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In this weeks episode Heather interviews Tracy Harwood, the founder and owner of Rock Solid Assistants about how to best delegate in order to scale your business. Tracy opens up about how she started working full time as a nurse, then became a VA, and finally ended up helping pair entrepreneurs with virtual assistants. Tracy looks for more than just skills and abilities in her VA’s she looks for people with heart and who demonstrate a high level of proactivity. This sets her team apart. Join them as they discuss the challenges that come with building a business and how to leverage delegating and do it well. 

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Episode Highlights:

・Tracy shares her story and how she had to trust in God as He lead her to start this company

・Scarcity mentality and imposter syndrome can be detrimental, how do you overcome that?

・ When you take the focus off you and put it on what God has asked you to do, God is going to take you places you could never imagine

・Rock Solid’s growth to over 100 teams and 80 VAs

・Tracy looks for heart and proactivity as she hires VA’s

・Rock Solid doesn’t just provide quality VA’s they provide partners, only 10% of applicants make it through the interview process and get hired

・Most of her business comes from personal recommendation; the biggest foundations connections you can make are from word of mouth

・Trust is so important in delegation

・You have to know your expectations, if you don’t know them it’s hard to delegate

・Ask yourself what do I expect from my new teammate?

・Don’t give away the things you love and feel called to do

・Trust until you’ve been proven that you can’t

・What do you enjoy doing; delegate the rest

Episode Resources/References:

Rock Solid Virtual Assistants 

Episode 21

Podcast Pro University 

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Transcript:

30 | Ask the Expert: Delegate, Part 1 – Looking to Hire a Virtual Assistant? How Tracy Harwood Grew her VA Business on Word of Mouth

Hey friends. And welcome back to the scale without social podcast. So today’s episode is going to be a continuation of the series that I’ve been doing on the five steps that you can take. Should you be looking to spend less time on social media? Whether that’s a full detox or just stepping back for a little bit. 

I have been sharing my five DS. Different words that start with the letter D that can help you take the steps to break away from social media and build your business in a different way so today we are going to talk about a new d word and that d word is delegation or the word delegate

And I actually have to say, this is one of the areas that I have known for a long time where I needed to grow. So whether or not you are an entrepreneur trying to do it all on your own, like me, and you want to know how you can step into the, the world of maybe hiring a virtual assistant or a VA as they are often called for short. 

Or you just are tired of doing it all on your own and you need a little bit of help. In terms of scaling your business. Well today, I’m so excited to introduce you to an expert in this field that has been such an incredible blessing for me. Her name is Tracy Harwood and she is the owner of Rock Solid Assistants. 

And essentially, she leads a team of hundreds of virtual assistants all across the world that she narrows down from. I mean, gosh, thousands of applications. Over time. And she pairs them up with entrepreneurs who are looking for those specific skillsets and they want to delegate the things that don’t bring them joy in their business while focusing on the things that they do love and the gifts and talents that they have. 

So I sat down with Tracy today and it’s really cool because she shares not only her story of how she built a massive business. After working full-time as a nurse and starting out as a virtual assistant herself and she built her business on word of mouth. So she did not really use social media. To grow and scale. So her story alone is a perfect example that you can emulate, but also she shares her expert tips on how you can step into the world of delegation. 

So without further ado, let’s dive into today’s episode and sharing that fourth step in taking your business off of social media. Here we go. 

Tracy: Hi friends. 

Heather: I am seriously so excited to introduce you to today’s guest missed Tracy Harwood. She is the founder and CEO of rock solid assistant, who I actually have the. Amazing immense blessing of working with, after working with many other VAs and companies and maybe not having the best experience a friend recommended and my mentor, Michelle Myers and summer FES recommended highly for me to reach out to Tracy.

And I can’t even tell you what an impact it is made on my business to be able to. Partner with her in the delegation aspect of my business. So Tracy, thank you for being here today and helping anybody who’s listening, be able to tackle that kind of difficult next steps in scaling their business, which is delegating to someone.

Tracy: Oh, I’m so excited. Heather, just to have time with you to talk to your listeners it’s an honor to be here with you. 

