aqua-Guard Spill Response. And also because I want to mention your book, also author of the book, “Take that leap, risking it all for what really matters” and he’s also the founder of TruBeach. He’s been a member of the entrepreneurs organization for 15 years, has won a whole pile of awards and not even gonna go into how many they are but I met Nigel on a mastermind call that I had the pleasure to be on a few weeks ago, when I heard his story about, how he has managed to not just delegate effectively, but has actually managed to remove himself pretty much completely from the day to day operations of his business. So Nigel, welcome to the show and thank you so much for joining me. Nigel Bennett: Hi, Barbara. Thank you so much. It’s, it’s the pleasure. Pleasure to be on your show. I’m in. I’m in Whistler here in British Columbia, and you’re in Chamonix, I guess. And Barbara Turley: Yeah, we’re both in the ski slopes but there’s no snow, we’re not allowed to ski Nigel Bennett: No snow and we can’t go out, Yeah, I know. Barbara Turley: During this crisis time and you know, like it’s been really great connecting with so many entrepreneurs at the moment during this crisis time that we’re currently in. But Nigel, to kick off just give us the quick you know, Aqua-Guard Spill Response and what I love about this company and about me finally interviewing you, is that it’s different from most of the types of businesses that we’ve had on the podcast or that I’ve been talking to in that it’s kind of, it’s way off the charts from what I would normally be doing in the digital world or whatever. So give us the quick synopsis of what it is. Aqua-Guard Spill Response Nigel Bennett: Yeah, we’re an emergency response company. If you go way back, right out of high school, I was working for my father’s environmental mapping company. And next day after high school I was I was on a plane down to Venezuela. And I live in Vancouver, and I’d never really been out of the country very much. So I was. I was doing overflights over Lake Maracaibo taking photographs of the coastline for environmental mapping. And within the first couple of days of my arrival there, I was being shot up by the FARC guerrillas that are on that Colombian Venezuelan border. So that was a real wake up call for an 18 year old kid. But I spent 10 years doing that type of work around the globe. I was in 10 different countries and I had a long stint in Egypt and there was a helicopter flight that I had over the Sinai Peninsula with an American ex Vietnam pilot. And I flew over and there was people in the back and he told me, you know, not to show them my camera, because if they saw my camera, we could be thrown in jail as spies, so I was terrified that was probably 22 by now. And so we were flying over this area, and all I saw was pipeline after pipeline after pipeline that had been ruptured, and it was flowing into the Red Sea. So I was taking photographs of this stuff, and I landed back at the helicopter base, and he said to me, he said, “I know why I took you up here and I took you into some areas I’m not supposed to take you, make sure that these photographs get back to the right people and that they see them”. And he said, “I know what you’re doing”, But he looked at me. He said, “Do you really think you can make a difference?” And I was like I was a young kid and of course I’m gonna make a difference. So that really, really resonated me for the rest of my life. It’s a long story, I wrote this, my experiences in my book. But I was there for about five years on and off in Egypt, looking at these oil spills that were just horrific. And unfortunately, my father was incarcerated because I was working for my father’s company he came to, he came to visit at the end of our project, and he was thrown in jail and I had to escape out of the country and it was a crazy story. But I ended up coming back to Vancouver and I broke off my father’s company, because I had so many clients around the world that I had met that needed help. And I was going to a technical college at the time, British Columbia Institute of Technology and I was in a Mechanical Engineering program. And I got another guy from that company and he was working for my father as well and we broke off and formed Aqua-Guards Spill Response and what we do is we design and we manufacture, spill response equipment to contain and to recover marine oil spills. So everything from like the Exxon Valdez in Alaska In 1989, all the way to the BP horizon down in the Gulf of Mexico, and we’ve been involved in business about 104 countries around the world, we have about 3000 clients. Yeah, so that’s a bit of a, I don’t know if I went on a bit too long there but that’s a bit of a long and short of it. Barbara Turley: Well the thing from that is, that is a huge operation to run. And that sort of brings us into kind of what we’re going to talk about today. So when you were saying that, I think I remember you saying when we were chatting that I’ve read some of your articles about this that you literally wanted to give up where you got to the point where you were just so burnt out from doing everything. And the ops and the whole thing that you just wanted to get out. Let’s start there, a lot of people that are being burned out now, right now. You want to get out, right? Business Owner Burnout Nigel Bennett: I know, I know. Absolutely. And I I totally feel for them. We’ve gone through this, I don’t know four or five major times in my Career life. There’s that whole period. You know, when you’re a start up, you get out and you start your own thing. Like when I did with my father, I broke off, I had no money, complete debt. My wife had more money than I had. And we bought a little house and we basically rented everything out. And so, I was building up this company called Aqua-Guard, and we had a little bit of business, we had everything leveraged. And then, we hit a couple of home runs, because after the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska, they had to redo all of the equipment in Alaska. And we just happened to nail a really nice contract at that time. And it went from being a startup to the phase of absolute chaos, and I call it a doorknob effect. So I would get to the office every morning and I’d put my hand out and I would touch the doorknob, and it would almost vibrate because I knew what was going on inside the office. I knew there was absolute chaos. I would take a deep breath, you know, and I would open the door and I’d step in into an absolute bees nest and it went on for 20 years like that. In the shower every morning not knowing if I could make payroll or if I have to lay people off or if I could hire people, you know, it was just this up and down roller coaster, and a friend of mine, he was a football player in the Canadian Football League. It was a 320 pound lineman, big, big boy. He had just retired out of professional football and he saw what I was going through and he literally grabbed me by the scruff of the neck and he said, Nigel, I’ve joined this organization, it’s called the Young Entrepreneurs Organization. It was called the Young Entrepreneurs Organization at the time, it’s now called EO, the Entrepreneurs Organization. And he says, “You have to come to a meeting with me”, and I just thought there’s no way, I don’t have time. I’ve got three little kids, my business is out of control, I have not got time to go and even step put my big toe in anything like that and he literally grabbed me and he took me there. So I went to my first meeting and I actually got recruited into what they call a forum group, a focus group of nine people. And my wife and I talked about this to this day. I mean, this was 20 years ago that I joined. And we talked about is that if we had not joined or been dragged into the Entrepreneurs Organization at that time, I don’t know where we would be, we’d probably be divorced, we’d probably lost everything. And so I really hold a lot of respect for that. And for Trevor for dragging me in. And as the years kind of went by, I was still having a tough time and I hired a coach and this coaches Kevin Lawrence, and he’s a Gazelles Scaling Coach. I’ve been working with Kevin for 15 years. And Kevin really helped me look at the perspective of everything because we sat down, we had a one page plan and the only things that went on this plan were things that Nigel wanted. What does Nigel want with the business? What does Nigel want with his life? And these were my goals. He weren’t anybody else’s goals. These were my goals. And every time I would veer, because we veer, entrepreneurs, veer all over the place, he would come back to me and slap me back on track because this isn’t on your list. This isn’t what you wanted. And what I found is, after being smacked so many times, out, and then back, I kind of got it, I got into this rhythm, and I call it a life rhythm. I don’t call it a life balance. Because I think, with a life balance, you have to give up one to get the other. It’s a life rhythm. It’s like you live your rhythm, like a dance and a life and I once I got into this rhythm, things really, really started to happen quickly for me, and I can talk about how I eventually set up my business. Barbara Turley: What I’d love to just sort of pause there for a second because I think what you’ve just said, you know, a lot of people aren’t going through that, anyway. And I think right now, you know, as we’re recording this, we’re in the middle of this COVID-19 situation globally where people are feeling like even worse than that doorknob thing that you talked about people are great to get up in the morning, not everyone. I mean, some businesses are flying and some businesses are well, but they’re definitely you know, I’m lucky in the camp right now that the business is going, The Virtual Hub that I run is going okay, but it definitely there was a month of just absolute chaos there. So I have had moments, a lot of moments, like what you’ve spoken about, and I got lucky in that I stumbled upon this Scaling Up book by Verne Harnish a few years ago, that it was like, that’s it, I’m building this company this way. And what I want to know now, what I want to deal with now and also a few people who have listened to me on this podcast, before also know that I seem to have a- I’ve always had a bit of a bent towards systems, processes, teams, delegation, I’m actually quite good at it. And otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to have two children while growing a company, which I’ve kind of done successfully. And, but, so talk to me about those early days of like, maybe I mean, it was years, obviously, but if we could distill it down into kind of what do you think are the top 2, 3, 4 things that a business owner needs to do and get a handle on in order to start to free themselves up from the day to day or from the ops or delegate more effectively? How to Delegate More Effectively Nigel Bennett: Yeah, yeah. I mean for me, and we just talked about peer groups. For me, peer group was huge, which happens to be the Entrepreneurs Organization for me. And then there was an offshoot of the Entrepreneurs Organization, which was at MIT in Boston, which I went to and I and I went to my very first meeting, and I was terrified. I have this, like, is almost an imposter syndrome. I felt I didn’t belong there, everybody was smarter than me. I’m dyslexic, I’ve got, ADD and I have a business but these guys are geniuses. I was almost throwing up as I drove up the driveway to this place at MIT. And I go in and the first speaker is you just mentioned them. The very first speaker was Verne Harnish and Verne stood in front of the whole of 75 entrepreneurs. And I had hired a coach because I had hired a coach just before this. And he looked out at everybody and he said, I’ve got a question for you. How many of you have coaches? How many of you in this class currently have coaches? And I thought, Oh, you know, everybody, they’re all geniuses in this room. I mean they’re all smart business guy. So I have my head down on my desk. And I put my hand up and I put my hand up like this, you know, like, and the all I heard him say was only three of you of 75. Three of you and I looked around and this is unbelievable. These geniuses, these business people, they don’t have coaches. And Verne said let me tell you guys, he said that, “You can’t do life alone”. He said, “The top business people on the planet”, and at that time he was talking about Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Michael Dell. He said, “Those three guys have multiple coaches. They can’t do what they do alone”. He says, “You need a coach”. And I sat back and I say, Wow, that’s really powerful stuff. And I’ve really lived through that for so many years. And the one thing that my coach helped me to do, I was also at the point where I was hiking one day, Kevin, and I do a lot of hiking together. I walk and talk stuff, and I was having a really hard time with the business. And Kevin said to me, “Nigel, if somebody offered you something for your business right now, what would you sell it for? Like, what would you sell your business for today?” And I said, $1. I said, “I want my freedom back. I just want to get out”. And he said, “That’s not good”. He said, “That’s not good, let’s work with this and see what we can do”. Because at that time what I was doing, is I was parachuting in C Suite, CEOs and leaders, I would go out and I would poach them from competitors. And I would change the name every time I’d be a CEO one time and then General Manager the next time or Managing Director the next. And I did that over 10 years and all that did was totally disrupt the culture of my business. And the one thing that I didn’t realize that I had been growing organically from inside my business, people that knew everything about the business. This one young guy, he was with us since he was 18. He started sweeping the floor when he was young, and he worked his way up into estimating and sales and then design and he was going to night school while he was working for us. And little did I know that he was doing most of the behind the scenes of running the business, not these other guys and now he’s now my partner. I bought my partner out of 30 years. I had another gentleman that I mentioned earlier, bought him out in 2012 and what I did is I said, “I really want you to be my partner but here’s a one page deal, just one page. These are the things that Nigel will do. And these are the things Nigel will not do from now on. Nigel is not going to fly down to Mexico and be a collection agency for overpaid bills. Nigel’s not gonna do this thing anymore because that’s what I was doing. But Nigel’s gonna do this, Nigel is going to be involved”. For me, it was meeting with high level clients, trade shows, you know, things like that. Things that I really, really enjoyed. And we signed it and so we set deal the up so he did a earn out like he bought my other partner out actually over through dividends. We’re lucky we’re profitable. So it was a dividend, a dividend deal over seven years. And so he’s been running the company ever since, I’ve been able to step back. And I was there for about a year after we signed this deal. And then I was actually able to leave with my family and I traveled the world for a year. And I traveled, we went to 17 different countries off the grid, one small bag each three t-shirts, one pair of shorts, a pair of flip flops for a year with my kids, and they were a little bit older. We homeschool my daughter in grade nine. My son had just graduated from high school and my other son was in university so he would come in and out. It was the best thing I’ve ever done in my life. And I thought, with my ego. My ego was I can’t leave the business. And Kevin Lawrence said to me, I will never forget this. We’d set everything up in the business. Everything was running great. We had Cameron Janz, he’s an amazing guy running the business. and Kevin said to me “Nigel, you have this list of all these things you wanted to do in your life, this is your list, this is your life. This is your life dream. There’s one thing left on this list that you haven’t accomplished”. And I said, “Okay, what is it?” He goes, “It is to take off with your family for a year”. And I said, “Oh, come on, there’s no way, I can’t do this because of this. I can’t. I can’t, can’t can’t can’t.” He said, “Stop, it’s your wife.” My wife’s name is Reiko, she’s Japanese and she was in the kitchen of the house and he says she’s there and I said, “She’s here” he said ask her, I said, okay, so he yells, “Hey Reiko, you know the thing on the list you wanna, can you go?”, thinking she was gonna say absolutely no way and she said, let’s go and we set it up in about three months. We made no plans. We did not plan this trip. We left, we ended up going to London first and then we just let it evolve from there, wherever our kids wanted to go. And it was the most incredible thing and I would not been able to do that without my coach, I would not been able to do that with having this organically grown, great person inside my business or one page plan that we’ve set up to make the business run. That was in 2012, I set it up 20 you know, we took off for a year. And now, so many years later, 2020 and, yeah, and I spend maybe half a day a week with my business because I’m financially connected. I’m 60% owner and Cameron is 40% owner. So yeah, yeah. Organic Growth in your Business Barbara Turley: I want to like rewind completely and dig right into that because it’s like, so you got the coach and I’ll dig for you because I know what our listeners [inaudible]. So because lots of people have coaches, right, so you’ve got a coach and like, big shout out to Matt Malouf, who co hosts this show with me normally, he’s in Australia right now he’s up to his eyes with his own clients. He’s a fantastic coach that I started out with and he was there when I started The Virtual Hub and came up with this idea so big high five to Matt and but so you got the coach but and then the organic I 100% agree with you the organic growth, people inside your business, don’t ignore that because I’ve done that really successfully in the Philippines. Now, I have brought in a couple of people that needed more experience in certain functions like HR and head of that sort of thing but I have grown, my master trainers were original VAs with me that had no experience being VAs and I grew them up in there with me years. So I’m a big fan of that strategy and I think a lot of people don’t invest the time, energy, and training in doing that or the interest. But I want to dig in deeper into what the coach worked with you on. So let’s talk about operational, like the boring stuff, the processes, the systems, the meeting rhythms, how did you bring it all in? And did you have any of that before? Processes and Systems Nigel Bennett: Yeah, I mean, from the Entrepreneurs Organization too when I joined, our Bible at the time was a book called the E myth which is Michael Gerber’s E myth and that was the E myth revisited. And all that talks about is you know, the reason you start a business is you set it up and then you set up the systems in order the system, so then you can actually step out one day or patch it up and sell it or whatever. And so that was really kind of the Bible of why we need to, so yeah, in our business just having the people in the departments in the in the systems and it’s just, I’m not saying it happened organically but it you know, absolute key, absolute key, Barbara Turley: Was it painful though? Was it when you realize it like sometimes when you read Michael Gerber’s book, you go totally getters. Oh, but oh my god, that’s such an uphill battle. Like I just have been staring at Mount Everest to try and we see clients coming to us at The Virtual Hub like this, where they feel they know why they need to do it, they know what they need to do but you’re staring at Mount Everest when you’re when you’ve got nothing really built and everything’s kind of in your own head, or in the heads of the people who work. Can you give any advice? The importance of Life Rhythm in your Business Nigel Bennett: Again, like I mentioned earlier, Life rhythm, like it’s a life rhythm in your business as well, you create this rhythm and at the beginning, it’s really painful. Like I mentioned, I kept getting smacked out to the side, you have to get smacked so many times to get onto a flow and your brain and your organization actually does get rewired to get into this rhythm. And once you start doing it, it actually does and it’s a commitment. So I mean, our commitments, you know, there’s a friend of mine, Brian Scudamore, that has a company called 1-800-GOT-JUNK and he was in my class at MIT as well, but his morning huddles, you know, his morning huddle are just key and that’s we do, you know, when all our guys or people were together, we could do but now they’re all over the place. So now we do them virtually, we do the virtual huddles and you know, you’re gone and you’re just checking in and checking the pulse of what’s going on. They’re not meetings, they’re huddles, they’re quick. They’re like seven minutes at the most, and you’re off, you know, and then- Barbara Turley: We do them as well. It’s a game-changer for us at The Virtual Hub. Nigel Bennett: Yeah, yeah. And then your search and then we have a one page plan with my business partner, we have a one page plan with the company, which actually came out of the Rockefeller habits book, which is a Verne Harnish book as well. Yeah. And our quarterly meetings and our quarterly updates. And, yeah, it’s getting into the flow. Barbara Turley: So one of the things that I hear, not a lot these days but I used to hear a lot in the beginning, when I started The Virtual Hub from clients that would come in. The number one thing and normally it was smaller businesses solopreneurs, this kind of thing. And they would say to me on these sales calls that I used to do, I would invariably hear the, “Well I just don’t want to micromanage someone and if it takes too long, I may as well do it myself”. And I used to say, “Well, that’s all fine, right?”. But you’re getting a virtual assistant, that’s what we do here. right? So, if you have that mindset, in a year’s time, I can guarantee you one thing, you’ll still be doing it yourself if you’re not willing to invest the time. Nigel Bennett: Absolutely. What I found is when I originally broke off of my father’s company, I took my sister with me and there was this other guy, Lawrence. He was our, I call him the mad scientist. He was the guy, incredible brain, engineering brain. But what my sister and I were big into adventure. We’re into backcountry skiing, mountain climbing and mountaineering. And what we would do in those times is we would toggle off the company, because I knew she was off to climb Mount Logan and I was off to go to Nepal or whatever we were doing. And so I would leave, I would leave and she would run, you know, look after the business and we would kind of trade off like that for many years. We did that. I would come back just totally, rejuvenated, but my sister only stayed with me for four years. And then she left, we ended up buying her out. But I kept that rhythm going. I kept that rhythm going. And I know again at my class in Boston, another thing that Verne said, it’s always Verne stuff. Verne said, “You know, if you’ve been an owner of a business or startup or whatnot for I can’t remember four or five years, you need to take like, one two or three months away”. And I thought, that’s not possible. Like I do my little John’s. And he said, “Because you just need to get away you need to get clear. All your best thinking happens in that space”. And I really find that now with all of us in this lockdown, the quiet. The quiet is where really cool stuff happens. And it’s been happening for me, it’s been happening for our people, all these great new ideas are coming out. And so I would keep doing that, I got into this life rhythm. I had a hard time at first with my ego, because if I go away, oh, I don’t know, nobody can do my business as well as I can, you know, I need to be involved. But then I would leave for a week, and then I go for two weeks, and I go for a month, and I come back and everything’s fine. Well, I went for a year, I went for a year, and I would check in. So the beginning, the difficult part is the first part because your ego is still connected to you. I can’t go for a year this is ridiculous. But I would check in I would Skype in at that time. And everything was fine. And then the longer I was away, the less I checked in. So it firstly would be I check it every two weeks, and it was every month and it was like every six weeks. And then by the time I came back, you know I thought “Oh, Has our company burned down, what’s happened?” I walk in, and the most the weirdest thing for me was I’ve been away for a year, I’ve had so many life experiences myself and my family, just mind boggling. We’re high in the Himalayas, to offshore Brazil, to surfing on every coastline you can admit, it was absolutely amazing. I walked into my office and we did a huddle, everybody huddles around and like hey, Nigel, how is it? What was your favorite place? You know, blah, five minutes. And then everybody scampered off and everybody was doing their thing they hadn’t missed me at all. It was unbelievable for me. I was sad because they had missed me but I’m like, this is actually Nigel what you wanted to set up. This was your dream and it actually worked. Barbara Turley: Can I ask you Nigel then for the team then, so obviously you know, I love the E Myth Michael Gerber I mean, if anyone’s listening to this, the only two books I think I read personally are the E Myth Revisited with Michael Gerber and Scaling Up by Verne Harnish, just read both those books. Nigel Bennett: Good to Great is good too by Jim Collins. Barbara Turley: Good to Great is good too. Yeah. But so the roles then, so obviously you grew organically, your person that is became the partner in the business and took over the running so they were The ones that the CEO they became kind of acting,. Nigel Bennett: Yes, CEO. he’s the CEO. I’m not the CEO anymore. Barbara Turley: So you’re not the CEO anymore? Nigel Bennett: No, I’m called co-founder. Barbara Turley: Yeah. What are the other roles that, you know, when we’re thinking about getting to this level? I mean, growing a CEO from inside, I think is a great idea, although potentially difficult, like takes a long time. Nigel Bennett: Yeah, it took a long time. It took a long time. Barbara Turley: What about things like the COO role, the ops like somebody running the implementation because the CEO is a great role, but then there’s the implementation. And who’s gonna run the people and the teams and the integrator? Who should manage the people and the teams in your Business Nigel Bennett: Yeah, all the people that we have that are doing that, were all brought in by Cam, which is the CEO. They were all brought in over time. I mean, it’s been quite a long time now. Brought in and they just work like a well oiled machine. I only go in and I screw things up if I stick my nose in there. And they’re younger. I mean, I’m 58 now, and he’s 40 and so we have this you know, he’s full of vim and vigor. He’s got a young family, and he’s extremely driven. And I was just very fortunate to have him with us since he was a young man. And the rest of our team too, they’ve been with us. I mean, we have very little turnover. We just have just a great team and he is just a fantastic leader. And I don’t know if I lucked out or I just failed so many times, trying to parachute in people. And organically we were growing these people and it just kind of happened. It was just- Barbara Turley: Then becomes a family. That’s actually like a family. Keeping in touch with your team during this pandemic Nigel Bennett: Yeah, it’s like a family. It is like a family. And we have regional managers that operate remotely. We have a gentleman, Francisco Jimenez, he’s a Venezuelan, that got out of Venezuela, mid 20 years ago, and was in Miami and I hired him out of Miami. And he was managing Latin America for me and he was in Miami, then he moved to Vancouver but it was tough for him to manage Latin America, Vancouver. So we have a place in Panama now, which he manages all of Latin America, but he lives in Vancouver. He spends three months in Panama remotely, and we zoom in and zoom out through our zoom calls, and we keep in touch and he reports; it just works great. I mean, it’s been working really, really well. Barbara Turley: So there’s been no break. So because you kind of ran, I mean, you’re running it virtually at the moment because you’re in Whistler, you’re sort of doing it remotely but has there been any break or any issues with moving because what I was thinking here is I’m always talking about virtual teams, remote, how you do stuff with virtual assistants or offshore teams or anything like that. But what I’m sort of hearing is that if your company’s actually set up in the right way, it doesn’t really matter, if you got the right setup, you can go virtual or go remote or come back to the office and the same thing happens. That’s what you’re finding. Nigel Bennett: Yeah, in my contribution to my company is more on the not this kind of a higher level sales keeping connected with our higher level customers, it was trade shows which have all been canceled now. So now I’m keeping in touch with everybody virtually. So that’s kind of I mean, it’s not that difficult to do virtually at all you know, to keep in contact, but I’m in contact more now virtually than I was before, because it’s become the new norm, it is the new norm just to zoom somebody, pick up the phone or zoom it? Barbara Turley: Yeah, I mean, I have a situation I was just thinking about it today where you know, I mean, I’ve always run my company remotely because it’s in the Philippines and I don’t live in the Philippines, so it’s always been that way. Now they are all in an office but at the moment they’re all remote but always had a Facebook group for our employees, right. So we’re all in a Facebook group and with Facebook Lives these days, it’s like I can just pop in at any time. Nigel Bennett: I know. Yeah, we use WhatsApp whether we have different groups in our company. We have different WhatsApp groups in our company. And then my CEO and I have our own little WhatsApp just back and forth and there’s we have different groups with our WhatsApp which works really and I’m also involved in a group called 3ceos.com and what we’re doing is we’re doing speaking, we’re helping entrepreneurs around the globe with issues during the COVID-19 outbreak here, so I’ve got one of them is Todd Palmer. He’s in Detroit. Andy biting is in New Brunswick. And we run that out of New Brunswick, virtually everything is virtually, his assistant, they’re all there and everything that we do, I’m on it. I’m on a zoom call with him every day. And we never meet in person and we were doing talks for all the entrepreneurs. So we did, Winnipeg last week, we’re doing Toronto on Friday, we’re doing Malaysia next week. And we’re doing these webinars and everything is virtual. Barbara Turley: So I’m keen to know then, in this COVID situation, this is kind of circling back to where we started this conversation around when you were in that moment of total burnout, you were almost willing to pay someone to take the company off to you, or just sell it for $1. And, you know, you’re obviously coming across people who might be feeling that way now and what are you hearing from those webinars you’re doing from the people in those chapters of the EO Nigel’s experience with Burnout Business Owners Nigel Bennett: Yeah, I’m hearing all different types of things. I had a really nice comment from somebody in Winnipeg, and she was having a really hard time. And when I mentioned the point about selling my business for $1, she said she broke down in tears because she was in that same place. And I’ve been in that that place so many times. And what I’ve really noticed for me anyway, is the optics. So back in 2008, was tough. It was a tough time for a lot of people and I had a fraud case inside my business at the same time, or CFO. We had a big fraud, he’s actually ended up doing a few years in prison because of it. So our company was going bankrupt. But at that time, the stock market crashed, I mean, I’m an environmental company but really everything’s dictated by the oil industry because we clean up the mess of the oil industry makes. So the old prices were really low and we were going bankrupt. But we were doing everything for everybody. And I sat back and I thought, okay, you got to look at this a different way. We got to turn this on its head What? What can we do? What can we do different and I thought, okay. Oil, the sweet oil on the surface of Texas is gone, nearshore stuff is tough to get; this is before fracking. Where’s the big market? Where’s the big market coming from? And I thought it’s offshore, its offshore. So we focus, we actually basically took all our eggs in