Ep. #984 - Delegating Your Way to Success
In today’s episode of Startup Hustle, a secret on delegating your way to success comes out. Matt Watson picks the brain of Alice Default, founder and CEO of Double, for productivity hacks that entrepreneurs can follow. Every day is a busy day—so effectively delegating tasks is a must-know.
Covered In This Episode
Entrepreneurs are, at (most) times, jack-of-all-trades when it comes to business operations. But is there a way to shorten your everyday to-do list? Yes, you can start by delegating your way to success.
Matt and Alice agree that letting your people manage other tasks can help you focus on what you do best. They also talk about Double and its benefit to businesses that don’t have enough resources to work with.
It’s all about delegation. If you want to learn more, tune in to this Startup Hustle episode now!
- The starting point of Double (01:50)
- What makes Double different from any remote VA platform? (03:52)
- Pandemic’s effect on hiring and retaining employees (07:41)
- Types of work you can delegate with Double (08:58)
- Choosing the tasks to delegate (11:50)
- Trusting your people to do the delegated tasks (13:51)
- How to address the fear of delegation? (15:23)
- The importance of meetings for remote teams (16:57)
- The workaround on meetings (18:10)
- Where to start when learning about how to delegate (21:31)
- How to organize your day (24:00)
- Choosing tasks according to priority (26:59)
- Everything about Double (32:45)
- The future of Double (34:43)
- The clients that Double assists (35:49)
- Can Double help you find a suitable VA? (37:44)
- Productivity hacks for entrepreneurs (39:21)
Making it easy for people to find really high-quality team members with that flexibility for us was the best way to go.– Alice Default
It’s going to take time. It’s going to take multiple iterations. And so, kind of not getting depressed after the first try if you feel like that magic productivity hack you found online is not working for you.– Alice Default
I always feel like when you wake up every day, you always know what the three most important things are like. You don’t forget about them. And almost everything else doesn’t matter, or you’ve got to delegate it to somebody else. Because you just can’t put in the energy to do all of them.– Matt Watson
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Following is an auto-generated text transcript of this episode. Apologies for any errors!
Matt Watson 00:00
And we’re back with another episode of the Startup Hustle. This is your host today, Matt Watson. And I’m very excited to be joined today by Alice Default. We’re going to be talking about productivity and delegation. And all the things that, you know, as founders and executives, we all struggle with. And her company Double can provide some solutions there. I’m excited to learn from her and learn about what her company does. I do want to take a second to remind everybody that today’s episode of Startup Hustle is brought to you by FullScale.io. Hiring software developers is difficult. Full Scale can help you build a software team quickly and affordably. And has the platform to help you manage that team. Visit FullScale.io to learn more. Alice, how are you doing today?
Alice Default 00:42
I’m doing great. I’m really happy to be here.
Matt Watson 00:45
So I’m really excited to talk about this today. Because I feel like productivity and delegation and all these topics are always top of mind. Not only for myself but also for my employees. And I’m excited to talk all about that. But before we get there, I’d love to learn a little more about your background. And, you know, how did you come to start Double and learn more about Double?
Alice Default 01:11
Sure. So I’ve always been in the startup world. And I have worked for very early-stage startups since I got out of college. In the productivity space to be fair, I wasn’t looking for companies in the productivity space, but it kind of happened. I was at the first company, which was an email company, and then moved on to a calendar company, which was acquired by Microsoft. So I went on to work for Outlook Mobile for a couple of years at Microsoft. And so, basically, spending a lot of time thinking about how people work, the tools they use, and where they spend their time. When we were at Microsoft with my co-founder, who was also part of this company that got acquired, which was called Sunrise, something was frustrating for us in building productivity apps. We were building all those tools that were supposed to make email and calendars easier for everyone. But, at the end of the day, we didn’t feel productive, and the people around us didn’t feel productive. And so we felt like something was missing from the equation. If you want to be more productive, or if you want to focus on the right things, then yes, you need better tools. But it’s not the full story, right. And so we felt like there was another step that we could take to really help people focus on what they do best. And that’s why we launched Double. This idea that delegation could play a really important role in helping you spend your time on the things that you are meant to do in your day-to-day. And we wanted to make that very easy and flexible and accessible for more people.
