Online Course Specialist, Janet Kafadar, Shares the Trials and Triumphs in Recruiting the Right Virtual Assistant for Her Growing Business
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In this episode, special guest Janet Kafadar, who is the Fairy Godmother of Online Course creation, shares her experiences, both good and not so good, in finding a Virtual Assistant that was the right fit for her and her business.
Janet steps us through the trials she faced when looking for the right VA and how she has finally found the right person, with the right skills to really take her business to the next level.
Some of the areas covered include:
- The three biggest problems faced when you have an offshore VA
- The importance of recruiting the right VA
- Working to your VAs strengths
- Helping your VA grow in their role and in your business
Let us know what your key takeout has been from this episode and join the continuing conversation over in the Virtual Success Facebook Group.
In this episode:
01:46 – Who is Janet Kafadar?
05:44 – Knowing when to hire a VA
08:48 – Dealing with quality issues
09:45 – Sometimes things just don’t work out
12:00 – How to deal with employees personal issues affecting their work
14:20 – The 3 biggest problems with having an offshore VA
17:30 – Recruiting the right VA for you and your business
19:00 – Working to your VAs strengths
22:46 – Helping your VA grow in their role
24:35 – Building your virtual team
27:43 – Wrapping things up
Barbara: Hey everyone, and welcome back to another episode of the Virtual Success show. I’m your host Barbara Turley, and I’m flying solo again today because my co-host, Matt Malouf, is off scaling businesses like mad, and taking on lots of consulting clients. We are getting back in the fold together in the next few weeks, but I’m flying solo for a few shows.
I don’t mind so much today, because the guest I have on is not only a very good friend of mine, but she’s a very good client of my company Virtual Angel Hub – Janet Kafadar. Janet is an online course creation expert, is how I would describe her, and she’s changing business for so many people out there who want to create their online courses, and really getting it out there. Janet, welcome to the show.
Janet: Thanks so much, Barbara!
Barbara: Did you like that intro?
Janet: Yeah, it was really nice. I’m like a super star.
Barbara: You are a super star. Course creation is a challenge for so many people. We know that online courses are the way to really scale businesses and get some passive income into your business, but it’s hard to get round to doing it, and then creating a course that people actually get traction with. To kick off, do you want to just tell me a little bit more about what you do, and tell our listeners a little bit about your business, how you started, and where you’re at now?
Who is Janet Kafadar?
Janet: Sure, yeah, absolutely. As you said, I’m an online course design specialist, and I help my clients create online courses and information products. Before I used to do a lot of the coaching and mentoring side of things, but I realized that I couldn’t handle it. I really just wanted to get in there and just help them, and get it done for them, and help them move quicker, and help them move forward faster. That was the main issue that I kept seeing. After they would finish coaching and mentoring with me they would still be at that point where it still wasn’t launched, and I kept thinking, “What is it? Why are they not moving forward?” It’s really just the…
Janet: Implementation is what would just trip them up. Then life gets in the way and other things happen.
Barbara: That’s a challenge.
Janet: Yeah, it’s a challenge.
Barbara: As you know that was the main problem I saw as a business coach as well, and why I launched Virtual Angel Hub, was because people really get stuck in their business with the doing. They learn what to do, they usually know what they want to do, but they just have no time to get it done.
Janet: That’s right.
Barbara: That’s fantastic that you’ve moved into … Obviously, your business would’ve seen huge growth because of you changing that focus and going into that done-for-you stuff.
Janet: Yeah. Initially I was doing that. Oh god, it’s been a journey. It’s almost three years I’ve had my business. When I first started, I’ll start from the beginning, when I first started I was doing a bit of done-for-you work here and there, but wasn’t really concentrating on it, and I’d do one-off sessions with people to uncover where they were, and what they were stuck with, which was actually a really good learning process for me. Then I moved solidly into, I’m going to do done-for-you services, helping people hands-on create their online courses, and getting it all set up, getting the membership site set up, and all of that stuff.
