Welcome to the e-commerce marketing podcast, everyone, I am your host, Arlen Robinson, and today we have a very special guest Linh Podetti who grew up in Vietnam and migrated to Australia with her family at the age of 9 and became a single mum at the age of 20.
Determined to create a brighter future for her son, Linh started her first eCommerce business in 2009 which she built from scratch through outsourcing. This is where she found her true passion and a gap in the marketplace. Linh then sold her eCommerce business and leveraged her outsourcing expertise to start a successful marketing agency and video animation business.
In 2015 she launched Outsourcing Angel, a social enterprise and offshore recruitment company. Outsourcing Angel is now a million dollar business with over 70 Virtual Assistants all over the world. Not only does the company allow business owners to free-up their time, it allows everyone to contribute to a greater cause.
Company profits from Outsourcing Angel are used to fund charity initiatives such as feeding programs and clean water projects to help poverty stricken communities in the Philippines.
Linh is now a mother of 3 kids, running 3 businesses from home and continues to inspire others through Speaker Events, Podcasts and Social Media. Welcome to the podcast Link. Thank you, Arlen.
Great to be here.
Yes, it is awesome to talk to you today. You’re logged in, of course, from Australia. Superexcited to really get into the topic of today. As we mentioned, your basically your bread and butter these days is outsourcing and providing outsourced virtual assistants to businesses all over the world. And today, of course, we’re going to focus is going to be how these virtual assistants can help e-commerce businesses and how it all works. But before we get into all of that, what would you tell us a little bit more about how you got into what you do today, specifically how this all came about?
I mean, my first business was an e-commerce style. I was selling nail polish and I had no idea about business at this point in time, no idea about entrepreneurial things and digital marketing, nothing at all. But it really did help me to learn about it because I needed to get a website down to get a look at that. But I actually didn’t know about offshore outsourcing at that point. You know, like most people even know that those things exist.
I was just getting outsourced to an Australian company only to also I felt like I got ripped off by them. I think when it comes to outsourcing, if you don’t know what you’re outsourcing and what to look for, you can still waste money.
And so this is why I threw away pretty much three thousand dollars on a website because I realized that website was built under their platform and that means I can’t take over after that. And so I looked at the ongoing right that they would have cost me eighty dollars an hour to fix anything which no one on my team can do. I mean, they have to keep on using their team. So then I had to throw that away. And with limited funds, I realized that it’s not just building a website.
You do need to do some adverts, you need to create more content. And this is where I knew that with limited funds, I cannot continue to use Australian companies to do. And so I stumbled across a political artist at the time and I was just posting pops up and like everyone else, I also got ripped off. I didn’t know what I was looking for is just like if he said you could do the work I gave job and basically didn’t get what I asked for.
And so a thousand dollars later didn’t really succeed in that space. But I don’t know something about outsourcing really screwing with me because I was born in Vietnam. I came to Australia. So I guess working with developing country people, I felt that connection. I know that they are all hard working people that are trying to make a good living. And so I just persist through it and learn how to communicate with them. Came down to me like, I don’t know what I’m asking people not communicating well with them, you know, picking the wrong people.
Of course, there’s still people out there that are as honest as they should be. But through all that, I learned later on how to actually find the best people to do the best things. And it became my agency when I decided a fellow economist told someone else that loves now polish more than I do do something else. And that something else became basically came from outsourcing of other business owners that I’ve met along the way, had the same challenge, like how do I get my business online and how do I get this done?
And they didn’t have time for that. So they hired me to deal with the outsourced look. OK, great, great. Thank you for sharing that. And it’s it’s always awesome to hear stories of founders that birthed a company out of their own need. I’ve talked to so many founders on the podcast and just in life in general, and they’ve created a product or service and it truly has come from your knees like you said you would. Dealing with some outsourced developers that didn’t quite work out, you didn’t have the best experience and you thought about, all right, how can I make this better?
How could I improve this not only for myself, but for others that are probably going through the same scenario? That’s awesome. I love to hear stories like that because it really shows that, you know, you have a passion for what you do because you have that need. And I’m sure, you know, of course, you still have the need. I know you’re running like two other businesses as well. And of course, I know you’re using virtual assistance for those businesses as well.
So you’re really in it and you’re able to see what the actual needs are of other business owners. So that’s awesome. And that’s really good to hear as well. Now, I think for an e-commerce business that as everyone knows, anybody that has a business, especially e-commerce, there’s a ton of things that you have to do from the marketing, from web development, from sales, product fulfillment, you name it. The list goes on and on.
