Today Tim Francis joins us all about outsourcing, systems, virtual assistants and the 80/20 rule.
He tells us about how he initially blew $10,000 trying to ‘live the 4 hour work week’ and what went horribly wrong with his first virtual assistant.
Now things go so well his head virtual assistant helps him handle hiring.
I was also amazed when he told me his process for having VAs handle tasks they’ve NEVER done before AND write a brand new procedure for it.
We also discuss what to do when you have no skills, his view on the 80/20 rule, what tasks are typically high value for him and the world’s best place to hire VAs.
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Interview with Tim Francis
Sweeney: Hey everyone! Welcome to another episode of the TriggerCast. Today we have on Tim Francis from the Profit Factory. If you ever heard of the 4 Hour Workweek or you read it which I’m guessing you probably had, you really are going to love Tim. He helps work with small businesses to systemize their business so they can work less and earn more. He actually helps you do it. How many of us have read that but didn’t actually go about doing it? Virtual assistant, outsourcing, systems, procedures. That’s what he’s big on. He’s going to tell us all about it today. I saw about one of his post. He talks about how he spent $10,000 trying to live the 4 hour work week and I’m assuming that didn’t work out because he said he blew $10,000. So I’m excited to hear that story as well. Tim, I appreciate you coming on today.
Tim: You bet, Sweeney! It’s always a pleasure. I’ve checked your blog too and you got a lot of really good, fascinating content. I’m honored to be among the greats.
Sweeney: Thank you very much! I think this is one of those cases. We’re discussing a little bit for the interview where not enough people realize really the need, the why. The how to do it is there and we’re going to get to it- how to hire virtual assistant. I want to focus first a little bit more on the why. I know you have a good example from your own personal stories. So I’d like you to indulge into that a little bit more. What is the turning point for you and what is the result you got out of it as far as what made wake up and go? I need to start systemizing things. I need virtual assistants. I need to really make this work.
Tim: Yes! It came out to a really terrifying part of my life when I couldn’t walk for 3 months. What happened was I drinking and get rich by next Thursday. I was so hooked on financial freedom for our work week type stuff. I just was not doing what had to be done to be a successful entrepreneur. I ended up getting few bad business deals, lost some money. I bought 4 houses because I thought that was my path to rich. Then I had some bad business partnership, $12M dollar went missing with this one partnership that was horrible. I’m trying to live the 4 hour work week but I’m working 80 hour work week. Losing all the money and the stress, I developed a health condition and it basically makes your legs swell, huge. It’s disgusting. You’ve seen the pictures Sweeney. It hurts so badly, I couldn’t walk. I have to move back with my parents like 28 years old to get full time care from them. I’m almost in bankrupt because of not being able to work. It was very horrible, very low point of my life. At that point, I got this wakeup call like you need to learn some things and skills to actually be able to make money. I decided marketing to be my big next step to get that I need to learn. I did everything. I became interested with Perry Marshall for Adwords, copywriting with Dan Kennedy. I just offered as a volunteer for a few business owners that I know to do Adwords and copywriting and Infusionsoft marketing for them. Then I woke up like 7 to 8 months later, all of a sudden I have this marketing company. I have 7 clients. I didn’t think of myself having a marketing company but I did. So that was pretty cool. In the meantime, I also made 2 promises to myself when I was really sick. The first was, I would never take my mobility for granted again. I’m always been an athlete when I was a kid and to suddenly be able to not walk was terrifying. When you have mobility when you’re 95 old. So I decided to start getting crossfit. I’ve note down over 500 cross fit work quotes. My biggest I’d lift is 365. It has gone really well and I kept that promise. The other promise I made to myself when I was really sick was that I would never again be a burnout entrepreneur. Here I was, this marketing company, 7 clients, 8 clients, 9 clients and I’m doing all these services for them. I’m basically one man band at that point doing everything, learning everything from Wordpress to Infusionsoft and Adwords and everything. I’m about to repeat the exact same illness, inducing burn out that I did before. Somebody said you should read the Work the System. Somebody else said Checklist Manifesto, 4 Hour Work Week. I’ve already read the E-Myth. I really put myself into learning about systems. During the 3 month period in my marketing company that does real life marketing for real life businesses is not like a goofy little Ebook on Clickbank to make a few bucks. It’s like we’re helping condo developers sell people homes in my home city here in Abington Alberta, Canada. So very like tangible business. I was systemizing my marketing company. Within 3 months my revenue went up by 50% and my workload was down to 20%. I’m not sitting here saying I like the 4 hour work week. I’m not telling you that today. I’m not telling you that I have this perfectly automated business but I’m telling you I have a highly systemized business. I now have people working for me. In the last year Sweeney, my life experience has been unbelievable. I now have the time and money to do some travel. I’m off to New York next week. I was in Chicago a few weeks ago. I hang out and I did very little in Las Vegas. I was on Ramosa Beach and actually play some beach volleyball. I sat on the beach, I looked at my toes and looked at the kids playing down by the surf and I looked at the sun. Maybe it was all along with not just doing the hard work. The last thing I’ll say about this is if you read the preface of the 4 Hour Work Week, again Tim Ferris is the first to say he worked hard. He almost went crazy that’s why he took his one way ticket to Europe. I think it’s like tons of leverage, nice lifestyle, not having to work like crazy. It’s all possible. You do need to go to the process of working hard and learning the skills on how to be an entrepreneur and a marketer is very important and also a system builder if you do ever hit those rare, harder to achieve lifestyle and income. Does that answer your question?
