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Using Virtual Assistants and Processes To Optimize Your People Strategy and Scale Your Business
Barbara Turley is the Founder and CEO of The Virtual Hub, a firm providing fully managed, trained, and dedicated virtual assistants to business owners and operators to help them scale. Before becoming an entrepreneur, she spent 15 years in the corporate world as an account manager and an equity trader for various brands. Additionally, Barbara is a speaker, podcast host, and operational efficiency enthusiast who passionately helps businesses remove bottlenecks and scale.
Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:
- [02:48] Barbara Turley talks about her professional background and transitioning to entrepreneurship
- [06:33] The genesis of The Virtual Hub and what it offers
- [11:17] The virtual assistant culture-building and onboarding process
- [18:44] Barbara explains how they help entrepreneurs come up with operational frameworks, systems, and processes
- [23:45] Why business leaders struggle with delegating tasks
- [28:38] What’s The Virtual Hub’s pricing model?
- [33:03] The three-step operational efficiency blueprint for a scalable business
- [36:20] Barbara discusses how having systems, processes, and VAs in place impact selling a business
- [41:52] The Virtual Hub’s customer success stories
In this episode…
As a business grows, the workload increases — and managing it alone can be overwhelming. Where can you get the much-needed support you want to help you keep up with the demands of running your business, avoid burnout, and ensure that your business continues to thrive?
Barbara Turley believes VAs are an essential resource for business owners looking to scale. They help manage your workload and free up your time so you can focus on growing your brand. However, not all VAs are created equally. Hiring an expert VA who specializes in providing valuable insights and suggestions for improving your systems and processes is crucial to help you streamline your workflow and increase efficiency. So why wait? Start exploring the benefits of working with a VA today!
In this episode of the Quiet Light Podcast, Pat Yates sits down with Barbara Turley, Founder and CEO of The Virtual Hub, to discuss her journey running a VA company. Barbara talks about the genesis of The Virtual Hub and what it does, its virtual assistant culture-building and onboarding strategy, and the three-step operational efficiency blueprint for a scalable business. She also explains how she helps entrepreneurs with operational frameworks, systems, and processes.
Resources mentioned in this episode:
- Barbara Turley on LinkedIn
- The Virtual Hub
- Quiet Light
- Quiet Light on YouTube
- Joe Valley on LinkedIn
- Pat Yates on LinkedIn
- Mark Daoust on LinkedIn
- Quiet Light Podcast email: [email protected]
- The EXITpreneur’s Playbook: How to Sell Your Online Business for Top Dollar by Reverse Engineering Your Pathway to Success by Joe Valley
- The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Tim Ferriss
- Scaling Up: How a Few Companies Make It…and Why the Rest Don’t by Verne Harnish
Sponsor for this episode
This episode is brought to you by Quiet Light, a brokerage firm that wants to help you successfully sell your online business.
There is no wrong reason for selling your business. However, there is a right time and a right way. The team of leading entrepreneurs at Quiet Light wants to help you discover the right time and strategy for selling your business. They provide trustworthy advice, effective strategies, and honest valuations. So, your Quiet Light advisors aren’t your everyday brokers — they’re your partner and friend through every phase of the exit planning process.
If you’re new to the prospect of buying and selling, Quiet Light is here to support you. Their plethora of top-notch resources will provide everything you need to know about when and how to buy or sell an online business. Quiet Light offers high-quality videos, articles, podcasts, and guides to help you make the best decision for your online business.
Not sure what your business is really worth? No worries. Quiet Light offers a free valuation and marketplace-ready assessment on its website. That’s right—this quick, easy, and free valuation has no strings attached. Knowing the true value of your business has never been easier!
What are you waiting for? Quiet Light offers the best experience, strategies, and advice to make your exit successful. To learn more, go to quietlight.com, email [email protected], or call 800.746.5034 today.
Hey folks, it’s the Quiet Light Podcast where we share relentlessly honest insights, actionable tips, and entrepreneurial stories that will help founders identify and reach their goals.
Pat Yates 0:32
Hello, again, and welcome to the Quiet Light Podcast. I’m Pat Yates sitting in for Joe Valley, we have a great conversation today, man, I, one of the things that I hear a lot of sellers struggling with at times is how they structure their business find enough time to be able to do the things they want to do. So virtual assistants are becoming really, really big in every industry. And actually people that are either overseas or not necessarily your office, really exciting situation. But sometimes I think there are barriers that have to be broken down on who you get, how you vet them, how you keep them focused, and how your systems are safe, or whatever. Well, we’re going to talk today with Barbara Turley with The Virtual Hub who really has a great way of doing this, they bring in their own VAs, they train them in-house, and they actually are employees of that company. And they employ you via that company. So they’re vetting them, they’re working on the things that you need to understand from systems and processes as well as culture. It’s really incredible. So Barbara is an investor and entrepreneur and founder and CEO of The Virtual Hub, a business she started by accident that scale quickly to become one of the leading company that integrates in-house trained virtual assistants, into clients businesses, this strategy frees up time and energy, so the business can focus on optimizing their operations further to achieve their business growth goals. It’s something that I think every person is starting to really understand is an opportunity for you not only from a saving standpoint, but from a consistency and system standpoint. She also had some amazing points about systems that they can set up that will keep you leaner, not even having to live, to be able to lean on a VA, I’m really excited about this. And I think everyone’s really going to enjoy the conversation. Again, if you need to get in touch with me about your business or you want to buy a business or list one, you can always reach out to me at [email protected] or go to quietlight.com really hyped about this conversation with Barbara today. So let’s get right to it. Barbara, welcome to the Quiet Light Podcast. It’s great to have you here today.
