Stop Wasting Your Time – The Efficient Outsourcing Formula

(This article originally appeared as a guest blog post on MatthewWoodward.com)

You know that feeling when you a make a big (ish) sale online?

Magical right?

Here is a screenshot of a recent one of mine:

proof

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!)

By effectively building a team of 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).

What You Will Learn

  • 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?

emyth

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:

  1. Technician – Writing sales copy, handling customer queries…
  2. Manager – Recruiting, reviewing performance of team…
  3. 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.

And now, your next non-mandatory piece of homework for this assignment 😉

cashflow

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

Spend 1 hour 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.

taskoutsourcingtool

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.

If you don’t want to complete the above exercise…

Here are 5 Tasks we believe you MUST outsource in your business to fuel your growth:

  1. Social Media
  2. Lead Generation
  3. Customer Service
  4. Inbox/Calendar Management
  5. Data Entry

Review each post and then come back to move on Step 2 of The Efficient Outsourcing Formula:

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.

workthesystem

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:

working procedure

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 observes

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.

This is the outsourcing process I used for 3 years whilst working as a Management Consultant at Accenture AND as three years as an online entrepreneur, trust me…

It works.