Sweeney: Yes! There are two things that you touched on there that I really liked. You decided to learn some skills. I think that’s very important. It gets passed on a lot of times by a lot of people. They don’t realize that if they don’t have any assets and they don’t have any skills, well what do you expect? You have no money to invest. You have no knowledge to invest and you’re not good at anything. What’s your brand to the table? What do you expect to happen? I think that’s a big part and that’s something that I’ve seen it worked different ways with entrepreneurs where they will go really deep in one skill and stake their claim to that like I’m the expert at a video. From that, they will branch out and start doing more consulting. I’ve seen other people that just learned the whole process. It works for different people. You also about volunteering. I think that’s a big thing. A lot of people asked growth hacking is really big in the startup community. There are people like how do I become a growth hacker? How do I get a job? It’s like go volunteer for someone. Go work for free. Just get the experience. Get them as a client or as a case study. From there, you’ll be able to leverage that into new clients. Testimonial is really what’s going to sell your sell. If you’re crushing it for some guy, you’re going to need to start paying me now. It should work out.
Tim: You just said, it’s like a book that I think should be sold with the 4 Hour Work Week is so good that you can’t ignore. It’s all about building skills. He does such as masterful job of explaining that. If anybody takes one thing out of this interview, go read that book. It is phenomenal. If you haven’t read or heard it yet in audible or whatever, let me know. I’ll buy it for you. I will buy you that audio and send it as a gift after the interview if you want. It’s that good and I appreciate being here. The second thing is I volunteered with the first person I did Adwords for. Then I was like now that I have a bit of a tracker and some confidence and processes on how I do things. I have a sense of how to do a freaking job. Then I went to the next person and charge them like $100 a month and the next person after that was like $300 a month or something then $500. I’m now doing not only done for you but maybe I’m helping coach on how to do Adwords that can’t afford higher pay rate. It’s like climbing the ladder one step at a time. When it comes to popping business to systemizing, I have clients that pay me 5 figures a month to learn from me how to systemize their business. I work hand in hand with them. It’s a very intensive coaching but that wasn’t possible if I wasn’t charging 4 figures or 3 figures first. I wouldn’t be happy if I wasn’t competent enough to get the first dollar so it’s definitely a progress.
Sweeney: I think the word hostile is something that gets overly glamorized and being an entrepreneur and owning your own business. This is one of those times where I think it really does make sense. It’s like how do I start making all these money? Start somewhere, hit some confidence and then raises your rates. No one starts out charging $10,000 a month. You start out charging less or free. Then get your way up, you get your confidence, you get clients, you get case studies, you get testimonials. People try to really complicate the process. I know with us, we do deals with a lot of local marketing and consultants. They’re always asking, what should I charge for this service? If you don’t know what to charge then charge less and do a good job and then charge more to the next person. It doesn’t have to be so complicated. Now, I’m curious to hear about this one. I didn’t have a chance to read through it but you pay $10,000 on VAs trying to live the 4 hour work week. Can you give us the background on that real quick? I would imagine that’s how not to hire VAs.
Tim: You’re very insightful, Sweeney!
Sweeney: What I like about it though, it’s not saying I screwed up. It’s like I’ve literally wasted $10,000 doing this the wrong way. It gives more stakes to your clients.
Tim: Yup! How I blew $10,000 is I hired a VA fulltime, $20 an hour, 160 a month. Do the math times 3 and a half months, that’s $10,000 right there. That’s how I lost the money. The reason I lost it is because like she was a great VA. She’s in India. It was like she had North American culture and North American English written and writing. There’s nothing like she wasn’t incompetent. I was incompetent. She was like, Mr. Francis; I would love to help you. What would you like me to do today? I didn’t say these words but I basically I’m saying. I don’t know. Go the virtual math and system magic trick thing like in the 4 Hour Workweek where they just run around and do stuff. It’s like somebody wants to help me. It’s like a first word here and then we will get there, that’s the goal. In the middle, that’s where the magic happens. She’s like, what do you want me to do? I’m like, go make the magic happen to like whatever it is that you do. I’m sending all of these like can you research this? Can you do that? She’s like, yup and she will come back 30 minutes like Mr. Francis, here you go. What would you like me to do next? Like, she’s back already. You know what I mean? I think it’s like Perry Marshall tells a really great story called the glider approach. We’re going to keep trying until we can make the glider works. Only when the glider works then we will put the bike engine in front of the 5HP to make it glide a little further and then 10HP. Get the glider first and then they started adding horsepower. There was another guy who is basically lost in the history book. He’s like forget the glider. We’re just going to put like there’s no replacement for just placement. We’re going to put huge engines on this little rock. We’ll fire from the sky and basically and up smash. Entreprenuers often want to go and hire VAs, fulltime VAs, put a bunch of money like at Google Adwords account or something. Make the gildder version work first. Get a VA for like 5 hour a week, $10-$15 an hour and have them take over tasks that you’re already doing. Not some high in the sky idea you have down the road. Take what is right in front of you and already working. The very first thing that I had my VA do when I hired her was how to upload a Podcast to iTunes. I told her the step by step like login then click on this button then do that, do this. Once she is up and running with that, I can give her the second task. Then adding the 3rd, 4th and the 5th. If you read Work the System by Sam Carpenter who is a friend of mine. He says his very first procedure was how to deposit checks. How to upload a Podcast? How to update my Wordpress website with my new blog post. How to embed a YouTube video? It’s boring stuff but when you trip a way to block like that you free yourself up.