Barbara Turley 2:26
Thanks so much for having me. I’m very excited to be here.
Pat Yates 2:30
I am too. I’m so excited for this conversation. I think that you have so many strengths in your business that I’m weak at. So I’m anxious to really dive into this and see what people can learn about processes VA’s, things like that. But why don’t you tell the audience a little bit about yourself your background where you’re from the book on Barbara, what would that be?
Barbara Turley 2:49
Sure well, in case anyone hasn’t picked it up. Yes, my accent is Irish. So I was born and bred Irish purebred Irish, nothing else in my DNA really. And obviously I grew up there, I had a what I would describe as a blessed childhood, I lived in the country, and all the beautiful things that we reminisce about in our own childhoods, being brought up and running around forests and playing games in the country. But as I progress through school, I originally wanted to be an ER doctor, I wanted to work in the emergency rooms. And weirdly, I didn’t end up taking that path, right? I didn’t end up taking that path. Because quite frankly, I didn’t get the points to actually get into that course at university. And I decided to take an economics degree. And that led me down such an interesting path. I just absolutely loved it. And to cut a long story short, I ended up working in a trading floor as an equity trader. Now, if you think about this for a second, it’s not exactly life and death. But it’s quite fast and dynamic, life the way and ER might be right. So I liked the kind of environment that it was. And I became an equity trader for like 10 years. I did that for 10 years. So there was no real entrepreneurial background there. Or people always asked me did I have the lemonade stand? I did not. I always wanted to work in big corporates. And I wanted to work in the city and the big offices, and I was really attracted to that for a very long time. And after my trading days, I started at the end of that period to get a sense of wanting to maybe do something different. But I didn’t know what different was at the time. It’s those beginnings of kind of wanting to do something new. So I did change tack I ended up in a sales role. So I spent five years in asset management sales. And I got an opportunity to invest in a company at that time that I worked in as well. And it sort of took me on a journey of learning how great companies get built. And that was where my appetite got sort of whetted for the entrepreneurial journey, I guess and it took me a long time to kind of make a jump and think about what I wanted to do. But I really wanted to kind of build I wanted to have the impact or create something, and that was really the essence of where that all started and rolling forward today. I mean, I run a 350-employee, fully remote company, I get to live on two different continents, I spent 20 years living in Australia, I forgot that bit. I went to Australia for 20 years. And these days, I live between Australia and Europe, and thoroughly enjoy that. And I run the business completely remotely, our team are all remote as well. So I’ve a lot of experience a lot of war wounds in trying to do remote, but I think I’ve been doing it very well for a very long time. And long before the remote work debates that’s raging today sort of came along, so I have a lot to share on that topic too.
Pat Yates 5:42
That’s really amazing. You were sort of there before it was there. Like when people pivoted, they were moving right into your market. That’s really amazing. And we actually have something in common that I didn’t realize, and we talked before that. I’m very deep Irish as well. So I still have family actually in Sligo, Ireland I just found out about three months ago because the Irish side of my family was Patrick Francis Murphy, who was my grandfather, who died in World War Two. So we never really knew that side of our family, we just recently reconnected. Found out there’s a lot of people still in Sligo, Ireland. So I’m excited to get to Sligo, Ireland at some time soon and meet some of my family as well. So that’s amazing. So let’s jump into your business. I think I’m really fascinated by this, because I told you, you do everything that I really stink at, which is to be able to find someone that’s a VA to help me, solopreneurs sometimes are very protected, maybe give an overview of The Virtual Hub and tell us exactly what this is all about and what you try to achieve with your clients.
Barbara Turley 6:33
Sure. So just starting with today, The Virtual Hub, we are a virtual assistant company in the Philippines at our core right now, as I say at our core, because we do a lot more today than just that. But at our core, we run virtual assistants in the Philippines, we have clients in the US, Australia, Canada, UK, all over the world. So we cut across all time zones. But what I learned very early on, when I first left corporate, I became a business coach, as many corporate people do, they start doing consulting, when you first leave corporate, that’s the kind of natural fit for you. And I noticed that all of the businesses that I was working with at the time, they all thought they had different problems. But the real root problem that they all had was that they were doing everything themselves. They were the classic solopreneur. And even some of them had team members, but they weren’t delegating effectively enough. They were still, I guess, trying to hold on to a lot of things. And the first things I started working with them on was trying to help them to systemize get some processes moving. And also, I had read Tim Ferriss 4-Hour Workweek like everybody else at the time, 15 years ago, and I had gotten myself a VA in the Philippines to help me in my business, which was coaching at the time. So I started recruiting purely friends of my VA, honestly, it was not a business. Because I knew that if these businesses I was working with if they didn’t start to delegate more effectively. And if they didn’t start to bring in systems and some form of platforms and processes and automation, they were never really going to get out of the plateau, they had already plateaued really badly. And if they didn’t get out of the plateau, there was nothing really I could work with them on to get them out of the weeds because their time was so crunched. So step one was to free up their time, so that then I could move on and work on strategy with them. Now that worked so well, for a lot of the clients I was working with that I started getting phone calls from friends of theirs looking for, can you get me one of those VAs? And can you give me some of these systems. So I literally found myself in a VA business before I knew it. I was running kind of 10 VAs going this is weird. I’m kind of enjoying this. But I saw a lot of problems. So the first iteration of the business was very shaky. I had these VAs working for clients and what transpired was, I realized one of the big fundamental problems is people don’t know how to delegate, which is what you just said like the things you suck at were things I found myself being naturally good at. So I’m very good at operations. I’m very good at systems processes and delegation to people be there VAs or whoever. And the other fundamental problem was that a lot of VAs, particularly in the Philippines, now this is rolling back 10 years ago, a lot of them had kind of picked up their experience from working with clients online bits and pieces here and there a couple of YouTube videos, they weren’t really trained in a way that was going to make them super successful. Even in the soft skills, they didn’t understand what we need, what do we need as entrepreneurs in order to be supported by a VA they didn’t know how to communicate effectively, and all of these problems or report back on results or even focus on results. So I took those two problems. And stage two of the business turned us from recruiting VAs into actually manufacturing our own VAs and really placing ourselves into the middle of the relations to ship. So today, we actually hire, we don’t recruit for clients at all, we actually hire for ourselves, which makes us very different from other companies. Every month, we are hiring from all walks of life, we know what we’re looking for. And we’re hiring them to come and work for The Virtual Hub. And in the first month or two, they’re actually in our training programs on full salaries, full benefits, and we putting them through our training programs, and training them in our way that we know our clients need. And only after that time, are we starting to say we think these two may be a fit on this account. And like our hit rate is very high. So very rarely do we have clients say, I’d like to see two more people or three more people. Usually, it’s oh, I don’t know who to pick. And that’s because we fundamentally understand what the client wants and needs. And then we manufacture that in a VA that we then place into that account.
