Virtual staffing is no longer considered a new concept thanks to Tim Ferriss’s 2007 book “The Four-Hour Workweek”, but knowing how to hire, how to train, and how to manage a fully functioning and efficient virtual staff seems like a new concept to many.
Lucky for us, Chris Ducker, *the* virtual staffing expert, joins the show to talk about working with virtual staff, the type of mindset you need to build a virtual team, how to determine what your staff should be doing, how to take your business to the next level with virtual staffing, and much more.
Give it a listen and learn how you can potentially go from 14 hour days to 6…and no Fridays.
Key Takeaways from the Show
- How to execute the “Three Lists to Freedom” exercise
- The one mindset shift you need to make to start working with a virtual staff successfully
- How building a virtual team has changed and where it’s heading
- The next level beyond your virtual staffing foundation
Links / Resources
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Austin: Hey Chad, what’s up man?
Chad: Hey dude. What? I’m sorry, I thought I was going to go, but that was good, I’ll go with this. I’m doing great man, how are you doing?
Austin: I’m good. You double clutched so I went in there, started off.
Chad: Yeah, well it worked. It was a nice change up, changeups are always good.
Austin: That’s because we’re about the action here and that’s what, when there’s stalling, you know just act, so I just went in with it, but –
Austin: Today, we are going to talk about lots of things, including action, specific actions that you can take in your own business to, down the road, lead to a life that involves less action in the business side and more fulfillment in your own personal life. That is where that’s where we’re going today.
Chad: Yeah, and you know, the way I think about this is, technically we’re all entrepreneurs, we’re all creating something so that we can remove ourselves from the system, right? I mean that’s how we think; we’re like I don’t want to work for somebody else. I don’t want to build somebody else’s dream. I want to build my own thing, but all we end up doing is building ourselves a job, and do you know what I, do you know what job stands for by the way?
Austin: Nope, go for it.
Chad: It stands for “Just over broke.”
Austin: Just over broke.
Chad: Yeah, you know, because all you’re doing, whether it’s financially just over broke or emotionally or time, whatever it may be, you created a job for yourself. And just remember J-O-B stands for “Just Over Broke”; however you want to define ‘broke’.
Chad: Think about it.
Austin: So, speaking of creating a job for yourself or creating a position for yourself where you’re unable to experience the good side of being an entrepreneur, which I know happens, happens to a lot of people and at certain times even happened to myself, right? It’s when you make a, kind of, some progress in a certain area, maybe you get good at something and then you no longer want to do it, whatever it is. This interview with, today with Chris Ducker who’s our guest, we’re going to talk about the process of moving from a business owner who’s wearing all the hats, to a business owner who has people wearing each of those hats, to a business owner who has a person managing the people who are wearing all those hats and how to do that.
Chad: Lot of hats.
Austin: It’s a lot of hats, but if you’re an entrepreneur, you know what the hats are.
Austin: Your own business, and hopefully, this discussion today is going to help you put people into the hats you’re currently wearing, and then allow you to get into a ‘blue sky’ type moment.
Chad: Well the best part is, today’s guest Chris Ducker, like you’ve already mentioned, I mean he honestly has more experience in removing himself from his business, I mean to the point where he went from working 14-hour days, just like most of us, to working six-hour days and no longer working Fridays. He hasn’t worked a Friday since 2013, so that’s, that’s pretty interesting. I mean he’s the one who wrote Virtual Freedom. He is the master of virtual staffing and making sure that you can set that up for your business so that you can get to those six-hour workdays and no Fridays.
Austin: And before we hop into the interview, if you’re listening and you’re thinking to yourself, you know, “I’ve got a big enough company where I need to be in the office, I need to be the one there, I’m the one that makes things work” maybe you’ve got a staff of 10 or a staff of 5 or whatever it is, well, Chris Ducker has a staff of 400 and he goes into the office twice a week and like Chad said, doesn’t work on Fridays, works six hours a day, but he’s been able to do this and continue to grow because of his mindset, which we’re going to go into, do a deep dive.
