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Jaime Jay: Stop The Bottleneck In Your Business With Virtual Assistants
Our guest is another person who is a business builder. A resource that a lot of solopreneurs and small businesses need. His name is Jaime Jay. At the core, Jaime Jay is a connector of personalities and brands. He constantly challenges himself to be a better human being. He’s also an amateur hockey player and a starter geek who truly enjoys his clients rediscovering themselves, their companies and how to realize their why. He’s worked with clients in Canada, the United States of America, the Philippines, other countries in Asia and Mexico. He’s responsible for growing, leading multiple management sales and operations teams. He co-founded and operated a publishing company.
He’s my competition and I’m going to have him on anyway. He created and published and distributed a regional real estate publication. He’s a recipient of the Army Achievement Medal for Meritorious Service. He also hosts a top 100 business podcast in iTunes and that’s actually how I found him. I was looking for connected people who had a lot of information to share. He is the Founder and Managing Director of Bottleneck Virtual Assistants. Together with an amazing team they offer professional growth opportunities for ambitious leaders by creating an efficient and systematic approach to identify, hire, cultivate team members who focus on specific roles and responsibilities. Welcome.
Thank you so much. It sounds so different when I hear that.
Talk to us a little bit about what you do. You have the logo, the Bottleneck Virtual Assistance. Why is this so important for solopreneurs and small businesses, to know about how they can utilize this?
I love our little tagline. It says, “We help stop the bottleneck in your business.” For a lot of solopreneurs or entrepreneurs not necessarily small business, they’re starting to feel the effects of growth. The E-Myth Revisited comes flashing back into my face. You enjoy baking cupcakes but then all of a sudden you have to start getting vendors, paying invoices and all of this craziness happens. You find yourself creating a job, which is not why we as solopreneurs or entrepreneurs got in the business. We got in the business to have a better quality of life, spend more time with their family and being in control of the decisions that we’re making.
Oftentimes and this is something not a lot of us solopreneurs or entrepreneurs want to believe, understand or say to ourselves but oftentimes we’re the bottleneck. The reason why is because we got into business doing one thing but there’s no way possible, we can be good at every single aspect of the business. How can we be the best marketer in the world, the best salesperson in the world, the best bookkeeper in the world, the best social media in the world, the best CEO in the world, the best COO? They go on and on. Earlier on when you don’t have a lot of work, it’s pretty easy. You have your vision, you’re baking your cupcakes or you’re doing whatever it is, making those widgets and you’re having a lot of fun with it.Do something as if it's the last time you're ever going to do it. Click To Tweet
All the sudden you start getting in more clients and all of a sudden you have to become more organized. All of a sudden you’re starting to drop the ball here, you’re starting to drop the ball there or maybe you forget to call somebody back. You get your first upset customer or your first upset client and then it hits you in the face like, “How am I doing all of this? I’m not able to make it home, eat with the family.” Maybe you had to cancel the trip with wife or your husband or boyfriend or girlfriend or spouse, whatever that may be this weekend because you had to work this weekend in order to make up for everything you missed this week so they could be done on Monday. All this starts bearing down on your shoulders.
It starts crushing you and you fall back into that job. Why did you leave corporate America? Why did you leave the security of that job? It’s because you had this grandiose idea. All of a sudden you feel you’re in the back in the same place. This is one of the reasons why I’m a huge systems and processes person. One of my favorite mantras is, “Do something as if it’s the last time you’re ever going to do it.” Meaning you have to document everything, especially for solopreneurs. When you’re getting started, every single thing that you do that’s a repetitive task in your business, I so encourage you to find what’s best for you either you record, screen capture, you write it down whatever it is.
Write down everything that you do in your business and in the steps you do to complete those tasks. This does two things for you. It builds clarity and direction for you. The second thing is if you ever do want to hire somebody because you’re getting so busy, there’s no way that you can look into Juliet Clark’s brain and know exactly what she’s thinking. That happens all the time, you’re like, “How do you not know this?” “I’m not Julia Clark,” but if you give somebody a written-down workflow, process or system, there is no way someone can look at that and not know what you expect of them. Those are a couple of things that we do at Bottleneck to help encourage people to get their businesses going by systematizing the process.
