How To Sell A Business For 7 Figures: June-Sept Update

Wow… What a difference four months can bring. But before we jump into EVERYTHING that has happened during this time, I have an apology to make…

“I’ve just been SO busy”

I am tempted to say this, but we all know that there is no such thing as being “too busy” and only such thing as being “too busy for a specific thing“.

I this case I was “too busy” to continue with our daily podcast and monthly blog post.

Though the radio silence did not actually occur because I didn’t have the time… it happened because so much has changed in the Virtual Valley world that I wanted to wait until we had some clarity around the situation before sharing it with the world.

By the end of this post, you will be aware of EXACTLY what has changed and what this means for the future of Virtual Valley… and let’s just say…

We are very excited for what is to come.

Goal Update

Back in with the Goal Pyramid:

As you can see, we didn’t make a huge amount of progress with some goals, though did make steady progress with others:

MRR/Hours Charged – Both of these have been either maintaining month on month or have decreased slightly, with the reason for this being that I have been tied up in the negotiation of the partnership that I believe will see the platform growth significantly over the next year.

More on this later in the post…

Blog Subscribers – Again, slow growth over the past few month due to a lack of focus from my part, though leveraging the marketing prowess of Virtual Valley’s new partner, this metric should also experience further growth over the next 12 months.

Guest Content Spots – Interestingly this figure still continued to grow regardless of the lack of focus… partly due to the fact that there is a lag time between creating the content and it being posted but also due to the fact that once you have “influencer” status, you get invited on a weekly basis to contribute to roundup posts… that do provide some traffic and quality links.

To summarise ALL of those numbers and to give a clear picture of the core metric movement over the past few months, this is the graph you need:

Now you are clear about the numbers, let me communicate to you EXACTLY what has happened over the past 4 months…

After spending 10 months of my life building, organising and marketing the Virtual Valley platform, I decided that if we were to hit our ambitious goal of selling the platform for $4 Million in 2 years… we were going to need some help.

More specifically, help to scale my marketing efforts, which would bring in the much needed cash in the short term to allow us to improve the experience for our Entrepreneurs & VA’s, which would in turn bring more revenue.

Now, I think I’m pretty sweet at marketing… but only a specific field…

Bootstrapping growth through content and social media (as I documented in this post).

I’ve done this for many businesses…

What I have not mastered is SEO and paid traffic.

So…

What if I could somehow incentivise a parter that has massive experience in these areas, which would then allow me to continue my bootstrapping methods and also manage the development of the platform?

Well this is exactly what has happened.

And this is the reason why you have heard radio silence until now.

Our partnership has been formed, the legals are in place… and we are now ready to blast off.

More details on this partnership, how to build such partnerships yourself and most importantly HOW to find the right partners coming up on this blog and the podcast over the coming months.

Let’s just say that the pro’s have arrived… and that things are going to change around here going forward 😉

And of course, don’t worry, everything that we are about to do to explode Virtual Valley is going to be documented right here, so you can do the same… if you wish.

Three Key Learnings

1. You Must Find The Right People

I used to think that I could do it all alone.

And then I started to look back at off of humanities achievements that I admire:

  • The light bulb
  • PayPal
  • Scientology

Each of these were not created by a GROUP of people, NOT by a semi talented individual.

This was the driving factor behind Virtual Valley’s new partnership… and how that pans out, remains to be seen 😉

2. Empower Management

You can see from the figures above the Virtual Valley’s metric progression has been slow over the recent months.

And the reason why becomes clear when you understand that the total amount of time that I have invested IN the business (there is a difference between working in the business as opposed to on the business as we know from this post) has been close to 0 hours over the past 4 months.

Now if I had been spending the majority of my time as a manager or a technician during the period between Virtual Valley’s launch and June, then the platform surely would have collapsed.

But no…

I had trained AND empowered a responsible and competent leader to manage the day to day running of the business to allow me to work on the business (developing our new partnership).

3. Be More Than Just A Business

When you form a greater purpose around your business… you will find it much easier to attract equally passionate customers and partners.

Without our purpose and personality that we inject into the Virtual Valley platform, do you think we would have been able to do so much with our limited resources?

Or managed to secure a partnership with a group of highly talented marketers?

I am not sure.

If you are struggling to get the word out or to get replies to your partnership outreach mails… then maybe it’s time to start thinking about why you exist.

Two Key People

1. Zandro

As mentioned above, I have been pretty much non-existent WITHIN the Virtual Valley business for the past 4 months, though our numbers remain solid and we are still helping tens of VA’s and Entrepreneurs each day.

How did we manage this?

We have a solid and consistent manager/leader that is completely competent at running the Virtual Valley platform without my direct input.

Thank you Zandro 😉

2. Tom Rankin

If you have been following our journey for any period of time, you have probably experienced my incessant outreach attempts in order to build early traffic and links to this very blog, in fact most of them are listed here.

It’s been a hard and transformation journey.

And just 10 days ago, something incredible happened.

Yep…

For the first time ever…

Virtual Valley was linked to and included on a HIGH PR blog… with NO outreach!

Yes, thanks to our man Tom, GoDaddy dropped a VERY valuable link to our homepage in their recent post on how to hire your first virtual assistant.

Thanks Tom!

One Key Tool

1. Maitre

I used to think viral giveaways were cheesy and that the lack of list quality built through this method was not worth the hassle…

And then I spoke with my good friend Kieran at Maitre and he persuaded me to roll out a giveaway for another project.

And we smashed it.

100’s of emails addresses for a minimal investment… and guess what? The leads generated from the contest CONVERTED.

Now my viewpoint has changed considerably.

So, if you want to double/triple or even quadruple your list for a minimal investment, I highly suggest you click this link and take advantage of Maitre’s outrageously simple to use software.

Three Key Focus Areas

1. Initial Paid Growth

Taking advantage of the marketing prowess of our new partners, we will commence to drive paid traffic (primarily through Facebook) to Virtual Valley, which will drive an increase in revenue AND actionable data to determine how the platform can be improved.

That said, we are still aware that previous feedback has suggested that the two areas need to be worked upon: VA Quality and Ease Of Use.

This is where this fresh burst of cash will be invested.

2. One Single New Metric

To take a leaf out of Y Combinator’s book, going forward Virtual Valley will be tracking JUST 1 single metric that the whole team agree on and will review each and everyday.

Early discussions show that this metric will be: Total Hours Charged.

As this reflects both new business AND engagement (so we don’t just focus on driving new growth without understanding how “leaky our bucket is”).

I would strongly recommend that your business does the same (if you are not doing so already).

3. The Complete Funnel

It seems likely that the current product/service that you are working on is simply your core product.

And that there are offers that could be made both prior to AND after a core product purchase that increase the ability of your customer to reach the end goal that they are striving for.

With this in mind, we will commence to built out other offerings to support out perfect customer, these could be “done for you” packages OR even information products focussed on the Virtual Assistant niche.

Keep your eyes peeled…

Summary

Another host of unforeseen events have been and gone over the past 4 months…

Much has changed, people have been and gone and clients have been won and lost.

But what remains?

We still have 1 hungry entrepreneur, 1 awesomely consistent virtual assistant manager and one new extremely competent marketing partner…

All striving towards that same goal:

To give Entrepreneurs back 1 million hours of their time by January 2018.

Will we do it?

Only time will tell, so you better keep watching 😉

How To Sell A Business For 7 Figures – May Update

 

  • Do you ever get the feeling that you’re just wasting your time?
  • Like, everything you do is not actually helping any person or any business?
  • It’s as if the business child you have just given birth to didn’t exist, no one would care?

Though it may sound extreme, this is a common problem for startup founders…

Here’s an extract from Ben Horowitz: The Hard Thing About Hard Things:

“Every time I read a management or self-help book, I find myself saying, “That’s fine, but that wasn’t really the hard thing about the situation.” The hard thing isn’t setting a big, hairy, audacious goal. The hard thing is laying people off when you miss the big goal.  The hard thing isn’t dreaming big. The hard thing is waking up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat when the dream turns into a nightmare.” 

The reason I raise this is that it was the feeling I got when I checked our May Revenue forecast after the booming, best ever month for Virtual Valley in April.

