Mary Wu, Virtual Assistant

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Outsourcing: A Worthy Investment

Outsource Definition Closeup Showing SubcontractingDuring the past two posts I might have convinced you to think about looking for some help. You might call people, get some quotes for some assistance, and then have sticker shock (especially if you have not had contractors working for you).

A few things to keep in mind. (more…)

Outsourcing: How to find help for your business

Outsource Definition Closeup Showing SubcontractingIn a previous post, I’ve suggested you find people to help you with tasks that don’t fall within your strong skills. You might note that nobody can do your job as well as you can. Nobody can love your business as much as you do. Nobody can understand your business to the same degree.

That’s probably true. If you decide to hire someone to help you with some of your work, you might need to spend MORE time upfront training that person (but I don’t have the time).

Money Time Buttons Showing Prosperity Or Income

In the Related Articles Section I have included an article titled The 6th Realization of Rich People — R.O.T.I. — Return on Time Investment. Following is an excerpt from that article …

A professor in one of my business classes taught me that “when trying to decide whether to delegate something to someone else or to do something yourself you should use the 30 to 1 rule.”

That is, that if it was a daily task that took a skilled person like yourself five minute to complete, you should plan to spend at least 150 minutes (5 minutes multiplied by 30) instructing the subordinate on how to complete the same task.

Now the 150 minutes shouldn’t all be done at one time and could be spread over a few months as you help the subordinate master the task.”

He then explained the math behind it.

“If a task were to take you personally 5 minutes a day for 250 days in a working year then that means you would spend 1250 minutes per year on that task.

Rather than doing that however, if you decided to spend 150 minutes training someone to do that 5-minute task and they instead did that task for you then that would give you an annual savings of 1100 minutes per year.”

Think about it just for a minute …

If you spent some time, up front, training someone to do a task for you, what would you do with the extra time that you found?  (more…)

Outsourcing: How to “Let it Go”

Outsource Definition Closeup Showing SubcontractingCopyrights probably forbid me from adding the lyrics, but I’m sure if I use the phrase “Let it Go” and suggest you think about recent Disney movies — well the song will be stuck in your head (see below).

I’ve written about outsourcing in the past (see Related Articles), but I think this is a good time for areview.

Today we’ll talk about why to outsource, next time we’ll talk about finding good people to work with, and after that, we’ll talk about costs.Stress. Woman stressed
Most of my readers are busy solopreneurs or small business owners, and most of then can define their life using one word — BUSY!!!

I know the feeling. Somewhat overwhelmed, somewhat confused (what do I do NEXT).

(more…)

3 Ways to Handle LinkedIn Connections

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a solopreneur that finds a great deal of value in LinkedIn.

Today, however, we’re going to focus on connections.

The first way to add connections is to go to your LinkedIn profile and click on “Connections”

connections

If you then go down to “add connections,” you can connect your address book to LinkedIn.

You can then add everybody in your address book. If you have an address book that is strictly for business, then you will only get business connections. But, if you use the same email for both (or have Gmail and it just grabs all of your contacts), then you will get a listing of

*E*V*E*R*Y*B*O*D*Y*

…your son’s soccer coach from when he was 6, your daughter’s third grade teacher, the health tech from the middle school.

You get the idea. There might be some people in there that might not really be considered business contacts.

So it might be time to step back and see who you WANT to actually add to your connections.

From what I can gather from what I’ve read and what I’ve seen, there seems to be three schools of thought.

  1. Grab for ALL the connections you possibly can. This is where you would add your son’s soccer coach and the ex-boyfriend of your second cousin once removed.
  2. Be purposeful and specific in the people you do or do not add.
  3. Change with your whim week by week. 

As you can see, I’ve put a strikethrough through #3. This plan doesn’t have any logic.

#1 has some benefits, and there are advantages to having a large number of LinkedIn connections. This is spelled out in the first article below (9 Reasons Why LinkedIn Friendship is the Mightiest of Magics). This was written by someone that does Online advertising so increasing the size of a market is a significant part of their business. (As a complete aside, as the mother of a “brony”, I have got to admire someone that manages to write a blog post outlining their professional services while using lessons from My Little Pony – props to Larry).

The second option is the one that I’ve personally chosen. I want to have the ability to speak to the business acumen or character of my connections.

As I was working on this blog post, a call came in from another member of the Virtual Assistant community looking for graphic artists. I sent her information about 3 graphic artists that I know and their LinkedIn profiles. This way she can see their experience and recommendations right off the bat.

