I love watching movies. Most people do, but I actually prefer a good TV series to a movie. You can tell so much more of a story when you have an entire season to explore the characters and develop their story arch. I’m an actor, so when I watch TV or movies, I find myself diving deep into the world they create. My training almost forces me to connect with the characters on another level, as I imagine what it’s like to portray the people I see on screen. Because of this connection, I’m frequently left wanting to know what happens after the movie. This is why I prefer a TV series. You get to see a longer form story of their life. It’s also why I love when a movie ends with a “Where are they now” epilogue that shares what the characters went on to do with their lives. For me, if it’s a good story, they learn things about themselves over the course of the movie, and as a result, they are more well-rounded and ready to overcome future challenges. I sort of think of the movie as the beginning of the journey, and in some ways, what happens after the movie credits is the true test for the characters.
You may not relate to this at all, and that’s ok. Just consider my actor self a little crazy as I nerd out about character development, story arcs, and the intricacies of the world on screen. If you’re still here after this many episodes, I’m sure you’re willing to put up with a few of my eccentricities, so I’m just going to go with it. You also know that outsourcing is one of my true passions, and when I think about outsourcing, I can’t help but to associate these two important parts of my life: movies (or acting) and outsourcing.
As you face the challenge of juggling all aspects of your life, you’re faced with a decision. It’s sort of like the inciting incident for your business’ movie – to borrow another term from storytelling. You’re forced to make the decision to build your team of support if you want to overcome the challenges of being an entrepreneur without sacrificing your life outside your business. As you put the success of your business into the hands of others, that big decision isn’t the end of your outsourcing story. It’s the beginning. Those inciting incidents merely made you aware of a need in your life. You’re way too busy. You need more time in your day. You want your business to grow and can’t find the time to make that happen.
So, you set out to solve your problem and to grow as a business owner. Maybe you were inspired by this podcast and decided to outsource. As a result, you’ve taken steps to grow your business, and you’re – hopefully – seeing resolution to this story as you experience even just a bit of relief in your day-to-day life. You’re probably even getting into the swing of outsourcing, but this is merely the beginning of your story.
In this episode, we’re going to look at what comes next. What do you do now that you’ve learned a new way of tackling the day to day of your business? How can you write the rest of your story so the “where are they now” trope brags about the massive change in your business and as a result your personal life? To take control of your story, I think you start with the question, “What do you do now that you’ve found a virtual assistant?”
Today, I want to highlight some of the tasks I was only able to accomplish with the help of a remote team. The thing is, those tasks are the things that have revolutionized my business. They’re things I only wish we had tackled sooner. There are probably more things that could be on this list, so your list might look a little different, but my guess is that you need to touch these things. I mean, your team needs to touch these things, in some way, so you can make exponential progress in your business.
Let’s start by stating the obvious. Up to this point, you’ve put off tackling certain things on your to-do list. Or, is that just me? No. I don’t think I’m alone on this. I’m talking about those tasks you just never seem to get to. Your virtual assistant can take care of the items you never seem to check off your list. I can’t begin to explain the mental relief I experienced as those avoided items are no longer hanging over me or nagging me as they linger in the back of my mind. But it goes even further than that though, and this is the ideal part, after those ignored tasks are taken care of, you can start tackling those things in your business you’ve only ever really dreamt of doing – your business wish list if you will.
I don’t think there’s much more I need to say to introduce this, so let’s just dive right in.
You need to update your website.
Your website is literally your digital home, and it’s where people go to get to know you. They discover you through your website and social media. It’s where you pique their interest as they get a gist of how your business can solve their problems. In this age of social media, businesses prioritize their business profiles, but an excellent social media presence works against you when the social platforms are driving consumers to an outdated website. I’ve seen so many websites that don’t have current information and don’t accurately reflect the business. Businesses grow and evolve, but often times, no one takes the time to update their online presence.
When’s the last time you actually looked at your website? For me, it was way too long. I knew it was there, and I was proud of what it looked like, but a website takes consistent attention to keep it updated. Our web designer updates routinely, which increases visibility in the search engines as well as keeps any pertinent information up to date. Are your current services on your website? It seems simple, but are they? Is it obvious who you are and what you do when someone first arrives at your website? Are the important things easy to find? Does one click or less take users to details your potential customers want to know? But you can go even further than that to make the most of your website. Are your most profitable services featured to attract those customers rather than attracting customers in less profitable services? It’s time to have your team comb through your website to make sure you’re comfortable with the way it portrays your business.
You ought to update your marketing materials.
I mentioned online marketing, so I might as well cover that now too. When is the last time you updated your marketing materials? That doesn’t necessarily mean brochures and flyers anymore, but the same questions about your website apply to your drip campaigns, your blogs, and your sales materials. This also includes your social media platforms. Is the image they portray consistent with your brand? Is the story you’re telling online specifically designed for your ideal client? Are you appealing to your target market with what you’re putting out in the world? Are you sharing customer reviews from your raving fans?
Right up there with your website, your social media and marketing endeavors are often the first introduction people have to you and your business. Do you like who you meet when you look at your marketing materials? Are you excited about what your potential customers see when they first come in contact with your company? Does it accurately tell the story you want to share to find the perfect customer for your business?
