Outsourcing is a popular topic at the moment. This week, Pete and Dom talk about identifying tasks that can be outsourced, both in your own list of responsibilities and those of your staff, to improve
effectiveness and profitability in your business.
Action Step: Look at your business and identify jobs or tasks that you or your team could outsource. Don’t just look at whole projects, but look at the tasks that make up those projects.
Tech Tip: Investigate software and systems that may help you automate some of your business processes.
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Outsourcing – Mechanics Vs Core Business
Pete Williams: Welcome to this week’s episode of PreneurCast. As usual, I’m Pete Williams; and with me here is the Penn to my Teller, the Brad to my Angelina, Dom Goucher. How are you buddy?
Dom Goucher: I like the Penn to Teller. I do like Penn and Teller actually, the guys who give the mystery away behind how people pull off all those magic tricks. That’s kind of us really, isn’t it?
Pete: I do like that.
Pete: It could work, but I think I’m kind of running out of famous duos to use.
Dom: I’m kind of hoping you are, because Brad to Angelina is really reaching it now.
Pete: Have I done the Barbie to my Ken yet?
Dom: Yeah, you did that last week. I just whipped over that one and let it go.
Pete: I might have to get Flo to listen to the last few episodes and create a list for me so I can go through those ones and not use them again.
Dom: That’s an awesome segue into this week’s topic of outsourcing. That is really stretching outsourcing to the extreme, that one is.
Pete: Absolutely, absolutely. So how’s your week been? Been a good week?
Dom: It’s been busy, but I can’t say that it can possibly have been as busy as yours. I was thinking about this earlier; you just thrive on pressure, don’t you? You thrive on things like Ironman triathlon rather than the basic triathlon. Rather than maybe turning 30 this week, you thought, “You know, I’m going to stack it. So I’m going to turn 30, hey, why don’t I get married as well?”
Pete: Dude, seriously, this week is absolute bedlam. It’s just bonkers. Yeah, I turned 30 yesterday, which is very exciting. But it’s kind of definitely playing at a very second fiddle to the wedding which is coming up in a few days’ time, which itself is, yeah, stressful.
Dom: Well, why don’t we see if we can help by looking at this week’s topic of outsourcing?
Pete: Get somebody to stand in and do the wedding for us.
Dom: Or at least take your mind off it, yeah?
Pete: Yeah… No, it’s all good. All good. It’s very exciting times. There’s obviously a lot of stress that revolves around a wedding bash. Not so much stress for me, it’s more stress about my bride-to-be who’s stressing about the wedding. So somewhat removed stress, but it’s still stress nonetheless. So yes, outsourcing. Let’s distract my mind as you alluded to and we’ll get into today’s topic.
We’re talking outsourcing; but more importantly, what we spoke about last week that we were going to cover was this concept of ‘core versus mechanics,’ and a real distinction is probably a good term to use for this. I’ve done a number of interviews and webinars for friends and their communities over the last couple of months around outsourcing.
This has been the biggest distinction that I’ve had feedback on, which is really, really cool, and it’s something that I didn’t really plan to be a key part of the various interviews or conversations I had. But it seems to be the thing that stuck the most, so we thought we’d peel it out and talk a bit about it today on the show.
Dom: I have a lot of thoughts about the whole outsourcing thing. As you say, it’s that distinction between mechanics and core business. That, I think, is what most people have trouble with. I think if you can put your finger on that, and hopefully we’re going to delve into what those two terms mean before we kick off; if you can put your finger on that, it makes a huge difference to your ability to outsource, but also just the way you look at your business.
Pete: Yeah, absolutely. This applies to whether you’re an online, internet marketer or a real-world telco company. I’ve definitely applied this in my businesses and I’ve applied the way that works and that concept through ‘the way we outsource,’ is probably a good way of putting it.
Dom: Yeah. And before we do get into definitions and really kick off on this episode, I just want to be clear for anyone who’s thinking of switching off four minutes into the show, we’re talking about outsourcing in the most generic term; in the terms of getting somebody else to do the things that are not core business so that you can focus on core business.