Then that was all going okay, it was pretty good, pretty exhausting. I realized that I needed an assistant. I was trying to do it all myself like a crazy woman, two kids at the time. Then I fell pregnant with my son, with my third, and I thought great, I can’t do done-for-you anymore. Then I went back to doing coaching and mentoring, which is fine, and that worked really, really well.
Now I’ve had my son, he’s now five months old, and I’m moving back into what I did originally, so more of the done-for-you stuff, but being quite specific, and definitely creating more processes and systems and parameters around what it is I’m offering, what I’m not offering, what’s included, what isn’t included, timeframes, all of that stuff. I think it’s been a great journey for me to start where I did, and to obviously take me to where I am now, because I’ve learned a lot about the whole process, and what I need to do, and managing teams. Virtual teams, not just managing teams. I did that in my corporate days, but managing virtual teams is a whole…
Barbara: That’s great, and there are so many things I can talk to you about here, but I want to take just a quick step back, and I want to go back to the word that you used, “exhausted.” You got a business that was going well, you had clients coming in the door, so when you moved to the done-for-you thing, all of a sudden your business model changed slightly, but that would’ve changed everything. Because when you were a coach, you’re just telling people how to do stuff and teaching. When you move into done-for-you, all of a sudden you need … There’s a lot of implementation going on, a lot of actual roll-the-sleeves-up work to be done. At that point, what was the point at which you thought, “Oh my god, I need to hire an assistant,” or, “I need help, and how do I do that?”
Knowing when to hire a VA
Janet: The point at which I needed an assistant was, I realized that teeny-tiny things in my business … I was busy focusing on my clients, which is fine, because they bring in the revenue, but I realized that there were things on my plate, inside of my business, that just weren’t happening. I was then stuck. I then needed someone to help do that stuff for me, so I decided to bring someone on. Having assistants has been a journey. It’s been a real journey over the last three years. I think my current assistant, who I’ve had for a year now, is my fifth assistant…
Barbara: Wow, in three years.
Janet: In three years.
Barbara: Probably in two years, really. Because you didn’t have one straight away.
Janet: No, not at all. Oh my goodness, so I can talk about this, this is what I had. I had one at the very start when I decided, I’m going to have an online business, and I was still working a corporate job at that time, and I thought, “I’m going to hire someone,” and she was great. She helped me create social media posts and all of that stuff. For me at that time, I didn’t have her round all the time, it was just as and when I needed her, but I wasn’t really clear about my message, or who I was talking to, and all of that stuff, so it was still a little bit murky, murky waters. But she was great, she helped me set up my initial website, and that only changed, up until last year I still kept the website for ages. She was great.
Then I had another assistant, and she just didn’t have any … The attention to detail was lacking. I realized that I needed someone that could … I’m very good at giving instructions, “This is how it is, this is what I want, this is how it needs to be, this is how it needs to look at the end of it,” but she just managed to skip everything that I had said, and it was just a real back-and-forth situation of having to go back and say, “Can you read the instructions that I gave you, go back over them?” She just didn’t have it, god love her.
Barbara: I want to pause there for one second, because one thing that, as you know, we talk about a lot, is creating detailed tasks, instructions step-by-steps and all that. I know you, that you’re quite a detailed person, so you did that quite well. Because there’s more to it than just the processes, and all that. There’s also the person, the recruiting, the type of individual, all that kind of thing.
Barbara: You had gone down the path of going, “I’ve created these processes, I’ve created step-by-step videos for my VA to follow, it should be fool-proof, and yet I know that this particular person is making lots of mistakes,” so the quality was very low. Which is a very common problem,, particularly offshore in the Philippines. You must have been thinking, loads of people will be out there listening and be thinking, “Yeah, that’s happened to me, I’m so frustrated, because I’ve done everything I was told to do, yet I’m still having quality issues.”
Dealing with quality issues
Barbara: How did you deal with that? Did you just fire her straight away? Talk to me a little bit about how you dealt with that situation.
Janet: I was prepared to give it, I gave it a few weeks, of anguish.