one basket, put them into another and focused on niche, high margin, and it was offshore for us. And so we were going bankrupt and Cameron Janz at the time, this the guy that was coming up through our company. I was pretty much out in my head I was so messed up in my business partner was too. He said, “Let’s make a deal with the bank see if we can keep our business alive till Christmas”. This was in July and we said, do whatever we can. So we focused on the offshore, we were able to pick up some incredible contracts on some equipment we had never built before. We’d never built it before. And it kept us alive and then our whole business shifted. So we just couldn’t see, we just couldn’t see I guess the forest through the trees type thing. We were so focused on the business, the way our business that always run, our business that always run like this. We did everything for everybody, which higher volume lower margins. we flipped everything we turned everything on its head and you know, we need to get high margin, it’s a lower volume, but much higher volumes, but much higher numbers. And we went into a completely different spot. And the only reason that that happened to us is because of the of the crisis because of 2008, because of the fraud case, if those two things didn’t happen, their blessings in disguise, if they didn’t happen, we would have been on the same path as we were and probably just died a slow death. And this has happened so many times to me. So the only thing I can say to people out there that are having a really hard time is what are we seeing? Or what are the optics? What are we looking at? Are we just trying to do something, the way we’ve always done it? The world’s changed, the world has completely changed. And maybe what we were doing before isn’t gonna be something for the new world, but there’s a lot of opportunity out there. I mean, there’s so many things. I mean, you look at these businesses that are thriving, home, delivery, organic food home delivery. All these things that you would never have thought of before, you know Zoom. All these technologies that are being born out of this and the only way that these things come up, the only way that I have evolved personally, the only time that I’ve evolved, is if I’ve been pushed so far to the edge, almost falling off, but then had a big aha moment, when you’re almost about to fall. It’s a terrible thing to say but that’s where I operate the best. And that’s when my best ideas come is when I’m, you know- Barbara Turley: I’m like that. I need a perpetual state of like, I like to be. I said to my husband one day, I was like, “Why is it that I need to be on the edge of the precipice before I like, first open a great idea or I come out strong, I need a deadline”. Nigel Bennett: I know, it’s like climbing like, I do a lot of climbing. I did a lot of climbing and it would always be on those crazy adventures where would be you know, in life, it’s life and death. You got a rope clipped and you got a carabin or you got got some ice coming down on you. I was doing some ice climbing on a mountain once and the whole glacier moved, everything shook, the ice was falling down and we thought we were all dead. And you come out of those moments, you know, you have these epiphanies and they’re great stories afterwards too. But you know if you live. Fight, Flight, or Freeze Barbara Turley: I think you’re right though, I think one of the challenges people and anyone listening to this. I think what happens to people, if you’re either fight, flight, or freeze you know, and I’m a fight. Like if someone like I’m sort of quite even keel until someone goes and attacks me and then I’m like I’ll fight to the death to win. Nigel Bennett: I have ADD and actually my coach and I, Kevin Lawrence have formed a group called giftadd.com to prove that people with ADD aren’t freaks, we’re actually gifted. And the incredible thing, if you look at the statistics over time, so many entrepreneurs have ADD or dyslexic, but I find with me being ADD when I get that push, the adrenaline push, In my day to day life I’m all over the place but when I get that push, I can focus and I focus like an arrow and it’s a very common trait with people with ADD and maybe that’s why people with ADD, there are a lot of entrepreneurs have ADD? I don’t know. Barbara Turley: Yeah, it’s funny because like I don’t because I’m quite I don’t know, I’m quite systems minded and all that sort of thing. But the people who go into freeze, though, I mean, there’s one or two flight completely, but the ones that go into freeze, if you’re sort of listening to this and you’re thinking, “Oh, that’s me, I just go rabbit in the headlights”. I think, you know, what I’ve been saying to to our clients and to people is, never waste a good crisis. I mean, it’s a terrible thing to say, it’s terrible, but it’s true. Nigel Bennett: All the best things that have ever happened inside my company. It’s crazy, have been formed during a crisis. Barbara Turley: Yes. And I think you know, when we were talking on this mastermind, I don’t know whether you were on the first one that I was on with the group of people that we do that with and I was saying that I could feel the adrenaline in my fingertips of this coming, and I thought it’s a terrible crisis. But I remember the last one was horrific for me, the 08 thing. But I actually came out of it and ended up, long story, but I did sweat equity in a company that ended up going to you know, it’s worth $60-$70 million now, not my share but the company and it was born out of that time and me taking risk on and getting that adrenaline in my fingertips feeling and this is the time to not- now having said that, I also think it’s a time to maybe sit back and listen to your intuition a bit too, and you don’t have to rush into anything but it is the time to rise when you’re tired. Like you might be tired but you have to rise into it. Nigel Bennett: Exactly. I have a good friend of mine, that’s a shaman, he’s a proven shaman. I’ve done a lot of stuff done in Peru and I was having a hard time several years ago with my father and he said to me, he said, “Nigel, like, you have to realize that all the difficult things that you’ve experienced in your life through your father, he’s actually been a coach to you”. And I said, “How is this possible?” How could this be a coach because you would not be the person that you are now unless those things happened. Some of them may be terrible. And, he nailed it, he nailed it. And it’s so true, I wouldn’t be the person I would not be sitting here in front of you now. Unless all this happened to me during my life, all these really difficult times and all the good stuff. So- Final thoughts Barbara Turley: Well, listen, thank you so much for joining us on the show because when I heard the story. I really said to myself, you know, it’s that you’ve been on both, your now on the other side, and you’ve been on the first one I know most entrepreneurs have, but you were there for 20 years. I mean in that kind of horrible uphill battle feeling. And I know, there’s lots of business owners that are like that, and it’s just those those key things. I think, just review the things that you’ve said. Nigel Bennett: There’s just one thing that I want to say that I really learned over the whole period, is that as an entrepreneur, we’re always in crisis. But I would say never sacrifice your family for business crisis. Because our family are the most important thing. And that’s what I found. Barbara Turley: Yes, and that’s why I always say to people, it’s so worth like spending the time to you know, getting delegation right, getting it to [inaudible] actually even just delegating to a simple virtual assistant like what we do with The Virtual Hub. There’s so many businesses that come to us and that’s where they start their journey. And the ones that spend the time, the energy and they put the time into actually getting it right, it pays the largest dividends in the end. And that’s the best work you can do, is to learn how to delegate effectively. And then you start your journey towards building your systems, your teams and eventually getting to the stage where you can switch. Nigel Bennett: And it started with me again with you know, joining the peer group, which was amazing and a focus group inside a peer group, which was the entrepreneurs organization, and then also the coach but a good coach and he’s a good coach as someone who is gonna hold you accountable to your life goals. And yeah, that’s what started it off. Wrapping things up Barbara Turley: Well, listen, thank you again for joining us and anyone who is listening to this show, please, you know, share it with your friends and colleagues. It will be up in iTunes soon. We’re on Facebook Live at the moment at night. And thank you so much for joining us today, everyone. Until next time, I will see you next time. Nigel Bennett: Thanks, Barbara. Outro: Thank you for listening to the Virtual Success Show. If you found this show helpful, take a moment to share it with a friend so that we can all grow together. The Hosts Matt MaloufMatt Malouf is a passionate business coach, speaker, author, and entrepreneur on a mission to help entrepreneurs around the world break the shackles of mediocrity and reach new levels of personal and business success. Barbara TurleyBarbara Turley is the Founder & CEO of The Virtual Hub, a company that specializes in recruiting, training, and managing superstar ‘Virtual Assistants’ in the social media, digital marketing, and systems automation space. The post Scaling Your Delegation Game with Nigel Bennett of Aqua Guard Spill Response appeared first on The Virtual Hub.
23 minutes | Jun 22, 2020
How to Hire A-Players Consistently with a Streamlined Recruitment Process
How to Hire A-Players Consistently with a Streamlined Recruitment Process Want the transcript? Download it here. In this episode, Barbara Turley and her co-host Matt Malouf discuss The Virtual Hub’s recruitment process, what makes it different from others, and the secret to hiring A-players in your business. Some key points include:The importance of having a great recruitment processThree key things to remember when recruitingHow to determine A-players from B and C-players Let us know what your key takeout has been from this episode and join the continuing conversation over in the Virtual Success Facebook Group. In this episode:2:39 The Virtual Hub’s Recruitment Process8:40 Recruitment Status in this Crisis11:05 How to avoid bringing in the wrong people14:20 Attitude vs Skill17:48 Three key fundamentals in Recruiting21:59 Wrapping things up Intro: Do you find yourself running out of time to accomplish your work, are you spending time doing things that you’re not that good at? There are effective ways to outsource these tasks so you can focus on your business. This is the Virtual Success Show, we bring the inside scoop on outsourcing success for entrepreneurs by entrepreneurs. And now, here are your hosts Matt Malouf and Barbara Turley. Matt Malouf: Hi, everyone and welcome to another episode of the Virtual Success Show where I’m joined by my co host, Barbara Turley. Hi, Barbara. How are you today? Barbara Turley: I’m great Matt and you? Matt Malouf: Yep, going really, really well… really well. Very excited to starting to see what we’re coming out of lockdown through this pandemic that we’ve been going through and life is starting to get back to some form of normality. How is it on the; I’m in Australia today and your in France. How’s it, how’s things over in your neck of the woods? Barbara Turley: Well, you know, I’m just excited too Matt because the restaurants are opening this week. So, you know, we’re slowly opening up, but we can finally have a glass of wine somewhere else other than our house. So that’s got to be a good thing. So but yeah, very slowly opening up, everyone wearing masks where we are. But I guess that’s the right thing to do for now. But good to see us all opening up again. Matt Malouf: And today’s show, I wanted to actually spend some time interviewing Barbara, because we’ve been having a few conversations recently off air. And one of the most interesting things that we’ve been talking about is the recruitment process. And the hiring of VAs and how Barbara and her team are doing that process at the moment. But the, I guess, not just about the process, around, I guess the numbers behind how many VAs are the like you’ve got to go through or interview to get to a diamond and I wanted to share that with everybody today because I think it’s an area of business that so many business owners struggle with, which is hiring a little and hiring their VA. So I wanted to spend some time just getting Barbara’s insights and sharing that with you all today. So Barbara, I guess let’s start with regards to hiring VA’s and the like. What is the sort of process? Is it just a, do you just follow a traditional recruitment process? Or are you doing something a little bit different to test and find the right people? The Virtual Hub’s Recruitment Process Barbara Turley: Yeah, great question, Matt. Because, you know, a lot of people would have different definitions of what is the traditional recruitment process, I suppose in most people’s head, that is put out a job ad, get a load of applications, look at a few resumes, narrow them down, interview a few people and pick the one you like the most. Over the years, you know, you start off doing that. But really and I know we did a full show on this, you and I before where I dissected out our recruitment process, and it is a lengthy process that we go through that involves a lot of metrics. And it is very, we only bring in the relationship piece at the very, very end of the process. So what I mean by that is, we don’t even interview people until they’ve jumped through about 10 different hoops, and we’ve tested them in certain areas. And only at that point, are we sort of saying we’re interested in meeting with them and having a chat. And interestingly, 50% of people still fail at that stage, even though like the majority have already fallen at the other hurdles that we’ve set along the way. And still, in that interview stage, 50% of people will fail right there. So it’s very difficult. Matt Malouf: I mean, for many business owners, just even the thought of 10 steps before he gets to an interview. They’d be probably sitting there going, I don’t have the time for that. Why such a lengthy process, Barb? Barbara Turley: Well, in my experience, if you want to get you know, everyone says they want to hire A-players. But in order to find a true A-player, it’s like you have to kiss a lot of frogs, right? Because you don’t know, the people applying for jobs, depending on the type of the level of role that you’re looking at. But you know, when we’re recruiting for VAs, for example, it’s not a lower level job, but I mean, it’s not a leadership position. It’s not at, the pool is large. So when you’re, when depends what rank you’re going for in a company. But when you’re looking for a kind of a rank and file sort of position, where the masses might come and apply, and especially if you’re saying that you offer training, like for example, the way we do, you’re going to get people who are switching industry and that sort of thing happening. So in our experience to try to find the A-players, they don’t often walk through the door with the correct color coat on, if you know what I mean. So you have to kind of, you can often find diamonds in the rough. And you have to be able to look past certain things so that you might find the diamonds that you’re looking for. I hope that makes sense. It’s kind of a difficult thing. And really, metrics is the way to filter it fast, is to filter a lot of people down to the people you actually want to speak to. Matt Malouf: Yeah, it’s so interesting. Like, you wouldn’t think something like recruitment would come back to metrics, but the numbers don’t lie in any area of business. And I think that’s the key. And once you, the only way to get a set of metrics, like what you’re talking about, is through spending a lot of time and having a large data set to be able to produce that. Barbara Turley: Well, if you think about it, Matt as well, I was just thinking there, you know, the majority of people, the majority of businesses, spend little or no time or you know, scant time on recruiting. They might pay an agency, they might spend but really is it a folk? Is it a department within the business, usually not unless you’re a very large company. But if you think about it, the people that you’re bringing in and allowing to walk through the door of your business, if you put as little energy into your, you know, account your finance area, or your delivery of product or sales or your marketing area, as most businesses do in the recruitment area, your entire business would fail. So, in The Virtual Hub, recruitment is like one of the linchpin departments where we say to ourselves, every time we see a problem within the company, even if it’s like, after two years of having the same employee, we actually look back and go, Hmm, we look back at all their recruitment, testing and all of the notes that we took through the entire process, and we try to figure out whether we should have seen that or whether we can recruit that out in future. That’s how much energy we put into it. Matt Malouf: That’s brilliant. The number of people that will not do that, they’ll actually point the finger at the person versus taking responsibility and going back, right at the beginning of the process and going, how could we have changed things back here? Is there anything that we need to improve or change right at the beginning? Oh, that’s amazing, you know? I mean, that’s a really important point for everyone to take home. It’s taking the responsibility, and then understanding how we can make it better. That’s brilliant Barb. Barbara Turley: Well, you know, when you’re talking about setting expectations Matt, we did a show on setting expectations with your team. And you know, when somebody doesn’t meet expectations, or somebody doesn’t, you know, perform on the job or whatever and you think you just have, how could they have been so confused? If that thought goes through your head for a moment, think about how they could have been so confused, potentially. It happened way back in the ad that you put out for the job. Potentially, not always. But if you go right back to the source, you’ll think well, how did this person first walk through our door? It was the ad and how was that written? What were they told in the entire process that they came through? And then on the onboarding and the training and the coaching and the quarterly catch-ups and all this stuff going forward, either they were just a C-player that you hired, you thought they were an A-player, and or it was your process that caught the whole thing out, maybe, just worth asking those questions. Matt Malouf: And so in the current climate, Barb, what are you, as you’re recruiting for VA, are you seeing anything different at the moment? Recruitment Status in this Crisis Barbara Turley: Yes, yes and no. Okay, so yes, in that we are seeing large numbers of people applying for jobs, which you know, is always great because once the pool gets bigger, then you can start to see great people are being released from other companies like so. For example, companies like Airbnb, who have a history of training their staff pretty well, and having a good culture and that sort of thing. You know, they’ve had to let some people go so that, you know, they happen to be in the same city as us in Cebu. And although we’re not in the same industry as the travel industry or Airbnb, we would be keen to see some of their potential stars that might actually be coming out of those places because we can retrain them, they’re still great, A-players are always A-players, right? So that’s been very interesting. But the thing that hasn’t changed is the metrics, I still can’t believe we were talking about this off air. We’re still, I’m still seeing the same number of people, the same percentage of people pass, fail, succeed, wow us, that percentage just has not changed, which is fascinating to me. It feels like that it doesn’t matter what happens, there still only 2% to 5% or, you know, maybe 5% to 10% of people are exceptional regardless of the skill set or regardless of industry, Matt Malouf: And that’s one of the things I love about the standard that you set in this industry, Barb is that, you know, here the pool is bigger, you’re getting more applications and you’ve had probably in a long time, yet you don’t drop the standard and the stats don’t lie. So it’s the law of averages right working here. And I think what’s really, really important is that last statement that you made that are in sort of between 2% and 10% cut it. And my thought is, the only reason you can say that with confidence is because of the number of people and the experience you’ve had over the years. And so many business owners would react in a hiring scenario, and bring the A-players on in the hope that they get to make them As. Have you had experience in that before, where you’ve seen, you’ve probably gone against your metrics or your process, and then you brought on the wrong person. How to avoid bringing in the wrong people Barbara Turley: So many things I want to unpack in that. I just want to make sure I get the whole picture for you. So yes, 100% I have. So number one, we ran a test last year about a year ago. So just it wasn’t in a crisis situation or anything where we’ve done this twice where we dropped our metrics and we decided not dropped it, but we lowered the standard. And we decided are we, have we set the bar so high that literally nobody can get through it. So we lowered it and what we noticed was that the difference was night and day between if we lowered it. And it just, the quality of an ability of people coming through was just, was way lower. We weren’t finding amazing people that accidentally just didn’t do well in the particular tests that we had. So that was number one. And number two, the other thing I wanted to say about recruiting, usually the reason people end up hiring B and C-players is because they are in a panic. They don’t hire strategically thinking forward, they hire when they need somebody. And that means that you go out and you got to get it done pretty fairly quickly. Recruiting and sort of employment branding is something that you need to have as part of, well, some companies are very small, so they don’t really need to have it all the time. But you need to be constantly scouting, and constantly looking for talent because sometimes talent comes along at the wrong time. And it doesn’t mean that you create space for them in your company. Not everyone can do that. But sometimes it might be worth and trying to create space for the right A-player when they come along and not just when you’re desperate for that position. And then dealing with B-players, so let’s say you do hire somebody that it depends what type of B-player they are, and I’ve experienced with this as well. So if they are a B-player where you have somebody that’s a great person, that is smart, has enthusiasm in their DNA right now that’s important because you cannot train for enthusiasm. They’re enthusiastic about what it is that they’re doing. And they have a sense of grit about them. So they are, have the ability to rise to a challenge. If you have somebody like that, that comes in, but let’s say they can’t do, they can’t, they haven’t got the skills yet. That’s a B-player that is coachable. You can coach and train that person because skills are teachable. The other things I mentioned or not, you’ve got to hire for them. So if you find, if someone is a B-player, because they’re not performing on the job because of training, but they have all the other elements, that is someone that you can coach up into an A-player, in my opinion, if you have a B-player, because of things like low energy, lack of interest, generally kind of you know, fixed mindset instead of growth mindset, it doesn’t matter about their skills they’re not, they’re probably a C-player really that just did okay. Does that make sense? It’s because there’s a lot to unpack there in everything I’ve said. Matt Malouf: And I think just to summarize, it’s attitude trumps skills every time. Barbara Turley: Every time, like every time. Attitude vs Skill Matt Malouf: And you said something that I think I want everyone to really hear, you said it earlier, which is an A-player is always an A-player, irrespective of what they’re doing. And that comes back to the attitude piece that we’re talking about here. And you just, you can’t train enthusiasm. You can’t fake enthusiasm, either. Like at the end of the day, someone will come in and yes, they might pull the wool over your eyes once but inevitably, it’s got to be part of their being. Otherwise very quickly, they’re going to be exposed and if you’ve got a thorough process that you’re taking people through, inevitably, you’ll identify that. Barbara Turley: Yeah, so I would encourage people to just think about the things in your business that you can train for. Now, training is a whole other thing, maybe you don’t have time for training and you need to hire someone that has the skills. But if you’re trying to hire somebody that is already, has all the skills and all the things I talked about, they’re probably going to be quite expensive. So you’ve got to think about it’s a balancing act between where is your company at or your business and what can your business kind of afford right now and which side are you, I would always say I would go with the culture fit and the enthusiasm and all that first and then work on the training because you can really grow that person up into your business. You don’t always have to get all the things in the first hire or in the beginning and pay up for it. Matt Malouf: And you know what’s been really interesting through this pandemic, Barb, what I’ve been seeing in the coaching I’ve been doing with clients, this attitude piece during tough times is amplified. So if you’ve got somebody that is exceptional when it comes to attitude, enthusiasm, their attitude, is amplified through this time and if you’ve got someone that’s on the wrong side of that line, it’s amplified through this time as well. And it’s been really interesting watching the companies that are crushing it at the moment. It’s largely due to, they’ve got the right people with the right attitudes, who are just gunning for the business and wanting to see the business succeed. And the ones that are failing and not only because of lockdowns or shut downs or anything like that, they’re actually crumbling because as a unit, they’re not unified. They’re not sharing the common traits and goals and attitudes that are what winning requires. Barbara Turley: You can see it even in, you know, you would see it in clients you coach, you can read about it in newspapers, but all the businesses that, in general, forget about being in a crisis. The businesses that win in general, are usually led by leadership teams or leaders that will always look at themselves first and they tend to have a growth mindset. Well not tend to, you kind of have two growth mindsets, positive, generally positive attitude, and generally and then through a sort of a glass is half full approach, an ability to see opportunity when others can’t, and that is why people like that win. But it’s not everyone has that trait, so it’s difficult. You don’t have to have I mean, not everyone has to be a rock star on your team. But everyone needs to be a rock star in some way, shape, or form. So depending on the role, in my view Three key fundamentals in Recruiting Matt Malouf: So if we were to leave the listeners with three key fundamentals around this piece, Barb, what would your top three tips be? Barbara Turley: Yep. So tip number one is very simply that people matter, right? So people matter in any business. And because of that, the energy that you put into things like recruitment, employment branding, employment opportunity for people will pay you dividends in the end. It’s something that you just need to think about. That’s on the front on the way in. The other thing that, you know, with people matter is thinking about the journey that somebody is taking with your company that matters to them. So, people matter, it’s important to have a people focus within any business. And it is time consuming, it’s a bit tiring, but it’s actually, people matter. So that’s the first thing I would say. The second thing I would say is when, if you do have A-players or B-players that are coachable, open to A-players, those people tend to like working with other A-player’s or coachable B-players. And I’ve made this mistake in the past, if you are seen to be supporting C-players or the bludgers, right? It actually demotivates your A-players if they see you doing that. So if you’re favoring somebody or you’re allowing bad behavior to go on in your business, it actually demotivates and turns off those who are A-players and B-players. And I’ve learned that lesson the hard way, a couple of times. So take it from the horse’s mouth. And my third point would be, people like generally to work in streamlined machines of businesses, because that makes it more fun. And Matt, you and I talk about this all the time, building a machine, making sure that everyone’s clear on their role, clear on what they’re, you know, accountable for. There’s a nice process running you know, people get to be creative, where they want to be creative and show initiative etc. But generally speaking, you want to have a well-oiled machine running that people want to be part of. I think those would be my three key things. Matt Malouf: I’m going to add one little bit to your point too, because it’s such an important point. When you’ve got the A and B-players, they will help you select or deselect others within the team as well. And you’ve got to listen to them. So if you’re A or B-players are coming to you with feedback around other team players, that’s legitimate, so not we’re not talking about whinging and whining in that kind of rubbish. But legitimate feedback, constructive feedback. You must listen to them in line with Barb’s point because these people are critical to the success or failure of your business. And, inevitably, if you don’t maintain the standard around the A’s and the B’s, you’ve got the right attitude that you can build into As, they will leave and you’ll be left with C-players, which you cannot build a great business on the back of. Barbara Turley: I know you’d be putting out fires all day and driving yourself mad. And actually, if I could finish on a tip around that, you know, allow people through your recruiting and your general process, create ways for them to deselect themselves. And the best way for you to do that is to be extremely transparent about what they’re entering and almost make it not difficult, but you know, make them jump through some hoops because those that want to work for your company will jump through those hoops and they’re the ones you want to have. Because they’re inspired by what you’re doing. And they’re actually, it’s like inbound marketing kind of thing there. They are magnetically attracted to what it is that you guys do, and the others allow them to deselect themselves before you ever hire them. That’s what we tend to do at The Virtual Hub. We’ve had people drop out and we go well, it’s better they dropped out now, before we hire them, they give up in the process. Wrapping things up Matt Malouf: Barbara that has been amazing. I’ve got a page full of notes that I’ve feel like this has been for me this show. I’ve got so many great notes. I hope the listeners have taken a lot from this. If you’ve enjoyed the show, please we’d love your comments around the show, we’d love for you to give us a review. But more importantly is to share this with your community because our goal is to help as many business owners and entrepreneurs success with their virtual teams as possible because we believe it is paramount and critical to business success these days. But yeah, Barbara once again, love your input. Love your, what you’ve given to the community today. And thank you and we’ll join for another show soon. Barbara Turley: Thanks very much, everyone. Outro: Thank you for listening to the Virtual Success Show. If you found this show helpful. Take a moment to share it with a friend so that we can all grow together. The Hosts Matt Malouf Matt Malouf is a passionate business coach, speaker, author and entrepreneur on a mission to help entrepreneurs around the world break the shackles of mediocrity and reach new levels of personal and business success. Barbara Turley Barbara Turley is the Founder & CEO of The Virtual Hub, a company that specializes in recruiting, training, and managing superstar ‘Virtual Assistants’ in the social media, digital marketing, and systems automation space. The post How to Hire A-Players Consistently with a Streamlined Recruitment Process appeared first on The Virtual Hub.