That is such a great point because I will admit, I want to stay in my zone of genius and I am so impatient when it comes to trading. I might be up there as the monster boss from hell. I’m super impatient when it comes to that. You told us what the big bottleneck that you think is in most businesses. How do you know when you’re ready to hire?
You probably know about this, shared or maybe even told other people to do something like this. The first thing I would do is take a DiSC profile and then possibly even an enneagram or something like that. Figure out your communication style. A lot of understanding who it is that you are, where your strengths and weaknesses lie is very important before you begin to hire anybody. What would you say is your biggest strength?
Getting things done.
What do you like most about your business?
I would take that back. This brings up a good point when I was hiring a coach in 2018. Everybody wanted to take me out of business. There are a lot of things that I like to take out of the business, I would like to get out of, which I have. I love working with my coaching clients and that’s what they were trying to take me out of.
I love that. One of the biggest myths in business is to don’t work in your business, work on your business. I wholeheartedly, 100% disagree with that statement especially in the beginning. Later on you can get to a certain point, where you’re working more on your business, leveraging your time and all that. In the beginning, the solopreneur or entrepreneur, you are the one that has to be responsible for creating the systems and processes in the new business. When it comes time to delegate, when you know you’re ready to hire is when you are missing follow-ups. The reason I say to get a DiSC profile is I found out my weaknesses are lack of follow-up and not attention to detail. Those are two terrible traits to have when you’re building your business. I call it ESS, Entrepreneurial Squirrel Syndrome, “I got to do this, I got to do this.” I love thinking about creating things. It’s so much fun for me. I do not like bookkeeping. I hate numbers. I don’t like writing detailed reports.
I don’t like writing my show notes. I love doing podcasting but I don’t like editing. “Make up your mind Jamie, just come on, and get with it.” What do I do? I understand where my strengths and weaknesses are so that I can hire somebody that thrives in that environment. That was one of the big first wow moments of my life, when I finally understood that I had to give up part of my baby, to have someone else entrust in that person to do that. Here’s the whole key. Because I’m such a big systems and processes person, I document every single step that I do the way I do it. There’s no worry that I’m handing that document off to someone else. They literally say, “Step one, log in. Step two, click here. Step three, click,” and I did images, I did video, I did it all. What I’ve come to find out was they actually ended up improving that system and that process so much more because that’s was their zone of genius. That was their core focus. I was able to go on and do my squirrel stuff a little bit more and grow the business. I’m able to have fun talking to you. This is what I love doing. This is what gives me energy.
I shared with you the thing that I hated was tech. That’s what my virtual assistant does, as my tech. I can log into Infusionsoft but from there there’s nothing. I don’t care to know how to switch it off. One of the things, when you’re growing a company, is you go from being the person, to now your company has to have a culture. It can’t be just you hanging out in your sweat pants with a nice shirt on, doing interviews. I go back to the solopreneur, the way I envisioned them is they quit their day job, they show up for the first day at their new solopreneur desk and they’re dressed to the nines, they’re super excited. They get four months into it. They realize what the tech is all about. They haven’t showered in days. The dog is looking and going, “Do something.” When you get out of that phase and actually take a shower and say, “No more tech,” how do you start building the culture? Where do you go from there? It’s not just I’m hiring someone, but you have to have a company vibe.
I am so infatuated with culture. I cannot wait to learn more about it. I love asking people what they think culture is. I adore it. I think leading with kindness is very powerful. When you go and you get into the business, I don’t care if you’re making widgets or whatever the case it is, you’re in business and it’s something bigger than yourself. I’m big on category design. Defining what a category is and what impact or effect does that have on the community, on the environment, on whatever it is. When I say environment, I’m not talking green. It could be green, no straws, it could be something like that, but what’s bigger than me? One of the most powerful things that happened to me here in Bottleneck is one of our VAs, we call him Magic Mike because he is amazing when it comes to audio editing, he shared with us that for the first time in his life he was able to buy a car.The best way to go about growing your business is to fall in love with it. Click To Tweet
Another VA for the first time in their life they were able to buy a house. It’s things like this. I’ll get naysayers, it’s a global economy because of the internet, the interwebs. You can go and hire from anywhere, there’s contact. I promise you this. That human being that was able to hire a car, they can take around that family of seven. They can drive them around instead of taking public transportation. They’re able to feed their family. He’s talking to other people and helping other people out. They went to a fundraiser and donated money in Bottleneck’s name to help this unbelievable cause. You start seeing this and you start seeing, there’s a bigger impact than just me. We hire virtual assistants. We help companies stop the bottleneck in their business. We help them go from here to here. We help them leverage their time.