Matt Watson 02:53
Well, so you started Double in 2018. Right? And so, but there are lots of companies that do virtual assistant kind of stuff, right? So I guess when you started Double, how did you? How are you thinking about positioning yourself to be different from others, just like a random virtual assistant?
Alice Default 03:14
Yeah, there were a couple of hypotheses that we had that were super important for us from the beginning. And that for us set us apart from other companies that existed on the market. The first one was that we wanted to be there for the long term with clients. So we are a part-time service, very flexible in the way we approach pricing and just engagement with clients. But from the beginning, we wanted people to think about delegation as a long-term thing, versus Oh, I have this one project, I need to delegate, I’m going to do that. And then I’m never going to talk to my assistant ever again. And so that first hypothesis that we had was that if you want delegation and having an assistant to have a real impact in your day-to-day, you need to have someone for a long period of time. So that was assumption number one. And so the way we do it at Double is that we match, we match our clients with dedicated assistance. So they’re always talking with the same personperson, building that relationship. And we encourage them to stay with us one on one for the long term. And so we try to minimize people who are just here for one-off projects. The second assumption that we had was that we wanted local people and really high quality. So we were ready to pay a bit more for the people. But because we thought that delegation is based on trust, if you don’t trust the person in front of you, you’re not going to delegate things. And so we wanted to make sure that our clients felt like they could trust their assistants, that their assistants would understand the cultural context they were in. And so, we made the assumption that we would start with assistants based here in the US to match with RBS clients. And then the last assumption that we made was, and again, making us different from other options that were on the market at the time and still today, was that we really wanted to push technology as a way to make delegation easier. And so, that’s coming from a very tech background, right? I’ve been building productivity apps for a really long time. But so we really felt like there was a big gap in terms of technology and tools that we could provide both the executives and the assistants to better work together. And so a big part of what we do at Double today is building those tools to make that relationship just more seamless.
Matt Watson 05:27
That sounds awesome. And I’m a huge fan of that. And I feel like, especially as an early-stage company, like, there’s always a lot of things you need to do. And it may not be that like, oh, I need a full-time person to do this. It’s like, oh, I need somebody to help do this marketing assistant thing, or travel thing or whatever, whatever the thing is, right. And it’d be nice just to have somebody to help, but you don’t necessarily need to hire a full-time person, or you don’t want to hire a full-time person, right with the liability of that. And, you know, I think having some kind of part-time resources, you can scale up and down, especially when you’re an earlier stage company, is really, really beneficial. Yeah, and
Alice Default 06:07
I mean, for us, obviously, it’s the future of work. And we see that because of the business that we’re building. But even when you look at how people hire today and how they think about building their teams, I think COVID obviously was a big trigger for all this, but people are the more comfortable working part-time person or as team members. They’re more comfortable with remotes, and they’re more comfortable with the fact that their team is going to, as you say, size up and down based on their needs. And that flexibility for companies today is so important. And so making it easy for people to find really high-quality team members. With that flexibility for us was just like the best way to go,
Matt Watson 06:51
I would imagine that COVID. And making remote work become more of a norm has been a huge benefit to your company.
Alice Default 07:00
To be honest, for the first couple of months, our first month at COVID was really tough. But I think that was the case for every single business out there. Because people were cutting costs. And so one of the first things they would cut was external services like Double, but actually, a month in, people had also downsized their teams, but they still had the same amount of work. And so they were coming back to us and saying, Well, actually, I need you guys more than ever because I don’t have the means to hire someone full-time. But I have all this work that I need to do. And I want to be able to rely on a service or a person that is going to be high quality but also very flexible. And so COVID, I think, for us because of that was really great. And also because it’s normalized, working remotely. And so we also had tons of people who would have never thought of working with someone remotely before COVID came to us and said, well, actually, I’m by myself in my garage, or you know, my basement or like in my office. Right now, I’m working. So I don’t care where my assistant is. And if they’re not in, in my office.
Matt Watson 08:06
So what are some of the best use cases for when somebody decides to look for a company like Double and hire Double? Like, what are the types of work they’re trying to delegate.