30 minutes | Jun 8, 2020
Vital Business Cash flow Management with Matt Malouf
Vital Business Cashflow Management with Matt Malouf Want the transcript? Download it here. In this episode, Barbara Turley is joined by her co-host Matt Malouf to talk about How to Manage Cash Flow in a Crisis and Lead your Business to Survival and come out Strong. Some of the key points include:What is cash flow analysis and how it is doneHow to survive in this crisis The difference between a Bookkeeper, an Accountant, and a CFOThe importance of numbers/data in your business Let us know what your key takeout has been from this episode and join the continuing conversation over in the Virtual Success Facebook Group. In this episode:02:06 Cashflow Analysis and Forecasting05:48 How to help business owners with their Cash flow statements08:48 Reacting vs Responding10:57 Importance of Cashflow analysis during this crisis18:39 90daycashflow.com22:03 Accountant vs CFO26:56 Importance of numbers in the business28:06 Wrapping things up Intro: Do you find yourself running out of time to accomplish your work, are you spending time doing things that you’re not that good at? There are effective ways to outsource these tasks so you can focus on your business. This is the Virtual Success Show, we bring the inside scoop on outsourcing success for entrepreneurs by entrepreneurs. And now, here are your hosts Matt Malouf and Barbara Turley. Barbara Turley: Hey, everyone, and welcome back to another episode of the Virtual Success Show where I’m finally rejoined again, I’ve managed to coax my co-host, Matt Malouf, back to join me on this show. I’m your co-host, Barbara Turley. Matt, thanks for coming back and joining us on the show again, Matt Malouf: No worries and yeah. So sorry, I haven’t been, I’ve been so proud of all the episodes you’ve been doing and we should’ve been on there. It’s just been one of those crazy times at the moment. Barbara Turley: Absolutely. I know if, we’re you know, as we’re recording this today. We’re sort of right in the middle of this Coronavirus situation that’s going on. But it’s a very interesting time for the show Matt. And you know, the concept of remote working and virtual teams. And we’ve actually seen a massive uplift in people interested in actually the podcast. And the stuff we’ve been talking about for the last three years on this podcast has all of a sudden become even more important than ever before. So what I wanted to talk to, I’m getting Matt back on the show specifically to talk today about cash flow. It’s not really a virtual team kind of topic, but it’s important in the environment that we’re in right now. And Matt, you’ve been out talking a lot about cash burn, cash flow forecasting, managing your cash and being lean in this environment, but not so lean that you can’t come out strong. So I want to dig into this topic with you. First of all, let’s start with talking about cash flow analysis and forecasting and watching your cash. Can you start at the beginning and talk to us about what do we actually do to do that? Because lots of us don’t even know how to do that. Cashflow Analysis and Forecasting Matt Malouf: Let me start with I think the importance around cash flow is that it’s more than just looking at your bank account. And I was, I did a presentation this morning. I think one of the biggest mistakes so many smaller, medium business owners make is their key report that they rely on in their business is an ATM receipt, to tell them what’s going on in their business. And the reality is that cash in your business is like oxygen to a human, where you can only last a very short period of time without oxygen and in a business can only last a very short period of time without cash. And so, in normal practices, in normal and I’m using very common, as in normal times, we should be managing our cash flow. What does that mean, that means we should be predicting based on our leads and conversion, cash coming in. And we need to factor in things like, if our business invoices, what’s our average collection period, and being very conservative on our predictions on cash in. And then the second part of that is in looking and having a deep understanding of cash leaving our business and that’s gonna be in the form of our fixed expenses. So things like your rent, if you’ve got salaried employees, if you’ve got loan repayments that you may make, if you’ve got other kinds of subscription services or contractors that you pay regularly, if fixed expenses, their expenses that you are incurred, irrespective of whether you make a sale or not. And then you’ve got to factor in your variable expenses into this cash burn rate. And then 30 in this way, so many business owners, they get it wrong and they fix it. It’s the non p&l cash transactions. So things like taxes that you have to pay. It might be inventory, often, you know, inventory is not impacting your profit and loss statement. It’s impacting your balance sheet. And so that cash that’s coming out of your business, cash that you need to spend in order if you don’t have any stock, you can’t sell any goods, but it’s often not calculated. And this is where you need to get really clear and understand that a cash flow statement is very different to a profit and loss budget. Barbara Turley: Our business is even doing a cash flow statement. No I’m not. Are we doing cash flow statements? Do you find clients are really doing this stuff? Matt Malouf: They’re not, but that’s why they’re wondering why they don’t have cash in their account. It’s why they’re sitting there looking at their p&l is going “I’ve got a profitable business, but I’ve got no cash”. And that’s often the gap is they don’t understand the impact of these non p&l items that are impacting their cash. Barbara Turley: Yeah, I think this is a major problem. And I think at the moment when people are feeling in a crisis situation, like what we’re in right now, which is impacting business a lot and there’s handouts coming from governments, and there’s banks like deferring loans and stuff like that. It’s actually very difficult to get the headspace right to sit down and figure this out. So what, how are you helping clients with this? And how can we, how can we do this better for anyone listening? How to help business owners with their Cash flow statements Matt Malouf: So the first thing we’re getting everyone to do first, first of all, you’ve got to have clean data. And what I mean by that is that your accounts need to be up to date, they need to be reconciled. You can’t understand where things are at if you’ve got messy data or out of date data. The second thing is then going line by line through the last three months at a minimum of what cash has gone out of your business. And asking yourself, Is this still necessary for us to operate and move forward? And I guess it’s a bit like, you’ve got to cut the fat out of your business. But what you don’t want to do, you don’t want to deplete muscle or bone. You just want to cut the fat out because the muscle and bone is essential for you to be able to not only survive through this, but then thrive on the other side of it. So you know, things like, a lot of the things that we’re seeing, their nice to have. So it may have been, yeah items that you had in your office, kitchen. It may have been subscriptions that you may have only use part of the time, but not all the time. I had some clients that had, they had a Click Funnels account, a lead pages account, they had this, they had four things that could do the same thing. And so it was a case of actually going through line by line over the last three months and looking at all of that. The third thing then is understanding what is required for you to continue to operate your business and move forward. And so what happens is people just slash and burn and they cut and they cut and they cut and they cut and they cut. And then all of a sudden, they’re the person doing everything. And they’re like wondering why they’re not moving forward with any speed or not able to generate any revenue and cash. coming in. Barbara Turley: Yeah, we saw with our clients just with The Virtual Hub exactly this was happening. Initially, people were like, “Ohh slash the VA, slash the team, slash everything. And then they came back couple of weeks later going, “Oh, we need to cancel the cancel”. Because they realize that actually if this, Yes, they were trying to cut costs, but then they were sitting up to two o’clock in the morning doing landing pages or doing stuff or do answering, you know, customer support tickets or whatever it was that they were cutting. And then they’ve no time energy, they might have a bit of money left, but they’ve no time energy or anything left to actually drive the business forward and get out of this crisis. So we did see that happen and people kind of panicked and cancel the service and then try and then came back looking to uncancel it, and one client actually came back and grew, which was quite interesting. Reacting vs Responding Matt Malouf: Yeah, and we were the same with coaching. The first thing people’s reaction was to cut business coaching, but once they settle down their response was, “Hey, we need you more than ever”. And I think that’s an important point that I wanted to hear, it’s, are you reacting? Or are you responding? and reacting is very emotional. It’s very short term thinking. It’s not even often even tactical, it’s just, it’s that field. And not a lot of thought that’s gone into it versus responding is strategic. And you need to be being strategic through this time. Otherwise, you won’t have a business off the other side. And that’s not being dramatic. I just, that’s my, true to my belief right now. Barbara Turley: I firmly believe this. And I, you know, it reminds me of a video I did actually for our clients back in the middle of the crisis, we were sort of being put, you know, we have office based VAs, as I was telling you about this Matt, where everyone’s in an office and we have clients who are saying, “I want my VA to work from home, I don’t see why my VA can’t work from home”, and I have to sort of push back and say to clients, and actually they understood once I explained it, I said, you know, we’ve got 125 staff in an office. And it’s important to stay grounded in these times and to actually, as you say, respond rather than react because a reaction by me would have been, yeah, yeah, let’s do this. And then we cause a domino effect through the office of people who weren’t allowed to go home versus people who were and instead, what I did was I really pushed back. I tried to gain some, you know, composure and some time to really think this through, examine the data and then make a decision about our stages of response. And we were responding for all 125 people and not just one. So it’s that yeah, reacting versus responding can actually be applied in loads of different areas, not just your decisions around the cash of the business, but in order to come out strong, you’re right we need to stay grounded as leaders during this time and respond as opposed to react. So I love that comment that you made. Importance of Cashflow analysis during this crisis Matt Malouf: I think coming back to cash burn rate then to, Barbara just to add to what I was saying before, is you need to go a little bit granular on this. And what I mean by granular is like, normally, we would be looking at probably weekly or monthly style cash flows for businesses. And the tool that we built for our clients, which is available for free also will give everyone a link later on. We actually built a daily cash flow. And for me, I remember when I read the E myth the first time and in every other time I’ve read it, you can’t manage what you don’t measure. And because everything was crashing so fast, business was drying up so quickly for so many companies. We knew we had to look at this daily, not weekly, a week. I don’t know about you, but most of the people we were working with, a day felt like a week’s worth of work at the beginning of this. And it was like things within, things were changing so fast. I work with some gyms and I remember, on the, it was a Friday, I met with them, we put the new plan in place based on the restrictions that have been placed. And then Sunday night, the Prime Minister of Australia comes out and says, midday tomorrow, you’re gonna be closed. And so we had to move quickly. But also to, in order to move, in order to respond, we needed to know the impact that decisions were going to have. And so why we went daily was because this way we could actually understand what was happening in this time of crisis real quick, and it wasn’t getting paralysis by analysis. It was about having information on hand quickly. And the metaphor I use for this, it’s like, it’s almost like we had to go from the dashboard that maybe a commercial airliner would have used, to a dashboard, now a fighter jet would use and we had to upgrade it and a fighter jet because it’s a precision high performance machine, it has a lot more dials and feedback mechanisms happening in order to perform at that level, versus a commercial airliner, which is still a high performance machine, but not to the same level as a fighter jet. And so the more granular we went with people, the more certainty they had in their decisions because they had the data to support what was going on. And we knew that, okay, should we pay this supplier today, or next week, and then we look at how much cash came in yesterday. And then we looked at what our projection was, and then we go, look what we’re going to do, we’re going to go back to them and we’re going to say we’re going to pay them 50% today, we’re going to pay them 50% next Monday, and what we found by managing it that way, we were on the front foot, where we’re in control. And all these businesses are now in a position of strength where they’ve now been able to protect what they had and pivot with confidence, versus putting their hands in the air and hoping. Barbara Turley: I love that. What I was thinking, as you were talking, is that the businesses that are just facing this head on and doing this work, because a lot of people are gonna run a mile from this because it’s, you know, it’s like the numbers, nobody likes to do it. It’s like making processes. It’s excruciating for some people. But it did, the work that you do on this pays dividends forever, because I was thinking, you know, I think the businesses that are gonna do this work with you and all this cash flow analysis and the stuff you’re talking about, are not only gonna come out stronger out of this when, I keep talking about, when the gun goes off, because it’s like a race right when the gun goes off, that’s when the tide will go out. And those who have prepared during this boot camp time will be the ones that will kind of come out strong out of this. But they’ll go on strong forever, because you’ll have learned this skill during this time. And it’s a skill that you’ll continue on in business and it’ll actually make a lot stronger business thereafter. As the saying goes, never waste a good crisis. So this work, doing this work now I think is gonna be pivotal for those businesses and for all businesses, Matt Malouf: 100%. And you know, it’s interesting about you saying when the gun goes off, yeah, everything is disguised at the moment. And this is what everyone needs to understand because, economies have been propped up by government stimulus. We’re in a shutdown circumstance, governments are giving handouts. I know here in Australia, you know, you’re getting, whether it’s the job keeper payments, you’re getting cash flow boost, you’re getting a whole heap of incentives and payments, you’re getting rent reductions, you’re able to put home loans or other loans on hold. So you’ve given this false sense of security. But the reality is, once that all goes away, and this is what we’re doing with the cash flow forecasting we’re doing with our clients. Well, while we’re looking at the next 90 days, we’re projecting out for them for the next 12 months, and we go okay, what happens when the job keeper stimulus finishes. What does your cash flow and your profitability look like then? What happens if your landlord reneges on what they’re saying, and he gives you half the period of time for rent relief? What if the banks turn around and change what’s happening, and we run all these different scenarios, and we can do it quite quickly once you’ve got everything set up. And I think that’s the key. The pain in anything is in the setup. virtOne of the episodes we’ve done, Barbara, where we talk about slowing down to speed up, you know, it’s often in setting up your systems and processes we know it takes longer initially. And that’s why that mindset says, “Ah, that can wait till later” or “It’s quicker for me to do it myself”. Right now, you don’t have the luxury of waiting to do this, but the business owners that set this up, understand that now they can operate and make decisions with a higher degree of certainty, it’s not guaranteed that that’s gonna be the outcome, but at least they’ve got a visual and they can see what’s happening, versus having everything in their head and hoping. Barbara Turley: Yeah, I agree. And I think, you know, you were saying there about the, at the moment we’re in this kind of, it’s almost like a little golden period in the middle of the crisis where as you say, governments are handing out there’s money floating around, loans are on hold, and it can load people into a false sense of, you know, things are actually okay, I feel good. Except all that’s gonna stop and like unless you’re using, I actually heard somebody talk about this in a podcast recently. They were comparing like, they were saying, “Are you in summer camp? Or are you in boot camp right now?” Because anyone who’s sort of in summer camp, thinking you know, things are okay, I’m at home and money’s coming in and you’re just in this false sense of security. You’re not, you’re gonna be the one to not come out strong at the end of this. The guys that are in boot camp going, I need to, you know, I’m working myself. Not that you want to work to the bone but you’ve gotta work really hard during this period of deferral and discount, so that when that tap turns off, your taps are on, and you’re actually able to come out and stand on your own two feet as a business again. I think that’s the important point, some people are just, yeah, like government handouts can make you feel safe. But if you’re not tackling this now, you won’t be able to tackle it when it turns off. That’s the issue because the race will have started and everything will speed up again. So Matt, you’ve got a great tool. You mentioned it in the middle of the show. I think it’s an amazing tool. It’s free. Tell us about it, 90daycashflow.com. 90daycashflow.com Matt Malouf: Yes. So when this hit, I sort of tried to think real quick, what could we put together that could help people? So we built this interact, right? It’s a dynamic kind of Excel sheet, where if you input your expenses, so you basically just need to p&l. You put your expenses in and then you put the date of when things are gonna be paid in the month and which day of the month, 1-31. And then you put the frequency that things are gonna be paid, it will then go through and build a cash flow forecast for you both weekly and daily. And then what it will also do is, you can put in your revenue predictions, and again, it will feed that through the spreadsheet and it’s designed so that you can do it and keep it rolling on a week on week basis. So we’ve had a lot of clients use this and it takes a little bit to get set up. But once it’s set up, it gives you clarity and it enables you to quickly see what’s going on and particularly revenue cash. And then the only thing you really need to update on a daily basis, once you’ve done the setup base is what your cash balance at the end of each day is so that it can recalibrate based on you know, what’s happened. You making all these predictions, each day you can go in, you’re putting your new cash balance. And the spreadsheet will then update accordingly to see where you’re at. What is your clarity on is, the how much the length of time you’re going to stay in positive cash flow. And you can run some scenarios on this or you can like if I get zero income on one of the companies that we did this with, we went, “if we get zero income for the next 90 days, and these are the expenses that come out, where do we lead” and you can run different scenarios on that. Barbara Turley: What, I’m going to put it into marketing speak in my, I’ve looked at this and from listening to you talk, it, for me. It takes a huge amount of the pain away from getting started with this. If you know if you’re listening to this and thinking I haven’t done any of this because it can be very overwhelming. It’s a bit like when you’re starting processes and systems. And this little tool map takes a huge amount of the pain away, gives people a road map to get started in the actual picture. And I just want to tie this back in. I mean, this podcast is all about Virtual Success, which can can take many forms, but usually we’re talking about virtual teams and but in the environment we’re in right now everyone, like business has become a virtual experience now, because everyone’s working at home. And I think I just want to finish on the fact that, you know, people don’t need, you know, the whole concept of a CFO or a virtual input to your business that is like, say, a CFO, Matt, I know you’re doing a lot of work in this area right now, supporting businesses as a kind of a member of their team, but you don’t need to be an employee or full time person on the team in order to help in this area. You know, can we talk maybe a little bit about that just to finish by the fact that you don’t need somebody 40 hours a week in this CFO role. But you can have a virtual input to this. Accountant vs CFO Matt Malouf: Absolutely. I think that most companies, yeah, realistically until you’re getting to, to probably, you know, $10 to $15 million of turnover, you don’t really need a full time internal accountant. However, on the road to that, you do need someone that has the financial acumen to be able to give you the foresight, and what a CFO does, a CFO looks forward work versus an accountant looks through your rearview mirror. So you still need your accountant for your compliance and your tax planning and you structures, but a CFO is going to help you look forward a strategic scenario, plan, review, stress test your ideas from a financial perspective. Because at the end of the day, I mean, you know, if we’re really going to look at these business, the game of business is all about making some money, right? I don’t know, anyone that’s in business doesn’t want to make any money. And so if you don’t be a numbers, how can you win the game. And so it’s critical that you understand the financial impact that your ideas and your plans have, so that you can not only survive, but thrive and go beyond. So CFO really does help you with all of that. And I think the other thing too, is, I know one of the things that say our point of difference in our services, we monitor at our end everything on a daily basis. So you’ve got another set of eyes. So we just were looking at yet your dashboards and your numbers, provided everything’s set up correctly. And so we set up triggers and alerts so that we can advise you, Hey, did you know this happened, you need to look at it. And here are the decisions you need to consider. You need to either do this, or you need to do that. And we look at it purely from a financial perspective. So I think- Barbara Turley: Do you think a lot of people are thinking that their accountant was doing that or are sort of thinking, Well, I have an account, I’ve got a great accountant. Talk to me a little bit, I just want to dig in here because the difference between an accountant and CFO I think people feel like, but I have a great accountant. Matt Malouf: Your accountant will help you structure, your accountant will help you pay the right amount of tax. A really great accountant will have this set up for you. And look, I’m a recovering accountant. As many of you know, I started my career at Ernst & Young. But most accountants don’t do this because they don’t have the time or it’s not what their focus is. And their focus is compliance. Their focus is tax structures. And they just don’t have the time to invest and also you’re probably not investing enough with them for it to be financially viable for them to do this. But more importantly is, most of them don’t want to do it. That’s my experience. Barbara Turley: Well, it’s not their thing, accountants are not doing that. That’s kind of not the role of an accountant. This is the role of a CFO. And that, you know, we did that show before around the difference between a project manager and an operations director and the different boundaries around roles. This is kind of the same conversation actually, between the role of an accountant versus the role of the CFO, they can be the same person, but only when those roles are defined. And they are very different functions within the business. Matt Malouf: I’ll send a chart that we can put in the show notes, Barb which actually have defined what a bookkeeper, an accountant and the CFO, what a job descriptions are like, just key item, Barbara Turley: That’d be great. Matt Malouf: And it’s exactly what you said, it’s just wrong expectation. And so, the thing here is that you don’t need a full time CFO to do this. And if the structures and systems are set up properly, then you know, we meet with all of our clients monthly for 90 minutes to 2 hours, we often make half of that time with, its either just with the business owner or we do we split it which is half with the business owner and half of their team because it’s important that they understand the scoreboard as well. And when we say the team, it’s key people and what we do is we interpret the numbers into a language that the business owner can understand and act from and I think most business owners don’t actually understand the numbers like if I had to think of a few key phrases that a lot of business owners entrepreneurs came out with, one of them would be I’m not a numbers person, I’m a insert what I do, Barbara Turley: I’m a great salesperson or I’m a great marketer or I’m a great whatever but I’m not a numbers per, yeah, loads people think they’re not numbers people Importance of numbers in the business Matt Malouf: And if you want to succeed short and long term in business, you need to understand the numbers but also have someone interpret them. So so that you can then make decisions. It’s a bit like, if I went to Germany now to do a business deal, I don’t speak German. So I would have a translator there that could translate the German conversation into English so that I could then converse and make decisions and negotiate accordingly. And that’s what a CFO does, I really would say that, Barbara Turley: Well, what’s great about that is then you don’t need to be a numbers person, because you brought someone into your team that will interpret those numbers for you. So that because you’re a business person at the end of the day, you still need to know. But doesn’t mean you have to be in spreadsheets all day long buried by yourself. That’s kind of more numbers from it doing that. Yeah. Well, Matt, listen, 90daycashflow.com. Guys, go there, download the tool, and that can, you know, give you more insight into your numbers and will, I know you can, you know, get in touch with Matt through that site as well. Matt, any finishing thoughts or have we covered it all from, any finishing thoughts? Wrapping things up Matt Malouf: I probably just say this, like, reach out and get help with this, if it’s not your thing, but don’t neglect it. And so important, you need to know your cash burn rate, you need to have a cash flow forecast. If you’re going to really survive through this. It is like the, I guess, like the vital signs in your business. And if you know, if I was in intensive care, they’d have a heart rate monitor on me, they’d be testing my breathing, your cash flow is like that. So don’t neglect it and hope that you’re gonna get through, reach out and get the help you need. Our team can help, is on that site. You can get the tool you can get a 45 minute session with one of our team to help you put it together. But get the help because that’s how you will survive through this, through this time. Barbara Turley: That’s great. Thanks so much Matt for diving into that with us because we know it’s really important. topic, all of the time, but in particularly right now when we’re in the middle of a crisis, and people are probably feeling like rabbit in the headlights with this. So guys, if you found this show useful, as usual, you know, share it around. This is something right now that a lot of business owners need to dive into. So please share the show around give us a rating and a thumbs up on iTunes. And as always, there’s the Virtual Success Show Facebook group, where you can you know, let us know any shows you’d like us to talk about. Sometimes we are streaming live in there today. We haven’t because Internet has let us down. But that’s okay. So until next time, thanks, everyone. Outro: Thank you for listening to the Virtual Success Show. If you found this show helpful. Take a moment to share it with a friend so that we can all grow together. The Hosts Matt Malouf Matt Malouf is a passionate business coach, speaker, author and entrepreneur on a mission to help entrepreneurs around the world break the shackles of mediocrity and reach new levels of personal and business success. Barbara Turley Barbara Turley is the Founder & CEO of The Virtual Hub, a company that specializes in recruiting, training, and managing superstar ‘Virtual Assistants’ in the social media, digital marketing, and systems automation space. The post Vital Business Cash flow Management with Matt Malouf appeared first on The Virtual Hub.
