Outsourcing Workload to Grow Your Business


Lesson Info

Who to Hire and Why

In the next section, I wanna talk about who are the kinds of people you could hire, and why. Because I know when I started, I didn't even know you could hire a whatever. What, there are people who do- there are people who answer email, professionally. Whoa, I had no idea. So we're just gonna be talking about who are the kinds of people you could hire, and then later on we're gonna get, in the next section we're gonna talk about how to actually find those people. But right now it's just more of an abstract issue. So, the whole, all these slides I'm gonna go through the genre, let's say, and the kinds of people you might start to look for. So in the financial sector, there are bookkeepers. So bookkeepers like, back in the day when you had a book. This is sort of the term for someone who takes your expenses and your income, and puts them in the book. So they're really keeping your books for you. There's also software that keeps your books for you. An accountant, these often overlap. Accou...

ntants also do bookkeeping, but they are a bit more on the legal side. Also giving you advice about how to do the accounting. Oh, should you do it this way, because that would blah blah blah for taxes, blah blah blah. Tax preparer. We all know what those are. Those are those people who prepare your taxes for you. I still do my taxes myself. I'm not sure it's a good idea. I'm sure I'm missing out on deductions. But I've been doing my taxes myself. I keep saying I'm gonna change that. A payroll company. So if you have employees, or even if you just pay freelancers regularly, these are the people who cut the checks, take care of that payroll sort of things. And an attorney is obviously a legal expert. There are even small business attorneys, who would give you advice on what to do. So, a super common question, should I be an LLC, or should I be a corporation, and what are the advantages? What are the disadvantages? This is really, how do I get paid as a founder? These are the questions that you go to for an attorney. And so, when you're going through this, I know it's easy to just write these down, take a note. I want you to come back, and we wanna say, who's the kind of person who needs one of these? How do I sort of say, yes I need one, no I don't need one? So, we are refinancing our mortgage. So boring, oh my gosh. If I could hire someone to fill in the paperwork to do this darn thing. But some things are really hard to hire out, because you're the specialist in doing. I'm the one with my bank information, drat. Anyway, so they said, "Oh, you run your own business. I need the profit and loss statement year to date." This actually happened last night at five PM, and they needed it in 24 hours. It took me less than two minutes. I have my spreadsheet. I tallied some columns at the end. There you go, here's my profit and loss statement for the year. If that question would send you into a massive freakout, and you're dragging receipts from underneath a table, and throwing things at the wall, maybe bookkeeper is right for you, right? If someone was going to ... If someone just on the train asked you, "So, why are you an LLC?" And you're like, I don't know. I just picked it because that's what my mom said. Maybe an attorney is for you. So, any point where you start to feel a sinking sense of dread, or, oh my gosh, something might not be right, or you feel like the man's behind you, ready to catch you at any moment, these are signs that you should hire a professional, and most of these people, for all kinds of professions, you should feel perfectly comfortable saying, "Hey, I'm not really sure if I need a meh meh meh. Does it sound like we would work well together?" And that should be a freebie, five minute conver- like if you're hiring an illustrator. Hey, here's what I need done. Is that what works for you? And you should be able to have that conversation, because they're looking for clients too. There's someone watching, probably out there, who is a professional bookkeeper, and they're looking for someone to do all the other things that they don't wanna do, but their business is bookkeeping, and they're looking for clients, and they're advertising the same way we're looking to sell our shirts. So, we're all running these businesses here. Alright, in the technical realm. Technology, like I said, it's a whole different thing from even just 10 years ago. So, web developers. These are people who, there are so many different levels. So there's web designers, who make your website pretty, and also do some backend stuff. But there's, you know, it goes down to different levels. There's also people who just code plugins. That's a plugin developer. That guy can't make anything look pretty, or whatever, but they code. And if you need a whatever kind of thing, you ask that guy to code the whatever. Database developers. I don't even know what they ... who knows what they do? But if I had a problem with my database, I'd need one of those people to fix it, because I have no idea. A spreadsheet coder. So, a lot of us, me