Outsourcing and Delegating
Now let's talk about outsourcing. And remember outsourcing and delegating are gonna be interchangeable here. So I may use one may use the other. It's the same thing we're talking about. Although, technically speaking, right, outsourcing would be using somebody outside the company. Delegating would be working with somebody inside the company. But what we're talking about here is really conveying to somebody else, the thing you need to get done and want to get done in a way that makes it so they can actually do that. Most people have had a bad experience outsourcing. I get that. What you may not recognize is that it was probably your fault. Outsourcing is a muscle that we have to refine and work on. It's not just simply a matter of saying like, hey so and so, do the thing. And it's not quite teaching either. There's usually an element of that, but being able to convey the thing that's in your head while also conveying all the shortcuts that are in your head that you might not be able to ...
even recognize takes work. No matter how much automation we do, no matter how much optimizing we do. At some point in the growth of a business, if you get large enough, you're gonna need more people. And as I've said, with a lot of companies, that's in the probably 300, to a million dollar revenue range. That's when you might start bringing in outside contractors or VAs or things like that. And then once we get over a million in revenue, then we're gonna start looking at really building an in-grown team that is made up of employees. And obviously legal definition wise, employees are gonna be those ones that are working for you. Those are the, you know, you can tell them what hours they have to work, what uniform they have to wear and all that stuff. And contractors are kind of the opposite. You don't set their schedule. You don't tell them when to work. They work for the most part, you know, when they want to, as long as they get the things done. The other thing that's important to keep in mind here with outsourcing is it's not just about getting things done for you. If you recognize an inefficiency in your business, I feel that it is your duty to try to eliminate it. And one of the inefficiencies is if you're giving automatable or computerized work to a human being because it's not the right use of their skills and talents. What we wanna do with outsourcing, ultimately is empower people. That's what outsourcing is about for me, it's about empowerment. It's not just a way of getting stuff done because when we empower people, we raise up the organization, they engage in a way that they wouldn't otherwise. And when they do that, they bring their unique perspective to it, their ideas, their motivations, whatever they might be. And that mixture of ideas is what's gonna ultimately grow your business to a level that you didn't even know was possible. Now, some of the drawbacks to outsourcing are doing it at the wrong time, right? So a lot of people will try to outsource too early. They might try to delegate too early when they're not really ready, when they don't have a well-defined problem. And that's kind of like sweeping the dirt under the rug. Eventually it's gonna build up. It's gonna come back to bite you. Plus a lot of people have the opportunity to do things really badly when they outsource incorrectly, right? So if you have an inefficient problem and let's say it's a bookkeeping issue, and you give that over to somebody and they don't really have the right instructions, you haven't conveyed it properly. They certainly can take things in a very bad direction for you. And as with anything, there is the opportunity for things to get stolen or intellectual property to be taken, or you spend all this time training somebody, and then they leave. But that could happen with anybody, that could happen with employees too. So the best thing that we can do is communicate effectively, have systems in place that make sense and have checks and balances that work. So a lot of the trepidations that come from past experience with outsourcing, or maybe concerns about outsourcing at all are very, very internal and personal to the person doing it. And so when we recognize that we can actually start to bring that to light and get more done, because at some point you're the only person. If you're the only person that can do things or you feel that you're the only person that could do things, then you are going to be the limit in your business. So in figuring out which things to outsource, which things to have team members do, which things you should do yourself, I've got a very, very simple exercise for you. So I want you to take a piece of paper and put three circles, okay? One, two, three circles. In that top circle, I want you to take a few minutes and write down three to five things that you are absolutely awesome at, the things that you are just a genius at, have the greatest impact, bring you the most joy. You just kick butt at doing these things. And that could be sales, brainstorming, hiring, whatever it might be, put them there. Now I want you to move to the next circle. And in this circle, I want you to put the things that you are competent at, but not rockstar level. So you can get it done. Maybe it's writing, for example, maybe it's financial planning or reporting. You can get it done, it's not really that efficient, you don't really like doing it, but you can do it well. And then that third box is all the things that you are really bad at, but you still do them on a regular basis. For a lot of entrepreneurs that would be something like bookkeeping, receipt tracking, things like that, minutia in some cases, sometimes not, sometimes just things that you're just not good at, but you kind of have to do them where you've wrangled yourself into it. So you do this exercise. And what we invariably find is that that first circle is the things that you should be focusing on, that's pretty obvious. The second circle is the things that you probably need team members for. So in my example of writing, writing has always been really important in my business with the books and the blogs and content and whatnot, and