The world’s outsourcing is shifting to the Philippines, and there is a good reason for it. John Jonas, the Founder and CEO of OnlineJobs.ph, found that reason to be powerful as soon as he got his first Filipino employee. Aiming to share that experience with other entrepreneurs, as well as create many new jobs for Filipinos, he built his business to become the largest website for finding Filipino virtual workers, with over a million Filipino resumes and hundreds of thousands of employers from around the world using it. With the greater bulk of his work being outsourced, he now works for only 17 hours a week, doing only the most essential things for his business. The way things are going, it looks like outsourcing will stay in the Philippines for a long time. Listen as John shares the enormous benefits of working with Filipino virtual workers with host, Paul Higgins.
Listen to the podcast here:
Outsourcing To The Philippines With John Jonas
Build Live Give. Mentoring With Paul Higgins
Our guest is someone who knew in the first eight weeks of being an employee that he was unemployable. He began developing and was tired and overworked. In 2005, he hired his first person in the Philippines and now he has over one million profiles on his platform. He’s the website to go-to to employ Filipinos direct. Why read? Here’s an amazing story of creating one of the largest job boards in the world. You will love it. The second is he gives two reasons his job board has been super successful and how it can scale your business. Number three is he talks about why do what you are good at and outsource the rest is completely wrong. He’s kind enough to give a free book. What I’ll do now is hand you over to John Jonas from OnlineJobs.ph.
Welcome, John Jonas, from OnlineJobs.ph to the show. It’s brilliant to have you on.
Thanks for having me.
I’ve used your platform several times having spent a lot of time finding the right workers in the Philippines. I’m excited to dig into that. Why don’t we start with something that your family or friends would know about you that we may not?
One of the things that people first learn about me is that I don’t hold back. What you see is what you get with me. I’m not good at covering up my feelings or at not being truthful or not telling you how I think. It’s something people learn pretty quickly, but I guess at first, you wouldn’t know that about me.
Is it environmental? Is it you? Is it from your family upbringing?
I don’t know. This is a good indicator. Years ago, my brother-in-law showed up at our door with his fiancé and they rang the doorbell at 10:00 at night. I have little kids and ringing the doorbell is not great. I was sitting on my couch and he could see through the door, there was glass in the door. He could see me and I turned and looked with a not super happy face. This is what my family and friends would know about me that you wouldn’t. He turns with fiancé who hasn’t met me yet and he says, “My brother, John. I forgot to tell you, he’s rough at first but once you get to know him, he’s awesome. I have to introduce her to him.”
We’ve got a saying in our house and I won’t say who it’s about, “Don’t poke the bear.” It’s our saying in the family. Maybe it’s a bit like that. Often in a relationship like that, your partner is the other end of the spectrum. Is that the case in your relationship?
It is. My wife is super nice, rosy, happy and friendly. I’m friendly and nice but if I think you’re doing something dumb, I’m going to tell you you’re dumb.
We’ve got a saying here in Australia called a spider spied. Does that translate?
You can hire a loyal, honest, hardworking, competent person in the Philippines at an eighth of the cost of someone in the US. Click To Tweet
We’ll keep it nice, short and punchy. From my research, you started off as a programmer and then turned into this amazing platform that serves many people around the world. Take us through that journey.
In 2003, I graduated from college and had a job for eight months. My only goal was to quit that job. I’m not a good employee. It took me eight months to quit and to figure out how to make money online. I was making a little bit of money. I had an opportunity where I could quit and I was like, “This is it. I’m going to try it.” I did, and it didn’t take long before I realized I’m super overworked and I’m frustrated. There’re too many things in the day to get done and programming is super consuming mentally. It’s hard to do anything else if you’re writing code. I thought if you build it, they will come, which isn’t correct. If I build a great web tool, people didn’t want to use it because they didn’t know anything about it. I started transitioning away from programming a little bit, but I still had to do it because I was the programmer. I was super frustrated. I’d tried a couple of different ways of hiring people. I hired local people, that didn’t work nor could I afford it. I wasn’t making much money.
I’d tried hiring people in India and that didn’t work out for me. I think many people have had that experience. I tried hiring from what was Elance and it’s now Upwork. It was a contract worker and my experience there was I was super excited because I figured out like, “This is it. This time I got it right at outsourcing.” I hired this person and they wrote a bunch of articles for me. They sent me the articles and I was super excited because I had all this work done and then I realized that all the rest of the work fell on me to do and I hated this. I hated this process of these articles, marketing them, posting them, submitting them and the whole thing. I hated it but it fell on me because they were just a contract worker. Their job was to write content and that’s it. I had paid them and they were gone and they were already working for someone else. One day I had a conversation with the guy that owned BackCountry.com and it’s huge.
