Lessen your work load by hiring outside assistance.
Jaime Jay is the founder and CEO of Bottleneck Virtual Assistants.
Bottleneck's mission is helping other businesses flourish, with the help of Dedicated Distance Assistants. These assistants are Filipino remote workers who are ready to be trained and offer customer care and business support. The benefits of hiring a qualified Dedicated Distant Assistant will alleviate you from working in your job so you can focus on your best work.
Learn more about how you can stay efficient with Bottleneck's assistants by listening to this episode of The Thoughtful Entrepreneur above and don’t forget to subscribe on Apple Podcasts – Stitcher – Spotify –Google Play –Castbox – TuneIn – RSS.
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Welcome to The Thoughtful Entrepreneur Show. I'm Josh Elledge, Founder and CEO of UpMyInfluence.com. We turn entrepreneurs into media celebrities, grow their authority, and help them build partnerships with top influencers. We believe that every person has a unique message that can positively impact the world. Stick around to the end of the show; we'll reveal how you can be our next guest on one of the fastest growing daily inspiration podcasts on the planet in 15 to 20 minutes. Let's go.
And with us right now, we've got Jamie Jay. Jamie, you're the owner and CEO of Bottleneck Virtual Assistants, and the host of the Culture Eats Strategy. Welcome to the show.
Thanks so much for having me, Josh. Really appreciate it. Looking forward to it.
So Jamie, you didn't have VA's as a high schooler, I assume. Although that would have been nice, right? You guys can help me out with that. Homework now, man, okay, I just came up with a brilliant business idea right there for high school and college students. Especially for that busy work. It's like, you know, listen, all do the studying, you do this stuff. And you know what, Jamie, you and I both served at the same time in the military. So you were in the army from 90 to 93. I was in the Navy from 90 to 95.
Oh, thank you for your service. Yeah, likewise,
likewise. So and you do your infantry soldier. Now, I wasn't necessarily tip of the spear. As you were. I was a journalist. So I was deadly with the typewriter, my friend.
That's going back I wouldn't mind doing that. I would have been pretty fun.
Yeah, it's, it was we believe it or not in journalism school, we actually had our own version of Hell Week, where they gave us just an impossible amount of work and tasks to do. So you know, you end up sleeping maybe like so. Seven hours the whole week, you know, just to try to put you in that potential environment where, listen, you know, you could be in a situation where there's just, there's just too much to do, you're not going to get everything done. We're going to try and push your, your, you know, your good senses, I would imagine your background in the military was probably pretty helpful for your journey as an entrepreneur.
I would, I would say it definitely some parts of it has contributed. I mean, it was wasn't easy. I mean, basic training a it and being in at second was pretty challenging. First time pretty much away from home and, and learning how to, you know, make sure all my stuff was laundered and, and all of that, you know, I'll just the life lessons we gotten is a very strict environment. You had to be very strict, very healthy, and, you know, a lot of exercising every morning, stuff like that. So there was a lot of good lessons, but a lot of it was responsibility driven, and I think being a entrepreneur, you kind of have to create your days, as opposed to taking instruction. In the military, there's a lot of instruction, but you also have to be pretty adamant about creating your own path. And, and I think overcoming a lot of those challenges kind of led me down that path. And I'm proud to say I'm pretty unemployable now, whereas post military, I went right into corporate America, and, you know, from one structure to another, and I always had that inner entrepreneurial spirit, kind of saying, hey, you're being held back here, you got to go out on your own and do it. Do it your own, you know, I have, you know, my own my own drummer, right beat The beat of my own drum. So I had to go out and do that and it took me 12 years, but I did. I did. I finally went out on my own and I'll never look back.