Alice Default 08:18
There are a few different things, and knowing that we do both work and personal tasks. So we’re really open to that, especially because we support a lot of CEOs. And I mean, you talk with CEOs all day. So you know how this is. But the work and life tasks of CEOs are usually very intermingled. So it’s all related. People come to us for a few things. The biggest thing would be just scheduling encounters. That’s an issue that we still haven’t been able to solve with all the tools that we have today. But everyone needs help managing their time and their meetings. And so we do get a lot of people coming to us for that. The second big category of things is helping them manage communication, like email communication, internal communication, setting agendas for meetings, and following up after things. So just helping them be a better version of the CEO they want to be. And then we’ll also do things that you could expect from an assistant, you know, travel booking, finding appointments for things, research projects, ordering stuff online. There are a lot of things that we can help with, for sure.
Matt Watson 09:26
Yeah, I mean, so for example, for this podcast, I mean, we have an assistant basically right that has to follow up with everybody and figure out when are they available and schedule it and email back and forth and communicate, and there’s sometimes there’s a lot of work like that’s hidden work that if you’re the one that’s doing all of it, it’s really taxing and you there are other we’ll call it like other higher quality tasks you could be dedicating your time to, but instead you get sucked into all these things. And so, for this podcast, we have a wonderful lady named Jessica who plans all of it. Thank you, Jessica. That works full-time for us.
Alice Default 10:02
I must say, a lot of times, and she’s amazing for sure, she’s a good example of somebody that’s like, I couldn’t imagine doing all this work, like without having an assistant that did all of that.
Matt Watson 10:06
And, you know, one day I was talking to somebody, I don’t remember who it was, but they told me something that really stuck with me as a founder, entrepreneur, you know, type person, it said, you know, most people get up every day. And it makes sense to start your day by writing a list of things like, these are the things I need to do today. But said even more important, that isn’t, what you need to do, is who’s going to do it, because it should not be your name next to all of these tasks. And I feel like as any kind of business executive manager, entrepreneur, founder, whatever, that somewhere we struggle with is delegation. And, you know, love to talk to you more about what you see from other founders that have that struggle. And is there any cure for it? Because I feel like, you know, some of us are control freaks. And, and we don’t want to give up certain control and some of it’s a company size thing, right? Like, we started and I had my hands and all these things, and I don’t want to give them up.
Alice Default 11:12
Yeah, so there’s definitely. So first delegation is a skill. And that’s something that I tell my clients a lot, it’s, you can become great at delegation overnight, like everything, you have to learn how to do it in the best possible way. And so I know some clients will get frustrated, because their first few weeks, they don’t know what to delegate, they don’t know how to delegate it, and it takes them kind of a few iterations before figuring it out. And that’s completely normal. Like, especially as you said, when you’re a CEO, or founder or a business owner, and you have, you want to control everything, and you feel like you need to hustle, you feel like you need to have your hands in every single project. And so it can be really hard to let go of things. And as you said, like, not be the name in front of every single task on your to do list. So there’s definitely a learning curve. And we see that with all of our clients. For me, it’s like, you know, these aren’t our metrics, you know, it’s this matrix, where you look at what’s urgent and what’s not urgent, and what’s important and not important. Because that you as a CEO should, or an executive actually should only do the urgent and important. And then important and not urgent, but everything else you should be able to delegate, so everything that’s urgent and not important, you should be able to delegate. And so it’s more about getting into the habit of identifying those tasks and knowing where it is that you have specific value doing. And what are the tasks where you don’t have value, like I’ll give an example. But running payroll, for example, as a CEO, you feel like you need to do it at the beginning, you’re the personperson who’s going to run those payroll, like every two weeks or every month. But eventually, you’re doing it versus someone on your team, like the value is the same, and the process is going to be the same. And so you have to find those recurring tasks that you do on a weekly basis or a daily basis and figure out, do I have value in doing this? Or could someone do the same job or even a better job than me on these specific tasks?
Matt Watson 13:12
Well, and I feel like, we, we also do this with members on our team, right? It’s like when we have five people on our team, but it’s like, oh, I always have Pat do this thing. And the other four people never do it. But now after doing this a long time, I always have my mindset too. I’m like, Well, what happens if Pat wins a lottery and he leaves tomorrow? Somebody else is gonna figure it out, like somebody will do this. If it’s not Pat, we will find a way. Right? So let’s just find a way now. Instead of assuming Pat has to be the one to do it. Right? But it takes that mentality shift of people opening up with like, you know what, somebody else can do this thing. Where but I think we as humans, we hate change. And we want like, I’m the one who does it or Pat’s, the one who does it or whatever the thing is, and we struggle with like trust and trust, I think is the keyword you used earlier, is it comes down to trust, if we don’t trust other people to do things, we won’t let them do it.
