Profit Factory https://www.profitfactory.com Systemize Your Virtual Business Fri, 17 Aug 2018 21:30:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 100+ Tasks You Can Delegate https://www.profitfactory.com/100tasks/ https://www.profitfactory.com/100tasks/#respond Thu, 11 Feb 2016 02:04:05 +0000 http://www.profitfactory.com/?p=2698 I asked my Assistant Sarah to come up with a list of 100+ tasks she’s done for me.

Too often Entrepreneurs LOVE the idea of a great Assistant, but then get stumped when it comes to actually delegating.

Pretty tough to have an Assistant take over the bottom-80% of your workload, AND babysit those 317 projects you started last quarter, when you can’t even define the first five.

GOOD NEWS: Sarah and I have a shortcut for you…

Tasks to Delegate

Sarah’s overall list of 100+ tasks was huge and required a PDF.

So I’ve included the first 20-30 below, and if you want the rest, just throw your name and email into the box below and we’ll email you the 100+ BEAST.

OK, here we go…

1. Email Inbox

For over a year Sarah’s been handling this for me.  I’m amazed with how FREE I feel.  It was excruciating to hand over the keys to the kingdom, but now I realize how silly I was being.  Now I wish I woulda done it years earlier.

Sarah handles:

  • read all incoming email to delete junk / unsubscribe
  • tag crucial Tim-only emails for me to review and reply
  • catch interview requests and schedule quickly
  • setup meetings for $500/hr clients, Kolbe Consults and other clients
  • handle customer service questions
  • setup new filters / labels / tags for new contacts
  • triage and forward emails to other team members if task / response is their responsibility instead

2. Creating Systems

Intellectually, you know your business needs systems, procedures, checklists.  But anytime you’ve tried to start, it’s been excruciating and a waste of time.  Good news: the right Assistant thrives on this kind of thing!

Sarah handles:

  • Writing procedures according to our in-house method
  • Organizing procedures properly inside Google Drive and Teamwork
  • Ensuring files get named to our protocol, then filed to the proper location in our online storage (we use Egnyte, not Dropbox)
  • Researching and testing new software for use in day-to-day operations

3. Infusionsoft

Most Business Owners have a love-hate relationship with Infusionsoft.  It’s powerful, BUT it’s got a steep learning curve that takes time to learn.  It’s expensive.  And if you have to hire someone to build and manage it for you, it’s gonna be $40/hr or more.  But not anymore, Assistant to the rescue!

Sarah handles:

  • Add a contact
  • Create tags specific to each category
  • Create invoice(s)
  • Setup products and order forms
  • Setup campaigns and sequences in Campaign Builder
  • Create & format emails for sequences and broadcasts
  • Schedule broadcasts
  • Process credit cards
  • Update mailing addresses
  • Update credit card information
  • Process refunds
  • Keep track of accounts receivable & run reports for the same
  • Test shopping cart
  • …and she could easily handle the affiliate module if I needed her to

As you can see, Sarah isn’t establishing the overarching strategy.

Our marketing Manager and I still handle overall strategy, then Sarah takes that vision and builds it out in Infusion.

You’ll also notice Sarah isn’t trained on 100% of Infusion.

But that’s totally OK!

There’s really only about 3-4 tasks that make up 80% of Infusion work (probably: add a contact, setup a sequence, send an email broadcast).  So Sarah started with just that.

Then, as time went on, she picked up more and more skills on the fly.  Now she can handle around 80% of Infusion, and virtually never gets stumped.

Many, Many Other Areas

That’s all just the tip of the iceberg.

Sarah’s list of 100+ tasks also includes:

  • Managing My Calendar: she handles all the details, back-and-forth, etc, to make sure ol’ TF runs like a Swiss watch.  (5 tasks)
  • Website / WordPress: from making little udpates here and there, embedding opt-in forms, tracking codes, pixels, etc, it’s all Sarah now.  I log into WordPress only when it’s time for me to post a blog post.  (9 tasks)
  • Hiring & Onboarding: sifting and sorting applicants, taking them through pre-interview assessments so only the best make it through to me.  Once new team members hired, Sarah also takes them through our in-house onboarding process. (7 tasks)
  • YouTube & Podcast: having your own show or channel is great fun.  Until you have to do all the editing, uploading, etc.  Within a few episodes, it all feels like work once again.  I get to focus on sharing my message, then I move on to something else.  Sarah then takes care of publishing it all to our standards.  (4 tasks)
  • Invoicing: having clients can be really lucrative, as long as you can focus on consulting.  The black hole of paperwork, agreements, invoicing, etc, can be the bane of a consultant’s existence.  Sarah makes it all easy.  I haven’t processed a credit card manually in years now. (4 tasks)

OK… this is getting really long.  I’ll summarize even more tightly:

  • Client Care & Customer Service (3 tasks)
  • Kolbe Test Requests (5 tasks)
  • My Travel (5 tasks)
  • In-Office Paperwork (2 tasks)
  • Members Area (5 tasks)
  • Facebook Ads & Google Ads (3 tasks each)
  • Webinars (4 tasks)
  • Dinner Parties (5 tasks)
  • Event Planning (15 tasks)
  • Personal (6 tasks)

The BEAST: Full List of 100+ Tasks

If you’d like to see the full, 100+ list of tasks (in PDF), throw your name and email in here and we’ll send it to you right away…

Hope that helps!

Tim :)

 

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7 Steps to Email Freedom https://www.profitfactory.com/emailfreedom/ https://www.profitfactory.com/emailfreedom/#comments Thu, 28 Jan 2016 11:09:32 +0000 http://www.profitfactory.com/?p=2667 Email is a massive drain on productivity for Entrepreneurs.  It’s time to fight back!

Below I share how I’ve cracked the code and now enjoy phenomenal email freedom.

I’ve helped other entrepreneurs do the same, including a few famous guys including Andrew Warner, founder of Mixergy.com:

“Tim finally solved my email inbox. I’ve tried everything else – helpdesk software, shutting off email with an autoresponder (people were really pissed), and I considered secret second email inboxes and none of it worked. Until I used Tim’s advice, and now I’m finally free.” – Andrew Warner

Here’s what I told Andrew…

7 Steps to Email Freedom

1. Trust Your Assistant

First, you must trust your Assistant.

You *do* have an Assistant, right?  They’re more affordable than you think.

Trust takes time. Wouldn’t make it the first task I delegated to a new Assistant; in fact, I’d probably wait 6-12 months, *and* do a criminal record check, *and* references, *and* sign a confidentiality agreement.

This is one of the reasons I only hire USA / CAN Executive Assistants – the laws are similar, and the legal systems are too. And I could hunt someone down if I really needed to.

Also, make sure you’re using Google Apps / Gmail. If you aren’t, switch over immediately – you are extremely late to the party. Every day you aren’t on Google Apps, you are missing out on a massive productivity jump. Ditch Outlook, your PC, and 1995… it’s time for Google Apps.

2. Mass Unsubscribe

Run Unroll.me to get rid of 95% of email subscriptions (except from: Ryan Levesque of course!). There’s no sense making your Assistant repeatedly delete unwanted emails. As many outsourcing experts say, “ELIMINATE – Automate – Delegate.” Eliminate as many recurring emails as you can before handing over to Assistant. If you’re worried about privacy, immediately unsubscribe from Unroll.me afterwards.

3. Create Private, “! – Tim Review” Label

In Gmail / Google Apps, create a “! – Tim Review” label. The “!” makes it appear at the top of your list of labels. This is the one label your Assistant can never-ever click on. They could if they wanted to, but they won’t because they’ve promised they won’t click on it, and you trust them. **This is the one leap of faith in my system. But if you trust your Assistant (see above), the leap won’t feel as big.**

4. Filters for Loved Ones ONLY

Personally create filters for your loved ones. And perhaps a lawyer or accountant. Filter their messages directly to your “! – Tim Review” label.

