Sun | Jun 24, 2018

Yateman perseveres with outsourcing firm in unknown arena

Published:Sunday | March 11, 2018 | 12:00 AMAvia Collinder
Marcia Yateman, CEO of Yateman International.

After 20 years of executive support to government officials and diplomats, Marcia Yateman parlayed her talent for administration and project management into an outsourcing company that provides 'virtual administrative support'.

Four years ago, she launched Yateman International - Administrative Outsourcing, a venture headquartered in Portmore, but with associate offices overseas. Its referral partners are stationed in Miami, New York, and Atlanta.

This year, she is aiming to triple the business.

Yateman International manages administrative, data entry, and customer care services for businesses of all sizes on a pay-per-project basis.

Yateman's track record, prior to launching her own business, included the role of senior executive secretary to the governor general in 2011, where she managed communication as well as appointments for official and private engagements, among other duties, and before that she worked at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Foreign Trade for a decade before taking up the job of executive assistant to the consul general of Jamaica in Miami for three years, ending in August 2007.

EARNING LEVERAGED INCOME

Yateman told the Financial Gleaner that after two decades of executive support: "I realised I was great at it. I also learnt about the cash flow quadrant, and I wanted to move over to the right side of it where successful people were, so I had to start a business or start investing," she said.

The cash flow quadrant shows how business owners can earn leveraged income.

"Well, I didn't have money, but I had skills - exceptional executive support skills that could add value to entrepreneurs who wanted to build successful businesses and lessen their overheads," she said.

However, it was not easy to meet her goals, and even now, she faces challenges in her efforts to expand her outsourcing firm.

"It was very difficult getting people to understand the concept of the virtual assistant business, building trust in mindsets that didn't truly believe persons could be efficient working from home, and also to ensure the confidentiality and security to protect the integrity of their information," she recalled.

However, Yateman persevered, and while she began formalising her operation in 2013, she officially began trading in the last quarter of 2015.

The company now has have 17 full-time and three part-time employees providing services that include research and data entry, telephone/email handling and calendar management, business documents, reports and minutes, PowerPoint presentations, business meetings and events coordination, secretariat and customer service support, and marketing assistants, among other functions.

The services are targeted at corporate boards, professional associations, personal/executive assistant to executives, and 'solopreneurs' who are operating from home but still want to appear like a large corporation.

INTERESTED IN PARTNERS

Yateman is interested in taking on new partners, but is yet to find any takers.

"I approached a few persons initially to partner with me who did not come on board, but I learned that the only person who can fulfil my dream is me because it is my purpose and passion," she asserted.

Yateman said she has invested $6 million in the company since start-up and achieved break-even in 2017. Now, she needs capital to grow the business.

"I have to keep turning down projects because I do not have the funds to expand. The space I currently have is full, and there is space on the building, but the scarcity of funds is an issue," the entrepreneur said.

"Funding was my major challenge, and still is, because I had to use up all my savings on equipment and supplies and paying staff. The bank said they did not understand the nature of my business - virtual administrative support. I thought that was ridiculous, but I had a dream, I had a plan, so I made sacrifices and moved on."

Despite its challenges, she notes that Yateman International is growing. The company earned revenue of just over $2 million in 2016 and then doubled that to more than $4 million last year.

For 2018, the goal is to triple revenues.

"We are poised to make $12 million this year and could increase the figure drastically if we were to find more space and equipment to handle the tasks coming to us as a top-rated agency online with an 83 per cent job satisfaction rate," said Yateman.

"Simply put, the more people we are able to put on a job, the more profitable we are," she said.

avia.collinder@gleanerjm.com