Blog

  • You are here:
  • Home/
  • Blog

5 Action Steps to Start Outsourcing Tasks Within Your Business Today

December 15, 2017 / Leave a comment / by Connor Gillivan

As an entrepreneur, do you always find yourself running out of time for your other tasks?

Do you always end up with more items on your to-do list left undone than you have checked off?

If the answer is yes, then you know that something needs to change. But don’t worry, because most business owners run into the same problem. It’s easy to get caught up with everything that’s going on, including every task that you need to accomplish on a daily basis.

When you’re busy and laser-focused on what you do, time can easily pass you by and you may not even notice. The problem there is that as a business owner, your time is too valuable to be wasted.

The good news is there are things that can be done to avoid running into this problem day in and day out. You don’t have to do everything on your own because doing that often leads to disaster. Not only will you get burned out, but your business will suffer too.

It’s all about delegation, and with that said, below are 5 steps you can take to start intelligently outsourcing some of the key tasks within your business.

1. Identify the first tasks to take off your plate

Your business surely has a lot of tasks that can be farmed out to a freelancer or contractor, but how do you identify which ones?

Before you outsource, make sure to identify the core areas of your business. When we say core areas, we mean tasks that have a direct impact on the product or service your customers get from you. A good example is if your business specializes in computer programming. You definitely wouldn’t want to outsource that because it’s what your business is all about. It is your main deliverable. What you can outsource instead are repetitive tasks like data entry, or specialized tasks that require certain expertise like social media management, blogging, or copywriting.

Once you’ve identified your business’ core areas, it would be easier to narrow down which particular tasks you can entrust to another person.

2. Create an avatar of your ideal assistant

The best way to identify what kind of assistant you would like to work with is to put yourself in his or her shoes by creating an avatar for your ideal assistant.

What is an avatar anyway? Your ideal assistant avatar is a fictitious character that represents your ideal assistant. This character is a composite of all the characteristics you’re looking for in an assistant including their demographic, psychographic, motivations and aspirations in life.

The more detailed and specific you can get, the better. This is so you know exactly what you’re looking for and can more easily attract exactly the ideal candidate. Below is a good example of an avatar for your ideal assistant:

“Kevin is a 30-year old husband and father of three from the Philippines who quit his day job to pursue a career in freelancing because he wants to be able to earn a living for his family and spend as much time with them as possible. He works 10-hour days and even works on weekends. He wants to start his own business because he doesn’t quite feel comfortable in a corporate environment and wants to be able to do what he does best freely without someone limiting his creativity as a social media manager and writer. He is proactive and meticulous, treating each of the clients he works with as a business partner and every project as a priority.”

Once you have this detailed description of what you are looking for, finding that kind of assistant will be easier.

3. Request for an assistant with the help of Freelancing sites

Once you’ve identified your ideal assistant, you will be ready to hire one. Doing this today has become a lot easier with the help of freelancing sites like Upwork, Elance or FreeeUp, where you can find thousands of people with varying expertise at a rate you can afford.

The great thing about these freelance marketplaces is that you are one step closer to the hiring process. These platforms have already pooled a good slice of the global talent pool. The only thing left for you to do is to check if they fit into your preferences and requirements. Once you’ve met your match, they can start right away. No need for tedious onboarding and training periods like they do in the corporate world.

4. Setting clear expectations with your assistant

Hiring someone is one thing. Getting the right person is another.

The important thing to remember before you start working with your assistant is to set very clear expectations to avoid any misunderstandings. Here are a few examples of questions that you might want to get cleared up before work begins:

  • How many hours do you require?
  • What is the frequency with which you need repetitive tasks done? (e.g. how many social media posts per week)
  • What specific time of the day do you need him or her to be online?
  • Do you need him or her on weekends?
  • What specific requirements do you have for each assignment? (e.g. the word count for blog posts)

These are just some of the specifics you can talk about. The key is to be totally clear and detailed with your expectations. Encourage him or her to ask questions if there’s confusion on their part so that you’ll have a smooth-sailing working relationship through the course of the project.

5. Manage your assistant

One of the common mistakes business owners make is leaving everything to their assistant after expectations have been set. Unfortunately, your involvement doesn’t end there. Your assistant, just like an employee in a corporate setup, needs someone to manage him or her.

You can’t leave them to work on the project and not monitor their performance or the quality of their work. You need to able to track their progress, tell them about areas for improvement and be able to lend a helping hand when they need it.

You need to make sure that they have everything they need to perform their tasks well. For instance, do they have complete access to the tools and the websites they need to work on? Do they know where to go to get access?

Having regular talks will help as well. It is through these conversations that you will learn what they’re going through, what difficulties they’re having, and how you can motivate them to perform better.