Alice Default 14:08
know for sure. And for me, it’s a question of habit. Like, can you get into this habit of every time you’re doing something thinking about should you do it or not? One tip I usually give my clients is, so when we started about the very beginning, and we were looking at the data, we actually learned that 30% of executives’ time today is spent on things that have a low value or could have been delegated. 30% is a massive amount of time. It’s like a day and a half. It’s, you know, like saying that on Thursday afternoons, you stop working on important stuff, and for the rest of the week, you just do things that you shouldn’t be doing. So that’s like a significant portion of your week. And so, the one way to address that and that is that we recommend that Doubles to our clients is start putting stuff in your calendar where the first thing to understand is to understand where you spend your time. And so, start every time you do a task, put it in your, in your calendar, obviously meetings already there. But let’s say you’re, you know, working on contacting investors or planning the next quarter or doing your payroll, just like put these tasks inside of your calendar. And at the end of the week, look at all those tasks, look at where you spent your time every single day. And for each thing, ask yourself, Could someone else have done this for me, like I did? I need to do this. And that’s usually very eye opening for people who’ve never done this, because it’s also very easy to not track everything, and feel like you’re so busy every single day, and you’re just like rushing from one test to the other. And you have so much to do. And at the end of the week, though, you finish and you’re like, What did I do this week, I have no memory of where I had an impact. And when you start tracking this and kind of seeing it on your calendar, it makes a whole difference, because you start seeing that, actually what felt like it was the most important for you at the beginning of the week. So like, you know, planning Q1 strategy, actually, you spend 45 minutes on it. But things that were not important, or could have been delegated, you spent hours. And that is for me that the first step basically is awareness about where your site where your time is being spent?
Matt Watson 16:19
Well, I feel like for a lot of people, especially once the company gets to a certain stage, it seems like they spend 60 to 80% of their time in meetings. And I feel like that’s one of the other big problems with productivity is just meetings and meetings and meetings and meetings. Is that something else you see a lot too?
Alice Default 16:40
Yeah, I think for meetings for me, there’s a couple of things like one, my team is fully remote and most of us are fully remote. So meetings are crucial, to build a culture to see faces in your day, so that you’re not by yourself to work more effectively. But they’re also massive, they can take a lot of time in your calendar. And so I think for me, the thing with meetings is a couple of things is one: making sure that your meetings are well organized, that you’re actually making the most out of every meeting. And that’s not rocket science, right. But you have an agenda, you’re following up on stuff, that you get to what is really important in those meetings. In a remote world, I think it’s also important to have some meetings that are purely social, just make these connections. Because you also don’t want to get into a mode where you’re just like, you know, I want to be super effective. But then I’m not asking my team how they’re doing. And then I think on a very personal level, and I am sure it applies to a lot of other founders. For me, it’s also super important to plan days without meetings where I block my time completely. And, and it’s just like I look at my calendar, and it makes me feel so good. To be fair, I found it in the last few years, months, years, I found it hard to have one single day without meeting. But something that I have that I’ve almost 100% of the time followed is my first two days, two hours of the day with no meaning. So from nine to 11, I never scheduled anything, my time is completely blocked, which means that I start my day with focus time. And whatever, whatever happens for the rest of the day, I will have accomplished something important in those two hours, which makes the rest of my day feel just like better.
Matt Watson 18:28
Well, and I think it’s so important to mention along that So you mentioned that two hours. But if you have like a half an hour here and there half an hour between a meeting and another half an hour between meetings, I don’t know about you, but I feel like during that half an hour between meetings, I just like check my email, go get some coffee, go to the bathroom, say hi to my wife, whatever I work from home, and like just sort of pass time waiting for the next meeting, right? It’s hard to get deep into work. Besides just you know, responding to a couple quick emails or a couple slack messages. It’s hard to get deep into critical work at that time. And I think that’s sort of a hack right there like, hey, it’s the same amount of time, we’ll rearrange the schedule. So it’s like I have two hours of pure time. I can focus on building my pitch deck or my forecast or whatever it is because you can’t just do that, like 10 minutes at a time between meetings. It’s just not really possible.