Sweeney: That’s a big part of it. It’s freeing up your time and then being able to focus on those high level tasks. It’s the same way as you say about the rates. If you want to charge someone more, how do you become worth more? You got to stop doing the $10 an hour task to make it to the next level. That’s the only way it will work. Part of it is found out what you like to do. If you like doing certain of this task, you don’t have to outsource them. It doesn’t matter if it’s a “low value task”. If you like doing it then you like doing it, that’s fine. But also realizing that you don’t need to do everything. If it’s something you don’t like doing and it’s a low value task then you really don’t need to be doing.
Tim: What are you doing?
Sweeney: Now, climbing the 80/20 curve, I’m wondering if that fits in here or is that fits in a little bit later afterwards.
Tim: This is the moment my friend. Shall we dive in?
Sweeney: I would love to hear.
Tim: OK! Because I’ve read your blog, Sweeney. I know you’ve got smart people falling. You’re not like the bottom of the barrels scraping the bottom of the surface. People have to have some intelligence when they’re following you. I think I’ll give you a lot of credit for that. I know that your listeners already heard of this 80/20 rule. How I’m going to apply it here is actually the work. In case there’s someone who just needs a very quick refresher, the 80/20 rule just says there are very few things that make difference. If you open your closet, less than 20% of your clothes. You were 80% of your time. If you’re on the roads in the city, less than 20% of the roads get 80% of the traffic. If you look at the richest people in the world, the top 20% make significantly more money. It doesn’t matter what you look at. It’s rarely an issue of averages. Everything in life, in nature is inequal. As an entrepreneur, you’re finding what are the few things that makes a big difference and really making those count and not worrying too much of the other stuff. If you were to take 100% of the tasks that you do in a day, you can do this as an exercise. When I speak live to groups both in person and on webinars I actually offer this as an awesome exercise. It’s like thinking the last 7 days or maybe just the last 24 hours, whatever is doable for you. Just think about what are the tasks that I did. It might be like I wrote a blog post. I did an interview like you and I are doing right now. I consulted with the client. I manage the Adwords account. I’m not doing my own business anymore but I looked at it keep the word. I study an Ebook on SEO. Literally, like just on a journal. If you take that list of items maybe its 20 or 40 items and next to that say I’m not sure. What do you think is it worth? If it’s like updating a website, that’s $15 an hour or less. If it’s managing a Google Adwords account, that’s probably $30-$60 an hour. If it’s copywriting, that’s anywhere from $20-$100 an hour depending on your skill and so on so forth. Then you’re going to score all that. From there, if you’re going to take from all of that and take your highest level task and just reorganize them all, I promise you that you will see that will have a few task at the top that are between $100-$1,000 an hour type work. If that’s 2 or 3 tasks then you’ll probably have 5-10 tasks that are going to be $20-$50 an hour. You’ll probably have 30 tasks that are all $20 an hour or less. It creates almost like a hockey stick. It’s flat at the bottom and then there’s a short rise at the end. There’s a short curve up. That’s an 80/20 curve. The name of the game and I know you already know this is, it’s just about saying what are those items at the low part of the curve. Either eliminating them because I don’t really need to do that. It doesn’t make a big difference to my income. Or figure out a way to put it on an Autopilot like a piece of software. For example, if it’s following up with people then maybe it’s using Aweber to create email follow up sequence. That’s an example of using a computer system. If you can’t eliminate it, you can’t automate it then you delegate it. Tim Ferris talked about this in the 4 Hour Work Week. When you delegate, that’s when you create a procedure, step by step or a checklist or a guidelines style procedure. That’s when you want to outsource virtual assistant. That is really the process that we’re going for. It’s no more difficult than that. It’s about repeating that process, replacing you at the $10 an hour task. Once you have that free 5 minutes a day or an hour per week that you free up, then you stop doing that task. Now you go and do the more of the hundred dollars an hour type work or thousand dollar an hour type work. You might be thinking, that’s insane. Who gets paid $100 an hour or $1,000 an hour to do stuff? Believe it or not, a lot of people get paid $100 an hour or more to do a lot of stuff. For you, maybe if you don’t know what you can do in your business that’s $100 an hour type work. Maybe $100 an hour type work is investigating how you can get $100 an hour work by talking to mentors, taking coaching programs or something like that. That’s the process my friend. It’s no more difficult than that. It’s just about figuring out what’s low value and what’s high value. Replacing the low and reinvesting in the high and repeating that process over and over again until you’re not doing any of the lower type work.