But no one else gets the full-filter treatment, not even your most A+ clients, peers, associates who pay you big bucks or have big influence.

This is because you can actually give *better* service to your A+ clients, associates, friends, if you have the team approach (you + Assistant) to your inbox. Sometimes when $500/hr clients have written me with something simple (e.g. scheduling, getting a file from me), Sarah will intervene to get them an appointment (or whatever) as fast as humanly possible.

5. Hand Over Root Access

Handover root access – username and password – to your most basic email account.

NO SECRET EMAIL ACCOUNTS: it sounds fun and effective in the short-term, but sooner or later word gets out and it all falls apart, and you’re back at square one. Take the leap and give your most root-level, ground-zero, no-other-places-to-hide email account.

NOTE: this was a brutal, painful moment-of-truth for me. Sarah had to pry my email inbox out of my hands. You’d swear I was a crack addict clucthing to the last piece o’ rock in the county. Expect this to be difficult and painful. I hope you are pleasantly surprised, and I want to tell it to you straight, it could be emotional.

Looking back, though, my blinding fear was truly ridiculous and childish. Now I wish I would have made the jump years earlier. You’ll feel the same way.

6. Coach Your Assistant for a Week

Look over your Assistants shoulder for a 4-5 sessions of 45-60 mins each. Coach them on how to file away messages, and how to answer on your behalf.

You’ll be amazed by session 4 or 5 when they’re really starting to pick it up. Within a week, they’re rolling with you.

TAKE NOTE, THIS IS REALLY IMPORTANT: When your Assistant answers, they will answer from your email account, and will always open with:

“Hi Firstname, this is Tim’s Assistant Sarah. I got to your email before Tim did, and I thought you’d appreciate the fastest possible reply, so… (insert whatever the reply is).”

…literally, and legitimately, most recipients will feel tickled to receive such speedy, white-glove service. We’ve received great feedback.

7. Check Only Your “! – Review” Label

From now on, only check your “! – Tim Review” label.

Obivously, if you need to (Assistant is sick, and/or you’re waiting for a really important and urgent email to arrive), you can easily check the main inbox. But your general rule, now, is only to check your personal “! – Review” label.

You’ll see your Assistant will take care of 90%+ of your email, and you’ll suddenly wonder what the hell you used to do all day.

Battle-Tested!

How good is this system? I stress-tested it twice last year. In Jan 2015 I went to Jamaica for 8 days, with no email, phone, or text contact of any kind. (And no Slack, Project Mgmt, etc… so – NO CONTACT.)

Repeated the test in July 2015 when I went to Hawaii for 10 days. Same disconnection from work, and same amazing outcome – total freedom and relaxation!

The combination of this email system, plus my great Assistant Sarah, plus all the other systems and DMGs I have setup with her, and I enjoyed a blissful tropical holiday, no problems at all. Sarah took care of it all.

Tim with Luau Dancers - cropped for Facebook

And best of all?

When I came home, there was no “Welcome Home” avalanche of 500 emails. Just a few, which took me less than an hour to reply to.

Yes, my friends, Email Inbox freedom truly is at hand.

Onwards and Upwards,

Tim :)

P.S. If you’re interested in learning more about getting your own Assistant to help take over your email inbox, visit www.GreatAssistant.com

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360 Delegation https://www.profitfactory.com/360delegation/ https://www.profitfactory.com/360delegation/#comments Sun, 24 Jan 2016 14:21:10 +0000 http://www.profitfactory.com/?p=2629 There’s two things I hate more than anything in business: waste and entitlement.

Keep reading and you’ll discover one of the most powerful tools ever created to dramatically reduce wasted time, energy, and money.

(And – oddly – hear about Wile E. Coyote and the Roadrunner?)

This tool works in any business, any industry, any country, any language, online and offline.

It’s a tool I invented called 360 Delegation.

A Dollar Saved is a Dollar Earned

“Earnings” is not top-line revenue or sales.  It’s bottom-line profit, what the company keeps after all (or most) expenses are deducted.

Every business has expenses to pay.  Service companies are lucky to keep 20% – 50%.  Many re-sellers and manufacturers live on razor-thin 1% – 3% margins. Wile E Coyote and Roadrunner

Let’s say ACME Anvil Corp., makers of anvils to squish the Roadrunner, has a 10% profit margin.  When Wile E. Coyote buys an anvil for $10, ACME pays all their expenses (including materials, labour, overhead, taxes, interest, etc) and are left $1 of profit on the all-famous “bottom line.”

ACME Anvil Corp. is like most Entrepreneurs: 1) They want more profit; 2) They believe to boost profits, there’s only one option: sell more anvils!

WRONG.

The other – and usually farrrr more efficient solution – is to reduce expenses one way or another.

And this is where it gets really exciting: a dollar saved goes straight to your bottom line.

That’s right: if ACME Anvil Corp. cuts expenses by $10, their profit increases by the full $10.  There’s no 10% ratio.  Reducing expense is a 100% profit booster.

And it scales: whether they reduce expenses by $10K or $1M, it’s all pure profit, baby.

Same is true for you.  Ask your accountant.  They’d be delighted to explain.

Death by a Thousand Paper Cuts

Companies everywhere are hemorraghing cash.  Yours probably is too.

Occasionally it’s because of one or two big gashes.  We hear about those in the news, “In 2015 U.S. Employees Stole $18 Billion at Work,” or a major lawsuit threatening to shut down a company.

What we never, ever hear about, and what is sucking cash out of nearly 100% of business, is the hundreds (thousands!) of tiny little paper cuts all over the place:

  • It’s the email thread that took 10 emails back-and-forth that should have been completed in 5.
  • It’s the misunderstanding that caused the designer to do 5 revisions instead of 2.
  • It’s the 5 extra days we pay credit card interest because a customer is late paying us.

360 Delegation will allow you to significantly cut down all this horrendous waste and boost profits.  That’s good for everyone – a more financially stable company allows more job security and more rewards for everyone.

To Employees Having a Heart Attack Reading This

I don’t blame you if you’re feeling panic reading this.  Let me assuage your fears:

First of all, and this is an important point, my goal is NOT to promote lay-offs.  Instead, I’m offering you a tool to help you become so efficient, so effective you become a crucial, indispensible part of the team.

(And I’m inspiring your Entrepreneur towards increased profitability so the company can maximize stability and security, keeping your job alive and well.)

Secondly, 360 Delegation is a shared responsibility, a two-way street.  If you regularly receive poor delegation (from your boss, clients, etc) it’s wasting colossal volumes of your time, energy, and possibly money too.  Life sucks when you receive poor delegation.

But you needn’t be roadkill, a victim of vague, messy direction your Delegator flung your way.  Introduce 360 Delegation (explicitly or implicitly), and request clarification from your Delegator until you’re satisfied 360 Delegation is fulfilled.

Three Crippling Costs

Sooooo much time, energy, and money gets wasted in businesses because of:

  1. Changeover
  2. Rework
  3. Delay of Delivery

The Ping-Pong of Changeover

Ever been in this email death-trap before?

“Are you available Thursday at 2pm?”

“No, can you do Friday at 1pm?”

“No, but I can do Friday at 2pm.  Does that work for you?”

“Sounds good.  Where should we meet?”

85 emails later, the meeting gets scheduled.  Everyone is proud (or exhausted) from being so productive – i.e. busy – answering emails all day.