We’re not just talking about the current trend in the internet marketing or online marketing world of getting somebody in country of random denomination to build a website or sales page for you, or do something else online of possibly questionable origin. This is a generic thing that is applicable to all businesses, and that’s really what’s important here. What we’re going to talk about is for everybody, and it’s a way of looking at your business, not just a way of getting a website built. I just wanted to clear that one up before we kick off.
Pete: Absolutely. And we’ll use some internet marketing examples because I know a lot of examples is that way inclined, shall we say. But there’s also plenty of people in here who have real-world businesses that listen to the show. So we’ll definitely use some examples that I’ve taken from my telecommunications company and the various sorts of business units under that, and how I’ve applied this methodology to that, too.
Dom: Sure. Just because I said it isn’t about internet marketing, there’s a lot of things to be done online even if you’re a brick-and-mortar business and you might not have the skill, which is one of those basic things that cause you to try and outsource something; so it’s definitely applicable. Let’s get into this definition of mechanic versus core. Let’s define what we’re talking about first before we look at all these examples because I just want to make sure everybody’s clear on where we’re going with this.
Pete: Yeah, yeah. Absolutely. The core and mechanics can be applied to an umbrella-type look or a helicopter view, as well as a very granular view; and we can definitely delve into some granular-type scenarios. Obviously, at a very high level, if you take The E-Myth-style approach; let’s say for example you are someone who’s got tools. You’re a plumber, you’re a roof tiler, you’re a graphic designer.
You’re someone who has a core skill set, and that’s what you’d love to do. So when you actually start a business, you should be looking at doing the stuff you love. Hopefully, as a business owner or entrepreneur, the thing you love is marketing and sales and that sort of stuff. But let’s say you want to start a business where you want to be a baker, and all you want to do is bake bread all day and make beautiful cakes.
Well, in order for that business to thrive, you have to worry – or someone has to worry, about the marketing, about the sales, about the HR. If all you want to be in your core for you is to do the cake-making, then you can actually outsource or find someone else to do the other elements of the business. That’s a very high-level E-Myth approach to this.
I guess a different way of looking at it, is that if you are an entrepreneur and you like the sales and marketing things, then everything else in your business – in my opinion, if you’re a real entrepreneur at heart; the mechanics of that, the delivery of the service, the bookkeeping, all that sort of stuff, just the mechanical tasks that need to actually happen to allow you to have a before and after unit.
If you’re familiar with the work that they talk about on I Love Marketing podcast; Dean Jackson speaks this quite a lot, he has the ‘before,’ ‘during’ and ‘after’ unit. The before unit is the sales and the marketing that you do before you actually produce or provide the service. The during unit is obviously the providing of the service or delivery of the product. And then the after unit is obviously the backend upselling, cross-selling stuff that you’re going to be doing.
From that perspective, if you look at it, the mechanical part of the business is the during unit. You want to try and systemize that, or outsource that, or get staff to do that for you so you don’t worry about delivering the service, you’re worrying about all the marketing and the sales. Another way of looking at it, as I’ve alluded to before, is the bookkeeping.
That’s something that as an entrepreneur you shouldn’t have to do. You should keep your eye on the numbers of the business, there’s no question about that; you should be focused on the financials. But during the entering of the accounts payable invoices, that is a mechanical kind of task where there’s no value being added. Is that a fair, high-level introduction, Dom. You know a bit about this concept. We’ve spoken about this before.
Dom: Yeah. I ‘m just going to try and put in a few other examples or just tweak your examples just to make sure everybody’s clear, and then I want to go towards why this is important. Because you did talk about a little bit there, but it’s important to talk about why it’s important to make this definition and this distinction. The E-Myth, and we’ve joked about how much I like that book and how many times we’ve read it, but The E-Myth is kind of one of the core texts on this.
It’s definitely worth going and reading it through. And obviously I’ll refer to one of our sponsors later about a good way of catching up on that. But mechanics, to me, as various examples you’ve given, mechanics are anything that’s repeatable. Anything that you can write down about how to do in a sequence of events is potentially mechanics. And this is something that I’ve struggled with in my own businesses myself, defining something as being mechanics versus having some element of creativity.