Sweeney: Like I said before, I think it’s worth repeating that part of this is figuring out what you like doing and what it fits into the mix. You don’t have to hide out all the things you like doing. So let’s shift gears. What do you tend to see or at least what do you see in your business that the higher level task tend to look like or what do they tend to be? I have an idea but I’m curious it’s going to be true enough.
Tim: Something I’ll say is over time that has involved for me. When I was first beginning in my marketing company, I was like I’m the boss in copywriting. I’m the best. It’s going to be so good. I’ll never outsource. Nobody will touch that because nobody can do it quite like me. That was all fine and dandy. I did go ahead and outsource a lot of Adwords and a lot of website stuff and on and on. As I’ve been climbing the 80/20 curve I started realizing copywriting is still $100 an hour type work but it’s no longer the highest value activity. When I can consult to a client, we’re going to do some systems work and they’re going to pay me $10,000 a month to help them with that. All of a sudden, copywriting is like I could probably hire a copywriter that is way better than me. I could have one of the best copywriters working for me while I go and do these other things. Just be open to the fact that it revolve over time. For me presently, the highest value to tasks are things like consulting with clients because they’re all paying me a really nice hourly or monthly or per project fee that’s very high value and I enjoy it. Speaking, anytime I’m speaking to like numerous people whether it’s through Podcast or webinar or a live talk, that’s a high value activity. Networking is actually a huge thing for me. Just a few weeks ago I was in Chicago. Perry Marshall put an event teaching the 80/20 principle. A lot of authors have an interesting business idea but they can’t actually make money doing what they talk about because they’re just talking heads. They talk a tough game but they can’t actually compete. Richard Koch is the real deal. He is not just an author. The man is worth $274M. He works 1 hour a day and he writes books because he enjoys thinking about business. This guy is a player so to get into this venue, $7,500 for 3 days. I saw that and I knew instantly that I had to go. Who goes to a $7,500 per person event? People that can afford $7,500. There are $120 people in the room. No kidding, you could look at almost any direction. You’re like that guy is normally on the stage, that guy is like a big time XYZ guy. You’re like sitting with celebreties in their own fields. This is the kind of event they come to learn. When I come to an event that, I pay that kind of money and I’m shaking hands. I had lunch with Bill Herson. He has a brother publishing that made a worldwide success. I’m meeting with him and he puts me in touch with another guy in the guy who puts on 12 dinners a year in New York City featuring A List leaders in business. He invites me to this exclusive dinner in New York. I’m flying to New York next week and I’ll be meeting with other really, really high end people. It was through that Chicago event that I met someone and introduce me to someone who introduces me to you. It’s just like that whole networking. It’s way beyond $100 an hour. I have no idea how much money I’m going to make off of this because it’s still paying and it’s still growing. That’s the kind of work. Sweeney, it’s like I find myself to tasks that gives me leverage. Instead of speaking to just one person, I’m speaking to 20. Instead of managing just one Google Adwords account, I’m figuring out how to build a system to run 20 Google Adwords accounts and figuring out the people who are going to be managing those accounts for me. Anytime you’re going one to many, anytime you’ve got leverage happening, one piece of effort for 10 pieces of effort, $1 for $10, 1 minute for 10 minutes, that’s the kind you do more and more of and the more you go up to 80/20 curve.
Sweeney: That makes a lot of sense. That was a good answer. It’s the thing that I feel like everyone wonders from time to time. What are those tasks actually look like? So great answer. Shifting gears, it sounds like egg comes before the chicken in the sense that procedures and systems probably come before you hire the VAs.
Tim: I think what comes even before that and we have covered this already is you have to know what you doing. You have to have a clue. As you better and you go further along, you will hit points where you will start procedurizing stuff where you don’t know how to do. For example, we had something in my marketing company; Tim Francis Marketing where we had to migrate 7 websites from one host to another host. I have no clue how to do that. But because I have learned a lot of stuff along the way, I knew a) my friend Travis who’s a great developer and graphic designer, he told me about BackupBuddy. Also, I developed some skill with Elance on hiring people. I already have a VA working for me for over a year that is doing a really great work for me. I was able to like how can I combine those resources to get this solved? Do you know how to migrate websites? I said to Sarah, call tech support of Bluehost. Tell them that you want to migrate 7 websites. Get as far as you can with that. Whatever your sticking point is, I want you to take that sticking point. Right it in like a little description and submit a question to BackupBuddy support. BackupBuddy will then give you an extra help. As soon as you get the end point of that, whatever your sticking point is, take that and post on Elance as a job posting. Say we’re looking for a consultant to help us with migrating websites. This was where we’re stuck. We’re willing to pay up to $50 to answer this question. I gave my credit card and she went and it was magical. She went, she migrated all 7 websites with the help of a guy on Elance plus the tips she got from BackupBuddy and from Bluehost. Then after that she wrote a procedure because I gave Sarah a procedure for writing procedures on how to migrate websites. She also tested that procedure while she doing the site migration. She’s doing 7 in a row. She could refine her own process over and over again. At the end of that, the best thing of all, not just the websites, not just the knowledge, not just the procedures that has been written. At the end of it, I have no clue how to migrate websites. That’s the best part of all. You can get to that point but you have to earn your way up to that point. I had to learn the skill of hiring a Virtual Assistant. I had to learn of where we can find resources like Elance, tech support from different tools. It’s like you have to earn your way up there. Before you can get into that level, learn a skill. Adwords, Infusionsoft, Google Adwords, email marketing, Aweber, copywriting, web design, whatever it is. Grow the skill and then figure out the parts of it that you can outsource and off load. Move yourself up to chain a little bit. Do few more things. It’s only once you figured out the skills that you go and write the procedures. Once those procedures are in place then you hire the person to do it.