We help train them, prepare them, get ready to hire somebody, know when to hire somebody but it’s so much bigger than that and we call it the ripple effect. The ripple effect is what that means and that’s why I encourage people that are thinking about getting into business, what is the bigger impact? What is that category? What effect will you have in the world? If you think about it in terms of that, you don’t come to us to hire virtual assistants. What you come to us for is help improve your quality of life. I don’t believe in a work-life balance. I believe in a life balance because if you’re not happy at work or you’re not happy at home, you’re not going to be happy in the other. What’s the best way to go about growing your business? Fall in love with it. Fall in love with a passion. Fall in love with something that’s bigger than yourself and I promise you your business will thrive.
Isn’t that opposite of how it was years ago? I think social media had an impact on that. When your business is out of alignment with your message, people know it. They didn’t used to know it before, like the company with kindness but with the CEO who threw things at his employees. I actually worked at one of those places where the CFO would just scream at us and in public, he was a nice guy. You can’t get away with that anymore. Your company culture that you declare has to be who you are.
A lot of people that don’t have their systems and processes in mind, know that they should have some vision and a mission. They haven’t taken the time to go through it and look into that world. See what that’s going to be like and dream about it for a while. What is bigger than yourself? If you could do anything, what would it be? One of the biggest things that I think a lot of people overlook is what’s normal or ordinary for you is extraordinary to others. Maya Angelou said it best, “People won’t always remember you for what you say or do but they’ll always remember how you made them feel.” If you don’t align your culture with emotional feelings, there’re two reasons that people buy anything.
One is from emotions and the other is from scarcity. That’s it. Why not leverage yourself on the emotional side of things and building that for you only, that solopreneur? If you have that solid message down, everybody is going to buy into that. They’ll love what you do. They know they’re coming into an environment of love, kindness or whatever it may be. You may not have love and kindness in Wall Street but you have a vibe or the people that are there buy into that vibe, whatever that may be. That’s what culture means to me. It’s all about behavior. It’s all about emotion and you got to be passionate. I’m sorry I get off my soapbox here but I’m super passionate about this.
You shared something with me. Tell us about the attrition rate at your company. You’ve developed this culture and because you have this passion, you have a pretty incredible attrition rate.
Especially in this industry, remote work-based work, we have less than 5% attrition rate. I attribute that to two things. I attributed large and part to culture but also, you have to have a system and process in place in order to set expectations early on. The second you don’t have a system or a process in place, people don’t know what it is expected of them. The number one reason for disagreement is communication. The number one reason in misunderstanding is communication. If you’re not set forth in your culture, in your systems you’re going to be very hard pressed to find a good environment, to be around. If you don’t know something, you tend to lash out. When people yell at each other, it’s because they feel they’re not being heard. They tend to raise their voice to be heard. That doesn’t do anything because all of a sudden it’s creating a rift. Tim Ferriss, he said, “Some of the best decisions ever made came out of uncomfortable conversations.”
If you’re afraid to talk about what’s uncomfortable, if you have an environment or a culture that doesn’t promote speaking up, sharing ideas, concepts, how are you ever going to grow? How are you ever going to bring people into this environment, this life, this family without this honesty and integrity that encapsulates what I believe to be cultured, that behavior? It’s always moving. Once you create a system and a workflow, that’s a living and breathing document. Know what works for you today may not work for you tomorrow. Here’s the other thing, have meetings. When you have meetings, prepare people. Let them know what you’re thinking down the road. Don’t just all of a sudden say, “Guess what, we’re doing this now.” Get buy-in from people have them share what they think of it, challenge you and say some of the things, “That’s a great idea. Let’s do that. Great idea, I don’t think that’s going to work from us right now but I really appreciate that feedback.”