Really, this email should have looked like:

“I’m available Thursday or Friday at 2pm.  Do either work?  If not, can you suggest 2-3 alternatives?  Also, I’m assuming we’ll meet on Skype.  If that doesn’t work, please suggest what works best for you.”

Rework: “Oh, Now I Get It!”

In carpentry, there’s a famous expression, Measure Twice and Cut Once.

All businesses – including young startups – can benefit from this deep wisdom.

Sometimes rework happens because people make mistakes, but sometimes it’s just because they didn’t have enough clarity in the first place.

Either way, they’re forced to back-track and re-work what they’ve already built once before.

Smouldering Delay of Delivery

Delay of Delivery is crippling in a number of ways:

  • When a project is late and you have to pay (unnecessary) rush fees to contractors, overtime to employees, or express fees to couriers and FedEx.
  • When a project or split-test proves to improve profits by $1,000 / week, you realize every week you were late represents $1,000 in lost profit you’ll never, ever get back.
  • Depending on your business and clientele, a late delivery can trigger late-penalties and late-fees outlined in your contract.
  • When projects are late, payment is often delayed too.  Any project you may have ear-marked those funds for must wait.  The simplest example is paying interest on debt.  Every extra, unnecessary day you’re carrying high-interest debt (credit cards, anyone?) is bleeding cash from your bottom line.
  • Internally, when you’re late delivering a project, there’s an inevitable domino effect inside the company where everyone else is forced to rework (see above) their production and delivery schedules, and/or pay overtime, late fees, rush fees, etc (see above).

Use 360 Delegation and Save Vast Oceans of Time, Energy, and Money

Remember, 360 Delegation is a powerful tool whether you’re giving or receiving direction.

It’s simply addressing these three elements: 1) Vision, 2) Resources, 3) Definition of Done.

Use it anytime you’re giving or receiving delegation: email, Trello card, Convo or Slack message, heck I’ve even used it when leaving a voice note for my Executive Assistant.

Format

1. Vision

In bullet form, give a few points on what you’d like accomplished.  The following list will help prompt you.  Don’t have to answer all of these, this is just to inspire your thinking:

  • what do you want done?
  • what’s your vision for completion?
  • why are we doing this? (especially important for Fact Finders)
  • when are we starting this task / project?
  • what are the milestones along the way?
  • what’s the ultimate, final, drop-dead deadline?
  • consider telling a story – what are the stakes if this goes well?  poorly?
  • IMPORTANT: can you show a sample of success?  A screencast, screenshot, picture, video, sound clip, link to website… something?

 

2. Resources

List all the resources you think will be needed.  Consider:

  • Access – online – website passwords
  • Access – physical – keys to a building or room, login info for a computer
  • Money needed, access to credit cards, PayPal accounts
  • Expertise – “how to” courses, blog posts, training sessions
  • Expertise – consultants available to hire
  • Manpower – team members, outside contractors
  • Software
  • Systems / Checklists
  • Decision-Making Guidelines
  • Approvals and/or Authority
  • Hours allocated to complete
  • Equipment / Hardware
  • Storage – online or physical
  • Itineraries of people or events
  • Language / translators

 

3. Definition of Done

What is the Acceptance Criteria for this project?  What do you, the Delegator, need to see to “sign off” on this project?  To say, “Wow, this is successful!”

  • Specifications of finished project; e.g.) image exported to JPG, 300 x 300 pixels
  • Sign-offs required from management or client
  • Storage of files after completion; e.g.) store both working file and exported files to Dropbox folder: Clients > ABC Corp > Graphic Design > Banner Ads
  • Double-check against related contracts
  • Quality-Assurance Checklists created / completed / checked
  • Important Dates highlighted
  • Schedule created

 

There you have it, 360 Delegation.

I promise 360 Delegation will feel clunky to use in the beginning, but – believe me – your team will be floored with the clarity you give them.

Soon enough you and your whole team will be richly rewarded by significant increases in speed and efficiency.

And remember – as Leader, your true work is in the first 10% of any project, setting the vision and communicating your overall strategy.  Perhaps when you started the company it made sense for you to do the middle 80% of the work, but now you’ve got other people to help with actually doing the work.

Your role has evolved, so now it just makes sense to invest the front-loaded energy into using 360 Delegation so everyone who carries the torch for you sees your vision as clearly as you do.

Onwards and Upwards,

Tim :)

P.S.  If you’d like to find out more on how you can get yourself an Assistant to help you with those $15/hr tasks, visit www.GreatAssistant.com

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You’re Absolutely Insane If You Don’t Have An Executive Assistant https://www.profitfactory.com/executiveassistant/ https://www.profitfactory.com/executiveassistant/#comments Tue, 03 Nov 2015 04:10:53 +0000 http://www.profitfactory.com/?p=2397 Meet my Executive Assistant, Sarah.

What she does for me is exceeds my wildest expectations.

Earlier this year I spent 9 days in Jamaica.  No email, no meetings, just 100% relaxation.

Sarah took care of everything while I was away.

Then, in July I spent 8 days in Hawaii.  No email, no project management software, no emergency text messages from anyone.

And it gets better…

When I got back from Hawaii there were only 25 emails for me to answer.  No “welcome home” avalanche of 300 – 500 unread emails.

Truly, literally, legitimately, Sarah kept everything rolling while I sipped Mai Thais on the beach.

If this sounds amazing, I confirm it truly is.

What My Executive Assistant Does for Me

Check out this (partial) list of tasks Sarah does for me:

  • 95% of my email inbox: these days I spend less than 30 mins per day on email (often less)
  • 95% of my schedule: she takes care of all the back-and-forth; I just show up once everything’s arranged
  • creating invoices and processing credit cards
  • customer service
  • updating our website
  • updating our private Members Area
  • updating our Facebook pages
  • all Infusionsoft work for email broadcasts, building sequences, managing products
  • double-checks all invoices we get from vendors so all information is complete by the time I go to pay our people (including PayPal email addresses, proper currency, tax info, billing address, etc, for everyone we pay)
  • writes systems and procedures when we need them

…and this is just a partial list of the regular items.  When you add the one-off items (“I’m in New York City, can you get me two tickets to Wicked for tonight?”) the list is truly endless.

Sarah also manages a handful of local and/or personal tasks for me:

  • books my house cleaner to come every few weeks
  • books a stay-at-home mom to come over and file my receipts for me
  • a few times per year arranges dinner parties at my house for local business friends.  If she didn’t handle all the pre-party logistics, there’s no way I’d ever host them.

Looking back, I can’t fathom how I EVER existed without Sarah.

But it wasn’t always this way…

I Blew $10K on My First Assistant

7 years ago I tried hiring my first-ever assistant.

At first I was excited.  But within 3 months I’d blown $10,000 and sadly parted ways with her.

Shit.

I was so disappointed (and frustrated) it was two years before I tried again.

I believed it was either too hard or too expensive to find the right assistant who I could trust with the $10/hr – $20/hr tasks necessary to keep my business rolling.

So I went back to doing it ALL myself, consistently clocking 60-80 hour workweeks.

Little did I know I was riding the razor’s edge of burnout.

Every late night nudged me ever-closer to collapse.

My friends and family grew concerned.

They warned me, “Tim you need to take better care of yourself.”

I politely thanked them for their concern, but silently rebuked, “Meh – burnout could never happen to me.”

But then it did.

Rock Bottom: I Couldn’t Walk for 3 Months

In late-2010, I faced a stressful business situation which became the proverbial “straw that broke the camel’s back.”

December 26, 2010, my body’s joints starting swelling uncontrollably.  By New Years’ Eve the pain was so intense I couldn’t walk.

After seeing 3 different doctors, the diagnosis came in: a rare, stress-related illness called Erythema Nodosum.

