Drew and Lacey Grimm are a husband and wife team who run The Schoolhouse Life Podcast and SchoolhouseLifeOils.com. They’ve been homesteading for almost 20 years and they love to share their passion with others through their business. The pillars of Schoolhouse Life include homesteading, homeschooling, natural medicine and entrepreneurship.
Tell us about The Schoolhouse Life
Drew and Lacey offer coaching for self-sufficiency, natural wellness and homeschool. They help clients create self-sufficiency plans that are realistic for their lives; then they teach their clients how to develop and implement those plans.
- The Grimms also run a 15-acre homestead where they homeschool their 4 children and provide hands-on teaching experiences for their clients. Their homestead practices are rooted in permaculture and regenerative agriculture. Their goal is to give clients a hands-on experience–learning where their food comes from and where medicine originated.
- They’ve been homesteaders for almost 20 years. Drew and Lacey met in college and shared a passion for growing produce. They sold produce, eggs, and honey from their garden at the local farmer’s market for years.
- Drew explains how one of their goals is to teach people about the ethical consumption of meat. He explains that today in western society, we’re disconnected from life and death. Lacey and Drew’s goal with Schoolhouse Life is to teach others about it, especially as it’s related to food and healthy lifestyle.
- People have reached out to them over the years to learn more about their lifestyle and how to mimic it. So they turned the opportunity into a business. Drew and Lacey have learned that the more they invest their time in the things that matter, the more they are able to share with others. They love to volunteer and offer charity to those who can’t afford their services.
Tell us about the “entrepreneurial pillar” of your business
- A while back, Lacey became an essential oils distributor. At the same time, Drew was running a home theater and security system business that he started from the ground up. Lacey grew the oils business until it was substantial enough that Drew chose to sell his business and work with Lacey full-time on the homestead and oils distribution.
- Through the years of experience, both Drew and Lacey have developed a passion for entrepreneurialism. They’ve passed that passion on to their four children, who sell products from the homestead like eggs, elderberries and wool. Being able to help people in the homestead realm realize that homesteading and entrepreneurialism happily complement each other. In tandem, both can allow you to create the life that you want.
- “If you’re working a 9-5 for somebody else…you’re creating someone else’s dream. It’s not until you’re an entrepreneur that you’re developing your own dream.”
What’s your main source of revenue?
- The oils business makes up about 80% of their revenue. Since the beginning of 2020, they’ve been working to develop the online portion of their overall business, but oils remain their predominant revenue generator.
Natural medicine is also a part of your homesteading coaching program. Tell us more about that.
- You can grow plants as food, you can grow plants as soil regenerators and you can grow plants as medicine. Most medicines we have today are synthesized from a plant compound. “So we’re just bringing people back to those plants and giving them the power…to be able to bring healthcare back to themselves.”
- Drew still believes there’s a place for doctors and hospitals. But he also believes people need to take more responsibility for their health and bodies (the same way he believes we can benefit from taking more responsibility for our food).
What’s your favorite part of your business?
- “The flexibility of it.” Drew loves all of the aspects of running the homestead and oils business, but he especially loves being able to do it “from wherever we are.” They even took their family to live in Jerusalem for a month and it didn’t cause their business any problems. Because they have a team of online people and the majority of their revenue comes from their online oils business, they could operate “from anywhere in the world.”
How many Online Flipino Specialists do you have working for you and what do they do?
- Drew hired his first VA in 2019 to help with website work. Now they have 3-5 VAs working for them at any given time.
- Video editing – Drew and Lacey record a lot of videos and interviews for The Schoolhouse Life. They send the raw footage directly to their video editor and “he cuts all of the ‘ums’ and ‘ahs’ and He does intros and ad commercials as well.
- Web development – WordPress mainly. She’s working on Kjabi.
- Drew is currently training a VA to do FB ads
- Someone did Google Ads for a while
- Someone wrote blog posts for a while – until they disappeared (more on that later…)
How did you learn about outsourcing?
- Drew was listening to “Screw the 9-5 Podcast” and they were interviewing John Jonas, the creator of OnlineJobs.ph. “When I heard about [outsourcing], I was like ‘this is perfect.’”
- They had tried building a US-based team, but #1 it was very expensive and #2 it was difficult to find someone who wanted to work. The attitude and work ethic in the Philippines can’t be beat.
How have you seen your business change over the last couple of years after hiring your team of OFSs?
- “Really we wouldn’t be able to do everything we do. I would be working nonstop.”
- “I’m not a video editor, I could go edit videos, but Roberto does it way better and way faster. And by him doing that, I can work on something else on the business.”