I’m a huge fan of Mike Michalowicz. He was on my podcast and he said something that was ingenious. He’s very jovial. He has a very fun environment. He’s goofy, he walks into his office and nobody in his office goes, “The boss is here.” Everyone’s like, “Mike, what’s happening? Check out this crazy cat video on YouTube.” I think that’s great and I said, “Where do you draw the line?” He goes, ”That’s a great question,” and what he said was you don’t hurt anybody’s feelings but you let them know, “We need to get back to work. This is not where we’re going.” He’ll say, “Let’s take that offline right now and let’s just focus on this.” That’s genius. That’s culture, behavior and expectations. Everybody on his team is amazing. They’re full of life and I think we need that more and more. We need that in this world and it’s not everywhere but the more we can share it and spread the word on that, the better off everybody’s going to be.
Pretty much every solopreneur ends up needing virtual assistance at some point, but it’s a very transient world out there. In my opinion, there’s a pretty low threshold to get in. Tell us a little bit about your people and how you keep because you have such a low attrition rate. Obviously, you have the quality there too. How do you overcome that transient quality?
I would say that this is probably one of the biggest challenges right out of the gate that we have to address early on. The biggest part again is setting expectations. We’ve created what we call as the six-step hiring formula for the client. We take them through six steps. I’ve been doing this since 2006. I’ve learned a lot about the hiring process and what are the challenges, when they hire somebody. This is new territory for a lot of people. Many times people haven’t even heard anybody let alone someone remotely and like, “How do you oversee someone remotely?” We have a six-step hiring process that helps you identify what it is that you like. We call it a delegation roadmap. What we ask you to do is list down every single task that you do in a given day and assign two values to it. Number one, is this something you must do or can you delegate this to somebody else who can do it 80% as good as you or better.
Number two is, is this something that gives you energy or does it drain the living daylights out of you? For me that would be editing, I can’t stand it. Can I delegate it to someone that can do it 80% or better than me? Yes, they can do it way better than me that would be something. You get this list of all the things that you can delegate and that don’t bring you energy. All of a sudden step two is creating a job role. A lot of people don’t create job roles and responsibilities. They call it a job description but it’s a job role and it’s the responsibilities. You’re sending that as expectations. You take all of the things that drain you of energy, you can delegate and you have all of the things listed out in that job roles and responsibility, so that when you go to step three, we show you about managing meetings. We give you on-the-job roles and responsibilities. We give you a template. We give you a video to show you exactly how to fill it out and then meetings, how to have a good meeting, how to have a very productive and efficient meeting. We give you action items and templates for each of those.What works for you today may not work for you tomorrow. Click To Tweet
Now that you have your job role, ready to go and your meeting agenda all lined up, you’re prepared to do the interview. You can confidently share what it is that you expect, whether or not the people that you’re talking to or interviewing are qualified for those positions. We go into the details of how to interview somebody especially somebody remote. The fifth step is from the agreement, we show you a glorified list of expectations. The sixth step is, “It’s your first day. Now what?” We don’t just leave you hanging and this is the major problem when you’re hiring VAs. You fend for yourself. This is on the client side. On the VA side, the virtual assistant side, we have a four-step hiring process. Only about 20% of the candidates complete the application process because we happen to do a lot of work. There’s some problem-solving. There’re things that need to be done and then we do a three-tiered vetting system.
Number one, they’re all from the Philippines. They speak English. Do they write? Do they have an accent? We vet them for that and the reason why we have only college graduates or the equivalent from the Philippines is that 100% of the universities are taught in English over there. The second thing is we do with tech check. We want to make sure that they’re hardwired and not Wi-Fi so that you’re protected security-wise. Do they have a backup? What happens if the power goes down? What if they drop their laptop? Where do they go? We have them write out a two-step backup phase on how they’re going to reach out to you should their computer break or should the power go out and all of that stuff. The third step is soft skills. This is what everybody misses. Every one of our virtual assistants or candidates that we interview takes a DiSC profile.
