635: Streamlining Business Operations with Virtual Personnel | Barry Coziahr

Podcast Cover Image: Streamlining Business Operations Featuring Barry Coziahr
Podcast Cover Image: Streamlining Business Operations Featuring Barry Coziahr

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Tune in to learn from Barry Coziahr, an accomplished consultant and educator who has influenced over 10,000 small business owners through consulting and training, delivering more than 1,000 seminars and workshops across the United States.

Barry’s presentations provide practical insights into business growth and marketing, supported by real-world examples and case studies, benefiting small businesses, authors, and non-profits striving for successful expansion.

His expertise also includes optimizing small businesses by implementing efficient personnel and systems to enable effective scaling. Barry’s experience spans engagements with INC 500 companies, international corporations, and nonprofit organizations. His appearances on podcasts and speaking engagements for reputable organizations such as Chambers of Commerce, The U.S. Small Business Administration, and more, underscore his dedication to supporting small businesses and nonprofits.

As the co-founder of Freetime.Solutions, a virtual personnel agency, Barry assists small businesses, solo entrepreneurs, and professionals in building high-performing virtual assistant teams.

Giveaway: Download the eBook: 249 Things a Virtual Assitant Can Do For You. (https://www.freetime.solutions/downloads)

Conquer Local is presented by Vendasta. We have proudly served 5.5+ million local businesses through 60,000+ channel partners. Learn more about Vendasta and we can help your organization or learn more about Vendasta’s Affiliate Program and how our listeners (like yourself) are making up to $10,000 off referrals.

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Streamlining Business Operations with Virtual Personnel 


Jeff Tomlin: Welcome to the Conquer Local Podcast! Our show features successful sales leaders, marketers, thought leaders and entrepreneurs who will inspire you with their success stories. Each episode is packed with practical strategies, as our guests share their secrets to achieving their dreams. Listen in to learn the highlights of their remarkable accomplishments and get tips to revamp, rework, and reimagine your business. Whether you’re a small business owner, marketer, or aspiring entrepreneur, the Conquer Local Podcast is your ultimate guide to dominating your local market. Tune in now to take your business to the next level! 

I’m Jeff Tomlin and on this episode, we’re pleased to welcome Barry Coziahr. Barry has consulted and trained more than 10,000 small business owners as well as delivering over 1,000 seminars and workshops to small businesses across the United States. His presentations demonstrate proven business growth and marketing tactics using real-world examples and case studies to help small businesses, authors and nonprofits expand their activities successfully. He’s also helped countless small businesses expand by putting in place effective, high-quality personnel and systems to utilize people correctly and scale their business.

Get ready Conquerors for Barry Coziahr coming up next on this week’s episode of the Conquer Local Podcast.

Entrepreneurship, Virtual Personnel, and Delegation.

Jeff Tomlin: Barry Coziahr, welcome to the Conquer Local podcast. It’s great to have you here all the way from Florida.

Barry Coziahr: Thanks. Yeah, thanks. Great to come to Canada.

Jeff Tomlin: Virtually. Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. So yeah, you are virtually chatting with Canada here. Hey, let’s jump right into it, for a guy that’s started and managed multiple companies now, Walk us through what the experience has been like getting these things up off the ground and then rocking and rolling.

Barry Coziahr: Sure, yeah. Well, I mean it’s, I’ve gone through a lot of learning. Obviously, you learn by running into walls and going, “Oh, look at that. That’s a wall.” And so you run into all sorts of things. And some of ’em are painful, some of ’em are less painful. And so what we’ve, we feel like the best thing that we can do. We’ve always had an idea that we should share knowledge, and I’ve really appreciated all the knowledge that’s been shared with me over the years from different mentors that I’ve picked up via books and such. That’s been, it’s been great to learn from their failures instead of having my own or their successes. And yeah. Now we’ve kind of like jump in and try to help people to benefit from what we’ve learned, so they can have fewer pitfalls. But yeah, it’s been really exciting. It’s been quite a ride.

Jeff Tomlin: Yeah. Barry, you’ve had a lot of success with virtual personnel and for somebody that hasn’t thought about that and thought about integrating them into their business and the benefits, how should they be thinking about virtual personnel?

