..and the other promises, perils, and wins of Building a Team
If you want to grow your business, one limiting belief you can let go of is – you need to do everything yourself!
Once you get out of your own way and let go of the reigns (even a little), you will find it is possible to do more work, with less effort, giving you the best outcome – more time (woo!)
Now, that’s easier said than done, so what can you do to start simplifying, automating, and scaling your business?
Excellent question, let’s look into all of those, starting with simplifying..
Just like or process for selecting tools and new ‘toys’ for your business, asking Do I Really Need This is just as powerful across your business.
Take a look around your workplace right now, or try to notice throughout the day, what sort of clutter and needless tasks or processes are going on that could really do with a spring clean? Here are some that we have come across:
- Paperwork. Going paperless might sound impossible or down right ridiculous too many of you, but it is one of our business goals. Not only for the environmental reasons (high on our list of values too) but not having piles of paper, recipes, flyers; junk around can reduce stress and anxiety about needless things that appear to be on a to do list. Clear desk, clear mind. Not to mention having electronic copies of everything available anywhere you are will save you time (and your bacon) on many occasions.
- Your Company Inbox. When I created my first @Rapidexecutive.com email, I was excited to start getting updated from companies, it felt like I was a real company and was ‘working closely building partnerships with other major companies’, just like that. These distractions wil won’t grow your business. An email from Google or Microsoft about their partner portal or one of your suppliers about their latest award nomination isn’t an urgent matter and won’t help your company grow today. Pro Tip: set up a filter to send these emails, by company, to a folder. You can batch review these and they won’t steal your precious time throughout the day
Last week we covered how you can use tools to automate tasks within your business. This is great for many existing tasks, but what I’d your just getting started? How do you automate from the beginning?
One way to look at the solution is to look at a task you are about to do and see it for all the components that go into getting it donw. Tim Ferriss would call it deconstructing. We can call this reverse-engineering. Let’s try this for a simple example – Printing a customers invoice.
Online store software is pretty smart these days, you can get set up and make a sale in a few minutes and many of the components that go into that process like confirmation emails, payment security, and the invoices all come pre-rolled for you, just add your logo! But, when it comes to actually packing and shipping, there are still many manual tasks that a computer can’t do for you. When we first started a product business, printing invoices was a 10 minute process with about 8 moving parts that all needed to be perfect, something I now see as something of nightmarish complexity. Here’s how we solved it.
How do we know there is an order to print? Log into the website, go to the sales section, try and remember what the last order was? Not anymore – We set our store to automatically email us when an order comes in with a special tag. This tag was then set up as a filter which in turn had a different notification tone on my phone. That way, I knew exactly when an order came in and which one we were up to without even logging into a computer.
How do we print that order? Again, log into the website, open the order, click the print button, update the printer section, FIND A PRINTER (always the hardest part – what if you aren’t in your office/warehouse), hit print, (…refill the printer paper, etc, etc)??? Not anymore – We found a simple add-on for our site which sends PDF versions of the invoice. We simply set it to send a CC to one of our email addresses ([email protected]) and that email is set up to print on arrival at the PC connected to the printer in the stock area. We added a new component here to take it one step further; a cloud-connected Printer, which means we no longer need to have a PC connected to the printer, it wirelessly connects to the internet wherever it is and automatically prints! Genius!
Thankfully there are many such tools and tips for automating manual tasks, you just need to know how to look out for them.
Whether your idea or business has the potential to be a blue chip, 100+ person behemoth or a quaint side-gig for pocket money, time and specialist skills are the 2 most important assets and if they both rely on you, your chances of either scaling (100+ version) or simply taking some time off (side-gig version) are slim.
But hiring someone is scary, AND expensive!!
True. It can be. But you don’t need to go through the whole hiring process to grow your team anymore, you can use an online service to find you the right talent and then coordinate that talent to do any sort of job for you, remotely anywhere in the world.
But hiring someone off the internet is scary, AND expensive!!
True. It can be. If you have ever tried to use one of those online services to get something done on the cheap and then spent more time (and possibly more money) chasing it up or redoing it, you know what I mean here. BUT, there is a right way and many wrong ways to go about it and throughout this week we will explore them all including how to hire, when to hire, and more importantly who to hire (for how much $$)
This week we take a look at #Growth and in particular, how to hire for tasks, the best strategies to not get owned by contractors, and how to find a personal assistant that will help you grow your business without the overheads of an employee.
[Day 2 Update] – Do you need a VA?
Yes. Next question.
Without a doubt, using VA’s has allowed our businesses to continue to grow as we are able to do a lot more, with a lot less.
Even more importantly, having a VA has allowed me to keep my sanity, meaning the businesses are being maintained even if I’m sick or distracted with something else (or I’m just having a bad day. C’mon, we all do!).