But it is about defining that core business. If you are the baker and you want to run a bakery, then a good delineation there is that there’s a degree of skill that you’ve developed over the years to bake the things you bake, the cakes and pastries and things; and there is a degree of creativity to it as well to develop new product ideas. But that’s the thing that needs you and your skill and your knowledge.
But it doesn’t need you and your skill and your knowledge to put those things on the shelves, to make sure the shelves are stocked, to make sure the shop is clean, to serve the customers, to be on the till, to manage the money that’s in the till, to count up at the end of the night, or any of those things. Those are, in a bakery, those would be the mechanics.
Those would be the things that you could define a set of standards for in a sequence of protocols or just a checklist of things to do, because we like our checklists and frameworks, and then leave it to somebody else. And this is why I said at the beginning that – we talk about outsourcing, but other people would just look at what I described as hiring somebody to do the job, hiring staff.
It’s the same principle that where we’re going with this, is that we’re looking for places where somebody else other than you can do those mechanical tasks so that you can get on with the thing that actually adds the value to the business. And I think that’s it really, isn’t it, the difference between core business and mechanics.
Core business is the thing that makes the business the business; that is, the product that makes you and your service or product unique, and that grows the business as well; things that, as you said, marketing ideas and coming up with things like that. So that, to me, is a distinction between core and mechanics. Very flippantly, if somebody else can do it, it’s probably mechanics. If only you can do it, it’s probably core business.
Pete: Absolutely. And I think that’s a beautiful, articulate way of describing that. And if we get a bit more granular with it, like something to give you a bit of an idea of how we’ve applied this to our business, we’ve actually applied it directly to outsourcing. We obviously have a lot of transactions going through our business, in the telco business anyway. Because under that, we have a number of e-commerce sites and a number of purchasers and sales, and stuff going through that business.
We looked at and reassessed this recently and we found that there is obviously a lot of very mechanical tasks being done and that our system requires us to credit purchase orders when we actually purchase goods to be drop-shipped to a client or be sent to our warehouses and stuff like that; and the entering of the accounts payable invoice is very, very basic. It’s very mechanical.
Does the purchase order match the purchase, or does the invoice match the purchase order? Yes? OK, entering in. No? Well, escalate it to actually be reviewed. What we’ve done is we’ve given access to our accounting system with limited obvious restrictions to one of our Filipino team who now have an email account that receives all our purchase orders and more importantly, all our accounts payable invoices from our suppliers.
And then she goes and actually enters them in when they match a purchase order. The ones that don’t match a purchase order get escalated back to office here in Australia to be looked at, reviewed, and then assessed on an individual basis. So they’ve been outsourced, the real load of mechanical parts, that accounts payable process.
And even to the point that there’s other things that are being done that are very, very mechanical, that the email gets sent from our team in the Philippines, whether it’s an order or a receipt or whatever it might be, a copy of an invoice for example, but we’ve set up this system so the replies to that email address come into our office in Melbourne. So all of the actual outbound low-level mechanical stuff that’s being done from our accounts team which is simply rinse-and-repeat, follow the process, hit a button-type process happens offshore.
But all the replies come back into our team here in Australia to actually be dealt with with some knowledge, some expertise, some understanding, and obviously then addressed with the client. It’s a great, very low-level granular example of how you can apply the core versus mechanics approach; not just to you as an entrepreneur, but to your team and your individual business units and divisions of processes.
Dom: You know, there’s two things you said there that I want to pick up on. One of them is a tiny digression, but it’s relevant; and the other one is absolutely core to what we’re talking about. The first one is you mentioned that you use a team of Filipino outsourcers. And I just want to flag that one to people listening who kind of aren’t in the big business of outsourcing, and you’re using a principle there that you and Dave Jenyns talked about in the past called geo-arbitrage.
It’s where, because of the exchange rates and things like that, you’re actually able to pay somebody what in their currency is a very good wage. You’re able, because of the exchange rates. It’s very economically viable for you to hire them. It’s cost-effective – sorry, for you to hire them because of the exchange rate. So you’re actually giving a good wage and a good job to somebody who is in a different country.