Barry Coziahr: Well, I think what’s great is what’s helped me so much is that I started delegating the stuff that I shouldn’t be. Like, how could I maximize my time? How can my time be most effective? I have certain things that I’m really, really good at. And so I started delegating the things that would support me so that I could do more of what I was really, really good at, which is leading the team and then also business development. So the VAs have helped me with that tremendously. Basically, one of the very first things I outsourced was my own lead generation, because I had a marketing company and I was really good at that. And so I outsourced the whole process where I would put, to the point where I’d put people in front of me for interviews where I could talk to ’em. And that was great ’cause that took so much of my time, so much, this big chunk of time I used to spend on that, took it off my plate and made it so that now I could focus on a huge chunk of my time on business development. And then also gave me time to develop processes and procedures within the company, which then we pass on to our clients that they can use as well. But yeah, and so we started like working on meeting people so we could create new clients, but then also developing the processes and everything within the business so we could grow it. And that’s just basically allowed me to grow bigger than I’ve ever gone grown before. And then we took all that and exported it so other people can benefit the same. So what are those big things that you could offload that, I mean, I basically think a virtual assistant could be used in one of two ways. One, you offload, you help increase or supplement the things that are going to actually help you build the business, such as lead generation. So those key things are gonna help you to do more of what you can or you should be doing, right? And to supplement those things. Or two, what are the things that have to be done that really should be gotten off of your plate that you shouldn’t be doing? Because one, you’re not very good at it. Two, it’s not what you wanna do. Three, maybe it has to be done, but you know, you shouldn’t be the guy, you just don’t want to, right?

Virtual Assistants can Help with Various Tasks, and 80-20 principle

Jeff Tomlin: Yeah, you gotta focus on the things that you’re good at. I get that. I get that. So you gave one good example there of demand gen. It’s a massive function that can take a lot of time. So what is the scope of this? How many other things are there that you can think about, hey, this is a great function for a virtual personal assistant. And because I think that concrete examples help people understand what is the scope and how far this can go. And you’ve also, by the way, you’ve also got this 80-20 rule that you think about. Maybe tell us a little bit about that.

Barry Coziahr: Yeah, absolutely. Well, the scope of things, I mean, it could be like, like we have a guy who does public speaking and he would book all his own events, right? And he’d get paid events, right? So he took his process, which worked really well, and basically gave that to a virtual assistant who then got him twice as many speaking events. So his calendar was all the way full for the year. And they started working on next year. And then, he was able to get her to start working on podcast guesting, so to get him onto podcasts. So this freed him up to work with more clients and to develop other pieces of the business. We’ve also got a recruitment, a lady who does recruitment. We basically have somebody who’s reaching out and introducing her to clients. She’s also got somebody who’s scheduling her on podcasts. Then she’s brought on another VA who handles administrative tasks and backend tasks. We got doctors who handle medical billing is a big deal ’cause insurance compliance is a big deal in the medical field. So they’ve trained their virtual assistants and they’ve got multiple virtual assistants who handle the whole medical billing tasks. And they, and even, and deal with insurance companies, which is a great moneymaking thing for them. But they’re able to bring on these people. We help train them for ’em. And I mean, we’ve got a lawyer that she basically has her VA answering the phone and handling our email and look at, and doing follow up for prospects. It just goes on and on. We’ve got accountants who get people to do bookkeeping tasks. We’ve got people that have a bookkeeper who handles all of their bookkeeping in-house. That’s a virtual assistant. We’ve even got, I mean, social media managers. It’s just pretty endless like the list. We actually have an ebook 249 things that a virtual assistant can do for you, which I think you, we can, you know, offer to the people here a link to it, but it’s a big long list that you can look through that kind of, let you kind of assess, oh yeah, here’s a good one, here’s a good one, you know, and then we actually help with the onboarding process ’cause you need, then you get the whole task of onboarding. We help eliminate some of the pain of that and you really need somebody to help you do that. And then, yeah, it’s great. Works out great. Yeah. And as far as the 80-20 principle, it kind of goes back to what I talked about originally. It’s like you’ve got those, if you were to take your battle plan, your list of things that you have for the day, your to-do list, let’s say you had 10 things on them, there are probably two things that you really should be focusing on heavily, right? On that, you know, 20% that are the key, like things that really move the needle in your business. And that’s what the 80-20 principle is. It’s like 80% of the results come from about 20% of the causes. So what are those 20%? Those are those key things that you focus on can, and a virtual assistant can either back you up so you can do more of those key things. Or they can take those other 80% of things that are on your battle plan, your to-do list that you shouldn’t be wasting your time on, and you could offload those to that person so you can focus more on the stuff you really like to do or the stuff that again, moves the needle.