What is a VA?
You can think of a Virtual Assistant (VA) as someone that can do any sort of job for you that doesn’t require their physical presence. Like updating your website, proof reading a document, reconciling your accounts, or even calling and waiting on the customer support line for the postal service 😉
Some service providers even allow for physical jobs like ordering flowers for delivery, in-store research, or even local services like ticket queuing at a venue, though these require the VA to reside in a nearby location.
There are 3 main categories of service providers that we have had experience with and you may have come across before. If not, follow along, you may find exactly what you have been looking for.
- Task Rabbits – Tongue in cheek title there, as there is actually a site called TaskRabbit.com which focuses on the physical one-off tasks where someone would pick up something for you, clean your floors, or . One example of these one-off services we have used:
- Fiverr – if you find yourself motivated to do something for your business but have an empty to do list (yeah right…) check out this site you are guaranteed to find a raft of things you can get done-for-you by someone for the price of a cup of coffee. Our experience has varied from dissatisfied to amazing value for money and we go through an example of this in detail in a coming update. For now, it’s worth checking out and if you are willing to risk not getting what you want on the first attempt, is it any worse than not being able to find anything better than a Starbucks when you have a caffeine craving??
- Contractors – perfect for more project-based tasks rather than bite-sized items, you can find everything from an iPhone App developer, to a full-blown IT Consultant that can look after your entire back office. This is a peer reviewed network of contractors so it is important you take your time to read reviews and use the built in bid process to vet anyone well before you accept them for your job. Our favourite way to immediately discard >50% of applicants is to ask a simple question in the very last line of the project description – “if you are reading this, please type QUALIFIER as the first word of your response” – it’s sometimes higher than 50% that don’t do this simple task – how well do you think they will do completing your (potentially large and expensive) project?
- Elance/Upwork – recently merged entities (Odesk, Elance into Upwork), this is now one of the largest networks of contractors across the globe. Their services range from freemium (pay a % for awarded work) to paid add-ons like collaboration tools, and even payroll services. They offer an escrow system, which protects both you and your contractors and a fantastic online work tracking system.
- Freelancer – an Australian startup, these guys have a fantastic interface and offer all the services that Elance and others offer. We have seen faster deposit and withdrawal to/from our account than the above, but it’s not enough to go exclusively with them, just having the potential of more contractors for your job can help.
- Personal Assistants as VA’s – these are more like employees but without the overhead. Typically you approach this like having an employee, but you can start with part-time hours and try out a few first to see who works well with you and who you are happy with. The best part of using a service for this is if you are unhappy or want to try more than one, they will have many people for you to work with as they want to keep you happy. The best bit is you don’t have the hassles of insurances, super, payroll and other taxes, you can claim them back as a straight expense (please speak to your accountant – I am not one 🙂
- TimeETC – or magic fairies as I now refer to them, have been a game changer for our business. The ease of use of their platform for task management, the ability to grow your team flexibly (we have some regulars and also some specialists we use periodically) with the added bonus that we get the same people back that we have built trust in and have been upskilled in our businesses systems and processes.
- Worldwide101 – For those of you who are looking for a side-kick, someone that will be at the other end of the phone when you call at all hours, that can pick up a “hey, I kinda need one of those things, you know, the purple ones with the bits on the side. I need it in an hour” and run with it, then getting in contact with Sandra and her global team of talent is a must. We have had great success, even in Australia with what I would refer to as more of a PA than a VA.
Tomorrow we will show you exactly how to hire each of these to meet your needs, along with a really cool case study on how you can combine them to create a fully functioning virtual team and have them autonomously execute a project for you! Cool.
[Day 3 Update] – How to choose the right service for each job
There are no shortage of task services out there right now. Labelled the “gig” economy, consumer to consumer business models (think Uber, AirBnB, Fiverr) are booming and available for almost anything these days. (carpooling afterschool-care? uber for drone pilot? on-demand green delivery? – no, not in Australia..and I can’t link that one up, sorry)
But, what about quality? What about safety? Which one do I choose and how do I get what I want (and not what I paid for..)
Good questions, let’s take a look at 3 services, 1 from each category we talked about yesterday.
- Fiverr – the Gig economy. A quick glance at this websites home page and you will be able to knock off most of your business to do items in a few minutes (with only a few bucks). But, buyer beware, you do get what you pay for in 90% of cases.
- Elance – perfect for projects instead of tasks, this service is a long-standing, industry standard in contractors. We have used contractors with mixed results, a failed mobile app that we spent hundreds of hours designing, an unfinished online platform sitting at 90% complete and a missing contractor, and a superstar website developer that was able to bring back our dead server in minutes – on 5 separate occasions saving us $$$ in potential lost sales. Problems arise when we as project managers are unresponsive or cannot get our communications back and forth to be clear.