But because of the exchange rate, it is very cost-effective for your business and you’re taking those tasks, to bring us back online with what we’re talking about, you’re taking those more mechanical tasks and you’re putting that work out, potentially because that person isn’t to be trained to the same high level; because they’re not inside your organization, but they are able to follow these mechanical tasks.
Now just to map that to what we’re talking about, and map that to any business. A lot of mechanics don’t necessarily need to be outsourced as in a new person is hired or a person overseas is found to do it. It can literally just be that you look at it and go, “This doesn’t have to be me doing this. Somebody else in my organization can perhaps add one more step to their checklist and save me a lot of work.” Yeah?
Pete: Or you could actually get a product, a tool, a service to do it for you as well. There’s that idea that applies here as well.
Dom: Absolutely. And that was my second point – and this is brilliant because it is exactly what I was going to say, you mentioned systems; and there are now an infinite number of things out there. You don’t have to commission specialized software, which is what in previous years people have done. The success of big, big, big businesses like SAP, the multinational world-dominating customer resource management behemoth that it is, grew up because people went, “This is mechanics, I don’t want to do this.
My purchase orders don’t match my sales ledger, I want a computer to work that out for me and tell me.” And that’s how they grew. But these days, it could be as simple as having a Google Doc that’s shared between you and your team that people can just tick a box in, and that communication and that process can be improved massively. Or, you can look for a piece of software on your computer or an online service that handles this, as you say.
But it’s a system, whether it’s a software system or a checklist, or any of those things that can be a form of transferring the mechanics away from you over to somebody else, or another system, another service. It’s a way of getting the mechanics off your plate, which is really what we’re talking about. The core of this is getting the mechanics off your plate so that you can get on with core business. Yeah?
Pete: Yeah, absolutely. And what I’d love to do is give an example that relates more to internet marketing. So it’ll obviously be relevant to that part of the audience that listens to the show, but it’ll actually show you how it can help break up a task itself into core-mechanics. Not only do you break up tasks from core tasks to mechanical tasks, but there may actually be a task itself that can be broken up into individual action steps where some of it’s core and some of it’s mechanics.
An example I shared recently when I was a guest speaker at Ed Dale’s recent platinum mastermind event that he ran here in Melbourne last week, I came in and spent a bit of time doing a session and stuff with some of his platinum members, which went really, really, well. We discussed and had a conversation around this point. An example that I used that really made sense to the audience there was this conversation around forum posting.
Now, if you’re an internet marketer or even if you’re not an internet marketer and just an entrepreneur; you kind of understand if you’re in an online marketing space and the whole idea of being an online internet marketer is to somewhat be a market leader or a market maker in that you make the conversation and you lead the conversation in a particular niche. So a core part of that as a job description, so to speak, is obviously going into forums quite regularly and being active and adding to the conversation.
Most people, when they look at that, they think that’s something that has to be done by them because it’s their voice in the forum writing the comments. They can’t outsource any forum posting or any element of forum posting because if they get someone else to do it, it’s not going to be in their voice. It might not be consistent to their message and their voice. And that’s very, very true. But if you look at the actual action steps that make up forum posting and you break that down, you actually see there’s some core and some mechanical steps that are involved with doing forum posting.
For example, the first part of when you actually go to do forum posting as an activity is you log in to a forum and you get distracted for 45 minutes while you try and find three or four threads or conversations that are happening on that forum that are relevant to you, your expertise, your niche. That’s what is the very first step of doing forum processing, trying to find some threads that you want to contribute to.
The second part or the second step to that, we break it down, is to think and formulate a response to the thread or to the question being asked by the original poster who’s actually posed in the forum. Then the third action step that makes up forum posting is to physically enter in that response, articulately, into the forum, and submit it to the forum. That’s fundamentally the three action steps that you go through to do forum posting. Is that pretty clear?
Pete: So if you look at those three steps; let’s actually break them down and see what is actually core as an internet marketer or a market leader, and what is actually mechanical that could technically be outsourced or leveraged is probably even a better term to use. Now, if we break it down and think about it, obviously, the topics of expertise that I might want to talk about in a particular forum can be broken down into keywords and phrases and topics.