Virtual Team Pitfalls and Solutions for Success

Jeff Tomlin: You know, I think that it’s interesting there’s so many of us now, especially with the changes that happened through the pandemic. Working with virtual teams is so natural for so many companies now, but there’s still so many companies out there where, they’ve just been used to an office environment and they don’t naturally think of having remote people on their team, whether it’s, you know, people that are directly on their payroll or whether it’s virtual assistants. And so I’ve seen so many people have so much success and do things great working with virtual assistants. And then I’ve seen some people that really, they run into pitfalls as well. And, so maybe tell me a little bit about some of the pitfalls that you’ve seen where people have been trying to implement virtual assistants. They haven’t had a good experience and how do you sort of avoid some of those pitfalls along the way?

Barry Coziahr: Sure. Yeah, well, part of it is, I mean, there’s a great book out there called Who, which is about hiring people. And so we kind of dig in on that process. Like what exactly is the role or in the duties is the first step, right? So you really are, so you know what you’re looking for, like who you’re looking for. And then it can take quite a bit of time to find a really high-quality person and to really vet that person, right, to sift through all the applicants, to find the people that are super high quality. As part of what we do too, we do a whole process, right, which anybody should do if they’re gonna hire somebody. But we do, we do a forum, we do personality testing, which basically helps find the key traits that are gonna make that person a great fit with the company, communication, it being one of the traits, stability, that they’re kind of go-getters, right? These are all things you can measure with personality tests. IQ, which basically measures problem-solving ability. Because you want somebody that can think and solve problems and you need somebody who’s intelligent. And then aptitude testing, which we do, which really is important for finding somebody who can follow instructions. Because about the most frustrating thing in the world is to give somebody a task and they actually don’t know how to follow instructions. So we test these people and then we interview them and we make sure we, we don’t trust just the tests because we actually do interviews, we’ve got processes there to really make sure you’ve got a high-quality person. But even then, no system is infallible, right? So what if you ended up with, so that’s one of the pitfalls. You can, you can at least like limit the problems, right? But then again, no system is infallible. So if it doesn’t work out, you’ve also got a team that can just quickly stop the clock and find a quick replacement to fill it, to go ahead and take over. And we make that super simple for people. Another one of the pitfalls people run into is, well, that process eventually, people don’t stick around forever. So people end up have things that happen in their lives, right? And you might have somebody who has worked in your business for a couple of years, something happens, and they go away. Now you’ve got to replace your assistant, which means you have to train a new one, right? Well, good. So did you write up processes? Did you have that person from day one writing up processes for the work that they’re doing for you? So there’s like a stack of processes that you could just take and they’re written up well, and you can give that to a new person and you can catch them up to speed in a really, really short time. Yeah, also super useful for growing the team. Like, ’cause let’s say you’ve got that stack of processes and you’ve got, now you’re growing the team and you add another virtual assistant and you want to take some of those and give it to the new ones so you can grow the team or you want a new person doing all of the same exact things. Well, good. Having those things written up in what they call SOPs or standard operating procedures, right? Those are, I mean, those are vital. So we get past a lot of those problems that you might run into by applying those pieces. And the other one that I think is really key is daily reporting. We basically, I personally don’t like stuff in my inbox. My email’s got enough stuff already. So we use online communication channels, like little chat functions, and there’s great tools out there in the world that you can use where you just get a daily report, you know? Here’s my plan for the day that you get at the beginning of the day, here’s what I got done at the end of the day, and then maybe even a summary report that weekly or monthly if you want. We make sure that’s implemented. So yeah. And then the last thing is, which happens at the beginning and ongoing is we act as sort of an onboarding. We help with the onboarding, which is always, you know, takes time, takes a little bit of time. So getting a little bit of help with that makes that less painful. And then coaching, right? We’re so used to working with so many different types of business owners that we’re very familiar with what they might run into and using a virtual assistant. So we coach them and the virtual assistant to help bring ’em together as a team. And that coaching is ongoing, like on a weekly basis. Quick little meeting. Here’s what I need, here’s what’s happening. Tweaking things, making things, setting things back to right if they go off the path a bit. So that, I mean, that covers so much. Those, just putting in those simple basics what are called the usual stuff that you should be doing, but kind of get dropped out. Not by just small businesses, but by small individuals and big businesses. These basics get dropped out. We keep them in, things just go so much smoother.