Janet: Frustration. In the end, I was like, “This is not working.” Because I felt even more stressed. I was having to step back from doing my client work so that I could give her detailed instructions. It wasn’t that I didn’t know, I wasn’t prepared to invest the time to train her, and to get her up to speed, that was not the issue. I was prepared to do that. I knew what was involved. But I just thought, “Wait, this is the third time I’m going back on this really simple task. This is crazy. It’s taken us six hours, if I’m counting it, to get it resolved. It shouldn’t be this hard.” So I had to let her go.
Sometimes things just don’t work out
Barbara: I think you know one of the things I want the listeners to pick up from this, that it’s okay, this happens. Because you’re dealing with people. They’re the steps that we take to get success with a VA, but there’s also the communication that we’ve got to be able to get right, and we also have to be able to recruit properly. Because sometimes people’s resumes can say one thing, but their performance says another.
Barbara: Nothing you can do about that, you’ve got to be able to have the difficult conversations, and then give feedback and then move on if you have to. That’s good that you were able to move on from that one. Then what happened next? Talk about your next one.
Janet: Then I had another two VAs after that. The first one was really good, but there were some personal issues that came up for her, and so she was quite distracted as to when she was working with me, and it just wasn’t working. Which is a shame, because she was good. I really, really liked her.
Barbara: Again, another common problem, particularly in the Philippines I’ve noticed, that sometimes we can have a fantastic VA that does have the skills, and you really like them, but family, particularly there, the family can really get in the way.
Janet: Right, absolutely.
Barbara: Because often they’re supporting whole families, or there’re whole families living together, and the drama that goes on starts to impact your business. It’s important, I guess, to understand again that just because you’ve got a really good person, and you’ve tried very hard to work with them through those problems, but their personal issues can really start to impact your business.
Janet: Right, exactly.
Barbara: And you’re running a business, not a charity.
Janet: That’s it. I’ve found it hard to draw that line between …
Barbara: That’s a hard one.
Janet: “Oh my god, I totally get where you’re coming from, I understand it’s crazy pants, and there’s a whole lot of stuff going on, but at the end of the day I’ve got you helping me out in my business, and I need to generate revenue.”
Barbara: You were also pregnant at the time, I think.
Janet: Not when I had that assistant, no, but a little bit down the road.
Barbara: You’ve had two kids, and you’ve got your own drama going on.
Janet: I’d already had, yeah, two kids, under three at that time.
How to deal with employees personal issues affecting their work
Barbara: From this area, those listening, and a lot of people are going through this, particularly with the Philippines. I’m a huge fan of the Philippines obviously, I have a whole business over there. It doesn’t happen with everyone, but it is something I hear a lot, with these sort of personal issues coming in all the time, and you feel guilty because you want to be supportive to them, and you know life is hard and all that, but you have to remember that you’re still running a business at the end of the day. If it’s impacting your business to a detrimental level, then you probably have to let that person go.
Janet: Yeah. I felt like it was a second layer of mommy guilt. I’ve already got mommy guilt with working anyway, with my kids around me, and all of that. Plus, I’ve got my team member as well, oh my god, the stress.
Barbara: You will remember this, Matt and I did an entire show, actually a three-part series, on communication, and how to have those difficult conversations without the guilt. Anyone listening who’s suffering what Janet’s talking about here, go back and look at our three-part series on communication. The third show is about having the difficult conversation without guilt.
Janet: Yeah, and I’ve learned to detach myself from that now. I don’t feel guilty any more.
Barbara: Yeah, you have to just move on. Then next VA, after that, still no success.
Janet: Still no success. The personal issues and the family dramas were even worse, but more so, she was MIA. She just would vanish. I would think, “Wait a minute. Hello, are you online?” It wasn’t that I would expect them to send me an email checking in, I really didn’t like that kind of stuff, and my assistant now doesn’t even do that. I just know that he’s there. But, days would go by, and then I would check my tasks, and think, “Did I put tasks in?” I’ll go back and check, and everything, no comments, no…
Barbara: Nothing done.
