In our post about becoming more productive by monotasking, we pointed out an important truth:
Work expands to fill the time you allow it.
It's critical to set boundaries to maintain a sustainable work/life balance, but unless you are superhuman or in possession of a time turner, there will be a tipping point where doing the things you need to do to stay on top of your business will inhibit the things you want to do to grow your business. You're working at full capacity— you know what you'd like your next steps to be, but you don't have enough hours in the day to give them your full attention.
It can feel like it takes all the running you can do to stay in one place; or that you're busy all day but not getting things done.
It can be stressful. Frustrating. Overwhelming.
Sooo… what do you do when you hit that tipping point?
You delegate. Like a boss.
Letting go of the things that can be automated or outsourced, that you don't do efficiently or maybe you just don't enjoy doing, means freeing up valuable time that you can spend growing your business, working on more profitable projects, or simply doing the things you would rather be doing.
We know. Outsourcing even the most elementary tasks can be scary when you're a solopreneur, and accustomed to being in control of all aspects of your business. How do you even begin?
We asked Dina Lynch Eisenberg, Operations Architect of OutsourceEasier, to help guide us through the process. Dina guides 6 figure lawyers, consultants and entrepreneurs to create a sustainable, bombproof business that practically runs itself. You can find her report on the Bottom Line of Delegating here.
Outsourcing for Entrepreneurs:
Q & A with Dina Eisenberg of OutsourceEasier
How did you become the Operations Architect?
My journey to becoming a delegation coach began with a personal tragedy. I’d been running my successful 6-figure business for years with virtual and local help. I knew right away that I couldn’t accomplish the things that I knew were important, like creating a limited podcast, without expert help. My husband had his own opinion, though.
One night he sneezed and ruptured two discs in his back. His nerve sack at the bottom of his spine was crushed and if the doctor didn’t operate within 90 minutes he would be paralyzed for life. At 3 am, my focus was on him, the surgery and starting a two year recovery— not our businesses.
We’d been living the entrepreneurial dream. Plenty of free time and flexibility. His business was a million dollars, mine in 6 figures. We were doing it like Bosses but he forgot one thing: freedom isn’t free. You have to plan and pay for it.
My hubby survived the surgery but his million dollar business died in a week. His major corporate clients, who loved his lean efficiency, didn’t trust him because there was no backup systems, remote team or help to keep things going. I suffered through such fear, uncertainty and stress that I wanted to spare other solopreneurs from the same fate. Most of us think something like this happens to the other guy, not us. It can happen to you and you have to be prepared for your business to run itself or pay the ultimate price. Losing your business. Losing your family.
I built my business to bring awareness and resources to those business owners who want to have a business that fits the life you love and almost runs itself.
What inspired you to write your course?
I think that knowledge is power. To quote my spiritual mother Dr. Maya Angelou: when you know better, you do better. So many entrepreneurs, lawyers and other professionals who run a one-person shop did not know that outsourcing could work for them or how to do it without getting scammed or frustrated. Delegating allows you to do much better work and do so much more important work that you love.
My course is very comprehensive because women feel most powerful when they have the knowledge and know-how. I walk you through each step and decision, encouraging you all the way. The course guides you to do a small project and the videos give you a visual for how to do it that you can refer back to again and again.
What makes the course unique and especially useful is the emotional intelligence piece. If all the course included was a step by step roadmap, you’d be doing great. But because most entrepreneurs have resistance to asking for help, trusting others and letting go, the course also addresses your mindset. It makes very little sense for me to teach you my style of outsourcing and then you never use it; the EQ tips help you stay motivated.
What are the signs that someone is ready to outsource?
You are ready when you ask that question and before. If you think it’s time to bring in help, and you’re seriously considering it, you’ve probably waited too long. You’re acting from a lack stance (I lack time, energy, concentration, skills to do this) that leads to poor freelancer selections and frustration.
Instead, make this decision to start outsourcing from a stance of expansiveness and excitement for what’s to come. What will you be able to create or achieve because you have help? Let your feelings of joy, satisfaction and accomplishment pull you to action.
For those who like specific standards, here’s the yardstick to use. Determine your internal rate: the amount you need to make per hour to achieve your annual gross revenue goal. Any project that you can find talent to do for less than your internal rate, and faster than you can do it, is a project to outsource.
Specifically that means you can outsource your social media and content marketing promotion and creation. You think you’re gonna get to it but, be real. It’s on the way back burner.