You hired them to help you take some of the burden off your shoulders, but you still need to make sure that those tasks you let go of are being performed properly and that you are giving them the necessary support if they’re having difficulties.

Conclusion

A business owner’s time is valuable, and since we only have 24 hours in a day, it’s going to be impossible for you to do every single task needed to make your business run.

You can’t do it all, which is why outsourcing some of them is one of the best decisions you’ll ever make. You’re not only avoiding stress, you’re also giving your business the opportunity to grow with the help of other people.

 

 

Connor Gillivan is the author of Free Up Your Business: 50 Secrets to Bootstrap Million Dollar Companies, a serial entrepreneur, and the CMO and co-founder of FreeeUp.com. When he's not bringing together hundreds of freelancers and business owners, he's mentoring entrepreneurs through his site, ConnorGillivan.com. He currently lives in Denver, Colorado.

 

Four Steps To Building Or Growing A Business You Truly Love

February 28, 2017 / Leave a comment / by Michelle Young

Many years ago our family began the formidable project of building a new home. Acres were purchased and what had once been a pear orchard would someday become the place our dream home would set.

When our (well researched) builder came to me saying we needed to design the kitchen, I didn’t even understand what he meant. Hadn’t we done all of that work when we designed the house?

“Look, Scott, you’ve built a lot of homes, I’m sure you’ve got this. Build me a beautiful kitchen. I promise I’ll love it.”

I didn’t.

The same thing happens every day with business owners. People that are the dreamers and the doers of this world. They are a specific breed of humans that create wealth and build the economy. But like a cook in a kitchen she didn’t think through, a business can become a burden when it’s not created thoughtfully.

There's this little thing I've discovered I call "The Law of Specificity", and it applies to our health, relationships, to our homes, and most definitely to our businesses. When we get very clear on what it is we want to create and step into the daily crafting of it, with thought and clear intentions, our business will fit like a glove.

This "Law", is all about getting very specific with what you would love to experience. When you define how many hours you want to work in your business, how much travel you want it entail, how much value you want to bring into the world, is typically what you’ll get. Anything less leaves you shooting in the dark at a target you’ve never even seen.

As a coach to business owners, artists and homemakers, I’ve learned and taught the essential steps on designing, with specificity, the life and business that will make you come alive.

 

First you must define, “What experiences you’d love to have in your life?” It’s a weeding out question. Asking what you, the creator, would love, precludes others expectations, it raises you above, “What do I have to do?” and takes you to a place where, ultimately, you get to play at your work. If ever you feel ‘stuck’ in defining this for yourself, it’s incredibly useful to ask, “What do I not want”. This simple question has the power to stimulate new ideas of what you truly want.

To that point, a client once laid his business plan out beautifully to me. I began taking him through the process of specificity, asking questions to help him discover better where he wanted to go.

“So you enjoy traveling for work,” I asked?

He got very quiet. In all his dreaming and planning, he never really given any thought to the fact that his business plan would require him to travel far from home (What he didn’t want). With a wife and young children, it went against his core values, and he redefine his desired experiences.

 

Second, envisioning what you would love and writing down exactly what that would look like puts a pin on the map to where you’re going. What does your office look like? What are the smells? Where do you travel to, and what kinds of people do you enjoy spending time with? Who do you love to serve?

What we focus on expands. It’s a known fact that Vision Boards are an excellent way to train your brain on your new reality, so that your brain does what it does and “attracts” this newly found experience you want to create for your life.

 

Third, fall in love. When you’ve written it all down, when you’ve gotten beautifully specific and know exactly where you’re headed, fall in love with your vision. Imagine you’re there, read what you’ve written as often as possible, and utilize that vision board.

Unlike falling in love with a person, you get to change your vision as you progress. With specificity as your guide, you’ll find some of your original ideas about your business have changed and you get to change them

 

Fourth, take action. “Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without a vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world.” Joel A. Barker

Once you've defined the vision, wrote the vision, put pictures to the vision, and have fallen in love with your vision, it can seem daunting when it’s time to “make shit happen”. Your new vision can make you feel as if you have to eat an entire elephant in just a few bites. Questions pop up like, “Where do I begin? How do I get there from where I currently am? How can I acquire that life?”

The truth is there are a gazillion different ways to “make shit happen”, and at the end of the day it boils down to determination and consistency, no matter what method you use. 

I recently read The Compound Effect, Jumpstart Your Income, Your Life, Your Success; by Darren Hardy – the publisher of Success Magazine”. It’s apparent Darren knows a thing or two about achieving success, and he teaches that when you take small steps every day, and remain consistent day-after-day you have no choice but to achieve the success you’ve defined for yourself. Before you know it, the elephant you set out to eat, is digested, and what remains is the blissful experience you’ve created for yourself. (And a whole lot of life lessons.)