Benefits and Key Practices for Effective Virtual Assistants.

Jeff Tomlin: That’s great stuff. And by the way, at Vendasta here, we use the Who framework. It’s a great book and I think that you never get it a hundred percent of the time when you’re adding someone to the team. But I think it’s gone a long way to helping us streamline our process and finding the right people when we’re adding them to the team. And, the insights that you get from there, you know, their process. Especially when you’re onboarding and you’re taking, or when you’re taking people through the interview process. Very, very insightful. I got a lot out of it. So one, one of the things that I wanted to touch base on, I keep thinking about the people that really haven’t dug in and thought about some of the benefits of working because there’s so many people working with virtual assistants. ’cause there’s so many people that are converted out there right now. So for people that haven’t gone down the path, like there’s a lot of benefits to a business from the competitiveness point of view and to the agility of your business too. And maybe you can talk a little bit about that.

Barry Coziahr: Yeah, absolutely. I mean we basically, competitive wise, I mean, there’s so much savings. I mean, if you, we’re providing virtual assistance that are for them it’s a great wage in their country. We’ve made them one of the top 10% of earners. For us, we’re paying like 10 bucks an hour to somebody, right? And we’re helping, I mean, you’re basically, our clients are paying us 10 bucks an hour for a virtual assistant. We’re paying them, they’re making, they’re in the top 10% of earners in their country. They’re super happy. We’re taking care of them. We provide them with a lot of help to get more and more stable and to grow personally. So, it’s a great win for everybody. So you could actually afford to hire two, sometimes three people where you could only afford to hire one to begin with. And that makes it so that you can test things that you couldn’t try before or you can afford to put in functions that maybe you couldn’t put in before, but now you find that are really helping your business grow. So, I mean, there’s just so much benefit to the setup, the way it’s set up and, yeah. I mean obviously, sometimes you need somebody to be hands-on and so it has to be somebody there, a physical person, but there’s so many benefits to this, you know?

Jeff Tomlin: Yeah, so you walked through that when we were talking about avoiding the pitfalls, you walked through a whole bunch of great practices. Maybe we could sharpen a couple of things. If every business has a unique set of needs, every business is a little bit different. And so maybe you could just touch on, on some of the key things to finding a virtual assistant that is really gonna meet the unique needs of your business and then some of those tools again on how you’re managing sort of day-to-day to make sure that they’re effective. I love the reporting that you touched on a daily basis.

Barry Coziahr: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. So like training is a big deal. Onboarding is huge. These are all part of, you know, weekly meetings and a little bit of coaching is vital. The standard operating procedures basically write-ups of exactly how the work is done that basically show in words. We usually do some audio and video recordings and pictures of those processes and how they go as well, making sure those are being written up from day one and then yeah, daily recording, preferably in a way that doesn’t fill up your email basket. So those are like, those fit any business, right? One of the things about the training specifically is like, I mean, it’s great for me because like I have an automation tool that I wanted to put to work, but I just didn’t have time to learn it. So I just gave a short little course to my virtual assistant and the next day it was done. And it was implemented, right? Yeah, it’s just great because I’ve already picked somebody who’s super smart, so we’ve implemented our hiring line, we really named out who we want, who the right kind of person is, we put in the testing so all of those elements combined into something any business can use. And you might have your own processes that are key, that are particularly to your business, which can be trained in. Yeah, because we’ve already got somebody who’s pretty intelligent who just can take that training, pick it up, and put it to work. So it’s fantastic. Yeah.

Documenting Processes and Training for Scalability and Efficiency.

Jeff Tomlin: You know, and I like the emphasis on documenting your processes. One of the things we talk about when we’re scaling on the sales side of the business is you don’t have a repeatable and scalable model. And until you can train somebody who can, and then in turn train someone as good as you can and, because now you’ve got a repeatable machine. But a lot of the time it comes down to documenting what your process is and then duplicating that across teams and make, putting systems in place that people can follow. And so that you’re not reinventing the wheel when you have people leave the team and you’re adding new people on.

