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How can I outsource part of my business

AppleUnited

Contributor
Jan 26, 2019
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Just a quick introduction. I have a 40 year old guy working independently on my mobile app business for the past 3 years. I have managed to grow my monthly income from a few hundreds to the point that it is equivalent to what I am getting paid if I am working for someone. The biggest problem now is that I am doing everything myself thus far which includes software development, accounting, customer support, marketing, etc. With the exception of finding some freelancers over Fiverr or UpWork to help me with some localisation and basic design work, I am still not quite sure how to relieve some of my current load so that I can focus more on my speciality which is product development. What can I outsource such it doesn't jeopardise my business?

Looking forward to the inputs from you guys who have been through similar situation. Thanks in advance.
 

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Rabby

Silver Contributor
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Aug 26, 2018
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Do you have to outsource, or can you bring someone into your business? From the sound of it, you might want someone in sales. If you can grow the revenue enough to pay that person, and not take a paycut yourself (or not too much of one), maybe you're one step further along?

Does your business develop mobile apps for others, or are you marketing your own apps? I think the answer partly depends on this too.

Also I would think about the traction your business is getting, and the need, and see if you can discover why the revenue isn't quite enough to hire out what you need done. It may be that you're not using the right approach to communicate the value you can provide. Or it may be that you're only close to being perfectly on target with your offering... which is good, but not enough to break out the cigars.

Give us some idea of the market (like, is it B2B, financial industry or car dealers or nursing homes, what?) and the type of work - developing a platform, making small products, iterating on some useful niche product, etc.
 

AppleUnited

Contributor
Jan 26, 2019
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I am building tools (at the moment on the mobile platform) for traders in the finance industry. I do not have an office to hire anyone to work with me at the moment. For now, I think I would need help in customer support like replying of emails, SEO/ASO and other administrative stuff like writing of app description, replying to reviews but I am not sure how to go about doing it. Personally I feel that I need to do those myself to ensure best customer satisfaction but then again I would need time as well to clear the long list of feature requests.
 

Rabby

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I guess we need to break up those things into discreet jobs. There's a good chance that if you find someone to do customer support for you, they will not also be an SEO person, description writer, and administrator. One person might be any one or two of those things.

Is there anything that would stop you from starting with, say, the support emails, assuming those take a lot of time? Could you document your basic procedure, and indicators of success (eg: all emails answered within 20 minutes of receipt during business hours)? Maybe come up with a way to visually show average time to reply, or another important indicator of performance, to provide a feedback method for your helper? Then just hire a part timer and spend some time with them, helping them do it the way you do.

No office, no problem. Most of my people work from home. You can use Slack to keep track of everyone. We use slack's API to alert us when things happen... orders come in, it's time to reboot a server, etc. It's good for making sure the ball doesn't get dropped, or two people don't both try to respond to the same incoming item. You can bounce email copy around in the chat until you get something that works.

When I started having people do all the things that I had been doing (one category of thing at a time), I used the rule that they just needed to be able to do it 80% as well. That's usually fine, especially when they're starting out. Now we have people who are better at everything they do than I ever was. One or two people are better at literally everything than I am, and I can't figure out why they don't just own the company.

I hope this is some help so far :hilarious: Someone will jump in here with good ideas.
 

100k

Gold Contributor
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Oct 20, 2012
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I haven't done this myself, but I was looking into it a few years back just so that I knew what to do.

1) Hire someone from upwork to help you develop standard operating procedure.

2) Then hire a COO or Executive Assistant from upwork and have them manage all the other people in the orginization, i.e (s)he'll hire/fire people, ensure they do jobs to the standards laid out in the SOP, deal with customer inquires and of course let you know whats going on.

That's a simplified version of what to do.

If you've got a little bit of money to through at this then hire an experienced C-suite Interim Executive and have them help you execute those things and then fire them once they've hire their own replacement and implemented all the crucial systems.
 

Rabby

Silver Contributor
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Aug 26, 2018
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I actually hired someone off of upwork to write a SOP for me. He had great insights on a few things and we're friends now, but I wasn't able to use the SOP as it was. In retrospect I should have just hired him to talk on the phone with me about various procedures. Ymmv of course.

One thing I've been doing instead of the traditional SOP is just making small, modular job templates. I find these to be more useful that a book of "spaghetti procedures." This might have something to do with my programming background, and appreciation of modular programming and functional programming. Anyway, it's worth a try making short, discreet templates for a few of the tasks you need to delegate. Then use those as a collection of job accountabilities for your helper. I also recommend building controls into these whenever possible to create a performance feedback loop... you'll thank yourself.
 