28 minutes | May 27, 2020
To Pivot or to Pause with Jenny Blake
To Pivot or to Pause with Jenny Blake Want the transcript? Download it here. In this episode, Barbara Turley speaks to Jenny Blake about the Concept of Pivoting. They talk about taking control of your business and recognizing the opportunities that are out there in the midst of the current global crisis. Some of the key points include:How to pivot your business How far ahead should you plan when pivotingShould you pivot your business or should you hold off Let us know what your key takeout has been from this episode and join the continuing conversation over in the Virtual Success Facebook Group. In this episode:02:23 How to get the right mindset when pivoting05:11 How to listen more effectively08:55 Rising into a pivot from a negative mindset13:05 The Next Steps15:52 The Pivot Runway20:26 The Important thing about pivoting22:30 Final thoughts25:09 Wrapping things up Intro: Do you find yourself running out of time to accomplish your work, are you spending time doing things that you’re not that good at? There are effective ways to outsource these tasks so you can focus on your business. This is the Virtual Success Show, we bring the inside scoop on outsourcing success for entrepreneurs by entrepreneurs. And now, here are your hosts Matt Malouf and Barbara Turley. Barbara Turley: Hey everyone social medialand… Welcome to another episode of our special COVID-19 series of the Virtual Success Show podcast. I’m your host, Barbara Turley and today I am joined by somebody who has become somewhat of a friend. Jenny Blake is author of pivot, the book called “Pivot: The only move that matters is your next one” and she also hosts the podcast, Jenny what’s the name of the podcasts? Jenny Blake: Pivot with Jenny Blake Barbara Turley: Yeah so welcome to the show, Jenny and she’s here to talk to us today about this whole concept of pivoting, it’s very easy to talk about it and everybody out there right now is talking about how in this crisis, that you know of course there’s gonna be opportunity there’s gonna be opportunity absolutely everywhere because in every crisis there is and those who know how to pivot, and those who can handle the pace of pivoting and pull it off can do quite well. From my own experience over the last what, we’re five weeks into this whole thing, 5-6 weeks into this thing and what I have personally found difficult and I wanted to talk to Jenny about this today is, you know when you’re coming out of saving your business in the initial stages of the crisis and then you have to try to shift very quickly into a different frame of mind, which is the creative side of yourself. To try to pivot your business and get the animal spirits flowing again of entrepreneurship and it’s hard to wake up every day and to try and get yourself into the right mindset to do it, when you’ve come out of kind of being you know, beaten over the head every day with your ops and trying to save your clients and save the business. So Jenny, welcome to the show and talk to us about you know, how do we quickly shift this mindset and how much of it is mindset, if you can talk to us about that. How to get the right mindset when pivoting Jenny Blake: Well there’s so much that you said there and I think one thing is giving ourselves permission to be on this roller coaster and have, that’s really one we do train for us entrepreneurs, is that exact journey, that exact roller coaster, but right now during a global pandemic, a crisis, the volume to such metaphors, the volume on that station just got turned all the way up to a ten. So we’re gonna, I feel that the highs are high and the lows are pretty low and what you described Barbara is so important is, I don’t know about you but I also, simultaneous to all the stress I felt a lot of adrenaline tried to navigate every single day these first five weeks and I do a lot of keynote speaking and traveling for work, all of that was canceled, not all of it went straight to virtual. So there is a big lull in my business and a lot of companies that I do large-scale pivot programs have their budgets on hold because they’re doing the same thing we are, trying to batten down hatches, tighten the belts and weather the storm. So, I found myself with adrenaline, the highs and lows and then as you said, now, they’re still, I still feel we’re in listening mode, a little bit of what do people really need. There is a lot of noise now of everyone who is kind of freaking out and figuring you know how do we pivot during this time, so for me listening comes a little bit before creating and sometimes in parallel too and during the creation process and part of the skill of this and entrepreneurs have already a great head start is navigating the creative process, staying open to that, staying receptive so that we’re not in panic mode because you can’t create from panic mode. While still holding the operational side in our minds and still addressing that because I don’t think we’re done making those shifts either. Barbara Turley: Yes, I love that you’ve said listening, because I definitely I think the pressure I was feeling, I can imagine a lot of people out there are feeling the same, is that you feel this pressure to, “Okay I’ll fix that, I’ve done that bit, I now need to pivot” and you’re sort of thinking well, I actually did it quite quickly and I developed this whole new thing that we were going to go out to market with and we haven’t, because something in my gut has sort of said to me, “Hold on, maybe just follow the horse up there for a second”. I’ve questioned why I been holding off, it doesn’t feel quite right yet, and probably because I think what you’re saying I just went straight for the pivot and didn’t necessarily listen that deeply and the market is still trying to figure out what it’s doing itself and where this is all landing. But how long should we listen for? I mean you know, when you say listening, can you give us some tips around how to sort of, how to listen, how to listen more effectively to what’s really out there. How to listen more effectively Jenny Blake: I love what you just highlighted which is listening to your own intuition and I’ll give you a similar example with all my big corporate programs on pause or cancelled or postponed. I started to think, well should I just email all my former coaching clients and bring on a whole slew of coaching work which is what I did to sustain myself as bridge income for nine years but I made the commitment to myself in 2020 that I wanted to work on the business, not delivering services. So even though I like coaching, in fact I often love coaching, I’ve been doing it since 2008. I, just like you, I’m hesitating because there’s something about it that isn’t honoring my original intention and where I saw myself growing in the vision. It would almost be a move, a stopgap move and I’m not ready to make that move yet and I do think that it’s important to pause until you feel very clear, that yes I would choose this path, not just out of fear but out of excitement and possibility because otherwise even the pivot you were thinking of making with your team there’s probably a very valid reason that you haven’t hit the launch button yet and it’s important to know what those are and I think that’s part of not freaking out and that’s a privilege depending on how much cash runway each of it has as well, so there may come a point where that runway is totally gone and we need to do whatever it takes and that’s fine too, but what you’re highlighting is not jumping straight to whatever it takes such that you’re digging yourself out of a project-based hole on the other side of this, in addition to financial. Barbara Turley: Yeah, that’s really good advice, yeah Jenny Blake: In terms of specific strategies for listening, things like getting on the phone with former clients, current clients, and you Barbara, potential clients, so the reason we’re here today is that instead of having someone on your team, take my inquiry about working with you, you got on the phone and so in a way, that helps you get more closely in touch with the people that you’re serving and what they need- Barbara Turley: Yeah, I was telling you that I needed, I felt the need to know these calls with clients now because I wanted to listen to what people were asking for now. So actually, there might be, I suppose I was kind of listening. Jenny Blake: And it puts you in closer touch with the pulse of your business and your client base and I’ll share just one more strategy because I think it’s brilliant, my friend Leanne Hughes, she hosts a podcast called First-time facilitator in Australia. She put her listening to her right out on the podcast, she said “If any of you listening want to book me for 20 minutes, I just want to hear what’s on your mind, here’s my Calendly link and let’s chat”. So that’s an open call you know, it goes far beyond, even her current clients and just anybody that happens to be listening, so imagine, though I call it serendipity popcorn of that. Who’s gonna schedule? and Barbara, say, to you and your team’s credit, you also have an open scheduling link on your website, so it’s very broad, in a way you’re constantly listening by doing that. Barbara Turley: Yeah and what I wanted to sort of veer into now is, I think for me, what ended up happening and you know, I like to share my own experience with this, so you know you guys listening to this, this is actually coming from my own experience, what I’ve been going through and I know others are going through this. I sort of realized that I had made that knee-jerk reaction of thinking that I had to pivot, because everyone’s talking about it but maybe you don’t have to, so I just want to talk, I’ve sort of come to the conclusion that I might not need to and maybe it will be distracting to pivot but I want to just focus on for a second. The businesses that have been decimated, right… there are some that are just been completely decimated, cash flow completely gone to zero and maybe they’re in a really bad headspace and they’re struggling to figure out, do I just give up, you know am I just dead in the water or how do you come out of that and then rise into a pivot from that mindset. Rising into a pivot from a negative mindset Jenny Blake: Well, what a great question and I can’t even say I’m the expert on that because we’re all still living through it, it’s almost I’m picturing the phoenix rising from the ashes, we just don’t know what the phoenix looks like. The entrepreneur, the chef, the restaurant owner, you know the person, salon owner, there’s so many businesses, like you said that are just decimated. We don’t know if all of those businesses will survive, I’m sure there’s a percentage of people who are adamant that they come back online and they do whatever it takes to get back. Then they’re gonna be some that take this time to pause and reflect and say “Was I happy with the way the business was going in my lifestyle and do I want to do things differently” and I think that’s for every individual person to sit with and they call it, this is a time of chaos and complete loss of control and even for so many people probably, the dark night of the soul, which I just heard someone on a podcast said, it’s the dark night of the ego. I think it was [inaudible] it’s the dark night of the ego, because the soul is light and the soul knows there is growth that can happen but it’s so hard when you’re right in the middle of it and they might not know what to do yet. I mean part of the listening in that moment is actually just saying, I’m stuck here, show me one next step, and kind of surrendering every single day, to say I have no clue what to do, I am heartbroken, I’m devastated, I am under so much pressure, what’s just one thing I could do today. Barbara Turley: I’m almost feeling like, you know as you were talking, I was thinking, you know, it’s actually okay for anyone listening out there that is in this situation, it’s also okay that if your pivot is to pivot into pause. That maybe, that is the listening, that maybe like you were saying, someone might actually look deep inside and say “Do you know what, I actually hated that business anyway, I was stressed out all the time”. Yes, things are terrible but maybe it is time for you to just pause and just to kind of get out in nature and you know, well, we can’t get out much because we’re all in isolation but you know to try to sit with yourself. And those who feel differently and loved what it was they were doing well, I suppose it doesn’t cost anything to get on the phone and talk to people like we’ve just been saying and I’ve been talking to people who are in the same industries as me, do the same business as me, clients, friends, people in different industries. I’ve gotten on this podcast more just to talk to people and I find the more that I’m talking to people, the more ideas, the more my creativity is coming back and my energy is coming back because everyone’s sharing together. So maybe that’s the thing that you know anyone kind of really stuck at the bottom of the barrel right now can think about doing. Jenny Blake: Yeah, I’m noticing too, like a little more creativity, the more I accept what all has just happened, you know. It’s just kind of, okay, that’s all happened, now from here Where do we go? Where now? Where do I feel called?, in a way it’s just page one or turning, closing the chapter on one book of our businesses and then we’re almost starting a new book now and how are we gonna write it, what’s it gonna be like, I also think that it’s very hard to build the plane while flying it. That’s something that you hear often especially in business, it’s really hard to do, that it’s hard to get clear on your systems, and your software, and your budget, and your team, while serving clients, and supporting people every day, and trying to make sales, and trying to negotiate contracts, and try to… so there’s a lot that when things slow down this much, for some of us, not everybody, there’s a real chance to recalibrate and actually refine a lot of that stuff behind the scenes. Which I know is something you and your team help people with. Barbara Turley: Yeah we have been doing a lot of that recently, yeah. So I’m interested to delve and this might be a tricky question, I just thought of it on the hub, but the concept of the book, the only moves that matters is your next one. What I love about that statement is that, how far ahead should we be thinking? like you know, should we be trying to plan this all out? Or is it really only the next step that you do need to think about? And maybe just sort of unpack that for us a little bit more. The Next Steps Jenny Blake: In the book, I say that the five-year question is totally out of date, there’s even more in the business and entrepreneurship space now of saying you don’t even need a business plan, if anything it should be one-page, the authors of a book called “It doesn’t have to be crazy at work”, they’re also the co-founders of Basecamp, they call it a one-page business guest, that they say, no matter what- Barbara Turley: I don’t even have one, I’ve never done one. Jenny Blake: Exactly, Barbara Turley: I just kind of go with it, you know Jenny Blake: And what I find so funny is that, for years I didn’t have any specific goals in my business, starting when pivot came out in 2016, I didn’t, I had ideas and I had things that would be cool of course, I wanted it to get momentum and traction and ideally hit a tipping point someday and earn out the advance, but I was never really attached to all these very serious quarterly, okay hours, and business goals that everyone talks about. And last year I set a revenue target and then 2020, I was like okay let’s start tracking our metrics as a team, let’s get serious, boom and then as of March, it’s like, whatever goals that’s whatever even revenue targets, who knows by the end of the year maybe we’ll all hit what we set out to but if you look at the Q1 report, profit and loss report, it’s not nearly what any of us probably were expecting, even in January two months prior, so yeah it sounds like you operate this way as well but I think. Barbara Turley: [inaudible] because I just think people go, “Can you give as your forecasting?”, I’m like, “Well I can, but I mean you know, this could happen, you know, like, where I come from, financial market where stuff happens all the time, I think yeah it’s you know, it’s just, you gotta get a kind of rough idea of where you’re going and then and then try to you know keep moving, keep moving out on a daily, weekly, basis yeah. Jenny Blake: And I do think it’s important to have business streams of income, a diversified pivot portfolio as I call it. It’s important to have pivot runway, it’s important to know how does your business succeed, when things are going really well and the economy is flush and how do you stay afloat or even thrive when we’re in a downturn or a recession or a depression and it’s important to think that through because not all businesses are counter cyclical or not all businesses have prepared for that. The reason… just to finish on the only move that matters is your next one, for me that’s about staying present and I know you’re similar but it’s that intuition about what’s the one next project or what’s the one part of the business that is working best that we can double down on and that you don’t have to know how it’s gonna turn out and you don’t need to attach to it either but if you keep following those clues, the years that I didn’t plan any goals at all, I still earned more… my revenue was still up into the right every single year, it’s just I wasn’t attached to it. Barbara Turley: And what about you mentioned a pivot runway, talk to me about what is that what’s a pivot runway? I’m very interested to know, delve a bit deeper into this whole method in pivot method. The Pivot Runway Jenny Blake: Oh yeah, well thank you, I borrowed runway from the financial world and startups that runway is just how much cash you have, so if you look at your monthly net, your burn rate, how much are you spending each month and I do think there’s been a ton these last few weeks about, everybody look at what you’re subscribed to, cut back only to essential expenses, so many people have cut their team members, which is devastating, if you know, if you really like your team and are happy with the setup but you want to keep your business afloat to be able to bring them back on, so that’s what runway is. It’s just how much time do you have, until you have to pivot again, so what you and I were saying Barbara, in a way listening is a luxury, it means that you have some time to do that. For some people they have to pay the bills in a week or two weeks and they just simply have to figure it out. Some might do that by talking to their landlord and asking can I postpone any and all things that I owe money on and others will say I’ll take any job even if it’s bagging groceries so that I make these commitments. Barbara Turley: I love that we went there because that means the length of your runway is like you know, I think you know that’s probably as you say big in the startup world and those seeking funding and all that kind of thing but in the general… you know most smaller businesses are not thinking about it that way or maybe I’m the only one who wasn’t really thinking about it that way. I suppose maybe deep down I sort of had it in the back of my head but I hadn’t really formulated that as an idea and I think it’s important to know, what is that at any stage in the business. And it’s nearly more important than the forecasting of where you think you might be in three or four months time, it’s more what would be the runway if things change… yeah, so if the runway, you know tiny at the moment or non-existence, it’s gonna be harder to take off into a pivot. Jenny Blake: Yeah and I like, oh that’s a cool analogy of like the actual runway of a plane, that’s true. Yeah it’s almost like taking off or landing, I like how Mike Michalowicz, he’s the author of Profit First, Clockwork, Fix This Next, some really great business books. He talks about contributing to your business reserve’s account and that, you know another way to put this, is business reserves, or on the personal fund, and emergency fund, and that ideally it has six months. Your emergency fund should have six months of your personal household living expenses and then the business reserves ideally would have six months of your operating expenses for the business, which is quite a large number, by the way. So, Barbara Turley: I was thinking, does anyone really do that though? I mean you know, if you’re scaling a business, I mean this is the challenge, I think a lot of people were, when you’re trying to scale, I mean you know, do you have money on reserve or do you take risk on and invest in growing the business and all that sort of things. So I think that’s all great in theory. Jenny Blake: And it’s so tempting, to just, it’s so tempting to reinvest the money and grow the business and I certainly have made that choice many many times, to the point where I don’t have six months of business reserves, I wish I did now, but… Barbara Turley: Yeah, so that’s tricky… yeah Jenny Blake: But I guess, maybe that’s something that will come out of this, is that moving forward we take a portion of every, this is the profit first method but just like we fund our tax account, for me every check that comes in gets divided into the profit first chunks of tax, operating expenses, owner pay, and profit, and maybe from going forward there just needs to be a fifth, called business reserves and it gets funded from every single deposit that goes in- Barbara Turley: Well, I suppose it’s all about de-risking, I mean you know, business going, you know entrepreneurship is risky but I mean, there are ways to de- risk this. If you can come out of this strong and or you know, just come out of this thing and I mean I’m a firm believer but there’s gonna be so much opportunity in this market. I mean you know, the last crisis we had was the 08 or 09 thing, which is you know, 10 years ago a bit more now, so we are due this, we were actually due this crisis, I mean who knows which way it happens but you’re due a massive rumble every 10 years this one, 7 to 10 years. So there will be massive opportunity coming out of this for those that can pivot and then you know, maybe we work over the next year or two, on making sure that we have that reserve thing going. And any final tips for us on you know what’s like, is there a crucial sort of one thing to remember that you want to share with us about pivoting. The Important thing about pivoting Jenny Blake: Sometimes during a crisis or when it feels like everything’s falling apart it’s easy to focus on what’s not working, what’s broken, what we don’t want, what we don’t have, what we lost. That’s part of the grief process, and it’s important, but it’s not gonna move anything forward necessarily. So I do think what’s most important and the crux of the pivot method is double down on what’s working and what brings you the most energy, so look at both pre-pandemic what was working best, what was producing the most revenue, at the most ease and the most joy, what energizes you most as the founder or the owner of the business, and you can ask this of course of your team members too and I do think it’s still important to say what does success look like, so it’s just like you, Barbara. We were due for this, we can come through this stronger, as hard as it may be to picture 3 or 6 months from now or even by the end of the year, what will weathering this successfully look like for you and for your business, what would be happening, you know and painting that, doubling down on what’s working and painting the picture of what’s possible. It’s so important, it’s like on Google Maps, you know, you are here and this is where you want to end up, now you can look at all the possible paths, and routes, and roadblocks, to get there but without those two brackets or anchoring points, it can lead to more flailing and confusion. Barbara Turley: That’s really great advice, it’s that whole like you know taking back control of what you can control and then visualizing what you know, just slowly inching your way towards that goal and that vision. Listen, thank you so much for joining us today and just, I do think this is the topic, that you know, it’s very easy throw the word pivot around but I think a lot of people are in panic, about how to pivot, and should I pivot, and have I done fast enough, and like last week, I was thinking like I haven’t pivoted fast enough, everyone’s out with their thing now and I haven’t done it, but yeah listening to your intuition, I think it’s very important in that in that scenario. Final thoughts Jenny Blake: Do you think, I’m curious. Oh, I know you’re closing us out but well you just say one thought on why do you think it is that you haven’t, because you had the idea of what you could launch but that you haven’t yet. I’m just curious what your intuition is saying around that. Barbara Turley: My intuition is saying that I’ve resisted launching that thing for many years for a reason, is a completely… I was going to, so we still have this in the, you know, I’ll put it out there, we do dedicated VAs, dedicated staff through The Virtual Hub, and that’s what we do in the Philippines, mainly in digital marketing and we know that at the moment everyone’s online, everyone’s trying to launch podcasts, they’re trying to get their Shopify site up, everyone’s trying to capitalize on the traffic, or they’re going to start doing this, to try and do their own pivots. We’re able to do those things for people, we have lots of staff that can do projects but the issue, it’s not that we can’t do it, it’s that I know that I am building a different business, in terms of the process and the delivery and the general to try to… you know to make sure our brand is successful and we deliver in the right way and we bring in the right client not the wrong client and tumble everybody. I just know there’s more to it than just saying “hey we can do a podcasts for you” like we’ve got a process for it, we can do it but there’s a lot of… the back end delivery, I just don’t feel that it’s going to be on brand the way I would like it to be, yet. Now, I could do it in a week but I just wanted to sit back and say “Is the market really off what it is that we do as a core business anyway and do I need to pivot? and is that the right decision for us, the team, for everyone right now.” and that’s kind of what’s bubbling up inside and I’ve decided to sit with that for a little bit longer, so I hope that answers it. Jenny Blake: It does and those are such great reflection questions you just paused at the end and thank you for sharing your example I really respect how you set up your team and your business and talk about doubling down on what’s working in a way, what makes you unique is how much you invest in your team, and your training, and your systems. And I can understand that you wouldn’t want to veer from that, just to fill a short-term need, if it doesn’t reflect your long-term vision and values. Barbara Turley: Yeah and I feel as well like you know, I think people are still going to need offshore teams, I think offshore teams are an incredibly cost-effective strategy and as businesses are trying to save themselves, they’re gonna start looking at this, and I thought well what if we start doing this other thing and then it distracts the whole team and then we’re short people for the real thing…that people actually want and it which is not called capabilities so that’s, that was kind of where I settled and I thought I’m just pivoting because everyone says that you should, so sometimes maybe you shouldn’t. Wrapping things up Jenny Blake: Thank you for sharing that, it’s so helpful for all of us to hear your thought process and that it’s a pivot in progress, so you don’t know which way you’ll decide and either one will be perfect, but thanks for sharing that, I appreciate it. Barbara Turley: And tell us, so if people want to connect with you, find out more, I mean get the book, Pivot the book, listen to your podcast, where can they go? Jenny Blake: Check out pivotmethod.com If you go to pivotmethod.com/fft that’s my free mini course free-up founder time. It’s geared towards solopreneurs and small business owners, so I share it here because I think Barbara, your community would appreciate that one. Again totally free. Barbara Turley: I’ll put it in the comments, in the show notes and everything, yeah… that’ll be great. Jenny Blake: Perfect, and then Pivot with Jenny Blake that’s the name of my podcast so look for it and I’ve been podcasting daily since the pandemic started, so that’s one of the shifts that I made, because I’m home now I’m not traveling for work and there’s time on my hand and it’s been really fun. Barbara Turley: Might as well podcast, yeah, everyone’s podcasting more.I am even doing it more. You know, we’re working anyway, you might as well do it. So, Jenny Blake: And there’s so much going on, there’s so much changing every day, so those of us that study change and business and how to be agile, it’s like oh there’s so much to talk about and discuss and process together. Barbara Turley: Absolutely and I think right now, you know I was talking to some other industry colleagues and stuff, we’re just saying that, like everyone is commenting on the front liners at the moment are our nursing staff, our doctors, our hospital people, and I mean they’re just you know, they’re putting their lives on the line basically for the health crisis but what’s going to happen after this and when we come through this, is the entrepreneurs and the business people, are going to be the ones who will be the front liners, saving the economy and that’s everybody. It’s all of you listening, it’s all of us here, and we all play a role in that and I really feel that we’re going to become the the first line of defense in the next crisis, the the one that’s coming after the health crisis, which is the financial and economy crisis that we’re now looking into. So that’s one of the reasons I’m out here trying to podcast as much as possible. Thank you so much for joining Jenny, really appreciate your insights during this time and yeah go and check out Jenny’s podcast and I’m gonna be on again later this week. I’m gonna be talking to Peter Moriarty from IT genius in Australia and we’re gonna be talking about getting your systems right for remote work and making sure that if you need to move ever to remote from office or to just other locations that your systems are already in place and set up and ready so that you can turn that on in a second. And that was one of the reasons I was able to turn it on very quickly across 110 staff because I had set that up that way and Peter’s gonna talk to us about that. Until then, thanks very much everyone and enjoy your day! Outro: Thank you for listening to the Virtual Success Show. If you found this show helpful, take a moment to share it with a friend so that we can all grow together. The Hosts Matt MaloufMatt Malouf is a passionate business coach, speaker, author and entrepreneur on a mission to help entrepreneurs around the world break the shackles of mediocrity and reach new levels of personal and business success. Barbara TurleyBarbara Turley is the Founder & CEO of The Virtual Hub, a company that specializes in recruiting, training and managing superstar ‘Virtual Assistants’ in the social media, digital marketing and systems automation space. The post To Pivot or to Pause with Jenny Blake appeared first on The Virtual Hub.