Less than half…

Goal Update

Here are the goals we are working towards for the next 2 years: Goal_Pyramid_-_Google_Sheets_🔊

And metrics from the past month:

Goal_Pyramid_-_Google_Sheets_🔊

MRR/Hours Charged – A significant reduction in the amount of hours charged and therefore MRR through the platform from April, this was mainly due to technical glitches in the marketplace driving the churn of a couple of key Entrepreneurs plus inactivity on the marketing side with resources tied with with AskTina.

Blog Subscribers – If you follow our podcast, you will aware that I spent some time learning more about opt in rates and list building, and then used this knowledge to destroy our optin rate, to be continued…

Guest Content Spots – I am still participating in and hunting down podcast interview opportunities, couple this with the weekly requests for us to submit to expert roundup blog posts should see us hit the target of 100 guest content spots by the end of June.

Twitter Followers – As per our learnings from #garyvee last week, we will discontinuing this vanity metric in Q3 despite the steady growth and my account almost reaching 10k (real) followers:

Tom_Hunt___tomhuntio____Twitter_🔊

Anyway, after re-watching the Y-Combinator course: “How To Start A Startup”, I decided to analyse some more meaningful metrics to try and derive some learnings from the data we have collated over the past 5 months:

image (12)

Note the steep drop of total revenue and hours in the month of May. The Virtual Valley revenue continued to rise due to the sale of a $497 sponsorship package for the 0-$4 Million podcast.

The amount of Entrepreneurs that have signed up and have used the platform to charge time with one or more Virtual Assistants each month since launch:

image (13)

And the amount of Entrepreneurs that have signed up, charged time with one or more Virtual Assistants and then stopped the next month (churn):

image (10)

The churn rate of 30% in May suggests that we may be yet to reach product-market fit.

What to do to address this problem?

Send out a nice yet strategic survey to all of our Entrepreneurs of course.

Here are some of the highlights:

Results___Typeform_🔊

Over the next two months, we will be hiring a part time PHP developer to work with the qualitative and quantitative feedback from this survey to improve:

  • The user interface and experience of the hiring process for our Entrepreneurs
  • The ability of our Entrepreneurs to derive insights from our tracking software

As we believe that the reason for our high churn rate is simple:

Our Entrepreneurs are not able to derive value worth equal to or more than the 20% salary uplift we charge, and if Virtual Valley is to scale into a thriving platform, this needs to change.

In other news, our Net Promoter Score is currently 6.38, this will be tracked over time.

Results___Typeform_🔊 x

And then mixed results to this question:

Results___Typeform_🔊y

When selling a business, the new owner/owners will look to see how independent the system is from the current owner (more independent the business, the lower the risk associated with the transfer of ownership).

Thus, the results above show that both I AND our existing customers have been instrumental in driving new signups.

If this system is ultimately to be sold, I need to find a way to reduce it’s reliance on me.

Three Key Learnings

1.MORE SKILLS NEED TO BE LEARNT/ACQUIRED

We have successfully built and launched an online marketplace with approximately a $5k investment to $1k per month in revenue. Our current skillset have enabled us to reach this stage. 

Though as Peter Sage once told me: 

“What gets you from A to B, does not get you from B to C”

In order to take Virtual Valley to the next level, I or someone that I hire needs to either have or develop the following skills: 

  • User interface design
  • User experience
  • Extreme product management
  • Membership site set up
  • Information product creation

Once we have this skill set in place, have optimized Virtual Valley for the Entrepreneurial experience and have built the best Virtual Assistant training program that exists in the world today, reaching our next revenue goal will become a triviality.

Moving forward to scale to the $4k revenue projected for the end of 2017, assuming product market fit has been achieved, the following skills will be required:

  • Facebook advertising
  • Affiliate recruiting
  • Referral program set up

2. “THIS IS THE REAL WORLD HOMIE, SCHOOL FINISHED…”

Yes, that is a Kayne West lyric.

It became brutally apparent this month that being an Entrepreneur and starting a startup occurs in the real world.

If you are not contributing enough value to the environment, you will either die from lack of resources or be eaten by a competitor.

This is not sitting within a 400k person corporation, where the total amount of value provided per month can reach billions, though is not averaged evenly amongst the human resources, allow those that do not create the value to be sheltered from reality.

3. SEO IS A LONG TERM GAME

Check this out:

Channels_-_Google_Analytics_🔊

Despite the fact that the actual Virtual Valley domain itself: http://virtualvalley.io/ has little on-page SEO optimisation, we have still seen some love from Google re. a couple of significant keywords:

“virtual valley”

virtual_valley_-_Google_Search_🔊

And with the help of the awesome SEO tool: Ahref’s (our podcast sponsor) and some hardcore link building, we expect our ranking for further search terms to increase dramatically.

Three Key People

In this edition of Three Key People I have select three very young and promising online entrepreneurs that we have interacted with recently, I would highly recommend bookmarking and checking in on their progress over the next few years…

1. STEPHEN ESKETZIS

Stephen is a young AND very advanced internet marketer, to help others become as successfully as himself, he built this BEEFY list of online tools that any marketer should be using that I highly recommend checking out, he is also an online sales funnel ninja.

2. BRIAN ROBBEN

Another successful young man, Brian decided to build a list of things to do over the summer, to help you become successful, check out number: 195.

3. TUNG TRAN

Tung built his first WordPress site when he was 13, he’s now 20 and is tracking his journey to a $10k a month online business on his blog: Cloud Living. We collaborated on a couple of pieces of content (including him mentioning us in his Simple Virtual Assistant System), if you are trying to build an online business, I highly recommend going to check his stuff out.

One Key Tool

1. AHREFS

We usually share three key tools of the month in this section…

However, the full month I have almost been completely focussed on learning how to boost organic Google rankings with a BIG tool that any online business should probably want to be using if they are serious about SEO: Ahrefs.

To learn more about what we are actually doing with Ahrefs, check out this podcast episode and lookout for a interview with Tim Soulo, Head Of Marketing at Ahrefs and a full brutally honest review of what has been achieved with the Ahrefs tool over the three months we will be using it.

Three Key Focus Areas

1. UPGRADING VIRTUAL VALLEY BASED ON FEEDBACK

I had this as a focus area for May, however, we made no progress.

I guess this was becuase we were basking in glow of Virtual Valley’s best month EVER in April. Couple this with a lack of focus on the platform with AskTina’s emergence, it feels like Virtual Valley has been neglected (Here is a post about Tina’s early startup traction).

But no more…

Now we have the results of our survey, it is clear what needs to be done:

Virtual Valley’s users interface AND experience must improve to support our Entrepreneurs to give back 1 million hours of their time by January 2018.

2. INCREASING VA QUALITY

As the second “most frustrating thing” about the current Virtual Valley service, we must increase the quality of Virtual Assistants that are registered and available for work on the platform.

Now, there are two ways we could approach this:

a. Invest heavily in recruitment – just as we did prior to launch (as described in this post), we could head out and recruit more awesome assistants.

OR

b. We could create the best training program for Virtual Assistants that exists anywhere in the world to attract new Virtual Assistants. Only those Virtual Assistants that have passed through the training would have access to the platform.

As well as increasing the quality of the Virtual Assistants on the platform, this will also form an additional profit centre for the business.

3. LINK BUILDING TO INCREASE ORGANIC TRAFFIC FOR KEY KEYWORDS

Now we have secured the number 1 ranking positions for “virtual valley”, we are turning our focus to ranking for a number of highly potent keywords for our industry:

  • virtual assistant philippines
  • hire a virtual assistant
  • filipino virtual assistant
  • hire a filipino virtual assistant

Through onsite optimisation of blog posts, specific pages within the marketplace itself and some tactical link building we plan to reach page 1 for each of these by the end of Q3. Progress will be tracked in upcoming podcast episodes.

Summary

Let me take you back to the question I raised at the start of this post: 

“Do you ever get the feeling that you’re just wasting your time?”

As you may expect, the answer is a resounding… No.

Because what else would we be doing? 

Virtual Assistant Philippines – The Definitive Guide

Therefore, we decided to build the definitive guide to virtual assistants from the Philippines that collates ALL of the best information concerning this topic from the best blogs and websites around the internet.

To bring clarity, we have broken down this subject into the following topics:

Chapter 1: What’s The Point?

philippines virtual assistant chapter 1

Why bother going through all of the hassle recruiting, managing and dealing with all of the issues around outsourcing some of your work to a virtual assistant? Surely, it would be much simpler (and cheaper) to just do all of the work yourself?

