Through Priority VA, Trivinia Barber matches speakers, authors, entrepreneurs, podcasters and bloggers with high-quality virtual assistants so they can focus on what they do best.
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Worst Entrepreneur Moment
- Trivinia saw her income chopped in half with one swoop of fate. Then she realized her most precious gift of all!
Entrepreneur AH-HA Moment
- Necessity is the mother of invention, Fire Nation. It’s time to realize that the time is never “just right”.
Small Business Resource
- Rescue Time: A personal analytics service that shows you how you spend your time and provides tools to help you be more productive.
Best Business Book
- Uncontainable by Kip Tindell
Trivinia: I absolutely am John.
John: Through Priority VA, Trivinia matches speakers, authors, entrepreneurs, podcasters, and bloggers with high quality virtual assistance, so they can focus on what they do best. Trivinia, take a minute, filling some gaps from that intro and give us a little glimpse into your personal life.
Trivinia: One of the things that we do at Priority VA, is we help overwhelmed entrepreneurs with tasks that they may not know how to do or maybe they don’t have time to do or frankly, they just don’t want to do. We offload this to a virtual team, so they can focus on moving their business forward, by doing what I think they were made to do.
So, the business is lovely and awesome and we have a great team of about 45 virtual assistants working with us and serving some of the most amazing clients on the planet. We are growing and doing really big things for this year and obviously into the next year too.
John: On to a personal note, we chatted about you being swamped with some snow right now in Colorado, what is going on there?
Trivinia: It is; we have a little bit of a blizzard going on over here. All of the schools are closed in Colorado, which makes it a fun, slightly scary, noisy environment, when you are doing a podcast with EOFire with four kids at home. We are buckled in and ready for a fun snow day here.
John: Awesome, I miss those and being a maynor. I used to wake up to my mother saying, “John, school is cancelled”. I would be like, yes and proceed to sleep for the next six hours, wake up and watch TV for the next seven and that was pretty much my snow days.
Trivinia: That is great; I had to force my kids to go back to bed. They are like; I am already up.
John: I am excited to talk with you today about your journey as an entrepreneur, because it has been a fascinating one, but first, I want to talk about the present, about today. Not specifically about the snow, but about your making it rain dollars. Trivinia, how do you generate revenue in your businesses today?
Trivinia: We have a few different ways that we generate revenue. Obviously, the biggest and most important is that we are matching qualified virtual assistance with the entrepreneurs. I handle all of the administrative functions of that relationship, from vetting, finding the virtual assistant, matching them, and handling the ongoing relationship.
So of course, I take a percentage of the fees for that. I also do consulting with startups and business owners, to help them figure out how they can leverage the skills of a VA, because many people who are just starting out, they don’t even know what to outsource, let alone how to manage a team. I also, sort of crème de la crème, I also work as a virtual assistance, to some really high profile clients, including your pal Amy Porterfield.
John: What I love is that you came up through the ranks. You know what it means to be a VA and now very high profile VA, so you know what to look for when people like myself and other entrepreneurs are looking for VA’s I think that is one of the frustrating things that I know Fire Nation goes through.
Of course, we could go through a system like Up Work or any of those other number of ones that they have out there, that puts all the onus on us to get out there and vet through the thousands and thousands of applications and still wonder, who is policing the police and who is vetting these vetter’s. It is really a struggle with a lot of entrepreneurs that I go with. How does Priority VA cut through all of that jazz?
Trivinia: One of the greatest thing that we started building on and we are actually diving deep into, if my flight doesn’t get cancelled, I am on my way to Phoenix to work with a really high level team on hiring for the right fit. I think that a lot of times as entrepreneurs we are just looking for someone to get the task done. We need the lead page created or we need our automation synced up and we don’t really care who is behind the scenes doing that.
My goal is to work beyond just getting the tasks done and try to find someone who is the right fit for your business for the long haul. We are actually making our gauntlet that we make people go through a lot harder, to make sure that we are truly only getting the best of the best VA’s that join our team. I really look forward to that process. We have a really long interview process right now, and again, it’s about to get a little harder for everyone to go through.
But, it ends up meaning, I am only matching the people that I am 100 percent certain can do what they say they can do, and have a proven track record for success, before I match them with my clients.
John: What is key Fire Nation is that she is making the process a lot harder for the VA to get through, so it is easier for you. The end result of the person who is actually bringing that VA onto your team and I just love that process. Trivinia, you are always off to Phoenix to consult for some high-end entrepreneur or working with awesome people like Amy Porterfield, you have a journey as an entrepreneur and that I what I want to dive into next.
Specifically, within that journey, I want you to bring us to your worst entrepreneurial moments and the lowest of the low. We all have the ups and the downs, but tell us a story of your biggest down moment, that worst moment.
