“For me, working remotely is very much about opportunity. You have one life, and you get to make that life whatever you want it to be. It’s clay and you sculpt it. And the ability to work remotely is the ability to live your life on your terms, how you want to.”
Thomas Parkinson is currently living his ideal life in Vietnam where he runs his personal Amazon arbitrage business and teaches others to do the same through his coaching business, FastTrack FBA.
- “I’ve always wanted to be remote.”
- Studied engineering in college, then realized he didn’t want to work in engineering.
- Went into bar management and eventually managed 5 bars.
- Started working as a recruiter. During that time, he was told to print out a picture of the ideal life that he wanted to create and tape it up behind his computer as motivation. He remembers thinking, “this is stupid, this is absolutely stupid. I’m going to go do this right now!”
- He moved to London to work with a procurement company. That’s when he started his Amazon business and realized he could replace his 9-5 income.
- Had a major life shift when he broke up with a girlfriend. During that time, a friend who’d been outsourcing for years said to him, “you should just go to Thailand.” It was a revelation. “I’ve been running this remote business because I wanted to have freedom and I’d been stuck in one of the most expensive cities in the world and should just be sitting on a beach in Thailand! And that day I booked a ticket to go to Thailand…My plan was to go for four weeks, and I ended up spending 6 months in Thailand.”
- On his time in Thailand: “I loved it. I loved every minute of it and I’ve learned a lot about me and a lot about my business and I have grown so much from it. And my experience has been amazing.”
Thoughts on the Outsourcing/Remote lifestyle:
- “When you get that first VA, your world changes in so many positive ways”
- “For me, working remotely is very much about opportunity. You have one life, and you get to make that life whatever you want it to be. It’s clay and you sculpt it. And the ability to work remotely is the ability to live your life on your terms, how you want to.”
- He can go to the beach when he wants, he can skii when he wants, and he can work from those places.
- “It’s freedom. It’s generally true freedom and I love that ability to dictate your own life.”
- There are always a million excuses why you shouldn’t take the leap… Just DO IT!”
- Maybe you’re worried about hiring a VA and maybe you’re thinking, “I don’t know if I should.” Your first day with a VA will change your mind and change your life.
- With outsourcing, the question is not “can I do this??” You CAN do it. The real question is “How?”
- Help Amazon arbitrage sellers in the UK – looking to move into the US this year.
- They provide arbitrage opportunities to buy low and resell on Amazon.
- FastTrack FBA offers specialized knowledge on how to create a successful operation through arbitrage leads and VAs.
- Thomas started his Amazon business because he didn’t want to deal with the hassle of a 9-5. He wanted the freedom, so he created it…but it was lonely. So he started FastTrack FBA as an opportunity to cultivate connections with others.
- Teaching FasTrack FBA – Thomas likes to challenge people to think differently. It’s about helping the FBA sellers and it’s about connecting to a community and building that community.
- As part of FastTrack FBA, Thomas teaches his clients how to hire and utilize help from Filipino VAs. He launched his VA hiring/management training plan earlier this year and it’s been a great success.
- Thomas employs about 15 VAs, but only directly manages between 5-8 people (he’s personally found that trying to manage more than 5-8 on his own is not effective. Too much going on.)
- In his personal Amazon business he employs: 3 VAs sourcing, one VA in charge of purchasing, another VA who does amazon stock/customer service, an executive assistant, payroll specialist, email manager, project managers, content branding/creation specialists…
- In Fastrack FBA Thomas employs: 7 sourcing VAs and a team lead.
- Thomas even found and hired a VA to start a new business – “she helped me create my idea because she was the right fit!”
Recruiting Filipino VAs:
- Recruiting is a two-way process. Remember that your company/job need to be appealing to the applicants the same way the applicants need to appeal to you.
- During the hiring process, “Communicate communicate communicate. And when you think you’ve communicated enough…Communicate a bit more, because you haven’t.”
- Be sure to write a detailed and attractive job advert – who the company is, the role, the opportunity – and be sure to sell the role!
- Be ready to narrow down your applicants. Thomas received 190 applicants for the last job he posted.
- On interviewing: I do the interviewing personally – again it’s a two way process – they have to choose you!
- The interview is NOT about interrogating them! It’s nerve wracking. It’s a scary experience. Put them at ease and get to know them.
- Be direct if you don’t understand something, but be gentle.
- Find out their WHY. WHY do they want THIS job. “WHY do they want to work for ME?” WHY have they made the decisions they’ve made in the past (check out their track record and ask them about it)?
- Ask them to share a copy or picture of their working environment before you hire them- make sure that they’re set up to do the job.
- Regarding lukewarm applicants: “If it’s not a YES, it’s a NO” (if it’s a ‘maybe,’ you haven’t done your job. You need to keep asking questions until the applicant becomes either a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’).
- Then we go on to issuing contracts – official contracts are important to set the professional tone.
Managing Filipino VAs:
- Your VAs add value to your business, “As much as we talk about automation and technology and scaling, business is about people. That’s it.” Remember that as you’re working with your VAs.
- A positive work culture and environment are critical for operating a successful remote team. You as the boss are responsible to create the culture – It’s about creating a team and a great work environment. Have fun at work. Work to make everyone really happy. And be sure to celebrate success!
- On hiring and training managers – Some people discourage hiring Filipino VAs as project managers, but it’s worked for Thomas. He’s worked extensively as a manager and trained managers in local professional settings, so when it comes to training a remote project manager, Thomas knows what he’s doing.
- If you’re going to try to hire a manager, hire internally – promote someone who currently works for you who already knows what’s going on in your business. They have to be creative thinkers, problem solvers, have strong rapport and integrity, and prove over and over that they can communicate with you well/clearly. It’s worked really well!
- Do exit interviews when/if VAs leave and try to grow from that – listen to what they say and make changes accordingly.
Favorite Remote Management Tools:
- Google Sheets
- Custom built software
- Calendy – to schedule things
Final advice on outsourcing/business:
“Just DO IT. It will change your life.”
FastTrack FBA on YouTube (for GREAT tutorials on how to run your Arbitrage business and utilize Filipino VAs)
You can check out other stories from Mike on putting himself and his employees to success & JR Fisher on how failure became his greatest opportunity by signing up for an Onlinejobs.ph account.
You can also learn more about 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.
If you liked this you’ll probably also like reading
cesar angelo j. pasignajen says
I am creative, I have a Media page and i am also hard working person with an experience into a bar and restaurant for a year,and i have experience in robin soons mall i am responsible of my job with a good atitude.
i want to learn wore of you and your job offered