If Scaling is Your Goal, Outsourcing is a Must
For those that follow my blog and listen to my podcast, Entrepreneur Hour, you know I very rarely make bold statements I don’t believe in.
I may present new concepts and ideas as something to think about but if I believe you absolutely should be doing something to achieve success in your business, you can pretty much take it to the bank.
So, what is outsourcing and why is it so important?
Let’s first talk about what it looks like for a company without outsourced partners in place.
**As I go into detail, you may find it is eerily emblematic of your own situation.
And so your day as an entrepreneur begins…
You wake up early with a list at least one mile long of everything that needs to be done.
As soon as you walk into your office, the phones are ringing off the hook. One of them is for you and as you field the call and glance over at your list, you go ahead and start drawing lines through the things there’s no way you’re now going to have time to get to.
This particular call is one you usually receive once per week.
The upset customer call that demands to speak with ONLY the owner or they’re going to tell every known human being on the planet about how terrible your product or service was.
But before you can even finish scratching off items from your to-do list, you remember this was a deadline item you set for yourself weeks ago and kept putting off…not by choice, but rather, necessity.
There’s NO WAY you can put it off again.
Your CPA is going to KILL you if you don’t get your year’s end financials over to him and the extension deadline is quickly approaching.
You don’t have the time, nor the energy, to deal with this angry customer AND get everything else done you need to do.
The call wraps up and of course you came to a reasonable solution.
Not long thereafter as you being your work, you happen to glance over at your clock and realize you’ve now quickly lost the morning!
You ask yourself how that’s even possible?
The morning was here and gone in the blink of an eye.
Deciding to skip lunch, you can now at least reclaim an hour.
That or you’ll just snack with one hand while you grind away with your work…problem SOLVED!
Until you realize how many mistakes you’re making and just how much work it’s taking to go back and reconcile every single month of your books for your accountant.
That, and you had to stop to clean your keyboard from the yogurt that (of course!) spilled right in the center where it’s nearly impossible to get to.
You glance back at your list to consider asking for help…
But there’s nobody on staff that can help with this…it’s totally on your plate.
And so the hours churn by while dinner now quickly approaches.
You call the spouse to let them know it’s going to be yet another late night.
They’ve become used to this as it’s certainly not a rare occurrence.
You’ve been doing this for month’s, possibly years, on end and finally wonder to yourself if the end is ever in sight.
It’s not a thought you readily admit but are forced to think about every so often.
Will there ever come a day when you actually can get the help you need?
And maybe you tried hiring an hourly, part-time employee but it just didn’t work out like you thought/planned.
Desperation starts to set in and you begin to think about the days of your 9 to 5.
You wonder how your old co-workers are doing…
They look happy on Facebook.
As much as you hated working for someone else and not having autonomy to “do your own thing”, it certainly wasn’t THIS stressful.
What’s more is you’re actually making LESS money now than you did then!
Your relationships start to suffer, your health is definitely declining but you’ll just have to deal with that later.
Your friends and family have no idea what it is you’re going through.
And so you find yourself isolated, overwhelmed and more stressed than you’ve ever been in your life.
This is the point we usually start looking for solutions…but it could and should have been much sooner.
And this is where outsourcing is not only your best friend, but the fundamental means to your success.
Don't forget to grab your freebie resource from this episode, Outsourced Secrets Training Workshop.
YES, I WANT IT!
Outsourcing Doesn’t Put the Wind In Your Sails, It Just Gives You a Bigger Sail
I get you can’t hire the help you need and it’s not in the budget…YET.
But what if I told you there was a way you could get the help you need but for FAR less than a full-time employee?
That most of the work you’re doing is not work you should ACTUALLY be doing at this point in your business.
You see, the scenario I described above is not for the entrepreneur that just opened up shop, it’s for the business that is now on the verge of either struggling to keep up with growth or a few strategic steps away from seeing those floodgates open.
They ARE making money…just not quite enough.
But here’s the problem.
You initiating your best juggling act isn’t going to get you over the hump.
Now, you MAY be able to do it for a period of time but how much more do you think your organization would benefit if you focused on the things you’re actually REALLY good at?
Landing the new deal, building your sales funnels, focusing on company culture, networking to find new strategic alliances and partnerships…you know, the stuff you dreamed about when you wanted to do this crazy thing called starting a business.
And so while most of us can certainly figure out HOW to manage our own accounting and reconcile our own books at the end of the month, it’s just not an area you should be focused on anymore.