We were doing some similar things. His was a side project and mine was my main project. He said, “When you’re ready to start outsourcing some of this stuff, make sure you go to the Philippines with it.” I was like, “That’s super different and interesting.” It gave me some hope that maybe I would find something different. He gave me a reference so I could hire someone. I went back and forth for two months. I don’t know if I can keep someone busy full-time. I don’t know if they can do good work. I don’t know if I could afford this. After two months, the conversation that went on in my head, and I think this goes on a lot of people’s head was, “It doesn’t matter if any of this is true. If I can’t afford them, if they can’t do great work, if I can’t keep them busy full-time, it doesn’t matter because something has to change. I can’t keep doing what I’m doing.”
I’m overworked, I’m frustrated. I’m not making progress as I should be. I had to try something else. I hired this guy in the Philippines. He gave me a reference where I could hire someone full-time and I hired this guy and it changed my life. It was the single most liberating experience I’ve ever had. This guy’s full-time job was to do anything I asked him to do, anything I was willing to teach him to do and I asked him to do and he would do it. After a couple of months, I realized there’s two of me now because he’s doing all these things that I was previously trying to do or wishing I could do, but I couldn’t because there wasn’t enough time in the day. Now there’s me and I’m not just focusing on programming. I have the ability to do something else. That first hire was what changed the direction of my business and my life.
That was back 2003?
That was 2005 when I made my first hire.
I hear a lot about that. About India, I’ve certainly had my experience with that. Has it changed much since 2005?
I don’t know because I haven’t done it. I have seen that the world’s outsourcing has shifted from India to the Philippines. I’ve watched that shift happen. I think people thought, “There are 1.3 billion people in India and they teach English. We’ve got to be able to find some good people there.” The Philippines isn’t nearly as big, but there are 100 million people in the Philippines. It’s still big and English is government-mandated as a primary language there. I’ve only been to the Philippines once. That was in 2010. I was in a hotel lobby and I was watching a hotel clerk and a guest argue, both Filipino, arguing in English. That was super eye-opening to me like, “Now I understand why we never have communication problems, why they get it, why we can teach them,” the whole thing. It’s different than what most people experience in India.
My experience was in 2011. I left Coca-Cola and a similar story overwhelmed. I always had an executive assistant and lots of people at Coke. All of a sudden, I’m doing it all myself and a business coach of mine said the same thing, “Have you thought of the Philippines?” and I go deep. Within a month, I flew to the Philippines. I interviewed different outsourcing companies. I didn’t want to go direct the first-time round. Lo and behold, they ended up setting up a company. It was a dream and especially back then when the Filipino peso was comparable or quite low as opposing currency. It was brilliant and I had the same experience as you. Everywhere I go It’s a conversation and predominantly with lovely people that want to help you. It completely transformed my life, probably the same as you have across the board. How did it go from you doubling yourself to now having over a million profiles on the platform?
I was part of a mastermind group at the time. We had weekly phone calls, which was awesome at the time. I had this guy working for me. I hired him in 2005 and he still works for me now. He’s amazing. When I first hired him, he knew nothing, and now he’s amazing. I then hired a programmer and I got programming off of my plate. People started asking like, “How are you doing this?” In this mastermind group, I found myself talking every single week. People were asking, “How are you doing this? How is this working well? What about this? How are you hiring?” I was like, “I can’t keep telling the same thing over and over again.” I recorded myself talking about this whole process for 45 minutes. I recorded audio and I’ve made it available on my blog. It blew up. People started listening to it and contacting me. All these guys on this mastermind group had audiences and they wanted me to teach their audiences. I started teaching it and after about a year, finding people in the Philippines sucks. It was hard.
You flew there and most people don’t want to fly there. At that time, this was 2007, it wasn’t great to find people and I thought, “Maybe I can do this. Maybe I can create a better way,” because I was recruiting someone. I was super frustrated with the agency style of finding someone where they find someone for you and they give you that person. They mark up their salary and lease them back to you. The good thing about it is at least that person’s full-time for only you, which was a big deal for me. The rest of the stuff that goes on with the agency model didn’t work for me. I decided I’m going to try and put together this job board thingy that maybe I’ll get a couple of hundred profiles in it and I could recruit someone myself. I got a couple of hundred profiles in the first month. I had no idea how quickly the Filipino people would respond to this. It blew up. We launched it in 2009. We had 60,000 Filipinos signed up. It’s now huge. That’s the process of why I started OnlineJobs.ph and where it went.