Trivinia: I was working for two really high profile clients, Amy Porterfield was on one end of the spectrum with online marketing, and Michael Hyatt on another end of the spectrum. I was practically full time for each of them, with launch cycles that really always seem to be back to back. For over a year, I felt like I was in constant launch mode. For any of you who have gone through a launch, those are long days, they are intense, and I felt like I was doing that for a year non-stop.
Along with my husband, I made this very strategic, super thought out decision, over a period of months, to end one of those engagements, so that I could focus more on my family who I really hadn’t spent much time with in well over a year. Instead, focus heavily on one client and then grow my business. Three days after the departure, all of the details had been worked out about how I was going to leave one of those clients, my husband’s client, who he also works as an entrepreneur himself, decided to take a year off.
He said he was just going to take a year off from work. Just like that, half of our income was gone. It was terrifying and honestly, the worst moment that I have ever had as an entrepreneur. For about seven or ten days, I couldn’t eat and John, I am an eater. If you ever see me, I love to eat; donuts are my favorite food group. For me to not be able to eat was terrible. I couldn’t sleep and I am an emotional girl, but I cried more tears than I have ever cried.
I just kept thinking about all of the clients I am going to have to take, in order to just keep my family fed. We had just finalized the adoption of our fourth child and I would literally have nightmares about my contractors being homeless and coming to my house with their kids. It was bad, I can laugh at it now, but it was really a terrifying time. One day, the switch flipped for me and I realized that the loss of that income had just rescued my own time and really that of my husband too.
It was time for me to be done freaking out and time to execute. So, we invested in some training that would take us to the next level, we had to develop some systems, and we even raised our prices and started hustling to move, what I called, my baby business, into a big girl business.
John: I love that you talked about the manner of a switch being flipped. Fire Nation, it is that moment that we all dream of and we all want to be there. Okay, I have been thinking this way, the switch was flipped, and now I see the light for the first time and see where I have to go. Fire Nation, there is a silver lining in every worst moment, there always is.
In all 1,239 interview that I have done on EOFire, were always able to pull off what those silver linings are, because I want you to know, when you experience something like Trivinia experiences, on any number of levels, you need to look for that moment where you can actually say, hey, I need to actually invest in myself. How scary was that Trivinia, for you to have lost half of your income, have your fourth child coming into your family, and now having to spend money on yourself and your business to try to improve.
You invested in yourself at that’s a really scary time, but Fire Nation, that is what it takes. You kind of alluded to this when you said, you were really terrified about not feeding your babies and this stuff, Fire Nation, that is the one thing that I call the baby affect. When your back is against the wall and you have no choice but to succeed, as a human being and entrepreneur, a mother or a father, you will succeed.
You will pick up that phone and make that outbound phone call that you were scared to make a week ago, but guess what; you are a lot more scared now to not be able to feed your children. It is just one of those things to remember, it the worst moment that she experienced and she got the silver lining, and she drove forward.
So, that was my big take away. In one sentence, what do you want to make sure Fire Nation gets from your story?
Trivinia: Here is the biggest thing; regardless of the panic that had really set in for me, I realized that my time was worth something. I wasn’t eating dinner in my office away from my family anymore and I was truly getting my life back and for me, that was something that I preach to my clients all day long. So, it was a terrifying time and I felt like it could have really shut down my business if I had just stayed in the fetal position, but instead it forced me to get creative, I had to get risky, and I had to take charge.
My biggest take away is that I learned that I don’t have to wait until my back is against a wall. I can be just as bold, if not more so, when things are going well. I think sometimes we wait until that terrible moment comes to really take action, but we don’t have to and we can do it at any point in our journey.
John: Totally, and that is why I love having people like yourself share your worst moments with Fire Nation and say; you don’t have to experience that to actually start my life now. I don’t need that actual slap in the face and I can use this as a virtual slap in the face to get my life going. Fire Nation, all you have is time.
Let’s shift to a another story in your journey, and this one being an ah-ha moment, an epiphany, the clouds parting and the sun is shining through. What is the great idea that you had, and of course, you have had a ton, but you know Fire Nation, and you know my audience of entrepreneurs and small business owners. What is that story that we are going to resonate with?
Trivinia: This is actually a really interesting story. I was on a mission trip once to Africa shortly after I started my journey as an entrepreneur. I saw this guy, who was unable to walk and in a wheelchair, but the interesting thing about it was, he had constructed this chair out of a lawn chair, two bicycle tires and a rope. So, get the picture in your mind for a second, of a guy in a white plastic lawn chair that was turned into a functioning mode of transportation, because he had to figure out a way to get around.
It is that old saying; necessity is the mother of invention. When things are well and we have that great salary, benefits, and life is relatively taken care of, we can get lazy and not push ourselves to reach the goals that we have.