Alice Default 19:19
No. And we’ve I completely agree. I think it’s about how you organize your meetings and actually, my Double has been super great and helps me so my Double assistant has is like manages my calendar so that i She groups all my meetings together so I can have actual work time. And one thing we’ve implemented at Double actually has no meaning on Monday. Okay, which the team loves because it’s kind of the same thing as not working the first two hours of the day is you know, whatever happened for the rest of the week, you’ll know that you you had stuff done in those first, you know that first day and that makes the whole All difference in how you set yourself up for the rest of the week?
Matt Watson 20:04
Well, I do want to take a minute to remind everybody that finding expert software developers doesn’t have to be difficult, especially when you visit FullScale.io, where you can build a software team quickly and affordably. Use the Full Scale platform to define your technical needs. And then see what developers are available to join your team visit FullScale.io to learn more. So question for you. i. So I think this is a great topic around productivity and delegation, and, and all of these things. But for those that are listening, they’re like, You know what, I really have this problem, and I wish I was better at it. Do you have any suggestions on where to start? Like, is there training, you know, or a book to read? Or, you know, what, what kind of materials? Would you recommend to somebody that’s like, I really need to fix this problem.
Alice Default 20:53
Yeah, so the first thing I would say is, I think online, there’s this thing about productivity hacks, like this belief that there’s one thing you could do, that’s going to change everything. And I think the first step is accepting that that’s not true that like everything, there’s a learning curve, it’s going to take time, it’s going to take multiple alterations, and so kind of not getting depressed after the first try. If you feel like that magic productivity hack that you found online is not working for you. The second thing I would say is kind of going back to what I was saying earlier is, if you want to be more productive, the first the first piece is like where does your time go today. And so really understanding the things you spend time on and if you should be the personperson to spend time on these things, very, very basic way to get started, but that is going to have a big impact on how you want to do things.
Matt Watson 21:48
And then the other thing, and we were talking about it earlier, as well, the other thing, I think that’s super crucial for me is context switching is it’s really hard to feel like you’ve achieved stuff and that you are being as productive as you want to be or focusing on the right thing when you’re constantly context switching.
Alice Default 21:50
And so that’s what you know, when you have a meeting, and then half an hour, and then another meeting and half an hour and then and so trying to put yourself in the zone and making sure that you have a few times during the week. And maybe you can do four hours at once or a day at once. But even starting with like one hour or two hours, where you’re fully focused on the things that you truly want to achieve. And that means one having the time to turn off all your notifications. And when I say I did that to other CEOs, they’re like, what you’re not on Slack. And I’m like, if everything is burning down, people will find a way to contact me. Yeah, nothing is going to break down. If I’m just like two hours disconnected from slack. And so I think also allowing yourself to take that step back. And so that you can focus on unimportant stuff versus, you know, being always pulled in on your phone or on Slack or email, like turning off your email, things like that, like I check my emails once a day. And that’s already too much for me, I’m trying to like, do it every other day. But yeah, I think like being conscious about actively deciding what you want to focus on versus letting other people tell you where to spend your time, like letting your emails or your Slack messages kind of organize your day.
Matt Watson 23:22
So those are great tips. And I liked your tip earlier you mentioned. So you suggest going in and saying okay, yesterday, like recording somewhere, what did I do yesterday afternoon? Like how would you do that? It’s actually what I do on my calendar. So I just go back in and backfill like empty time.
Alice Default 23:40
So I did it the other day in two ways. The first thing is, and in the morning, I put blocks of time on my calendar like, during this half hour I have between two meetings, yes, is what I want to spend it on. I have two hours, this is what I want to spend it on. And I’m like little compared to my to-do list for the week. And the time I haven’t tried to like fill in my week with that. And so my calendar, when you look at it, is very scary, because everything is booked from nine to five or 6pm, like every single slot is booked. But some of them are meetings when most of it is just like focus work. And then as I’m going through my day, I adjust my calendar. So that matches, like if I have to do something else, I’ll switch these events. So it does ask for a tiny bit of coordination and you have to like manually update it. But at the end of the week, I can look at my calendar and I know what I’ve done. And that makes a really big difference for me in terms of like, did I focus on the right things? Was I spending my time where I should have been spending it? Or on the other side if I wasn’t what took up my time and how I fix it and how do I find better ways to do it next week?