Sweeney: That makes a lot of sense. Take as a job on Elance. This is what I’m stuck with. I’m looking for a consultant that basically knows how to do this AKA someone how to answer this question for me. Here’s $50. That’s part I really like because that’s an interesting way to get around in almost any problem ever. Despite VA go talk to someone that knows how to do this and I’ll tell you how to do this and then you can do it and you will never be stucked ever.
Tim: In the second half of that, the way that you never get stucked ever is if your virtual assistant writes the procedure. Now that your VA leaves, you still have that inside your business as an asset or if you’re VA needs to go on holiday or gets pregnant or something like that. What I call that Sweeney is being the chief resource officer. Here I am, I’m sitting in my business and I’m mining up resources. There’s a resource called tech support of Bluehost. There’s a resource called tech support of BackupBuddy. There’s a resource about Elance and some other resource on it. I have money. I have a credit card. That’s a resource. I have a VA, she’s a resource. I’m just combining the resources in such a way that they can go and do what they have to do. It’s like we just shot 12 videos like video blog style. So what resources do we need? We need a camera. We need some lightning. We need some studio. We need an editor. We need some money. We need some time. We need some topics. It’s like looking at these resources and piecing it together. I could go hire someone online to go to all the stuff or I can just get a local person who is into this kind of stuff. They already have the equipment. They already have the expertise. They already have the studio. Then I will mix all those resources together to get our result. It was like I think I paid the guy like $1,000 or something. It has to be done. The video should be here like a week. All I have to do is just show up some topics. It was really, really good.
Sweeney: Great point! I guess can you give us a little bit more. Time wise, we don’t have too much here. I mean I want to focus on the hiring the VAs. Where to find the VAs? It sounds like the systems part is the important part. Do you want to speak to systems and procedures a little bit then we can jump to the hiring VA?
Tim: I think the internet connection is getting a little weak here. What was your question again?
Sweeney: Basically, I don’t want to dive too deep into how to create systems and procedures but I do see it being a part of the process. I want to focus a little bit more on how to hire good VAs?
Tim: OK! Perfect!
Sweeney: Can you give us a quick rundown of those procedures and making them so good which is a lot to ask?
Tim: Sure! A way that I can quickly help into that is to tell people I do give some tips on everything. Go to profitfactory.com. I actually have a free cheat sheet and crash course that somebody can opt in for. It’s actually shows you in a video training like behind the scenes of my business specifically the tools I use and the documents you can create. I use Google Docs or Google Drive. I use a combination of that. I hate Basecamp. I think Basecamp is a horrible product compared to what’s now available. I show you how to use all the tools together. You can see behind the scenes 100% of what’s going on. If a person wants a quick answer, go to profitfactory.com. There’s a blog post. There’s videos and a training opt in that gives you a crash course on how to do all of it.
Sweeney: With that being said, what was the world’s best place? I’m curious on this one.