I’m not talking about a free DiSC profile. I’m talking about a heavy duty DiSC profile and why do I have them do that? It’s because we share the resume with our clients before they’re interviewed. We share a video resume so they can listen to them, see them talk and conversing. We share the results in the DiSC profile. Why? To know how best to communicate with them. We do a three-candidate interview that’s moderated by an onboarding specialist. She’s there to make sure that our client is there as well as the candidates, so that they can go through and moderate. Makes sure they’re there for only about ten minutes each one. Once that’s done we do a confirmation interview. Our client would say I really liked Sally, Johnny, Sue or whomever it was.
Then they go on to a confirmation interview and this is not moderated. This is only the client and the VA. This is an opportunity for them to go into a little bit deeper of what they are expecting. We also encourage them to do a task, assign them a task nothing more than twenty or 30 minutes but then you get an idea of how they work, whether or not they do a good job. When they’re done they say, “Yes, I want to hire them.” What we found is because we spend so much time upfront in this process, it affected our attrition rate in a very positive way. It’s because we spend so much time up front, help prepare the client and the Vas. We’re always improving this process. Because we spend that time, I think that has a big contributing factor.
For all of you out there who are complaining all the time about, “I paid my VA and they disappeared.” You guys actually do contracts with deliverables. These are the tangible things we’re going to do. I would encourage all of you to work with VAs who do this because you don’t always get what you’re looking for, the task-wise and the job completion. This isn’t a Fiverr. This is a premium service he’s talking about and you can hear why it’s a premium service. You’re getting things done and getting things done efficiently. Who do you look up to and why?
I look up to Christopher Lochhead. He’s amazing man because he’s the one that taught me about the importance of category design. The importance of designing my own space in this industry. He’s an amazing talented three-time CEO and co-authored the books Play Bigger and Niche Down. He has been a huge inspiration and a terrific friend to me. I look up to my awesome girlfriend Sarah who keeps me on track and going in the right direction.
Where can we find you?
Bottleneck.Online, the other thing that I encourage you to do is to Google virtual assistant companies if you’re interested in looking at them. Look at the different companies that are out there. There’s a ton of them out there. We’ve been ranked by Blogger Local as the number one virtual assistant company. We got the top editor’s choice there and we’ve also been ranked by Reach. I think we’re tenth in the world there but what I wholly recommend people do is go and talk to a couple of these different companies. Get a feeling for where they are because they all offer different things. We don’t do project-based work. We’re looking at building a long-term relationship, some companies do project-based work.
Some companies just need a job done. There’s just so many different opportunities out there. I cannot recommend doing research. I love to talk with somebody and answer their questions, but I want them to have a good understanding of what the industry is like. We may not be the best fit for you. Find something that’s good, works with you and your business model because you are you. Your business is going to be different. Juliet, I’m sure your consulting practice is different than other consulting practices in the industry and why is that? Because certain things are done differently, it’s you. You have to pay attention to what works for you best that’s my best advice for anybody out there.
Thank you so much for being on. I hope this was really helpful for all of you guys because I know so many people are out there looking and I hear it all the time, “There isn’t success because we don’t truly know how to get this done.”
Thank you for having me on. I hope I did okay. I enjoy it. Thank you.
- Jaime Jay
- Bottleneck Virtual Assistants
- The E-Myth Revisited
- Tim Ferriss
- Mike Michalowicz
- Play Bigger
- Niche Down
- Blogger Local
About Jaime Jay
At the core, Jaime Jay is a connector of personalities and brands. He constantly challenges himself to be a better human being. He is also an amateur hockey player and starter geek who enjoys helping his clients rediscover themselves, their companies and how to realize their “WHY”.
He has worked with clients in Canada, the UK, America, the Philippines, and other countries in Asia and Mexico. He is responsible for growing and leading multiple management, sales, and operations teams. Jaime has also co-founded and operated a publishing company where he helped create, publish, and distribute a regional real estate publication.
Jaime is also the recipient of the Army Achievement Medal for Meritorious Service. He also hosts a Top 100 Business Podcast in Itunes.
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