Matt Watson 24:47
Well, the one thing you mentioned there that I really like and I don’t do this enough, is just putting time on my own calendar for something I know I need to do to block time. It’s like today from four to 5pm I need to do payroll or whatever it is and block time. And so I had no idea, Okay, I have to do this at four o’clock. And I feel like a lot of entrepreneurs also have some, some amount of ADHD, I feel like a lot of us do. And the problem is we get distracted, right? We think we’re gonna work on one thing, and then we start checking her email. And next thing you know, we don’t get sidetracked with some other thing. And I think that’s that calendaring thing can be a little bit of a hack around that. It’s like, No, I have to do this from four to five, forget all the rest of this crap. It’ll wait. Like, I have to do this four to five times. Like, if you get into that kind of rhythm, it may help us stay on task, too.
Alice Default 25:35
Yeah, and I think it forces you to be realistic, right? I think as founders, we’re often too optimistic. And I do it too. But I’ll do my to-do list for today. And I’ll put like 10 stuff on my list, like my list for today literally has him to do items, even though I’ve been working in productivity for years, and I should know better. But then I look at my list. And then I actually start putting time slots on my calendar. And I’m like, actually, I’m going to be able to work on three things today. Because when I look at the time that’s available to me, and the time I need to spend on each task, it’s like it’s just not going to fit. And so it forces you to be more realistic. And because of that, it forces you to prioritize, which is, you know, another trick of great productivity is just always always prioritizing stuff.
Matt Watson 26:20
Well, I think that’s a great topic too, if you have to force rank things to say like, what are the three most important things I need to do. And everything else is basically the list of crap I’m not going to do, right, like, you know, people make all these spreadsheets, or they use task management software like Jira, or whatever, and they put all these items in there. It’s always just the list of stuff you’re not going to do, basically. And you just spend all your time managing the list of all the things you’re not going to do. And I always feel like when you wake up every day, you always know what the three most important things are so you don’t forget about them. And almost everything else doesn’t matter. Or you’ve got to delegate it to somebody else. Because you just can’t put in the energy to do all of them.
Alice Default 27:00
Yeah, for sure. I think for me, that was like, one of my personal breakthroughs as a CEO. That happened pretty early on, in this job at one point, I realized that I was never going to be able to do everything on my to do list. Even if I had a week with no meetings, and I just liked this stuff one by one, there was always going to be new stuff that constantly got added. And it’s just like there was no world where everything got done. And I think that’s good. I actually think that you shouldn’t be doing everything on your to do list. Because sometimes you put stuff there that you shouldn’t be doing. But I think understanding that and as you said, just knowing that I’m just going to do the top three things, but you’re in a different mindset, because then you’re like, Okay, I’m only going to do three things. So I need to make sure that whatever these three things are, they’re the best things, right?
Matt Watson 27:54
The best use of my time. Yeah. And delegate the rest of it back to you know, all of our earlier conversation, when it comes to having, you know, other people on your team you can delegate to or an assistant with somebody like Double that you can delegate to, and just trying to figure out like, Where Where can we get more productivity, because like, I just can’t do all of these things. It’s just, it’s just not possible.
Alice Default 28:16
Exactly. And the other thing that we believe a lot at Double is obviously we talk about productivity, and it’s great because you want to be more productive. But I think at the end of the day why do you want to be more productive, right? Like, it’s not just, we’re not machines, where we’re just trying to optimize everything that we do. And I think for us at Double, the reason why we’re doing this and the reason why we want people to be more productive we want people to delegate is because we want them to have more fulfilling lives. And I have this really strong belief that a CEO can have a really challenging job and like something that is motivating and makes them grow on a daily basis, but they can also have a fulfilling personal life, like they don’t have to pick one or the other. And I think that also helps put a lot of stuff in perspective when you’re like I want to lead a high growth company and be super successful. But I also want to be home to take care of my kids and I want to disconnect on the weekends because I want to spend time with my friends and families and and so I think when you also put productivity in context of why you’re trying to be more productive and kind of like those bigger goals it makes a big difference as well on how you approach your day and and the tasks that you need to do.
