Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
I’m Linh Podetti, a Vietnamese Social Entrepreneur living in Sydney, Australia. I’m the Founder of Virtual Assistant Agency Outsourcing Angel, Co-founder of Dawn Media Productions - but most importantly, a proud mother to three kids!
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
I was born and raised in Vietnam. My family migrated to Australia when I was 9 years old in search of a better life. From the age of 10, I helped my parents with their sewing business at home up until my teenage years when I became a single mum at the age of 19.
You have to listen, determine what the market needs, and then respond accordingly.
After working in my corporate job for a few years, I quickly realized that it didn’t give me the flexible lifestyle that I wanted for me and my son. That's when I decided to take the leap and start my own business, to change my life around.
I began my entrepreneurial journey by starting an eCommerce business when I fell in love with outsourcing work to virtual employees. From my own experiences of hiring freelancers and Virtual Assistants from countries like the Philippines, Singapore, and Indonesia - I became an outsourcing expert and decided to start my own Virtual Assistant business.
Fast forward to today, and I’ve grown my company Outsourcing Angel to a 7 figure business hiring Virtual Assistants for hundreds of clients in Australia, New Zealand, the USA, and the UK. Outsourcing Angel helps growth-oriented businesses outsource tedious and time-consuming tasks. We find, recruit and work with your virtual assistants and you every step of the way. I also donate 10% of our company profits to fund charity initiatives and livelihood programs to help poverty-stricken areas get access to clean water, farms, and crops, and electricity. Dawn Media Productions helps businesses produce authentic video marketing content. Our service assists businesses to share their stories naturally via video content.
Take us through the process of designing your initial product
I was 26 when I started the eCommerce business selling nail polish online. I didn’t know anything about starting my own business, but I studied everything from marketing, sales, finance, web development, and outsourcing.
While I enjoyed the process of entrepreneurship, I didn’t have a passion for nail polish and found myself spending most of my time packing and sending products. I eventually sold the business for $5,000 and reinvested this money into a Digital Marketing Agency, Red & Black Solutions.
Since I didn’t have all the technical skills to serve my clients, I started outsourcing to Virtual Assistants (VAs) and it eventually evolved into a team of VAs. I found virtual assistants who had the technical skills that I didn’t have, for example, website development, SEO, graphic design, and employed them to handle the daily operations. One of my clients needed to build a website and he didn’t have the time to do so. So I hired a web developer who also had graphic design skills at a fixed price cost, in other words, on a contract basis. This helped me to control costs at the beginning. But as the business grew and I received more clients, I was able to offer the contractors that I worked with a permanent role. As my team worked longer with me, I kept finding new roles for them, to challenge them to take on new positions and grow professionally. That’s right, I built an entire Digital Marketing Agency with a Virtual Team without needing physical office space and my VAs were more affordable than traditional local staff.
Sometimes when you're just starting a business, you're rushing and thinking that you have to solve every problem.
The more I worked with my Virtual Team, the more I recognized the talented, dedicated, and hard-working VAs and I saw a gap in the market that I could fill. I could provide highly educated and dedicated VAs to businesses to help them scale and grow too! This became my strength.
Over the past 10 years, I feel like I’ve built a really strong community of reliable and long-term Virtual Assistants that I treat like my family. We’ve refined our rigorous recruitment and hiring processes and our clients love that we hold their hand from beginning to end, it’s the perfect model for businesses that want to scale their business with virtual employees.
As the business evolved, we found new avenues to grow and provide niche services that the market requires. This is where Dawn Media Productions came in. We realized that business owners need help to produce video content for their marketing purposes. The close relationship between Outsourcing Angel and Dawn Media Productions is shown by the clients and leads that the two companies can share.
Describe the process of launching the business.
In 2015, I expanded my Digital Marketing Agency into an offshore Virtual Assistant company and that was when Outsourcing Angel was born. My company can now operate on its own, which allows me to focus on doing what I love, all from the comfort of my home. This is exactly what I want to inspire others to do too. When I first started, I relied on contacts from friends and family, and I attended a lot of networking events and joined different networking groups (for example, specialized Facebook groups, such as entrepreneurs, Australian business owners, etc) to connect with more people and to raise awareness of my business and services. I even started my networking group, called Business Start-Up. I was the host and invited speakers from different industries to come and share their knowledge and expertise and to network.
When you’re first starting, it can be difficult to get your first client, but once you’ve done a really good job for them, you can be sure that if they require your services again or if they know of someone who might benefit from your help, they will think of you first. What is important is that you first figure out what problems people are experiencing, and then you need to have the solution for it. You also need to not be afraid of reaching out to people, putting yourself out there on social media, and letting people know more about you.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
The biggest problem that we solve for clients is finding reliable and experienced Virtual Assistants that fit seamlessly into their local team. This is why it’s so crucial for us to dive deep into what our clients want from their Virtual Assistant - everything from work experience to available technology, working timezone, and personality traits are important.