Top Three Things to do on LinkedIn This Week

Hi, my name is Mary and I am a self-avowed LinkedIn fan girl. Time For Technology Message Shows Innovation Improvement And Hi Tech

As a Virtual Assistant, I help a number of clients with social media communication. I spend a lot of time on Facebook and other platforms like Twitter and Pinterest and Google+. While I spend fewer hours per week on LinkedIn, I find that LinkedIn has values that are not offered on the other social media sites. Some examples are:

  • E-introductions.    More than once I’ve referred to someone’s LinkedIn Profile when I was looking for that “just right” turn of a phrase for a virtual introduction.
  • Memory jogging. Have you ever had that person that you met once at a networking event six months ago contacts you interested in your services? And you realize that you don’t remember them at all? If you take a quick at their LinkedIn profile, you’ll find out who they are, what they’re doing, and you’ll even (more often than not) get a picture to go along with it.
  • Background Checks. Have you ever gotten a tip about someone who is “great” at “something.” You can look up the person on LinkedIn, find their history, read their recommendations, and see if you have any common connections.
  • Search. If you’re looking for a service and type in the proper search term (and then narrow things down) you might have luck finding a service provider. Just today someone I know was looking for someone to do mold removal – I found a local contractor who had 3 people in common with me.

So – what THREE THINGS should you do on LinkedIn THIS WEEK?

  1. Make sure your profile photo is up to date and recognizable. If you’ve still got the same selfie that you took when you first signed up for LinkedIn in 2009, it’s time to update (consider a professional profile photo).
  2. Make sure your summary is clear, current, and concise (in case anyone wants to use it to e-introduce you to someone.)
  3. ASK for (and give) recommendations. Request recommendations from former employers, current customers, or anyone you’ve done business with. And look for a person or two that has done great work for you, whether it be a lawyer, an insurance agent, a virtual assistant, or a mold removal service.

LinkedIn might not be the platform you spend the most time on, but it might be the platform you spend the most valuable time on.

 

3 Tips on Who To Delegate To

Yes, I’ve talked about delegdelegateation before. It’s a topic that comes up often. The other day I was reading a Facebook Status from a friend that has a spouse in the construction business.

“Watching all these shady contractors on the news ripping people off makes me sick when there are good guys out there like ____________ who follow all the guidelines and have insurance and proper registration and do a great job for their customers and lose jobs to these clowns that rip people off. If the bid is low, there is a reason. You get what you pay for.”

Sometimes we think it’s hard to find the “good guys,” but if you do your research ahead of time, you’ll save time and frustration in the long run.

Here are three tips that should help you whether you’re looking for a plumber, a lawyer, or a virtual assistant:

  1.  Just ask. Ask everybody you know. Ask your friends, ask your neighbors, post a request to Facebook. Rest assured, if you don’t know somebody, you know somebody that knows somebody.
  2. Do background checks. I’m not talking about the background checks that go with hiring bank employees or Sunday School teachers*. But if you do a Google search on a name, look at a service like Angie’s List, or look at a person’s profile on LinkedIn, that will give you an idea of their professional persona.
  3. Interview. Most reliable service providers, in any area, are more than willing to sit down and talk to you for some amount of time for free (or at a greatly reduced rate) so that you can see if a working relationship is possible.

I honestly can’t think of a single time I’ve made a decision based solely on cost that I’ve been happy with that choice. On the other hand, I’ve often been happy with work done by people that have come with strong personal referrals.

Think about what you can do if you release some of the things that make your life difficult. No dollar amount can be placed on time with your family or on peace of mind.

No Secrets (Carly Simon album)

No Secrets (Carly Simon album) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 *As an adoptive parent what I often tell people is that if I had any skeletons in my closet, they would have been found during the background check process. I’m like Carly Simon and I have no secrets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Outsourcing: Letting Go

Outsource Definition Closeup Showing SubcontractingLETTING IT GO

The other day I was in the waiting area at the tire shop. I was sitting and relaxing with my coffee and reading a book on social media on my Kindle. I was using the time available to work on my business. Another customer was in the waiting area. He was staring through the big picture window into the shop. He was asking the tire shop employee endless questions about the process. Some people have a natural curiosity about things and a desire to learn, but this gentleman was coming across as very concerned with the fact that he had to let go of the control over his vehicle maintenance and let someone else do the work for him. I’m guessing he’s a micro manager in life and in his work.

So how do you avoid being a micro manager? Use referrals, use a vetting process, (which we talked about last week) and be comfortable with the people that you hire. Test people out. Give (more…)