And that goes for many other functions in your business you’re still trying to man yourself.
Every time I go through and role play with one of my clients, I ask them to envision what their life would be like if they could stop doing the things they hate doing in their business.
Instantly, their eyes light up just before they reiterate to themselves (and me) they simply can’t afford it and sulk back into their own, morbid reality.
If this is you, right now, you need to keep reading this blog and learn all about some outsourcing.
Here’s the Basic Blueprint
Most coaches and consultants have their own unique way of teaching people how to do things.
In my view, the best way to help someone arrive at a conclusion is to allow the idea to manifest from their own mind.
I know, some Inception type stuff (Still my favorite movie of all time, BTW)
So, here’s how I usually go all Dicaprio on people and help them conclude not just if they should outsource but what they should outsource.
I make them get out a sheet of paper or use something like building a stack of Trello cards.
Next, I have them write down everything that needs to be done in their business and assign the amount of time it takes on a daily basis.
If you don’t know, just guess. We just need ballpark figures here.
This list is usually quite lengthy, to say the least.
We then either move the Trello Cards under a board that has their name on it OR highlight all of the functions they currently preside over on paper.
We add up the time and see just how many hours they’re personally putting into the business.
Now, with my clients it’s not uncommon for this figure to be 80-90 hours…literally.
From there we either reshuffle the Trello cards OR star the items they think they SHOULD BE doing.
If using Trello, put the “starred” items at the top.
This should usually be between 3-5 functions long, ideally.
Now, keep in mind, there are functions and tasks.
Functions are very different than tasks so let’s make sure we are clear on this.
A function is something like marketing.
But inside of marketing you’ll find tasks like blogging, video, social media, etc.
So, when I say 3-5 functions I don’t mean you JUST blog, record videos for YouTube and post on Social.
But it’s certainly worth determining your 3-5 by how many tasks fall within the function.
You may only carve out three core functions for a job role because they are very involved, time consuming and filled with tasks.
By this point, we take the new list, the ones with highlights and stars or the Trello Board with your functions organized, and we start figuring out a plan for where the rest of these functions are going to go.
The things you absolutely despise, like eating your peas and carrots, are going to go at the bottom.
Those are the first few we are absolutely going to get off your plate.
*For me, this is 100% bookkeeping, by the way…
Depending on the size of your team, we’re going to start organizing these functions to whom is best suited to take over (or continue doing) these jobs.
This is way more effective if you’ve done it before you’ve already made hires and I don’t recommend taking your student, intern bookkeeper and randomly asking them to start doing sales.
But you may have them start doing quality assurance calls/emails to free up your sales people, for example.
Once we’ve assigned all functions to team members, we may still have some functions that just aren’t suitable for your team to be handling.
That, or you placed a function under someone that just didn’t feel or seem right…gave you a bad gut feeling.
It could also be something where there are steep consequences if it’s not done properly.
Payroll comes to mind here.
That’s not really something you should be doing in house, in my opinion, until you’re all grown up.
And THOSE items, the outliers that your team is just not well served to handle, are the things you want to outsource.
Finding the RIGHT Partner, Not the Convenient One
Now that we’ve established the types of functions that should be outsourced in your firm, let’s start finding a solution.
The biggest mistake I see here is a founder does a quick Google search and hires out the first company they find.
Maybe they’ve heard of someone a fellow business owner uses and so it’s just a quick fix.
They call, hire and just dump their bag of goodies on the doorstep, expecting their worries to be gone.
Those relationships rarely, if ever, work out for the long haul.
The beautiful thing about our digital world is we are not bound by geographical boundaries.
So, hiring the local guy up the street just because he’s up the street and checks off your boxes is not a methodology I would encourage.
Really do your homework, find what’s out there and, most importantly, find who seems to really get your business and aligns with your company’s values.
This is imperative.
I’ve outgrown outsourced parties before like a shrunken Tee Shirt ordered off some bougie, foreign online retail store.
And the problem is you then have to shift gears to find someone else that can better fit your needs.
But maybe it’s not scalability that’s the concern.
Maybe it’s industry specific.
For example, we had a service provider that just couldn’t seem to wrap their minds around what we did.
Not the work we did but more so what all was involved in that industry.
And so it was not only a challenge for them to grow with us as a small, local firm but there was always confusion surrounding the nature of our work.