At 28 years old, I was forced to move back into my parents’ home to receive ongoing care.  It was so painful to stand, my Mom placed a clothes hamper upside-down in the shower so I could sit and bathe myself.

Unable to work, my business fell apart.  My personal and business bank accounts nearly went to zero.

I had NO CHOICE but to figure out a better way to do business.

(I’ve never been afraid of hard work, but – for god’s sake – this was ridiculous.  I couldn’t walk!)

I was relieved when the doctors told me I’d recover, but dismayed there was no treatment.

All I could do was rest and wait.

And wait…

And wait.

As I stared at the ceiling day after day, I made myself two promises:

1. Never again would I take my mobility for granted.  (Since recovering, I’ve done over 600 Crossfit workouts – proud of that!)

2. Never again would I be a burnout entrepreneur.

As soon as I could move my arms enough to search the internet, I began my comeback.

A few months later I could walk again, and by April 2011 I was back to walking and living on my own.

What a relief.

As I rebuilt my company, I kept my eye on various books and courses on hiring, scaling, and systems.

I Made Every Mistake in the Book

The next few years I made small attempts at hiring different contractors from around the world for different projects and roles.

I tried local and virtual.

I tried Elance, Odesk, Worker, OnlineJobs.ph, Craigslist.

I tried workers from India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Canada, US.

I paid anywhere from $4/hr to $30/hr for different tasks.

I tried part-time and full-time.

Short-term and ongoing.

Slowly, piece-by-piece I was making fewer and fewer errors.

It all clicked when I finally found and hired Sarah, who – to this day – is my personal, Executive Assistant.

I Was Nervous to Hire Sarah

I gotta tell you, though, despite TONS of experience with other assistants and contractors, I still had a lot of emotional baggage when I started with Sarah.

I had serious trust issues.  (After all I went through, can you blame me?)

I was worried she’d cost waaaay too much money.

I wasn’t sure how to train her.

I didn’t know if I could keep her busy (looking back – this concern is hilarious!)

And the day I gave her control of my email inbox was outright comedy.  I’ve never held a death-grip on anything so tightly before.  Three times Sarah had to talk me down, assuage my racing mind, reassuring me it would be okay.  “Tim, let’s just start with a one-week test and see what happens…”

Baby Steps

Through everything, there’s one strategy that’s been my saving grace: starting small.

When I first hired Sarah, she worked just 5 hours per week.

At $15/hour, it was a small, $300/mo commitment, which I could live with.

As our relationship grew, I asked Sarah to work more and more.

It took about a year (plus a criminal record check and a confidentiality agreement), but I soon came to trust Sarah with pretty much everything, including my credit card, my email inbox, and my calendar.

Now We’re Firing on All Cylinders!

When I look at an average week, Sarah easily takes 10h – 25h per week of work off my plate.

That’s 10h-25h / week I can spend working on the BIG things in my business:

  • flying to Masterminds around the U.S., where I meet important customers and partners
  • speaking at various events and universities, including NYU where I was a guest lecturer earlier this year
  • high-end, $500/hr consulting I do for clients around the world
  • sales calls with potential clients
  • continue learning, so I can constantly improve my craft

…all of which would NOT be possible if I was stuck working IN my business like I used to.  I simply wouldn’t have the time, energy, or money.

(You aren’t making $500/hr yet?  No problem.  I was at $40/hr when I hired Sarah.  She took over the $10/hr – $20/hr tasks, which allowed me to do higher and higher-level tasks until finally I achieved $500/hr.  It’s fair to say one of the major reasons I reached $500/hr is because I hired Sarah.)

Now It’s Easy!

Since hiring Sarah, I’ve actually hired a handful of other Assistants, some for me, some for my clients.

I’ve distilled the whole process down to a science.

My success rate is over 90% in finding solid Assistants.

So – YES – there is hope.

And there IS a science to it all.

Best of all?  Anyone who knows exactly what to do can easily get a world-class assistant in 4-6 weeks.

Super simple.

Is an Executive Assistant right for you?

YES, if…

  • your company sells more than $150K/year (yes, that little)
  • you find yourself doing far too many $10 – $50/hour tasks
  • you spend more than 30 mins per day in your email inbox
  • you feel stuck perpetually working IN your business
  • you’re a real entrepreneur (not some wantrepreneur sleaze-ball hustling a get-rich scheme)

Are you running a much bigger business, perhaps doing 7- or 8-figures per year?

Multiply everything I’ve said in this blog post by 10!  If you don’t have an Executive Assistant, you are completely INSANE.  The amount of time, energy, and money you are wasting is truly spectacular, in the worst possible way.

The craziest thing of all?  You aren’t alone…

99% entrepreneurs I meet DON’T have Executive Assistants.

And they suffer needlessly, mightily, because of it.

Why Sarah Works So Darn Well

Sarah is not a $4/hr overseas Assistant struggling to work across radically different time zones, cultures, and languages.

She’s based in the USA, English is her first language, and she’s got a professional background.  She’s comfortable dealing with my largest clients (biggest ever = $100M), and my most sensitive data.

95% of my clients are in North America.  Because Sarah lives here, she understands the culture.  Plus, she’s also in a North American time zone, so she and I can jump on the phone any time it’s needed.  That’s a bigger deal than you may realize.

Sarah is not some disposable Virtual Assistant, forced to do goofy, get-rich, black-hat garbage.  She’s the real deal, and she gets a real opportunity to make a real difference, doing meaningful work.

Sarah contributes far more than her “arms and legs” to my business and I – she contributes her “head and heart.”  I’ve talked to her kids.  She and her husband joined me in Chicago for dinner and a Blackhawks (NHL) game.  I invest in her because I believe she’s a growing asset inside of my company, not some disposable adding machine.

THAT is what an excellent Executive Assistant should look like.

Getting an Executive Assistant is Easy

Looking back – alllll the way back – to my first-ever Assistant 7 years ago, I realize all along it was ME who was the problem: I had no idea what I was doing!

I had the wrong expectations – I expected too little and trusted too little.

I looked in the wrong places – I went for easy.

I posted poor job descriptions, offered shitty pay, and did too little onboarding and training.

Then, once I had them, I was outright incompetent in actually managing them.

(No wonder all those assistants were a total train wreck!)

BUT I LEARNED.

And you can too.

Much, much, MUCH more quickly than I did.

How You Can Get Started

If this all seems overwhelming, I don’t blame you.  I’m sure my path sounds long and treacherous!

But it’s only because I was clueless.

Now I KNOW.  And I can help you!

Here’s a colossal colossal shortcut…our Great Assistant Program.

If our program isn’t for you, or if you’d like to try hiring on your own, fill in your name and email below and I’ll provide you with a copy of my Great Assistant Guidebook where I address the “Big Six” concerns 99% of Entrepreneurs have when hiring an Assistant.

Onwards and Upwards,

Tim :)

 

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Keith Cunningham “Thinking Time” https://www.profitfactory.com/thinkingtime/ https://www.profitfactory.com/thinkingtime/#comments Sat, 10 Oct 2015 03:30:11 +0000 http://www.profitfactory.com/?p=2033 I was incredibly fortunate to attend Keith Cunningham’s “4 Day MBA” Course.

If you’re not sure who Keith is, he’s one of the raddest and baddest entrepreneurs on the planet.

(And he’s actually “Rich Dad” from the world’s #1 finance book, Rich Dad Poor Dad.)

Years ago Keith made $100M (you read that right), then lost it all, actually going $50M in debt (you read that right too).

But then…

Made one hell of a comeback!

He’s quite private about his affairs, but it sounds like he’s now selling around $30M – $40M/yr through his various companies.