And so everybody’s overwhelmed. And so. It with regards to virtual assistance, I think one of the things I guess kind of we’re going to start out with is there may be business owners that are listening, maybe kind of even on the fence, whether they may be more used to just working directly with people in their offices, facilitating their whole task schedules just like that. And so they’re wondering, you know, is there really what are some challenges that are going to come up with regards to virtual assistance orders?
I think at the end of the day, you need a treat. When we think of a virtual assistant. First of all, the myth is that they can only do admin work. And now, well, virtual system just means they are working virtually, but they can have be quite skillful and educated in a different arenas of marketing. Could be could be web design. It’s a multiple of things. And the other is kind of thinking that you’re just outsourcing some stuff, whereas it’s really about building a team.
So when I talk about outsourcing, I’m talking about how do I find these amazing skilled workers that are a lot more affordable, but how do I train them and build them up to be part of my company? And with that mindset comes you will need to treat them as if you were treating any local employees, meaning when you hire them, you on them properly, you train them slowly as if you would train someone local. And if you put that time and care to outsource work, we really outsource.
So basically you’re outsourcing a role, but you’re not really like outsourcing Tosya. Once you put that mindset in and you really take care of these people and working every day with them at the nine to five like you would with your local employees, you will reap the benefits of someone that is looking better than what someone working next to you sometimes because of the culture, the way they work. But when it comes to working with them, you need to learn how to communicate online.
So, of course, working with someone next to you is different to working with someone online. Online, there’s a way to how often do you communicate? How often do you report? Do you use the right tools, project management tools or or communication tools? Because all those things make a difference in how you build your team virtually. Right? Very true. Very true. I think a lot of it, like you said, is you really have to treat that person really almost as if they’re really there at your organization.
I think that’s kind of where a lot of businesses go wrong. They think just because, you know, they’re in a different country, they’re thousands or hundreds of miles away, it’s a different relationship. Yeah, I mean, in a way it is. Of course, the person is right across from you. They’re not in an office next to you and things like that. Somebody there’s a difference. But yeah, what I’ve seen over the years, because we utilize virtual assistants that we’ve have since the inception of our business, believe it or not, we’ve we started off outsourcing when we founded the company or so it’s off or a back then how starting are active in the year two thousand.
And so we’re familiar with it. And I think the key thing that you pointed out is that the communication is one of the biggest things that you really have to have down, because more so than ever, because these days, of course, if somebody is not there in front of you, you’re not to be able to converse with them right there. It’s a little bit different now. Of course, these days we have the Zoom’s we have all of these meetings technology.
So it is a lot easier to physically communicate with people, but it’s still a little bit different. And you definitely want to make sure that you have all of your kind of ducks in order with regards to communicating.
And that’s that’s what our company is. I just wanted to say a time of trying to figure it all out. So when they come on board, it’s not about just giving you the VA to work with. It’s like, how do we guide to how do we make sure that you have the right systems and tools and and processes so that you can make it work with your vivia is just a person. But if you don’t give the instruction, if you don’t have the right strategy for your business, then you won’t be able to grow.
So we provide all that. And even just how to keep your VA engaged with you, too, because if you’re busy as a business owner constantly out in the road and not there to provide that love and connection for your VA, then they won’t be productive or motivated. And so we try to do that as well as part of what we do.
Yeah, makes sense. I know a lot of my speaking with e commerce, business owners and even business owners that have tried e commerce, virtual assistants for various tasks. I know one of the things that can be challenging if we kind of pull this into the market, the whole marketing arena, there’s as you already know, with e commerce, there’s a lot of things that fall under marketing tasks. And one of the challenges I want to kind of get your opinion on how to overcome these is when you were, let’s say, initially bringing on one particular virtual assistant.
How do you know how much to hand hold versus when to just let them go and kind of take responsibility for things on their own? Is the. Is there a general rule of thumb for that? Yeah, so I think at the beginning, of course, you build them properly with guiding them to make sure they understand your vision, your mission, what the hell you’re doing in your business and your goals and things, helping them understand how their position fits in with the organization.
But you also then set expectations and how you like to be receiving your reports. What are you looking for? How do you want them to you might say, look, I’m the type that’s really approachable and I want you to ask me questions any time you have. I’m also the type that so is you have your own way of your own expectation that it’s good to set it out as well. But the other thing that we do encourage our clients is also to let go and start to empower your virtual assistant or your team members to make decisions for you.