Let’s find out…

Why Use A Virtual Assistant From The Philippines?

And then why specifically should you work with a VA from the Philippines? Why not India or even a Virtual Assistant within your own country?

25 Top Online Players Share How They Hack Productivity | Virtual Valley Blog

Richard Branson’s Method To Make More Money By Doing Less Work | GrowMap

Tom Hunt Discussed Outsourcing Your Assistant With Virtual Valley | Near Me

7 Reason’s Why Your Should Hire A Virtual Assistant | Michael Hyatt

5 Reason’s To Hire A Virtual Assistant | Hubstaff

25 Brilliant Bloggers Talk About Virtual Assistants | Blogworld

Should You Hire A Virtual Assistant? A Freelancer’s Cheat Sheet | Millo.co

Want to add a resource to Chapter 1? Tweet us…CLICK TO TWEET

 

Chapter 2: How To Hire, Train & Manage Your VA For Maximum Efficiency

philippines virtual assistant chapter 2

Now you have made the decision to invest time and resources into outsourcing some of your workload to the Philippines, you need to know EXACTLY how to hire, train and manage your team, if you are going to be successful.

How To Hire AWESOME Virtual Assistants

Should you use freelancer marketplaces, Virtual Assistant recruitment services or complete outsource service businesses to build you virtual team?

How We Recruited 57 Rockstar Virtual Assistants (So You Don’t Have To) | Virtual Valley Blog

Become Superhuman: How To Hire A Virtual Assistant | Victor Mathieux

Hiring A Virtual Assistant: Everything You Need To Know | Pat Flynn

How to Hire a Virtual Assistant in 15 minutes for 1 Dollar Per Hour | Authority Website Income

What 40 Successful Entrepreneurs Can Teach You about Hiring a Virtual Assistant! | Income Diary

Hiring A Virtual Assistant: The Process | Entrepreneur On Fire

Why And How To Hire A Virtual Assistant Before You Need One | Jen Lehner

How to Hire Virtual Assistants and Outsource SEO Like a Boss | Jacob King

The Simple System I Used To Hire My First 2 Badass Virtual Assistants | Cloud Living

 

How To Find the BEST Virtual Assistants From The Internet

Where on the internet do you have the best chance of finding a Virtual Assistant that can handle the specific tasks that you are looking to outsource?

Tired & Stressed? – The 17 Best Places To Hire A Virtual Assistant | Virtual Valley Blog

Why You Shouldn’t Hire Your Virtual Assistant on Guru.com | Clerical Advantage

The Top 7 Virtual Assistant Companies | Symmetry 50

 

How To Train Your Virtual Assistants (To Become Better Than You)

If you are to experience a solid ROI (and so you won’t have to spend all of your time answering questions) from your Virtual Assistant, you need to aid their development…

The Efficient Outsourcing Formula | Virtual Valley Blog

 

How To Manage Virtual Assistants (For MASSIVE Efficiency)

As an entrepreneur/business owner, your ability to manage your in person AND virtual team will have a significant impact on your success.

Leave Your Business And Watch It Grow | Virtual Valley Blog

The Secrets To Finding, Training And Managing Great Virtual Assistants | Foundr Mag

Want to add a resource to Chapter 2? Tweet us…CLICK TO TWEET

 

Chapter 3: Your Relationship With Your Virtual Assistant

philippines virtual assistant chapter 3

From my experience of working with virtual staff for the past 5 years, I have realised first hand that if you have the ability to develop a win-win employer to employee relationship with your virtual assistant… your entrepreneurial life will be MUCH easier.

But What Should Your Virtual Assistant ACTUALLY do?

OK, this all make sense, you should hire a virtual assistant… But what tasks and processes will they operate in your business?

Want To Double Your Productivity? – 10 Marketing Tasks You NEED To Outsource (And How You Do It) | Kikolani

The Truth About Outsourcing Social Media | Social Media Today

Hire A Virtual Assistant For These 6 Tasks To Grow Your Business | MatthewWoodward.com

5 Mind-Numbingly Boring SEO Processes You Absolutely Must Outsource | TripleSEO

Handling Customer Care As A Bootstrapped Small Business Owner | My Customer

7 Ways A Virtual Assistant Can Save You At Least 2 Hours Each Day To Focus On Your Income Producing Activities | The Suitcase Entrepreneur

How To Find And Use A Virtual Assistant To Get Ahead – Sarah Shaw Consulting

 

The Best Tips/Tools To Work With Virtual Assistants

Fortunately for us, many tools/businesses have been built to support virtual working relationships, here are some of the best…

5 Tried & Tested Remote Working Tips | Virtual Valley Blog

Tools You Can Use For Working With VAs | Ninja Outreach

10 Software Tools For Collaborating With Virtual Assistants | Michael Hyatt

The Ultimate Guide to Virtual Team Building Tools, Services and Resources | Chris Ducker

 

How To Pay Your Virtual Assistants (And How Much)

What is a fair wage to pay you Filipino Virtual Assistant?

The Definitive Guide to Paying Home-Based Filipino Virtual Assistants | Chris Ducker

 

How To Fire Virtual Assistants (Yes, You May Have To)

Yes, if the individual you hire is not actually right for the role, you will have to let them go. Remember: hire slow, fire fast.

5 Ways to Recover Quickly If You Lose Your Virtual Assistant | Don’t Panic Mgmt

I Just Fired My Virtual Assistant | Stephan Spencer

Want to add a resource to Chapter 3? Tweet us…CLICK TO TWEET

 

Chapter 4: The Extras

philippines virtual assistant chapter 4

And a couple of bonus sections to solidify your knowledge about the Filipino Virtual Assistant industry.

Let’s Take The Virtual Assistant Perspective

Let’s hear from a few real life Virtual Assistants to give us a perspective about what is it like to work virtually from the Philippines..

What Are VAs Looking For In An Employer? | Ninja Outreach

Meet 4 Virtual Valley Virtual Assistants | Virtual Valley Blog

Interview Employee #1 Zandro | Virtual Valley Blog

 

Virtual Assistant Case Studies

How are Virtual Assistants being used by some other awesome online entrepreneurs:

My Experience Using A Virtual Assistant | Michael Hyatt

17 Virtual Assistant Case Studies – How I’ve Helped Clients | Geniece Brown

Using a Virtual Assistant | Tamara Baranova

Want to add a resource to Chapter 4? Tweet us…CLICK TO TWEET

Ok, there we have it:

Virtual Assistant Philippines – The Definitive Guide

You have all the information you could ever want to consume about the topic of Filipino Virtual Assistants, it’s time to take some action.

And where else better to start that with the only Filipino specific curated virtual assistant marketplace the world has ever seen?

Virtual Valley

See you on the other side…

P.S.

If you don’t want to wade through all of the content above and just want to get started, these are the 5 tasks that you should NOT be doing in your online business:

How To Sell A Business For Seven Figures (Apr 2016 Update) (13)

How To Sell A Business For Seven Figures – April 2016 Update

 

In perhaps our most radical month to date in the Virtual Valley journey, April saw us:

  • Bring on a new Technical Cofounder
  • Release a new Slackbot called Tina
  • Travel to the Philippines to meet Zandro and the boiz in person for the FIRST time

And despite these “distractions” the platform actually saw it’s largest month on month growth, but how?

Let’s find out…

Goal Update

A reminder of the goals that we are working towards over the next two years: Goal_Pyramid_-_Google_Sheets_🔊

And each metric we are tracking along the way:

Goal_Pyramid_-_Google_Sheets_🔊

MRR/Hours Charged – We saw strong growth in MRR and Hours Charged towards the end of April to reach $5,223 for the platform by the end of the month which equates to 47% of the monthly revenue goal we have for July of this year as shown by the pyramid above (more detail in this podcast episode).

Blog Subscribers – We grew by just 25 over the month hitting 23% of the quarterly goal, expect significant growth during the month of May as I focus further on content for the Virtual Valley Blog.

Guest Content Spots – Steady growth in guest content spots which puts us well on the way to hitting 100 by the end of the quarter, this will give a solid foundation of traffic and SEO as we move to marketing Phase 2.

Twitter Followers – As per our learnings from #garyvee last week, we will discontinuing this vanity metric in Q3 despite the steady growth.