This time, though, he’s entirely debt-free.

Keith was gracious enough to shoot a private video with me where he shares his #1 Business Weapon, Thinking Time….

Keith’s been in business 40+ years.

Hundreds of millions won, lost, then won again.

And Thinking Time is the #1 business weapon he cherishes above all others.

WOW.

I’m curious…

If you took 20 minutes for your own Thinking Time, what problem would you ponder?

Watch the vid and leave a comment below!

Onwards and Upwards,

Tim :)

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How to Organize Procedures https://www.profitfactory.com/organize/ https://www.profitfactory.com/organize/#comments Thu, 10 Sep 2015 08:01:43 +0000 http://www.profitfactory.com/?p=1923 Here’s a massive shortcut: click to download my Systems Templates directly into your Google Drive.

Below I’ll explain how to organize your procedures / systems / documentation.

I recommend you use Google Drive.

Create Master List of Procedures

To see one of these live, fully completed, download the Systems Templates mentioned above.

Your Master List of Procedures is “Grand Central Station” for all your procedures.

Once completed, it will look like this:

Profit Factory - Screenshot - Master List of Procedures - Sept 8 2015

(Click image for larger view)

1. Start with Blank Google Sheet

Using Google Drive, create a new Google Sheet, which will open a blank, new spreadsheet.

Name it: R#001 – Master List of Procedures.

(this will make more sense later)

2. Create Two New Tabs

At bottom of spreadsheet, click the (+) button to create two new tabs.

Right-Click each tab and Re-name to:

  • S# – Systems / Procedures
  • R# – Reference
  • T# – Templates

(Further down I’ll explain what S / R / T means.  For now, just keep working.)

Your spreadsheet should now have three tabs and look like this:

Profit Factory - Screenshot - R001 three tabs - Sept 8 2015

(click image for larger view)

As my company got bigger, we had more and more procedures.  To manage it all, Sarah (my Assistant) added the concept of three tabs at the bottom.  This allowed us to visually separate all documents into their respective categories and find procedures more quickly.

Like I said, you can skip all this work if you download my Systems Templates.

Labeling System

The first column, “A,” is where you’ll create all your procedure labels.

Profit Factory - Screenshot - Label Column - Sept 8 2015

(click image for larger view)

As you can see (in image above), every label is made up of two parts:

  • Prefix: S#, R#, or T#
  • Number: 001, 002, 003, etc…

S / R / T Prefix

I learned this method a few years ago (2011?) when I stumbled across an ebook called Source Control by David Walsh.

I’ve been using the method ever since – thanks David!

When you’re naming a new procedure, you’ll choose one of three prefixes:

  • S: System or procedure explaining how to do accomplish something.
    • E.g.) Infusionsoft – Send an Email Broadcast
    • E.g.) Guidelines for Managing Tim’s Calendar

 

  • R: Reference document you’ve archived for future reference (doesn’t explain how to do anything.
    • E.g.) Metrics and Results – Jan 2015
    • E.g.) Marketing Results from Webinar – Sept 2015
    • Note: “R” is specifically for company-wide reference documents.  Personal reference docs should probably go into your Evernote instead.

 

  • T: Template docs go in here.
    • E.g.) Design Brief for New Client Projects
    • E.g.) Customer Service – Canned Responses

Separating the three types makes it much easier to find docs within your Master List of Procedures.

Labels

Your labels will be numbered sequentially.  Start with 001 and work your way up over time.  Very simple.

On the “S” tab:

  • S#001
  • S#002
  • S#003
  • (etc)

On the “R” tab:

  • R#001
  • R#002
  • R#003
  • (etc)

On the “T” tab:

  • T#001
  • T#002
  • T#003
  • (etc)

Link Labels to Procedure Documents

While helping the Ryan Levesque team get setup with procedures in their business (BTW, they’re stellar – check out Funnel Specialists), one of their VAs named James came up with this brilliant idea.

Profit Factory - Screenshot - Master List - Clickable Links - Sept 8 2015

Here’s how you do it:

After you complete your Master List of Procedures, you’ll start writing the Procedures themselves.  Some Procedures you’ll create with a Google Doc, others you’ll use a Google Sheet.  (Doc or Sheet?  Just depends on the situation – trust yourself, you’ll know what works best in each situation.)

STEP 1: In the Procedure itself (not the Master List of Procedures, but the Doc / Sheet where you’re writing the Procedure) copy the browser URL.

(click image to view larger)

(click image to view larger)


STEP 2:
On your Master List of Procedures, select the Procedure’s label and link back to the Procedure URL. (Insert > Link)

Now your entire Master List is clickable, making it much quicker to go directly to your procedure!

Naming Procedures

A few tips for choosing the name (not the label) of the procedure.

Profit Factory - Screenshot - Choosing Procedure Names - Sept 8 2015

(click image for larger)

This isn’t rocket science, but these guidelines will help:

TIP 1: Don’t use “Procedure For…”

It’s tempting to name each procedure,

  • “How to…”
  • “Procedure for…”
  • “Template for…”

Don’t!  If you do, ALL of your procedures will have the same starting words.

This becomes problematic if you ever need to search for procedures; the list of results would look like this:

Profit Factory - Screenshot - Bad naming habits - Sept 8 2015

TIP 2: Start with a verb

For example:

  • Prepare Monthly Marketing Report
  • Call Attendees Post-Event
  • Close Down Store Each Night

TIP 3: If Using a Tool

If the procedure requires using a specific software or tool, consider using the tool name first.  For example:

  • WordPress – Publish a Blog Post
  • Aweber – Send an Email Broadcast
  • Infusionsoft – Refund a Purchase

This makes it easier to find your procedure from the main Google Drive search bar.

See what I mean?

Profit Factory - Screenshot - Tool Name First - Sept 10 2015

(click image for larger view)

Big Shortcut

I don’t mean to sound like a broken record, but save yourself a lot of work (and see the real-deal in action!) by downloading my Systems Templates directly into your Google Drive.

Questions?

I will do my best to answer questions in the comments below.

If you’d like to guarantee you’ll get your question answered, consider joining the Profit Factory “Builders’ Club“, a private, paid, online group where entrepreneurs meet to build systems, hire winning teams, and generally build their “Engine Room” so they can work more *on* their business, and less *in* it.

Onwards and Upwards,

Tim :)

P.S. It’s Mike Rhodes, world-class Adwords consultant (and co-author of The Ultimate Guide to Google Adwords, alongside Perry Marshall and Bryan Todd) who twisted my bloody arm until I put together the Systems Templates.  We can all thank him for the clever idea and gentle (?) nudge for me to get them built.

Enjoy!

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What is 80-20 Rule? https://www.profitfactory.com/8020rule/ https://www.profitfactory.com/8020rule/#comments Thu, 03 Sep 2015 08:17:32 +0000 http://www.profitfactory.com/?p=1864 In today’s “always-on” world, the 80/20 Rule is more important than ever.

We face greater complexity, speed, and connectivity than any generation of entrepreneurs before us.

Cutting past the 80% noise to find and focus on the vital 20% that really matters is the only way we’ll maintain sanity.

What was once a casual analysis tool, the 80/20 Rule is now a daily discipline necessary for success and survival.

Time-Tested, Billlion-Dollar Strategy

The 80/20 Rule (a.k.a. Pareto Principle), was discovered over 100 years ago when Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto noticed how 80% of his country’s land was owned by just 20% of citizens, and – curiously – 80% of his garden peas came from just 20% of peapods.

Again and again he noticed life, business, and nature was divided squarely between “Vital Few” and “Trivial Many.”

Since then, all of the world’s most successful and iconic entrepreneurs and investors have used versions of the 80/20 Rule to amass incredible fame and fortune.