21 minutes | May 13, 2020
The Power of Podcast Marketing with Interview Valet Founder Tom Schwab
The Power of Podcast Marketing with Interview Valet Founder Tom Schwab Want the transcript? Download it here. In this episode, Barbara Turley speaks to Tom Schwab of Interview Valet about the rising relevance of podcasts especially with the current global crisis and the opportunities podcasts present to business owners everywhere. Some of the key points include:How to leverage your business with podcast and podcast guestingsWhen to become a podcast host and/or a podcast guest.How to repurpose old podcasts in order to get more traffic and attract more listeners. Let us know what your key takeout has been from this episode and join the continuing conversation over in the Virtual Success Facebook Group. In this episode:02:09 Why Podcasts are a brilliant marketing strategy04:10 How to capitalise on Podcasts06:39 What makes a great podcast guest09:17 How to be different with Podcasts12:16 Content amplification and repurposing15:11 Growth of the podcast industry18:46 Wrapping things Up Intro: Do you find yourself running out of time to accomplish your work? Are you spending time doing things that you’re not that good at? There are effective ways to outsource these tasks so you can focus on your business. This is the virtual success show. We bring the inside scoop on outsourcing success for entrepreneurs, by entrepreneurs. And now, here are your hosts, Matt Malouf, and Barbara Turley. Barbara Turley: Hey, everyone, and welcome back to another episode of the virtual Success Show where we are streaming live now online for our episodes of the show. I’m Barbara Turley, your host, I co-host this show with my good friend Matt Malouf. And today we’re here to talk about the very topical topic right now of podcasts and I’m joined by, good friend and someone I work very closely with, Tom Schwab from Interview Valet, who is the go to guy if you want to be talking about podcasts, you know, getting on podcasts, getting guests on your podcast. Welcome to the show, Tom, thanks for joining us today. Tom Schwab: Barbara, I am thrilled to be here. And there’s a lot of problems in the world. But there is no better time to be alive. We look at the technology that we have. And still, we can reach customers around the world. Barbara Turley: Absolutely, yes. So you know, like, guys, you guys watching the Facebook Live, you know that we are in a major crisis right now. There are many crises that happened throughout time. I have to say I was thinking today to myself, I’m old enough now to say that this is not my first rodeo with crises like this. We’ve had the 2008 financial crisis, we had the tech bubble collapse, and in my career, I’ve been through a couple of these. So it’s every crisis brings its own challenges, but I always feel that they’re crises nonetheless and some things that we do in business are the same. Now in this particular situation that we’re in right now. I feel podcasts are really gonna be it. So Tom, talk to us about, first of all, why podcasts, in general, are a brilliant marketing strategy for any business right now. But also why now specifically. Why Podcasts are a brilliant marketing strategy Tom Schwab: Well, the way I look at it is that every business’s biggest problem is obscurity, right? There are millions – thousands, millions of customers that you could serve right now, with your current product, your current offering, your current service. The only problem is they don’t know you exist. Right now a lot of people talk about breaking through the noise. Honestly, I think that’s like adding to the noise, right? The idea that I’m going to yell and somebody’s gonna hear me, I think is laughable, right? So, if I can get in on the conversation that my ideal customers are already listening to, that’s golden. If I can get introduced by somebody that is a trusted resource, a trusted friend of theirs, that’s golden. And really, that’s what podcasts and especially podcast interview marketing is all about, right? So, most of the people listening, watching, have no idea who Tom Schwab is, but they know who Barbara Turley is. They know the Virtual Success Show. They love that. And so there’s that transfer of authority. And so I think it’s a time-proven strategy, but it’s using current technology to connect with people in here. You know, here I am in Kalamazoo, Michigan. If I can do podcasts, and podcasts interviews from Kalamazoo, Michigan, you can do it from anywhere. Barbara Turley: And I’m in France, right? So I’m here in the French Alps actually, stuck in the middle of the virus thing that’s going on right now and where we are. So Tom, with everything that’s going on right now. I mean, everyone’s kind of in panic mode, still wondering what’s going to happen next. But the one thing that I know I am certain of right now is everybody is on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, podcasts, webinars, like everybody is online right now because everyone’s stuck at home in this particular crisis that we’re in. So talk to me about you know, what, how can we capitalize on this fast with podcasts and we haven’t got a podcast yet. You know, podcast guestings, that’s another thing that people don’t really know is an opportunity, right now talk with more about that, How to capitalise on Podcasts Tom Schwab: You know, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity that we have here. So you can look at it as a problem or as an opportunity. One of my, you know, I’ve been on 1200, podcasts, interviews, I’ve never launched my own podcasts, I’m going to take this opportunity to start doing that. But that’s going to be a long term play, that’s not going to get results for six to twelve months. The fastest way to get results with podcasts is using other people’s platforms for the leverage. So you know, a lot of times in finance, we’ll talk about other people’s money and leveraging that. It’s the same thing with media, right? So, if you can leverage other people’s platforms, instead of just building your own from scratch, that’s golden. So find somebody that already is talking to your audience that’s already trusted by your audience and go to them and show them the value that you can bring. And boy, if you can get introduced to their audience, get that know, like, and trust, get the backlinks from it. That is the quickest way and especially today, people are listening, right? They’re looking for answers, it’s not just entertainment anymore, it’s vital to their business. And I would say those, those early adaptors, those people that are going to come out of this strongest are the ones that are looking for the answers right now. And I don’t know about you, but those are my customers that I want to work with. You know, there’s some people that still listen to 80s rock, God love them. But the ones that are trying to build something looking forward in the future, they’re looking for answers, and they’re either gonna hear us or they’re gonna hear our competitors. Barbara Turley: Yeah, look, I think the other thing to remember is, you know, anyone listening out there who thinks, “Oh, I just, you know, trying to launch a podcast”, and we’ll get to that in a second. You know, that’s gonna take time, strategy, whatever. There are loads of podcast hosts out there that are looking for people to interview for people who can add value in this particular environment. And it might not, it might be to do with your business, it could just be building your brand, so you don’t always have to be selling something. You know, I think, Tom, you would say that it’s about being out there and having your voice out there. I know that’s what I’m doing with The Virtual Hub, I’m on podcasts all the time. Sometimes I’m not even talking about VAs, I’m just talking about business building, but it still drives business to The Virtual Hub for us, it’s been a very good strategy. So, Tom, what advice would you give somebody about? You know, first of all, what kinds of topics do you think right now hosts are really looking for and what makes a great guest? How do you be a great guest on a podcast? What makes a great podcast guest Tom Schwab: That’s a great question. And I think this is not only what they’re looking for now, but they’ll always be looking for. Have something that’s timely, that speaks to their audience, but make sure it’s timeless also, right? So podcasts are an evergreen medium, while we’re recording this here in April. There’s somebody in October that’s gonna be listening to this. So you want to make sure that the advice is timely and timeless. The other thing too is, come ready to serve, right? Gary Vaynerchuk talks about jab, jab, jab, right hook. I probably missed a couple jabs in there. I look at it as serve, serve, serve, serve, ask, and the ask is going to be people asking to work with you, right? So when you reach out to a podcast host, nobody likes a cold pitch, right? Listen to the podcast, leave a rating and review, we’re all vain, right? We listen for our own names. So share the content, make comments on it, and then when you reach out, you can say hey, here is something that I have that would, I believe, add value to your audience. And you know, then go there and just add value. You know, your goal as a podcast guest is not to sell, it’s to make the host look like a genius for introducing you to their audience. Because if you do that, they’ll promote you more than you ever could. And my favorite tweet out there is from a guy by the name of Rand Fishkin, Rand started a company called Moz, and he said, “Today, the best way to sell something, is not to sell anything, but to earn the respect, awareness, and trust of those who might buy.” And that’s what you’re doing with this show, that’s what I do on podcast interviews. Just getting out there, you know, people buy from those they know, like, and trust. That’s really hard to do off of a quick ad, but it’s easy to do off of a discussion. Barbara Turley: Yeah, and people get to know you. And I think as well it’s leadership, the world is crying out for leadership right now. So I wouldn’t get too stressed out about what your topic is going to be like if you’ve got something you can share out there that helps in a crisis in particular right now, then podcast host are gonna want to know, so let’s move on Tom, quickly to you know, launching, I mean, of course, like launching your own podcast, it’s like having a book. It’s kinda like your business card, I mean, the credibility, having your own podcast gives you, is amazing. What in your experience, like are the best, you know, different podcasts, but in your How do you be different? Like there’s loads of podcasts out there? How do we be different? If it’s possible- How to be different with Podcasts Tom Schwab: Right, cause, be different, not better. And so from that I, you know, people come to me and say, should I be a podcast guest or a podcast host? And I say it’s like asking to be an Uber driver, or an Uber passenger, same platform, two different goals, right? So if you want to get new clients, if you want to get new leads, then go out and be a podcast guest. If you want to nurture your current leads, if you want to nurture your current customers, that’s great to be a podcast host. And with that, be real, right? I always say the best podcasts are like just a discussion. Like if we were sitting down having coffee, and this discussion we’re having right now- Barbara Turley: We do actually, I mean, you and I have these chats anyway- Tom Schwab: Exactly. Barbara Turley: Cause we really happen to do this one live, you know, Tom Schwab: That’s interesting. Take this spotlight, put it on other people. So it’s not just on you, show success stories from your team from your customers, bring in people that you think would be ideal customers, right? They might not take a 45 minute sales call from you, but they might go on your podcast, there’s a great book out there called Content Based relationships. Or I’m sorry, Content Based Marketing or Networking by James Carberry. And he talks about that, that if you start to build content with people, you build a relationship with them and it’s a great way to network there. And you know, be different, don’t be better, have a great discussion. I think the podcast where they ask the same five questions to every people, to every person, they get really old. I mean, they get old for the listener, they must get old for the host too. Barbara Turley: Well, even for the guests, so I’ve done a few of those and you just find yourself kind of, you feel under pressure because you’re just answering this question all the time. The ones, the podcast. I love guesting on the best, well, probably because this suits my style. I don’t like preparing for these things too much. I just like getting on there and like, there’s no question you can ask me live that I wouldn’t be able to answer because I just answer as I would in a private conversation more often than not. And I know for me personally that has worked on podcasts, for the feedback I’ve gotten is that, you know, I’m just really raw and real, and I just say it like it is and that works really well. It might not work for everyone’s personality, but I think on a podcast, it’s a unique medium. And I always try and think about when you’re listening to the radio, it’s the same sort of thing like we love when people are really real on radio shows and it’s the same thing with podcasts, you don’t want it to be stilted. And of course these days, you can do, I mean you can live stream like what we’re doing. And you know, the tech behind this, I did this myself with a couple of VAs and it’s actually not that hard once you get your head around it and then you can rip this and you can put it on iTunes, and you can, you know, you can do loads of things with it. So let’s talk, Tom, what else we can do with the podcast. So it’s not just the audio file, let’s talk about content and content amplification and repurposing. What sorts of things should we be doing with the podcast? Content amplification and repurposing Tom Schwab: And I feel guilty as you were saying that because it’s true as a guest, I just show up and answer the questions. You were there, behind the scenes, making sure everything worked. And a lot of guests will just do that. They’ll show up, have the interview, and then move on. They’re missing such an opportunity. This is great content that you can repurpose, your team can repurpose. I mean, your team at The Virtual Hub helps me repurpose it. So we’ll take this discussion here, right 20-30 minutes. Well, we can then transcribe it. You know, I’ve written a whole lot of blogs in my life and everyone felt like a homework assignment. But you could take this transcription, clean it up, make it sound like I’m educated and you can turn it into blog posts, you can take a snippet and make a little audiogram out of it and put it up on Facebook. You can take a little meme, a tweet, and put it up there. There’s so many different ways you can do it. You know, last year, during the slow times of the holidays, I challenged the team, what kind of content you could make from a podcast interview. And it was amazing without me doing anything, they were able to make a month’s worth of content out of every podcast interview. So that is such a powerful way and it’s evergreen content. So just because somebody didn’t hear it today, when it went live, doesn’t mean that they won’t find value from it six months from now or a year from now. And so from that standpoint, it’s easy to create, it’s easy to repurpose, and like you said, the medium is such that the host wants to make you look like an expert. They’re not going to ask you a question out of left field and most of the time It’s on your opinion on something or your expertise in business. So it’s just such a powerful medium. Barbara Turley: And look shameless plug for The Virtual Hub. I, you know, we train VAs on repurposing content. That’s what we do. We do podcasts, we make it easy for people to get started. And I was even thinking, you know, we did podcasts on this show, like, maybe two years ago? that I was looking through our podcasts and going, “Gee, we should re-promote those now with a little live to go with it, or a little maybe new intro”, to say like right now. For example, we did a podcast about managing expectations with a virtual team. And right now in all the whole remote work thing that’s going on. Everyone is trying to figure out how to do this. And we have some fantastic shows that we recorded, Matt and I record them like two years ago. So you know, what’s, you know, what’s the point letting dust gather on those? We may as well get them out and repurpose them and go again, it’s still great content. It doesn’t mean you’re just rehashing old stuff. And, so what about growth of podcasts and we might sort of finish up on this point. Growth of the podcast industry right now in general, I mean, it’s exploding. Can you give us some insights, you attend all the conferences and you’re in this game. Growth of the podcast industry Tom Shwab: The numbers right now is that there’s over 900,000 podcasts. And people say, well, that means it’s saturated. No, there’s like, I think it’s 40 million blogs. So we’re not even close to that. But that 900,000, there’s a little Asterix by that. Only a quarter of a million, 250,000 have actually published in the last 30 days. So it’s really easy to start a podcast but in the industry, is called podfade. If you’re trying to do it all by yourself, life gets tough and most podcasts that die, die within the first 10 episodes. So there’s a lot of podcasts out there just recently, so here we are in April, podcast listenership is up 25% this year. Now, if you look at some numbers, it depends on what the podcast is right now, during this crisis. There’s no sports going on, so sports podcasts are just getting killed, right? Who wants to listen to the score from six months ago, but other podcasts are really taking off. And the other thing that we’re seeing is that the average number of listeners per podcast is going down. And people say, well, that’s bad. So a few years ago, the top 1% of podcasts got 54,000 listeners per episode. Now it’s down to 47,000. And people said, “oh, it’s only 47,000?”. And I’m like, can you imagine going into a stadium and speaking to 47,000 people, or even even if it’s 100 people, or 1000 people, those are people that have opted in to listen to you. You know, the studies say most of them, 80% of them listened to the entire episode. Last year, we had a client that spoke at a baseball stadium in front of 30,000 people and I remember talking to him beforehand, and he was nervous, and I said, don’t worry, you’ve talked to more people on a podcast than this. And he shook his head and goes, “Yeah, but they weren’t looking back at me.” Barbara Turley: I was just thinking that like, it is actually the equivalent of speaking to that many thousands of people. And then the medium is just so powerful, this whole medium and you’d said something on your social media the other day, which I agree with, actually, you’d said, you know, it’s at the moment anyway, it’s like the new speaking from stage. And that resonated with me, not just because at the moment in the crisis we’re in right now, we can’t travel and we can’t fly and we can’t go to events, there’s no events, but even in a day to day thing, like I had a baby last year, you know, I’ve got two young children, I can’t fly to conferences and I’d love to go to lots of different things and I’d love to be a speaker but I can’t. It’s very hard for me to do that and lots of mums and dads and lots of people can’t, but you can still access the same number of people by doing podcasting and by appearing on video and like we didn’t even touch on YouTube. I mean, you can, this is actually streaming on YouTube right now as well. And we’re going to have this on our YouTube channel. So all of a sudden, we have a podcast and a video medium. So like, I’m a massive fan, it has worked really well for us at The Virtual Hub as a business and for me personally building my personal brand, so for us, we’re actually ramping up this strategy and not pulling it back in this environment. And that was the reason I really wanted to get you on Tom to talk to our listeners. And just to encourage people that might have been just sort of thinking about it, but not sure how to do it, how can they find out more about Interview Valet, about you, the work you’re doing and connect, where do you want to send them? Wrapping things Up Tom Shwab: Well, thank you just go to interviewvalet.com/vss for Virtual Success Show. And there’s a page there and Barbs from The Virtual Hub makes those all for us. And on there, you’re going to see an assessment, right, that says, will this work for me? Answer the questions and you’ll find out. There’s also a copy of the book, it’s a free copy, right? I sell a lot of these, but I give more away. It’s Podcast Guest Profits, it’s how to grow your business with the targeted interview strategy. It’s the playbook, the cookbook that we use. And then finally, if any of this resonated with you, if it made sense, if it’s like, “Yeah, I’d like to do that. Can you help me?” I’ll put my calendar link there too. Also, at interviewvalet.com/vss Barbara Turley: That’s brilliant. Listen, Tom, thank you so much for coming on the show today and sharing this like what I believe is one of literally the number one marketing strategy out there right now is this, especially when coupled with live streaming like what we’re doing right here and I’m doing this to show people kind of how you do it. We can help, thevirtualhub.com. If you need help with any of this stuff. set it up. We’ve got the VAs trained in all of this so come and chat with us as well. And don’t let the tech or the setup, stop you… basically, that’s the secret here. Don’t let any of it stop you because there’s people who could help you to do it. Thanks very much, Tom. We’re going to be going live again early next week and we’ll be talking about pivoting. And I’ll be talking to a lady who wrote the book on pivot methods. So, tune in next week, and Thanks, Tom. Thanks, everyone, for listening. Outro: Thank you for listening to the Virtual Success Show. If you found this show helpful. Take a moment to share it with a friend so that we can all grow together The Hosts Matt MaloufMatt Malouf is a passionate business coach, speaker, author and entrepreneur on a mission to help entrepreneurs around the world break the shackles of mediocrity and reach new levels of personal and business success. Barbara TurleyBarbara Turley is the Founder & CEO of The Virtual Hub, a company that specializes in recruiting, training, and managing superstar ‘Virtual Assistants’ in the social media, digital marketing, and systems automation space. The post The Power of Podcast Marketing with Interview Valet Founder Tom Schwab appeared first on The Virtual Hub.