So that means once they get a hang of your of their work, you now start to teach them to take responsibility for solutions as well. So you want to be able to train them up to how to handle when there is a question, a problem. So I don’t come to us. We call this the next question, meaning don’t come to us with just the problem. Go ahead. This is the problem. It’s always come with a solution and suggest to us what the solution is.
And you as a leader should always be patient enough to go, OK, how did you come up with that solution? What do you think is the best solution? And letting them make those decisions and training them once they start to make some correct decisions, you’re going to also feel the confidence to letting them go next time you just go with it. And I trust your decision. Right. So it comes to that. It’s not just this is with the VA.
This is about team here. So I’ve come across business owners who have teams, but they still bottlenecks in their business because they are making all the decisions for their staff. They stop coming through them and asking for approval for everything. And this is training just in terms of time, not just remote teams. Yeah, right. Gotcha. Gotcha. I really love what you said as far as empowering them to try to come up with solutions, though, instead of saying there’s a particular problem, don’t just come to me with a problem.
Think about it on your own and figure out a solution no matter if you think it’s the best solution or not. Just think of a solution. Provide us the details of how we would implement that and then leave it to us, the business owners, to decide that’s the best route. I love that because that really empowers people to feel comfortable to try to solve things. And like you said, over time, they will as a kind of go through the ropes, they get a little more comfortable with your processes.
The solutions they come up with will be right on point. With what you’re thinking about working with someone, you take it slow rather than give them all the time that you need to delegate. You should actually do well slowly on one part of the missing person. As I did that. Well, then you roll onto the top and it’s really important to kick in a lot more often at the beginning. And rather than waiting for them to spend a whole day doing some task, maybe you would ask them to do a little bit of it to check and to make sure that they are on the right path.
And, yeah, a little bit of hand holding at the beginning just so that you don’t waste time because you both could be understanding of what the task is. And I would also recommend that I think that by just in the past, it’s about even creating live video like a screen video and training your staff, because sometimes they could waste time by sending an email with a long line of instruction which can be misinterpreted. Even someone local will misinterpret. And then there’s the other part where you really do need to tell you to do something.
And when you’re doing that, there is a chance for them to forget what you just put them, because it’s like a training also. It means that you don’t get to create as you go. So why are we always in correspondence? Like if you have to take some of something, why don’t you create a screen video to share that with them? They can watch it again. They need to watch to understand. And if it’s not to build up as a process of future people to work on, to use as part of the process.
Right. One thing we’re able to kind of go now is, of course, you provide outsourcing talent, but these days outsourcing is huge. There’s a lot of different places people can go to find virtual assistants. And so if you’re at the point where you’re like, all right, great, I’m going to go out, I’m going to look for some virtual assistants, for whatever task, for my particular business. Are there any particular tools or resources or assessment tools that a business owner should use to find that right talent when they’re getting exposed to the pool of talent out there?
Yeah, so some things to consider. For example, do you want to work with someone because virtual assistant could still be American, could be Australian, they could be still in the first little country. But with that, they’re more expensive. And you just need to consider like, what role do I really need to have someone local when it’s local? I like it to be more of a managerial role and project management. Rather than the actual past, the next thing is when you’re starting new, maybe you start with project.
So with project base that will discuss something that is not recurring means you should actually do project based. Right. But if something is recurring, this is where you consider having someone more ongoing and depending on where you are. There are certain countries that are really quite certain things, like for us, we love working with Filipinos because they just kind of holistically good in digital marketing and the labor cost is so low culturally. They’re very dedicated and loyal and all that stuff.
And so that’s kind of the country that we work with. And there are sites out there that are just Filipino Veidt resources that you can find from. But there are sites like applicable all that who? Moraitis of different people from different country. But the bigger the site is with so many options, it’s just more work for you to pick and choose who it is. And it comes down to, again, knowing what you’re after, because if you just like you don’t know what a Web site should look like, what you do, then you should really even work with a Web site agency that is going to tell you what you need.
Right. But if you know clearly what you want, you know what you’re asking for, then it’s easy to create a job post that outlines exactly what you want and when you’re hiring people. I guess our mindset and what we teach is always about building teams. So we want you to find someone that you can work with long term. So that means look beyond just the skill set, don’t just look that. Can this person do the task? Well, it does this person have the right attitude, values that fit in with your company.