Good for you. Now. You've been podcasting since 2014. You gotta stop riding the pine from Fort to 2014 to 2018, which makes you Oh gee podcaster I don't know about Oh, gee, those guys got started back in like 2005 and six and seven and stuff in there. But, but yeah, I thought, you know, I'm gonna try and try doing this and I jumped into it and I never looked back on that either. I got tons of kudos to you, Josh for having a podcast because it's a it's a lot of work. But what a great tool for sharing education. Man, there are so many advantages to being in this platform. And I, I, you know, we we encourage our well, as part of the service that we provide, as you know, we get our clients to develop a platform so that they can more easily fill up their sales schedule. I just think there are so many benefits to them in the networking, the you know, just the knowledge and wisdom that I've been able to gain. And yeah, I mean, as a CEO of a company. I'm really, really busy. And so, you know, people look at this, you know, it's like, how are you doing a seven day, a week podcast? And I say, Listen, this is really what I need to be doing. I need to be serving audiences. I need to be networking with as many, you know, other successful business owners as possible. So may as well just turn that experience into a podcast. Incredible marketing tool. Good for you. I would probably never had a chance to meet you. Yeah, no. Yeah, for sure. And that's it. It's, you know, I think back to the particularly so it was May last year when we went from one episode a week to three episodes a week, then five episodes a week. And then it was by the fall that we went to seven episodes a week. And it's just such it's such a joy. And again, I don't wanna be too self serving here. I love it. Alright, so. So then in June 2016, we launched bottleneck, virtual assistants, what was the impetus for that?
So I was part of a mastermind group, and I was I had already been familiar with this. I've been sourcing vas since 2000. So I have quite a bit of experience in dealing with them 1230 G's what is that now 14 years Holy moly. Um, and I was helping some of my fellow master miners and some of my other colleagues, you know, find a VA. And it was suggested to me that I really needed to focus on this business. And prior to that I had a web creative web agency. And so I kind of wound down the creative agency and started with a bottleneck virtual assistants. One of the things that was cool about the web agency was that I got to meet a lot of unbelievable people that I still call friends today. The challenge was that I build a website and then we were gone. When continued that relationship, and I wanted to try and find or establish a business model that number one, I could still have a relationship with all these amazing business leaders, but provide ongoing services for them both on my part in developing subscription based services and on a mutual on their part. Helping benefit their growing company and supporting them in that cause. And together we could kind of, you know, meet in the middle as friends and business colleagues, you know, doing that kind of thing. And it's just, it's just grown by leaps and bounds from there. And it was it that's kind of how it all started was through that mastermind and then kind of giving me the courage to push me for push me forward.
You know, it's kind of easy to start a business. You're right, you just like, Okay, I'm just gonna do this. Yeah, right. Exactly. Like that part, in my opinion, is pretty easy. There are many things though, that aren't, don't come as inherent. I think any of us can say, that sounds like a great idea. I'm going to do it. And there are a couple things that I think that people just have no clue how big of a part of being a business owner. This is. These two things are obviously marketing and sales and marketing, which you're going to spend a lot of time on that and that Really days, a lot of time on that. And so that is going to be a major learning curve. And so that's kind of we've been able to help with a lot of that work. But another area is hiring great employees, setting that culture, like managing people, you know, finding and retaining people that they don't teach you that in high school. Jamie, they didn't teach you that are maybe a little bit in the army. But you know, it's like, that's not there's not a lot of, there's not a lot of education around that unless you majored in human resources in college or something. So where do we learn these skills? Most of us, I think we just make a lot of mistakes, and sometimes they're very expensive mistakes. They really are According to an article in Glassdoor it costs $4,129. to hire somebody in the US. It costs up to nine months salary to fire somebody in the US. I have a A client of mine who hired somebody and ended up paying fired and then fired them and ended up paying 75% of their salary for workers compensation for six months. Ouch. These are extremely
difficult things to deal with in business and sales and marketing. Yes, that's going to be an ongoing thing. hiring people. Yes, it's an ongoing thing. Culture, culture is extremely important. I believe culture is so much more important than strategy and strategy is really important. But you have to have a good vision, mission and core values set up. And that comes from you, Josh, or whomever. Whoever that CEO is, whoever that business leader is. Because you have to then assemble a team that can have something to grasp on to have a vision that they can share and move toward and and know and understand that every day there's a mission, that is a daily goal or objective that they're obtaining every single day. So you have that sense of a accomplishment. And it's on point. Without any of that it's really hard to get into your sales and marketing because your messages, who knows where it is? Yeah. So those are some of the things that I think are really hard. And some of the things that we practice here a bottleneck is independent, independent decision making. So we have a process, everybody on the team can make their own decisions. And that is, number one, is it good for the company? Number two, if I make a decision, is it good for the staff? And number three, and only then is it good for the client? Because if you make a decision anywhere in our company, and it's not in the best answer for bottleneck, and