Holy Moly! Can you believe we’re just about through the first quarter of 2014?
I don’t know about you but the first part of this year has been a bit of a whirlwind for me. I’ve done some stepping back and refelcting the last few weeks and realized I need to go into the next few months of the year with more intention (think less reactive).
One thing I know about myself is that I can only push myself for so long before I crash, and crash I did. Not in any sort of dramatic, tortured artist way, it was more of a “I don’t feel like doing ANYTHING” kind of a way.
Which is when I needed to remind myself that everything I was going through was simply growing pains and part of taking things to the next level (that phrase is so over used, but it is what it is). I can look back through the last 6 years of my business and see where I went through the same frustrations and challenges but the content was different (and those things that felt like such big challenges years ago are old hat today).
What’s been going on.
After my trip down to San Diego at the end of January I knew I had a few changes to make in my business, one of which was to hire some more help. When I was at the mastermind I did an exercise where I wrote down the things I love to do in my business and the things I don’t like doing, then I went back through my calendar for the previous week (thank you Google Cal) and realized I was spending 2 – 4 hours A DAY on tasks I didn’t like doing (and shouldn’t be doing).
What the BUCKET?!?!
I’m not going to go into a massive list here of tasks in my business, but when you realize you’re spending almost half of your day at times doing things that you don’t enjoy doing AND don’t directly result in income, it’s time to re-evaluate. Which is what I did. I outlined the things I loved doing first and the things I could give to someone else to do, which would free up more time to do the things I enjoyed and had a direct impact on the bottom line. If you’ve never done an exercise like this I’d recommend you try it (it won’t take as long as you think). The interesting thing about doing exercises like this is that often it’s easier to determine what we don’t like or don’t want to be doing as opposed to owning what it is we really want or how we really want to spend our time.
Knowing what I don’t like doing isn’t anything new to me, that hasn’t changed in the last few years, so that was the easy part. I think it’s an old thought process / belief inside me that thinks it’s supposed to feel like ‘work’ or it’s not really a business (hence the therapist still). Here’s my list of what I LOVE to do that has a direct impact on the bottom line (I’m focusing on the bottom line because we’re talking about my business).
What I LOVE to do that has a direct impact on the bottom line:
Write posts and tutorials
Create podcast episodes and show notes
Teach /Host webinars
Create products (downloadable, digital products)
Coaching / working with other entrepreneurs
My business has really grown the last 6 months and I realized I was starting to feel squeezed, over scheduled and basically with too much to manage. Which is where the reflecting came in. Hanging around the guys in my Facebook Mastermind can be challenging at times because none of them have the type of business I do (not that everyone else has a similar business, but the online brand and persona is different and doesn’t require the same time for content creation that my business does).
This is where I realized it was my responsibility to take the things I was learning and apply them to my business in a way that works for me and my lifestyle.
Which brings us to…
Outsourcing isn’t a new concept for me. I’ve been fortunate in that I baby-stepped my way into it and ended up with the team I have now (and have worked with for the last 3 years).
I remember the first time I posted work on an outsourcing website ( in this case it was elance and it was looking for help with WordPress and Adsense, which is how I thought I would monetize one of my first sites, not this one). It wasn’t as hard as I thought and I was fortunate to find a great person to work with (who I then hired for regular one on one WordPress help and is how I ended up with The WordPress Chick).
After that initial experience I didn’t turn to outsourcing for another year and half or so and it was after I had started doing WordPress sites (something I never intended to do when I started my business. I really thought it was going to be strictly information marketing). This time I went to O’Desk and found someone I ended up working with on a per project basis when I needed it (and my contact person actually owned the company and hired his own programmers). After doing that for about a year he asked me if I would be willing to commit to a monthly retainer for a year for a programmer.
Yikes. This is where the rubber meets the road.
I nervously bit the bullet and said yes and away we went. Because the programmer worked out so well I asked him if he could hire a graphic designer to work full time for me as too, which was another “Holy crap!” moment because it was another monthly financial commitment. But I did it and am SO glad I did because my designer friggin rocks. It was also a blessing to have found them both through the guy who hired them because I developed a strong relationship with both of them and eventually they decided not to work for him and worked directly with me. They both got raises and I ended up saving money.
Thank you more please!
Fast forward to today.
I have 4 full time contractors who are part of my team (the 4th was added just a month ago) and have gone through two additional team members since January (not a great fit). To say it’s been frustrating, challenging and overwhelming would be an understatement. I go into more detail in the podcast episode so be sure to listen for the full inside scoop.
I really needed to step back and look at building my team and my business from a different perspective. One that worked for me AND my team (I am truly grateful for the people on my team and try never to take for granted that they have families and a full life of their own). I knew I needed to look at the role I play in the communication (duh) and stop being so pissy about having to set up the systems correctly so they could do their jobs better.
And we’re getting there. 🙂
Outsourcing is by far one of the BEST decisions I made for my business, I just didn’t have a clear picture of where I wanted to go a few years ago. Now I do. I’m currently reading Chris Ducker’s “Virtual Freedom” which is all about working with virtual staff to see what I can do better and how I can streamline things to pull me out of the tasks I absolutely don’t want to do (and shouldn’t be doing).
If you have questions or comments about outsourcing be sure to leave me a comment below! Let’s keep the conversation going![divider top=”no”]
A Fun Plugin
Being the geek that I am about graphics I couldn’t resist this plugin when I saw it.
WordPress 3.9 is getting ready to ‘drop’ and this isn’t in the list of updates, so for those of you who are geeks about cool visuals you can check this plugin out.
What is it?
A fresh set of emoticons for WordPress! WOOHOO!
With a beautiful ‘flat’ design I was hooked the second I saw them. You can download them on GitHub (the download zip button is in the right column) for free. I’ve installed them here, what do you think? 😎
Links from this episode