May 10th, 2016 | By: Kaleigh Moore | Tags: Product, Management, Productivity, Scaling
Growth won’t happen without some sacrifices. One of those sacrifices that has to be made is surrendering your ability to do it all (that is, all aspects of your business) by yourself. Tim Ferriss summed it up well when he said, “Focus on being PRODUCTIVE, instead of simply BUSY.”
Productive founders know that in order to scale their businesses, they need to be able to get out of the daily details, and into big picture thinking. But in order to do that, they have to outsource.
From Virtual Assistants, to freelance support, to hiring an expert to handle specific tasks, outsourcing means less hours spent tearing out your hair over tedious tasks, and more time pushing your company forward into the future.
You can do that, too. To help get the ideas rolling, we spoke with nine different founders to see what tasks they’ve outsourced and how it helped their companies.
Ruben Gamez, Founder of Bidsketch, a proposal software company, said that outsourcing his company’s blog content was one of the best decisions he’s ever made. Within the first month, the blog content generated enough new customers to cover its own costs–and as a subscription software business, that meant every month after this point was 100% pure profit.
Gamez approached outsourcing this tedious business task by reaching out to a connection who ran a content marketing blog (and had interviewed hundreds of content marketing experts.) His contact helped quickly recruit a team of vetted content creators while Gamez focused on creating guidelines and a system for automating content publishing so that there was no time lost generating ideas or content or approving drafts.
Today, Gamez maintains a hands-off position with content creation for the Bidsketch blog, and instead lets his high-quality team of content creators do what they do best. “Outsourcing works well when you have high quality people and a good process that’s easy to follow,” he said.
“I find a good rule is to hire people that are already doing what you want done. Meaning, if I’m looking for a marketer, I look for marketers that have proven results in the specific area I’ll be hiring them for.”
Onboardly’s Founder Renee Warren found that it wasn’t just curating social media content that was sucking up her time–but scheduling, monitoring and engaging with community members made her realize that if she wanted to maintain a high level of quality, she needed to outsource this aspect of her business.
After finding a VA through Zirtual, she handed over social media management–and immediately after onboarding, the VA took complete control of the organization’s social media management. “Our VA has been doing a much better job at social media management because she is dedicated to it and is tied to the outcome,” Warren explained. “As opposed to our internal team who was always behind and stitching together a plan, our VA is organized and consistent.”
MyCorporation.com Founder Deborah Sweeney knew that when it came to paid search and overall SEM strategy, outsourcing to an expert was essential to growing the business. After trying to manage this marketing aspect in-house and later through a large provider, she ultimately decided to outsource this task to an expert (rather than an agency.)
“We found that working with an expert was helpful because this person isn’t just a huge entity that makes your business feel like a number, but at the same time, they do have the experience of working with different companies–and have tested and learned from different strategies,” Sweeney said.
Since outsourcing her company’s SEM efforts, ROI through this channel has already doubled. Not only is the overhead lower, but the leads generated from this activity are more profitable.
After realizing customers needed 24/7 support for their web hosting services, Decibite Co-founder Jason Quey looked to outsource readily available customer support, as his small team couldn’t effectively handle this aspect of the business on its own.
Both he and his partner knew of various options with tools and teams that could help address live chat customer support, so the switch to external support seemed like a logical transition. Immediately after outsourcing this aspect of the business, the internal team freed up about four hours per day to focus on other tasks–and overall, customer experience was improved.
Michael Ugino, Co-founder of Sellbrite, a multichannel inventory management solution, knew that getting Human Resources wrong was a huge risk for his company. If not handled appropriately, it could lead to damaged professional relationships, lawsuits, and ultimately, startup death. Aside from this, HR was a major time investment–and time spent in this department was time spent away from focusing on growth.
Ugino started small, outsourcing HR functions through a fully-managed HR solution offered by one of the startup’s investors. Once they outgrew this solution, they upgraded to a marketing-leading HR solution. The result: Zero lawsuits, and more free time to focus on scaling up.
“The time NOT SPENT working on employee manual/policy/procedure and studying how to hire/terminate has allowed us to focus on the things we do well and to grow our business,” Ugino said. “We started outsourcing HR at employee number one.”
Founder John Kinskey of AccessDirect feels that money spent outsourcing tedious administrative functions like payroll have a high return on investment. Rather than investing time on this operational aspect of the business, he lets external experts handle those details–so he can exist outside the daily grind, and focus on business development instead.
“Outsourcing payroll has been key to allowing me to focus on business strategy and growth. Specialized firms like Paychex are much more efficient and effective at those functions and using it enables me to avoid costly mistakes. The mental overhead saved by outsourcing tedious administrative functions is substantial, and it frees me up to focus on business growth,” he said.
Scalable growth at AltaVista Strategic Partners has been quickly achieved by outsourcing database maintenance–which includes building and scrubbing data points such as business cards. “We need this data in usable formats, such as an Excel spreadsheet, and this is a tedious, time-consuming process we couldn’t effectively manage in-house,” Partner Aaron Hockel said.
Hockel noted that since this activity has been outsourced to an external resource, the company has been able to focus on sales–and they have seen a 300% increase in revenue over the past two years.
Any good founder knows that accurate bookkeeping is essential, and Brad Farris, Founder of Enmast, is no exception. His obstacle, however, was finding the time to keep up with it, while still being the driving force behind scalable growth for his company.
After being introduced to a VA who specializes in bookkeeping, Farris outsourced the accounting and bookkeeping aspects of his business–and stopped worrying about it. “She does a better job than I EVER did, and I don’t worry about a thing,” he said. “The numbers are always right, and I can see what’s happening in my business at any given time.”
Now, instead of staying up late at night to do bookkeeping activities, he has the numbers right away–and (bonus!) his taxes are easier than ever.
Katherine Lisciani, Founder of Millennovation, was drained by the logistical aspects of her business–things like organizing people, meetings, and events. And after reading Tim Ferris’s The Four-Hour Workweek, she knew that in order to scale, she needed to eliminate the systematic actions that should be performed with regimented consistency.
With this in mind, she decided that any function for which she was not absolute to it’s success, it must either be delegated or eliminated. As a result of outsourcing logistics, her business grew. “Getting these stressors off my plate empowered me to focus and be more intentional in my work, improving the accuracy of my lead generation efforts by +14%,” Lisciani said.
From accounting to social media management and beyond, every business has those tedious tasks that can easily be managed via outsourcing. The sooner you hire the help you need to manage these tasks that are eating away at your productivity every day, the sooner you can turn your focus to leading and growing your company.
Don’t waste another minute down in the details. Find help. Scale up. Stop sweating the small stuff.
Still debating? Here are 5 tips to know if you need a Virtual Assistant.
Kaleigh Moore is the Co-Founder of Lumen Ventures LLC. She has spoken at several colleges and to numerous organizations on building a following using social media. She has also written for many publications, both online and in print.
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