Pat Yates 6:34
It’s really incredible, because I guess I didn’t envision that part. So let’s back up a step. So you go through and you’re adding people every month, let’s say this month, you’re adding another person this week, you onboard that person, they train in your company, when the client actually on board, let’s say that you bring someone in a month later, they go to a client, are they still working for The Virtual Hub? Are they working directly to the client? How does this get billed? So is it through the actual VA or through you?
Barbara Turley 11:17
No, it’s through us. So the engagement is ongoing thereafter. So we manage culture, we were talking off air about culture, culture is really, really important. So we have built a massive culture in the Philippines, we have, obviously a Philippine company, where everyone is an employee of our local entity, they have all the benefits and all of the needs, we sort of cover all of the needs that they would have in the Philippines, we also run ongoing training programs. So once we get a VA into a client account, we have a personalized training roadmap for that VA based on that client count needs. Because you can’t train every VA on everything, there’s no point you’ve got to train on certain tools, certain things that they’re doing. And then we also train clients. So some of our clients today don’t need much training, but others do. Like we have process map libraries they can use. We help them to get better with delegation and the operational frameworks that are required to make that really successful. And then everyone, we stay in the middle of the relationship and partner with that client. We’re like a bolt-on solution. For support.
Pat Yates 12:22
It’s actually really amazing. Because let’s do this, let me ask you, because the first thing that jumps to my mind is, when I’m thinking about hiring a VA, let’s say that I don’t know Virtual Hub, I don’t know you and I’m just going out and I’m going on Fiverr or something, I’m emailing people, there’s a lot of nervousness to that, because some of these e-comm entrepreneurs, and I’m going only from e-comm. And I know that you could do different things. The systems are so important. There’s so much sensitive information that when you allow someone to come in there, I think that to me, is the biggest thing that I worry about, who am I turning this information over to? Do I really know them? And how do I know that they’re not going to copy everything I have, and then be a ghost? I think that some people probably have that barrier. But you obviously get them past that very quickly by being the company that’s responsible for this not only training, but managing and manage that culture. Is that the biggest thing that people worry about when they come in working with you? Or what is it?
Barbara Turley 13:14
A few years ago, that’s an interesting one. Several years ago, I think trust was something that came up a lot. But I think the pandemic era almost blew that out of the water because everybody went remote and kind of everyone got over it. Everyone just kind of got over it. So it’s not that you shouldn’t trust, so on the trust thing, it doesn’t come up as an issue so much anymore. But I think that’s because we’ve built a sort of a platform that is it slightly trust less. Now, that doesn’t mean that we don’t trust people, it means that we’ve built an operational framework in our business at The Virtual Hub, where it’s sort of irrelevant, because we’ve built all the systems to make sure that we can hire the right people, but it’s still people, though, you could still get that wrong. Like you could think that you hired the right person. And then it could all go wrong. Because it’s people it’s not a widget, right? But after that it’s kind of the framework that you put someone into in order to work successfully. And then tracking and monitoring and performance management, staying close to the client and hearing feedback and then working we’ve got a lot of coaching programs that go on and culture. I think the central point there is really culture. You want to hire people who burningly want to be part of your culture, and then they actually protect your culture. If that makes sense. You want to have people who come in, and what we do for the smaller clients in particular is we have that cultural strength. We do team buildings, we run dinners, we have events, fun nights out all that kind of thing we’re doing and I feel like that bridges a lot of those gaps that maybe that however, the one thing I think people asked today more than trust. I think If people are worried about the time to onboard, so, I’m not going to spend four months training this person and bringing them in and trying to integrate them into my business, and how do I do all of that, that was a problem I saw early on, and we’ve built like, we will get somebody literally 75% of the way there before they start on the client account. And that’s really valuable. Between training, we do all of that outside the client’s time, we do it on our time. And the clients find that really valuable. Or if they’re having a problem and something’s not working, all they have to do is send the results coach and email, like, they just email us and say, they can give us feedback. They don’t even have to say if they can just give a rating. And we will deal with it. And we will performance manage that situation for them.