I could easily write down that these are the four or five topics that I know about, I can contribute, I’ve had some experience with. That’s pretty straightforward. So realistically, trolling through or sifting through a forum to try and find four or five recent threads that relate to my topics is pretty easy, so I can get an outsource team member to do that.
If I give them a list of the four or five forums that I want to be proactive in, and the four or five topics or keywords that I want to actually comment on and contribute to, they could literally spend that 45 minutes that I referred to earlier and go through the forum and find the Top 5, 6, 7 or 8 threads from that day that relate to my area of expertise. Does that make sense?
Dom: Yeah. I’ve got a plus to that, but I’ll let you go on because this is a great example.
Pete: So fundamentally, I’ve been able to actually – that element when you shine a light on it and look at it in isolation, is very mechanical. Yes, you do it yourself. But realistically, the actual action steps to find the threads or at least isolate and sift through the threads is very, very mechanics. If my outsourcer can do that for me and then simply email me at the end of the day or the start of the day or whenever that might be, “Here is the Top 8 threads that are relevant to you today,” that’d save me a heck of a lot of time.
It’d save me getting distracted, first and foremost, and it’d save me wasting time reading threads that are completely irrelevant to me and my area of expertise. So they’ve done that; it’s very, very mechanical. I can then look at those four or five threads that’s digested, think and come up with a response to each of those threads, and hypothetically record an audio response to each one of those threads, open up Jing Project for example or Screener or some sort of audio recording device.
And just while it’s on my screen there, look at the forum thread, the questions being asked, the discussion that’s being had today, and just talk my response back into a microphone because that’s the core element of the forum posting. If you break it all down, the core of it is, for me as a market leader, is contributing my experience and what I’ve learned and what I’ve found into the thread and into some advice back to the person who’s asked a question or contributing, adding value to the conversation.
That’s the core of it, and that’s my voice. But then if I give those audio recordings to an outsource team member who can then transcribe what I said, clean it up, make it articulate without losing the voice or the core message, and then do the posting of that response back into the thread, that again is mechanical. The actual typing of the words and the submission into the thread is the mechanical element. The core was my personal response, my take on the conversation. That’s the core. The before and after of that is very mechanical, so I can easily outsource that.
So that’s probably a good example that really is very easy to understand, where you look at an exact task. That on the face of it, you can’t outsource or leverage forum posting because to do that, you outsource and leverage the entire process to somebody who’s going to start posting in your name, but not with your voice or expertise. Whereas, if you break it down to the actual physical actionable steps that it takes to do the task, you can then look at which actions are mechanical and which actions are not mechanical.
Dom: Brilliant, absolutely brilliant. I love that because that is, I think, the biggest challenge in all of this. When you look at the whole thing as a task, you are overwhelmingly directed towards it being something that you have to do because there’s an element of it that’s uniquely you, that has your voice, your expertise in it. But if you stand back and break it down, you can see that not only are there mechanical tasks in it, but they’re also the parts of the overall thing that are going to take the most time.
What was in the forefront of my mind as you talked about that is being able to break down what in the Getting Things Done world is called a project. See, if you look at it as a single point task, then it becomes something that you have to do because it’s unique to you. But if you are able to stand back and say it’s actually a project that’s made up of a series of tasks, then you can start identifying each step and identifying the parts that are mechanic.
I do recommend reading the Getting Things Done book for the chapter that they have in there, which is fantastic, on taking something and breaking it down, just finding something that’s a project and breaking it down into its tasks. There’s a great little process in there for doing that, and that’s core to this because, as you say, trolling the forums and looking for posts and threads that are relevant to your business can be outsourced. It can also even be automated to a point, if you’ve got the right technology set-up.
And it’s not complicated. You can use something like Google Alerts or Google Reader, which is technology that we can talk about another day. But that’s a system that can literally sit there watching the internet for new things to appear, and send you an email at the end of the day or the end of the week with a list of opportunities. Yes, you could very quickly without any involvement in technology just give a list of keywords to your outsource team and ask them to go look in your favorite places.