In other news, podcast downloads seem to be increasing slightly on average:

General_Stats__Liberated_Syndication_-_Libsyn_🔊

And finally, I made a cute little graph to show our progression in hours charged and revenue since launch day:

Goal_Pyramid_-_Google_Sheets_🔊

In addition, we also released:

AskTina_

With Tina, the mission of the company remains the same:

To give Entrepreneurs back 1 million hours of their time by 2018.

Yet, we believe we are solving the “management problem” to a greater extent than with Virtual Valley.

Tina is effectively a “black hole” for admin tasks, essentially eradicating the requirement for an entrepreneur to manage a virtual assistant. Both direct and indirect feedback from our current entrepreneurs has shown that this is one of the biggest challenges our entrepreneurs are facing with outsourcing.

Since launch day (learn about our launch plan in this podcast episode), 29 Slack Teams have integrated her and 4 of these have subscribed to Tina at $197 per month (for unlimited small admin tasks 24/5).

This has been achieved with a total of 4 hours promotion from myself (more on this in a later blog post).

So we are now left with a quality problem…

Which validated business model should we focus on?

Wil (our new technical cofounder) and I discussed this at length in the past week and have decided to continue with both business models and then review growth at the end of the quarter.

That said, going forward we will combine and track the combined MRR and Hours Charged metrics for both business models.

Three Key Learnings

  1. MEET YOUR VIRTUAL TEAM IN PERSON

In April, I went to Hong Kong to set up a bank account for our new parent company: One Million Hours Limited:

One Million Hours_Limited__BR__1_1_pdf__1_page_

And how could I NOT jump over to the Philippines to see the team that I had been working with (virtually) for the past 8 months.

Here is Zandro (Virtual Valley Manager) and his assistant Stephen:

IMG_0120

And even during this past week since I have returned to Europe, the productivity efficiencies gained through the deepening of the relationship have become apparent.

Therefore, if you have the opportunity, I would strongly recommend to meet regularly with your virtual team.

2. ALWAYS LOOK FOR GROWTH HACKING OPPORTUNITIES

As will be shared fully in an upcoming blog post…

We managed to get 45 Entrepreneurs to integrate our new Slackbot Tina into their Slack Teams with a grand total of 4 hours of my time spent on promotion on launch day.

We drove people from the Virtual Valley audience, Facebook and Slack Communities to our Product Hunt entry that was posted by an awesome influencer (See Jeffrey Needles below).

However, I don’t believe any of those actions were directly responsible for the 45 signs ups (and 4 customers), I believe that there is something else at play…

Slack

This is the message that Tina sends to ALL members of a Slack Team when she is integrated.

To make this clear, one person within the Slack Team clicks the two links required to integrate Tina as we automatically get exposure to the full team (sometimes up to 500 people)?

This is the reason for our organic growth with minimal effort (and is also the reason that Apple adds: “Sent from iPhone” to the end of all your emails sent from your phone).

3. MAINTAIN A HEALTHY BIAS TOWARDS ACTION

We had the idea for Tina 3 weeks ago, now she is live and we have 4 paying customers

2 weeks ago we thought it would be a good idea to register a parent company in Hong Kong, now we have a parent company set up in Hong Kong.

We had the idea for the 0-$4 Million podcast, 30 days later we were #1 in iTunes New & Noteworthy for business:

iTunes #1

And all becuase we try to maintain a bias toward actions when we believe we have enough information to make a decision.

Why?

To maximise learning.

Two years ago, I gave a TEDx talk about this.

Three Key People

1. JEFF NEEDLES

To give you every chance of succeeding on Product Hunt, it is often a good idea to request that an influencer post your product for you.

Therefore, I went through ALL of the Slackbots that had received 200+ up votes on PH in the past few months and then decided to reach out to a select few to see if they would like to post Tina.

And becuase Jeff is such a legend, he agreed:

Conweets___Conversations_between__tomhuntio____jsneedles_🔊

And here we are:

Tina_-_Product_Hunt_🔊

2. HARRY HUANG/ED MOYSE – PROFILE HOPPER

When I read awesome content, I almost always attempt to reach out to the creator to connect and share my thoughts:

Conweets___Conversations_between__tomhuntio____edmoyse_🔊

Which is exactly what happened when I read this post by Ed Moyse.

Which ultimately lead to a very enjoyable coffee with his business partner Harry in Hong Kong last week.

These guys are product machines, bringing out Hey Press, Journorequests and Profile Hopper in quick succession and I highly recommend following their journey on their Medium blog.

3. CHRIS HELLER

Each month we like to pick out our favourite entrepreneur that has used Virtual Valley, and this time we have a special one for you…

Check out the branding on Chris’s social media marketing agency:

http://sircle.me/

Pretty sweet right?

Chris hired a Virtual Valley Virtual Assistant to aid his research efforts and in theory, will expand his team in the future!

Three Key Tools

1. SLACK

Slack’s growth is ridiculous:

slack-users-paid-seats-chart

So it isn’t like they need the massive exposure being featured on the Virtual Valley Blog will bring them.

But I thought I would send them some love seeing as they so gracefully enabled us to build Tina on their platform.

2. ASKTINA

Somewhat self promotional but we love her.

Tina is a feisty Slackbot that will handle all of your admins needs for just $197 per month (though we may be increasing this monthly rate soon).

If you have a Slack Team, want to be more productive AND think that your increased productivity by having an unlimited admin assistant is worth more than $197…

Then let’s get started.

3. POMODORO ONE

It seems to me that the success of an entrepreneur (or any person) hinges almost exclusively on their ability to direct their focus.

Your focus is your biggest asset and must be protected stringently against the external time vampires (your friends, Facebook and  phone) if you are going to be able build a sustainable business.

The fortunate thing is that you don’t actually have to invest a massive amount of focussed time in order to get ahead (as so many people don’t actually invest any focussed time themselves).

To ensure that I am able to invest focussed time into projects like Virtual Valley and AskTina is due to the fact that I carefully track my focussed time with a simplistic desktop app called: Pomodoro One.

I have the settings tuned to:

  • 50 Focus
  • 10 Min Rest
  • 50 Min Focus
  • 30 Min Rest

Bearing in mind that focussed work is without email, Slack, Skype, Whatsapp, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin… the list goes on.

If I achieve 2 full cycles of the above in 1 day, it is deemed a success.

Three Key Focus Areas

1. ASKTINA MARKETING

We reached the dizzying height of 4 customers paying the monthly rate of $197 in 10 days with just 4-6 hours of my time in promotion.

Now we have secured the delivery of Tina’s tasks, we can look to grow this number of subscribed customers significantly during the month of May, but how?

Tina has no blog, Twitter handle or even email form submission on her site, though what she does have is the ability to direct message all of the people within the Slack Team that she is integrated into.

And if we supercharge this growth hack with a double sided referral schemed fueled by free tasks, I believe Tina can grow to 10 paid Slack Teams by the end of Q2.

2. ASKTINA DELIVERY

As per the growth forecasted above, Tina will need to have a solid delivery model in order to deal with this influx of tasks.

Currently tasks are delivered through Tina with the following model:

  • Automation – Tina speaks with Entrepreneur to gather task info
  • Admin – Clarifies task requirements and either completes the task if has capacity/delegates to an assistant
  • Virtual Assistant – Completes the task and returns to the admin for review

We currently have just one admin shift in place during our busiest time (80% of tasks are submitted to Tina during PST office hours) meaning that tasks are just completed by ad-hoc assistants during downtime.

As we grow, we will need 1 or more admins working 24/5 with a pool of assistants waiting in the wings to pick up tasks. The whole model will also need to be built into a flawless system that operates completely independently of Tina’s two founders.

3. UPGRADING VIRTUAL VALLEY BASED ON FEEDBACK

And don’t worry, we haven’t forgot the platform that we started this journey with…

Over the next month we will be requesting feedback from each of our 19 paying customers in the month of April and will prioritise the updates to be made to improve the Virtual Valley experience.

Summary

In summary a solid month with steady revenue growth and an exciting new addition to the team: Tina.

And interesting contrast in business model between Tina (productised service) and Virtual Valley (online marketplace) led Tina to almost eclipsing Virtual Valley’s monthly revenue figures in a fraction of the time.

Though will Tina eventually become profitable?

Currently she is not at the $197 price point with 4 paying customers.

Will we need to increase price or invest further in marketing to boost customers?

Who knows.

Find out next month…

P.S.