I could do it, and I think I could write decently well, but definitely not efficiently. It was definitely not the best use of my time. And if I only had an hour a day, writing is not how I should be spending it. That's a perfect thing where it's like, we need to have a writer who's really like on staff, like in it gets it. And it will make my job easier in terms of delegation, because I don't have to explain as much. The third, one of the things that you're bad at, that stuff, you should just straight up outsource, for example, bookkeeping, as I said before, just hire a bookkeeping service and don't ever think about it again until they give you your monthly report or whatever, you don't have to be involved in that, they don't need to be inculcated into the culture of your business. Just give it away. Now, if you do have a team, it's really fun to do this exercise in general, with the rest of your team, because what you'll start to see is that your competent, should be, and may already be somebody else on the team's excellent And their competent, may be somebody else's excellent. And we just keep sort of rotating the circle around and around. And it's a really interesting way to sort of build a team in terms of knowing which holes you need to fill and which spaces are already covered. And that's the three circles exercise. Now, once we've done that, and we get to thinking about how we're gonna outsource, let's talk about some specific resources for doing that. First, we need to talk about the different kinds of outsource providers you can get. There's basically two axes, we've got specialized or specialists and generalists, and then on-demand and dedicated. For dedicated, that's fairly self-explanatory. That's where you're always gonna get the same person. They're always gonna be answering the call or the email. They get to know you and whatnot. I am of the mindset that you should never have a dedicated anything in your business. Just as I said, nobody should ever be the only anything, you should not have dedicated resources, whether it's a dedicated virtual assistant, a dedicated coder, project manager, or a graphic designer, you should always, in my opinion, whenever possible, be using an on-demand service where you have a service that provides multiple providers, in that case. It could be multiple VAs or multiple graphic designers. And in many cases, you're still communicating as if you're communicating with the one person, and they act sort of as one, and there's built-in redundancy there, they understand the systems, if somebody gets sick or quits, it doesn't really matter. But you're not at the mercy, and you're not, basically, creating this shifted proxy bottleneck with somebody else. Now, generalists versus specialists, also somewhat obvious. I think with the generalists, they're sort of a jack-of-all-trades. Usually we're talking about virtual assistants, in that case. Specialists would be like the graphic designer, the coder, that kind of a thing. And there are different places to go for the different things. Currently, the recommendations that I make for these are for, for virtual assistants, there's two companies that I like. One is called Magic, and the other one is called ChatterBoss. Two somewhat unique companies, and a lot of people will use both. With ChatterBoss, you get a dedicated team of two. So those two people are working together. They're working during normal business hours. They have built-in redundancy, backup, ChatterBoss also has a more basic level virtual assistants, and then a higher level, partner level, they call it that can all work together to help you get all the things done that you need to get done. Magic gives you that sort of team of individuals, but they operate as one. And what Magic has that no other company that I've ever experienced could touch is 24/7 response time, that is less than 30 seconds, generally. One of my favorite stories about using Magic is I was sitting at the airport one morning at five in the morning, I was heading up to Canada for the day for a business trip. And I was sitting there, I was kind of groggy, I was like having a coffee and I get a text message from Magic, it says, hey Ari, sorry, but your flight got canceled and it's okay that we rebooked you on this other flight head over to gate B6, and I look at the phone and nobody around me is reacting. Nobody said anything to the gate, and I was like, okay. So I get up and I start to walk away and I don't get more than 50 feet away from the gate when they suddenly make the announcement at the gate that the flight's been canceled and pandemonium ensues. Now what was so cool was that Magic had booked this ticket for me, so they got the alert immediately. They knew that my goal was to get there. So they rebooked it, and I didn't have any stress about it, really unique and awesome service, and again, you can sort of use them in conjunction together. The other one that is more of a generalist platform, and I'm sure many of you've heard of it is Fiverr.com. And I think that Fiverr.com is often overlooked as an absolute gold mine of talent. A lot of the other platforms out there, lot of the ones that have been around longer, I am really, really not a fan of because I don't think they do a great job of quality control. I don't think they do a really good job of customer advocacy when things don't go well. Fiverr's amazing because on Fiverr, you can test people out very, very quickly and relatively cheaply, and you can do it with multiple people at the same time because of the price. And I almost use Fiverr as a recruiting platform. And I have worked with several people that I've met on Fiverr who have actually come and joined my team. So I can't say enough good things about the way that Fiverr works, and using it to find the people. And you can find people to do things that you never thought were possible. There was one time. This was one of my favorite Fiverr stories. There was my book, my original book, Less Doing, More Living, has been translated into nine different languages. And one of those languages was in Indonesia, or one of the publishers was in Indonesia, and it was not available online. It