And the other thing that struck me about this is that nothing that we’re talking about is actually new, and I think this is a big thing for me. If you’re involved in the online marketing, internet marketing space, the last couple of years have been full of and are still full of people telling you, you need to outsource, you need to outsource, you need to outsource.
But for years, decades, people like lawyers – lawyers don’t write up their own client letters. They have little Dictaphones. In fact, the Dictaphone companies are kept in business by lawyers who sit there at their desk with the client file with some illegible scribbled notes in it with the Dictaphone and they just talk out their letter, and they have transcribers. It might be a secretary; it might be a professional transcription service.
But they don’t type. They can’t type, they just talk into this thing because their time is valuable. These guys bill by the 15-minute segment; their time is that valuable. So they’re not going to use up anymore than they have to of their own time doing the mechanics. They have identified what was mechanics in their business years and years and years ago, probably before the internet was even thought of, and have been doing this that way.
Similarly, I know that some people for many years have used press clipping services where somebody’s paid to scour what was the newspapers, back in the day, and every day they’re presented with a file that literally somebody has cut, in years gone by, somebody has literally cut out the articles that were of interest to this person and present them to them. So these people don’t have to A: pick up the newspaper, B: look in the newspaper to find out what might be interesting, and then C: find all the parts of that article, put it all together, before they can start reading.
So even though it’s an incredibly simple example, your example is great for its kind of complexity or the overall project that’s broken down into tasks. But there’s examples and opportunities everywhere in every business where even the action of looking for something is mechanics. Just looking for an opportunity, looking for somewhere to advertise, looking for a forum post to respond to, looking for people on Twitter that are talking about the things you were talking about that you might want to have a conversation with.
Another thing that I know that you have done in the past is looking for people to interview on a topic. These are all mechanical tasks that somebody else can do if you can just give them enough guidance and the timesaving just by doing that then feeds into you as the person who gives the content. I love the add-on though; I wasn’t expecting that, the add-on where you record your response in some kind of audio device and then you get that transcribed.
And that’s how you get the post theoretically done. I love that, I know you do that with your email, which saves you ages. Even myself, I consider myself quite a swift typist, it’s always easier for me to record an audio or a video response to somebody. So I think that’s a great add-on as well.
Pete: It’s Bill Gates’ fault for making Word with spell-check because I decided not to learn how to spell in high school.
Dom: And this is another point, this is quite important. You say that you’re happy to give an audio file with your response on it to an outsourcer and for them to post on the forum. A lot of people would panic at that point because they think, “Well, what if somebody puts the comma in the wrong place, or wrong capitalization?” People get really hung up on this stuff, and that’s not core.
Your message, your voice, your knowledge, your response, is core. Trust me, just look anywhere on the internet. I mean, OK, in terms of business publications, I would have a different opinion on this; and at that point, you make sure that the person doing this has good English skills, possibly better than you, which in your case isn’t difficult.
Dom: Ooh, got that one in. Seriously though, the volume of information on the internet and the places on the internet, I was looking at one of my rare forays into Facebook. One of my friends copied somebody’s post, and there was something like seven ridiculously bad spelling errors in it and grammatical and everything else, but the message was still there. Now, I’m not condoning that. As a business opportunity, you put things out that are so badly spelled that they look like an uneducated teenager has written it.
But there’s a lot of leeway in that that you don’t need to worry about to quite that level. And by the way, it’s also quite possible to find somebody who really seriously does have better English than you to do this stuff. Everybody’s challenged by rogue commas and quote marks in their business writing, and there are people out there that are actually good at this stuff.
Pete: And that’s the key distinction, is that there’s always going to be mechanical parts of every task, and you don’t worry too much about the mechanical side of things. Yes, they might not be perfect, but what’s the overall outcome I’m trying to achieve here?
Dom: Yeah. I mean, I’ve got my little quips and phrases and one of my favorite phrases to my clients is, “Done is better than none.”
Pete: Yeah. Couldn’t agree more.