Janet: Nothing done. I’m like, “Wait a minute.” Then I just wouldn’t be able to get a hold of her. Skype, nothing, email, nothing, I’m like, oh my god.
Barbara: You want to punch the computer by then.
Janet: Yeah, chuck it out the window.
The 3 biggest problems with having an offshore VA
Barbara: The interesting thing is that you’ve actually suffered, in those three VAs … This is why I wanted to get you on the show, because you’ve actually gone through the three biggest problems that people have with offshore VAs. Number one is quality, lack of attention to detail. Number two is family personal issues coming in, and number three is going MIA, for days and days and days. I know this because we have lots of clients that eventually come to us and say, “This VA thing is just not working for me, I don’t believe that you can do it better,” etcetera, etcetera. Then you came to Virtual Angel Hub after that, which I was very excited when you came to talk to us, and that we were able to actually turn this around for you and see your business really start to soar. You were quite skeptical at this point, thinking, “This is just not working.”
Janet: Yeah, I was thinking, “This is not working. What am I going to do.” I was just like, “It can’t be that hard. I’ve already done my corporate work in teams, and managed teams. I can do this, so what is going on?”
Barbara: Yeah, what’s going on here.
Janet: I just couldn’t work it out, so I came to you and was like, “Please, help me! I’ve got so many projects coming out of my ears, and I don’t have the time to work on them!” I need someone to help me free up and do some of the daily tasks inside of my own business and just keep things moving, because I felt like it was just stagnant, it was just getting a bit stale almost. At that point I found out I was pregnant as well, with my third, and …
Janet: Panic stations, everyone! Everyone get to the panic stations! I was like, “Oh my god, what am I going to do?” Then I found my assistant that I have at the moment, Joseph, who is a godsend. It’s just like, oh my god, thank you. Then I couldn’t believe the amount of work we were getting through. It felt like we were on fire. We were just producing so much. I think I remember seeing somewhere, I think it was Denise Duffield Thomas once said, that having a baby makes you the best CEO of your business, or something like that. Which I totally believe. I really had to step up my game. Because it wasn’t so much about, I’m running a business and I’m doing all the work, but I need to create proper systems and processes and get those in place, so that when I do go…
Barbara: And you need to make money.
Janet: Yeah, exactly.
Barbara: I’ve just had a baby as well, you and I just have had babies around the same time, and I will say the same thing. All of a sudden, shit gets real.
Janet: Yeah, exactly.
Barbara: Excuse my French, but it’s like you’ve got this hard deadline coming up that’s not going to move, and in fact the deadline could move closer. That’s the issue.
Janet: Yes, exactly.
Barbara: Out of nowhere it could just be tomorrow. You’re forced into a situation where you’re like, “I just need this thing to work.” Because you need to make money, and you need to support your family and all those sorts of things, and you need to be able to take time out.
Recruiting the right VA for you and your business
Obviously when you came along to us, I think one of the reasons people come to us is because we’re running training programs for our VAs, and making sure they know that you guys are building funnels, you’re building landing pages, we’re doing social media, we’ve got all our processes for that. Talk to me as well about, Joseph came to work with you, and you were doing all of the above. You had your social media, you’ve got quite a design bent on your business as well, and then you’re very good at creating … You’re creating funnels and automations and all that sort of thing as well. There were still challenges though. You and Joseph come together, nothing’s ever going to be perfect from day one, so talk to me about that journey of just even refining that to the point you guys are at now.
Janet: It wasn’t smooth sailing, but he was the best out of all of the assistants that I’ve had to date. He has none of the issues of the past.
Barbara: Our recruiting process, just for the listeners out there, recruiting is actually quite difficult. I’m going to do a whole show on that separately. Recruiting is very difficult, and our recruiting process is designed so that we actually filter out the three major problems that we just discussed. We very rarely have those problems these days. That ruled those problems out, so at least those problems were gone. But there are some issues.