The thing is, the business you’re building, is a living thing. As my friend Berny Dohrmann says, "Let it change and grow you, as much as you grow and change it." When you allow yourself to get specific, define, visualize and take action you’ll know without a shadow of doubt when your opportunities arrive. Because you’ll recognize them and seize them because you know them as well as you know the back of your hand.

As for my loathed kitchen, my husband and I have embarked on building yet another custom home, and this time, I know just where I’ll put the stove, the dishwasher and the pantry, I know where my latte machine will reside, and you can be sure I will cook there to my heart’s content.

If you’re ready to define your life with Specificity, connect with me at MichelleYoungCoaching.com for a complimentary session.

3 Keys To Lasting Success

January 12, 2016 / Leave a comment / by Aaron Young

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) kicked off last week in Las Vegas. Big news has been abound as the latest and greatest slew of must have gadgets are paraded before the public and press. We'll see fascinating products from new and innovative inventors as well as new generations of familiar stuff from the Multi-Nationals.

I’ve been following an attending CES for decades and I’ve seen a lot of companies come and go. I’ve seen great ideas go down in a ball of flames after a ton of media attention. It seemed as if they couldn’t lose and then months later, they were gone.

This is true for lots of good ideas, innovative companies and dedicated entrepreneurs. Maybe you have even lived through it.

Here’s the thing, what kills most companies is skipping the basics. No matter how awesome your idea is, if you ignore fundamentals you will fail. The key is to mastering the basics.

So, as you jump head first into 2016 here are three things to keep your focus on. 

1. Corporate Compliance.

OK, that may seem like a boring way to start but the truth is that if your business entity is shaky, then it doesn’t matter what you build on top of it, the whole thing is at risk. Make sure that you are treating your company like a separate legal individual from you and that you hold the appropriate meetings and keep the documents the government requires.


2. Watch Your Cash.

Too many people are focused on the profit and loss statement rather than the cash flow reports. Here’s what I know. You cannot spend profits. You can only spend cash. Your task is to figure out how to turn paper profits into spendable cash. This is done through imagining each expenditure as an investment rather than an expense. You will always pay attention to the returns you are getting on investments where as you might get sloppy about how you are paying bills. Cash is king. You must have sufficient cash. Without it, you are dead in the water.

 

3. Empower Your People.

The most successful companies, most beloved bosses, most heralded industries are dominated by the concept that you need to empower your people rather than lording over them. Most people will flourish in an environment where they can feel ownership of their job and have a clear understanding of how their successes and failures impact the company as a whole. When people know they can make a decisions without fear of punishment and when they can make the job “their own”, they will give you their heads and hearts. That is the beginning of real strength. (Check out this article we did on authentic leadership that creates impact.) 

 

Bottom line - the success of any enterprise is found in the basics, regardless of what your particular basics are. They are always important and they apply to a tons of different 'life' situations.

For me, I define my basics as playing by the rules, have sufficient cash and surround yourself with a powerful team. 

What are your basics that you live by in business? 

How the Pendulum Swings Today

December 08, 2015 / Leave a comment / by Michael Drew

I'm okay. But you're definitely not okay.

That's not me speaking. That's society. In particular, that's today's society.

You see, you're in the middle of a particular social cycle, one that comes around approximately every 40 years, and toward the middle of our current cycle people are beginning to point fingers at each other for not toeing the line. Or for not fitting in. Or for being a little different.

That's where we are now. It's getting testy out there.

I'm the co-author, with Roy H. Williams of Pendulum, a bestselling book that explored the shifts in society in over 3,000 years. You see, society shifts from an individually minded era, which we call a ME Cycle, to one that focuses more on community, which we label a WE Cycle. The title of our book refers to the way that society swings every 40 years or so, as if it's on an invisible pendulum.

We move back and forth from that ME Cycle – when the emphasis is on individualism, hero-worship, larger-than-life egos, free expression and a kind of egocentrism – to a WE Cycle – when people are more inclined to work together for the common good, to prefer the truth to empty slogans, to crave for things that are real, raw and relevant, to be spoken to as adults. (We're currently in a WE Cycle, by the way, in case you hadn't noticed.)

We arrived at our findings by sifting through historical events, literature, visual arts, politics, religion, and by poring over works as disparate as the Bible, the Commentaries of Caesar, Le Mort d'Arthur, England's Magna Carta, America's Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution, T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land and Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind, among many other examples. We listened to music from Bach to the Beatles to Beyoncé and beyond. We tried to figure out why certain aspects of society seemed to resurface time and time again.

And you know what we discovered? That society is predictable in the way it changes every few decades. That what becomes important fades as new concerns arise. We used to look up to a certain type of person as a hero. Then we realized heroes were often self-centered and so we began to prefer people working together. And then – and this is the surprising part – we sour on that concept as we look ahead to the next cycle (without being fully aware of it).