Amongst them, Richard Koch (pictured above, beside me) and Warren Buffett.

In The Tao of Warren Buffett, authors Buffett and Clark report that 90% of Warren’s $60 Billion empire is thanks to just ten investments.  Not hundreds of investments – just ten.

They further explain how Warren deeply values what a firm doesn’t do just as much as what it does.  What is the 80% (or more) the firm will leave alone?

In his 1990 letter to Berkshire investors, Buffett proclaimed, “Lethargy bordering on sloth remains the cornerstone of our investment style.”  Billionaires GET IT.

And yet entrepreneurs continue to shrug casually, indifferently at at the 80/20 Rule, never really taking it seriously, opting instead to scratch away furiously at their To-Do list, 80-hour week after 80-hour week.

Baffling.

Below you’ll learn what the 80/20 Rule is, how to take advantage it, and what brutal consequences you may face if you ignore it.

Thank-you Perry Marshall and Richard Koch for inspiring me to study and integrate 80/20 into all areas of my life, both business and personal.

Life is NOT “Fair”

Growing up we learned (erroneously) life is 50-50, where everything is equally important.

In school, a strong report card meant doing well across all subjects, all classes contributing evenly to our average.

Socially, everyone was supposed to give and receive equal treatment.  If you gave a Valentine’s Day card to one person in class, you’d better give one to everyone.

At family reunions you’d better hug everyone, including loud, obnoxious Uncle Norm who embarrassed you in front of everyone and stunk horribly of cigarettes.

Despite their best intentions, our teachers at home and school were inaccurate about 50-50.  There’s actually very little 50-50 in life.

In reality, it’s all about 80-20 where 20% of inputs generate 80% of results.

Remember the one bully in class created 80% of havoc.

The one or two girls got 80% of boys’ attention.

And – fondly – one or two “best friends” who were repeatedly by our side as we created 80% of our most-cherished childhood memories.

The difference between school’s “50-50” approach (a bell curve) and the real-world’s “80-20” reality (a skew curve) looks like this:

Credit: PerryMarshall.com

Credit: PerryMarshall.com

Examples of 80/20

80/20 is literally everywhere in modern-day life.  Consider:

Forbes 500 Richest-People List

In 2014, I took the list of the Forbes 500.

I knew there’d be numerous 80/20s stacked on top of each other, so I only plotted the Top-50 richest people.  Here’s the graph:

2014 Forbes Top-50 Richest - Sept 2 2015

Looks suspiciously like an 80/20 Skew curve, wouldn’t you say?

I did the math, and 80% of all wealth on the Top-50 list is retained by only 34 people.  Technically it’s “only” an 80/68, but still acres away from 50/50.

Drilling further into the Top-10 wealthiest, we see the skew curve again:

2014 Forbes Top-10 Richest - Sept 2 2015

It doesn’t matter how much we zoom in or zoom out, the skew curve shows up again and again.  Whether it’s just the Top-10 richest people in America, or the entire United States’ population of 300 Million people, 80/20 is alive and well.

Your Online Spending

This is an educated guess, but you probably spend 95% of your online dollars on 10 or fewer websites (Amazon, eBay, Zappos, Victoria’s Secret… sounding familiar?).

Considering there’s now approximately one billion (with a B) websites online, those 10 websites represent a 95/0.000000005, which is far, far, far more extreme than 80/20.

And within those 10 websites that get 95% of your online dollar, there’s probably one or two that trump all others combined, representing a second-layer of 80/20.

Amazon, anyone?

Your Contacts, Friends and Confidantes

According to Pew Research conducted in 2011, the average American has 634 people in their network, including friends, family, coworkers, and other acquaintances.

In a 2004 poll, Gallup discovered Americans (on average) have approximately nine close friends.  We see 80/20 appear: of 634 contacts, only 9 (or 1.4%) are considered close friends.

A 2010 study done by Cornell University went further, revealing Americans have – on average – two really close friends, people they’d consider confidantes to share life’s most personal matters.  Another 80/20 has emerged: of nine close friends, only two are close enough to be confidantes.

In summary, out of 300 Million people in the US, Americans have (on average) 634 contacts, of which nine are close friends, of which just two are true confidantes.

300,000,000 : 634 : 9 : 2

That’s three levels of 80/20 playing out perfectly, and one helluva skew curve.

And of course we could keep going:

  • you probably spend 95% of your talk-time speaking with fewer than 5% of contacts in your phone
  • you probably spend 95% of your Facebook chat with fewer than 5% of your “friends”
  • you probably spend 80% of your time at home in fewer than 20% of square footage (bedroom likely heaviest-used space at 6-8+ hours per day for sleeping, relaxing, clothing, and organizing)
  • …and on and on and on…

In business examples abound too:

  • 80% of sales come from 20% of customers
  • 80% of sales come from 20% of products
  • 80% of hassle comes from 20% of clients and 20% of staff

Actually, It’s Harsher than 80/20

As we’ve already seen in the examples above, often business and life are harsher than 80/20.  This shows up in two (related) ways.

First of all, the distribution is often more extreme than 80/20, often playing out as 90/10, 99/5, or more.  (Note: the two numbers needn’t add up to 100.)

Secondly, there’s actually an 80/20 inside of each 80/20.

Let’s say you’ve got 100 books on your bookshelf.  20 of them represent your favorite.  But of your favorite 20, there’s just 4 books which are your prized possessions.  And perhaps 1 of those 4 is so meaningful, you’d literally take it to the grave with you.

That’s the multiple 80/20s stacked on top of each other.

In anything – people, customers, opportunities, friends, lovers – drilling down to the Top-20 is only “round one” of thinking.  Push for the second round of 80/20 and you realize a full 64% of your success (or failure) can be attributed to just 4% of your efforts.  Keep pushing for extra rounds until you’ve hit the end.

How to Do 80/20

It’s fascinating and fun to learn about 80/20 and consider how it shows up in life.

But the true value is when you implement.

In 80/20 there’s two crucial steps:

  • 1) Slash the bottom 80%, which frees up significant new time, energy, space, and (possibly) money to re-invest elsewhere, business or personal.
  • 2) Then, using some (or all) of your newly-available resource, “Double-down” on the top 20%.  Ditched the bottom 20% of (nightmare) clients?  Amazing – now hit the gym 4x instead of 2x.  Or come home for dinner with the family at 5pm instead of 630pm.  Or go to bed an hour earlier.

(Thanks to Greg McKeown for the term “double-down,” from his incredible book Essentialism.)

Perhaps dropping the bottom 80% is too extreme for you.  OK.

But for heaven’s sakes, cut the bottom 20% that brings you 80% of stress!

If your finger is trembling on the trigger, not quite convinced to swing into action, read this important blog post about “Opportunity Cost“.  Most humans – entrepreneurs included – ignore this concept to their great peril.

In fact, anyone who truly owns the reality of Opportunity Cost in their own life can’t help but race to implement 80/20 in their life as far, wide, and quickly as possible.

What Opportunity Cost is playing out in your life right now?

Take a Stand and Make the Leap Immediately

For goodness sakes, start right here and now.

Doesn’t have to be heroic – just start somewhere.

Give away the 10 books you know you’re never going to read.

Donate that bottom drawer of clothes you haven’t even slid open in the last 24 months.

Call the gossipy, energy-sucking friend that wants to do dinner and downgrade it to a coffee to minimize her damage on your psyche.

You already know what the Bottom-20s are – don’t kid yourself.  Now do something about it!  Name one activity/thing/person that you’re going to focus less time on so you can focus your time/money/energy on what really matters, leave me a comment below!