31 minutes | Jul 31, 2019
Do I Need a VA and a Bookkeeper?
Do I Need a VA and a Bookkeeper? Want the transcript? Download it here. In this episode, Matt and Barbara speak to Bean Ninjas founder and CEO, Meryl Johnston about why it’s so important for companies to have a strong financial team, what that team needs to look like, and why financial reporting tools are the key to business stability and growth. Some of the areas covered include:Meryl’s journey from a consulting firm to global, systemized, online business and the perils behind bringing in virtual contractors before you have your processes in place. Let us know what your key takeout has been from this episode and join the continuing conversation over in the Virtual Success Facebook Group. In this episode:1:50 Xero as a Platform2:38 Aspects of Utilizing Virtual Teams4:50 Boundaries5:12 Key Roles Within the Finance Team8:21 Cost-Effectiveness Medium10:14 Bookkeeping Role vs VA Role12:55 Differences with Bookkeepers and VAs15:11 Stop Doing Book16:42 Xero Cleanup19:29 Reporting Practices20:53 Where to Start22:10 Building Skillsets23:22 Next Steps Intro: Do you find yourself running out of time to accomplish your work, are you spending time doing things that you’re not that good at? There are effective ways to outsource these tasks so you can focus on your business. This is the Virtual Success Show, we bring the inside scoop on outsourcing success for entrepreneurs by entrepreneurs. And now here are your hosts Matt Malouf and Barbara Turley. Barbara Turley: Hey everyone, and welcome back to another episode of the Virtual Success Show. Where we dissect everything you need to know about how to outsource, how to get the right team members into your business, and how to do it all in the right order. Because today’s show we’re going to be dissecting a very common problem, and I’m going to be sharing a big trap that I fell into myself. But of course today I’m joined by my cohost, Matt Malouf. Hi, Matt! How’s it going? Matt Malouf: I’m well, Barbara, and yourself? Xero as a Platform Barbara: I’m great, thank you. And I’m pretty excited that on the back of last week’s show, we invited Meryl Johnston, who’s the founder and CEO of Bean Ninjas back to the show to dissect this particular problem with me. So Meryl, welcome back to the show. Meryl Johnston: It’s great to be back. Thanks. Barbara: So guys, I was chatting with Meryl after we interviewed Meryl around the growth of Bean Ninjas and her experience around managing a global virtual team. Because obviously, that’s the genesis of this show. But in chatting after the show, I was sharing a story that I… A trap I fell into myself around using Vas, bookkeepers, accountants. And in the very early days, not that long ago, really, I decided in my wisdom that if I had Xero as a platform, which is your, you know the platform that everyone’s using I guess globally for bookkeeping and accounting. And a good VA that I could show a few tricks of the trade to, that then I wouldn’t need a bookkeeper. And I went that route, and needless to say it blew up in my face. Let’s just put it that way. After a couple of years, and really cost a lot of pain. It wasn’t the VA’s fault. It was just a whole host of problems. And Matt, I’m sure as a recovering accountant yourself, this is making you chuckle because I’m sure you see this a lot. Aspects of Utilizing Virtual Teams Matt: I do. I do. You know, I think it’s interesting. Barbara, you and I have talked about this in many aspects of utilizing virtual teams, but find it, yeah. People’s expectations of that whole concept of the super VA that can do everything is still very, very prevalent in today’s society, business community. Barbara: Absolutely. And you know, actually, I am still recovering, honestly, from that mistake myself. I was quite badly burnt. All my own fault. Completely and utterly my own fault. And Meryl, that’s kind of what led me to your company in the end, to go, “Oh my God. I really need to fix this. And quickly.” But I’m sure Meryl, is this something that you commonly seeing people coming? Going, I made a mess of this. You know, how can you fix it? Meryl: Yes. It actually, it surprises me, but it happens regularly. So we will be talking with a business owner, and they might initially say, well, why do I need you? I could have a VA doing this. And my answer to that is to discuss what the role of a bookkeeper is, and the tasks. VA can definitely help with Xero, but they have their place in the finance team as well. And then we also have many clients that have come to us after trying with only a VA, and their tax accountant, and just found that they couldn’t trust the numbers in Xero. And parts of the process were working well, and they’re definitely were parts that the VA did well, but they didn’t necessarily have the processes, the training, the review steps in place to make it work effectively, and they couldn’t trust the numbers in Xero. Barbara: Oh, yeah. That was me. I had the accountant, and I had the VA, and I had myself, and Xero. And the whole thing was an almighty mess. And actually, the ramifications of me making a mess of it myself means that when clients come to us, and they even mention Xero or bookkeeping or anything as part of their brief when they’re looking to get a VA, our entire team freezes and goes, oh, we need to be really clear with this client that we’re not comfortable with VAs being in Xero unless they’re clear on the boundaries. Boundaries Barbara: So yeah, like I said, I’m really keen for you to share with us today what those boundaries look like, and where does the VA come into them? You know, how do we start this whole process? And I think how you were saying off air, maybe defining the roles and the responsibilities and where everyone fits in a business from an accounting and financial perspective would be a good start? Key Roles Within The Finance Team Meryl: Sure. So I’ll start. There’s a couple of key roles within the finance team. And I say, finance team. You might be starting off small. So there’s a tax accountant. There may be a bookkeeper, a virtual assistant, virtual CFO, and the business owner. And you may not have all of these team members at the beginning. But I’ll go through and define the roles. A tax accountant is an accountant, and it’s usually the first person that will be helping with the business. Their role is to help with things like business structure decisions. Tax planning, tax minimization. And tax compliance. The role of the bookkeeper is different in that they’re in charge of all of the transactions being captured in Xero and being accounted for correctly. They wouldn’t be providing tax advice, but they’d be making sure that all of the day to day transactions are captured accurately, and management reports, or the monthly reports are ready on time. And everything’s being allocated correctly. Virtual CFO is often mixed up with a tax accountant. But they have a different skill set. So if you were looking at a big company, within their finance team they would have tax specialists, and then they would have the CFO who oversees everything, and they would also be looking at projection so that they’re kept looking forward. Cash [inaudible 00:06:35] forecast, budgets. And working with the business to make better decisions based on the numbers that are coming through. And that’s quite different to looking at things from a tax perspective. A virtual assistant can help with a number of processes within the business like raising invoices, helping to pay bills, managing receipts. But their role is to follow processes that have already been established, rather than creating the processes, and you would want to have some kind of review of procedures. And I’ve left the business owner till last, but their role is really important. They’re ultimately responsible for everything within the business. And it’s important that they understand their financial reports, and also their tax position. Yes, they can be outsourced to other accountants or bookkeepers, but ultimately the CEO or the business owner is responsible, and they need to have an understanding of… A little bit about their tax situation, and the key numbers in their business. Barbara: And obviously you’ve mentioned that the tax accountant, and obviously that’s the first person that even if you’re just a solopreneur, for example, you would have a tax accountant. I think what I see happening, and I’m interested to see if you see the same thing, I think the next position that people naturally flow to, or at least what I see, is they go, I need a VA. They go tax accountant, VA, me. And that’s their finance team in the early days. Would you see that as well? Matt: I do. And a lot of that’s because of leverage. A lot of business owners, when they start out, they’re doing the books, they’re doing everything. And then they’ll have a coach come along and tell them that they have to stop doing a whole heap of things. And so naturally then what they look for is a cost-effective medium in order to leverage. And so they’ll look at VAs as a mechanism for that. Cost-Effectiveness Medium Matt: And it really is in this instance, particularly in the finance, the wrong move. And you know, [inaudible 00:08:45] I think most people are looking at it as a cost-saving or cost-effectiveness perspective. You never want to be in a situation where your accounts are not reflective of what’s going on. Because number one, they tell you the story. It’s the report card of what’s happening in your business. But number two is, if you need to raise capital. If you want to buy a home and get a home loan. Whatever it may be, if your accounts aren’t in order, particularly as a business owner, it makes it a lot harder to do a lot of these things that the numbers are critical for. I just wanted to add one other thing. I think the way Meryl has described and outlined each of those roles, I would recommend that everyone go back and relisten to that unpack because it’s on the money. And each of those roles are essential in a business. Just knowing at which time along the growth journey of your business you need to bring those people in. In order to continue your growth, but also as your business grows, you’ll [inaudible 00:09:57] deeper and different understanding of things. And I think it’s a really, really clear picture of the roles of each of those and how they play out. Bookkeeping Role vs VA Role Barbara: Yeah, Meryl, I just wanted to share, even when you were explaining there. When you came to the bookkeeper part and the VA part, the virtual assistant part, even still in my head I was thinking, I can totally see how somebody would think that you can, one can replace the other, sort of thing. And if I could just share, I did do that. I didn’t have a bookkeeper. And everything was fine in the early days when it was simple. Reconciliation of money in, money out. But when it came to things like having to void invoices, and then split payments. And someone who didn’t pay exactly the right amount. And if that all happens over a number of transactions, I ended up with a real mess in Xero that I couldn’t even fix. And then of course the other issue is, I don’t even know what it’s called. You know where you have to have the zero balance, and the bank balance matching? I’ve never understood that bit. And it was never matching. It was all over the place because we were using Stripe. And there was no Stripe feed. And all this sort of thing. So can we drill down into that VA bookkeeper bit a bit more? Around where is the line between the two of them, really? Meryl: Sure. And I actually just wanted to add to your story, around the bank account balance in Xero not matching the statement. And this is, I would say that is the number one mistake that I see if I pick up a Xero file. That would be the most common mistake. And I know this isn’t, I won’t go into too much detail, but I’ll just quickly explain it because it happens so frequently. Xero has a bank feed which pulls information in from transactions every day. And sometimes there can be a break in that bank feed and a couple of transactions are missed, and occasionally it can bring in duplicates as well. And so when your bank balance in Xero doesn’t match the statement from your online banking, it means that there could be a bank fee issue, which means that your account might be missing transactions or have duplicates. And so that is one of the common reasons that your accounts don’t make sense. And that is a cross-check that a bookkeeper would know how to do, but a virtual assistant, without financial training, they wouldn’t necessarily know how to go find that error, and then bring in the missing transaction. So that’s probably one good example. Barbara: Now that you mention it, I really think that happened to us because what ended up happening was some of the wrong account lines got reconciled against the wrong invoices. But it looked like they were the right match at the time. But then we had all that host of issues, and we had to go back, and unmatch things. The minute we started that, the escalation, the problems just exploded after that. Differences with Bookkeepers and VAs Meryl: And I think that leads into one of the differences with bookkeepers and virtual assistants. Where virtual assistants may be doing a great job of reconciling transactions, but they might not understand the theory behind what they’re doing to pick up errors, like missing transactions. And follow a process, so bookkeepers will follow a process at the end of the month to check their own work. And to figure out what doesn’t look right, and what needs to be changed. And they’ll know about the quirks, like splitting transactions or how to handle payments that don’t quite… Someone hasn’t paid the right amount, or you’ve bought something that you paid for with cash. They’ll know how to handle all of those situations. But if I answer this question from a bigger picture perspective, a bookkeeper will be able to help you to set up your processes. So standard operating procedures around how your customers pay you, how you pay bills, how transactions are reconciled. How you prepare the end of month accounts. And over times, as those processes improve, you may actually be able to hand over more and more to the virtual assistant. But I think what’s important is that you don’t start with you as the business owner and the tax accountant. And you doing the bookkeeping not really having standard operating procedures around it, and then training a virtual assistant without a lot of information and documentation. Whereas, if you go the bookkeeper part, you can have all of those processes set up. Things are running smoothly, and then you can gradually introduce the virtual assistant to help with things over time. And I think that’s similar to how you would introduce a virtual assistant with another business function outside of finance too. Barbara: Yeah, and I honestly believe that the majority of people out there are doing it the wrong way around. I’m seeing it. You’re seeing it. And that’s why I think this really is, it’s an important topic that we address here so that we also protect business owners. But also protect the VAs, because they don’t know what they don’t know either. You know, sometimes they’ll go in and try and fix something, or try to help. And of course, they go on the Xero videos, and try and figure out what to do, and then make the situation worse. That’s actually my experience, what’s happened. Stop Doing Book Matt: Just to add to this, one of the things I wrote about in the Stop Doing List book, and I’ve included it in the tool, is when you look at a task. So let’s take a task, which is bookkeeping. One of the questions you’ve got to ask yourself is, does this task require special skills in order to be performed? And bookkeeping is a special skill. We think it’s just a case of, you know, clicking okay or whatever. But if it’s done incorrectly, it really turns into a big mess real quick. And so it’s understanding certain… When you’re going to leverage and hand the tasks over. Is a special skill required? If yes, what are those skills? And who’s the best person or company or people in order to outsource that to? Barbara: You know, if I could add, Matt, to that as well. Sometimes you don’t know the answer to that question yourself. And if you’re unsure, which was where I fell down, I didn’t know what I didn’t know, so I sort of made up the answer. I should have actually probably asked somebody that was more in the know than me. Around whether this required skill or not. And deeply understand exactly what we’re talking about today, so that I could then make a decision, rather than just diving in, and going, oh, the VA can do that. It’ll be fine. That’s sort of… Well, it’s the classic you don’t know what you don’t know. Matt: Absolutely. Xero Cleanup Barbara: Yeah, and obviously, Meryl, I know one of the packages that you offer is a Xero cleanup, which I availed of myself. Because people just must hand over an entire mess to your team. To go, I don’t even know where to start with this. To get off the ground on a decent path, we have to fix it first. Meryl: That happens quite often. And so we usually start by doing a health check where we go through and check everything and put together a list of changes. And then we can, from that list someone can go and clean it up themselves, or we can go and fix everything as well. So that’s often the first place that we start with working with a business owner. Barbara: Yeah. And look, for all the listeners out there, the good news is we’re sort of conversing on this topic today, but Meryl and I are actually going to be doing a webinar deep dive into actually how to set this whole thing up. Because it is a much deeper topic. And the link to that webinar, you’ll be able to get the recording. It will be in the show notes. So just jump on that if you feel you want to dive deeper into this topic. Matt, interested to know from your perspective, how many clients you’re coaching, that you go in and the finance part of the business is humming nicely. Matt: 5%. Barbara: I was thinking, how do I word this? Like humming nicely, the right team structure, the right knowledge, and that’s part okay? Matt: Yeah. I mean, 5%. And largely because it’s a function that a lot of business owners in the early phase of their business leave till the last minute. Until it’s tax time. Until it’s reporting time. And so then they rush it. And really having trained as an accountant, and for me, and you introduced me as a recovering accountant, but for me the numbers are the report card of my business. They enable us to make better, more informed and faster business decisions. And like, if all you’re doing is making decisions off gut feel, where gut stands for cave up thinking. Reporting Practices Matt: And the reality is that if you’re not looking at your metrics, or as in looking at the historical numbers or forecast into the future on things, you’re going to lose a lot of money. And so often when I start working with people, their accounts look like, just not meaningful. And what we need to consider, as Meryl was unpacking earlier, the various roles. There’s also different types of reports required. So the tax office, and what you submit is a format that’s very different than what we call management accounts, that might look at some ratios, we may look at even displaying things in a slightly different way that are more meaningful to the business. But compliance requires us to look at things differently. And so it’s really a case of having… If the data that goes in is done well, then the information and interpretation that comes out is more meaningful. And enables you to really see your business through a different lens. Barbara: Yeah, so if the data going in, like if we look back to the virtual assistant, let’s say, who’s usually the data type person at that level. If there are errors or mistakes, it’s almost putting too much responsibility, actually, on an untrained virtual assistant when you’re not trained yourself either, and you don’t have the right structure around, and as you said, Meryl, processes. That can actually, they can, like I keep saying, make a big mess even though they’re doing a great job and they’re doing their best. You know? So with this… So you recommend getting a bookkeeper first, really, and getting things nicely set up? Where to Start Meryl: I would. And then a virtual assistant can be introduced into the bookkeeping process. And I see that working well as a business grows. I’ll give you an example. Some of our bigger clients, our point of client will be the virtual assistant rather than the business owner. And so they might be responsible for raising invoices, but they can ask us questions if they have something like a split payment or something that doesn’t look right, and we can go in and reconcile that. Or they just raise the invoices, and we do the reconciling, and ask them questions. If we’re looking at chasing our missing receipts, again, the virtual assistant would be managing that rather than the business owner having to ask those kind of questions. Building Skillsets In some cases, we’ve trained the virtual assistants on how to look for spikes in expenses, so they actually do a preliminary look at the profit/loss that goes out. And try and flag… They won’t get that right from day one. But over time those kinds of things can be trained so they can be going in and looking at where there’s a spike, and where they may be able to cut costs. Not every virtual assistant will be able to do that, but I have seen that working. So I see it as a gradual transition in building the skillset of someone internally, and virtual assistant’s role is to really stop questions going to the business owner so that they’re looking accurate reports without it needing a lot of their time. And the bookkeeper is running the transaction processing and making sure everything’s accurate, and liaising with the virtual assistant. Barbara: You see, for me, I just feel like oh my God, even you saying that has just like, my shoulders have relaxed. Because you’re basically saying, and listen up everyone who’s listening. You’re basically saying that there will be no more of the VA coming to you with a 100 million questions, and the accountant saying, “Sorry. I don’t know what you’re doing there, but this is all wrong.” Like, I have done two week stints where the accountants have said to me, “there’s problem here.” And it’s taken me probably two weeks just to intensively go in and try and fix Xero. So I just think it’s such a common mistake, and it’s just not worth it to not have the bookkeeper as well, is what I’m hearing. [crosstalk 00:23:19]. Next Steps Meryl: And I just recap on that. So we talked about the initial stage. It’s probably the founder, the business owner, and the tax accountant. And I would see the next phase being founder, tax accountant, and bookkeeper, and then after that, then you want to introduce a virtual assistant. And it’s probably about that time or maybe a little bit later that you would introduce the virtual CFO. And the reason for that is you have to pay taxes, and you need your structure right at the beginning. And that’s why you introduce the tax accountant early on. Next you want your bookkeeping processes to be running really effectively, and that’s when you need the bookkeeper. And once you’ve got accurate data, that’s when you can start to get advice from a virtual CFO around how to improve your business performance, based on the numbers. If you haven’t got accurate numbers, and that’s not all humming along, and you’re not getting those reports regularly, then there’s no point in you working with the virtual CFO. Barbara: That makes so much sense. I mean, I’m really glad, and thank you, Meryl, for sharing all that stuff. I’m really glad I got a chance, actually, to share my own negative experience with this. Happy to always share warts and all on this podcast. That it can happen to anyone. Like, I class myself who’s actually pretty good on the financial tools. I’m one of those people who, I actually didn’t have metrics. But I sort of know it in my head. I’m one of those people, where I know kind of where things are at. But that’s, as you get bigger and bigger, it’s an absolute bomb waiting to explode on you because you’re just relying on, not necessarily gut, feel mad, like what you were saying. But the numbers are sort of in my head. I kind of know what’s right and what’s wrong. But no concrete dashboards or metrics or anything. And in the last year I’ve really been focusing on getting this bit right. So yeah, Meryl, awesome topic. Matt, have you any sort of closing questions or bits you want to touch on with Meryl? Meryl: Just a couple of things to add. So to add to what Meryl was saying, so I know in our business we’ve had one of our virtual assistants doing our invoicing fees. And that process works really well. And I think that that process works well because it was set up and tested first by myself and our accountant when we set Xero up. That it was actually really easy to plug a VA into that function. And it didn’t require necessarily a bookkeeper to do that. Barbara: Yeah, but you’re an accountant, though. So you know— Matt: But I worked with my accountant as well, it wasn’t just [crosstalk 00:26:01]. Barbara: Yeah, so it wasn’t just you. But [crosstalk 00:26:01] Matt: Accountant make sure Xero was set up properly. Which then enabled us to take the invoicing function and actually have a VA do that. And keeping in mind, you know, in our business we probably got six standard invoice templates that we use. So because it’s quite repetitive, and it’s quite simple, we do that. If there’s a one off kind of invoice, that won’t go out until I’ve signed off on it. So I’ll still send it to the VA. But our normal, recurring invoices go out without me even realizing, versus something that may be a little bit different. We have a slightly different process for that, which will be… It’s in the instruction. Utilizes certain template. Send it to me in draft that I can sign off and go from there. So just to add to what Meryl was saying, you can get your VA in time to do certain functions, but it’s got to be set up properly. And the only other thing is that don’t hold on to these aspects of your business. Get the right people to do the right work for you, so that you can focus on growing and operating your business. Versus having to try and fumble your way through all of this. I always say that for many people, the numbers and finance of the business they’ve never been trained in. But you need to be trained in to do it effectively. It’s like any skill. It’s like any function of your business. And so I think having the right people, like the team at Bean Ninjas, and the like, to do these functions for you I think is critically important, and I can’t recommend it enough. Barbara: Yeah, so Meryl, I know, I’ll just do the plug for you for Bean Ninjas, given that I’ve already become a client. Your company essentially solves… The core thing is the bookkeeper problem. Which is the ongoing bookkeeping. But I love about what you’re doing is you also have a program where you can train VAs on the bits they can do. And I’m actively talking to Meryl about doing training for our VAs so that our clients can benefit from this a bit more as well. So just a really great offer, and I think it’s something, like I said, we’re going to do a deeper dive webinar on this. And you’ll be able to get the link in the show notes to this, and actually watch that at a later stage. So thank you so much, Meryl, any final things you’d like to share before we sign off? Meryl: Not really. I think we’ve talked about the different roles of finance team members, and that virtual assistants, they definitely do have a place, and it’s about introducing them at the right time, when you have established processes, and having clear boundaries about what they do and don’t do. And I think some business owners can feel a bit hesitant about passing their financials to an outsourced bookkeeping company or a virtual assistant. And there are controls, there are measures you can put in place to protect your data. And I do recommend not sharing things like bank account authorization logins. And so you can protect yourself in that way, if that is something that you’re worried about. I don’t want to take the conversation in a different direction, but there are definitely ways to protect yourself if you are handing over bookkeeping. And I do encourage you to get bookkeeping off your plate, and gradually introduce a VA in your process, but having them trained first. Barbara: And I 100% agree, and I know, Matt, you would too, with that advice. Matt: Absolutely. Absolutely. Barbara: Guys, if you enjoyed this show, please remember to share it. Because all of these topics we’re talking about, I always say to people, this show is very tactical. Where we’re literally talking about real-life stuff that happens. And we’re expanding the show into the topics like, you know, the bookkeeping topics. They’re all about VAs, really. But it’s starting to branch into a lot more tactical depth, is what I would say. So love to get the show out to more people. Give us a rating or a review on iTunes. And yeah, till next time. Thank you, everyone. I’ll see you on the next episode. Matt: Thanks, everyone! Meryl: Thank you. Outro: Thank you for listening to the Virtual Success Show. If you found this show helpful, take a moment to share it with a friend so that we can all grow together. The Hosts Matt MaloufMatt Malouf is a passionate business coach, speaker, author, and entrepreneur on a mission to help entrepreneurs around the world break the shackles of mediocrity and reach new levels of personal and business success. Barbara TurleyBarbara Turley is the Founder & CEO of The Virtual Hub, a company that specializes in recruiting, training, and managing superstar ‘Virtual Assistants’ in the social media, digital marketing, and systems automation space. The post Do I Need a VA and a Bookkeeper? appeared first on The Virtual Hub.