Chad: Yeah, and just think about it this way, it’s not one company, it’s three companies. He has three companies, then on top of that, he doesn’t consider his blog a company, right? So, technically there’s four things happening: three typical companies and then his blog and his online community and forum. So, let me put it this way, if he can do this with four, almost four companies, then it’s definitely something you want to be able to do with your one.
Austin: Before we jump in, we wanted to tell you guys, if you have not yet gone over to our website, ecommerceinfluence.com, and registered as an insider, now’s the time to do it. You can go over there, we’ve got a library of marketing training videos, master classes, guides on how to grow traffic, how to generate sales with whether it’s YouTube Influencer marketing or Facebook, how to hire top people on Elance, there are lots of fantastic guides for ecommerce business owners and they’re all free. You go over there, you sign up, you’ll gain access to everything that we have. We’re going to dive in, but first Chad, why don’t you give a quick background on Chris.
Chad: Yeah, man. So, Chris Ducker is founder and CEO of Live2Sell Group. I think it’s now 400 employee, outbound and inbound call center providing lead generation, appointment setting, customer service, and like I’ve mentioned, like most entrepreneurs, he was working 14-hour days, 6 days a week and spending very little time with family. Going into 2010, he put in a one-year goal in place to become a virtual CEO and by late November 2010, he achieved that goal. So, he works now six hours a day, doesn’t work Fridays, runs three companies.
He documented this journey for entrepreneurs, and you can learn more about that through his site Chrisducker.com, through his podcast, The New Business podcast, and through his book Virtual Freedom, which is really the main part of this, this interview. It’s a book I read two months ago, and I definitely recommend it as it gives the step by step process to what he was able to accomplish. Chris has been featured in Entrepreneur countless times, as well as in Forbes, Inc.com, Business Insider, the Huffington Post, and has graced the covers of Empowered Entrepreneur and Founder magazines. He was recently named Entrepreneur magazine’s or one of Entrepreneur magazine’s top 50 online marketing influencers of 2014. So, pumped to welcome Chris to the show.
Chris: Thanks, pumped to be here.
Chad: Yeah, you’re all the way over there in the Philippines. We’re on completely opposite time schedules, but that’s the beauty of the world of technology these days, so.
Chris: Oh yeah, I mean, I am and I never get bored saying this, I’m coming to you from the future.
Austin: That’s true.
Chad: I lived in Australia once and I had a friend, I called him and it was, it was like the next day and he goes “Wait, you’re a day ahead of me,” he said, “What’s the lottery ticket number?” I was like, dude, I was like, I’ll call you later. Anyway, anyway, let’s first get a quick background on you. Obviously, a lot of people listening right now probably know who you are, some may not, we don’t want to assume that, but if you could, maybe take 30 seconds, give us a little background on you personally and your marketing expertise.
Chris: Sure, well, I mean ultimately what I am is just a sales and marketing guy, that’s it. I don’t kind of have any delusions of grandeur on that. I’ve been in the sales and marketing industry since I was 17 years old. I’m 42 now. I’ve sold everything from spare car parts over the telephone, to you know, apartments, boats, infomercial products, internet services, you name it. So, you know that’s my hardcore background, but you know, we fast forward to like 2000, came out here to the Philippines, working with one of the international banks over here, and in between that and doing a lot of consulting for a lot of American companies, I was also in the infomercial game for a while. And then 2004 branched out and started my own businesses, so yeah, just you know, 11 years as an entrepreneur. I now run three different businesses, we employ over 400 full-time staff, and we’ve got multi, seven-figure annual revenue, so everything is good. Life is good. If I complained, nobody would listen to me anyway, so I just say life is good.
Chad: Perfect. Well I know that you know, building three different businesses, what is it, three or four, where you at now four?
Chris: Well, you know what, it’s kind of weird, because some of the stuff that I do, I don’t count as businesses. Things like the blogging, the podcasting, we’re obviously a fully marketing and sponsorships, speaking, book deals, things like that. I don’t class those as businesses, that’s just fun.
Chris: You know what I mean? Not that business is not fun but, you know what I mean?