AppleUnited

Contributor
Jan 26, 2019
39
41
99
I guess we need to break up those things into discreet jobs. There's a good chance that if you find someone to do customer support for you, they will not also be an SEO person, description writer, and administrator. One person might be any one or two of those things.

Is there anything that would stop you from starting with, say, the support emails, assuming those take a lot of time? Could you document your basic procedure, and indicators of success (eg: all emails answered within 20 minutes of receipt during business hours)? Maybe come up with a way to visually show average time to reply, or another important indicator of performance, to provide a feedback method for your helper? Then just hire a part timer and spend some time with them, helping them do it the way you do.

No office, no problem. Most of my people work from home. You can use Slack to keep track of everyone. We use slack's API to alert us when things happen... orders come in, it's time to reboot a server, etc. It's good for making sure the ball doesn't get dropped, or two people don't both try to respond to the same incoming item. You can bounce email copy around in the chat until you get something that works.

When I started having people do all the things that I had been doing (one category of thing at a time), I used the rule that they just needed to be able to do it 80% as well. That's usually fine, especially when they're starting out. Now we have people who are better at everything they do than I ever was. One or two people are better at literally everything than I am, and I can't figure out why they don't just own the company.

I hope this is some help so far :hilarious: Someone will jump in here with good ideas.
Thanks for the excellent advice. I think now is more of a trust issue than money for me to engage help. You are right, email support is probably one of the first things I should outsource but I am still trying to figure how to do it without the possibility of the assistant messing things up.
 

AppleUnited

Contributor
Jan 26, 2019
39
41
99
I haven't done this myself, but I was looking into it a few years back just so that I knew what to do.

1) Hire someone from upwork to help you develop standard operating procedure.

2) Then hire a COO or Executive Assistant from upwork and have them manage all the other people in the orginization, i.e (s)he'll hire/fire people, ensure they do jobs to the standards laid out in the SOP, deal with customer inquires and of course let you know whats going on.

That's a simplified version of what to do.

If you've got a little bit of money to through at this then hire an experienced C-suite Interim Executive and have them help you execute those things and then fire them once they've hire their own replacement and implemented all the crucial systems.
I never thought of hiring someone to develop SOP. I will definitely look into that. :).
 

AppleUnited

Contributor
Jan 26, 2019
39
41
99
I actually hired someone off of upwork to write a SOP for me. He had great insights on a few things and we're friends now, but I wasn't able to use the SOP as it was. In retrospect I should have just hired him to talk on the phone with me about various procedures. Ymmv of course.

One thing I've been doing instead of the traditional SOP is just making small, modular job templates. I find these to be more useful that a book of "spaghetti procedures." This might have something to do with my programming background, and appreciation of modular programming and functional programming. Anyway, it's worth a try making short, discreet templates for a few of the tasks you need to delegate. Then use those as a collection of job accountabilities for your helper. I also recommend building controls into these whenever possible to create a performance feedback loop... you'll thank yourself.
Very useful advice especially building controls. Will need time to think how this can be done.
 

Rabby

Silver Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Speedway Pass
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Aug 26, 2018
421
952
334
Florida
Jeff Hoffman and David Finkel have, I find, a pretty useful way of breaking down the idea of controls. Their book
Scale: Seven Proven Principals [...]
goes into it.

Also articles written by the authors give the short version.
 

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Logomet

Bronze Contributor
Dec 4, 2018
117
139
130
www.blooform.com
If you need any help with graphic design feel free to reach out. Would like to hear more directly from you.

In case you you want to check some of my work you can visit my website: www.blooform.com and Instagram at @blooform

I posted this as I already worked with many people from this forum and I had only a great experience so far!
 

AppleUnited

Contributor
Jan 26, 2019
39
41
99
If you need any help with graphic design feel free to reach out. Would like to hear more directly from you.

In case you you want to check some of my work you can visit my website: www.blooform.com and Instagram at @blooform

I posted this as I already worked with many people from this forum and I had only a great experience so far!
Sure. Thanks for dropping by and offer your service. Will check it out! :)
 

NC Bidniss

Bronze Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Mar 5, 2019
63
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For the accounting side of things, just hire a good CPA. Their office can handle everything from bookkeeping to tax accounting for you for a fee. Some people have mentioned hiring employees, but I think your idea of outsourcing gives you more freedom.
 

GoGetter24

Gold Contributor
Speedway Pass
Oct 8, 2017
571
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Various
1. Work out what you least like to do
2. Work out which of those things are the cheapest and/or most effective to outsource
3. Hit up online boards with "remote work opportunity", e.g. web development work: Ukraine university boards, customer service work: Philippines job boards, something only an American can do (quality / communication / language issues) list it on places like weworkremotely.
4. Read up on most effective ways to work with other people purely online, John O'Duinn's book on this is gold.