Heather: Yay. It’s an honor for me as well. and I’d love to kind of start maybe just with your background a little bit, like how you got to where you are today, where you’re from, where you live now, family life and all that good stuff.

So just tell us about Tracy first. 

Tracy: Well, this is an interesting story. I was a nurse for 11 years before I started this business transitioned into a stay at home mom while my boys were young. And when. They were getting ready to go to college. I was a little bit terrified of the empty nest and there, there were some situations happening in life and I found virtual assisting.

It was amazing. It was such a blessing. And along the way there somewhere, God kept reminding me. Tracy. If this job is a blessing to even think what it could be for others. And I, I readily agreed. I, I was like, yes, Lord. And I would try to tell people and they looked at me like my head was on backward.

And finally I’m like, huh, I’m missing something here. So I slowed down, listen to what God was. Actually asking me to do. And immediately thought he finally had lost his mind in humanity or he called the wrong number because I didn’t have business experience. And so the, the thing is though, I have this crazy amount of trust in him.

And if he says jump to the moon, I’m gonna take the leap. I know he’s always with me. And that is, that is how rock solid was actually born. We’ve never looked back and he’s taken us to places I never could have imagined. Oh, my 

Heather: goodness. Well, as a fellow believer, I can tell you that that’s been one of the biggest blessings with working with you and the team is the fact that I can feel the Lord 

Tracy: working in it.

Heather: And so I think that your story, I mean, that’s such a quick example of, of taking your experience. And your, the transition from working, you know, I’m sure more than full time, in some ways as a nurse to being able to have more freedom and flexibility as a virtual assistant.

And then your goal in scaling was to serve others who might be looking on that journey. Like you started off with that. Right. Intention and purpose. Yeah. And so. What, what did that look like? And your mission? I know with rock solid assistance is a little different than probably some, some other things out there, but what, what does that look like in terms of founding your company 

Tracy: in the beginning?

This, this is interesting, man. I want to keep this short, but I’m gonna say I’m gonna say something, Heather, because I feel like so many people starting a business may have started where I started and that is with the rotten old scarcity mentality. I was willing to walk hand in hand with God to do what he said, but the biggest piece of growth came when I just went all in and just said, I, I, at this point I almost had nothing to lose.

And I’m walking hand in hand with my father. So how, how could I fail? And bit by bit and very, very quickly he, he instantly removed that scarcity mentality. And so from there, and I, I think we all start there. We, we might not like to admit that out loud. Mm-hmm . Right. But I think we all start there with this piece of trust and a piece of imposter syndrome and scarcity mentality.

And I think I can do this. I know I can do it with God, but what if, and, and your faith has to jump in and take over. And that is what happened. My faith is a gift. It, it, there’s no other way to explain it. He had to have given me this much faith. And so the next step was learning. This isn’t about me.

This is about the people we can help. And that is truly the foundation of rock solid. We get up my, my entire team. We get up in the morning with the mentality of who are we helping today, whether it be an incredibly, highly skilled, giant hearted VA that is ready to help someone scale in their business or the business owner who, who has had her nose to the grindstone for so long that she forgot where she started.

We get up each day saying, who are we helping today? Who, who, who do we get to like, Hmm, change, change, help to change their life. And when you take that focus off of you and you put it into what God’s asking you to do. Hold on tight, just hold on tight because you’re gonna go places that, and, and you’re gonna go at a speed.

You never, you couldn’t ask for or imagine, and that’s, that’s the rock solid story in a nutshell. 

Heather: Oh, my goodness. And where are you now in terms of how many virtual assistant partners and, you know, business myself? Cause I, it’s not just a few. It’s amazing. So share like what that impact that you’ve made in that time.

Tracy: So we are just a little bit over five years old. And I remember back in the day when, when I was talking to my husband and we. Do we do it? Should I, should I just, we’re gonna do it right. And we talked about what if we had five teams in place? What if we had five clients come to us and we found five VAs and we matched them and everything was perfect.

And you know, at that time we thought we were shooting for the moan and, and we in this household, we talk about that conversation a lot and chuckle and. Look at each other like kid it’s, it’s unbelievable because now we’re we have around I will never on purpose know my exact numbers, but around 80 VAs that work for us across the us.