So put in the same mindset is if you’re hiring someone local, you would go through the same question, why do you want to work for us and look for that attitude that you can see in the way that they have a positive attitude and can work hard because skills can always be learned as well. So you might, I advice, have been with me for seven or eight years and she started off as a content writer, then got upgraded managing content writers, and then she just got so good that she started to take over some of the roles that I was doing, even job.
So at that time I had a limiting belief, thinking that I can’t outsource the recruitment because like, I’m the best recruiter because I love people and I have that way of knowing people. How the hell do I even recruit that part? But surprisingly, if you can explain it, how you do it and have someone shadowing you and then you show them and watch how they do it, everything is trainable. And so I now don’t do any of the internal parts of my business at all because everything can be changed to someone else.
They’re very sure that I’m glad you mentioned that. It’s there’s really nothing that can’t be outsourced these days. I mean, there’s no really task. I understand what you’re saying. You were hesitant to outsource the recruitment because you feel good. You know your business the best. You know what talent to look for. You’re the best to do that. But everything that you know can definitely be trained. You can get somebody up with what what it is that you’re looking for.
And so they’re in the same have the same mindset. And I know the other key thing here is to make sure no matter what role you’re training up is to have clear, concise, standard operating procedures, which is key when you’re dealing with virtual assistants.
So someone use the word outsource. We feel as if we’re throwing it to someone external. But really, it’s delegating these tasks to someone that’s working with you nine to five like an employee. What without the employee benefits, you have to give them local services. They still paid as a contractor. But if you replace the what outsourcing with delegating to your team, you would feel more like this is someone that’s going to grow with you in your team. When it comes to using the word outsourced, you just feel like, oh, I’m sorry, something to someone so far away, then all that’s outside of my company.
What if they take that work and do something? I don’t know. It’s just yeah. And I think that’s why people get confused or not be able to reap the benefit of working with overseas people because they feel like I don’t want assholes, I want someone else. But no, you can get it done by an outsourced worker from overseas. But they work for you in health. Yeah, exactly. It’s just the wind shift. You have to just think of them as part of your staff.
You’re just empowering them to do their role, really, just as if they were right there for you. You know, thankfully, we’re the kind of the age that outsourcing has been around for a little while. A lot more people are more comfortable with it. It’s a little bit more accepted because I do know, like I said, we started off doing this in the year 2000. And like I said, our first employee was a virtual employee, of course, myself.
My business partner founded the company, but we hired and outsourced developer actually was from the Philippines as well and was our first employee. And, you know, we at that time, we didn’t know a lot. We just know we had a pretty big project. I was our kind of our first project and we had to get somebody to coat it. We learned a lot of lessons, but these days it’s a lot different. There’s a lot more resources available, a lot more communication tools for sure available.
So I’d say, yeah, we’re kind of that. Right point in time, where it’s definitely on the business owners side to kind of take advantage of all of these things and and companies like yourself to provide such a great platform to connect businesses with virtual assistants. So that’s awesome. As we get ready to wrap things up, I always like to highlight successful companies that have done a specific task. And I know you’ve dealt with a lot of different companies, maybe some that people know about, maybe somebody you’re just familiar with.
But what are some specific companies that have been successful virtual with virtual assistants and what are some key things that they’ve done to really be successful with them?
That you can highlight the beauties that we been be able to service clients from all sorts of industry, whether they’re an e-commerce business or they I.T. company or they’re a finance company, because what we specialize is in providing you the marketing and admin stuff. So every company has that department. And so, for example, with our e-commerce client, he uses Albio to do all of his graphic design work and using it for social media. So a lot of our clients do use via social media.
Social media is such a big thing. There’s so many platform channels and get to get all these posted, scheduled and engagement. There’s just a lot to be done there. But I mean, we have vast variety of clients that use them in-house for more admin work. So imagine your local staff having their own assistant now. So even being able to share an assistant to manage all your calendars, multiple people’s calendars and bookings and data entry into the CRM system.
So, yeah, there’s creative ways to use a visa. You can use it across multiple team members. And you would also have even your executive assistant secretary in your company could have an assistant now, because the best part is that the more you want to offload, the next person in line could actually take that work from you. Now, that person also needs help as the as you overwhelm with more work, then it’s also about then hiring just more and more base that that can work under them.
So a lot of obvious who’s that’s you know, who’s been with us for a while. I start to get them to do more advanced with one of my virtual assistant from the Philippines is actually the one that does all of my payments. So she knows my credit cards. She does the payroll because she’s the most trusted person who’s been with me. Now, as she gets busy, I would hire another virtual assistant to work under her. So there’s unlimited opportunity to utilize the vibe.