We found out too that in the middle of a WE Cycle – in fact, just about where we are today – things begin to go south. Idealism turns to cynicism. Cooperation turns to suspicion.

Look around you and see: we've become a society that looks over its shoulder. We're anti-immigrant, we're increasingly intolerant of free speech, our spoiled children are demanding so-called safe spaces so they don't have to hear differing opinions, we blame everything on invisible terrorists, and we look at our neighbors – people we used to welcome with open arms – as if they might be dangerous.

And just a few years ago, everything seemed so rosy.

You see how things change? This sort of thing doesn't last forever, but it does go on for a few years. So you need to be prepared for a shift in how people view the world.

What does this mean for business?

Well, it means you can't take anything for granted. Your customers don't trust you. They think you're going to rip them off. They think you're in it for your needs, not to serve theirs. In a previous ME Cycle, it used to be about branding. But today, in our WE Cycle, it's about relationships.

And as our current cycle turns more suspicious, it's still about building relationships. You've got to carefully engage your clients and customers by paying more and more attention to their needs and concerns, not just what you want to sell them.

And you know what else? In today's age of information overload, people are also more distracted than ever, and their attention spans are increasingly shorter. Most of your audience is highly skilled at paying attention to distractions, flitting from one thing to the next approximately eight seconds at a time. So you don't have much of a chance to get them to look at you.

How do you capture the attention of a person with an attention span shorter than a goldfish? You spark curiosity, strategically. You surprise them. At the same time, you assure them you're there, warts and all, to serve them. You may be flawed, but you're real and relevant – and you can help them.

It isn't always easy – true engagement never is – but the reward is a more committed customer, someone who looks for a lifeline of honesty in an ocean of suspicion.

Welcome to the pendulum: we're swinging into an interesting time.

 

How to Develop Strategic Plans in an Ever Changing Environment

September 02, 2015 / Leave a comment / by Ed Bogle

From Alvin Toffler’s Future Shock in the 1970’s to Nassim Nicholas Taleb in his 2007 book The Black Swan, we have been told time again that change is the only constant in today’s global business climate.

So, the big question is how does a business deal with this from a strategic planning perspective?  

Historically, planning has been based on the probability of certain conditions continuing into the future. 

Today's unpredictability often comes with great speed and is most of the time discontinuous from the past. Company executives are expected to read the trends and define the future of the company, and how it will reshape its competencies to continue to grow. The key is to find the early warning signs and opportunities gained from change. 

As the leader of your company the first thing to do is embrace change.

Encourage collaborative dialogues with your team about changes for strategic advantages and profitability for your organization, your customers and potential customers. 

The second part is to carefully define your brand strategy. 

In an ever changing world defining your brand, culture, promise, value, position, and language becomes critical. You have to cut through a great deal of clutter to build a great brand, and the absolute ingredient is to define your market target segments as tight as possible by “immersing” yourself in the lifestyles, use of products and services your target markets desires.

Your leadership team needs to shift from a love of its product, to a love for the customer.  And understanding your customers fully will help you fulfill their needs in unique and creative ways. Apple has done this very well. 

The third part is to define the long term vision of the company.

At the core of all business success is a clear and concise vision of where the company is headed. From there, define the value to the market (target customer segments) and evolve the company value to those segments over time. 

Focusing on value creation and simplifying while driving out cost and complexity will result in the creation of sustainable profits and defensible market positions.

These defensible positions are built over time and are known as Strategic Excellence Positions or SEPs. They're the distinctive capabilities that clearly sets you apart from others in your industry. SEPs are backed by a set of core competencies, capabilities and processes that create special value to key target customers and alliance partners.

The web world is where brands are authenticated and validated. Cutting through the clutter of the web can seem daunting. But the silver lining is that it creates an opportunity for a company to find customers, and gain insight as to how those customers are valuing brands.

The key to success in the web world is target segments. The tighter the segmenting the easier it is to build a great value proposition and find target customers with content.  

One more thing to note: 

Managing change means being nimble and able to shift directions effectively. 

One of the ways to build a lean and nimble organization is to outsource, build alliances and find partnerships that give the company greater value to the target markets, and collaborate on being creative in bundling and co-branding. 

At the forefront of the future of business growth acceleration is cooperation and collaboration. Finding alliance partners, mentors, master minds and those that will challenge and open your thinking to new models and being opportunistic in change is a process you must build to survive and thrive.  

A great way to find the resources and alliances is to scout out enviroments that you feel in alignment with such as an entrepreneurial growth conference. At CEO Space you have access to top level resources that serve to give you acceleration and significant risk mitigation as you move your company forward.