Barry Coziahr: Yeah, no, that’s true. We’ve even gone as far with some of our processes to put in apprenticeships, right? Where we, after we train ’em on the process, then we’ll have ’em shadow somebody else who’s like, awesome at it. Just go and watch them for a few hours doing it and after they’ve done their training, and then getting them coached by somebody before they actually start doing it. So it depends what it is, whether you need to get that in-depth, but basically, you can, yeah. Doing that and taking that time in the beginning and that’s really an 80-20 principle too, right? Because, you know, if you take, if you think about it, people are like, “Ah, I’m so busy, I can never afford to do that. I can’t fit it in. I can’t do”, you know, all those things that you can’t fit in are many of them at least. I mean, there are plenty of things you should say no to and not use your time doing, but, a lot of, there are some things that people habitually say, I don’t have time for them where they don’t realize that if they took the time, they would save so much time over the next year, right? It would be like, the amount of time that they would save would be incredible. Yeah.

Delegate, Grow, and Focus on what you Enjoy in Business.

Jeff Tomlin: Yeah. Barry, so what are some of the key takeaways that you wanna leave the audience with here?

Barry Coziahr: Sure. I mean, there are lots of things you shouldn’t be doing yourself, and you should find some inexpensive help to help you get those done and make sure that they’re, but that they’re quality people, and that the only safe thing to do is grow. You know, a lot. That’s the other thing I hear is like, “Oh, we’re so happy where we’re at.” It’s like, okay, well you’ve got to grow because something could happen, right? If you’re not growing, you know, well unfortunately inflation is, is still going up, you know, so if you’re not growing, you’re not staying the same. It’s getting more expensive to run your business. And so the only safe mode of operation is growth. And you’ve gotta add people to get, to have them help you get things done so you can move faster, farther. And get where you want to go without stress while having like the lifestyle that you wanna have, and being able to take some time for yourself. And then spending more of your time doing the things you really like to do in your business. And that’s what we hope that we can provide for people.

Growth is Vital – Contacting Barry for Virtual Assistant Solutions

Jeff Tomlin: Totally agree with you. Strongly believe if you’re not growing, you’re dying. If you don’t, even if you don’t realize it, you likely are. I like that a lot. Hey Barry, if people wanna continue the conversation with you, how do they get ahold of you?

Barry Coziahr: Yeah, they can I tell you what, if they go and they download my little free booklet, the 249 things that a Virtual Assistant can do for you, then I’ll get that communication. They can, somebody downloaded it, and I’ll, at that point, I’ll reach out, and they can also email me directly if they want at Barry@freetime.solutions. It’s not .com, it’s. solutions, freetime.solutions, and Barry, B-A-R-R-Y. They can reach out to me that way too.

Jeff Tomlin: Barry, it’s been an absolute pleasure. Thank you so much for taking some of your time out of your very busy day. Probably not as busy as other people because you’ve found a way to manage your time more effectively. And I hope you come back and visit us again in the future.

Barry Coziahr: Absolutely. I’d love to do that. Yeah, thanks for having me. I think I really appreciate it.


Jeff Tomlin: Great conversation with Barry. Delegating tasks to Virtual Assistants and outsourcing lead generation can significantly free up time for small business owners so they can focus on their core strengths and business development. The 80/20 principle applies here, where identifying the key tasks that drive results and offloading the rest can lead to business growth and increased efficiency.

Implementing Virtual Assistants requires a structured hiring and training process. Defining roles and duties, conducting personality tests, interviews, and creating standard operating procedures (SOPs) are essential steps to ensure the success of the VA team. Regular check-ins, coaching, and ongoing communication help maintain productivity and build a stable team that brings benefits to the entire business. These are all important things for any team working together but they become even more critical when working with remote teams.

If you’ve enjoyed Barry Coziahr’s episode discussing Streamlining Business Operations with Virtual Personnel revisit some of our recent episodes from the archives, check out Episode 621 Building Trust and Growing Your Agency with Jack Pires or Episode 536: Managing a Hybrid Team with Hassan Osman.

Until next time, I’m Jeff Tomlin. Get out there and be awesome!