So, from that moment of seeing that guy, the vision will always be impressed in my mind, but I took away from that, that leaving one client and starting a new adventure, like branching out and offering a new service line, I am capable. When my back is against the wall I can deliver, but we all can and we just need to simply decide that we can just be like that guy that saw those two tires and said he was going to make a transportation mode. We can do that in our lives and our business, but we have got to take action every day.
John: Necessity is the mother of invention. I love that phrase, and Fire Nation, it’s something that if you are able to absorb now, through the stories of past EOFire guests and through Trivinia, why wait. Why not just walk outside, have your eyes open, and be listening and seeing the opportunities that are there and saying; that is something that I can actually fix, or that is a void that I can fill as an entrepreneur.
Trivinia, you just told a really cool story with that visual and that was my big take away; why wait and why not just get out there, experience the world, see where you fit in it and take action. What do you want to make sure that Fire Nation gets from that story?
Trivinia: I think that the biggest thing that any of us can take away from stories like that, or anything that you can get this visual in your mind, is that I think we can sometimes wait to pursue own dreams and the time is right. I used to say, maybe when my car is paid off I will do this or after we make the next, mortgage payment, then I will invest in that course for myself.
In the case of me, owning a virtual assistance business, I see people do this all of the time, as soon as my first product launches then I will get some help. We put off doing the things that really, intuitively, we know are the things that are holding us back from getting where we want to go. If anything, just take away to take small steps towards your goals every single day so that we can stop being stuck in this idea of fear or this idea of when the next big thing happens and we really stay nowhere.
John: The time is never right Fire Nation. Trivinia, let’s talk about your biggest weakness as an entrepreneur.
Trivinia: This is the typical, I am going to turn a negative into a positive as if I was interviewing for a job.
John: I am such a workaholic, oh my God.
Trivinia: For me, my biggest weakness is that I am a pushover. I want people to be satisfied and often times, too many really, it has resulted in me saying yes to more than I want to or maybe I agree to terms that I really, in my gut, don’t want to agree to. So, to combat that, I had to build a team of my teammates and my VA’s that work alongside of me and mentors that I look up to, that will politely, or maybe not so politely, tell me to shut it and they will remind of the goals that we have so that we can stay on track.
The funny thing about that is, I am so driven to help my clients do this in every area of their business, but I forget it so easily when it comes to my own. So, boundaries; if I get a call at 2:00 a.m., I am answering it, and that’s terrible.
John: There are a couple things that I want to focus on here Fire Nation; when you say yes to something, you are saying no to everything else. Guess what; sometimes that is okay, Trivinia said yes to this episode on EOFire and honestly, that was probably a good move, but when you say yes to something, just realize you are saying no to everything else, so weigh and judge that accordingly.
Also, a great quote by Derrick Sedar, and I actually was just listening to one of his audio books; You Can Have Anything You Want. It is only an hour and half and you can get it on Audible, its killer. If it is not a hell yes, it’s a no Fire Nation. You are not going to be there immediately, day one, in your business.
Trivinia and I, we had to say yes to a lot of things, which we were not super fired up about, to get that ball rolling, and get that momentum going. You want to be moving towards and realizing, when you get to that point, you need to start saying, if this isn’t a hell yes, it is a no, because I have so many things that I need to prioritize. Now Trivinia, what is your biggest strength?
Trivinia: I would say that I am not a micro manager. Once my team has built trust with me, I let them do what they do best. I think the worst thing that any of us can do, whether it is with your children, or in our business, we can be kind of a helicopter CEO. We have heard of helicopter parents, but it’s worse when a CEO won’t let their team completely own something. I have taken big risks in letting my team be fully in control.
There have been times when it really flops, when it just epically fails, but most of the time, my team exceeds my expectations. I think that is a really good strength that I have.
John: You probably learned that from experience. Being somebody who went through the trenches and was probably micro managed at times and like; man, if they would just get off my back, I could actually do this. Did that ever happen?
Trivinia: Yeah, it did and I remember working with Amy and sometimes we are up against really big deadlines and we have so much on our plate to get done. I really had to come into my own comfort level of telling Amy; let me have that. I am going to take this and you do this. The first couple of times I think there was some trepidation, as there is with any team member, but once she saw that this girl can execute, now she just gives me things and doesn’t need to worry about if that got done today.
John: I love that. Fire Nation, I can just say that when we hired our most recent VA, I actually had my top VA, the person who had been with me since day one, actually do the hiring process and got through and vet out the VA. When she brought her on board, she was brought on board as her assistant. So, just think of the loyalty that they conjured up, and think about the responsibility that now my head VA is responsible, and she feels a sense of responsibility, for the VA that she hired to succeed and to do well.