And we have over a hundred teams internationally in the us. And it’s it’s I dunno. It’s God, what else do I say? I can never look at this and say, look what I’ve built. Look what I’ve done, but I can say. Look at God. Mm 

Heather: oh my goodness. And you know, I think that trans furs into how you find your virtual assistant mm-hmm, how you make your match and my experience and how I found you.

I’ll just kind of interject with that because I, not to, not to talk negatively about my previous experiences, because actually most of them are my. Fault because I was a horrible delegator and I was trying to find either the least expensive route, you know, who could I pay? a certain amount to help me with a few hourly task that I would then be responsible for telling them what I needed.

Mm-hmm which I am a control freak and a little bit of a perfectionist. And so I had that mindset, like many entrepreneurs of like, you know what, I can do this faster and easier than I could tell somebody else how to do it. And what I found was the. Maker from my experience, working with rock solid is that you, on your website, you say there are two things you look for and you, you can say how many applicants that you get to weed it down to this, but you look for heart and proactivity.

And I remember in that onboarding call that I had with you, that was the number one thing. Well, actually the two things I told you I needed and wanted a believer, a fellow believer and I wanted someone who was proactive and it was so cool that that matched up with your you know, your foundational.

Kind of filtering process, if you will. So, so how does that look like? Cause I know you get hundreds of applications, but it’s kind of tough. Like you find the right people to partner with your potential business owners, like the people who are listening. So what’s that process look like for you? It’s a long 

Tracy: process, but it is, it is so worth it.

I think you Heather and, and so many people that may be listening. Are starting to understand how hard it is to hire someone, to be your right hand person, to, to get the words that are coming out of your mouth, have them make sense and turn that into actionable items. And especially when we are looking at ourselves and trying to hire for ourselves.

So in the beginning, I I did not. I, I was one of the, one of those that don’t believe how hard it is. What, where are we today? Today? Our applicants have to go through seven online tests where we look at skills after skills, after skills, after skills, we test them in skills. Some of our tests are designed so that a little bit behind the scenes, we’re looking at proactivity and we’re, we’re wondering, are they seeing the things we Aren.

Directly asking. And those are some of the things we’re looking for. We aren’t maybe not looking for the direct. Answer to the question, but what, what have you seen that we’re hoping you’ve seen? I don’t wanna give away too much but if they make it through that skills portion of the test, then we have an hour long interview where we have some pretty strategic questions.

We love our people, and so we aren’t trying to trick anybody, but we are trying to see hearts and that’s not the easy thing. When people go to a job interview, they are. Putting their best foot forward. They’ve got their best smile on, and we appreciate your best smile and your best foot forward, but we wanna get to the real and the genuine and the heart behind everything we do.

What motivates you? You know, that that is our thing. That that’s something that even in my own life, I talk to God about is Lord, what’s my motivation behind this. Why am I doing this? Whatever this may be. And so matching those tested skills and the very strategic questions we ask in the interview.

We really get to see the heart of these people and probably 10% make it through our interview process. Just about two days ago. Wyat. My son. He’s also my business manager, but Wyat said, do you know how many people we have had apply since the beginning of rock solid? And the number was I, I, I just sat here.

I, I was speechless, but probably only 10% have made it through. 

Heather: Wow. Mm-hmm . That is a Testament. And that absolutely makes sense that you’re not just looking to hire anybody and everybody, and you not only filter them before they partner with you, but I can tell, even in my experience with working with my amazing partner, Jess.

She has been such a blessing to me and it, and she truly is a partner, but you can tell that she’s, she’s been trained, that she is equipped with everything she needs from you, you know, to, to serve me, which is just like, oh, it’s so awesome. Cuz you’re, you’re such a pro and I know you probably didn’t start that way.

And so I wanna know. For those who might be inspired by your story of how you went from working full-time and then you started your own business as a virtual assistant, and then you had those big goals at the beginning of growing to five, five level partnerships.

And now here you are with, you know, just gosh, so many that you have impacted. How did you scale and grow? And I’m curious. If social media did play a part in that. And it’s fine if it did, cuz you know, I think that’s your, your story and your truth is certainly relevant to this. But how did you go from just you to five to where you are 

Tracy: today?