You should evaluate your customer experience from introduction to buy.
As you introduce yourself to your customers, you want them the see how you help them achieve their goals. I recommend you go beyond the marketing materials and work through your entire customer experience. Think through your sales process from first introduction to when they sign on the dotted line and beg you to take their money. Taking the time to evaluate the way you follow up with potential clients and how they become customers will increase your conversion rates. It’s worth it to make sure each step is as effective and efficient as possible.
Are there processes that could be put into place to streamline this part of your business? Are there tasks involved with the customer experience to make it consistent for every client? Are there ways to elevate that experience? Do you have unique little touches that show your customers how important they are and how thrilled you are to partner with them?
Are you answering their questions before they ask them? The entire sales process is your opportunity to train your ideal clients on how to interact with you. You can set expectations on what you can do for them (and what you won’t do for them), so think that through too. Think through what you wish your current clients knew. How can you share that knowledge throughout the sales process to set new client relationship up for success from day one? How can you create habits in your potential clients that help you help them? Use those initial interactions to create expectations that you know you can exceed as you give your customers the great experience they deserve.
You need to document your processes and create procedures.
To better ensure your customers have a great experience, you need to establish procedures. If you haven’t already, start writing down how to do the various things your business does. How do you want routine tasks handled? Is that written down somewhere? Having processes documented helps everyone in your company knows how to do it the same way every time. As a result, you know what your customers get when they work with your company, so you can provide a consistent experience. Procedures go beyond that though. If something were to happen to you or your most valuable team members, would someone else know how to step in with minimal effort? The only way to do this is to guarantee your procedures are not only written down but up to date.
You can look into ways to automate your business.
As you evaluate the customer experience and define procedures, you’ll find there are tasks that can be automated. Sometimes, you need to slow down to speed things up. Automation takes time to set up, but it saves way more time than what it takes to set it up. So it‘s worth it in the long run. What programs, apps, websites can you use to increase automation in your business? There are many solutions depending on your business, so Google some options. Better yet, ask your virtual assistant. They probably have recommendations at their fingertips or they can spend a little time finding solutions that save you hours in the long run.
You want to evaluate your HR policies.
When hiring, you really hope you don’t need all the documents that typically come with HR, but you definitely miss those documents when you need them to handle any form of dispute. Is all the employee paperwork in order for your employees? Do you have W-9s on file for all your independent contractors? Do you have contracts, positional agreements, employee handbooks? The list goes on. You need these to establish expectations in those working relationships. You want to document everything, so it’s there when you need it. It’s much easier to make decisions with a clear head when you’re not in the midst of a crisis or dispute about intricate details, so be sure to have all of this in order before you need them. I mean, we all hope we never need them, but you’ll be glad they’re there when you inevitably find yourself in a situation that has you digging for these type of documents.
You can check things off your wish list.
Ok. The last thing I want to cover today is the fun part of this episode. You can check things off your wish list. What do you only dream about accomplishing in your business? What do you wish you could do but never seem to get around to doing? This podcast was in the works for well over a year before I hit record. As I cleaned up the other things on my to-do list, I was able to expand my responsibilities to include producing a podcast. So, what’s your podcast? Maybe it’s a podcast, maybe it’s not, but there are things you’ve thought about and dreamed about doing for over a year. It’s time to tackle those things. As your remote team takes control of your back office support, it’s time for you to work on the extra things and sit back and watch your business grow.
At this point, outsourcing becomes pretty easy. You just go back to your to-do list. Remember the Everything, the Only Me, and the Someone Else lists? All you do is evaluate your responsibilities and outsource more and more of those tasks. As you gain a better grasp on what your passion is, you can say ‘yes’ to the specific things that light you up, that energize you and make you excited to get out of bed and tackle the day. As your business grows, keep checking things off that wish list. Your momentum just continues to grow. When I was talking about movies earlier and what happens to characters when the story is over, I didn’t mention sequels. Unless your living under a rock, you’ve probably heard of the Fast and Furious franchise–I mean, there are, like, 99 of them, right? I’m really showing my nerdiness as I make the comparison between the movie sequel and your business journey after you hire a virtual assistant. Just as the sequel builds on the previous film, outsourcing has the same effect on your business. As your remote team takes care of new responsibilities, you take your business to the next level then next level then the next level and it just keeps ongoing. And just like the Fast and Furious sequels, you’re upping the ante as you grow your business. And you’re going to need more skilled people with more diverse skills ready to take on the increasing responsibilities that come along with a growing business.
As we wrap up this podcast season – I can’t believe it. Season one is done! – As we move on to season two, I want to hear your “where are they now” epilogue. Send me a DM on Instagram @RachelLuther or Facebook at Checking Off Your List with Rachel Luther. Or maybe, you want to share your story with more than just me. Season two is your turn to tell your story. I want to hear how outsourcing has benefited your business, your personal life, your family, anything. You’ve heard enough from me, so I’m going to chat with other entrepreneurs who have revolutionized their business by recognizing their shortcomings. I want to hear how you overcame your personal shortcomings by finding people to fill in your gaps. We all face challenges, but rather than being overcome by your failures, how did you get creative and find solutions that turned those struggles into catapults towards your next goal? If this is you, contact my team about being a guest at coylwithrachelluther.com.