Product University - Sophie Howard (Aspiring Entrepreneurs)
MODULE 4 - Virtual Assistants
This is a detailed review of Module 4 of Sophie Howard's "Product University."
Each Module is gone through extensively.
MODULE 4 - Virtual Assistants
Session 1: Why Outsource & Planning
One of Sophie's Powerpoint Slides, proving Sophie's experience in Amazon FBA:
What to consider when deciding what to outsource:
Where do you find VA's?
Sophie names three different places that you can place job offers and applicants can put in an application:
- Online Job Site
- Local Hire but Works Online
She has had the most luck with hiring websites and names a lot of them:
Sophie then goes over a lot common jobs that VA's take over in eCommerce:
The Hardest Part of Hiring:
To conclude the introductory session on virtual assistants, Sophie shares the most difficult part of bringing on help:
**Letting go of control**
When she started her business, Sophie characterized herself as being a bit perfectionistic, intent on crossing t's and dotting i's. As her business grew, she recognized that she'd need to bring on an assistant. As the assistant grew into her role, she ended up, Sophie says, doing the tasks better that Sophie herself did.
Session 2: Intro + Q&A
Session 3: Recruiting & Training New Virtual Assistants
After going through the process and explaining each step, she goes onto Upwork and looks at those who have applied to the job she posted the previous week. She picks several applicant's profiles and gives her commentary as she reads through their cover letters and resumes.
Session 4: Managing Your Dream Team
Sophie wants a small, high-quality team, minimal drama, really productive team, than an empire. Find one great person to start, who can be a generalist, filling in where you lack. The only part of her business that she doesn't outsource is negotiating with suppliers, getting the product deals.
As the leader of the business, Sophie brings into play motivational speaker and self-help guru Tony Robbins' "6 Needs of Happy People" to illustrate the environment and opportunities that she strives to create for her VA's.
Those needs are:
Each need relates to the others.
Part 2: Top Qualities of Excellent VA's
Sophie offers her list of characteristics to give course takers a place to start when deciding what they would like to see in a virtual assistant.
Part 3: Checklists
Sophie shares about the benefits of having checklists of different frequencies (Daily, Weekly, & Monthly), because it makes the job very simple and straightforward for the virtual assistant, because they know exactly what needs to be done.
She also includes a brief aside, sharing what tools she uses in her business to keep it pretty much paperless (Dropbox), which enabled the sale of her business to be very simple, since it was mostly a transfer of files. She tried using a variety of autoresponders and the one that has worked best for her is Kipply.
The relationship with your VA is not a one-way deal, but needs to be a two-way, symbiotic flow of information and power.
To conclude her VA module, she encourages everyone to have their product launched in preparation for the 5th module which will focus on Amazon's Seller Central.
Module 4 - My Primary Takeaways
Sophie's guidance on outsourcing is very thorough. The biggest aspect that I appreciated was her list of what to look for in high quality VA's. I'd assembled most of my current team before I took the time to write down what I'd like them to be like.
The checklists Sophie provides at the end of the 4th session reminded me of my initial outsourcing task sheets. I hired an FBA jack-of-all-trades former manager to coordinate a lot of the daily tasks once I had a few products listed. Part of his role was to bring on reliable help as he also has HR experience. While it cost a lot to hire him, he got a great team together over the next few months and ran several product lines for nearly 2 years while he set up his own business.
Sophie started by hiring small since she was just getting her online business started. As I already had an established business, I had the income to hire more comprehensive help.
Video Quality: 8/10
The video quality is slightly better because she is not simply filming herself with her webcam, but shows powerpoint slides for the majority of the module.
As Sophie is now using a headset microphone, her voice comes through a lot crisper.
The content of this module is gold and the organization of it is significantly better than previous modules, especially because she stuck with her slides.
OVERALL IMPRESSION OF MODULE 04
This Module goes into great detail on what the Virtual Assistant onboarding process involves. It shows how to create a hiring funnel from start to finish as well as how to evaluate applicants and to filter out your finalists. Both experienced FBA Sellers and those new to the business model will find these 4 sessions valuable.