If you are sat there thinking:

“I don’t really care about your startup, I just want to outsource some stuff so that my business can grow…”

Then let’s get started, here are the 5 tasks that you should NOT be doing in your online business:

How To Sell A Business For Seven Figures (Apr 2016 Update) (13)

 

How To Use A Virtual Assistant

 

How does Dave Schneider hold down a solid blog whilst scaling Ninja Outreach?

How does Kavi Gupta smash out BIG articles for Forbes AND still have time to write his own book?

And how can Andrew Warner manage to be so PROLIFIC Mixergy guest quality?

Because he is spending his time editing, writing transcripts for and promoting each episode? Not sure…

Maybe there is something these guys know… that we don’t (Clue: it has something to do with using a Virtual Assistant).

The goal of this post is to understand how they are doing this.

So you can do the same.

But before we do that, I am going to uncover a secret.

A secret so well guarded between the rich and powerful that I am probably going to get in trouble by simply sharing this blog post.

You Don’t Have To Work Hard To Be Successful

What?

You mean all of that stuff that Gary Vaynerchuk and Grant Cardone say about “Hustle” is rubbish?

No, not necessarily…

I’m just saying that if you have the knowledge, skills and resources, there is another way:

Building a system that is operated by competent and experienced Virtual Assistants.

Take our podcast for example:

iTunes #1

(Any excuse to mention that we hit #1 New & Noteworthy LOL)

I spend 3-5 hours PER WEEK producing this DAILY value bomb that is getting downloaded 400 times per day.

How?

Because I have a system.

(Operated by a Virtual Assistant and a podcast editor)

Or how about my male leggings company that is making a modest but automated £1.4k per month:

sTitchLeggings___Dashboard___Shopify_🔊

Again, I spend 3-5 hours on this business PER MONTH.

How?

Because I have a system.

(Managed by a Virtual Assistant and my mother, who is responsible for distribution)

But that’s enough about me.

Let’s see what these top online players have to say about using the Virtual Assistant/s that manage the systems that are responsible for their success. I asked just two simple questions:

1. Why did you choose to work with a Virtual Assistant?

2. What effect has this had on your productivity?

 

 

ANDREW WARNER – MIXERGY

  1. When I started working with my virtual assistant I only had enough work for a few hours a week, not enough for even a part time assistant. So a friend recommended that I hire his Virtual Assistant.
  2. Huge improvement.

e54b184e105d-Andrew_Warner___Profile_Photo_HiRes

 

GUN HUDSON – UPGRADED TRAVEL

    1. To save me time to be doing more highly leveraged tasks in my business.

    2. I have found I get a TON more done if I pay someone else to do things for me 😛

24a2c800cce1-Gun_Hudson_PNG_head

 

JOHN JANTSCH – DUCT TAPE MARKETING

  1. We find the best of the best and can scale up and down as needed.
  2. Delegating by task rather than function has been great.

 

a58f5867eaf6-290x290JohnJantsch

DAVE NEVOGT – HUBSTAFF

  1. We need to use a VA because we have lots of customized processes but we also need cost savings. So we teach the VA our processes and get the cost savings.
  2. It doesn’t affect my personal productivity but it affects the cost we can get leads at.

e69074b5b611-profile2

 

ADAM FRANKLIN – BLUEWIRE MEDIA

  1. To take stuff off my plate that I knew I shouldn’t be doing.
  2. It’s greatly freed up my time to focus on high value activity.

4e037c9af657-Adam_Franklin_Social_Media_Speaker

 

DAVE SCHNEIDER – NINJA OUTREACH

  1. It great, affordable labor.
  2. It has allowed me to focus on bigger items and be more productive. Our business has grown a lot thanks to their help and we wouldn’t be able to afford traditional western labor.

6c8412916493-me

 

CHRIS DYSON – TRIPLE SEO

  1. I use VA’s to free up my time & allow me to perform the tasks where I can add value.
  2. VA’s allow me to get more done. By doing some of the time consuming / lower priority tasks it gives me more time to do the jobs which need my full attention such as strategy, planning & creative work.

942ef7c17603-image

 

LOZ JAMES – CONTENT CHAMPION

  1. I use a VA to edit my podcast and another one to write my show notes. I’ve found that doing this helps to free up valuable time to focus on more strategic aspects of running my business.
  2. It has probably saved me in excess of 4-5 hours a week.

f7ac5f9bf678-lj2016_copy

 

MATTHEW ALLEN – DUMB PASSIVE INCOME

  1. I choose to use Virtual Assistant’s because there are not enough hours in the day for me to do everything that needs to be done.
  2. Personally? I still get just as much done as I did before I was using Virtual Assistants. But overall – way more stuff gets done in my business. Instead of doing all of the writing and various tasks – I instead spend my time managing a small team to do most of it for me.

715a6d3b1356-Matthew_Allen_whitebg

 

JUSTIN COOKE – EMPIRE FLIPPERS

  1. We’ve been working with our small team of VA’s in the Philippines for years and they’ve become an integral part of our organization.
  2. Once we have established Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s) we’re able to hand over the day-to-day work to our team in the Philippines. Constantly replacing ourselves allows us to continue to grow exponentially.

a7098f61423a-EF_JC_Face_800

 

KAVI GUPTA – NOMAD BIBLE

  1. Helps me take care of less important tasks so I can focus on higher impact to-dos.
  2. Made me a much clearer communicator. I have to articulate very well what I need so there isn’t more time wasted on back-and-forth.

58a604ff7af4-11925847_1638842099701198_999438574_n

 

NICK LOPER – VIRTUAL ASSISTANT ASSISTANT

  1. Whenever I find the pain of inaction becoming unbearable, that’s when I know it’s time to hire.
  2. Working with Virtual Assistants has forced me to work ON my business instead of IN it. It’s made me a better communicator, delegator, and hopefully, a leader.

afc8aea286b3-coffee_on_the_deck

 

MOHIT TATER – ENTREPRENEURSHIP LIFE

  1. So that I can focus on the high value revenue generating tasks of my business.
  2. I have much more free time now to spend on growing my business and also with my family.

bf956ba2b053-Mohit_Tater

 

TONY DURSO – REVENUE CHAT

  1. Managing social media is a lot of work; a full time job sometimes! The only way to grow it is to get help from someone. It is the only way to be working ON your business instead of IN it.
  2. More followers. More notice. More retweets.

85a170634e36-tdurso_new_square_green

 

KRISTI HINES – KIKOLANI

  1. I chose a Virtual Assistant to do research projects and manage comment moderation on my blogs.
  2. It definitely gave me more time to focus on tasks that I specialize in versus those that anyone could do.

c8fd0b683fc1-kristi_hines_300

 

NATHAN CHAN – FOUNDR MAG

  1. To find leverage in our business, at a fraction of the cost to hire someone locally.
  2. It’s allowed me to claim my time back doing cumbersome tasks that I shouldn’t be doing as a CEO of a company. It allows me to get more done in an effective manner.

b5863c98134a-headshot_nathan

 

CAZ & CRAIG – Y TRAVEL BLOG

  1. To save me time and so I can focus on doing tasks I love and are skilled in.
  2. It’s allowed me to grow and expand my business and create epic content.

9d3f081945be-Caz_and_Craig

 

SARAH PETERSON – UNSETTLE

  1. There were far too many things that I shouldn’t have been doing with my time. I chose to spend my time on high-impact activities and strategy rather than administrative.
  2. My personal productivity – not much, but the tasks that I wasn’t able to do before are now getting done!

a5250820877a-Screen_Shot_2016_03_06_at_10.12.57_PM

 

ZAC JOHNSON – ZACJOHNSON.COM

  1. Once you’ve mastered the art of something, you can delegate out the timely stuff to further focus on what you specialize in. This is where I tend to use VAs the most.
  2. Running your own business, you have many hats. When hiring a VA, it’s important to make sure you delegate out the small and tedious things that add up during your work.

31533d40ebee5506579097d9fa07aaff

 

GAIL GARDNER – GROWMAP

  1. I has become impossible to keep on top of everything without assistance.
  2. Many tasks that would not be done at all due to time constraints can be accomplished – provided I can make the time to train the VA to do them.  Once trained, specific tasks can be more consistently completed.

33df364

1538430a4d2c-johannes_voelkner

JOHANNES VOLKNER – NOMAD CRUISE

  1. I choose to work with a VA so they can help me with time consuming and easy repetitive tasks.
  2. I have more time to focus on the most important aspects of business and more free time to do the things I love.