bottleneck is not healthy, how can I take care of my staff? If my staff is not happy? How in the world can I expect them to take care of the clients and move forward? What's nice about that is no micromanagement. Think of it like a basketball court. Go on that basketball court. Have fun shoot free throws, passing around dribble, I don't care, double dribble, I don't care what you want to do. Do whatever it is skyhooks you know Whatever, Kareem Abdul Jabbar days, right? But the second that ball goes out of bounds, let's blow the whistle, figure out what happened, and then get the ball back in play. This is really key because it empowers the staff to make decisions on their own. If they make the wrong decision, I let them know it's not going to bankrupt the company. Yeah, let's just not do it again. So we're really good at that, and really good at implementing against everybody's strengths, so that it empowers them to as a matter of fact, everybody on my team, they write their own roles and responsibilities. So when they're hired, they write their own role own responsibilities, so that I can understand so that we both can have a conversation about this, understand what it is they truly want to do where their strengths are. And if there's an inconsistency or something goes outside of the scope of what I really want them to do, we can address that at that time. But again, it's another empowerment move. So there's a lot of this fundamental foundational things has to happen before you can really take that that next step, then of course, there's, there's, there's so much more so if you want to stop me stop me. But there's, there's a ton of stuff that this the the CEO, the person in charge needs to have before they even begin to hire. Because a lot of times people don't know how to delegate. They don't know what they don't know. They don't know how to onboard. They don't have any systems or processes or step by step workflows. And the biggest challenge that we see a lot in this industry is a high churn rate. Yeah, the number one leading cause for the turnover is because people that hire are not prepared to hire yet because they think like, you know, Josh, you have all this knowledge. But if you don't write that down, and systemize it in a step by step workflow, how in the heck can you expect someone to come in and perform to your expectations?
That's it. Yeah. You know, one thing that I've started doing Jamie and I realize how critical that is, and so I want to attract great team members. So let's say for example, I'm wanting to communicate the my requirements, what my requirements are. So one thing that I like doing now is I'll, I'll list it out as best I can in text, but I actually love doing a screencast and actually giving a tour of everything that that, you know, that the platform's they would be using, and I show them and then they can hear my voice. They can see me, you know, on screen, you know, so, and I want them to know that when they start work with us, I think one of the most frustrating things for a VA is unclear expectations. And yeah, and order, there's just confusion about what they're supposed to be doing. You can't count on a VA to read your mind and know what they're supposed to be doing. And I have the tendency, because I tend to be the, you know, the idea kind of CEO, where I have a great idea, and it's very tempting for me to assume that everybody else gets it. And, you know, it's not their idea.
They didn't go with us. Come on.
Yeah, so I have to go. Like, like, explain like, I'm five, right, Li five, right. And, and that's really at the level that I try to break down what I'm thinking of, and they say, Now, you probably have a number of questions. Great. Like, I want to encourage questions. I want to encourage, like, what do you not get, and I don't want you to feel embarrassed. If you don't understand something. I would rather you know, go back and forth, like, as many times as it takes four to make sure that I communicated this because I get it, it's in my head. But I want to make sure that you understand this. And, and this is a culture where, please don't ever feel embarrassed to ask for clarification. You know, you're not dumb. I, you know, I just, you know, it's more on me to make sure that I'm very clear on what my expectations are.
I love that. That's, that's the That's unbelievable. And to hear that you're doing that like that, like I'm geeking out right now, that's,
well, I'm telling you this is decades of making mistakes.
Yes, it is. It is. And one of the ways that I found to add on to that too is I do the screen capture. I think everybody should do that. Because yes, they get things can be taken out of context, perhaps this if it's a, if it's an email or something like this, there's there's no mistaking what's happening here. But the nice thing about this is that when I do something like this, I will send it off to whoever that responsible party is. And I'll say, please create a written step by step process workflow based on this video, and then that does two things. Number one, they write down a step by step they go Okay, every time there's a click of a mouse, right, step one, go to this website, little screen capture screen, picture image, right. Step two, go in the upper right hand corner and click on this button to login. Step three, like it's that ridiculous. Yeah, it does two things. Number one, it lets me know that they are clearly clear 100% clearly understand what it is that they're doing. Or maybe they made a mistake and they heard something wrong or they interpreted something wrong in the video, or we can make that correction early on. I'll give you a real life example of how this process works. When I hired my first writer years ago, it took me about five weeks to train them, great writer, but did not have the technical savvy or the wherewithal to optimize for SEO and all of that stuff. So it took a while. Plus, you had to learn a little bit about us and what we did and all that stuff. But she recorded the step by step process for how to do everything how to submit a blog, how to submit an article, how to go blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. The next writer we hired took us five days of training, and on the sixth day she published her first blog. That is the power of systems and workflows. Because I was able to say, here you go follow this step by step.