We’ll slide now into the Build section. When someone says to you, “John, what do you do?” how do you best describe that?
I run a job board for the Philippines. It’s like Indeed.com where you have players from around the world coming to hire virtual workers from the Philippines. Those virtual workers work from home and you recruit them on your own. We don’t mark up their salaries. You pay them however you want to pay them. They work directly for you. You’re not hiring a company that’s farming out the work to a bunch of people. You’re working directly with that person.
This type of company size, what was it in 2009? What has it progressed to now? Is it still solopreneurs, entrepreneurs? Is it also going a lot broader than that?
We have customers of every single type. We have tons of entrepreneurs, solopreneurs. We have attorneys, real estate agents, insurance agents, doctors, Google, Uber and Canva as customers and everything in between. Hundreds of thousands of employers use the site. We don’t even know most of them that are using the site because we never see it. You post a job and Filipinos apply and we’re not involved.
What a beautiful model. I suppose that a lot of people might have seen the same gap. Why do you think you doubled down and were successful versus others that may have tried it?
There have been two things that we did well that others haven’t done well. One of those is that we have always stuck with what we do. I get approached with this idea once a week or once a month saying, “Why don’t we set up an office in the Philippines. Since you have all these Filipinos access to them, let’s sell them to people and we’ll mark up their salaries. We can make much money.” I’ve always said no. I don’t like it. The employers don’t like it either. They like the idea of having someone else find them a worker, but they’re like, “I don’t want to pay $1,500 a month when they’re paying their worker $500 a month,” which is typically the markup.
The second thing that we’ve always done that made a difference was we always charged employers to use the site. Lots of other people have come in and tried to not charge and tried to make it free and it creates a scammer breeding ground, which is like Craigslist. I’ve never heard of someone successfully finding a worker on Craigslist because it creates this breeding ground of scams where nobody trusts anybody. There’s much scamming going on that people don’t want to use it. We charge because it prevents scam employers and then it allows us to have the resources to remove scammy workers and it creates a good situation.
You spoke about COVID and that there’s a huge demand. Talk about what is that demand like at the moment?
In March of 2020, we saw a 3% decline. In April, we saw a 3% decline. Usually, those are good months for us. They’re growth months. In May, we saw a 25% growth and June was similar. I think everybody freaked out in March and April with COVID, and then woke up and recognize like, “I still got to run a business,” then they started hiring again. The number of Filipinos signing up on the site doubled because they’re all at home. I mean the state of altruism is booming where people are realizing, “I can hire a loyal, honest, hardworking, competent person in the Philippines at 1/8 of the cost of someone in the US. They’re going to stick around with me forever,” as long as you treat them well. They can be talented. I can get the same work done, people especially are realizing this now as they themselves are working from home and everything still seems to be running fine. Who knew that could work? Virtual work works? People are realizing more and more, “This is the way we should be moving the company.”
I remember when I left in 2011, 2012 and most of my friends were still in corporate. I couldn’t get my workstyle. They’re like, “He’s retired. He’s always in his tracksuit pants at home. He’s playing golf in the middle of the day. He’s full-on retired.” In 2016, I had some health challenges. I wrote a book. I went through and kept my business running whilst I had a transplant and it was only due to my team in the Philippines. I can’t imagine doing it. You must talk to a lot of business owners. Is there any rationale not to go and outsource? I can’t find mine but if you ever have seen a situation where someone shouldn’t go and tap into this great job market.
People should outsource everything that can be done online or on a phone or computer. Click To Tweet
The most common outsourcing advice that people give is to do what you’re good at and outsource the rest of it. I think that is the worst advice ever. You’re asking what’s the situation where someone shouldn’t do this. If you’re good at making sales like sales are your thing, you’re good at pushing and you’re good at driving this in your business, do what you’re good at. Try and outsource some other stuff. Gary Vaynerchuk made a post that said, “People try and outsource things and they should stick with what they’re good at.”
For example, you’re good at sales, you outsource sales. No, 95% of people are not good at sales. If that’s what you’re good at, then don’t outsource it. Otherwise, people should be outsourcing everything and figuring out how to make sales because that’s what drives the business. The more you can learn about making sales, the more success you’ll have. The more you can get rid of other things off of your plate like driving traffic or marketing pieces or content creation or programming or design, all of those things can be done by other people, then you drive to the sales process. People should outsource everything that can be done online or on a phone or computer.