I was able to put all of that bandwidth on her, so I could continue to focus on the things that I needed to focus on. I love that essence of just trusting your people. Trivinia, you have a lot of things going on, but what is the one thing that has you most fired up today?
Trivinia: This is kind of exciting and one of the things that we are making changes in you next 90 day cycle, so we are really up leveling our game to serve our clients better. I have been so blessed to work with clients like social media examiner Ray Edwards, Nikki Ellige Brown and Todd Herman, which has really given me the gumption to continue to build kick butt teams that we are putting some great raining opportunities every single month and I am working to get these to weekly trainings.
At least once a month we are bringing in top experts to train our team so that they can grow their skills and of course we are then introducing the gauntlet to ensure that we are bringing on only the best of the best for our clients.
John: The gauntlet, I like the sound of that Trivinia. Guess what Fire Nation, we are going to be putting Trivinia through the gauntlet, otherwise known as, the lightning round, coming up here in a just a minute. First, let’s take one minute to thank our sponsors. Trivinia, are you prepared for the lightning rounds?
Trivinia: I am ready.
John: What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
Trivinia: Fear that my kids would eat Ramon Noodles all the time.
John: What is the best advice that you have ever received?
Trivinia: Todd Herman once told me that a high tide raises all ships and that really instilled in me that adding value wherever you go, is really going to take you where you want to go.
John: What is a personal habit that contributes to your success?
Trivinia: I follow the 90-day year system. It allows me to work in sprints, so that I don’t have to worry about next year’s goals, I only worry about the next 90 days in front of me.
John: Share an internet resource, like and Evernote, with Fire Nation.
Trivinia: Rescue Time; it tracks where I am spending too much time and it quickly tells me things that I need to outsource so that I can focus on the areas of things that I do best.
John: If you could recommend one book for our listeners, what would it be and why?
Trivinia: Kip Tindal, who is the CEO for the Container Store, wrote a book called Uncontainable. He really centers on building teams built on people, not on products, so that the end result, is really a culture that people strive for and that they will work hard to bring to all aspects of their business and personal life.
John: Fire Nation, I know that you love audio, so I teamed up with Audible and if you haven’t already, you can get an amazing audio book for free at EOFirebook.com. Trivinia, this is the last question of the lightning round, but it is a doozy. Imagine that you woke up tomorrow morning in a brand new world, identical to Earth, but you knew no one.
You still have all of the experience and knowledge you currently have, your food and shelter is taken care of, but all you have is a laptop and $500.00. What would you do in the next seven days?
Trivinia: I would probably go get a donut. No, I would crack out the laptop and definitely start to Google the business’s that I know would need what I have to offer who would be small to mid-size entrepreneurs who are overloaded and can’t get their schedules in order. I would personally email them with some crazy and irresistible pitch. I would spend someone between $50.00 and $100.00 creating a free valuable opt-in as a giveaway to them so they can reach out to me.
I would spend probably another $100.00 creating a month’s worth of Facebook ads to reach even more of my target audience, because I have a great mentor in Amy Porterfield. After that, I would probably hang on to the rest of the money until the calls started coming in, except I would probably drop a good $50.00 on a good bottle of wine. I think, after a disorienting day like that of going to a new world, I deserve a drink.
John: Yeah, either that or maybe ten bottles of $2.00 chuck from Trader Joe’s, one of the two.
Trivinia: There you go.
John: Trivinia, I want to end on fire with a parting piece of guidance from you, the best way that we can connect with you, and then we will say goodbye.
Trivinia: The biggest way for people to connect with me would be to go to our website at PrioretyVA.com and we also have got a great download for you guys and I think it is forward slash fire.
John: Oh yeah, it better be girl.
Trivinia: We have got a great freebie on the basics of outsourcing there, and how they can learn what they can outsource, how to outsource, and when it might be time for you outsource. You can also follow me on Twitter at Trivinia or on Facebook at Priority VA. Really, the biggest thing that I want everyone to know after listening to this episode is, don’t do it alone.
I think that, so often we think that we are on this island, and we have to do everything by ourselves, and that is really what my business stands to serve for and helping people get out of that island that we tend to put ourselves on as an entrepreneur. Get the help you need and don’t be afraid to ask.
John: Fire Nation, you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with, and you have been hanging out with TB and JLD today, so keep up the heat and head over to EOFire.com. Just type Trivinia in the search bar, her show notes page will pop up with everything that we have been talking about today; from the resources to the book and to you name it.
Of course, her gift to Fire Nation; PrioretyVA.com/fire, just go directly there or we will link it up on the show notes page too. Check her out on Twitter at Trivinia and of course, just go directly to her website PrioretyVA.com, she has a lot of cool stuff going on there. I want to say thank you Trivinia, for sharing your journey with Fire Nation today and for that, we salute you, and we will catch you on the flip side.
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