Matt Watson 29:31
Yeah, I think that is a really great point is you know, there’s also higher value things we should be doing like mentoring people hiring people trying to close big deals, you know, business development, whatever, but instead we’re spending our time doing all these things that we could have delegated somebody else and we just won’t give them up. And you know along with that is the life balance right? Like so many people spend so many hours working on things that necessarily aren’t super high value tasks that they could have just waited till the next day even or just delegate somebody else. And, you know, one thing you mentioned earlier that I think is also one of those nuggets that always stuck with me is there’s a huge difference between being busy and being productive. Yeah, right. And a lot of us fall into like, I’m busy. And I feel good, because like, I’m doing work, but I’m not necessarily being very productive. And I think that’s something else that people should always keep in mind is there’s a huge difference between like, busy like mine, even just other employees, like, yeah, my employees are doing a lot of stuff. But are they achieving the goals that they need to achieve? Are we moving forward? Or are they just running around like a hamster on a wheel over there? Right? Like, there’s a huge difference.
Alice Default 30:41
Exactly. No, for sure. I think one of the examples I love from, and we’ve had a lot of really great stories with our clients, obviously, over the years. But one thing that I once heard I love is we had this client who was working, he was actually a podcast host. So maybe you will relate. But he was just busy all the time, working weekends and working late at night. And when he started with Double, usually we ask clients, what their goal is, like, why they’re coming to us. And he said, I want to be, I want to spend more time with my family, I feel like I’m missing out on them big time. And so he told his Double assistant, I want to have all my Wednesdays to spend with my family. And back then when you looked at his calendar, he wasn’t back to back meetings, like every single day, all day, all day. And we did it. It took a couple of months. But his Double managed to have him systematically take his Wednesday off to spend with his kids. And I think, for us, that’s a massive achievement. And it’s also possible, right? He felt just as productive. He felt like he was achieving just as much if not more, in this limited time that he had, because he was organized in a better way. And I think that’s, as you said, like he was just busy all week. But was he productive? Maybe not. And then once you figure out how to be less busy, then there’s tons of stuff you can do with that time that opens up for you. And that’s the exciting part for us.
Matt Watson 32:07
So tell me a little more about Double. I mean, obviously, you guys are based in the US. You have employees all over the United States, right?
Alice Default 32:17
Yes, we’re so close to our home offices in New York and Brooklyn. 95% of the team is fully remote all over the US.
Matt Watson 32:26
Do you have any international employees at all?
Alice Default 32:29
We have. So about 20% of our businesses in France, or revenue come from France. I’m French. And so historically, we just had French clients. And so we have two employees in France. But then the other 34 people on the team are based here in the US.
Matt Watson 32:46
So what’s it like having an international business in France? Like, do you have any weird things you have to deal with? As far as legal stuff? And all those sorts of things as an international business? Or is it pretty seamless for you?
Alice Default 33:00
We kept it simple. For now, we, the company, is incorporated in the US. And we don’t have a legal entity in France. So everything is managed from the US. But we just needed people who spoke French for our customers across roles or just like user facing roles. And so we hired a couple of people, actually, people, people that were assistants with us that we hired into user facing roles. But they worked as contractors for us full time, full time.
Matt Watson 33:29
Yeah, having an international business where we actually set up a corporation and have employees and do all that in another country is a whole different experience. Because it is Full Scale, we have, like 300 employees in the Philippines and all that is, you know, a local entity with all of their local labor laws and taxes and only things and it’s just fascinating. You know, all of that is interesting. So it will be interesting to see as you guys grow around the world and do that. So, what do you see as the future for Double? It looks like you guys have raised some capital. Are you in big time growth mode right now?
Alice Default 34:03
Yeah, so we raised a Series A at the end of last year. And for us, the idea now is to keep growing. The, as I said, our mission, or the belief that we have is that you can have work-life balance. And you can have a fulfilling, challenging work and a fulfilling life or personal life. And we see that for obviously our clients but also for the assistants that we work with. And our goal is to provide that to a lot more people and so growing for us means that we are, you know, giving that to more people. We’re starting with CEOs and startup owners today just because they’re a very easy target, right? There are people who have the needs and feel the pain, maybe more than a lot of people out there. But that’s that’s the idea. And the focus for us next year is going to be to start thinking about teams. So not just the CEO but also the team below them that supports them and how do we help them delegate as well.