was not available anywhere at all. So I went on Fiverr and I found someone who was offering virtual assistant services, but they were based in Indonesia. And I asked them if they would be willing to go to a store and buy the book and ship it to me. And of course they were, and I was able to get the book. So I've actually that for several in person tasks since then. Really, really a big fan. These are always things that you can sort of try out, and kind of dip your toe into, once you have really good systems in place in terms of how you want to communicate these things to them. Regardless of the platform you can use, I wanna give you my four interview questions that cut through any recruitee and have helped me in various processes that I've built. At one point, I built an automated hiring process where we brought on nearly 200 virtual assistants in the course of six months, that worked extremely well. And again, these four questions are the only four questions I ever ask in any interview ever, regardless of the position. So the first two are really softballs. The second two are the real meaty ones. So the first two are, why you, why me? Pretty simple, right? Why do you wanna work for me? Why do you wanna work for me? What it is about me that makes this something that you want? The third question is, tell me about a time that you screwed up at work and how you handled it. And the words here are very important, don't change it. Don't mold it in any different ways. These are very carefully chosen words. Now, the answer that somebody gives to that question is gonna be fascinating for you because one of the things is ideally, not always, but ideally we're looking for a lot of we language as opposed to I language, meaning somebody says like, oh, I was late on a project, so I worked all night and I got it done. Okay, great. You're a hard worker, fine. But if that person's like, well, this project was late, and so I brought it to my boss right away and tried to collaborate with them and figure out what we could do. They said that I should bring in somebody else on the team and get it done, we worked together and we made it happen. That's utilizing resources better. That's being a great team player. So we like to see that. The fourth question is the gut punch, and I don't care how confident your interviewer is or interviewee is, this question will give them pause. If I don't hire you, why do you think that will be? This is not the typical what is your greatest weakness question. Cuz that's something that we've all had an answer to since we were in high school. And doesn't really mean anything. If you're asking somebody, if I don't hire you, why do you think that will be, is asking them to introspectively look at how they have handled themselves and presented themselves in that interview. Even if they don't necessarily interpret it that way. So a great answer from me would be, and to be fair, I've had a long time to think about this over the years, but I would probably say like, you know, I, I probably come off as something of a lone wolf. You know, I was entrepreneur at a young age, I've run a lot of teams, I've been in a lot of leadership positions and that may make it seem like I'm not able to be a team player. However, in many situations, such as this, this, this and this, I was a team player. I was not a leader, I was doing this and this. And I'm very comfortable in kind of a minor role, even though I am aware that I do come off as somebody who likes to take charge and be kind of a lone wolf. That's an amazing answer in my opinion. And I've seen answers on par with that, but I promise you those four questions will tell you everything you need to know about somebody that you might eventually outsource to. And once we get that great candidate, now we have to talk about how you actually communicate with them so that you can get it done the right way. And the problem for a lot of people is that they usually view outsourcing as a very binary activity, meaning like I have to do everything or they have to do everything. And neither one of those is a great scenario for either party. I like to teach something I call the six levels of delegation. So the six levels we start with just do, as I say, right? Meaning, you know, just go buy this book on Amazon. Don't think about it, don't gimme your opinion. Don't try to misinterpret or interpret or do a different, do exactly what I'm telling you. Level two is look into this for me, right? Do some research. So hey, you know, find me the best CRM for a business our size in our industry, CRM being customer relationship management software, right? In that case, they go do the research. They come back, they give you the results. Okay, thank you very much. Level three is give me your advice, but I'll make the decision. So we're just starting to dial up the trust in the autonomy. And in this case it's like, hey, go do some research, find out what the best CRM is. And then like tell me which one you think is the best and I'll take it from there, so this is great, cuz now we're starting to get a little bit of buy-in. Level four is look into it, decide, but keep me informed. And this is a subtle difference. So in this case it's like, look, figure out which is gonna be the best CRM for us. And you know, like give, decide which one we're gonna do. And then let me know, and at that point I could be like, no, no, no that's a bad idea. Or just like, yeah, give it my blessing. And what you start to see here is I have less and less involvement as we go, but it's the same task, right? Ultimately, this task is find a new CRM for us. At level one, it's hey, go sign up for this service, level two, where it's look into it and let me know, three is, give me your advice, four is, go with one and let me know, right? So there's subtle differences, but very, very key one. Now level five is, decide within limits. Meaning I'm gonna give you a standing limit of within which you can work. And that could be time. It could be money. It could be space, whatever it might be. And in that situation I'm saying like, look, just sign us up for a CRM. As long as it costs less than 300 bucks a month. I don't care. I