I am going to show you how to hire a virtual assistant along with the 6 tasks you must outsource to grow your business rapidly.
You know that feeling when you a make a big (ish) sale online?
(If you haven’t yet, here is an AWESOME post on how to make your first one)
Here is a screenshot of a recent one of mine:
A grand total of $1,097.00 (don’t ask about my pricing strategy ;)) for a Play Store App Promotion service, hardly a life changing event but significant none the less.
And can you guess what made it that much sweeter?
I personally put zero time into the marketing and delivery of this sale (directly).
But how? (I hear you cry!)
Just hire a virtual assistant to start building your awesome virtual team members.
I like to call it Efficient Outsourcing.
And in fact, in the 18 months or so that I have owned this business a week rarely goes by when I invest more than 2 hours into it’s operation.
And yet it still churns out an average of $1k net profit per month (that is after I have paid the wage of the virtual team member running the business).
Last week we looked at a selection of time management techniques for marketers but in this blog post, I will explain exactly how we have outsourced our online businesses and most importantly…
How you can too.
What You Will Learn
- How to hire a virtual assistant to help your business grow
- The tasks that you should not be doing if you want to grow your business
- The formula for outsourcing any task in your business effectively
- A step by step guide to outsource any tasks (including templates)
Have you read the E-Myth by Michael Gerber?
If you haven’t, go pick it up from Amazon here and cancel your plans to go bowling tonight.
It is simply a MUST read for any entrepreneur.
However, if you don’t like reading here is my 30-second summary:
You can group every task you complete within your business into one of three categories:
- Technician – Writing sales copy, handling customer queries…
- Manager – Recruiting, reviewing performance of team…
- Entrepreneur – Defining strategy, researching new marketing channels…
Michael basically says that in order to be successful in a small business you must shift more of your time from the Technician to Manager to Entrepreneur categories.
And it is from the Entrepreneurial position that you are able to create a system that will operate without your direct input.
When you hire a virtual assistant you are taking the first step towards that.
And now, your next non-mandatory piece of homework for this assignment ;)
But again, I am feeling kind so will share what I believe to be the most important concept from the book:
- Employees – Work In A System
- Self Employed/Contractors – Are Systems
- Entrepreneurs – Build Systems
- Investors – Invest Money In Systems
Pretty simple right?
So I would urge you to close your eyes RIGHT now and be honest with yourself:
Which category do you currently spend most your time in?
Because this post Is all about building your ability to become more of an Entrepreneur, to build a system that generates value for your customers AND captures value for yourself and your shareholders WITHOUT your direct involvement.
This releases your time to do whatever you wish:
To sit around eating pizza all day, to go hiking or to start another business…
The Efficient Outsourcing Formula
After spending five years in outsourcing: three in the corporate world and two in the online marketing world, I have developed the following simple, four step formula to effectively outsource any task or process.
Step #1 – Identify Tasks To Be Outsourced
If you are going to hire a virtual assistan, you need to start thinking about your business and where within it, you spend you time.
Then simply download this free tool that we use in our online businesses to identify which tasks and processes within your business are outsource friendly.
You will need to enter each task you operate in your business in the “Tasks” column and then input a numerical value between 1 and 10 into the next 5 columns.
The tool will then provide an opinion as to whether this is a task that should/shouldn’t be outsourced in your business.
Did you know that Matthew himself spends 3 hours logging into over 200 affiliate accounts every month manually to get the numbers for his income reports?
That is a perfect example of working in the system rather than building it and is a task that he should be outsourcing – bad Matthew!
Step #2 – Perform The Tasks To Be Outsourced
This is the crucial step that most people miss.
Once you are aware of the tasks that should be outsourced within your business it is vitally important to have a good idea of how the task or process is performed yourself.
This enables you to both optimise the process and to understand how much time needs to be invest to achieve the desired end result.
Step #3 – Create Working Procedures
And for my third and final book recommendation: Work The System by Sam Carpenter.
It’s an awesome story about how Sam turned his small business around from chaos to a well-oiled machine through the use of documentation.
Each process you outsource must have an associated Working Procedure – a document detailing exactly how the process is performed in either written, image or video format.
Here is the Working Procedure template we use in our business:
And here is an example of a completed working procedure for the creation and posting of social media content for one of our online business.
For bonus points, you can use Screenflow to create videos of you/your team members completing the process.
Step #4 – Train Your Team
If you are the person that has created the Working Procedure for each process in your business then it is your responsibility to train the person who will be taking the responsibility in the future.
To do this, we perform both:
- Forward Job Shadowing – You operate the process whilst your team member observes
- Reverse Job Shadowing – Your team member operates the process whilst you observe
It is only when all four of these stages are complete that you can step back and allow the process to operate independently of yourself.
One of the biggest mistakes with outsourcing is a lack of training and the expectation that everyone knows precisely how you want things done.
The better the training you provide, the less time you will have to spend managing people.
6 Online Marketing Tasks That You Should NOT Be Doing Yourself
So now you aware of why you should be outsourcing AND also the step by step process to outsource any task efficiently, let’s get into the 6 specific online marketing tasks that you should NOT be doing:
#1 Managing Your Social Media & Content Strategy
Every online business needs a social media and content strategy, as let’s face it, content is the language of the internet and your social media accounts are the megaphones (if used effectively).
Furthermore, a content strategy cannot be effective without a well thought out social media strategy (and vice versa).