Working to your VAs strengths
Janet: That’s right. That was cool, so I didn’t have to deal with all of that stuff, which was excellent. He would go through tasks, and he would do everything great, and there wouldn’t be any problems, but I remember one thing that really clicked for me. I actually listened to one of your episodes on this show, where you were talking about, I think it was strengths, so finding out what your VA’s strengths are. I think it might have been with Annette.
Barbara: I think it was Annette Lakovic’s show. I remember this.
Janet: Yeah, that’s right. I was like, “Oh yeah.” There’s a book I have called Strength Finder, and I’ve read another book called Go Put Your Strengths To Work, and it’s like, “Yeah, let me go back to it.” Which I read when I was in my corporate days. I went to my assistant, I went to Joseph and I said, “What do you like doing? I want to work to your strengths, I want to work to where you work the best.” He said to me, because at that time we’d moved over from MailChimp to ActiveCampaign, and he said that he really enjoys the automation and segmentation and email marketing side of things. I was like, “Brilliant!”
Barbara: Which is actually the hard stuff, right? That’s a whole other level. That’s hard stuff, so you’re lucky that you have someone who can really take that on.
Barbara: The rules, and making the stuff work, making all the funnels work, and stuff talk to each other.
Janet: That’s right. That’s it. I’m good with that, so when we moved over to active campaign I made sure that I understood it 100% before I then got him to do certain things, and slowly introduced him to it. And he just ran with it.
Barbara: He loves it, yeah.
Janet: He just understood, way better than I can. I try and do the segmenting stuff with the tags, and then it’s a whole hot mess when he goes in.
Barbara: He’s actually fixing stuff, that’s brilliant.
Janet: He does that, yeah.
Barbara: That’s good for me to hear this as well, that he has really taken that on. Because as any of the listeners out there, if any of you guys are using more advanced systems than, say, MailChimp, like InfusionSoft , OntraPort, ActiveCampaign, where you’re doing segmentation of clients, it’s not easy. The tagging has to work, the journey of the customer has to work properly, the funnels need to work, so having someone on your team that loves to do that, and figure out where the little glitches are, is powerful. Especially in what you do.
Janet: It’s really powerful, and what we’ve come down to now is, when I send out an email, or I set up a task, for my active campaign, I just have to tell him I want these to be sent to this person, or these group of people, exclude this group, exclude this group, but then after that I want another email sent, and he just gets it, and it just works. I don’t really have to go in there, which is brilliant. I realize that that’s one of his strengths. One of his lesser strengths is the social media, image-creative side of things, which is fine. I was like, “Okay, good.”
Barbara: Because usually what we typically find is, it’s unusual to find someone who is brilliant at both those things, because they’re different. The creatives are more right-brained, I think it’s the right brain, and then the techies are more the left-brain logic sort of thing, so people are very rarely both. It’s really good that you did this work with him to figure out, where am I going to channel him? Because what I want to talk about now is, it’s interesting how your business is now growing in a way that you’re going to utilize that skill of his even more, to actually scale a part of your business. Talk to me about the next phase now in how you’re going to develop him out.
Helping your VA grow in their role
Janet: The next phase of my business, and I really saw … Actually whilst I was on maternity leave, I was off for about four months. I had my baby, and then I went on holiday for six weeks with my family to Europe, back to Europe, so I left Joseph to run my business. I still made sales and all of that stuff, so that was great. I just checked in when I could, which was normally about 4 o’clock in the morning in Europe when I was up feeding my baby. The house I was in had terrible reception, and so I had to sit in one spot to get some service. Whilst I was away and had that break I realized, I kept seeing as a real gap between people, doing their courses … They would buy a course about sales funnels, let’s say, and then that’s it.
Barbara: Yeah, they don’t do anything with it.
Janet: No, they don’t do anything with it.
Barbara: Your new program that’s coming out, I know, is more of a done-for-you membership site, like, “Just give it to us, we’ll build it,” type thing?
Barbara: Joseph’s going to be pivotal to you in delivering that kind of program, because he’s able to do a lot of the techy stuff that will be required in the background.