Pat Yates 15:46
Let me ask this. So you deal pretty much in one kind of culture? Are there things that you can tell people like I’m curious what the culture differences might be? Maybe they’re more thankful to have work in a certain industry where maybe the United States they don’t care as much about the industry? What are the things that people need to be conscious of, let’s say, for instance, that they aren’t working with The Virtual Hub, they just want understand the type of culture there is to work with Filipino VAs, what would those top things be the United States people may need to understand?
Barbara Turley 16:14
That’s a great question. There are a few things and it’s changing rapidly. Because the Philippine culture has been working with international clients for a long, like well over a decade or two now. So the culture is expanding into this. But I think a few of the things, there is still a yes, culture in the Philippines. Now, what I mean about that is, and it is culturally ingrained, that they have a fear of saying, I don’t quite understand what you mean. Or they might say yes to something, and then scramble around trying to figure out how to do it so that they want to save face. Now, we have to hire people who are not afraid to use their voice, right. So we have built this into our recruiting system. And we train as well on how to do this. And that’s one of the hardest culture blocks to get over. People who cannot seem to be open and transparent. And transparency breeds trust, right. So lack of transparency, breeds lack of trust. So you need to kind of hire for it. But understanding also that in the Philippines, there is this cultural barrier helps you as the entrepreneur to go, well, what kinds of questions could I ask my VA, to help them to open up more? Or how could I use my communication style to help them to open up more, and not everyone can do that. It can be tiring.
Pat Yates 17:44
You know what, we get a lot of clients that come into Quiet Light, and I want to kind of pivot a little bit. And whenever we see someone coming in to sell their company, it’s interesting to see how it’s run, whether they’re a solopreneur, where they have three or four employees in a warehouse, where they have five virtual assistants, are they a mixture of those things, when I was looking at your information or website, what you do, it’s really amazing because like, I’m one of those guys that walk around says if I can just create myself for another hour, that’s really kind of your specialty, right? I mean, I don’t have to recreate myself, if I can delegate better, which is really a weakness of me, I’m gonna be honest, because I wish that I had more ability to trust some of those things. But you also talk about processes you do. So not only do you have assistants, that you feel that can really help you, you’re also putting processes in place that you might not need them even as much at the time that you bring in the assistants, I would assume. So tell us a little bit about how you analyze processes, maybe from an e-comm standpoint, that’s most of our listeners are or content or SaaS businesses. Maybe give us an example of that how you can make them leaner pre-assistant.
Barbara Turley 18:44
Yes, so it is important to have the right, I call it operational framework in place. And of course, in an ideal world, you would like to have all of that in place before you bring on a VA so that they can hit the ground running. Usually, that’s not what happens. Usually people sort of stumble around trying to get a VA and then a VA can actually help you with a lot of that to a lot of building of that sort of stuff. So initially, I think the mistakes I guess people make are first verbalizing what they want done. Right. And that’s okay. But I think the way I always tried to simplify things with operations, right, and delegation, is saying that in every business, there are departments, it doesn’t matter if you’re a solopreneur, or you’re 100 person company, there are departments, there’s marketing and sales, and then there’s legal and product development and customer success and all these things. And within each department, if you break down each department into what are the recurring tasks, and what are the project tasks within these departments, recurring ones, tend to keep the engine of the business running day to day, week to week, month to month. They’re usually quite process-driven. They’re usually trainable to be honest when something can be processed though you can train it, you can develop it and you can delegate. Not always 100% of it. But this is where people get caught as well. If you can’t delegate 100% of it 80, or 90% is pretty good too, maybe you still only have to do the 10%. So you don’t have to think in absolutes. And then the other bucket of tasks within every department are projects that will drive the business forward. So they’re usually things like, oh, we want to, it could be bringing on a new product, it could be a new tech tool build, it could be an outreach program, or whatever. But within those projects, there are multiple tasks that need to be done to drive that forward. And you’ve got to figure out, what are the ones a VA can do? And what are the ones that somebody else needs to do. And when you break any business down in that simplicity, it’s actually quite easy to go, okay, now, what are the things that we can now delegate, and anything that can be processed up is the first thing that you should delegate, process and train, process mapping. So that’s the next layer down. Within the recurring tasks, you do need process maps, and you need processes for each thing. Now, in the days before AI came along, nobody was interested in process mapping, they’re all like, oh, I just want to have A players that know what to do. But the reality is, if you want to build a scalable business, that is, the asset value of it is high, you want to have a machine, and part of a machine is having the right platform architecture, the right process, systems and processes there. And then being able to delegate to the most cost-effective people that you can possibly get, right, it doesn’t have to always be high-paid A players, you can have some of those, and then some of the offshore team strategy. So with process mapping, the deeper the process, the better. Because what we find when we do a process is that often we’re doing it from our own heads. So the solopreneurs are doing things by rote because you know how to do it. And then you write a five-step process, and that’s okay. And then you delegate that to a VA, and it goes wrong. And usually people blame the VA or blame their lack of delegation ability and run a mile and go back to doing it themselves. Really, what you want to see there is where did the mistakes occur. And the mistakes are like gifts, because they’re going to show you where there are holes in your process. Because sometimes a step is easy for you to do. But there’s thinking that happens in your head, while you’re doing that step that you need to know teach somebody else, or you need to add a step that breaks that out. So you got to iterate the process, and you got to go deeper with processes, and be as descriptive as possible. It is painful, but when you do it once the dividends it pays later go on and on into perpetuity right once you can delegate that. And I’m living proof of this. Because I mean, I only have I mean, we’ve only got about three people who are not Filipino. I’ve grown an enormous company and part of it is internal team. So, I do look, my own talk,
Pat Yates 23:06
I find it quite incredible. Because like, do you think that like I think, talking to a lot of entrepreneurs, I get to do that a whole lot. A lot of them sort of have predetermined ideas of what they should be doing or what businesses like or how to run it. And they are very rigid in their beliefs. Do you find that that that’s one of the biggest problems to break down is that they find a virtual assistant and maybe don’t give them things as quickly? How do entrepreneurs break down their predetermined ideas of them being able to be the main thing in their business and still give it give this VA their do is that a struggle? Do you find that once they own board, it’s harder to give away things? And you have to sort of force that or is it fairly easy you think?