And most of all, remember you’ve got only one life to live.  You’re the author of it.

Join me on the 80/20 journey.

Onwards and Upwards,

Tim :)

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Systemize Your Business w Triple Path of Readership Ⓒ https://www.profitfactory.com/triplepathofreadership/ https://www.profitfactory.com/triplepathofreadership/#comments Tue, 11 Aug 2015 23:08:48 +0000 http://www.profitfactory.com/?p=1226 The two hardest parts of systematizing a business are:

1) Writing the systems

2) Getting people to follow them!

How to Systematize a Business

A big factor in this is a person’s Kolbe score, which is outside the scope of this post.

Assuming the Kolbe score is okay, then the “Triple Path of ReadershipⒸ” strategy will help you get systems written efficiently, and will maximize your odds for team members to stick with systems over the long haul.  Triple Path is a strategy I devised from building systems into my own companies.

Below you’ll see:

1) video (only 6 mins) explaining Triple Path,

2) below the video, some extra tips to help make this process as fast, easy, and successful as possible (be sure to read)

Overview

 

Extra Tips

Start with Intermediate

When starting to systemize any process, don’t bother with documenting every single step.  Your team will (probably) get bored really quickly and (possibly) drag their feet.

Instead, just have them write out the “Intermediate” path.  Don’t bother writing the “Beginner” steps at all, just leave them blank.  If you’re using this procedure a LOT (it’s a Top-20 procedure), and/or you’re regularly training new people with it, then go ahead and add the Beginner steps.  Otherwise, just leave them blank.

As for the “Expert” path, work with your team to make sure the quality control is achieved, in the fewest reasonable steps possible.  Whereas the “Intermediate” path is your team’s responsibility, the “Expert” path is ultimately yours.  It’s up to you the business owner to give people the Vision, Resources, and Definition of Done of how you want things done.  Own that, do a good job communicating it, and your team will have a clear target to shoot for.

The Right Tools to Use

I expand on this more elsewhere, but the basics are:

  • Use Google Drive (docs & sheets) for documenting your procedures. For a quick SHORTCUT, download my Systems Templates into your own Google Drive
  • Use a Master List of Procedures (a Google Sheet) for keeping track of all your procedures
  • Use S/R/T labeling and numbering to keep everything organized
  • For tasks you repeat, including macro-tasks that involve multiple, smaller procedures used sequentially, use Teamwork PM (project management software.  Create the Macro-task as a “Task List”, then each step is a procedure.

Be Aware of Kolbe Scores

If someone is High Quick-Start, Low Follow-Through, they will (probably) never create *or* follow the systems you desire.  You’re setting these people up for outright failure if you ask them to operate in a highly systemized situation.

By contrast, if someone is Low Quick-Start, High Follow-through, and they have the required motivation, personality, skills and training, they can probably run your systems for months and years very successfully!

Click here for more info on Kolbe scores.

Systemizing a business can be the pathway to so much freedom, speed, ease, and enjoyment for EVERYONE – entrepreneur, teammates, and clients too.  Using the Triple Path of ReadershipⒸ, along with the right tools and people in place, allows your business to streamline and scale up with surprising speed.

Do you struggle with following systems or do you have a team member that can’t follow a procedure to save his life?  Leave a comment below and let me know if you think Triple Path of Readership can help in your organization.

Tim :)

P.S. Here’s an excellent video with Mike Rhodes about Triple Path of Readership:

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The Best Place to Hire VAs, and it ain’t Elance https://www.profitfactory.com/the-best-place-to-hire-vas-and-it-aint-elance/ https://www.profitfactory.com/the-best-place-to-hire-vas-and-it-aint-elance/#comments Fri, 17 Oct 2014 21:47:43 +0000 http://www.profitfactory.com/?p=532 Drumroll, please…

No, it’s not a porn site.

Yes, it’s legit.

And Yes, you’ll probably snicker when I reveal where I get my best VAs

HireMyMom.com!

I have NO IDEA how I came across this site, but it’s loaded with outstanding American and Canadian Moms who are PRIMED to work virtually FOR YOU.

Below I share why I think these Moms are the BEST choice when hiring VAs.

Who Are These Money-Makin’ Mommies?

Before having their babies, most were professionals in corporate America.

Former paralegals, executive assistants, managers…. you name it.

Since having their baby, nothing is more important than being at home with their new child (or pre-schooler).

What They Want From You

Flexibility to be with their kid(s) is their #1 need.  By far.

My main assistant told me directly: “Tim, I want to build my family.  That’s why I work from home to help you build your business.”

This is common.

Most of the moms I’ve spoken with and/or hired are NOT concerned with money as their #1 motivator.

Neither is career advancement, variety of work, or a fancy title.

By far their #1 goal is time and flexibility to be a Mom, simple as that!

Their secondary goals are:

  • make a few extra dollars to contribute to household income
  • avoid a big, 5-year gap in their resume while they raise their kids
  • have meaningful, adult interaction during the day so they don’t go baby-batty

They Save a TON of Money Working From Home

I pay my Moms $15/hr.

Even though they could make $20/hr – $30/hr in the corporate world, they realize $15/hour is actually still a good deal for them because:

  • they don’t have to pay for expensive child care while they work – this alone makes working for me/you a great deal
  • they save substantial *time* every day – no need to dress up every morning, no need to commute to and from work
  • they save substantial gas money by not needing to drive to work; nor do they need to buy expensive professional attire

Although they might take a 25% – 50% pay cut by working for you, their true “take-home” income may actually increase because of all the time and money savings of working from home.

American Moms Trump VAs in India or the Phillipines

I know of other virtual business owners who’ve enjoyed good success with overseas VAs.

But not me.

YES, I’ve found a handful of stellar contractors for project work.  And one guy I’ve hired month after month for ongoing work.

But – WOW – I’ve had to kiss a LOT of frogs!

Yet HireMyMom.com – and North American Moms in general – are the BEST choice for my close-knit crew of ongoing teammates I consider on the “inside” of my companies:

  • similar / same time zone: I’ve got my VA doing both business and personal tasks for me.  She’s calling prospects to invite them to my live, in-person events.  She’s coordinating our venue, partners, and volunteers for the production of our live events.  In my personal life, she’s booking my house cleaner and inviting friends to my dinner parties.  All of this is WAY easier if she’s in the same (or similar) time zone as me.
  • excellent English – both written and spoken: most Moms from HireMyMom are from the corporate world, so they’re usually quite good with spoken and written English.  This makes working together WAY easier.  My assistant catches spelling errors I make in blog posts, can suggest similar keywords when talking SEO, and can even write and send basic emails on my behalf.
  • reliable electricity and internet: you probably don’t realize how vulnerable overseas VAs are in this regard.  In my earliest (pre-HireMyMom) days, I was trying to work with a VA from India.  Suddenly she went “radio silent” – wasn’t writing or responding to me.  I felt so helpless and clueless on what to do.  A week later she suddenly re-appeared online with a flurry of messages.  Turns out there was political infighting in her region and a corrupt politician had the electricity to her region shut off.  No power = no internet = no VA.  Canadian and American VAs are FAR more stable in this regard.
  • same culture: I tried working with VAs from the Phillipines.  Nicest people on the planet.  In fact, TOO nice.  They were so terrified of offending me, they’d totally shut down if I asked for feedback and/or suggestions on how to improve a process within our company.  They’d rather be “yes-men” and women than take ANY risk (no matter how small) of offending you.  Not productive.  North American Moms on the other hand will (usually) be both gentle and honest.
  • punctual: a few years back a friend of mine – an East Indian – explained to me what “Indian Time” is: “brown people are late for everything”.  I didn’t fully understand what he meant until a few years ago when I hired a half-dozen contractors on Elance.  All were from India or Pakistan, and literally 100% of them were late on 100% of projects, and usually late by 100%.  As in, everything took at least TWICE as long as they quoted.  2 week projects turned into 4 weeks, then 6 weeks very quickly.  They’ll say anything to win your business, irrespective of whether they can actually deliver or not.  North American Moms, though, are generally quite SOLID in their commitments.