So, to build an audience of die-hard fans that love (and share) your content you need to consistently invest time in a number of tasks consistently day in day out.
- Managing content production
- Scheduling content
- Keyword research
- Researching content pieces
- Ensuring social content is native to each network
- Creating a posting schedule
- Reaching out and interacting with your audience
- Ensuring leverage of niche relevant hashtags
Time, which for you…
Could be better spent elsewhere.
This is your first opportunity to engage the four-step formula for outsourcing outlined above…
And to help you on your way-
Want to learn more about our content and social strategies? I send out my best actionable and bootstrapped marketing tip each Wednesday and you can jump in here.
#2 Keyword Research
There are parts of the keyword research process that SHOULD NOT be outsourced and those that definitely can. For example, you must define the high level strategy, though the time spent to gather data in the category you target, is a great candidate for Efficient Outsourcing.
It is also crucial to track ranking for your targeted keywords over time to enable you to measure the results of your SEO efforts. This is the template we use, feel free to make a copy and then download.
#3 Filtering Emails & Managing Your Calendar
Waking up to a pre-organised and filtered inbox and calendar is a wondrous feeling.
It leaves clarity of mind, which you can use to direct straight into your most important tasks that morning.
However, in order to set this up with your virtual team member you need identify strict guidelines:
- Folder structure and guidelines
- Structuring calendar invites
- Time availability
- Emails to unsubscribe to
- Emails to reply to
For the following tasks:
- Replying to/unsubscribing from and categorising emails
- Collating content for your consumption
- Monitoring Google Alerts for specific keywords
- Scheduling and setting up appointments
- To do list creation
Finally, it is important to note that outsourcing email and calendar management is definitely a learning process and the greatest time rewards will be experienced after a number of months working with your virtual team member.
#4 Managing Your Email Lists
Growing your list is a crucial task for every online marketer, and guess what?
These time sucking activities do NOT classify as “List Growth” tasks:
- List hygiene
- List segmentation
- Subject line analysis
- Scheduling auto responders
- Simple replies to customer requests
No, these tasks come under the category of “Email List Management”, and fortunately, these tasks are ideal outsourcing material.
Thus as your list grows, you are able to continue to focus on the high leverage “List Growth” tasks, enabling further growth.
#5 Customer Service
As social media amplifies the effect of word of mouth marketing, it is of paramount importance that your customer experience is flawless.
Now, you may feel that as business owner you are able to provide the best customer support…
And you are probably correct.
However, is that the best use of your time?
Would your customers prefer that you spend 4 hours per day addressing menial support tickets or developing that value new product they have been waiting eagerly for?
Ok, so as ever, let’s follow the four step formula for Efficient Outsourcing, perform the “Customer Service Representative” role for a couple of days, create the Working Procedure and then hand over to you enthusiastic virtual team member.
#6 Helping To Hire a Virtual Assistant
It is likely that after you have effectively outsourced the above 5 tasks that you have been able spend significantly more time working “on” your business as opposed to “in” your business, which unsurprisingly leads to growth.
So what next?
Well you need to hire a virtual assistant for other tasks as well. You need to grow your team.
We personally like to follow the old adage: “Hire Slow, Fire Fast”.
As “getting the right people on the bus” is of paramount importance to the success of any business.
Thus, it is best that you as the business owner, has the final say on each hire you bring into your business, though that does NOT mean you have to perform the following tasks that consist of a robust recruitment process:
- Advertising vacancies
- Screening candidate CV’s
- Initial interviews
- Designing and distributing test tasks
- Candidate communication
BONUS – Social Media Buzz
Ok, here is a sneaky little bonus…
Over the past 2 years of failing miserably with social media, I have finally found the secret.
Not that it is a really secret, in fact, it is blazingly obvious, it’s just that I was too selfish to realise.
For me, the key to being effective on social media is by reaching out and making an effort to develop relationships first, not waiting, selfishly posting your own links for people to come to you.
And if you do this consistently over time, you will build real, genuine connections with people and will ultimately gain a following.
So how do you do this?
By taking small steps each day to reach out and appreciate other people’s content.
- Liking, commenting and sharing on Facebook
- Favouriting, retweeting and replying on Twitter
- Liking, commenting and following on Instagram
- Liking, commenting and sharing on LinkedIn
And you can probably guess what I am going to say next…
Yes, some of these tasks do not need to be completed by you (I do NOT advise completely outsourcing your social media presence).
You can instruct your virtual team member to complete a number of actions each day on each social media platform and over time, you will be amazed at the increased engagement you have with your own posts.
WARNING – I would be hesitant with to outsource commenting on any social media network until you are completely confident of your virtual team member’s judgement and tone of voice.
Wrapping It Up
Ok, so we have been through:
- How to hire a virtual assistant to help grow your business
- The tasks that you should not be doing if you are looking to grow your business
- The formula for outsourcing any task in your business effectively
- A Step by step guide to outsource each tasks (including relevant templates)
You simply cannot beat the feeling of getting your first “zero direct time” invested sale!
Because trust me when I say that the initial time invested into efficient outsourcing will definitely be worth it.
However, if you do not wish to wish to spend your valuable time on recruitment, you could pop over to Virtual Valley and hire an awesome Virtual Team Member in 5 minutes and 7 clicks (yes we timed this ;) as we have spent months built a fully curated database.
Feel free to link to your online business below, I will take a look and will outline what I believe to be the highest leverage tasks to outsource to start building your business system and regaining your time TODAY.