Barbara Turley 23:45
Okay, there’s two parts to that question. The first part is about control. Everybody always says to me, oh, well, it’s the people who are able to give up control and aren’t control freaks. I go completely against that and go all entrepreneurs are control freaks. That’s why we’re really good at what it is that we do, right? Because we want to control the outcomes. We’re very good at this kind of thing. So I have a philosophy that the deeper your processes are, and the better your systems are, and the better that you do your operational frameworks and reporting lines and all that sort of thing that I’m talking about, the easier it is for you to delegate to somebody else without losing any control. So I don’t actually do any processes in my business. But yet I have my finger on the pulse of everything I can’t. And people will say to me, how do you know everything, you know everything that’s going on? It’s because I’ve actually built it that way. And I know when a process is not working or when something’s not working, I can tell immediately. So I don’t really give up control but control doesn’t mean you have to be the person doing the task or doing the process. Control means that you need to delegate that process and have full oversight and an ability to get reporting back on results to know what’s happening. So for example, I’m a big fan of Asana as a platform. I treat Asana like a central, it’s almost like what the office is in the physical world. For me in the virtual world. A place like Asana is where everyone shows up to work, shows up to do work, collaborates on work and reports on work. That’s how we operated. And that maintains your control. Now, the second part of the question is, how do you decide every day what to give? One of the biggest problems I see is people getting a VA and then waking up with the anxiety every morning of going now, anyone listening is going to recognize this, you wake up every morning and you think, what am I going to go to VA? What am I going to give the VA to do today? And then you panic, and you’re like, I don’t have time to do this. So the problem there is that you have not done the step I just spoke about previously, which is breaking down the company into departments into recurring tasks into processes and then delegating, which processes daily, weekly, monthly, is this VA going to be doing so that you don’t have to wake up every morning and be like, what am I going to give them to do today? So that’s key, and then using a tool like Asana to map that out, and make sure that you know what this VA is doing every day, without having to look at it every day.
Pat Yates 26:13
Again, folks, we’re talking with Barbara Turley with Virtual Hub, this is really kind of an amazing conversation, not only am I getting a lot of information out, it’s making me feel really dumb. Like, I’ve realized that I even need this like, I am so unprepared as far as processes. So let me ask this question about processes, because so when you find let’s say, you use me as an example, and I have an e-comm business, I’m obviously an advisor, Quite Light, I carry a couple of hats really, really busy. Lot of zoom meetings, a lot of stuff online, would you rather come in and say, Pat, let me look at your business from the 30,000-foot view and tell you what you need versus you telling me, how do you go about the process of figuring out how you help someone? Because I’ll be honest, I don’t know what I don’t know. So that means that even telling you what processes I might need may not be right. So how do you get to the bottom of what the client really needs?
Barbara Turley 27:04
Yeah, well, I mean, when you’re looking at, usually clients come to us looking for a VA, but that’s kind of the doorway into us is client comes looking for a VA, they may have heard this podcast or whatever. And that’s great. And usually at the point, they arrive on our doorstep, they’re already they usually kind of need a VA yesterday, that’s a problem. But that’s okay. And they need help. So they’re now overloaded. And usually, the quickest thing that we can do for that business, or that business owner, is to say, let’s get rid of the low-hanging fruit we run and on the discovery calls, the team are great, they’re running through, like, tell me about this, tell me about this, tell me about this. And we’re actually isolating, we already know the tasks, we can take off your list. And we can create a sort of a base task list to get started with. Now once a client comes into us, this is the current way we operate. Usually they come in, they get a VA, we get the VA up and running, get their time freed up of it. And then we offer them an operational efficiency call, which is free. And it is literally like a 90-minute session with our operational efficiency consultant, who’s in Australia, actually. And he’s amazing. He’s an X e-commerce guy. Interestingly, he ran a big e-commerce business for a long time. And he’s really good at this. He had VAs with us. And then he came and joined our team. And essentially, then what we’re trying to do is go okay, now that you’ve freed up some time, now let’s look at your platforms, your processes, let’s talk about where the weeds are. And then we can create a sort of roadmap of what we think we can rip out for you. And you can either go and implement that yourself, you can use us to implement it. And invariably, we will find more places to put VAs more places to free up time. But that engagement requires consulting, to be honest, that needs us to go in. And that’s stage two. So we do offer that for all of our clients. We only offer that for clients right now.
Pat Yates 27:31
So that’s really amazing. So to understand, if I come in and I’m looking for a VA, and we talk about the processes I need, you may be able to scratch off four or five of them prior to getting a VA just by the right operational practices, you’re saying correct, yes. And it might be that the VA enhances that going forward, which is really incredible. Because I think when people are, like, I think the people, especially solopreneurs running their business are always very reluctant to turn over the keys, whether it’s just creatively or in any way in any processes. I think that’s a great way to go about it. So let me ask this when you’re working with The Virtual Hub, obviously, some people think well, is it gonna cost me a lot? How do you do your fees? How do you work with clients and how is all that structured?