It was pretty powerful. Yeah,
yeah. So, Jamie, the talk to me about a little bit more about the value of hiring project managers, you and I talked a little bit about this beforehand. And I just want to make sure that that we've really driven this home about how important that is to not just have a bunch of Indians, you know, that as it were, you know, chiefs and Indians expression. And, you know, why? why you want to have supervisors and project managers and that sort of thing.
Well, I think it's, yeah, this thank you for asking this question. This is good. So, I think it's important to identify a key person in your business that's there to support you. We call them executive assistants. Now. The role of an executive assistant does have project management skills involved in that, but they're there to basically take the low level activity off of your plate so that you can focus on the high level activity. So you want to keep the $20 an hour projects with your executive assistant while you're focusing on the hundred or $200 an hour projects. Figure speech, right? So basically what what, what we encourage people to do is the big the most the most time consuming thing about hiring somebody is interviewing and onboarding because the onboarding includes training, that's very time consuming. Now, I'm coming back to this project manager thing, but I think this is really important to lead into that. So when you hire somebody, most people expect their lives to drastically improve All of this stuff is going to go away. Yeah. And I'm in the business. So this probably hurts me. But I'm also 100% honest. And I've done this enough thousands of times as a matter of fact, and I'm here to tell you that your life is going to get drastically more challenging. Why is that? Because now you have to spend a time, take away from what it is that you're doing, have the courage to release certain activities and responsibilities that you've been doing in your own business, your business is your baby, you have to have the courage to release some of that. And then you have to train and onboard. And then 30 days, maybe 60 days down the road. Now you have a VA that is getting up to speed. They're understanding your business, they're understanding the tasks, workflows have been defined and created. Right? But now, you as a CEO have to really focus on delegation. A lot of people don't know how to properly delegate, right and this is where a project manager really comes in to play And that's why your number one person should have project management skills. Now, I call it the golden goose role. Yeah, a lot of people think that when they hire somebody to hire the executive assistants, they answer the phone, they're going to, you know, manage your calendar, the book, your travel, they'll do all those things that that are really low level that are important to get done. But you don't need to be doing this. Josh doesn't need to be on hold with the, you know, the airline's waiting for them to see what they're going to do to book it or go searching all through the best prices or anything like that. You need to be focused on talking to clients going to events, you know, doing your podcasts. The The, the thing about this is, you find somebody that can do all of that. But then they think, Oh, yeah, they're gonna do all my graphic design for me. They're gonna, you know, do my web development for me. They're gonna do you know, hey, audit, edit, edit my audio here for me. Oh, yeah, after that. Book. Don't forget to call, you know, my daughter's babysitter for next week or whatever. Mm hmm. Well, there's no personal I've ever found that's good on everything like that. Yeah, right, right. So we help train our virtual assistants to become project managers to go to our integrated services programs so that they can delegate these various specialty tasks like graphic designers, web developers, audio and video editors, so that our VA s our executive assistants don't have those specialties, but they can delegate it. Then when the task is done from our internal staff, they'll send it back to your VA, who will then dot the i's cross the T's act as quality assurance or quality control. And then and only then will they provide the completed project or task to our clients. Now, this is project management in its truest forms, because Josh didn't have to spend any time going and looking for a designer, making sure the designer had all the information they needed. Because this is all preempted by your VA. They're going to say, Josh, you know, do you have the text for this? I want to make sure that I have that The right copy. Is this the right images? Can you give me all of this stuff? And then they'll take and they'll handle everything else. You don't have to worry yourself about that. So it takes a lot of stuff off their plate as far as project management is concerned.
Yeah, for sure. And can you kind of explain your pricing? And how you I mean, you've obviously, you've productize this, which I'm always a big fan of.
Yeah, almost. Yeah.
Yeah. In this case, I am.