Dom: And that is sometimes what we’re talking about; and this is, I think, just to come back to the regular business about the online world, it is that “Done is better than none” is one of the best reasons to look into outsourcing or out-tasking as you have the distinction in some of the work that you’ve done. But in finding somebody else to do something for you, whether it’s a point task or an ongoing task, if you’re not talking on forums because you haven’t got the time to find the post and threads to talk on in the first place, then isn’t it better to implement your system, Pete?
To have somebody go find the opportunities, even just write one or two posts a week, and you do it yourself, than have no voice out there. You don’t have to go to the whole hog and get somebody to write it for you or audio recording or whatever; but put something out there. Similarly, on the front of websites, there are a million and one businesses out there that are still driving around with the side of their van with BillyTwiggy74@hotmail.com as their only form of online contact because they’re scared to death of getting a website built or that they can’t get a website built to the standard that they want or any of that stuff.
With the advent of things like WordPress and things like that, you can find somebody in the various outsourcing worlds and freelance listings sites that will get something up there, literally your website with your phone number written across the middle of it and the name of your company, rather than your logo which can sometimes not have the name of your company in it, which always makes me laugh.
But literally, a page on the internet with your name and your phone number and other contact details is something that can be found by the search engines and therefore by a potential client. It doesn’t have to be more complicated than that, and you can always find somebody to do it. You don’t have to get involved, you don’t have to sit there and decide on XYZ, “Do I need this?” I’m not going to even bother going into the technologies of it, but done is better than none. And outsourcing, finding somebody with a point skill to get it done sometimes can make a big difference to your business.
Pete: Absolutely. And I think the key takeaway here is to look at all the different areas of your business to start with, and work out what areas of the business you’re working on that aren’t core to what you should be doing, and getting those off your plate as quickly as possible. Then once you’ve done that, look at each of those tasks, the tasks you’re still doing or the tasks that you’re delegating to other staff members, and break down the actual actions they go through to get the result of that task, and see what elements of their actions are mechanical.
That account example that I gave at the top of this show where what we’ve done is we’ve actually broken down some of the roles and the actions that our internal account people did, and we were able to find some of the stuff they were doing was very, very mechanical. So we were able to take that off their plate, give that to a team member in the Philippines, which means that now our accounting team either A: can work less hours, which is obviously better for cashflow, or B: spend more time value-adding to the financial side of the business as opposed to sitting there just punching in accounts payable invoices or doing some of the low-level mechanical tasks.
Yes, we want to make sure that they’re getting the responses from clients and all the actual responses are being dealt with internally; but the actual physical delivery of the invoice or the accounts payable invoice, whatever it might be like that, very, very mechanical. We were able to outsource that extremely quickly.
Dom: See, I really love that little wrap up that you did there because your raised two very important things, one of which somebody might have thought about and the other one I pretty much bet that they haven’t. The first one is that another word for what we’re talking about is delegation. It is getting it off your plate and giving it to somebody else, which is a core tenet of business. Delegating is really, really important for you to be able to spend your time focusing on the core business.
But the other thing and what I really like about that example is exactly what you said, that it’s not something that you did that you analyzed from mechanics and processes to improve it, it was a process somewhere in your business, one that pretty much many years ago you’d already delegated to your accounts team. And I think that anybody thinks that their time is currently, “I’m super efficient, my time’s super allocated, I delegate everything.”
Job’s a good ’un, as we would say. There’s still an opportunity to look at the processes of your team or to get your team to look at their processes to educate and support your team in looking at their processes, to see if they can improve that part of your business. Because this goes all of the way down the tree, it doesn’t have to just be you in your time.
It could be the people that work for you, your team, your accountants, your bookkeepers, your production staff; whoever it is, there’s always room for improvement and to identify these points of mechanics. So that’s why I really like that example, because it shows it again in that slightly different light. It’s not just you handing a task off to somebody and walking away to have more time to do something else, it’s actually improving the whole business.
Pete: Exactly right, that’s what it’s all about. So the key thing is to look at every task and process and really break it down by actions, list the actual actions in their verb state, and then mark them as mechanical, core, mechanical, core, core, core, mechanical, mechanical, whatever it might be. And then you might be able to find some leverage points in your business. Because anytime you see a mechanical action, that could be a leverage point.