Barbara Turley 29:38
Yep. So obviously there’s a range of pricing in the market. The cheapest way to get a VA is to jump on Upwork and hire one right obviously that is the cheapest way to do it. Then they go the whole way up the chain, our pricing is somewhere in the middle where sort of middle of the pack maybe a little bit more and but we have a more what I would call a more premium model. So for example, like I said, we already hire people, we take a lot of risk upfront. So often we’re carrying 20 30 40 VAs on the bench at any one time between the training, so that’s a lot a huge financial outlay for us. But I mean, that’s the risk that we take on. So our pricing ranges US dollars, we start at 750 US dollars per month for a part-time admin VA. Now that’s a, I wouldn’t say a lower level VA depends what you need done. But we run anywhere from 750 a month up to 2200 US a month for a full-time, more systems, like someone who can do some Zapier integrations, maybe run your CRM, build some automations in there, type VA right, so social media falls in the middle, put it that way. So from 750, for part-time, right up to 2200 for a full-time, VA. So that’s our pricing per month, we do charge, it’s like look, you’ve got some SaaS listeners here, I’m a big fan of the SaaS model. And we do run it like that. It’s like a subscription model where it’s one fee per month. But you can scale up and scale us down, same sort of thing. 30 days’ notice we have no lock-in contracts. And the reason we do that is because we want people to stay because they’re getting success with us. And not because they’re tied into some big annual contract or, I don’t like those big models that do that. So we like to back ourselves. And some businesses might cancel, because it’s nothing to do with us. So they just need to have that ability to be nimble, you can’t do that if you hire someone directly, it’s very difficult to do that, that person. The other thing is that person, clients love this bit. If you cancel on us, that person does not lose their job, because their employment is not linked to the client account, the client accounts ebb and flow. When we employ them. It’s up to us, again, we take risk on, I’m an ex-trader, so I’m used to taking risk on it’s our job to try to bring in client flow to push that VA onto another account. And we do that we match supply and demand that way.
Pat Yates 32:08
It’s really great. So the funny thing about it is I think once people get into the situation, they probably realize, hey, here’s another process I didn’t even realize I need because you’re training these VAs to know things we already don’t know. So while we’re given them process of they’re probably analyzing and say hey, by the way, Pat we’re doing this with another company, here’s something that might really help you. To me, that training portion is really incredible. And plus you’re not talking a price that’s super expensive for anything, even your top in price is a very inexpensive full-time employee for United States situation. Plus you’re vetting them you’re handling them. And it’s a very clean situations really amazing. When I read your sheet you there was one thing on there that I was curious about and it may be too long-winded to go into. But you had the three-step operational efficiency blueprint for a scalable business success. I found that to be an amazing thing to say, what are the three things if you can give us, very curious?
Barbara Turley 33:03
Yep, I’ll give you as quick a synopsis as I can. So I believe in having a platform architecture in any company, where you have a central place like an Asana, for example, this how I run the company, the central place where everyone comes to work shows up to our collaborates on work, even process, I put process maps and everything in there, I don’t think they should be over on Google Drive, I think they should be living breathing inside the virtual office space. And then you have other tools that come in from the outside. You may have slack, for example. But slack is for chat. It’s not for project management. It’s not for collaboration, really, it’s for chit-chat back and forth. It feeds in, you might have a CRM tool that’s used for marketing automation. But if you can imagine a central, I’m on video here just showing a central platform. And then the other platforms you want to have keep it simple. They need to feed into the central place. And there’s ways of doing that with API integrations and Zapier and stuff like that, but I won’t get into that but right platform architecture, then what you need is the process. The first big process in any company is the process around how we as a company use the platform architecture. For example, we use Slack for chit-chat, we do not use Slack for instructions. Once this is in our company, for example, once we decide something, the instruction goes into Asana at the site of where the work is happening, that’s just an example of how a process across a company might work. For example, we run objectives and key results from top-down and connect all the bottom of work moving into what where we’re going as a company, again, that is a big process that could unpack that but we won’t hear and then the third piece is continuously systemizing and a system of course is your platforms and your processes and working out how are we going to systemize this and then constantly taking your big A player maybe your onshore people or your A players and consistently going what part Is there workflow? Can we take off them and delegate to our offshore teams, so that we optimize our human capital budgets within a company, because one of the most expensive assets that you have is your people now that we’re not doing real estate anymore in office space. So those three things are platform, process, people, and it’s the integration of those three things together, and how we optimize them holistically and working together, that I think raises the asset value of any company dramatically.
Pat Yates 35:25
I don’t disagree with that. I think it’s amazing because, I look at this. And it’s weird, because until we really talk, I sort of thought the VA thing was something I have to go directly on your app to learn yourself. And I think even entrepreneurs find that processes as difficult. One other thing is we’re talking about this, I’m thinking in M&A. So a lot of the people that listen to Quite Light Podcasts are either buyers, you’re gonna buy a business or sellers who are going to clearly sell one. Coming in to work with you, we always talk about them building SOPs and having processes when they hand over and sell the business, it’s much easier from a standpoint of understanding the business. Do you see this as an advantage in that to where, let’s say, just like you said, if a VA is moved out of a thing, you have another one is it opportunity here where if you have someone that’s buying, having the consistency of a good VA, and those processes already set up, give strength to buyers, in their minds, because it’s their. Is that something you think would be an asset to a seller?