Chad: Of course.
Chris: So, we have, so the three businesses are the Live2Sell Group, which is kind of the mommy of everything. Everything is under one umbrella. So, Live2Sell is the call center that takes up the bulk of that 400-employee count obviously, because it’s a manpower thing. Then we have virtualstarfinder.com which is our VA recruitment hub for busy entrepreneurs that want to find virtual assistants here in the Philippines, and then just recently we launched Upreneur.com which is the online mastermind community. So, that’s where entrepreneurs come to sort of get the support and the accountability that they need to be able to take the business to the next level.
Chad: Perfect, and you know, thinking about this, the reason why we wanted to have you on is because a lot of entrepreneurs that listen to our podcast, they’re ecommerce business owners, you know, selling physical products online in most cases, and we know from talking to them, a lot of our clients, they’re working these massive long days, you know, sacrificing time with family and you at one point were working 14-hour days and now you’re only working six-hour days at most, while not working Fridays. First off, can you give those overworked entrepreneurs some insight into what it’s like to reach that promised land?
Chris: It’s a nice thing. It’s – I mean you know, I’m not going to try and sugar coat it, it’s a game-changing situation. You know I work up late 2009 around about the middle of December one morning after doing those 14, 15-hour days, pretty much six days a week for three or four years, you know, and we were making money, don’t get me wrong. At that point, we had like 130 people working for us, we would even bank, but the fact to the matter is that I burned out like I couldn’t get out of bed that morning, it was brutal. And so, you know, you fast forward now, you know, I did what I needed to do in 2010 to remove myself from the business day to day and become that virtual CEO.
And you know, now like you say, you know, a lot less hours, three-day weekends, and you know the business has quadrupled in size. It’s doubled in terms of margin, and obviously, I’ve been able to open and start additional businesses on top of it. Not to mention the fact that I now get, you know, paid to speak all around the world. I’ve got a book deal out of the whole thing, you know, Virtual Freedom has now sold over 40,000 copies. We’ve got 600-plus five star reviews on Amazon. I class that as a big success in the non-fiction book world. And, I mean I’m blessed, I’m very, very blessed, man. Honestly, it sort of really comes down to it, man, the fact to the matter is if an old, stick-in-the-mud, micromanaging, pain-in-the-butt entrepreneur/boss can do it, anybody can do it. And if you’re doing business online and you’re ultimately running your business, you know, in an ecommerce type fashion, just from, you know, the majority of the time from your laptop probably, or at least one single computer working out of home, it’s even easier to do it, because you don’t have 400 people working for you. So, you know, the fact is it really ends up being a mindset shift, and lots, and lots, and lots of action.
Chad: Well I’m sure there’s a lot of people listening right now, you know, they are this single entrepreneur behind the computer, and they’re probably thinking to themselves, “This guy is full of crap,” you know, he’s like you know I’m still doing this, I’m still working 14 hours and he’s telling me it’s easy. So, how do we or how do people listening, who run ecommerce businesses, if you could maybe breakdown how to get them to that position where, where they can be working more in a virtual sense in less hours, less time?
Chris: Yeah, sure. Well look, the first thing I want to clarify is nothing in business is easy, so I want to clarify that right now. You know, running a business is A, it’s not for everyone, obviously, and B, if you do have the guts and you know, the balls to actually take it on and get it done, you know, no matter what industry you’re in, there’s going to be, you know, there’s going to be issues that come your way and problems you’ve got to handle.
So, nothing in business is easy, but I will say that you know, getting into the mindset of thinking about running more of a virtual business, more of a business that is based on the lifestyle side of being an entrepreneur and not so much the work side of it, that is very achievable. One of the easiest ways to be able to do it is to sit down right at the beginning of it all and do what I call my ‘three lists to freedom’ exercise. And the three lists to freedom came about actually late 2009 when I had to do this exercise myself to sort of start freeing myself up, right? And it didn’t have a sexy title back then; it was just me with pens and paper, and that was literally it.