Dom: Yeah, and the other point you made about just focusing on the leverage term there, the other point you made is it’s not all about saving you or your staff time or effort, necessarily; there can be cost benefits to this as well.
Dom: And therefore, it’s got that other aspect to it from your business. And we’re all the way back to the 7 Levers of Business and the profitability of your business at the end of the day. Really, it’s a great example that wraps all that up as one. Now, we’ve talked a lot, we talked about a couple of things. At the beginning, we talked about The E-Myth, which is a great example of identifying mechanics in a business and how you handle outsourcing, delegating those mechanics, and I talked about the Getting Things Done book.
So I think this is a great point to wrap up after that action step with our sponsors. Again, I’m going to try and not to be too corporate, but that was a bit of a slick segue. We’ve still got our two great sponsors, which are really in keeping with the ethics of the show, the first one – and this is great for anybody who hasn’t read either The E-Myth or Getting Things Done – is Read It For Me.
Now, Read It For Me is a great book review and overview service, and it’s important to make that distinction. If you go to ReadItFor.Me/PreneurCast, you can see a video that Pete and I made of the inside of the Read It For Me service, where you can see an example of the fantastic multimedia book reviews that are produced by Steve and the team.
And these are brilliant insights into the book, but they’re also great reviews of the book. Even if you’ve read it already, they’re a great memory aid that you can take away with you to remind you of the core points that are in those books. So, ReadItFor.Me/PreneurCast. You’ll also, if you go to that address, get a discount on your membership if you follow that link. So I highly recommend that.
Both Pete and I use Read It For Me all the time to get an idea of new books or books that we haven’t read in the business and personal development space. But also, I use it personally as a reminder. It saves me picking the book up if I haven’t made my own notes; they’re a great set of notes to key off of. And our second sponsor is Audible, the audiobook company. And they have a library – what is it, 100,000 books or so?
Pete: Over 100,000 books.
Dom: Over 100,000 books.
Pete: And they’re already adding close to 15 or 20 new titles a week, at minimum.
Dom: Yeah. They have a huge library of books in audio format, which means that you can listen to the whole book, usually unabridged – no bits taken out, for those of you who wonder what unabridged means. Usually unabridged, the whole book, sometimes even read by the author, which I find quite entertaining, or read by interesting people with good voice, which is a great way to consume content while you’re busy doing something else like cycling to and from the office like I do, or if you do a lot of commuting or whatever.
So, if you go to AudibleTrial.com/PreneurCast, you again can get a free trial and in that trial is a free coupon to download one of their audiobooks. So you can really give their service a go and download the file, play it back on your computer or your portable audio device, non-denominational. But those are two great sponsors, both in keeping with our goal of getting knowledge out there and consuming it in the most efficient way. I’m making the most of that knowledge. So we’re really grateful to both Read It For Me and Audible for the sponsorship and for helping our listeners out with a little bit of a discount there.
Dom: Now, Pete, we talked about the action step, which is great. Normally, we also talk about next week’s show. Now, I’m going to give you a little bit of an out here because as we’ve already discussed, you’re, well, you’ve just had your 30th birthday. You’re getting married at the weekend. And you’re normally good enough to kind of even call in when you’re on holiday, from the poolside. But I think on your honeymoon, that’s pushing it a bit.
So, we’re going to try and prerecord a show, let’s put our hand up and tell everybody. We’re going to try and prerecord a show. We’ve got a couple of things we want to talk about and I know you’re dedicated to the podcast and you want to make sure that you get your voice out there every week, and we do our best for that, and you certainly do, poolside or otherwise. But it may end up being a bit of a mystery grab bag if the challenges of getting married overwhelm you this week. So let’s leave it at that, shall we?
Pete: Sounds good. Well, we’ll catch you in the next episode of PreneurCast. Maybe not next week, but the next episode.
Dom: I’ll be here, whether Pete is or not. So see you next week, folks.
Pete: Talk to you then.
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