Barbara Turley 36:20
So here’s two things, it depends whether you’re the buyer or the seller, if you’re the seller, and you want the highest amount of money that you possibly can get for your company, you want to have it as a machine. So that buyer just walks in and the machine is running the machine and not really that connected to you. Right? And that they can go oh, wow, here’s the map of this thing. It just works. Right? Right. If you are sorry, that’s for the seller, if you’re the buyer, and you’re good at ops, like I would probably go and buy a business that if it was me, the buyer, I would want to buy a business that was a mess, that had a good product that people want to buy, but I can see the ops as a mess, because then I can pay less for it, and I can clean it up. So that’s interesting. If you’re a buyer that is not very good at ops, then you will have to pay more for a highly, optimized operationally fit business, but it will run, it’s better. It’s lean, and it’s running as optimized as possible. I hope that makes sense. So yeah, if you want to get a cheap purchase of a great business, you want to buy one that’s a mess, and then fix it. And if you do that, by the way, call us. We’ll come in and partner with you. And we’ll fix the atmosphere.
Pat Yates 37:29
I think this is even a bigger point for sellers because I look at businesses and sometimes I think that when I look at businesses say that are purchased in a year later, they’re struggling, for instance, like we’ve gone through the time, when aggregators, if you followed our industry, bought up a ton of companies that had problems, you got consolidation, all these things now, and I think one of the things I look back on that was unfortunate for some of the aggregator buyers is they didn’t take sellers forward, they didn’t bring them into the company because they don’t know what that person knows. And at times, you have to relearn that. So if you take nine months to a year to relearn it, you could lose the business in that period of time, I would tend to think that having a VA that touches everything, and you have the processes in the right systems would be something that would be a springboard for a buyer. So they actually would get things better starting out than they would if they didn’t have this kind of system. Do you see that with relation to processes you or am I overlain realizing that they’ll figure it out either way? Or do you think that’s a huge advantage?
Barbara Turley 38:25
I want to think about that for a second. I do think it’s a huge advantage. But here’s the thing, I think it’s, I mean that look, I’m in the business of selling VAs, right. So of course, I’m gonna say that’s a huge advantage. But if I take my VA hat off for a second, I actually think the biggest advantage is having a business where even if the VA left the process, and systems are so slick, that you could just slot another one in and within a week, they can boom they’re in, right you want to be able to move people in and out really quickly. So there’s somebody resigns or something happens or someone goes on maternity leave or whatever. It’s not such a destabilizing event because the machine is built. And I think it was Michael Gerber who said systems run your business people run your systems, right? So you kind of want to have that. That’s my philosophy, really. And I guess the follow on point from that is the stronger that your systems and your processes are, the more offshore team members and VAs, for example you can put in to run it cheaply. You don’t always have to pay the big A players to do everything, then if you’re a solopreneur, it means you don’t have to use your time for everything. You can actually claw your life back a bit because none of us went into business to work 15 hours a day, seven days a week. But if you’re a solopreneur it’s quite hard not to do that. If you don’t have anyone.
Pat Yates 39:40
I think it’s really amazing. Again, we’re with Barbara Turley in The Virtual Hub talking about virtual assistants. I think, for me, I think that a lot of times people that have come in and talk to you may not know how big of an advantage it would be to find someone some people look at it and say, well, I’m gonna have to spend $1,500 a month and I’m gonna do all this but the reality is your return on that is probably way higher if you’re leaner, especially if you have something that you can take on one more project a year, you can do one more sale a year. It unquestionably pays for itself. Do you feel like it’s an investment in your business when you do something like this?
Barbara Turley 40:14
Absolutely. I mean, I talked about it in terms of dividends, right? So the pain that you take today, because let’s be honest, delegating is hard. It’s a skill that I think every business owner needs to master. Because even though it’s painful, everyone wants to master marketing and sales and all this stuff. I’m like master delegation, because that is the gateway that is going to open your time and energy, which is the most expensive time and energy that your company has, and your creative space and what I do every day, the minute I find myself doing something a few times, I think I wonder, could I process this up and give it to a VA so that I can move on and do the next thing and take on the next client grow the next bit. Even if it’s I want to go and pick my kids up from school every day. And I’d be sitting there doing my social media posts, for example. How do you process it up and it does, it pays you dividends into perpetuity to get it right? But with the holistic thing VA, like delegating properly process maps, proper reporting lines, proper oversight, proper architecture.
Pat Yates 41:17
Yeah, I mean, there’s so many sides of this amazing Barbara, obviously, you guys are doing a great job. And actually, it’s interesting, I don’t know that I’ve talked to anyone, even including myself that can’t use what you do. I just don’t think people have, they have to break down the predetermined ideas, the old-school way of doing business that you had your secretary right outside your office. And that’s kind of how you have to operate or you have to operate with someone in your city and in wherever you are. So Barbara, any other things that you might mention about The Virtual Hub? I know there are so many sides to your business that entrepreneurs can learn from I feel like we touched on a lot of Is there anything else that you would like people to know about The Virtual Hub?
Barbara Turley 41:52
Well, I will share one little story. So one of our clients that we’re very proud to have this client is a guy called Vern Harnish. Vern Harnish was one of the founders of the Entrepreneurs Organization, globally. EO, he wrote the book Scaling Up, which used to be the Rockefeller habits, he is the mastermind behind the methodology of the scaling up methodology. And they’re working with companies all over the world that are doing hundreds of millions and scaling up fast. He’s one of our clients, he’s a huge advocate for what it is that we do. He has VAs with us. And I mean, if he’s doing it, like he just thinks it’s a no-brainer, anyone he speaks to, he’s like, you have to have an offshore team strategy. So if I can share him, and he’s the one who this is scaling up companies, right. So they have 280 scaling of coaches all around the world, as part of their business model. And all of those coaches in our talking to some of their clients about what it is that we do, there is no business that you can show me that I couldn’t put a VA and systemize this thing, really to be honest.