- TimeEtc – if you have a big project or several projects in the pipeline, the next logical step is to have someone else project manage them for you. That’s where a VA service comes in. Unlike a contractor service where you aren’t always able to get the same person more than once, a VA will stay with you and grow with you and your business. We now use TimeEtc for most task and contractor work as well as all project management of other contractors. As the team of VA’s we have access to know how we work, already have access and understanding of our systems and processes, what costs a little more as a service, we easily make back in gained time and quality.
If you are interested in having a full-blown, same-timezone, more personal assistant type, we cannot recommend highly enough that you contact Worldwide101. Sandra is the CEO (is based in London) and will chat with you personally. They will bend over backwards to make sure you have someone that works well with you and how you prefer to work.
Also as we mentioned yesterday, you may be able to note some of these down as technical expenses in your accounts, reducing the burden of employee type tax and insurance bookkeeping. Please, speak to your accountant as this varies from state to state and from business to business.
More to come on #Growth this week and a very exciting announcement to make tomorrow!!
[Day 4 Update] – #Periscope. Should we #Blab.im?
2 exciting and new things to discuss tonight!
First, would you like to meet one of my VA’s? What would you ask if you were thinking about hiring someone?
More on that shortly, the other really exciting thing we are going to cover tonight is a [24hr Challenge] we are doing starting tomorrow (that I just made up on the spot like some sort of crazy person – did I mention things were pretty hectic right now?)
To show you how powerful these #Growth services are, not only am I going to introduce you to one of my assistants so you can ask them anything, tomorrow you are going to see what can be done in a day with the right service, a good plan, and a project manager. All the details are coming tomorrow, but let’s just say 24hrs is a ridiculous timeline to get this done and I intend on sleeping for at least 8 of those 🙂
So, jump on the Periscope tonight for more juicy details of this [24hr Challenge] and what we’re planning for Wednesday night’s super group session!!
[Day 5 Update] – Sneak peak, final week!
Ready to Launch?
What should I do to Market my business?
- How to do Marketing in 2015 and beyond?
- Should you pay for traffic/leads?
- Which social network is good for your business or should you adopt a be everywhere approach?
- What is a Launch strategy and how to implement one?
That and much more with a few deep dives on what marketing and launch tactics have worked for us (along with a few fails you can avoid)
For those of you who jumped onto the Periscope last night and want to follow along with the [24hr Challenge] it’s here
[Day 6 Update] – #Blab’in – Q&A with a VA
Tonight we Blab. What is Blab? Much like Periscope, this new platform is a live streaming app that can cater for up to 4 people on screen at the same time. Aimed more at the larger screen (iPad, etc) to give it a little more real estate, you can access it on your PC or MAC if you don’t have an iPhone/iPad.
Just like on Periscope, you can ask your questions in the comments, so if you have any questions you would like to ask a real VA that I use for my business, follow me on Blab.im and join us tonight for all the fun.
Want to go on Camera?
Aww come on, it’s not that scary. I do it twice a week!
We will have 2 spots free for you to cameo with us while we chat VA’s and outsourcing then, we will have 3 spots where you guys can come on and ask anything about your businesses (or anything really, music, meditation, smart drugs, biohacking, life, kids – I’m up for it!)
Hope to see you tonight – step up peeps, let’s see that massive action.
[Day 7 Update] – RECAP 3, #Growth
It’s been a massive week. Massive! That was the idea, to #grow. How have you gone?
This week has been a little tougher than usual, all good stuff, but taxing. I’m beat. AND we kick of our last week tomorrow…bring it on!
We had to delay the in-person meetup this week as apart from a major car-calamity on Tuesday night (no one damaged, it’s all ok), we can now have our final online meetup and our Day 6 (second last for the year) session together in 1 night. It’s going to be awesome!
In our businesses this week:
- We launched a new product line (healthy skincare and deodorants if you’re interested)
- My main client has been extremely hectic while we gear up for what is called in project-land; Go Live
- Our online stores are gearing up also for the run up to crazy season, we have 2 in-person multi-thousand person expo sized events in the next fortnight, so we are stocked-up!!
In the [30 Day Challenge] we covered:
- Virtual Assistants (VA’s) – where to find them, how to hire and, when to fire them
- We also went through the (very fun) [24hr Challenge] – where I put my money where my VA mouth is and created a song with a virtual band, no equipment, no studio, in 1 day, with 8 hrs sleep!
- We went live thrice, once on Monday where we talked about the 24hr Challenge, and last night we tried to Blab. That didn’t quite work out, but we ended up having 2 Periscopes instead 🙂
Let’s Hear More from YOU!
Now, looking forward to next week (that’s tomorrow for those new here) where we dive right into LAUNCH week!
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