40 minutes | Jul 17, 2019
How Bean Ninjas CEO Meryl Johnston Built A Global Virtual Powerhouse
How Bean Ninjas CEO Meryl Johnston Built A Global Virtual Powerhouse Want the transcript? Download it here. In this episode, Matt and Barbara speak to Meryl Johnston, the CEO, and founder of Bean Ninjas. Some of the areas covered include: Meryl’s journey from a consulting firm to global, systemized, online business and the perils behind bringing in virtual contractors before you have your processes in place. Let us know what your key takeout has been from this episode and join the continuing conversation over in the Virtual Success Facebook Group. In this episode:1:20 Meryl Johnson the founder and CEO of Bean Ninjas3:38 The power of systems and processes4:29 Building a business to scale8:38 Key Tools or Methods to manage your team10:24 Wrike12:06 Systems, tools, and Processes as the front driver13:30 The Strength of the machine14:01 Team Meetings17:07 Concept of the Lunch and Learn18:02 Virtual Christmas Celebration20:43 Local knowledge vs Overseas Knowledge24:39 Training Guide Procedures29:27 Highlights of the show33:14 External Leverage35:09 Top 3 Learnings working with Virtual Team Intro: Do you find yourself running out of time to accomplish your work, are you spending time doing things that you’re not that good at? There are effective ways to outsource these tasks so you can focus on your business. This is the Virtual Success Show, we bring the inside scoop on outsourcing success for entrepreneurs by entrepreneurs. And now here are your hosts Matt Malouf and Barbara Turley. Barbara Turley: Hey everyone and welcome to another episode of the Virtual Success Show. I’m joined by my co-host Matt Malouf as always. Hey Matt. Matt Malouf: Hey Barb. How are you? Barbara: I’m good. And you? Matt: I’m excellent. Yeah, I’m enjoying a sunny day here in Sydney after what’s been a very, very wet sort of week down here. Barbara: Yes, unusually so for Sydney. But the Sydney sun is back, which is awesome. Matt: It is, it is. Barbara: Yeah. So we’re back, guys, doing one of our interview series, which we love doing. We love when we find interesting business owners that are building virtual teams and can really add value to our listeners and to ask quite frankly about how they’re doing things. So today’s guest is someone who’s become somewhat of a friend of mine, Meryl Johnston, and she is the founder and CEO of Bean Ninjas, which is a bookkeeping, financial reporting, and education business. She’s also a chartered accountant. She’s host up her own podcast, the Bean Ninjas podcast, which I definitely can recommend listening to. And she’s also a big surfer living on the Gold Coast, the beautiful Gold Coast here in Australia. So welcome to the show Meryl. Meryl Johnson the founder and CEO of Bean Ninjas Meryl Johnston: Hi Barb. Hi Matt. Great to be here. Barbara: Good. So listen, why don’t you just give us the quick rundown, Bean Ninjas. What is it? Why did you start it? Meryl: Well, Bean Ninjas is a bookkeeping and financial recording business, and before starting Bean Ninjas, I was running a consulting firm, not very cleverly named MCJ Consulting, my initials. And I was doing project accounting work and quite quickly found the business difficult to scale. It was hard from a cash flow perspective, with project work being lumpy, and it was difficult to build a team. And I looked at some other business models out there and the kind of business that I wanted to build, which was recurring revenue, it would have processes so I could scale the business and I wanted it to have global potential. And then I looked at my skill set, which is accounting and thought about how I could marry the two together, my skill set and the kind of business that I wanted. And that’s where Bean Ninjas was born. I founded the business with a co-founder who had a similar vision of creating a global business and a business that we could run from anywhere in the world. So that was where it started. We launched the business in seven days following Dan Norris’s 7 Day Startup method, where we created a logo, a website, fixed fee bookkeeping packages, and found a customer in our first week. And we really had no idea about how much to charge, what our packages were, anything like that. But we launched quickly and then from there we’ve iterated and grown the business, and now we’re almost 4 years old and we have a team of 15. The power of systems and processes Barbara: Wow, yeah. And you know what I loved about… There was a couple of things I picked up in what you said there. You said a process driven business that is scalable and we’d… Matt and I talk constantly on this podcast about the power of systems and processes and therefore how… That leading into how teams work. So you had mentioned that you had struggled to sort of get a team together in the previous business. So talk to us a little bit now about the beginnings of that virtual decision to be virtual, because that’s a big change from the original business model. How did you attack it initially in terms of hiring virtual staff? Meryl: It was initially out of necessity, in that my business partner was in Sydney and I lived on the Gold Coast, and at the very beginning we each had separate businesses and we were working on Bean Ninjas as a side project. So it probably took about, I think 5 months into the business was when we hired our first team member. But prior to that we still needed to communicate remotely and we were building… Our intention from the beginning was to build a business to scale. So from the beginning, we wanted to make sure we were using all of the tools that would allow us to bring other team members on regardless of where they were located around the world. From the beginning, we’re using Help Scout for emails to our clients. We were using Trello to start to create bookkeeping processes. We’re using Google Drive for collaborating and file storage, and of course Xero, which is the accounting software that we specialize in. Building a business to scale Barbara: Matt, I’m almost salivating at the mention of all these tools. We did a whole show about the four crucial tools you need to get this right. So, Meryl, you started out with the end in mind kind of thing. So Matt what are your thoughts on starting out that way? Matt: As you said Barb, it was that, I guess the one thing you mentioned that I think is really important for all of the listeners, is a clear intention of what the end looks like. A business that could be global, work anywhere, process driven, scalable. And so when you get clarity like that, I think what happens for entrepreneurs is we go searching for the answers, but you can’t actually go searching for answers when you’re unclear on what you’re actually searching for. So I think that’s amazing. My question is, so you said at first you didn’t hire your first virtual team member for 5 months, who was the first person you hired? Meryl: We hired a bookkeeper to start with. Matt: Okay. Meryl: Yeah. And the reason for that was we wanted to remove ourselves from operations, so client facing work as quickly as possible. And so that was why we hired a bookkeeper first. And the reason that it took us so long was because we started the business by putting in $500 each and then we’ve had to… Everything, we’re bootstrapping. So we basically had to earn enough to then hire that first contractor. Barbara: Where was the contractor based? Meryl: We actually hired two at the same time and we hired one in the US and one in Australia. Barbara: Interesting. Oh, so you brought in the US element. So that’s very interesting. How did that… So obviously, the three of you, there was a bookkeeper and yourself and Wayne in Australia, which virtual, but bringing a US person in would have added, all of a sudden, complexity. Were there any sort of issues there around the initial stages there? Meryl: So the story with Wayne is actually a whole other story. So I actually had… I started a business with a guy called Ben McAdam and bought it, and we can talk about this if it fits later on, but I bought him out of the business after about 18 months and then Wayne, who is my now business partner, joined the business after a couple of years and only recently, he became a partner in August 2018. Barbara: I see. Meryl: Yeah but we can dig into that if it fits. Barbara: No, that’s fine. Just because I know him too. So I was thinking, I didn’t realize he wasn’t there from the beginning. That’s interesting because he’s in the US actually, I’ve just realized that he’s based over there. Meryl: Yes. So we knew that we wanted to have global potential, but we weren’t actually intending to go down that path until much later, once we’d created all of our systems. We were using Australia as the testing ground to build all of our systems and then replicate what we were doing in other markets. But what happened, we had enough referrals from our app… Because our client base were location independent entrepreneurs and digital nomads predominantly, they interacted with a lot of US-based businesses or the US owned businesses. And so we had enough referrals that it made sense to actually hire someone in the US and test it. And we treated it the same way in launching the business. We thought, “All right, well we’ll just give it a go. We have enough referrals, we’ll learn what we need to learn about US bookkeeping, we’ll exclude anything like sales tax that we don’t have enough knowledge for and we’ll mitigate our risks and then we’ll test it and see what happens.” And interestingly, the US market is actually our largest market in the business now. Barbara: Yeah, that happened for us too, yeah. Key Tools or Methods to manage your team Matt: And so what are some of the key tools or methods you use, Meryl, in managing your team that’s now… So is the team mainly Australia and the US, or are they spread all around the world? Meryl: They’re spread all around the world. So we are in 6… We’ve got team members that are based in 6 countries. Some of that is just because our team members travel. So one of our team members has been living in Tokyo for a couple of years and has actually just recently returned to Sydney in Australia. But our core team is based in Australia and Wayne is based in US and we’ve got another accountant in Manchester who looks after our UK clients. And then we also have teams in Serbia and the Philippines. Matt: Okay, and what are some of the key methods in order to manage a global team like that? You know, meetings, tools, et cetera. Meryl: Yes, we hold regular team meetings with Zoom and we like to have video on generally to help build relationships within the team. Each team member has a a one on one call with their manager each week just to check in and see how they’re going, how their workload is looking for the future and how they’re going at present if they’re enjoying their role, that kind of thing. And then we also have team meetings, and again part of it is about trying to build culture within the business, not just follow up on whether tasks have been completed. Wrike Meryl: We use Slack. That’s again great for building team culture if you’re intentional about it, but we’re in their day to day, we try and avoid using email to correspond within the team. And then as I mentioned, we use Help Scout externally, so they’re some of the tools. We’ve recently moved to a platform called Wrike for our internal project management. And I’d say it’s a bit like Asana, but it may be the step up from that. We went from Trello to Wrike and we actually use that as a CRM too, from the point of inquiry, where we perceive an inquiry in the business, we have checklists and a flow all the way through onboarding new clients to recurring bookkeeping and then the internal reviews that we have in place. So I’d say that’s probably the key tool that we use. In terms of managing staff we use Wrike for resource planning, so to see what different bookkeepers have on across the course of a month and future months. And that really helps us in triggering the hiring process to know, right that team’s getting close to capacity. So we know it takes us a month to hire and a couple of months for someone to get up to speed. So it’s time to start the hiring process again. And we also use Wrike… There’s a lot of different reports we can run in there. For example, exception reports on if there’s tasks that have been set that haven’t been completed for the week as well as reports done, what bookkeeping reports are being delivered, for example. Systems, tools, and Processes as the front driver Barbara: You know what I love about that, when you’re just telling all of those stories, excuse me, is the… You know, a lot of people where they struggle I think with teams in general, but virtual teams, it can get worse, is that they don’t know where the bottlenecks are in a workload of somebody in the Philippines for example. You can have task lists and all that but sometimes you’re not quite clear. So it sounds to me like you’re allowing systems and tools and process to sort of be the front driver, and then the teams sort of plug into those things in order to do the work and be successful, which I love, because a lot of people do it the other way around. They try and hire people and then use the tools and systems and processes as kind of a secondary bit. Whereas you, it feels to me more like that’s the driving force and then the team is plugged into that, which is the way we should do it. Meryl: Yes, it was… Well, you’ve reminded me of a story where we were looking at resource planning for a month and the number of hours of work fitted, but if you look at it on a day by day basis, then there was something like 40 hours scheduled for one work day. So it’s little things like that that are important, but then you’re right, we’re very processed based and I suppose we describe ourselves as a people first, profit second business in that we’re very people-oriented by the way the business was built was around repeatable systems that ensure that we, regardless of the bookkeeper that’s touching the file, the quality of the work would be the same. And the way that we deliver it would be the same regardless of who’s doing it. The Strength of the machine Barbara: Yeah, so you’ve built the machine and like I said, and then… Because this is something we try and, definitely through this podcast and I know Matt, you coach your clients on it. We see it coming through with the virtual hub. We’re trying to always say that actually the strength of the machine that you build… You know, plugging the people in, of course, those recruitment and HR and all these other elements, but sometimes it does come down to the initial part of the strength of the machine that you’re plugging your people into. And then you don’t have that issue of, “Oh my God, my amazing bookkeeper, my amazing VA has left. I’m left in a hole because the IPs all walked out the door.” Team Meetings Matt: Absolutely. So Meryl, just quickly, just backtracking to your team meeting, because I find that that’s awesome. So you’ve got a team meeting that you hold. How often are you doing that? Meryl: We have a variety. I used to hate meetings in a past corporate life, but I’ve realized there’s less opportunity for team members to interact in a remote team. And we really want people to feel proud of being a part of the Bean Ninjas team, and feel like they’re part of something and that they have relationships with other team members across different time zones. So if our bookkeeping teams are split up into teams, so they might have a weekly or fortnightly team meeting themselves. We have a monthly, what we call lunch and learn, even though it’s often not lunchtime, but for some time zones, it isn’t. Matt: So that was my… Sorry to cut you, that was my question. How do you, across 6 countries, how do you choose the time zone? Barbara: I was thinking the same thing. I was like, “Do you get them all on the one call?” That’s amazing. Meryl: It’s a challenge to do that. So what we’ve decided, with the lunch and learn, which is basically someone running an internal training session. So we actually have one scheduled tomorrow and Wayne and I are presenting the 2020 vision to the team and the roadmap of how we’re going to get there and what that means for them and their roles and opportunities within the business. And we were actually running the same meeting or the same presentation and an interactive part of the presentation twice. So we’re running it once for the Europe and US time zone and then we’re running a separate one for Australia and Asia. So it is hard to get everyone on the call. But for example, our management meeting where we have 3 time zones, we just do that really early in Australia, which is late in Europe. Barbara: Yeah, you have to get everyone, but it’s a commitment to making it work and to… I love your idea around creating spaces where people can actually forge relationships, see each other because virtually there’s a lot of time you spend on your own or just updating systems like Wrike or doing the work. There isn’t the water cooler discussion. So that’s something I know a lot of people struggle with when they’re trying to build culture in a virtual team. Meryl: Yeah, sometimes, Sometimes I try to be proactive, if there’s a new person, I think they’re really going to get along well with someone else, I’ll suggest that they go and have a one on one call or that they work on a particular small project together, just so that gradually we want everyone in the team to have had someone on one time with everyone else in the team, and as we get bigger that gets more difficult. But that’s something that we’re aiming for, because I think you could be in a group call for a whole year with someone, but unless you’ve had that one on one time and a chance to ask about what they do outside of work, their family, then you might not really know them and when it does come time to work on a project together, you might not feel comfortable speaking up or constructively disagreeing with them about something. Concept of the Lunch and Learn Matt: Yeah. And one other thing I just want to reiterate that Meryl said, for the listeners to hear. I love this concept of the lunch and learn. And I know in a lot of corporate organizations that’s a very big part of culture building and also training. And I love how you’ve adapted that into a virtual environment. And I think too often what happens is, as entrepreneurs and business owners, we place a block at times when we think, “Well we’re not all in the same office. We couldn’t possibly do that.” But with tools like Zoom and the like now, it’s having that open-mindedness that we can all sit around a virtual table, have a training, share a meal and achieve the same outcome. I think that’s just outstanding. So yeah, kudos to you. I love that. Really, really love that. Virtual Christmas Celebration Barbara: Actually I have a follow on question from that, Meryl. I’m interested to know, have you attempted to do a virtual Christmas celebration or like a one year… You know like when the company hits one or two years or has a milestone or it’s Christmas because we don’t do the Christmas party obviously when we have people virtually all over the world. Have you attempted anything like that, like an event where people can do something simultaneously? Meryl: Not really. So the only time we’ve had everyone on the call was probably a couple of years ago now when we wanted to map out our vision, mission, and values and we wanted to do a workshop with the whole team. And so we had everyone there for that. I suppose something we do do, it’s hard to get the whole team together, but that actually is one of my goals for 2020, is to do an in-person retreat. Barbara: Yeah, that’s amazing. Yeah. Meryl: We do smaller versions of that. So we have had a live Christmas party in Australia where we’ve had people within Australia fly to the Gold Coast and we’ve also had Wayne in the US and Tom from the UK fly out to Australia. I think Tom’s been here a couple of times and I’ve also traveled. So we have smaller team meetups and Tom, who manages the team in Serbia, has traveled out to Serbia to meet the team and take them out to dinner. But we haven’t actually done a virtual party, so. Barbara: The reason I asked is because- Meryl: I like that idea! Barbara: We did one last year, so last Christmas I thought it’d be an interesting story for me to share, that we attempted it and what we actually did was that we… On the same night, so obviously in the UK it was a bit different from night, it was morning there, but we have a sort of a Facebook group and what we did was we had parties in Manila, Cebu, Sydney, Melbourne and Dublin on the same Saturday and we all did Facebook lives while we were at our dinner or having drinks to each other in the Facebook group. And it was awesome there was lots of people and it was our first attempt at an actual virtual Christmas party and we pulled it off. I mean, okay the guys in Dublin were a bit late to the party, but it was cool to see on the following week we had all the videos of all the Facebook lives in there. Meryl: I love the idea of that. Barbara: Yeah, it was a really cool idea. Matt: Very cool. Barbara: So we attempted that last year. So there’s an idea. Meryl: Yes, I’ll have a chat with Wayne about it. Matt: So Meryl, just a question around location of your team. One of the things I wrote about in my book, The Stop Doing List, was when you want to use virtual teams, you’ve got to make a decision on whether you’re going to go local or overseas… And I think certain roles and tasks require local knowledge versus overseas knowledge. And you mentioned earlier, so your first two, a bookkeeper in the US and a bookkeeper in Australia. So is that a very deliberate move that you keep your team local for that region in which they’re operating in? Local knowledge vs Overseas Knowledge Meryl: It does help. So we had found that Australian bookkeepers can do US bookkeeping and then we’d just have someone in the US do a review. But I think it does help with local knowledge and knowing the names of local suppliers. That’s something I didn’t mention, so we hired those first two staff, but we also tried outsourcing to India in that probably first 6 months and it was an absolute disaster because we had no system… Even though we were trying to build systems and processes, I should say we didn’t have any, but they weren’t very good. We were still very early in the evolution of our systems and processes and so we spent more time reviewing work… We were reviewing every email because the English wasn’t strong enough to send to clients. So it actually took more time to kind of manage that team than if we were doing the work ourselves. And so we cut that pretty quickly and then hired local staff and then it was probably only a number of years later, once we’d really refined our systems and processes and had everything running smoothly, that we then started to introduce team members in places like the Philippines. And we were able to do that with other team members, or other accountants and bookkeepers, training and onboarding those team members rather than… As a founder, I felt it was more important for me to be growing the business rather than doing detailed training with our accountants in places like the Philippines. Barbara: You know, I love that story because something I see a lot obviously in what I’m doing, is that when people come… Offshoring and going to places like the Philippines, India, I’m not so sure about, depending on what you’re doing. But places like the Philippines for me, of course, I see it as a no brainer strategy, to have an element of offshore team members in your business. Now, not all of them, but I think it’s great, it’s brilliant for your bottom line, of course, it’s very cost effective. But for businesses that are not ready yet or don’t know what they don’t know yet, like what you’ve just shared, it actually does waste time, energy and money. And there’s a lot of stories online of that. So can you share a little bit deeper around, you know, the refinements, was it India that gave you the realization or did you kind of know before you outsourced and then that proved that you were not ready? And then what did you do thereafter to really get ready for something like the Philippines? Meryl: At the time I thought we had good processes, but I think that was just because we had really strong local accountants and so they plugging the lack of processes and detailed checklists that we had because they were highly skilled, highly capable, and didn’t need a lot of direction. And after reviewing their work for a couple of months, Ben and I felt like we could trust in the quality of their work and we didn’t need to do detailed reviews. And I think that lulled me into a false sense of security about how good our processes were, and then I realized when we went to India that they were not good at all and we didn’t have proper processes around, on things like onboarding and that transition from delivering an exceptional first 30 days, and then what does that look like, to go into recurring work and what are our deliverables? Training Guide Procedures Meryl: So then when we pulled it back to local team members, then it took us a couple of years to refine it. So we would have checklists, that team members would follow in Trello and we also have training guides, procedures basically in a tool called SweetProcess. And we did a project where we created over a hundred procedures of how to guides and that probably took us nine months to complete that. So it was when we had that in place plus all of our checklists and a reporting mechanism around the checklists, which was Wrike, that we then felt like we were in a much better position to then look at hiring staff in the Philippines. And that’s gone really well for us this time around. We’ve got great accountants over there and we’ve got great local managers in place to make sure that everything’s running smoothly. Barbara: So that’s so interesting. There’s so much gold in what you’ve just said because it really is, a lot of people give up. They just have the belief that their systems are fine and that it’s the offshore thing that has screwed everything up. But what I’m interested to know is when you… So you fixed all of that, it is a huge project to fix it, so I’m not surprised it took two years and the depth that you’ve gone to is kind of what it takes to really scale it. Did you find that, with that paired then with the offshore strategy, that the business grew faster with better profit?