You may love Canva but the two hours you spent making that cute but awkward image is wasted. Canva is what I call comfort food. Stuff you do when you want to feel good. These projects feed your sense of productivity when you actually aren’t being productive. Limit your comfort food. It takes discipline but you will love it when you see how much time you have to focus on your genius work and how much better the results are when an expert completes your project in record time.
For example, I wanted to be on Pinterest but without investing the time to learn Pinterest myself. I hired an amazing VA, Dee Trethewey, who is a Pinterest expert. Under her care my following grew over 500%. Dee now manages my Facebook pages, too, at very affordable rates.
How can I find someone trustworthy to hire?
Hiring the wrong person is the number one concern for people. It can feel very scary to bring on freelancers. After all, your business is your baby and you don’t just hand her over to anybody. I felt the same way but once I understood how to let go, life got easier.
There are three ways to ensure you hire the right freelancer for you:
- Trust the platform
- Trust the system
- Trust yourself
Trust the Platform
Millions of entrepreneurs use Upwork and Fiverr to find virtual workers for their businesses. Both of these platforms have received, combined, in excess of $100 million in venture funding. Venture capitalists like to bet on sure things.
Thousands of small biz owners, myself included, have had terrifically successful experiences outsourcing on these platforms. That many people can’t all be wrong. However, you’re more likely to hear about and be influenced by the person in your circle who had a poor experience because of user error.
Trust the system
There is a way to identify the top sellers and work mainly with those people. Use the key performance indicators on the site to find the gems. I tell you the exact standards to look for in my course.
One key thing to do is read reviews. All the reviews. You’d be amazed at how clear a picture you can get from the experiences of others.
You know yourself, or at least, I hope you know yourself as an entrepreneur. You know who you work best with and who is a PITA for you. When my gut says no, the answer is no. Learn to actually listen to the inner voice you have to guide you. For two weeks write down each time you use your intuition to decide and the outcome. You’ll see how often you are right and begin to trust yourself more— THE key to growing a profitable company.
Also, know your trust triggers. We trust people and we think it’s instantaneous when it’s actually transactional. The person did or said something that allowed you to trust them. Figure out what yours are.
Funny story: the surgeon who operated on my hubby wore 3 inch heels, a pencil skirt and full makeup at 3 am when we met to discuss the treatment plan. I trusted her instantly. Why? Someone who took such care with her appearance at that hour is a detail oriented person, the kind you want doing back surgery!
What are common mistakes buyers make, and how can we avoid them?
I love this question! These mistakes come from a place of wanting to do a great job and who can be mad at that, right? Both mistakes concern trust. We think business isn’t personal, but it really is and our emotions can get the better of us.
Control freaks, I see you and I used to be you. A common mistake is not trusting yourself or the freelancer enough. You want to control every aspect. You ask the freelancer to repeat a special code, or check back constantly and expect a response even though it’s the middle of the night for the freelancer. Scared people tend to become BOSSHOLES.
In fact, most of the time when someone complains and I investigate a bit, it turns out to be a mix of user error and bosshole behaviors. The person didn’t know how to delegate effectively, got scared and fell into bosshole moves.
The best way around that is to prepare beforehand so you are confident and clear. I call it the Pre-Go phase, where you get super clear on what you want and what your role will be. Studies show that the biggest driver for poor performance is role confusion— who is responsible for what.
Guess what? You leave the freelancer no chance to please you and no choice but to yield to you when you micromanage. You need standards and a Pre-Go routine that you have confidence in, so you can trust your freelancer.
Some folks wait so long that they are desperate by the time they reach out for help. These folks are too quick to abdicate and trust that they will get the result they expect. I call this the Relief Syndrome. So happy to have the problem solved, this biz owner dumps the project on the freelancer and walks away until it is done.
I've been this person; maybe you have too. Just so happy to find someone halfway decent that you turn over the project, cross your fingers and keep moving; there is still so much to do. Then things go bad. Very bad.
That’s what happens if you are not focused or skip the Pre-Go. It still happens to me.
How can we learn to “let go” of parts of our business?
The best way around trust issues or being controlling is to:
- Recognize that you have those issues. Naming without blaming is half the battle. There is a reason you like order and control, it has served you well. It’s just not serving you now.
- Identify when you feel most trusting and under what circumstances. What is the other person like?
- Write down your standards, your yardstick, for the qualities, traits and behaviors that you need to see to trust someone. Prioritize them. That way you don’t have to make the decision and decide your standard at the same time. That’s confusing.
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Check out Dina's course: How to Outsource Made Easy for Entrepreneurs: Outsource Your Way to More Money, More Freedom & More Joy.
If and when you decide to outsource, don't forget your contract! (We can help you with that.)