included, still keep things on spreadsheets, even though there's probably cooler software to do those sorts of things. If you find yourself doing the same thing over and over again, like tallying up a certain number of columns, you could ask a spreadsheet coder, who can probably come up with a formula for you, and give you a template so that this task is made much easier. Because spreadsheets are codes too, and there are people who are more expert than you at knowing how to always calculate what's this and this column, blah blah blah. So, the questions to ask yourself, do you like how your website looks? If you have to fix something on your website, does that send you into a 10 hour panic, why do I do this job kind of thing? Is it mobile friendly? So Google's going to ding you, if you're not mobile friendly. If the question of how in the heck to make it mobile friendly also sends you into a tailspin, these are probably the sorts of people you wanna look at. If you're, anyplace, and we're gonna do some worksheets later, but anyplace where you're just sinking hours and hours into doing something, you should start to think, hm, there might be someone who can do this faster than me. Because I want you to start thinking about your time as money. The more beginning you are at your business, it might feel like, ah, but I'm only making so much. But the way you have to think about it, is the opportunity costs. So yeah, maybe you don't have a spare 50 bucks lying around. But, if you had that 10 hours, could you be making things that you could sell, for more than that 50 dollars? So that's what opportunity cost is, is the value of what you could be doing otherwise. So maybe you promise yourself, oh if I hire this spreadsheet coder, fix my spreadsheet, then I'm staying up late for four nights in a row, and sewing more bags, because that's gonna make me my money back. So it's thinking about where your skills are the most valuable. Marketing. This is, it's so easy to just be like, I'm making my product. It's a lovely product. I'm not gonna worry about the marketing. But it's inte- I mean, it's intense. If your stuff isn't getting out there, no one's buying it. You can't just hang the shingle on the wall. So, there are brand consultants. So people who help you identify your best audience. What demographic you're pitching to. Illustrators, graphic designers, and this is everything from drawings on your website, to your logo, to packaging. I'm getting new stickers for my eyes, because I drew them myself eight years ago. And, I emailed my illustrator, and I thought, hey, I've used my ... I buy them 3,000 though at a time, because of the scale of economy. And so I'm running out of all of those 3,000 ones, and I'm like, they could be better. Let me ask someone professional to do it. An ads manager. So, you know those ads that show up on Google, or Facebook? It looks so easy to just be, I'll put up a photo and run an ad. But behind the scenes is AB tests, the ideal demographic, uploading the certain lists. So there are people who professionally manage ads, who do all this testing. And do it at a level that us as laypeople, at least in the ad world, just don't know ... I don't, I personally don't wanna spend hours and hours reading up on the latest algorithm. Let the person who knows about the algorithm do it. And especially the ads. I'm pointing a giant finger at this one, because when you're running an ad, you're paying per view. So if I'm gonna run an ad, I'm paying however much to get people to see it. I'm paying that money. I want the best people to be seeing it, right? I don't, it's so easy to just be, oh, put up a Facebook ad. Okay, whatever. I boosted it for 20 dollars. Was it the best thing to boost it, or is it better to start a new campaign? Those are the sort of things you might want to consider investing in, and maybe you don't run ads this month, because you've put your money towards the advice, and now you're gonna run the ads next month, but they're gonna be so much better, because you spent the money on it. A copywriter. Someone who writes romance copy, product descriptions. Any kind of people have copywriters to read their blog posts. Maybe you're not a good writer. It's kind of unfortunate as business owners, we're sort of expected to do everything. Just because you sew a jacket, doesn't mean you can explain why it's a pretty jacket. You may be a terrible writer, or you may not be a native English speaker. And so if you hire someone to write, oh, it's the A line, and the this, and the that, you're going to sell so much more of your product. A PR person. So this would be someone who can pitch your items to magazines. That's something a lot of us don't know how to do ourselves. A social media manager. Putting photos on Instagram, things like that. So, some questions, do you know what ROI means? Does it confuse you, does it scare you? Here's a big one. Is social media taking up way too many hours of your day? You're like, what's the hashtag, what's hashtags? You feel like your graphics and descriptions aren't really accurately representing your product. If someone came