[/et_pb_text][et_pb_text _builder_version=”3.27.4″ text_font_size=”16px” custom_margin=”||100px” locked=”on”]Meryl: Yes. I think we’re still not seeing all of the benefits of that. If we look at our teams structure now, the potential… The team structures definitely with a local manager managing a portfolio of Philippines accountants or Serbian accountants. Yes, there’s opportunity to receive much higher profits. It also means that managers can focus less on doing and more on customer experience, and looking at where there’s opportunities to add value or understanding their client’s businesses more. So I think we’re in the early stages of seeing some of these results, but we’ve only really laid that foundation. We’ve finished some of these projects in the last couple of months to the last 6 months, but we’re only starting to see some of these benefits, but I’m expecting them to come through later this year too. Barbara: This is really, really… This is honestly, it’s gold for people listening, because I’ve always said to people, and I know Matt, you do this as well, it is a huge amount of work to do this, but the dividends that it will pay for your business, for your people, for your scalability later are quite enormous. That it’s worthwhile to invest 12 months, 2 years, whatever, in actually building this and taking it seriously. And what I love about what you’ve shared as well, is that your onshorer I’m going to call them or whatever, your Australian, your US, and UK managers, are now freed up a lot as well to do, I’m not going to say higher value work, although it is higher value in terms of revenue generating, but for them as well, it’s a growth experience because they actually get the chance to be more engaged in, as you said, the customer success, which elevates everything, your brand can take off with that kind of thing. So is that kind of what you’re starting to see the genesis of now, after all this work? Meryl: Absolutely, yes, and it’s interesting, our UK manager, Tom, I think he’s starting to see… He actually do a lot of the recurring bookkeeping longer than we wanted, but it just took longer to get these processes and hire the right team and he’s starting to see the light where he can spend time on these other value-added tasks that he’s been wanting to do for some months or even years really. And he can see that now with a team in place who are full time, who are committed and highly skilled, that he can rely on them to do a lot of the bookkeeping processing. He can review and then he can focus on the more fun… It’s more fun too. Barbara: I was just thinking to myself, your people genuinely have more fun, including those who are offshore, because they feel more secure in their own success, in their own careers, that they’re not going to be making mistakes everywhere and having bad employee reviews and even if they’re contractors and whatever. So it actually has benefits across the entire channel of the whole team and the customer at the end. Meryl: Yeah. I’m really glad we’ve gone down this path. Barbara: Oh good. Because I know Matt, you must be… I mean this is gold for us really. Because this is the hard work that you’ve put in, but you are going to see. This is the benefits that some businesses, they sort of conceptually go, “Yeah I kind of get it.” But they don’t get how much work is involved, to pull this off, how much it’s worth it. Highlights of the Show Matt: Yeah. And I think a couple of things for listeners, to highlight here. Early in this episode the first thing Meryl was very clear on, was the vision for the business but also what she was creating, a process driven business that is scalable. And the second thing is, I see so often business owners jumping in wanting to scale fast, but they’re not ready. And I think it’s having the foresight to understand that and go, “No, you know what? We weren’t ready for that. We have to go in and layer in tighter infrastructure. Our foundation’s not strong enough.” And then to Barbara’s point, most people will blame the virtual team or the location… And one thing that Barbara and I continuously on this show and in the work that we do outside of the show, are sharing with people is, without strong, robust systems that you’ve tested and tried to break, et cetera, your business, you can’t grow in scale. It’s near impossible. And it’s having the patience for that. I think too often business owners try and throw money and people at the problem versus actually having the patience and investing the time, energy and effort into building the machine that is your business, so that then… I call it, if you have a strong system that’s proven, you can take someone with the right attitude and make them look like a superhero overnight. Barbara: Yeah, you can. You can train people to be that. Matt: And that’s what Meryl’s done. You know, Meryl has tried India, wrong location, and I think that’s a really important point. Not that they’re better or worse, it’s just the wrong location for her type of business and the type of people that she was looking for, went back to the drawing board, has tightened the system, identified where the problem and… Every day in what I do and I love that Meryl, you’ve done this, you took a hundred percent responsibility as opposed to blaming, and then what you’ve now got is the ability to have a business that can operate in 6 countries, and you or your team can work virtually anywhere in the world. That’s just amazing. Meryl: So definitely got some team members that take advantage of that. Michael, from our team, he’s lived in Bali for a couple of months last year and he’s planning some surf trips to New Zealand actually, where he’ll be working, and he’ll be fitting in his work around what he’s doing. Matt, I wanted to add something else to what you were talking about there, and something I found hard in probably the second year of business when we started investing in processes, was I had to put my ego to the side and as a founder originally some of my… I was attributing whether I was a good founder or not, around how quickly I was growing revenue and we had to put revenue gross on hold for a little while, really scale it back while we worked on systems and processes. And so that was putting ego to the side and really thinking about what the business needed for the long term. And it was challenging to do, especially when lots of other businesses were growing quickly around me, but it was not about what they were doing. It was about what was right for Bean Ninjas. External Leverage Barbara: I love that you’ve shared that Meryl, because I think as well, everyone’s trying to rise to the top and a lot of people are very focused on marketing, or what I call external leverage, which is marketing, sales, PR, client acquisition, traffic, all that sort of thing. And really internal infrastructure is what breaks that in the end because if you drive all of those sales and all of that hype into an engine that is rusty and half falling down, which is the engine of your business, then you blow yourself up in the end and we see that happening a lot. People do end up blowing themselves up. Where I’m with you, I just think this is a more sustainable… It’s more painful in some ways because it’s not fun. Building processes is just not fun. Like who wants to sit down and do that? But again, I hear this all the time from people, I’m not on our sales calls anymore, but I see it coming through on the common commentary. People saying, “Oh look, I just don’t have time for that, sorry.” And my answer to that is always, “Well, if you don’t have time today, you’ll have less time in 12 months’ time.” Because you have to… It’s like going to the gym, right? You’ve got to work that muscle if you want to achieve the engine or the machine in the end that will take you where you want to go and actually give you the entrepreneurial freedom that we all went into business to achieve. Not necessarily sitting on the beach doing nothing, but you know what I mean? It’s having the opportunity to, in the end, do things like this, like do our podcasts, talk to people about the company growth, look at company culture, all the more fun stuff. But you’ve got to do the hard work, in the beginning, to make that happen. And it has to come from the owner, I think, the founder. Top 3 Learnings Working with Virtual Team Matt: It’s your vision, it’s your dream, isn’t it? So, I’ve got one last question, Meryl. Knowing what you now know and you’ve been doing this for, I think you said 4 years, what are say the top three learnings when it comes to working with a virtual team that you could share with our listeners, who may be thinking of starting to employ their first virtual team member or may already have a virtual team? Meryl: So the first one, I think we’ve talked about a bit, which is having good systems and good processes in place and having that as a cultural part of the business so that everyone knows why systems and processes are important. And so everyone within their role is maintaining the standard operating procedures and the checklists and continuing to gradually improve them, not just create them once and then two years later they are completely out of date. So systems and processes creation and also maintaining them. The second is around who you hire. And it was only a couple of years into the business that we hired a project manager. Before that, I was creating all of the procedures and doing a lot of the thinking of behind that. And then when we hired a project manager, I could communicate my vision and then someone else who was very skilled could go and execute on that and rally the troops and get other people in the team organized or create the step by step process around that. And so in hindsight, and maybe we would’ve needed to have saved up for that in the business, but in hindsight, I would have hired someone of that skill level as early as possible. So rather than hiring people that can follow processes, I would have hired someone that could create the processes. Barbara: I would echo that myself. I definitely think I should have done that earlier as well. Meryl: And it’s hard when you’re starting out because it feels like you don’t have the budget, but I would have sacrificed marketing spend and my own salary to do that because that would have shaved months and maybe even a year off our growth curve, I would say. And then the third one is not to neglect team culture. I think team culture is much easier to build when you’re in an in person-environment and it can happen by default because you walk out of the office at the same time as someone and you have a chat on the way to the train. Whereas you need to be a lot more intentional about it and clear about what kind of culture you want to create and then put in place strategies like the team calls or the virtual Christmas parties, the one on one calls as well as the technology behind it to enable collaboration with the team and to make everyone feel welcomed and that they’re listened to and part of a team rather than any individual doing some work on their own from home. Barbara: That’s great. Those are three really strong points and I do think actually you’ve picked the best three possible because, as you were speaking, I was thinking I would echo those competing, particularly that project management role. And if I could actually just add there, often we see people coming to us wanting a virtual assistant and then kind of trying to morph that virtual assistant into the project manager role, which is always a disaster, but they’re trying to save on costs there and it’s just being realistic about what a project manager truly is and the value that they actually bring to the team and they can even run the offshore people eventually and delegate tasks, et cetera. So really powerful stuff, guys. Matt: Thank you so much, Meryl, for sharing. Thank you. Barbara: Honestly it’s such gold, great to see the growth of the company. I can’t wait to see where it goes from here. I’m a user of Bean Ninjas. I’m happy to say, so get on board everyone. Meryl: It’s been fun. Thanks for having me. Matt: Fantastic. Thanks, Meryl, and Barb once again, another great show, another great guest. To our listeners, if you’ve got any specific questions that you’d like to reach out, for Meryl or for us, feel free to post them in our Facebook group at the Virtual Success Show Facebook group. And also too, if you’ve got any show ideas, or you’ve just enjoyed the show, we’d love for you to share that or post them online. We’re always looking to ensure that what we’re bringing to the table for this show is relevant and exactly what you’re after. But once again, thanks to Meryl, thanks Barb and we’ll all be in touch soon. Outro: Thank you for listening to the Virtual Success Show. If you found this show helpful, take a moment to share it with a friend so that we can all grow together. The Hosts Matt MaloufMatt Malouf is a passionate business coach, speaker, author, and entrepreneur on a mission to help entrepreneurs around the world break the shackles of mediocrity and reach new levels of personal and business success. Barbara TurleyBarbara Turley is the Founder & CEO of The Virtual Hub, a company that specializes in recruiting, training and managing superstar ‘Virtual Assistants’ in the social media, digital marketing, and systems automation space. The post How Bean Ninjas CEO Meryl Johnston Built A Global Virtual Powerhouse appeared first on The Virtual Hub.
19 minutes | Jun 5, 2019
The Quick and Effective Way To Assess The Success Or Failure Of My Virtual Assistant
The Quick and Effective Way To Assess The Success Or Failure Of My Virtual Assistant Want the transcript? Download it here. In this episode, Matt and Barbara talk about the quickest way to assess your Virtual Assistant whether they’re working out for you or not. Some of the areas covered include: The challenges of assessing an offshore VA, identifying the key areas you need to assess! Reviewing your onboarding procedure to make sure you are setting your VA up for success in their role. Continually reviewing and refining your processes. Let us know what your key takeout has been from this episode and join the continuing conversation over in the Virtual Success Facebook Group. In this episode:1:18 How do you assess your Virtual Assistant?1:52 Biggest Challenges to Assessing Your VA3:10 Identifying your Key Areas6:55 Delivering Feedback in An Effective Way7:42 Identify KPI ‘s8:14 Assess Your Onboarding Procedure10:17 Feedback12:35 The Stop Doing List14:46 Role Expectations and Communication16:04 Monthly Assessments Intro: Do you find yourself running out of time to accomplish your work, are you spending time doing things that you’re not that good at? There are effective ways to outsource these tasks so you can focus on your business. This is the Virtual Success Show, we bring the inside scoop on outsourcing success for entrepreneurs by entrepreneurs. And now here are your hosts Matt Malouf and Barbara Turley. Matt: Hey everyone, and welcome to another show of the Virtual Success Show where I’m joined by my co-host, Barbara Turley. Hey Barb. Barbara: Hey Matt. How are you today? Matt: I’m really well, and yourself? Barbara: Good, thank you. Excited about our topic that we’re going to dissect into today? Matt: I am, I am. As always, meetings before the show are always interesting conversations and topics just pop up. This one, it was funny. We were halfway through a conversation, Barbara and I, and we went, “This is a show, let’s start recording.” So we did. Barbara: So here we are, to dissect what the problem I presented to Matt is… How Do You Assess Your Virtual Assistant? Matt: And it is. I think one of the questions I get asked regularly is how do I assess or measure the success or failure of my virtual assistant? How do I know whether they’re doing well or not doing well? It’s a really interesting topic. I think there’s many many different ways you can do this. But what we wanted to do today was open a discussion between Barbara and I because we were talking about this beforehand, and then we share some insights into this. I think one of the biggest challenges when trying to assess your virtual assistant is making it really complicated and then therefore hard to measure and be transparent. When you try to measure the success or failure of a role, you’ve got to make it really easy and transparent for both you and the persons you’re assessing to understand how they’re doing. There should be no surprises. Biggest Challenges to Assessing Your VA Matt: The way that I’ve done this over the years with the virtual teams and even local people that I’ve had working with me, I create a list of the things that they are responsible for. For instance, they may be responsible for managing my calendar, managing my emails, booking hotels, booking travel. One for Barbara and I is the podcast, so actually taking the recordings and producing the show. You need to create a list of all of the key areas or key responsibilities that your VA has. What you then need to do is you need to get them to score themselves, let’s say it’s a scoring system out of five, and five is that they are completely competent, confident, and do this task exceptionally well, and one is that they’re a novice at it, that they really don’t know what they’re doing and are struggling with it. Identifying your Key Areas Matt: You get them to assess themselves in each of those areas as a score out of five. What you then do separately is you take the same list and you score them on how you believe they’re doing with that responsibility or that task. Then what you can do is you can have a really educated and robust conversation about the gap. For instance, I’ll just use the example of managing my calendar, and let’s say I score my virtual assistant as a three and they score themselves as a four. Then the discussion is why do they give themselves a four and why did I give them a three, and then what are we going to do differently in the next month or quarter depending on what period of time you’re reviewing to get them to a four or a five? That way then you’re understanding from their model of the world how they assess themselves and they understand from your model of the world how you assess them… what are your thoughts around that Barb? Delivering Feedback in An Effective Way Barbara: Yeah, I was just thinking as you’re talking. What I love about that set up is that you get to the heart of things that are difficult to identify. For example, you as the business might say, “Yeah, you do a great job with the calendar management, I understand you’re there every day, you get back to the clients, everything’s always correct,” so I’m just trying think of an example of where you could dig into something that’s frustrating you that you haven’t been able to articulate or even realize before. You might say to the VA, “The only thing is though you’re constantly pinging every 10 minutes in Skype with questions about the calendar,” and that’s where the disconnect is. From their perspective, the calendar looks good, everything’s right, but they’re getting constant clarifications or whatever. There’s something that’s slightly outside of the task that is frustrating you and therefore causing your view of the task’s success in this scenario to be skewed negatively so that neither of you can. That, as you say, that means the VA can see it from your perspective and you can see it from their perspective. As we know, generally we all view things differently. It’s really good to understand each other’s perspective around why something’s going right or why something is going wrong from the other person’s perspective. I think that is a really powerful conversation actually, and it reduces any negativity that people feel around feedback. As we know, we did a series of shows on this before. Delivering feedback in an effective way can be quite awkward for many people, and they feel it’s quite negative. And this is much more collaborative conversation around what’s needed by both sides. Matt: Yes. Also to add to that, one of the earlier shows we did around expectations. What could happen is they could understand the task, but your expectation and their expectation may be misaligned. It’s often through what hasn’t been communicated. Identify KPI ‘s Barbara: Yeah, and you only learn that by working together actually, each other’s style. That can really affect how things … But we were talking about KPIs basically, Matt and I, and while we did identify certain KPIs that you could use that are very metrics driven, of course, that’s the ideal pure way of doing this, but doing it that way can lose some of the stuff we were just talking about here. Matt, I’m just thinking you lose that connectivity of style and perspective and that conversation gets lost… Assess Your Onboarding Procedure Matt: It does, it does. What this also does, as a business owner and an entrepreneur, it enables you to assess your effectiveness of onboarding and training your staff also. I’ve always found in the past where the gap often lies is because I haven’t trained my virtual assistant in the ways that I’m actually expecting them to do something, or I’ve only trained them in certain parts of it and I haven’t actually gone to the next level with the training. But also too, I may have trained them in something, but haven’t spent enough time practicing it with them, or enabling them to ask me questions, or maybe I rushed the training. There’s so many different things, and if we’re going to take responsibility around here, this is not an assessment tool to point the finger. It’s an assessment tool to be able to work together so that you get the best from this role and this person. Barbara: I’m thinking as well, some of you guys listening will be thinking, “Oh my God, that just sounds so tedious, it’s like an HR role, I don’t want to do this.” But most of us, being entrepreneurial quite frankly would rather stick needles in our eyeballs than do this sort of analysis and team management, but sadly when you’re running a business, whether you like it or not, I think this becomes part of your role as a leader, even if you just bring one VA into your business. You can choose to not do it, but I think the power of doing it is that you start to invest in your people. That, I can safely say that’s one of the most powerful things that I have done in my business is to help my people be great regardless of how great they were before. They might have been A players coming in, but I need them to be my A players, and it does really help to get this right. Feedback Matt: Yeah. But also too, what I think you’ve got to remember is everyone needs feedback. If I’m not getting feedback from whether it’s my superior or whoever it might be, I’m going to assume I’m doing a good job because I haven’t heard anything, I’m not being told otherwise, I’m doing the tasks that are asked of me. I’m just going to assume that I’m doing things the way that I should be or the way that are expected of me. Barbara: Or… some people might be thinking, “Well, they haven’t pinged me for it, so nobody’s noticing that I’m not doing a good job.” For those people that know that they’re not really playing at the level, they’re skirting under the wire so to speak, if you have that type of person on your team, they’ll just keep skating along if they feel they can get away with it. Matt: I think consistent and timely feedback, and also to having a… When I conceptualize this with my VA years ago, it was because I wanted to see how they assess themselves as well as I did. I mean I could assess them, but I knew that if we discussed the gap, then at least what I find anyway is that they don’t get defensive, because it’s a constructive conversation. They’ve had the opportunity to give you the score and why they’ve given themselves that score, and you’ve given the opportunity also. What could happen too at times is I’ve had instances where I’ve scored my VA higher then they’ve scored themselves. What it does is it helps build their confidence. It helps reiterate that they’re doing a really good job, and that they are I guess exceeding your expectations. This simple investment of time really does continue to reap and pay you back. The Stop Doing List Barbara: In fact, this is actually such a good strategy, Matt, and I’ve heard you talk about it so many times and I read it obviously in your book, The Stop Doing List. Amazing part of that book. We finally, finally, just at this point, we’ve just built it into some of our big system automations that we have around review time and we have an evaluation that goes to the client, to the team leader, and to the VA themselves, across three people. Then it’s we’re including this part where the employee or the virtual assistant gets to rate themselves so that they feel like they’ve got a seat at the table and they actually have a say. I’m interesting to know actually Matt, have you ever had an incident where you rated somebody, they rated themselves higher than you did, but upon discussion, you realized that maybe their rating actually was right and yours was skewed in the wrong direction for whatever reason? Has that ever happened? Matt: It has, yeah. And often it’s because either the parts that I was saying they weren’t doing had never been communicated with them…trained in those areas, or that responsibility, it may have been that we had three responsibilities in one, so it wasn’t clear that I was responsible for all three things. I thought I only needed to do this part. Barbara: I was just thinking, that’s a great example actually. Now that I’ve asked that question, I’m actually thinking that happens more often than we think. I had a situation a while ago where I probably was consistently rating one of my team lower than this person would rate themselves. And then it became apparent to me when I thought about it, I actually spoke to HR and I had some feedback from other people who interact with this role that that person saw themselves as supporting me as opposed to leading that area, and that was an eye-opener for me. I was like, okay, so that person’s expectation of themselves in that role is different from what my expectation of their role is, or the level of leadership that I was attributing to that role was higher than the level of leadership that they thought I was attributing in that role. Role Expectations and Communication Barbara: Therefore it resulted in a lot of clarifications, still coming to me for guidance, et cetera, thinking that that was the right thing to do, because I was the leader. And I realized that I hadn’t communicated that effectively, so that was an eye-opener for me to have that experience. There’s multiple ways to look at this process, and it’s not just a cut and dry… you rate yourself, I rate you, and then we discuss and I win, like as the leader my rating stands as the right one. Matt: Yeah, 100%. What you’ve got to be mindful of here, they score themselves, you score them, you discuss the gap, you need to have clear next steps, and you also have to have a clear timeframe within which you’re going to check back in. Barbara: Yes. So there’s not left hanging. Monthly Assessments Matt: Correct. If this is say a quarterly assessment, I recommend you should do something like this monthly, but at bare minimum quarterly, you might have a difference in writing, but you may say, “What we’re going to do on this particular area, because it’s of high importance, we’re going to check back in in a month. Let’s book it in the diary now so that we can have a little discussion in one month’s time just in this particular area. We’re not going to go through the whole thing again. We’re just going to talk about this particular one because it’s really really important.” Or what you may do is you go, “Okay, there’s a difference. The strategy used that you and I are going to spend some time training together over the next month, I think we need 30 minutes a week. Let’s book it in the diary now and make sure that it happens.” Barbara: Yeah, and you have to make that commitment. Like I said, as the leader of the business, this is actually a role that you start to take on the minute you start to take people on in your business, and you have to kind of accept that. You can sort of delegate I guess, but until you get really big and you’ve got operations and team leaders and stuff like that, it’s actually hard to delegate this to anyone. You have to suck it up and do it yourself. But you’ll grow your people with it. But for me, it’s great, because this is an area I’ve struggled with myself is to how to progress things. I’ve got all the other strategies down pat as to how to onboard and train and get the most out of VAs, but this is an area now I’m really hitting up against as we’ve had people working with us for years, so we’ve got to do this on behalf of clients as well. We help to mentor the VAs up the ladder too in this way. Really great advice. Matt: Thank you. Last thing I’d say is just keep this simple. Keep it simple. Simple list of responsibilities with a consistent timeframe and give it a go. It will make a huge difference, and it will help you build a deeper connection and get better results from your VAs. Barbara: Yes. So if any of you want to share any stories about that, pop into the Facebook group. We’ve got the virtual success Facebook group. And you can also suggest shows that you’d really like us to do. We’re always open to new ideas. If you love the show, please make sure that you share it and subscribe on iTunes or your favorite podcast listening and give us a rating and a thumbs up review if you can so that we can help get the show out to more people. So Matt, thanks so much for that today. Thanks everyone for listening. Until next time. Matt: Thank you Barb. We’ll see you soon. Barbara: Bye. Outro: Thank you for listening to the Virtual Success Show. If you found this show helpful, take a moment to share it with a friend so that we can all grow together. The Hosts Matt MaloufMatt Malouf is a passionate business coach, speaker, author, and entrepreneur on a mission to help entrepreneurs around the world break the shackles of mediocrity and reach new levels of personal and business success. Barbara TurleyBarbara Turley is the Founder & CEO of The Virtual Hub, a company that specializes in recruiting, training, and managing superstar ‘Virtual Assistants’ in the social media, digital marketing, and systems automation space. The post The Quick and Effective Way To Assess The Success Or Failure Of My Virtual Assistant appeared first on The Virtual Hub.
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