1538430a4d2c-johannes_voelkner

 

ZACK YOUNG – ZACKYOUNG.CO

  1. To leverage the power of outsourcing & to boost my personal value by having a third party assistant handle many of the tasks I used to.
  2. It enables me to focus on my core skill set, bill for more hours & appear more valuable.

99ff46d10fb6-6J1A1082_LOWRES

 

TOMAS LAURINAVICIUS – DESPRENEUR

  1. There are many repetitive tasks I need to do on a daily basis. Investing my time in writing clear instructions and training my virtual assistant will be paying off in the near future.

  2. I feel like I can focus on bigger things and small details are taken care of. Also, by making less decisions I don’t feel that exhausted after a working day.

2ac9bddd6370-DSC02811

 

CLAYTON B. CORNELL – SPARTAN TRAVELLER

  1. Low cost, scalable solution for getting things done.

  2. Having virtual assistants has allowed me to outsource large blocks of repetitive work, saving countless hours over the last 7 years.

    In many cases I’ve hired VAs who are part of an agency that handles many clients, which allows me to scale up or down as needed without taking on the burden of hiring full-time staff. Agency VAs can handle a few hours a week up to full-time+ when business is booming.

    Hiring VAs is a good option when on a strict budget, or any time you can’t automate with technology (e.g. a developer or Zapier.com).

    I’ve also used VAs extensively for personal research and scheduling tasks (e.g. finding the best hotel or Airbnb accommodation for a specific trip).

5094a298112d-AH3B1398

 

STUART WALKER – NICHEHACKS

  1. Impossible to run a successful business without one IMO so it’s a necessity.
  2. It free’s up more time for me to focus on money tasks….or be lazy. :/

0roYZ-9y

OK, now I’m not going to comment on each of these separate opinion as I am sensing a common theme…

Each of these top online players have certain abilities AND tasks that they enjoy doing, are good at doing and will have the biggest impact on their business.

And probably the only reason that they are reached such heights in their respective markets (an average of 9632 followers on Twitter) is becuase of their ability to focus on these tasks over the long term becuase they are NOT handling menial, low $ value tasks that could be completed by a competent and experienced Virtual Assistant.

 

But what are they actually outsourcing?

Of course, I also went on to enquire as to what each of these players are using their Virtual Assistant for:

Screenshot_18_04_2016__13_14

It seems as though that in order to really start pushing boundaries in your industry, become an influencer in your marketplace and to truly add value to a large amount of people, you need to join the 61% of these top online players and start outsourcing your general admin tasks.

In fact…

If you want to take the first step on your journey to becoming THAT person and building THAT business, head to this page or click on Zandro’s face:

9m9Qv9cJ

Start a conversation with him (or his assistant, Stephen), give brief outline of the tasks you are looking to outsource and we will pair you with a competent and experienced Virtual Assistant to get you started building your success system TODAY.

How To Sell A Business For Seven Figures – Feb 2016 Update

 

Wow, what a month!

We doubled the amount of hours charged through the platform, increased our average hourly rate significantly which lead to a significant revenue increase for Virtual Valley in February.

We had our fair share of technical issues, customer support enquiries and frustrated Virtual Assistants but pulled through with some awesome efforts from Zandro and the rest of the team.

This post will outline our progress through the first full month as a live online marketplace and what we have learnt (so you can go away and apply the learnings to your online business).

Who This Post Will Help:

  • Anyone about to launch their online business
  • Anyone in the process of building an online marketplace/SAAS business

How To Read This Post:

  • If you are a startup founder/internet business owner pressed for time, scan through the headings in the Table Of Contents below and review those relevant topics
  • If you are a normal person or just like stories, then settle in and enjoy the roller coaster

Goal Update

Here is our famous Goal Pyramid:

Goal_Pyramid_-_Google_Sheets

You will note that our blog subscriber  and MRR revenue goals are still marked as red, and thus are at risk of not being completed by the deadline. Though we have more confidence about our content marketing and working procedure goals.

Goal_Pyramid_-_Google_Sheets

The table above tracks these goals at a more granular level, we have made steady improvements through each metric but not at the rate that is required to hit the stretch goals that we set. Regardless, we will continue striving forward.

Whilst MRR has been rising steadily since we launched, I have yet to find a scalable method to increase signups on the blog, any ideas? Tweet us.

I have taken a breather with regards to guest content spots but will be using Ninja Outreach over the next couple of months to land further podcast interviews (will share the results of course ;)).

With the influx of customer support inquiries and recruitment requests for Zandro, we have decided to pause blog commenting. Stephen is doing a FANTASTIC job managing and growing our Twitter presence and we have not invested any further time into creating Working Procedures this month.

Three Key Learnings

1. A BIG PODCAST LAUNCH WON’T SOLVE ALL YOUR PROBLEMS

A Big #Podcast Launch Won’t Solve All Of Your ProblemsCLICK TO TWEET

General_Stats__Liberated_Syndication_-_Libsyn

We launched 0-$4 Million at the end of January and here’s how we did it.

I was happy with the launch, but as you can see from the download statistics above, an awesome launch does not guarantee sustained listener growth. I did not invest any further time in promoting the podcast during February partly to see what would happen to download figures and partly as I had other areas to focus on.

Moving forward I will be investing more time in promotion and we will be reviewing this effort in these monthly updates.

2. WE NEED A TECHNICAL CO-FOUNDER

Did You Know That @VirtualValley & @TomHuntio Are Looking For A Technical Co-Founder, Interested?CLICK TO TWEET

A SIGNIFICANT portion of my time this month was invested in managing freelance developers to improve the Virtual Valley experience for both Entrepreneurs & Virtual Assistants.

However, if we are to hit our ambitious monthly revenue goals, I need to invest my time 100% in the marketing of the platform to Entrepreneurs.

I would be prepared to give away up to 40% of Virtual Valley to the right person, as I see this as a crucial role as we look to differentiate our offering from other marketplaces and Virtual Assistant services to command a higher purchase price when we do eventually decided to sell the company.

3. COLD EMAILING WORKS (IF YOU DO IT RIGHT)

Cold Emailing Works (If You Do It Right)CLICK TO TWEET

I sent this plain text email to 1,900 startup owners:

Hey [[name]]

Quick one, as I know you’re busy…

Just stumbled upon [[startup name]], and thought I would drop you a quick mail to explain how I think I can help you grow.

We recently launched Virtual Valley: a marketplace connecting startups and virtual assistants based in the Philippines. We have spent 4 months recruiting a database of the best VA’s that are hungry to enable startup founders such as yourself, spend more time working ON your business and not IN your business.

We have just moved out of Beta and are looking to bring just a couple of new startups to the demand side of the platform.

As I think that what you guys are doing is pretty cool, I would be happy to have a 30 minute, 1 on 1 consultation with you/your operations guy to deep dive into the tasks and processes that you could potentially outsource to maximise productivity and cost savings.

As a background, I spent 3 years working on large outsourcing projects with Accenture and have been outsourcing with startups for 2 further years, so know a thing or two about this stuff! Plus my hourly consulting rate is normally $100 😉

Furthermore, as we are in the early stages of our journey and would really value your feedback on our platform, we would offer you 1 month WITHOUT the Virtual Valley charge, this would reduce your investment in the salary of your new Virtual Assistant by 20%.

Let me know if it makes sense to talk?

Thanks

Tom

Founder – www.virtualvalley.io

Feel free to swipe and adapt for your business.

Before we jump into why I think this mail converted so well, let’s have a look at one of the responses:

cold email

The mail was sent less than 24 hours ago and we have already had 26 responses and ONLY 1 of them suggested that they knew the mail was automated.

A number of them enquired about our services and a couple of them have already gone on to create a Virtual Valley account and even hire Virtual Assistants, sort of like free revenue right? (Apart from the costs to build the email list and mailing software).

Here are the three reasons why I think this mail converted so well:

1. Build Value

I built the value of myself, Virtual Valley and the offer by making the following true statements:

  • That I used to work for Accenture
  • That my consulting rate is usually $100 per hour
  • That we are looking to take on just a couple of new clients
  • We have just come out of Beta e.g. people have already used us and we are a startup just like you
  • Offered an exclusive discount
Think about ways that you make make your offer more valuable to your prospect.