Matt Watson 35:02
So do you have customers where you could have assistance for multiple people at the same company, like multiple executives and things like that?
Alice Default 35:09
Yes, well, we have quite a bit of customer. And we’re pushing that even more where we’re going to support the entire exec team. So maybe the CEO will have their assistant or like an in-house assistant or a Double assistant, and then they’ll have an assistant for the entire exec team.
Matt Watson 35:28
And so the exec team will share that, Assistant, does that model work very well? Or does that create some interesting dynamics having a shared?
Alice Default 35:34
For us, it works really well, again, going back to this idea of flexibility. And going back to the fact that most execs don’t need full-time assistants, right? Like you don’t I, I mean, I launched this company, so I know how to, like I know this topic really well, I use my, my assistant works for me about 15 to 20 hours per week, and she does a ton of things for me. And for me, it’s enough. So you don’t always need like 40 hours of someone’s time. And so actually, a shared assistant works really well for exec teams because they’re only mean, you know, a few hours, like 510 hours per week.
Matt Watson 36:10
Well, with your guys’ model, is that kind of the minimum, like five hours a week, and you have different tiers? Or how do you guys do that?
Alice Default 36:17
Yeah, exactly. Our pricing works in packages of hours. So we do start at five hours. But then most of our clients are between 20 and 50 hours per month.
Matt Watson 36:28
Okay. Okay, so that’s, yeah, that’s five to 10 a week. Absolutely. So, yeah, I mean, that makes sense. And, you know, I think. Honestly, it’s gonna matter a lot with kind of the type of customer you’re dealing with, because, like, I have a friend that a business owner and he is not technical at all like he does he stroke, he would say he struggles to do anything technical. And it’s like, this guy would desperately need a virtual assistant or assistant to do, like, a lot of things, right. It’s like, it would be an all-afternoon project for him to go figure out how to book travel online or something where it might take me, like, five minutes, I might like, do it really fast. But yeah, I mean, it’s gonna vary a lot, depending on the type of people you’re working with, is my point.
Alice Default 37:09
Exactly. And that’s why we also do so. We have a community of more than 200 assistants today at Double bass here in the US. And we do the personalized matching. So when you come to us as a potential client, we ask you your expectations, your tech skills, how you like to work, and we’ll find the assistant, and we’ve, we’ve built Tech Tech around that matching process. But we’ll find the best assistant to fit your needs, your personality, and your expectations overall.
Matt Watson 37:36
Yeah, it’s very different. Like I need help with marketing and writing HTML, and I need help with accounts receivable, QuickBooks, and very different things. And yeah, I can definitely see you have a very wide array of skills across your staff. Yeah, for sure. Well, as we wrap up the call here today, I do want to say thank you for being on the show. And remind everybody that today’s episode of the Startup Hustle was sponsored by FullScale.io. When you hit Full Scale, all you have to do is answer a few questions. Let the platform match you up with your fully vetted, highly experienced team of software engineers. At Full Scale, we specialize in building long-term teams that work only for you. Learn more at FullScale.io. And a big thank you for being on the show today. Your website is withdouble.com. Right? And, you know, so as we end the show today, I wonder if you have any final, you know, product productivity hacks or tips to share with everybody.
Alice Default 38:42
Yes, that’s it. Something that I haven’t shared already. I would say, don’t forget to disconnect. I think, also, sometimes, being productive is recharging, like not doing anything and recharging. And we tend to forget that because, again, our to-do list is so long, and we feel like we always need to be hustling. But those times you take to disconnect, whether it’s weekend or at night, or even during your day, make a huge impact. And so, taking that time for yourself is super important.
Matt Watson 39:13
You know, I’ve to be honest, I enjoy disconnecting from this podcast. I don’t know why I enjoyed the podcast, and it’s sort of; I don’t want to call it relaxing, but it’s fun. Like it re-energizes me to go back to work too. So thank you so much for being on the show today. And I think what you guys offer is great, and there are a lot of people that could get a lot of value out of it. And you provided a lot of good tips today. So thank you so much for being on the show.
Alice Default 39:38
Thank you so much for having me, Matt. It was a pleasure. Right. Thank you. Talk to you soon.