I always like the saying, “Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.” I see many people and definitely for solopreneurs or entrepreneurs, a lot of the time they don’t value their time for money. Everyone’s talked about it, but it is true. I ask people, “What are you pulling in drawings?” They’ll say, “I’m doing this at a revenue top line.” I’ll look at the bottom line of what they’re pulling out in cash to fund their lifestyle. It’s not commercially viable. “It’s quicker for me to do it. By the time I tell someone, I’ve already done it.”
That’s true but you’re running a business that hopefully doesn’t die in the next year. You got to do that thing over and over again. I’ll give you an example. This is the number one thing that I find that people are like, “I’m good at social media marketing.” “Yes, because who’s not good at wasting time on Facebook? Get someone else to do that crap and get it out of your life.” You might be doing marketing on Facebook, but there’s much wasted time in it. Get someone else to do it and waste their time.
You say on your LinkedIn profile that you work seventeen hours a week. What are the key things that only you do in that seventeen hours a week?
This is something I figured out over the years was I had to make a transition from being a worker in my business to being the CEO. I think most entrepreneurs either have to make this transition at some point, or they end up struggling the whole time. The only thing that I do is I think and I give instructions. We are doing our messaging platform on Online Jobs and I thought through it like, “Here’s how this should work and here’s why. It should be mobile. It should have these features. You guys come up with database design for this. You come up with a front-end design.” They do that and they send it back and I’m like, “Some of these things don’t work. Let’s modify how we do this in the beginning.”
All I’m doing is thinking and providing direction to people and then I let them do their work. I use a project management system and I look and see what people did. I give them feedback or I give them instructions. I answer some email and give my team direction on things that we’re doing. I don’t ever write code even though I’m a programmer. I haven’t written code in probably years. I don’t touch WordPress. I don’t touch emails like company emails. I don’t touch customer support. All I do is think. It took me a long time to get to that point, but that’s the goal is to get to that point where you’re the CEO and you think and other people do the executing.
What project management system do you use?
We use Basecamp, which I love.
We’re an assigner shop. We’re a bit smaller. We used to sell tech to service-based businesses and Basecamp was always one of our favorites. You’ve got a VA, but who’s the team that supports you? Tell us a little bit about that.
You mean who do we have? Who do I have on my team?
How big is the team? How much of it is in-house versus out?
In terms of advice for people, what I’m about to tell you is not what you should do. When I got started, I started with one person. For most people, you should start with one person and make sure this works for you. Now, I have 26 people on my team. I have multiple programmers, designers, front-end, HTML, CSS. I have content writers, social media people, customer service people. I have an HR person. I have video, audio editor. I have admin people, people that do whatever I ask them to do or people that run data security, system admin. Everything that would be needed to run an internet-based business I have in the field. I have a copywriter.
Do you have any people in the US? Are they all based out of the Philippines?
I have a business partner in the US and I have a girl in the US, who writes well in my voice. The people in the Philippines will often write something and then she will modify it to be in my voice. That’s our team.
The state of the Philippines, they’ve got a huge education base. I think they’re the third-largest English-speaking country in the world. Where do you see this heading a few years out? Is the Philippines still going to be the main place for outsourcing in the world? Are there other regions to kick up?
I’m not good at seeing the future. I’m not good at disguising my feelings. Over the last few years, I’ve watched almost all outsourcing transition to the Philippines. I don’t see another country’s culture competing with what they’re offering in the Philippines. The government is backing this. They’re actively encouraging it. We’ve been approached by different government agencies saying, “Let’s start training people together.” I don’t see that elsewhere.
If you’re keen to kick your journey off or add to it, you can go OnlineJobs.ph. Before we go to the Live section, I’d like to show you how to get 3 to 5 new clients a month on LinkedIn by spending 30 minutes a day even if you don’t know where to start and have limited marketing funds. Go to BLGClick.com and watch our prerecorded free masterclass. You’ll learn three key things. The secret formula to 10X your views. The second is seven killer elements to get 50 likes and 20 comments on every post. The third is the scripts to get an 80% response rate to your LinkedIn messages. A lot of the tasks that can be done, you can check out John’s OnlineJobs.ph to get a VA to do a lot of it as he recommended. The next is the Live section. You work seventeen hours a week, but I’d love to know what are some of the daily habits that help you be successful?
I am standard with my sleep schedule. I try and sleep from 11:00 to 7:00, so I get eight hours of sleep every night. I exercise every day. I read scriptures every day. I spend a lot of time with my wife and my kids. We ignore the spiritual side of our lives. We’re super concerned with our physical, mental and emotional. We’re spiritual beings and I take care of that part of my life and I think it’s important.
You talked about Kimberly and we spoke about her at the start. What would you like to say to her about the support she’s given you?