2. Sneaky Personalisation

The mail was sent in plain text to increase the personal feel, I also personalised the Founder Name and Startup Name naturally in the mail and made sure that the link was not tracked so it was pretty hard to tell that the email was automated.

3. Take The Perspective Of The Lead

Scroll up and review the first two sentences of the email again..

I am basically saying that I am not a normal spammer as I understand that they are busy AND that I want to help them with their biggest frustration as an early stage startup: growth.

To increase the amount of people reading your cold emails you MUST open the mail whilst talking from their perspective and NOT start talking about yourself straight away.

Three Key People

MARREN KATE (FOUNDER OF ZIRTUAL)

When looking for individuals in this world that have actually done what we are trying to do, there is no one better suited than the Founder of Zirtual: Marren Kate.

I reached out to Marren through her blog: and she generously agreed to a 1 hour Skype Call.

I will not go into further details here as I covered the majority of our discussion in this podcast episode, but let’s just say it was eye opening.

DAVE NEVOGT (FOUNDER OF HUBSTAFF)

Another individual who has been on a similar journey is Dave Nevogt, Hubstaff Founder. For those of you who are unaware of Hubstaff, I am more than happy to propose that you go and check them out, their time tracking software FAR surpasses what we have built here at Virtual Valley.

I first interacted with Dave on the Hubstaff blog:

How_to_Use_Transparency_in_Business_to_Help_Startup_Growth

I then followed him on Twitter:

Dave_Nevogt___dnevogt____Twitter

And connected with him on LinkedIn:

David_Nevogt___LinkedIn

And then decided to book a Clarity call with him:

Call_Details_—_Clarity

My biggest takeaway from the call was the requirement for relevant content marketing. Over the past 4 months I have produced numerous guest blog posts focused on marketing… NOT outsourcing, virtual assistants and systems (the content that supports the Virtual Valley mission). Thus moving forward, Virtual Valley’s content marketing will be more focussed on these topics.

CHRIS THOMPSON

At Virtual Valley, we love working with legends.

I spend a few minute each day checking in with our Virtual Assistants to see how they are getting on with their respective Entrepreneurs and the feedback for Chris has been remarkable.

He is currently working with Jeremiah and Gabs, both of which are thoroughly enjoying themselves supporting Chris with his online marketing.

So, Chris – thank you for working with Virtual Valley (and for being such a legend!).

Three Key Tools

1. IFTTT

Any tool that enables us to place PLAYABLE podcast episodes in our Twitter feed AUTOMATICALLY deserves a mention on our blog:

Tom_Hunt_on_Twitter___0-_4_Million_Episode_041_-_Stop_Working_Nights__How_To_Work_With_A_Virtual_Assistant__https___t_co_y89rc4o5XC__VirtualAssistant__4HWW__in_

Here is the Recipe if you want to do the same.

2. ZAPIER

Zapier have been instrumental in our campaign to systemise our lead generation efforts, so much so that I have dedicated a whole podcast episode to how we are using different Zaps to automate different parts of the process, it is being released this week.

3. COFOUNDERS LAB

Did You Know That @VirtualValley & @TomHuntio Are Looking For A Technical Co-Founder, Interested?CLICK TO TWEET

And as you are aware, Virtual Valley is looking for a Technical Co-Founder, so I have spent time browsing through different Co-Founder dating sites and have found CoFoundersLab to be the most effective. I have had two conversations with potential Co-Founder’s that I have met through this platform and who knows… maybe they will be the chosen one.

To be continued in next month’s update.

Three Key Focus Areas

1. FINDING A TECHNICAL CO-FOUNDER

Did You Know That @VirtualValley & @TomHuntio Are Looking For A Technical Co-Founder, Interested?CLICK TO TWEET

I have spoken with 5 potential co-founders during the past week and will be meeting those that I believe to be suitable IN PERSON later this month and expect to have made a decision and finalised the agreement by the end of March.

2. ENSURING WE CONTINUE TO STAFF THE BEST VIRTUAL ASSISTANTS

As I have stated from Day 1, one of the most important factors that will determine the success of Virtual Valley is our ability to source the BEST Virtual Assistants and connect them with exciting Entrepreneurs.

Our pre-launch recruitment process has been well documented, though we paused recruitment during the January and February as we had a sufficient amount of Virtual Assistants for the demand that we were experiencing. Now we are starting to experience increased demand (we had 12 paying customers during the month of February), we MUST ensure that we continue to provide the best Virtual Assistants possible to ensure we continue to add value to our Entrepreneurs.

3. MAINTAIN CLOSE RELATIONSHIPS WITH EACH PAYING ENTREPRENEUR

As Virtual Valley grows over the coming months, it will be crucial to maintain open and honest communication lines with all of our paying customers (we had 12 in February), for two reasons:

  • To collect feedback to enable continuous improvement
  • To ensure that Virtual Valley continues to provide value to the Entrepreneur once the connection has been made to increase chance of referrals AND to reduce churn and platform leakage.

Summary

In summary, February was a rollercoaster of a month that saw us DOUBLE the amount of hours charged through the Virtual Valley platform and therefore revenue, we connected with individuals that have done what we are doing and were all confident that it could be achieved AND helped 12 Entrepreneurs to such an extent that they were willing to pay for our service.

Not bad for a bootstrapped online marketplace that has been live for less than 2 months?

That said, we are significantly behind on our Q1 Goals so will be trying everything we can to catch up in the rest of March to try and get us back on track…

Speak then and you have an awesome month.

And finally, you know that one technical friend who is looking to join a PROFITABLE startup? It would be AWESOME if you could click the button below to help us in our search for an AWESOME CoFounder:

Did You Know That @VirtualValley & @TomHuntio Are Looking For A Technical Co-Founder, Interested?CLICK TO TWEET

How To Outsource Inbox/Calendar Management

In this post, you will learn ALL about how to outsource admin

You wake up, complete your morning ritual to nourish your physical, emotional and intellectual self and then sit down at your laptop…

Open up you inbox and are immediately bombarded by requests from other people.

3 hours later you realise that you have been frantically working on the agenda of others and have created NO value for your marketplace.

The situation above pretty accurately describes an average morning for myself prior to working with Virtual Valley’s Virtual Team Members

But now, my agenda and schedule has a bodyguard:

My Virtual Assistant

… who is responsible for allowing me to focus on spending my most valuable hours on the tasks that add value to the Virtual Valley community, which ultimately, will lead to the success of the platform.

Thus my question to you is:

How much time per day do you spend creating value for your marketplace?

Becuase if you are spending to much time working to other people’s agenda, could potentially be killing your business.

(You can use The Outsource Savings Calculator to determine EXACTLY how much money you could save through working with a Virtual Valley Team Member.)

Now, imagine waking up to a pre-organised and filtered inbox and calendar, this is a wondrous feeling.

It leaves clarity of mind, which you can then use to direct 100% of your effort straight into your most important tasks of the morning.

However, in order to set this up with your virtual team member you need identify strict guidelines:

  • Folder structure and guidelines
  • Structuring calendar invites
  • Your availability for meetings
  • Emails to unsubscribe to
  • Emails to respond to

For the following tasks:

  • Replying to/unsubscribing from and categorising emails
  • Collating content for your consumption
  • Monitoring Google Alerts for specific keywords
  • Scheduling and setting up appointments
  • To do list creation

My VA will then send me an update for me to review mid way through my work day that will alert me of any truly urgent tasks that require my attention. But remember, by this point I have already invested my most valuable hours into creating value for the Virtual Valley community.

Finally, it is important to note that outsourcing email and calendar management is definitely a learning process and the greatest time rewards will be experienced after a number of months working with your Virtual Team Member.

OK, now you are aware of what needs to be outsourced in relation to your inbox and calendar management, jump over to Step 2 of The Efficient Outsourcing Formula and follow the process.

How To Outsource Customer Service

As I mentioned in this Podcast Interview:

 

LEGENDARY customer service can REALLY set you apart from your competitors.

But it get’s better…

You don’t actually have to service the customers yourself to truly realise this benefit, if you outsource effectively.

If you read this post to the end, there should be NO reason why each and everyone of your customers will receive this legendary service, whether you are working, sleeping or laying a beach in Thailand.

And just so that you are aware that Virtual Valley really live and breath AWESOME customer service, here is a direct quote from one of our first Entrepreneurs:

“Virtual Valley has given us a level of service never experienced before in our work with a outsourcing company.” – Arthur Radtke – More Prospects Now

As social media amplifies the effect of word of mouth marketing, it is of paramount importance that your customer experience is flawless.