In that specific instance, it could have ended up costing us an additional $40,000 in one year alone had I not caught a mistake that had been made.
Not their fault…mine for not recognizing a bad fit.
Another issue you’ll quickly find is companies treat their outsourced partners like Goodwill.
Once they’ve de-cluttered their home and dumped off their unwanted bags, they just don’t want to deal with it anymore.
Things change, the company never had a solid grasp on expectations and nobody ends up happy.
When you outsource, this is just like adding to your own team.
You have to make sure there’s strong working rapport, understand how business is going to be done and keep them posted on updates within your organization.
Circling back at the end of the year and just expecting them to do what they do is not only a common mistake but one that ends up leaving a bad taste in everyone’s mouths.
Don't forget to grab your freebie resource from this episode, Outsourced Secrets Training Workshop.
YES, I WANT IT!
Think About Long-Term Value, Not Short-Term Savings
We’ve all heard this one…
You get what you pay for.
It could not be more true in this instance.
Now, I’m not telling you to unload truckloads of cash on your outsourcing solutions but you most certainly don’t just want to hire the cheapest game in town.
That said, I often see many business owners that just source everything out to India, the Philippines and other various regions of the world.
Wait, Chris, we got you!
You said before on your podcast you have outsourced help in the Philippines.
And they do amazing work for me, have for a very long time.
But just like the same decision to give certain functions to certain employees whereas other thing are better suited for someone more qualified, it’s no different here.
My VA’s in the Philippines are usually helping me with a very specific set of tasks.
Things like setting up my content calendar for social media.
Creating graphics for said posts or blogs.
Editing videos and podcast episodes.
But definitely not updating my website or digging into my books.
In fact, I’ve heard numerous horror stories from business owners that had to basically re-build an entirely new site because a foreign-based, outsourced company was essentially holding the site hostage for more money.
Literally, and this was very recently.
You want to really find someone that delivers tremendous value, has highly qualified people working for them, and is going to still cost you way less than a full-time, or in some cases, even what a part-time employee would cost you.
For example: Let’s say you COULD get your books managed for you for $2,000/month or less.
My guess is that’s an area you’re spending an exorbitant amount of your time focused on that could really free you up to focus on things to really move the business forward.
In fact, with all of that recouped time, it’s entirely possible you can now generate enough new opportunities to cover the expenditure just within the first month of services.
And that doesn’t even begin to consider how imperative it is for a business owner to have accurate and up-to-date financials to make wise, fiscally responsible, decisions.
Robert Kiyosaki talks about the mindset between people that achieve success in life versus those that don’t.
One of the things he mentions is a certain mindset.
He describes one scenario but from two different vantage points.
When someone sees something that is going to cost them money, there’s one group of people that immediately says it’s too expensive but an entirely different set that just asks how can we afford this?
I’ll let you guess which one he thinks is going the be the most successful.
And that’s where business defies everything we’ve been taught to this point and why I think it’s so challenging for us to make those mental shifts.
We pride ourselves on how much we CAN do, but we rarely ask if it’s what we SHOULD do.
Okay, so you CAN work 18 hours/day and grind yourself into the ground but still get everything done.
You CAN save an enormous amount of money by doing all of these tasks yourself…
But how much more would your company grow if you did what you’re uniquely qualified to do?
Like, the stuff that only YOU can do.
My guess is you’d set the world on fire.
So, sure, you can continue to do everything on your own or you can focus on the big picture.
The one where you grow a company to multi-millions and hire 600 people to work for you around the globe.
The one where you’re not a prisoner of your own creation but rather have the ability to take time to enjoy your family and friends…and yet, still be abundantly more successful in the process.
All of this and more is achievable when you tap into the extraordinary power of outsourcing.
Short and sweet…it gives you the power of a big company while providing you with budget of one vastly smaller.
And, by the way, don’t think big companies aren’t also doing the same to tap into this same powerful principle…because they are.
So, if you’ve come this far in our journey together, I’m sure you’re beginning to think it so I’ll just come out and ask…
Why aren’t you doing this already?
Make sure to listen and subscribe to the podcast for more on this!
Bryan and Shannon Miles, Co-CEO’s and Founders of Belay, drop by the show to talk about scaling a virtual business and what you need to be considering when thinking about outsourcing.
Today’s Sponsor: Chrismichaelharris.com/belay
To learn more about Bryan and Shannon, drop by BelaySOLUTIONS.com