Yeah, fantastic. Well, we do a subscription based model. And it's a flat fee. The flat fee includes part time or full time, we are a premium based service. So most of our clients have been in business for quite a while. They've developed a good program, they're, they're set their, you know, their growth, they're in a growth phase. But they've been there and done that they understand they probably even hired vas in the past, or they've had they have a team of people. And and so the way our pricing model works is it's a flat fee, and you choose the level you want to come in at one week, two weeks or four week increments. You want to do probably Base Do you want to do recurring, recurring as a little bit less, but included in that flat in that flat fee are integrated services programs. So you can for one flat fee, you have a full time or part time assistant, who will then delegate and project manage any of your graphic design needs. Any of your web development needs or web management needs, or any of your audio or video editing needs are certain amount of hours for each one. But it's like hiring one and a half people. It's like hiring a team of people. Yeah, one dedicated point of contact. It's amazing.
Yeah, yeah, I could see the major advantage doing it. Because otherwise, you know, again, as the founder, CEO, and you're growing and scaling, you've got, you've got like what 10 people reporting to you, as opposed to just one who can kind of manage all that for you, you know, having a director of operations and project manager like this will absolutely change your life. And it's nice that there's already this pool that that's already been vetted. So I get it, I see the value there. And then your your prices range depending it you get 20 hours a week. And he as it when we're recording this, you know, it's $300 a week for 20 hours per week, up to 580 for 40. And of course, there's some discounts as well for, for paying at large, larger increments as well. So I get it. So Jamie, what would be a great place for people to start and is there you know, any piece of great content that you would love for people to enjoy to kind of get a real a good feel for the kind of the culture that you bring through bottleneck and kind of the value that you bring
it? Well, you can go check out the websites bottleneck done online. One thing that I would encourage people to do and do your research, do your research because bottleneck may not be the right fit for where you're at in your business right now. Because our our model is executive assistants and we're talking high level executive assistants here you People talk about Upwork, they offer a different, you can go in there, if you just need five hours of work on a certain project, maybe Upwork is there, maybe five hours there. There's a ton of different companies out there. Please do your research. Before, before you do your research, though. Do something as if it's the last time you're ever going to do it. And I'm gonna say this one more time, do something as if it's the last time you're ever going to do it. Meaning document everything that you do. And this is extremely important, because if you don't understand what tasks you can delegate to someone, then you're not going to have a really good idea of how much time it's going to take. You're not going to know the right questions to ask. So we encourage everybody to do what we call as a delegation roadmap. And this is on a Google Sheet, three columns in the first column, write down tasks, and then assign two values to that. The second column is delegate and the third column is internal. On the delegate column, is this something you must do for this task? Or can you delegate this to someone else? And here's the key 80% as good as you can do it, because now you're setting your mindset up to know that they're not coming into this knowing everything that you know, there's some leeway there. But if they get to be on this, that's good, but there's room for improvement. And then the next one is energy. does this give me energy? Or does it completely drain me of energy, then you take all of those tasks that you can delegate to somebody that completely drains you of energy. Now you have a subset list. That's the beginning and the foundation for your job roles and responsibilities, which you should have prepared before you ever meet a potential VA. So if you can get these these couple things in a row, researching and documenting all of your stuff, you're going to be in a much better position to go and search and do the do the research on who it is that you're going to be working with.
Yeah, I dig it. Well, Jamie Jay, you're also the host of Culture Eats Strategy. podcasts and so that, you know, again, wherever you're listening to this podcast right now just hit up your favorite podcast app or directory. And again, it's called Culture Eats Strategy. And that is that somebody said that Who said that?
That was Peter Drucker Culture Eats Strategy for breakfast and that he I cannot believe he got fired from Chrysler for talking about culture and saying how much more important culture was than strategy. Oh,
wow. That's great. All right. Well, it's a great place to connect with you as well. Jamie Jay. Again, the website is Bottleneck.online. That's the TLD. Right there. Bottleneck.online is the website. Jamie, thank you so much for joining us.
Thank you. And a quick shout out to Alyssa. I want to say thanks to her. She did a great job for you.
Yeah, Elisa is our she's our Director of Operations. She runs this company. I just, I just show up and talk to nice people.
She's amazing. That's
awesome. Thanks. Jamie, I appreciate that.
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