Janet: That’s right, so he’ll be doing more of the techy membership side of things, and setting up all of those automations, emails, and all of that stuff. Then my plan is, for next year, to have someone on full-time that will work on the design side of that same client’s work. They’ll be two people that will be looking after projects as they come in, or jobs or however you want to phrase them.
Building your virtual team
Barbara: This is amazing, because you’ve gone from having failed VA, failed VA, failed VA, to successful VA, to business growing, and now building a team. Your team is starting to develop out. You’ve started to get success in this area, which is what this whole show is about, is about interviewing people that have gotten success with this, and are seeing business growth and revenue from it. I just think it’s awesome – 2017’s going to be a big year for you.
Janet: I think so, I think it will be. It’s funny, because you resist doing things for ages. I’ve had this on my mind for so long, probably two years or so. I was like, “No, I’m not going to do it.” People have just been literally coming out of the woodwork.
Barbara: You know you can deliver it, whereas before when you were exhausted, we’ll just circle back to the interview, exhausted thinking, “I can’t take on any more clients, I can’t grow my business, I’m growing other people’s businesses, not my business.” Now you’re growing other people’s businesses and you’re scaling your business, because you’ve spent time to get this right, and to really really focus on making it work.
Janet: That’s right.
Barbara: Which is the key.
Janet: It’s so key. I think it’s the same thing with anything in life. People think about, “Oh, yes, magic bullet solution, and I’m just going to do this and it’s going to work! Yay!” You’ve got to put in the work. I’ve spent, even whilst I was pregnant, so many nights, up until 2 o’clock in the morning, my husband thought I was crazy. He’s like, “Crazy lady.” I was like, “I’ve got to do this. What else am I going to do? I’m not going to do it once I have the babies, so I’ve got to set up this task list now …”
Barbara: Your processes, and get that all working.
Janet: Processes, all that stuff.
Barbara: A combination of the right person, recruiting the right person, who has the right skills, and then utilizing those skills properly, creating systems in your business, and processes and communication channels that are clear, has seen you really start to fly now.
Janet: Yeah, really have. I’m quite surprised and pleased and happy about how things are going, and as things change. Now I’m developing this new membership package where I set up and create people’s online courses for them, and I still have some systems and processes I need to set up myself still, but …
Barbara: You always will though, it’s an evolution.
Janet: So overwhelmed. A little.
Barbara: For the listeners, by the way, we’ll have a link to that in the show notes. It’s to your service for that in the show notes for anyone, because I’m sure there’s people clamouring, going, “I need that!” The other thing I would say to the listeners is, Janet, I know you listen to this show. You’re great, you’re such a supporter of the show, and you listen to us religiously, and I know that you’ve learned a lot from just listening to the show and implementing.
Wrapping things up
Barbara: I even learn a lot from doing the show, to be honest, with implementing myself. For those listening out there, subscribe to the show, and make sure that you follow what we’re talking about here, because people are getting success with this. Janet, I’m going to wrap it up there. Thank you so much for your time, and it’s just amazing to showcase your success on the show. Obviously if people want to connect with you there’s a link in the show notes, but they go to JanetKafadar.com?
Janet: That’s right, JanetKafadar.com, and you can connect with me there. Absolutely.
Barbara: Lovely. Thank you so much for your time. Listen everyone, remember to subscribe to the show on iTunes, and give us a rating and review, and let us know if there’s any show that you’d like us to cover, any topic that you’d like us to cover. Because we’re always looking on new topics to cover on the show, and give you guys some virtual success. Until next time, thanks very much, and we’ll see you again.
Matt Malouf is a passionate business coach, speaker, author and entrepreneur on a mission to help entrepreneurs around the world break the shackles of mediocrity and reach new levels of personal and business success.
Barbara Turley is the Founder & CEO of The Virtual Hub, a company that specializes in recruiting, training and managing superstar ‘Virtual Assistants’ in the social media, digital marketing and systems automation space.