to your site and reads it, you're just sort of, it's so much better than that. These are all things to think about, and if it's making you flip out, then that's the sign that maybe you should start looking into hiring one of these people. Community. So now it's almost impossible to run a business without also having a Facebook page, and obviously people are gonna email you, and maybe they're tweeting to you. We are a very interconnected species of people. Reading the Yelp reviews. So there are people who can help you with this. So there are email answerers. And we'll talk more about the specifics of how in the ... It seems so hard to train one of these people, right, but you can really, in not too long of a time, train people to handle community questions. And then that's taking hours off of your day, depending on what kind of business you run. Especially if you're selling product over the internet. People need more information. People want to ... And it's natural for them to ask a question, right? And you have to answer that as part of providing customer service. Social media managers, forum managers, these are all people who are available. Production. This one has a dot dot dot, because who knows what production means to you. So these are any kind of person that helps you get whatever your product is out the door. If you're a photographer, a model is someone who helps you with your production. If you design clothing, a seamstress is another kind of person who helps with your production. A silkscreener, a dyer, a pattern drafter, a sample maker, a videographer. There are so many kinds of businesses out there. Whatever in the world you need help with for production, is, that's help you're gonna need. Let's say you wanted to hire a silkscreener. How in the world would you do that? So we're gonna be talking about how to find these people. I'm gonna give you a lot of websites and resources for how you'd start to look for these people. How would you interview that kind of person, decide if they work right for you and your business? And then, also we're gonna talk about best methods for training these people. Especially for things like email answerers, or things where you can't ... I wish you could just hand your email account off to someone else, and they'd just start getting it. A lot of what you need to pass on to someone is what we call institutional knowledge. So, only you know how much, how to answer that question. So part of what we're gonna be talking about is the details of passing down that institutional knowledge, in a manual, so that someone can take over some of these tasks better for you. Another example is shipping. How in the world does someone use your shipping software? Well, you would write it down in a manual. So, it's the looking, it's the hiring, it's the training, are all the things we're gonna get to. And, at a top level, you can hire experts who help you run your business. So, there are business coaches, there are creative coaches, project managers, event coordinators. Maybe you, I don't know, want to run an in-person retreat. If you're a yoga instructor, and you want to run a retreat, you could hire an event organizer who's a professional at booking hotels. You're just there to provide the yoga. You can hire someone to help you organize a great event. And an online business manager, an OBM, is someone who kind of runs your business for you. They're sort of like a super top level VA. What's a VA? I'm so glad you asked. So a VA stands for virtual assistant. And you can kind of think of them as in the olden days, I guess, when you had a for-real assistant. The person who would type up things for you, or go and get your coffee, or you know, little tiny tasks, but sort of that are really just taking too much energy from you. A virtual assistant is some ... Like a jack of all trades, who does many different kinds of things in your business, but still up to you to decide what they are. We have a whole section on virtual assistants, and on how to hire one. So I've interviewed a professional virtual assistant coach, to talk with us about that. But for now, just in a general sense, you could, for example, hire a VA that helps you out with stuff, a couple hours a week. So maybe they put up some Facebook promos for you. They're not the ads manager. They're not bringing that super specialized expertise about how to place and test the ad, but they're gonna put it up for you, they're gonna upload your customer list for you, they can proofread some of the stuff that goes out. So this is a junior assistant, who can do lots of different things for your business. Really take some effort and energy away from you, and they're also working with you more closely, so they know a lot more about your business. So if you hire an illustrator or web designer, maybe they know nothing about your business. You're just hiring them for this one task. A VA is really someone who works for you, on an ongoing continual basis. Knows a lot about you and your business, and is really working like an assistant. Can you reiterate, define a little bit more about virtual? Oh sure. So