Our HR department works hard to shortlist only the highest caliber of candidates that fit all our clients’ criteria. These candidates will then have to complete several interview rounds with our HR Manager and Subject Matter Expert before they’re presented to our clients for the final video interview.
Once the Virtual Assistant has been selected for the role, we assign a Team Leader to every Virtual Assistant and new client to oversee the onboarding process and check the quality of the work produced in the initial months. It’s vital at this stage that clear communication, expectations, and processes are set in place for the best Virtual Assistant and client relationship - but if things fall through the cracks then our Operations Manager will hop in to get it sorted!
We then run regular check-ins with our clients to ensure that their business expectations are met every step of the way. This is the biggest point of difference between our outsourcing agency compared to others.
We also really invest in our Virtual Assistants by running regular online workshops to assist in upskilling, provide healthcare benefits, offer rewards and bonuses as well as meet with all of our VAs monthlies so that everyone feels like they’re part of a community.
In addition to this, we also have a client portal that we regularly update with free resources, eBooks, and video tutorials to help our clients with all aspects of their business too!
While a substantial portion of our clients and leads come from referrals, we also market ourselves on our different social media channels. We use LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube to share educational content and to connect with potential leads and clients. We also regularly update our website with blog articles that help business owners learn more about working and managing with a remote team. We have found LinkedIn and YouTube to be the best platforms to grow organically and to reach the right audience. This is due to the effectiveness of video content and businesses responding to the right content. What we have found is that you need to be consistent with sharing content that your audience wants, you need to provide educational and valuable content, and you need to be authentic and genuine in your presentation.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Today, some 10 years on from dipping my toes into the virtual assistant’s arena I’m proud to say Outsourcing Angel is a profitable business and allows me to have the freedom to live life on my terms. But it hasn’t always been this good, especially when covid took the world by storm there was a lot of uncertainty and challenges we had to overcome as a team.
One of the best decisions I made was committing to bringing in managerial help that included hiring our Marketing Manager, Operations Manager, and Sales Manager. Together they’ve been able to free me up from the day-to-day operations to spend more time with my family, focus on what I do best (networking and producing content), and even spend time on a new startup business with a long-time friend.
What does the future look like? I wish I knew! With things like covid sweeping and shaking up the world, it’s hard to plan with lockdowns and restrictions coming in and out so quickly.
What I can tell is my team and I are constantly looking into how to help more business owners to work successfully with their virtual assistants through more support and guidance.
Finally, another major focus for us is how we can continue to build our Angel Nation to be such a great community and family for our virtual assistants (I wish I could share more, but we’re saving these for our family of Angels!)
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
I have learned to enjoy life’s journey more. Early on I was always in a rush and forgot to enjoy every day and the journey.
Every aspect of every day needs to be given focus and enjoyed, including your fitness, your health, your business. You also need to know when to stop, because sometimes if you’re pushing too hard, you don't allow yourself to reset.
You need the time and space to bring on ideas and marinate your ideas or have time to breathe through your thoughts. Sometimes when you're just starting a business, you're rushing and thinking that you have to solve every problem.
But what I wish I knew earlier is to just rely on the universe more. Just be at peace and just let the problem evolve at its speed. Sometimes, it is ok to just forget about the different problems you have to manage and focus on living each day, and know that everything will always work itself out.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
As we are an online business, we use a wide variety of platforms and software applications. For communications, Slack is the perfect tool to communicate with different team members on different topics.
Hot tip, we love Zapier for automation and it’s been a huge lifesaver for our team.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
Your One Word by Evan Carmichael
Never Lose A Customer Again by Joey Coleman
Business Secrets from the Bible by Rabbi Daniel Lapin
Become a Key Person of Influence by Daniel Priestly
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
Be kind to yourself. Encourage yourself: Be supportive of your own goals and dreams, tell yourself positive affirmations, and remind yourself of past victories you're proud of. Don't beat yourself up for something that happened yesterday or in the past, let it go and focus on the lesson you learned. Stop using words like "should, could" and replace them with "I am, I will".
It's not easy being an entrepreneur. There are always more businesses that close their doors compared to those that flourish and thrive. As failure is a real enemy when you're starting a business, what is most important is that you take the time to listen to the market. You have to listen, determine what the market needs, and then respond accordingly.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
We are always looking for talented virtual assistants. More information on specific positions can be found on our Careers page.
Where can we go to learn more?
Hey! 👋I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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