And nowadays automation is great, but automation is becoming too much of a blur. And in order to stand out, you really need to put some personalization. And so having a visual system who at a more affordable rate is really grateful that because you don’t want everything to be robotic and automated, you want to keep away to create some personalized experience. And our visual system, whether it’s live chat or admin email, like sending emails to your customers or reaching out to people on LinkedIn lead generation, but in a more personal way, because everyone’s a little bit different, you want to sound a little bit different rather than everything is so automated that it can turn off a lot of people if you just make it too automated.
There still has to be a human element and a lot of the contact, of course, that you’re going to have with your customers and prospective customers. So that part of it, you know, you definitely want to keep in place. One key thing that I want to point out with the virtual assistants is that a lot of business owners are kind of leery as to where do you get started, what tests can they do versus things that I need to do myself.
I think the best way to really get started that I’ve seen is just from everybody that you’re kind of your core working staff, have them really detailed all that they’re doing, detail all of their tasks individually that they’re doing, and then, you know, just create maybe like a spreadsheet and say, OK, could this be outsourced? And then nine times out of ten, most things on that list can be outsourced. You could easily train somebody up to do it.
And then just by doing a quick cost analysis of what it would take you to pay a virtual assistants to do these things versus you having somebody in-house that you’re probably paying a lot more for you quickly see the benefit. I think that’s yeah.
And I think if your own local employees get to work more on high level things or strategies, it’s going to empower them more as well. And they will feel more important to have a team of virtual assistant that could support their role. And if they are working on more impactful, it will impact your bottom line, too. It’s going to be able to generate more revenue. So, yeah, I think it’s always about auditing even your own top just because you delegated and outsource these tasks today in a month’s time.
What else are you doing that that next person can still take on as well? Yeah. So it’s definitely, definitely constantly improving. That’s great to learn. I definitely have learned a lot today speaking with you and I know our listeners have as well as we know here. We’re at the beginning of twenty, twenty one. The sky’s the limit. As far as outsourcing is concerned, I think this recent pandemic is really just pro. Exploded more than it has already been decided before all of this outsourcing was already used.
I think at this point it’s like they’re about to take over the world. Really, there’s so many companies are they’ve shut down their physical offices, their office space, and they’re trying to outsource things. And so I think we’re really at a point where it is really going to be a part of really almost every country at this point is becoming the new normal. Yeah, it is very true, very true to do doggle. So it’s been awesome having you.
But what I like to always do is close out with the final question, which is more of a kind of switching gears here to so our listeners can get to know you a little bit better. You don’t mind sharing one closing fun fact that you think our audience would be interested in knowing about yourself.
OK, so I am an aspiring actor. I studied acting last year and I wanted to get into acting because I really realized that the power is in storytelling and being part of a movie or a documentary that could actually transform your thinking. And with my love for because I was doing a lot of YouTube and podcasts and I got more comfortable on camera and I’m like it, I think I can get to that next day. So it is a kind of aspiration and something that I’m trying to get into.
So I just launched an Asian woman talk show called Rise and Rise and Shine. So and I’m just basically following Oprah’s full path of becoming a star host first and then maybe being pushed into a movie. And that’s like, that’s awesome.
Well, thank you for sharing that. I appreciate that. And I definitely check out that show. You said Rise and shine and you do Asian rice.
And that you definitely could see that. I’ll be sure to check that out. And I hope our listeners will as well. Lastly, before we let you go, if any of our listeners want to reach out to you, pick your brain any more about outsourcing, what is the best way for them to get in contact with you?
Yeah, I think the best way is to Infinity dot com, which is my website. There’s multiple pieces there and different social media links. But my particular outsourcing business is called outsourcing angel dot com. So this is where you can learn everything about outsourcing. And there’s also a free resource page that you can download any Abebooks and checklists that I have in there. So, you know, like what can I do for LinkedIn or YouTube or what’s the one that I can do?
It’s all there for you to download for free.
Okay, great. That’s awesome. We’ll definitely encourage all of our listeners to check you out on your website, multiple websites there and see how they can connect and see how outsourcing can be a benefit to them as well. Well, thank you again for joining us today on the E Commerce Marketing podcast. Yeah. And thank you so much for the opportunity to speak to you and to speak to the audience. No problem.
Founder of Outsourcing Angel