virtual assistant, going back to what we were saying about contractors, and employees, and things like that, a virtual assistant is usually virtual. They don't live with you, or work with you. No one's assistant lives with them. So this would be someone, they can be in another state, you would communicate with them over email, some online portals. It's someone who ... They actually don't ha- I guess they don't have to be virtual, but usually it's easiest to find someone who doesn't have a local necessity to be with you. So this is not someone who helps with production. This wouldn't be the person who comes and packages up your boxes to ship out. This is a virtual assistant that's taking care of some internet-y stuff. And, this is an actual job that people do. This is a job. They're a job title, they have websites, they're out there. And then potentially you might communicate them with, via Skype, or video chatting. Yeah, we're gonna talk about some communication methods. There's actually software that's built around team management. So how do you best communicate what task they're supposed to be doing, and whatnot. This is someone, a virtual assistant in the classical sense, would be someone who maybe works for five clients, seven clients, something like that. They're deeply involved in your business, and they're working with you on a frequent basis. Not someone who has hundreds and hundreds of clients. So it's someone who knows a lot about how you're working. And, we'll get to this later, but it's someone that maybe you would hope their job grows as your business grows. So they're gaining this institutional knowledge. You're investing a bit in training them. And you're hoping its a role that will continue. And, question. You've hired virtual assistants before? I actually have not, I don't have a virtual assistant. You don't have a virtual assistant. I have, so I'll click back, I have lots of other kinds of ... So I don't have what you would classically call a virtual assistant. I have lots of very specific people, who do components of what a virtual assistant does, but I don't ... So I, different from many other people at my level of business, I answer all my own emails. Which some people say is crazy, but I'll tell you why I do it. I'm such a believer in systems, that I have such good systems built up with frequently asked questions, and product listings, that I have worked very hard to minimize the number of emails I receive, so I never went the path of ... I'm so streamlined, I don't need a virtual assistant. Cool, thank you. (laughter) But that's very rare. It's super rare for someone running the size business I have to not have a virtual assistant. Because I'm a glutton for punishment, and I'm at my soul such a hardcore solopreneur, that I hire very selectively, and I hire very small. So I tend, just personally, to hire for very small tasks, and not work to bring in someone who's working with me on a regular basis, who takes large things over. And that's a personality thing too. So, for all of the ... No one hires all of these things. I'm hoping you won't walk away saying, "Phew, I don't need a single one of those things." We're working to find the things that work best with our life. How our personal timing works. What our personality is like. And what the profit and loss statements look like for your business too. So, I for sure need help with some production tasks, and certain things, but haven't needed a virtual assistant in my life.

Most small business owners begin by doing it all. But as you grow, you’ll probably find that you need help. But what kind of help? And where do you go to get it?

In Outsourcing Workload to Grow Your Business Stacey Trock will show you how to navigate the options for getting the help you need for your business. From bookkeepers and accountants, to graphic designers, photographers and web designers, to virtual assistants, to production assistants, to overseas factories, to marketing agencies...there is a whole world of freelancers able to help your business run more smoothly!

In this class you will learn the following:

  • The range of freelancers that are available, and what role they can fill in your business
  • How to write a procedures manual for your business, making the delegation of work as seamless as possible
  • How to hire a virtual assistant and streamline your business into tasks that can be carried out by someone other than you
  • The difference between a contractor and an employee, and the pros and cons of each
  • How to outsource the production of physical items for your shop, including working with local artisans and navigating the process of ordering custom items from overseas factories (via Alibaba)

By the end of Outsourcing Workload to Grow Your Business you’ll learn how to decide what is truly important in your business and what your time is worth.  The secret to successfully turning over portions of your business is to structure your workload into systematic and well-defined capsules, which can be handed off to a largely-independent freelancer; freeing you up to do the things that you really love!