I, I, I have nothing to hide in this social media played a very, very, very minute. Role in it. It was word of mouth and I will stand on that forever because when your people know you and they know the heart that you work with when they know that the values that you hold and that those values are not just pretty words on a website, but.

When, when they can talk to somebody that says, no, this is by far the best decision you’ll make, call and talk to Tracy. Just, just see what they’re all about. It’s absolutely no pressure over here. But just see what we’re about. 90 90%, I would guess. I don’t know that number exactly, but I would guess 90% of our business is built on word of mouth still today, five days later five years later, the other thing is, is where do we find our best VAs?

It’s still word of mouth. Hmm. Hiring is one of our pain points and it always has been. And it’s because the process is long. People may get to step two or three and realize, mm, I, I’m not gonna, how many steps are there? I’m not gonna keep doing this. And that, that’s a good sign to us that maybe that’s not the right fit.

But. If they have talked to a friend who says, Hey, I’ve worked for, I’ve worked with this company for X amount of time. You should check them out. We get the best people that way. And I wish we could go back in time, just a little bit where we used to do things that way, where we used to depend on the The opinion of someone else who’s not being paid for that opinion or the testimony of someone else.

Who’s not getting a kickback for that testimony where we can just sit down and say, oh my gosh, I’ve had this really great experience. With a dentist, with a somebody who’s going to trim my tree. I don’t know whatever it is that you may need. There’s a wealth of information in the people that we know.

And has social media played a role? Yes, of course. We have gotten leads from Google, from any social media platform. You name it, Pinterest, of course. Are they our best leads? Sometimes they’ve turned out to be our best clients or our best VAs, but that, that number is so incredibly low. I’ll be honest and I hope I’m not saying too much here, but I will be honest and say that when I see a client lead come in, the first thing I look at is, okay, who did they come from?

If it comes from Google, I’m instantly a little bit cautious. I check out their business a little more I check out their social media or wherever I can find them just a little bit more because I’m going into a cold call at that point. I’m going into someone who they don’t know what we are about most likely, and they don’t know what we’re not about most likely.

And we do not work with every client that comes across my desk. Yeah, 

Heather: I, I think that’s really smart and that’s one of the things that I preach on this podcast is no matter what business you’re in, not that social media, can’t be an amazing tool to get your business out there in the world. But I do find that the.

Biggest foundational connections that you can make come from someone else. Right. Come from a word of mouth recommendation from somebody who’s had an experience. Actually, even before I signed on with you guys, I was already sending you people because I was like, okay, whoa, this is a different experience than what I’ve had before.

And you know, I, I do have people come to me for, for advice on, on that. And. It, you know, it’s been a blessing and again, I don’t make a dime by sharing your story or connecting mm-hmm , you know, people through, through you and you know, so absolutely. I am a Testament to the power of . I cannot recommend you highly enough because of the experience that I have had myself.

So for somebody, this listening that is, you know, maybe kind of like I am that doesn’t see their themselves as a good delegator, doesn’t even know. Start when it comes to delegation, regardless of whether they wanna build their business on or off social media, what advice would you give someone who in terms of just learning to be a good delegator?

Tracy: So this is something that I talk about often is delegation, because everybody thinks they’re a control freak. Everybody has had an experience where maybe they don’t trust their own abilities and. They’re not quite sure if they can trust the person that they’re they’re working with. And so first of all, I say, you have to know your expectations and it’s okay to have high expectations.

High expectations does not mean that you are a drama queen. It doesn’t mean that you’re a perfectionist. It simply means, you know, this is your. Or your job, whatever it may be. And, and there’s a certain set of boundaries that you like to work within. That is okay. And I, I want our business leaders to hear that because if you don’t know your expectations, then are, are you setting somebody up to meet low expectations?

 Nobody rises to the occasion of low expectations. So first of all, set those expectations for yourself. You cannot set them for anyone else until you set them for yourself. And for me, I’m possibly older than most of the listeners out there. This was a hard year for me, Heather. I turned 50 this year and I laughed and like, 50 that’s a number.