Tim: It depends on what you’re looking for. My preference is hiremymom.com. We’ve run into a snag recently with hiremymom.com. I suspect that I’ve been teaching enough people to go to hiremymom.com. I think hiremymom.com is now a little bit overwhelmed like my people, my students going there and asking for VAs. I know the owner of HireMyMom so I give her a call. Is there something we can do to make this smoother or something? In the crash course that I offer is the free opt in. I actually give you a job posting to copy and paste. You can just copy my job posting. Go to HireMyMom. Then paste my job posting. Up until recently, it would just magically pop qualified people into your inbox. It’s been so effective. Sounds like we’re going to change our system for finding VAs a little bit here. The short of it Sweeney is that I am looking for really deep oriented people. I love hiremymom.com because we’ve got American and Canadian like North American moms. They got reliable electricity and reliable internet. You will not believe how much that is actually an issue when you hire overseas. One of my VAs went disappearing for a week. I thought she quit but it’s because there was corruption in the government and 1 political person had electricity turned off per neighborhood. She had no way to reach me because she had no electricity for theinternet or for a computer. My main VA Sarah, she is in Indiana. I know she’s going to have internet and electricity. She understands the culture. If she needs to do things on North American time zones like daytime calls to different business owners or clients, she can do that. Her English is excellent both written and spoken. I really like HireMyMom for that. In my perfect job posting is what I call it. I’m actually asking respondents when they reply to my job posting to send an email to a specific inbox or firstname.lastname@example.org. Secondly, the subject line has to say exactly this one thing. Thirdly, I give it and I say answer my job posting with the answers to these questions. I asked them to say, in the first paragraph in black, 12 point Verdana give me your 1st 2 reasons why. Then in the 2nd paragraph in blue Courier 11 point, give me your second reason why. Then in the 3rd paragraph, it’s like red Times 14 point or whatever. I’m giving them all these instructions. Yes, I care the content to what I say but what I care about more than anything is did they follow the instructions? I am building a systemized business that requires people to follow instructions. They have an opportunity to prove that to me from the very first moment we ever speak. People disqualify themselves just by not following the instructions. The magic of it like I run through a huge problem the first time when I was hiring people online. I would get this flood of like hundreds of applications. I could hit refresh on my inbox and it would be like bam, bam, bam. More and more people got to help you if you go on Elance and post something like Virtual Assistant Wanted. By having a specific subject line and a specific email inbox for HireMyMom people to send their stuff, I can just open up that 1 email inbox and just scan and eliminate everybody who didn’t get the subject line right. Immediately, I’m saving myself like 50% of the work just by that. From there, I can open up the emails. If they haven’t nailed all the instructions, cancelled. You just disqualified yourself. Sweeney, this totally hit a whole new level once I had my first VA in place. Sarah is her name. She’s my main assistant. Because it’s so black and white, now it’s easy for her to monitor that inbox. I know of a HireMyMom person, watching the HireMyMom people and she forwards to me only the 2 or 3 moms that made it through all the hoops. Then I just have to focus on these students not the 300-400 applications coming in.
Sweeney: Lead qualification.
Tim: Completely! It’s also a great example of me moving myself up to a chain where it’s like first I was hiring, break in efficiently. After that, I got a system in place to really help improve that. Then I move myself up to a chain by having my assistant doing what I used to do. It’s the whole process of systems.
Sweeney: I’m curious when it comes to hiring people especially for more specialized tasks say Adwords Management or copywriting. What’s the training aspect? What’s the training versus systems versus talent? What is that make up look like?
Tim: OK! You have to decide what business you’re in. If I was in an Adwords like if my whole business is managing Adwords accounts then I would develop some training in house and we would people maybe even from scratch and train them how to do Adwords. I’m not in Adwords Management business. That’s not the business that I’m in. I’m in like my marketing company is in lead generation for condo developers. That’s what we do. As the chief resource officer, I can find a really good Adwords person who already comes pre packaged with all the skills I’m looking for. I can make them manage the Adwords part. Then I can find a great copy writer for them to write all the Google Ads, Adcopy, email follow up sequence and the landing page. I can find the great graphic designer and web developer to take care of actually creating the banners that go into the Google Ad words remarketing campaign that creates the landing page, the design and coding for the landing page. I have my assistant Sarah setting up all the Infusionsoft account and plugging the entire copywriter’s content into the email sequence. It’s like you got to know a business you’re in. If you’re just using a little bit of video editing, a little bit of Ad words, a little bit of copywriting and a little bit of web design, go and find people that already know how to do that and combine it and be the chief resource officer. How do you what makes a good Google Ad words Manager? I learned how to do Google Adwords at least the basics of it first. I know the difference between a good Adwords Manager and a bad Adwords Manager. How did I know what make a good copy? I did a ton of copywriting myself when I study John Carlton and Dan Kennedy and a whole bunch of these copywriting guys. How did I know what makes good landing page design? I studied landing page conversion and I got to know at least the basics. You don’t have to be a master but if you just know the basics then you know whose bull you and who is legitimately contender when you’re dealing with it. When it comes to specialized task like that, that’s my approach. If you don’t have the money to hire an Adwords Manager or copywriter, go in there and know how to do it yourself like learn at least the basics. You would surprise that how little it actually takes. You don’t have to be hired by board room or Agora or beating controls on pieces that nailed it to 10M houses a year. You don’t have to be that good. In the 80/20 of things, you just need the very bottom 80% of knowledge. You don’t have to put in the massive spike of effort to become one of the best of the best. You just need the basics to be able to tell the difference. Do it yourself and you’ll be able to really down road tell who is you’re hiring and who shouldn’t.
Sweeney: Now to close out, I’m curious the employee decision process. Turning these employees like having them turn from a VA to being more of a manager. Sarah, when she starts hiring other people how did you make that transition?