Pat Yates 42:55
It’s really incredible. It’s amazing, I was reading your one pager and there was a quote there that sort of struck me from Sean Van Dyke, the owner CEO of Build To Build Academy says, there’s at least 60 hours a week of stuff that I don’t have time to do anymore, I get six hours of productivity out of one-hour meeting, I feel like my time has been multiplied times five. What’s interesting when I read that, is I think that’s a mental relaxation. I think that entrepreneurs are so stressed about everything that’s going on since COVID. And then shipping things have gone up. It’s stressful to run a business now, is this something that for your own personal mental health, is that important to make sure that you have someone else that’s helping you out and not grinding to where you have to work that 60, 80, 100 hours in different shifts? I mean, how does that affect you mentally, I would have to think greatly.
Barbara Turley 43:42
Oh, incredibly, I mean, I will share another story. So Arnold Le Rutte, our efficiency consultant in Sydney. He’s an ex-e-commerce guy. He first came this is years ago, when I first started, he first came to us. And one of the things he said to me was I’m just so tired of like staying up till midnight answering customer support tickets. And I was like, why would you do that yourself? Like, why would you not hire a VA to do that now he got to a team of six. And he got to a point where he even had VAs in the Philippines, hitting a button and they had connected to the warehouse for the ticket. The actual docket that goes on the box would print out for the guys in the in the in the in the warehouse to just pick it up off the printer and bang it on the box and send it out. So, he became really good at it. But it was me saying like, why would you do that? Why would you do that when you can? Why would you sit up on Canva creating social media images when you really don’t have to do that. I mean, it’s not a good use of your time. Does it have to be done? Yes. Is it a good use of your time no, even if you’re really good at it, to be honest, just because you’re good at it doesn’t mean you should do it. Because you need to have the mental space as an entrepreneur. Like I said to you, I think I said it to you off-air. I actually have built this company working part-time and I put that in inverted commas because I kind of the hours I put in every day on the computer actually working is low. But of course we know I’m thinking about it all the time. But if I was eight nine 10 hours a day doing the work, I would have no space left to actually think about where am I going with this business? And what do I want to achieve with this business? Are What about one achieve in my personal life. So even if you don’t want to grow a business, and you just want a lifestyle business? Well, a lifestyle business means that you shouldn’t be working all the time. So it’s a lot to think about. But yeah, the mental capacity, being an entrepreneur is already very hard and very tiring. So I do think people need to really think this through and create space and emotional well-being for yourself.
Pat Yates 45:43
I don’t disagree. And it’s amazing. So what you’re basically saying is, you’re not only an owner, you’re a customer, and that really makes your business even go bigger, that you can find these processes, then you find a new one. And all of a sudden, there’s 10 clients that find out about it, once you put it through your people. It’s really amazing, because there’s also a collaboration opportunity between all your VA since they work only at Virtual Hub, right? Because maybe if they find a new process, and they say, hey, your client can use this, there may be things proactively throughout the company that they share, correct?
Barbara Turley 46:10
That is correct. We’d like to be better that if I could just share openly and honestly, that’s actually a hard nut to crack. We need a process for rolling that out across clients. Yeah, they do collaborate a bit. But we’d like if that happened a bit more. But that’s actually a program we have internally at the moment as a project. And again, this is sharing like, so we identified this is a an opportunity, we identified as a challenge with it. So I was like, well, let’s create a system that makes it automatic for them to do that. Right now. We’re not there yet. I’ll be honest, but this year, hopefully, we will nail that one.
Pat Yates 46:44
That’s all right. Maybe you should do an interview with yourself and figure out what you need, no I’m kidding. Actually, Barbara, this has been amazing, because it’s odd to me, the culture thing people get nervous about the having someone remote they don’t know is nervous about you guys have the ability to break all that down. So tell everyone, all the listeners how they can get in touch with you in case they want to reach out to Virtual Hub.
Barbara Turley 47:06
Sure. So first of all, if you’d like to delve deeper into some of the things I’ve been talking about today, I am on LinkedIn quite a lot. These days sharing some of my insights over there so you can connect with me personally, Barbara Turley on LinkedIn, I do have processes running over there. And I am the one writing the content, but I don’t do a lot of the other stuff. So just FYI, it is me, but there’s a lot of help there. And to keep otherwise I wouldn’t keep it going to be honest. And then if you feel ready to come and talk with us, please go to thevirtualhub.com. Come on over book a call. There’s actually loads of content on our website as well. Helping you with all of the topics that we’ve spoken about if you want to peruse some podcasts, shows over there that I’ve done on everything to do with delegating and hiring VAs or come and chat with our sales team. They’re really good at figuring out if you’re ready for us if we’re the right fit for you. And if you are if we are then we can help and yeah, come and have a chat.
Pat Yates 48:07
That’s amazing, Barbara. It’s been great having you in today. I think this is really actionable for a lot of listeners, please reach out to Barbara at The Virtual Hub if you need help with VAs processes. And I can promise you if you’re sitting in your car sitting at home listening this right now you know you have one so reach out to Barbara, see if The Virtual Hub can help you and I just appreciate you being in the Quiet Light Podcast today. Thanks a lot, Barbara.
Barbara Turley 48:26
Thanks for having me.
Today’s podcast was produced by Rise25 and the Quiet Light content team. If you have a suggestion for a future podcast, subject or guest, email us at [email protected]. Be sure to follow us on YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram, and subscribe to the show wherever you get your podcasts. Thanks for listening. We’ll see you next week.