- They want to develop their team to the point where Drew and Lacey can just create the ideas and focus on growing the business while letting the Filipino Online Specialists run the rest of it.
How have you specifically been able to grow your business since incorporating Online Filipino Specialists?
- In August 2020, The Schoolhouse Life put on a big online homeschool summit that was attended virtually by over 2,000 people. “We would not have been able to pull that off without the team.”
- In March 2021, they put on a summit focused on homesteading and had another huge turnout.
- They do have one stateside VA who works as a general manager of the team and that has worked well for them.
Working through and learning from things that didn’t work with Filipino VAs
“Unfortunately, a little while ago, I had to let go of the lady who was doing the blog posts for us. All of the sudden she just kind of disappeared.”
He didn’t hear from her for two months, and when he reviewed her most recent work, it was not up to standard.
When she emailed Drew after two months, she told him she had “been out of town.”
- Maybe she “got stuck,” because she felt overwhelmed or confused about a project and she was too embarrassed to ask for help. (a VERY common cause of the disappearing VA)
- Maybe she was dealing with a difficult family situation or death of a loved one.
- Maybe she was hit hard by natural disaster and didn’t want to disclose the details.
(Side Note: Drew is not alone. The Disappearing VA is the number one problem business owners face with Online Filipino Specialists. Often the root of the problem is communication issues and subsequent embarrassment on the part of your VA. With good, consistent communication this phenomenon can often be avoided or resolved. But you have to navigate situations with patience and, as Drew puts it, a lot of “over-communication.”)
Drew discovered and shared a great tip that he uses to stay on top of communication with his VAs now:
- “I keep everything in WhatsApp because I feel like that’s an easy way to communicate internationally. And you can have that feature where you can see if they read [your messages] or not so you know [if they’re getting your] messages. Where email…can be ‘iffy.’”
- This kind of regular “checking-in” will keep you in-the-know with your VAs and help you spot issues before they develop into a disappearing VA disaster.
- In his experience of owning and operating other businesses, Drew says communication challenges are not specific to Filipinos. “Sometimes people just fail to communicate or people just disappear.” And it’s disappointing because you count on them to hold up their ends of the business and when they disappear, you have to pick up the pieces yourself.
Another piece of advice Drew shares about good communication with your OFS:
- “My suggestion is really vet people. How much do you want them to communicate with you? If you want it to be daily or within a reasonable amount of time, then communicate that like with someone a bunch at the beginning and see if they’re going to reciprocate that level of communication. And if they’re not, it’s not a good fit. Once they get going, [their communication] is not going to get better in my experience.”
What advice would you give other business owners to help them avoid those problems?
- Vet your workers thoroughly before you hire them. With the Google Ads specialist, Drew says he was in a hurry to find someone to help and he didn’t vet him as well as he would now. He ended up putting the Google Ads on autopilot and wasting a bunch of money.
- The communication aspect is very crucial. Now when Drew hires someone, they have to respond to him regularly.
- Check up on your workers and review their work regularly, or assign someone else on your team to do so. If Drew could go back, he would have done better to review his blog-writer’s work more regularly.
- Remember that they are just human; you have to communicate and share your expectations.
Is there anything you’ve found that works really well with connecting with/motivating your VAs
- Every time they hold a summit, they also experience a huge spike in revenue. Drew and Lacey are believers in sharing the wealth. So when they have projects that spike their revenue, they love to send their workers bonuses that reflect their hard work. So he’ll throw in an extra $300-$400 dollars and say “thanks for your hard work!” And they are incredibly grateful.
- He “over-communicates” in Trello. They have a very detailed setup in Trello where things are emphasized over and over again to make sure there are no gaps in communication or understanding. Every step of the workflow and process is very detailed. At any point in time, you can pull up a team member’s project board and see where they are in their progress.
Do you have any advice for beginning outsourcers?
- Start with one VA and then really learn the process. Figure out what it looks like to work with someone on the other side of the world.
- “I love onlinejobs.ph…When…I’m asleep, they’re working. When I wake up, they have a day’s worth of work done.”
- They have a meeting each day 7am/7pm (seven pm EST) because the time difference is exactly 12 hours.
- Network with your VAs to find new hires
And if you want to see more videos, check out our YouTube channel or our Facebook page for more outsourcing tips. You can also check out how to get started on hiring Rockstar Virtual Assistants.
About Shelane Tuttle
Shelane Tuttle has worked in content development with John Jonas and the OnlineJobs.ph team since 2010. She’s a mother of four, book devourer, beach bum, wannabe music and art connoisseur and she thrives on learning/teaching others about new things, like outsourcing.
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