Tim: The higher you go up the chain, at the very bottom level think of it like an organizational chart. We’ve got workers at the bottom and CEO at the top. The front line workers, they’re going to have more tangible step by step do this, do that. Here’s how we upload Podcast episode. Here’s how we edit video and it’s very tangible, very step by step. The higher you go up the chain, the more that you are going to be using decision making guidelines instead of step by step procedures. Decision making guidelines, you should have for everybody in your business in the first place. It’s like a combination of about 20-40 different mini statements or paragraphs, about different ways of making decisions that do make up how you do business. You’re 20-40 will be different than my 20-40. Right now, I think there’s 36 statements make up team Francis and Profit Factory. All of these decisions we make fall to these 36 statements. For example how we handle mistakes. First, we’re not encouraging mistakes but when they happen they are feedback and we can improve some part of our system. When mistakes happen we do 3 things. First, we put out the fire. Second, we figure out the system that failed and fix. Third, we get it approved by our supervisor or probably the business owner at the stage. From there we can distribute that to everybody who uses that procedure. You might think it’s obvious. That makes a lot sense like why I have to be explicit about that. Until you realize most business owners and most employees have the moment, fix it and say I’m glad that’s over. They’re just going from fire to fire to fire. This is business owner’s too, not just front line employees. People by default operate so often like what is the fear that’s driving me today or on in this 1 minute. Don’t take the time to stop and put out like fix the system and what cause the problem in the first place. We had an issue with one of our Podcast an episode wasn’t playing properly. This guy was from Czech Republic. He wrote us and said it’s not playing. I’m disappointed. I love your stuff but I don’t get to listen to it today. Sarah could have just fixed it and left it. But because of that decision guidelines was in place of this is how we solve the problems. She said, “Phil, I’m so sorry. I’ll take care of it”. She figured out the solution. She fixed the Podcast episode and made him happy. Then she went into our procedures, realized she should have put another step at the end that says we double checked every Podcast episode on iPhone, iPad and laptop to make sure it’s all working. By putting those steps at the end, she fixed the system. So I got an email after that saying this is the problem. This is my solution. The fix is in documents. It’s all taken care of, how would you like to know? She had the decision making guideline. We have another 35-36 statements like a little mini me of Tim that sits on Sarah’s shoulder and sits on all of my team member’s shoulders so that when something comes up that doesn’t have the procedure. We don’t have a procedure called how to fix Podcast episode that’s broken and noticed by a Czech Republic guy and now he’s upset. We don’t have a procedure for that. That’s where our decision making guidelines. It’s like a catch all to handle situations that we don’t have procedures for and also dictates the style with what you do it. It’s like what is the style of how we do things. That’s a decision making guidelines. One of the most important documents in the entire business and yet almost nobody creates or nobody knows to do it.
Sweeney: Could you give 2-3 more examples or even too of decision guidelines?
Tim: You bet! I’m just going to open up my decision making guidelines here then I can just tell you. This is like live. This is not theoretical. This is not like hypothetical. This is like literally, honestly my team looks at it every day. I’m giving you live off the floor here. This one like in the 80/20 of 37 decision guidelines, this one comes up ready to top as the most often or the 2nd most often. Demand Drives decision making. Instead of getting caught up of what could be for the possible contingencies, we focus on what is and what is needed today. For example, whether it’s procedure, sales letters or Infusionsoft campaigns or anything else, we build only what we need only when we need it. From time to time we might be slightly over billed because it’s more convenient than restarting the task. Generally speaking we only build what we need and when we need it. Imagine, this came up the other day, I said to Sarah we’re doing this joint venture promotion where we’re teaching this 8 week course on how to systemize your virtual business. Currently we have a GoToWebinar account that handles a hundred attendees. What if we have all these crazy response and we need to upgrade the account? Should we upgrade it to 500 or should we upgrade it to 1,000? What’s the cost on that because I think GoToWebinar for 500 people is like $2,600 a year. Sarah just looks at me and like Tim let the man drive the decision making. Think about it, it’s okay if we have 100 person accounts. If we have 120 people registered, we’ll just upgrade the account then. Until then don’t worry about it. I was like, “Right, let the man drive the decision making”. We have 156 registrants or something like that. She just run in to GoToWebinar, upgrade it to the 500 person account for 1 day then downgrade it back to the 100 person after the webinar was done. It costs extra like $70 or something like that but a one day of heightened service. No need to worry. Let the man drive the decision making. Does that make sense?
Sweeney: It does but then I’m curious the angst of prevention worth it than cure. How does that fit in? It sounds to be a little bit more of reactive approach rather than proactive approach.
Tim: Yes, good point. I appreciate you calling me on that. Excellent! When we look at risk managing, we look at few things. We look at how likely is this to happen and if it does how tripling will it be? With GoToMeeting, we know if the situation is to go over a hundred, if we know that if it’s like maybe a 50/50 situation. It’s pretty high probability. What’s the worst that happens? Sarah goes takes 5 minutes and goes to GoToMeeting for 1 day and that’s it. Therefore we don’t need to overbuild anything. Whereas if I was building a bridge to go across a river and 5,000 vehicle an hour will cross that and there’s going to be semi trucks going to cross it. If that thing is going to cover 100,000 metric tons of weight going to cross it in an hour. I’m overbuilding that thing to 200,000. If it breaks we will be killing people. That’s an extreme example but it’s like you just need to keep that in mind. Be very measured. There’s a reason of getting your driver’s license. You get that at 16 depending on what state or province you’re in. Yes, you could kill someone but most likely it’s going to be a fender-bender. Most accidents are just fender-benders and there’s not even an injury law or it’s a very tiny short term injury. To get your license to flight plane, guaranteed you’re killing people. You might be crashing the building. The criticality is so big that even a tiny likelihood of it is we are really worried about that. That’s why all those procedures are there is because there’s a demand for that amount of procedure. It’s because the criticality of how bad the mistake would be would just be huge.