No office needed, your work pleasantness increases, your business starts to get some scalability, win win.

I can't figure out why they don't just own the company
Careful, it's probably crossed their mind too :D
 

AppleUnited

Contributor
Jan 26, 2019
39
41
99
Started reading "Scale" by Jeff Hoffman and David Finkel.

Here is an excerpt from the book. Will probably continue to post some interesting notes from the book here. Hopefully it can help someone as well.

The unfortunate reality is that most business owners build a job for themselves, not a business. The businesses they are creating are dependent on their showing up to run them, day in, day out. They have built what we call owner-reliant businesses, with long hours, no real freedom, and no defined exit strategy.
 

AppleUnited

Contributor
Jan 26, 2019
39
41
99
1. Work out what you least like to do
2. Work out which of those things are the cheapest and/or most effective to outsource
3. Hit up online boards with "remote work opportunity", e.g. web development work: Ukraine university boards, customer service work: Philippines job boards, something only an American can do (quality / communication / language issues) list it on places like weworkremotely.
4. Read up on most effective ways to work with other people purely online, John O'Duinn's book on this is gold.

No office needed, your work pleasantness increases, your business starts to get some scalability, win win.


Careful, it's probably crossed their mind too :D

Thanks for your advice. Is this the book you are referring to?

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07GB3CZVT/?tag=tff-amazonparser-20
 

GoGetter24

Gold Contributor
Speedway Pass
Oct 8, 2017
571
1,082
365
Various
That's the one.
Obviously don't expect it to go smoothly, just like anything else; will take a while to screen through someone who's a good match for both what you want and the style of work (remote).
 

AppleUnited

Contributor
Jan 26, 2019
39
41
99
That's the one.
Obviously don't expect it to go smoothly, just like anything else; will take a while to screen through someone who's a good match for both what you want and the style of work (remote).
Thanks for the recommendation! :)
 

Rabby

Silver Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Speedway Pass
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Aug 26, 2018
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Florida
Careful, it's probably crossed their mind too :D
Hahahahaa! Yes, but for some reason the idea scares a lot of people. Not comfortable with uncertainty maybe, or overwhelmed by the things that aren't taken care of by an employer (withholding, health insurance, etc). I always say if they start something on their own, I want the opportunity to invest.
 

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AppleUnited

Contributor
Jan 26, 2019
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99
Just sharing another quote from the book.

The goal of owning a business is not to be needed, but in fact the opposite: to build a business that doesn’t need you. When you reach the day when you can be away from the business for a period of time and no one calls or e-mails asking for your help, you’ve achieved your goal and have built the well-oiled, efficient machine that can continue to scale organically.
 

Rabby

Silver Contributor
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Speedway Pass
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Aug 26, 2018
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Great book isn't it? Jeff Hoffman is the keynote at an investor/startup summit in Miami this April. I'm double checking dates, and will attend if I don't have any conflicts.
 

AppleUnited

Contributor
Jan 26, 2019
39
41
99
Great book isn't it? Jeff Hoffman is the keynote at an investor/startup summit in Miami this April. I'm double checking dates, and will attend if I don't have any conflicts.
Yes, hopefully one day I can translate my business to level 3. :)
 

LinorCG

Business Building Warrior
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Feb 6, 2014
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Australia
I agree with the others, hire someone and hire asap. Create a guide, train, monitor and do checkpoints to see whether the person you hire is doing the work you want them to do.

@100k is right on with the SOP doc. It's a guide, you'll know you have a good hire if they start improving the SOP (suggesting more efficient and effective steps or procedures). ;)
 

AppleUnited

Contributor
Jan 26, 2019
39
41
99
@AppleUnited how goes the business building?
Sorry for the lack of updates and thanks for asking. Over the last few weeks, I hired 3 remote staff, only one (designer) managed to stay till now. The other 2 staff are unfortunately always missing from work, citing reasons like celebrating birthday for children, husband, etc. I am fine with taking time off for family matters but I would expect an advance notice rather than disappearing from work and explaining later. I probably will continue to look for new staff to work with me but it is a really tiring process to train them again.
 

AppleUnited

Contributor
Jan 26, 2019
39
41
99
@AppleUnited let me know if you are still interested in outsourcing. I work in recruiting and training, so I can set aside some time to discuss looking for someone for you, or else to even just kind of flesh out what you should be looking for in potential help.
Thank you very much! Will definitely seek your advice if I need more staff. :)
 

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