The Hidden Cost of Mistakes and Delays

When hiring a VA, it’s easy to just hire the least expensive option.  $10/hr should trump $15/hr, right?

WRONG.

When mistakes, delays, and confusion happen within VAs, guess who has to deal with it?

You and me – the OWNERS of the company.

I dunno about you, but my personal hourly rate is now above $300/hour.

If I’ve got a $10/hour VA from India, and I have to spend 30 mins fixing one of their mistakes, that VA just became a $160/hour VA.  That’s too expensive for me.

My experience of North American Moms – including those from HireMyMom.com – is they’re quite bulletproof.  Especially if you filter the potential VA through a detailed and descriptive job posting.  Scroll down to the bottom of this blog post to download the exact job posting I used.

My main assistant’s been with me for over a year, and – at most – I’ve spent only an hour or two fixing mistakes in AN ENTIRE YEAR.  That’s amazing.

Hope that helps,

Tim :)

Update – Sept 2014…

I got to finally meet my #1 virtual assistant, Sarah, in-person in Chicago!

After meeting through HireMyMom, we worked together for over a year without ever meeting in the flesh.

Then I made plans to fly into Chicago for a marketing conference.

Sarah and her husband drove up to meet me for the first-time ever.  We had a great time!

First we had dinner together, then took in the Chicago Blackhawks hockey game.

Here we are together:

Hire My Mom

P.S.  Leave me a comment and tell me about your experiences with hiring VAs.  How was the experience?  Are they still with you now?

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I Blew $10,000 on VAs, Trying to Live The 4-Hour Workweek https://www.profitfactory.com/i-blew-10000-on-vas-trying-to-live-the-4-hour-workweek/ https://www.profitfactory.com/i-blew-10000-on-vas-trying-to-live-the-4-hour-workweek/#comments Thu, 16 Oct 2014 08:55:38 +0000 http://www.profitfactory.com/?p=513 It was 2008.

I’d just read The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss.

I was SOLD!

Foaming at the mouth, I lusted to get started with “Lifestyle Design,” set up my “Muse,” and travel the world.  Race motorcycles.  Set world records in tango.

I hired a full-time VA from India and braced myself for the inevitable avalanche of cash coming my way.

I was set!

Until….

I LOST $10,000

Wha.. Wha… Whaaattt?!?!

I was bleeding cash faster than ever.

My full-time VA was $3,200/mo, plus all the extra services we needed to work together and…

BLAM-O!

$10,000 down the drain.

Dream shattered in 90 short days.

Since then I’ve learned the problem wasn’t my VA – every business on the planet has people to pay.

A little voice inside of me revealed the true reason:

“YOU DON’T HAVE A BUSINESS!”

I mean, I was making a few bucks here and there.

On the weekends I was a touring drummer making a little cash from playing shows in drowsy, small-town bars across Alberta, Canada.

On weekdays I had a few other deals bringing in a few more dollars.

All in all, just enough to avoid getting a job.

But barely enough to get by.

And certainly not enough to justify a $3,200/mo VA.

In fact, I’m pretty sure…

MY VA MADE MORE THAN I DID!

Obviously you can only shed so much financial blood before something’s gotta give.

I swallowed my pride, fired my VA, and torpedoed my 4HWW dreams.

I was back to being a one-man-band, no closer to riches or traveling the world.

Perhaps I could have avoided this failure had I remembered the fine print…

Even Tim Ferriss Busted His Ass

While contemplating my (newer, now-profitable) business a few years ago, a curious section from The 4-Hour Workweek popped to mind.

Towards the start it emphasized Tim’s painful beginnings.

Where was it – Chapter 3? Chapter 1?

Nope.  Even earlier.

There it was in the Preface (Page 15, “Chronology of a Pathology”), literally before Chapter 1 even hits.

Here Tim describes how he struggled MIGHTILY from 1997 to 2004 to figure out his Money-Making Formula. As in, how he’d make money as an entrepreneur.

Once he had cash rolling in – and only then – it took another two full years (2004-2006) to discover and refine his Work-Less Formula.

All told, Tim Ferriss took 8 or 9 years to solve the Rubik’s Cube of his own 4HWW life.

Are you kidding me?

Turns out he didn’t just hire a VA to make all his troubles go away.

Wow do I feel like an idiot.

“Live and Learn” as they say?

So Good They Can’t Ignore You

Looking back, I was chugging the fantastical “get rich” Kool-Aid like so many other under-experienced “wantrepreneurs.”

I sincerely wish I would have read the stabilizing, empowering message of So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport.

Where The 4-Hour Workweek gives you a thrilling, intoxicating vision of what’s possible, and guys like me and Sam Carpenter (author of Work the System) give you nuts-and-bolts mechanics of how to Systemize your business, Cal Newport reattaches your feet to the ground and gives you SOUL.

The harsh fact is no one will give you money for nothing. You aren’t a charity. You’re an entrepreneur who exchanges solutions for money.

As such, you need to get good at something.

It’s gotta be an in-demand service or product which people are ready to spend money on.

And the more in-demand your solution is, the more you get PAID.

This is the crux of Cal’s book, So Good They Can’t Ignore You.

In entrepreneur terms, we might say, “So Good They Want to Pay You”

Once you’ve done that – the basics of your Make-Money Formula are established – and you’re making a decent, full-time income, THEN it’s time to start Systemizing, hiring a VA, and (possibly) considering how you can cut your workload and travel the world like a rockstar.

But not before then.

My Warning to You: skip this step and you’ll blow fat stacks of cash like I did.

The RIGHT Time to Systemize & Hire a VA

Elsewhere on this blog I go into greater detail about “Level 2” businesses.

In short, don’t bother hiring VAs until you’ve got a good, full-time income coming in from your business.

Once you hit this milestone:

  • You’ll have enough cashflow to handle the expense of a part-time VA.
  • Enough of your business will be figured out and you’ll put your VA to work in useful ways.
  • You’ll have enough work week-to-week to keep a VA employed and focused.

And – for goodness sake – you DON’T need to dive into a full-time, $20/hour VA in the beginning.

My main business – Tim Francis Marketing – is a six-figure business and I still focus on hiring part-time VAs for $15/hour.

My income is now multiples of what I used to make, yet I still don’t have a $3,200/mo, full-time VA like I used to when I lost $10K in the blink of an eye.

Boy did I learn A LOT.

Which lead me to creating a Guidebook where I outline the 6 big questions most Entrepreneurs ask when they need help getting a Great Assistant such as:

  1. How much should I pay an Assistant to start?
  2. How do I let go of control/can I trust them?
  3. I don’t know what to delegate
  4. Where do I find good candidates to become my Assistant?
  5. How do I train my Assistant?
  6. How do I manage my Assistant once I get them going?

If you’re interested in this Guidebook, put your name and email below and I’ll send it to you right away.



If you’re willing to share, what hard-hitting lesson have you learned the hard way on your journey of becoming an entrepreneur?  Reply in the comments, I’d love to hear what lesson(s) you’ve learned.

Tim :)

P.S. Just so there’s no confusion here – I thank sincerely Tim Ferriss for significantly expanding my worldview. And for writing one helluva a sales lett, um, book. What a world-class bit of copy! Wouldn’t be here without all the explicit and implicit lessons that came as a result of his book :).

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