And then that number hit me like a brick in the forehead and I’m like, dang 50. So, but for me, I love to grab a notebook and a pen, my favorite blanket. And I go sit in the corner and I write things out. It’s call it a brain dump, call it, whatever you like, but I need to know Tracy, what are you expecting from yourself in this situation?

Okay, I’m gonna nail down at least three or four things, even if I’m just writing, like maybe number four is something I’m like, well, I gotta fill in a blank, fill it in because it may be coming from somewhere. You can look at it later. Now, what are you expecting from your new teammates? And once you can kind of define those two things, you’re gonna start to see two things.

One, you are gonna start to see where. Your skills, your heart, your gifts, your talents. They’re gonna start rising to the surface and you don’t hand those things off, right? You, you don’t wanna give away the thing you love and the thing that you’re called to do. So now, how does somebody support you in that role?

And you’ll start to see their expectations. And. It grows. It will always shift. It will always pivot, but if you don’t have a general idea of expectations, it’s gonna be hard to delegate. Now, my second tip for delegation is gonna make everybody uncomfortable. So hold on, grab something quickly. I’m assuming at this point you’ve hired well, you, you have gone to the right person.

You have done your due diligence in whatever way. And the teammate that you have brought on is not your best. Friend’s. Cousins sister’s wife’s husband. I don’t even know, like I’ve heard it all. Heather don’t do that. don’t do that. Now. Do your due diligence hire will. Now here’s the tip that makes everyone uncomfortable trust until you’ve been proven that you can’t.

I’m not saying that we’re gonna hand off our bank accounts and our entire social media account and never look back. I am not saying that. I am saying that you are stepping into this and you are trusting that it was the right decision. Now don’t hold things back and don’t make it a guessing game.

The best VAs in the whole wide world, they can do just about anything for you. But the one thing they can’t do is read your mind. None of us are mind readers. None of us have time to play that game. Tell us what are you expecting from me? And then let me, wow. You let me jump in beside you and show you my heart with the work that I do for you.

And if you’re not setting expectations and trusting, it’s not gonna happen. You’re, you’re going to second guess yourself first and your teammate second. And, and that starts a very bad cycle. 

Heather: Yes. I, I know that that trust is probably a big component. Mm-hmm and it’s absolutely tied to, like you said, finding the right person, not necessarily the cheapest person or the person that, you know know that to hire, like you said, your, your neighbor’s cousin, sister yes. . You know, I know from my experience and other big difference from other companies that I’ve worked with is I’ve made the mistake of kind of buying a package that was tailored towards what they offer. Whereas, one of the things that I love is you take the time and one of the things you do not delegate is that initial call.

I mean, it was amazing that I got to spend an hour with the. CEO and founder of the company here, I am spending more time but you know, essentially I got to spend time where not only did you answer my questions, but you asked me really thoughtful questions on how you could then find someone to serve me in the areas where I needed help and, and that’s gonna look different from other other entrepreneurs.

Right. I know, for example, in network market, A lot of people will outsource things like recognition. Well, I love doing recognition. I love it. It’s something where it helps me stay close. And you know, really, I think en encouragement is something that’s a big, a part of who I am. And so I enjoy that. I don’t wanna delegate that, but those day to day routine tasks, I drop the ball and so for me, you listened, you asked the right questions and you helped pair me with someone who.

Been literally such a, such a partner for me. So that has absolutely been my experience with you in that regard. 

Okay. Time for another cliffhanger, but I always want you to know how much I value your time. And I like to keep these episodes under 30 minutes. I prefer to keep them around 20 minutes, but guess what? Tracy Harwood has some more incredible tips for you coming up next week and she’s going to be continuing the series on how delegation can be a huge factor in growing and scaling your business. 

So definitely stay tuned for next week’s episode. And as for today, If you are looking to step into the world of delegation and you loved hearing Tracy story, and you want to learn more. You can head on over to RockSolidAssistants.com. And learn more about the company and you can schedule a call, a totally free call with Tracy herself, where again, she’ll ask you the right questions to help you figure out if. 

A virtual assistant company, like Rock Solid could be right for you. So thank you guys for listening I hope this blesses your business as it’s blessed mine and I will see you guys next week.

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