Now, you may feel that as business owner you are able to provide the best customer support…

And you are probably correct.

However, is that the best use of your time?

Would your customers prefer that you spend 4 hours per day addressing menial support tickets or developing that value new product they have been waiting eagerly for?

Let’s get started:

1. Understand Your Tone Of Voice

How do you want your customers to feel when they interact with your brand?

Exited? Confident? Happy?

Once you are clear on how you want your customers to feel, you can then work on how you will elicit these feelings through your customer service interactions.

With Virtual Valley, we want our customers to feel both secure but relax. It is for this reason that our customer service tone of voice and approach is casual yet re-assuring.

2. Identify Areas Of Customer Contact

Now we need to understand exactly when and where your customers will come to your for support with your product or service.

For Virtual Valley we have the following:

  • ZopIm (Live chat app on the site)
  • Email (Responding to autoresponders or contact form submission on the site)
  • Twitter (Responding to tweets or just reaching out)

3. Understand Key Customer Issues And Build Perfect Responses

There will be certain issues that will surface multiple times, instead of having to deal with these individually, it is a good idea to produce content guides and FAQ’s that you can refer your customers straight to, this saves time for both you and your customer.

For example, when we get question about what our Entrepreneurs could potentially outsource, we can just direct them to the How To Outsource Series page on our blog.

For those issues that it is not possible to cover in a content guide, e.g. refund requests/complaints, build out perfect responses so that each customer that does submit the request will ALWAYS receive a consistent and high quality response.

Ensure that all your content guides and perfect responses are built into your Customer Service Working Procedure (See Step 3 of The Efficient Outsourcing Formula).

Once you have completed and documented the steps above, head back to review The Efficient Outsourcing Formula, jump to Step 2 and get started!

How To Outsource Social Media

In this post, you will learn ALL about how to outsource social media

(This article originally appeared as a guest blog post on Social Media Today and don’t like reading? Check out this post in podcast form here)

Are you tired of trawling through your news feed just to find that one “non spammer” who would be good to connect with?

Do you get that insignificant feeling when you have been through your Twitter feed RT’ing, replying and liking only for it to refresh 2 minutes later with a whole new barrage of content?

Is it frustrating when you get the comment notification on your Instagram account only realize that wasn’t a human, just a server located somewhere in India?

These are usually the factors that drive people to outsource their social media presence.

(And I’m not talking about paying someone to provide 6k fake followers, 6k fake likes and 5 fake RT’s a day, I am talking about handing over the majority of your social media tasks to a real person)

But I am here to share the truth…

And once I have shared that truth I will take you through the Why, What and How of outsourcing your social media presence.

Why

As humans we are by our very nature, symbolic beings. Whilst running the risk of being too spiritual here we must understand the difference between real measures of success of a social media campaign:

REAL HUMAN INTERACTIONS

And the the symbolic measures of success we like to measure ourselves by:

FOLLOWERS, LIKES, RT’S, SHARES

Once understood, this immediately discredits buying fake symbols of success. As you are simply spending one symbol of success (money) on another symbol of success (followers) and not actually achieving anything (apart from wasting your own time).

Thus we are able to conclude that any activity that brings us closer to the truth behind real social media success (real human interactions), is worthwhile.

Though, we must be careful…

If your social media profiles represent you as an individual or business then obviously the real human interactions must involve you or your business.

If you are looking to outsource your social media presence to an individual that is not you or not your business then only certain tasks should be outsourced.

This is the situation which we will focus on.

What

In short, we must only outsource tasks that don’t directly lead to real human interactions, as this must come directly from yourself or someone within your business.

  • Scheduling content
  • Design images for posting
  • Alignment of social updates with targeted keywords
  • Ensuring social content is native to each network
  • Ensuring a consistent posting schedule
  • Hashtag research

Over the past 2 years of failing miserably with social media, I have finally found the secret.

Not that it is a really secret, in fact, it is blazingly obvious, it’s just that I was too selfish to realise.

For me, the key to being effective on social media is by reaching out and making an effort to develop relationships first, not waiting, selfishly posting your own links for people to come to you.

And if you do this consistently over time, you will build real, genuine connections with people and will ultimately gain a following.

So how do you do this?

By taking small steps each day to reach out and appreciate other people’s content.

e.g.

  • Liking and sharing on Facebook
  • Liking and retweeting on Twitter
  • Liking and following on Instagram
  • Liking and sharing on LinkedIn
  • Pinning and organising Pins/Board on Pinterest

And you can probably guess what I am going to say next…

Yes, some of these tasks do not need to be completed by you (I do NOT advise completely outsourcing your social media presence).

You can instruct your virtual team member to complete a number of actions each day on each social media platform and over time, you will be amazed at the increased engagement you have with your own posts.

WARNING – I would be hesitant with to outsource commenting on any social media network until you are completely confident of your virtual team member’s judgement and tone of voice.

Now we are aware of why and what we should be outsourcing, we must learn how to do so effectively…

How

After spending 5 years outsourcing in both the corporate and startup worlds I have defined a pretty flawless process (in my opinion ;)) and like to call it:

The Efficient Outsourcing Formula

(I know we already went through the Formula in the first of the How To Outsource Series, I wanted to go through it again, just to ensure that it becomes engrained into your business mindset.)

1. Identify Tasks To Be Outsourced

Fortunately, I have already done this for you in the “How” stage above.

However, if there are other tasks within your business that you think could be “outsourceable”, download this tool that will help you identify which tasks and processes within your role/business are “outsource-able”.

2. Perform Tasks To Be Outsourced

In order to optimize the process, train your “outsourcer” effectively and to understand the time requirements of each task you MUST be completely proficient in the task itself.

3. Create Working Procedures

Each process that is to be outsourced must have an associated Working Procedure (here is an example) – a document detailing exactly how the process is performed.

For bonus points, you can use Screenflow to create videos of you or someone in your team completing the process.

4. Train Your Team

As the individual that has created the Working Procedure for the process it is your responsibility to train the person who will be taking the responsibility in the future.

The training will occur in three distinct stages:

Introduction – Talk your “outsourcer” through the Working Procedure you have created

Forward Job Shadowing – Perform the working procedure whilst your “outsourcer” is watching either in person or using screen share software

Reverse Job Shadowing – Your “outsourcer” performs the Working Procedure whilst you observe

So there we are…

The truth about outsourcing social media accompanied by the why, what and how.

And the glorious result of outsourcing these non relationship building tasks?

100% of your time invested in social media will be spent on the task that REALLY matters:

Real Human Interactions

If you have any questions or queries regarding whether you should/should not outsource your social media presence, drop a link to your website and social media profiles in the comment box below and I will go through personally to provide advice.

How To Outsource Lead Generation

In this post, you will learn ALL about how to outsource lead generation

If your business is to be successful, you MUST to build processes to provide you with a fresh flow of new leads into your business each and everyday…

As the Entrepreneur, your role is to define and implement the processes that supply these leads, it is NOT your responsibility to perform the tasks these processes consist of.

Well, if you really want to, you can…

But don’t expect your flow of leads to grow, or even continue for longer than a couple of weeks.

With Virtual Valley, we define Lead Generation processes and then outsource them to one of our Team Members to perform, allowing me/Zandro to move on to investigate and define our next source of leads.

Take our podcast for example:

First, do you think I would have had time to design and implement the processes around 0-$4 Million if I had been focused on performing the tasks from one of our existing Lead Generation methods?

No, I do NOT spend my time reaching out to land guest post spots, connecting with people on Twitter or making new connections on LinkedIn, we have Team Members doing so.

Giving me freedom to define and implement new Lead Generation processes.

Starting to make sense?

Ok, so after our podcast launched and hit #1 in the iTunes New & Noteworthy Business Section:

documented the full process for the production and marketing of the podcast and then handed it off to one of Team Members.

Which allowed me to…

You guessed it, work on our next Lead Generation method!

Just in case you are interested, here is the Working Procedure that I created for the production and marketing of 0-$4 Million in line with Step 3 of The Efficient Outsourcing Formula.

OK, so your first step is to identify your current Lead Generation methods and then to jump into Step 2 The Efficient Outsourcing Formula to hand these over to your Virtual Team Members, to enable you to move onto defining new Lead Generation processes.