don't even know about it. Now on this one, as opposed to level four, you don't have to let me decide. You don't have to bring me in on the decision. You just go do it. And this is the kind of thing where like three months from now, I'm like, hey, what CRM did we sign up for, what's my login? Cuz I'm gonna check it for the first time ever. Level six is just get it done. Meaning I would just say like, I think we need a new CRM and leave it at that. They can become the expert or they can hire the expert and they can get exactly what they need. I don't need to be involved in this. And what's interesting about level six is it's not just complete handover in terms of I trust this person. They're an expert. What you're saying when you get to level six is that my involvement would actually hinder the process. And so I'm gonna step back from it. And again, in the example that I gave you with the CRM, you see how that could be at any different level. And it's not that level six is better than level one. It's whatever you are comfortable with, because for me, I might be totally fine with saying to somebody, hey, level six, we need a new CRM. Somebody else in my organization or in your company or the way you operate, you might be like, yeah, I'm not really not there yet. Like I'm gonna stay at level three, so I need a CRM, but it's level three, meaning come back to me with what you found and give me your advice. Totally fine. But if you don't state that, they don't know that. If you don't identify how much autonomy somebody has, they're gonna take as much as they think that they need, basically. And then you're gonna get discord and you're gonna get that situation that everyone has had, where they had a bad experience outsourcing. Now there's a worksheet that you're gonna be able to access that goes along with this. And it's gonna feel a little tedious at first, but it's gonna get you trained in the way of communicating what is necessary for somebody to actually achieve success in the way that you want and need. So it's the six levels of delegation worksheet. So what we start with is, what is the task? So finding a CRM, what is the due date for this task? You may or may not have one, but this is when we wanna have it done by. And what ultimately is the deliverable, right? So the deliverable in this case might be like, we don't have a CRM, we need a CRM. So we're gonna be training all this stuff or we have one that's not great, we need a new one that's gonna replace that, that has its own process. So what is the deliverable? What does the actual outcome look like? Now, we identify which level you want this to be at. Is it level six, and they're just gonna handle it, you don't have to hear about it again? Is it level four? Personally, level five has always been one of my favorites, right? That's decide within limits. Long time ago in one of my companies, there was some issue that happened, it was a customer service related issue and it was a matter of like $75 that somebody wanted a refund or something. And there was a three day delay in getting back to this person because I was unavailable and the customer was upset, granted. So from that point on, I made it very clear like, look, if this is a $500 decision or less, you don't need to ask me about it. Don't wait for me, don't make me the bottleneck. You handle it. If it's above that, then we have to have a conversation. And what you'll find is you can do all sorts of little things like that, that allow people to get things done without having to bring you into it. But you've set a very clear limit that you are comfortable with. So once we've identified the level, now we get into the resources needed. This is really interesting to sort of think through. What resources would anybody need if they were doing this task, right? So let's say the task was buying an airline ticket. So if you're gonna outsource it or you're gonna buy it yourself, you need a credit card or some form of payment. You need an identification. Maybe you need a frequent flyer number. You need all those things. So why do we often find ourselves in a situation where we outsource something to somebody, then they have to come back to us and say like, oh, I need this piece of information. By the time you get back to them, the price of the ticket is doubled, happens a lot. When we know in advance that they need this information, so let's provide it up front, think about this in advance. What are the resources needed to get this done, provide them now, and then recognize that in the future, if the tasks were to ever come up, you've already gotten those resources ready on a platter. Next is the limits. What are the limits on this task? So maybe in the case of the CRM, it's like, I want a CRM that is $300 a month or less that can have the entire company on it, or maybe just 10 people, whatever you decide, but what are the limits? Meaning that if they go beyond those limits, the task is not good, and then we have to talk about it. The third one is criteria for success. This is really fun too, to think through because sure, a new CRM is a deliverable, but criteria for success is, I want a CRM that we're gonna be able to switch to within a week because it'd be really frustrating if you pick a new, awesome CRM, but then it takes us six months to transition to it, that I don't want. So what are the criterias for success? And lastly, only contact me if one of my favorites. So the airline ticket example is a good one, it's like, well, if you can't get an aisle seat then, and you don't say anything, then they're gonna be, oh, well I couldn't find you an aisle seat, and again, this specifically happens a lot with airline tickets. The delay will cause big changes in prices. And we don't want that obviously. So you can say, look only contact me if the flight doesn't arrive within eight hours of the time that I want to get there. Other than that, you figure it out, you handle it. I promise you, if you go through this process, you will become an outsourcing guru. And everybody that you outsource and delegate to will thank you because they will be able to be more successful and they'll be able to be more successful for you.