Sweeney: To close, I know you need to go. Do you have specific tool like I know you did an interview but do you have specific tool for your process and procedures?
Tim: You mean like project management software do I use?
Sweeney: I’m curious if you use their system or if there’s another system. System for systems I guess or software for systems.
Tim: Yup. I’m happy to be up here to talk about perks of the systems and the procedures. You need to know that I’m not using sweep process at this time. I haven’t evaluated it. I don’t know maybe it’s an awesome thought or it’s not. I’ve got no comment just the quality of the software. I know that for me and for my virtual business. For me, my virtual business is the combination with Google Drive plus TeamworkPM is flawless. It is absolutely gold. I teach on my virtual business students to use that combination and everyone has just been thrilled with it. TeamworkPM allows you to copy and paste the entire task list. It’s like let’s say that you have website design business and you figured out that there’s like 120 steps to build a website from client intake to website delivery. Let’s say that out of 120 steps let’s say there’s like 60 of them that require more explanation then you can create 60 procedures for that and that goes out to Google Docs where you can refer to that procedure. We label every procedure like S001, S002, T003, R005 or whatever. In TeamworkPM we can say the next thing you need to do is give the client the design brief and that’s R007. Design brief for clients. My team will go in. They will open up that Google Doc, copy paste it in email and send it off to the client. The combination of using the 2 together and that labeling system is the key to be able to refer say R001, S002, and T005. In Teamwork, that tells you that to go look at inside of Google Drive to get it done. Now you’ve got these 120 steps and maybe it has got 30 or 40 procedures or whatever attached to it. The next thing you get a client in TeamworkPM, all you do is just go copy task list and paste. That entire task list is just going again then Client B, Client C, and Client D. So fast so good. You can assign tasks to different people. All along the way there’s a billing timer so your staff can hit start and stop when they’re working for you. Then they can just export that and use whatever your billing procedure is. For us we have a smoking billing procedure. Instead of 47 minutes for my staff to pay me every single month, we have it down to 7 minutes. They know exactly to export the table from TeamworkPM. They run it through my procedure I have in Google Docs. 7 minutes later there’s an invoice in my inbox with the exact rate file name at the top with their Paypal address at the bottom so they don’t have to run on the Paypal, the exact amount in US dollars like everything is alright there. I just go to Paypal and pay it then done. It’s so good. Teamwork allows for that billing feature that helps those invoice super fast. Especially if you’re going to pay your team while they’re invoicing you. You want them to invoice you as fast as possible. There’s a whole huge reasons why I love TeamworkPM. That’s just 2 of them. I have found it has met everything that we need in our virtual business that we consult to.
Sweeney: I will have to check it out. I haven’t have heard of it. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Podio at all.
Tim: For years now there’s been tons of project management software like Basecamp, TeamworkPM. I’ve used My Project Plans. Some of them are so bad. It’s so slow, no copy and paste, tough to navigate. They’re like PC of project management software. Teamwork is like the map. Things are in the right place and super easy to use. I’ve heard of other people using Podio with great success too. I don’t know. Maybe it’s winning software. I haven’t had the need to trial any of this software. Teamwork has just done it for us.
Sweeney: Tim, I appreciate you coming on. I know you have your busy man and you got a lot of things to do. Where is the best place for people to check you out?
Tim: Profitfactory.com. If the listeners like what they heard today, I’m dumping knowledge into Profit Factory. I didn’t have to start profitfactory.com as I was making good money and doing well with Team Francis Marketing. I’m very, very satisfied with that. I just know that the number of businesses that need marketing help is only exceeded by the number of businesses that needs system. I’ve now operated behind tons of different businesses involved. I can’t even believe how some businesses get up in the morning and operate like it’s so disorganized. So, I’m here just to help bring sanity to business owners everywhere particularly virtual business owners. You really, really can have a business that’s organized and smooth and low stress and make some good money. It’s so possible. Systems is huge a tool for getting there. It is a game changing skill to have within your own business. It’s all there on profitfactory.com. I really encourage you to get the free cheat sheet and crash course. It’s actually Perry Marshall ask me to come teach a private session to his mastermind club. I recorded that and I asked Perry’s permission to use that in my crash course and he gave me permission to do that. So you’re seeing like paid content from Perry Marshall’s mastermind club. It’s like content. This isn’t just some fluffy thing that I’ve thrown in and just get people’s email address. I’m delivering you gold here and I’m not being like over the top. It’s because I did it in my own business. I’m really excited for other business owners to get some of the freedom and enjoy some of nice extra cash and nice extra lifestyle that comes from having a nice, smooth business.
Sweeney: Alright! Thanks a lot for coming on. I’m sure we’ll keep in touch. Have a good one man!