She knows that there’s no way I could have had this journey without her. She has changed me so much, which has been dang good for me. She mellowed me out, made me a nicer, kinder person. She’s probably kept me out of jail. She’s good.
Thanks, Kimberly. Shout out to your brother-in-law as well. You’ll have to send him this as well. The next is the Give section. What’s a community or a charity that you’re passionate about and why?
Your goal should be to get to that point where you're the CEO, and you just think and other people do. Click To Tweet
I have two things that I work with. I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and I feel like they do such a good job of supporting people in times of need. I do a lot of donating and working with them. There’s also a local charity called Tabitha’s Way. It’s a food pantry. They give food free to people. I work with them on some of their toughest cases of people who are homeless or are struggling or whatever. I try and help those people get on their feet again.
Have you seen a spike in demand for Tabitha’s Way given the current environment in the US?
Yeah. There are a lot of people.
It’s unbelievable. I think it’s 74,000 cases diagnosed in a day. We’re in full lockdown here in Melbourne, Australia. We’re getting 200 cases a day at the moment. Hopefully, by the time this gets published, we’re in a better state and continues that way. I’ve got a charity that I support. All my book proceeds go to that and it is called The Purple House. You can find out more at ThePurpleHouse.org.au. The next section is the Action section. I’ll ask you some questions to get some rapid-fire responses. The first one is what are your top three personal effectiveness tips?
When I’m at my computer, the only thing I do is work. I do not look at Facebook. I do not watch YouTube videos. I don’t do anything. That right there cuts my work week down a lot. That’s super important. Two, especially working with a virtual team, I use Snagit, which is a screen capture, screen software recording by the makers of Camtasia. Figuring out how to use a screen capture tool will change your effectiveness. It makes communication much easier, faster than typing long emails. That’s a big deal. I mentioned Basecamp and it keeps me organized.
You’ve talked about Basecamp and Snagit, but what are some other technology that you couldn’t run your business without?
There’s not much else that I couldn’t run. We have servers and stuff. I know most of the technology behind there only because I’m a programmer, but most people don’t want to or need to know that stuff.
We’ll keep it as Basecamp. What’s the best source of new ideas for you? You say that your key job is to think. What is your inspiration for new ideas?
Here’s one of the best things I ever did for my website. After someone buys, they get asked a question on the Thank You page that says, “What was something that almost prevented you from signing up?” That question that comes straight to me has been the best source of feedback on the website and ideas of things that we could do.
When did you implement that?
It was years ago. We have fixed much and made much better because of it.
The last questions are the big question, and always leave it to the end for that reason. What impact do you want to leave on the world?
My goal with Online Jobs is to provide a lot of jobs to the Philippines. I don’t have a number because we don’t track it, because people hire on their own. When I die, I want people to say that I was charitable and kind, which are the two things. I’m reasonable and charitable. I’m not super great at being kind. That’s something I have to work on.
It seems like it’s a journey, not a destination. I know that you’ve got a free book that you’ve kindly given all of the people reading. You can get that at OutsourcingLever.com. It’s been fantastic having you on. I’ve used your platform a lot. I know that even the agencies that I used to work with use your platform. You were the key source for finding jobs. From something that started as a personal pain point back in 2003, it’s amazing how far it’s gone. I know the way that you change lives in the Philippines. I think that’s a thing that a lot of people, especially Australians say, “You should be only doing providing Australian jobs.” Some of the people that I know that they’ve supported their whole family through working for an entrepreneur across the other side of the world. They’ve been able to be at home and all the benefits of that. That’s a huge thing and I know you probably do that more than anybody in the Philippines. Well done for what you’ve achieved. I know you’ve got a lot to go. John, it’s brilliant having you on the show.
Thanks for having me. This has been awesome.
That was such an amazing story by John. His work philosophy is perfectly aligned to our brand values, which is Build Live Give. What is your biggest takeaway from John? Please share on your social mentioning John and OnlineJobs.ph. If you believe someone you know would benefit from the show, please share it. You can learn the three steps to find and convert your ideal clients on LinkedIn in a pre-recorded Masterclass. Go to BLGClick.com. Please take action to build your business and lifestyle and stay well.
- Tabitha’s Way
About John Jonas
John has helped thousands of entrepreneurs succeed in their business by doing outsourcing differently.
He created and runs OnlineJobs.ph, the largest website for finding Filipino virtual workers, with over 1,000,000 Filipino resumes and over 300,000 employers from around the world using it.
He works about 17 hours per week, choosing to spend his time with his family rather than working.
Connect With Paul and Build Live Give
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