And what you do is basically you create three columns on a piece of paper and you’re going to create three lists. So, the first list is a list of things that you hate doing, like this is the stuff that you procrastinate on all day long, but you have to do them because your business demands it of you, okay, so that’s the first list. The second list, a list of all the things that you can’t do; now this is where I, what I call ‘superhero syndrome’ comes into play because we believe we can do everything, right? So, you know, nobody’s better than us at designing logos in Photoshop, even though I’m not a graphic designer, you know. I mean that kind of mentality. So, that has to go on the second list. And then, the third list is probably the toughest one of all to put together because going back to list one and two, this list is based on what you feel you shouldn’t be doing as the business owner, but because going back to list number two, you might actually like doing these tasks and you might actually be very, very good at doing these tasks, this is the tough one, because people don’t want to let go of those tasks. But the question again is, should you let go so that you can spend time on more high-level activity? And that’s where the business growth happens.
When you start delegating the stuff that not only you hate doing but you can’t do, but the stuff that you do like doing and that you can do very, very well, because you know that by delegating those types of tasks, ultimately, you’re going to be buying more time to be able to invest back into your business with things like product acquisition, product development, strategy for growth, spending time with your top 20% clientele, and so on, and so on, and so on. And that’s what a business owner should be doing, they should not be messing around in freaking Facebook and you know spending time doing online research.
Chad: And scheduling, scheduling social media posts.
Chris: And all that sort of stuff. Like what are you doing? Seriously, like get someone else to do that stuff for you.
Austin: You mentioned something Chris, and I may butcher it here because you said it and I
wrote it down, kind of peaked my interest, you said, “They got to get into the lifestyle of being an entrepreneur, not the work.” Can you elaborate on that and explain maybe what you mean by that?
Chris: Yeah, I mean why did you become an entrepreneur, you know? You know the majority of people out there have probably worked a full-time job or at least a part-time job at some point before becoming an entrepreneur, right? And they probably had a boss and they probably thought to themselves, “This is not what I want. I can’t work for somebody else, I got to do my own thing, man.
Like I’ve got these great ideas, I can change the world,” but you know, you did not become an entrepreneur to believe what society has to lead us to believe, and that is that to be a successful business owner, you’ve got to work 16 hours a day, 7 days a week for 10 years. Like, that’s what society’s definition of success is, it’s having, you know, two mobile phones and running around like Ari Gold from Entourage, right? Like that is not being an entrepreneur, a successful entrepreneur, not in my eyes anyway. Yeah, you’ll make a crapload of money, but ultimately are you going to be happy? Like for me, being an entrepreneur is about being my own boss. Not only working for myself but being the boss of my own time. Like if I want to catch a double bill at the cinema at two o’clock on Wednesday afternoon, I’m doing that.
Chad: That’s awesome.
Chris: Right? If I want to go out, if I want to work from 8-11 and then go to the yoga studio to sweat it up for an hour, I’m going to do that. If I want to completely blank out every Friday on my calendar for an entire year just to see if I can do that and not work on Fridays, and see whether my business implodes or not, if I want to do that, I’ll do that, and I did that in 2013. I haven’t worked a Friday since the beginning of 2013, so – unless you count traveling and speaking and things like that. But I mean ultimately being an entrepreneur for me is about being in charge of your own time, your own schedule, your own life, and not having the business run you.
The problem guys, is that we get so wrapped up in the idea of wanting to make money, make money, make money, that we forget about – should we say, I don’t want to sort of turn this into a whole kind of “kumbaya” moment here, but there are more important things in life than just money. Yes, we need it to survive and to build the lifestyles that we want, but ultimately how much is enough? You know what I’m saying? Like if you’re making half a million dollars a year, but you’re having, you know, and you’re doing okay and you’re happy with that half million dollars a year, to go up to a million dollars a year, if that means that you’ve got to go from eight hours a day to 16 hours a day and ultimately burn out and put yourself in a hospital like I did, it ain’t worth the extra half a mil, just enjoy your life.
Austin: Sure absolutely. I think what’s interesting is that I do feel like there is a realization happening and people are starting to understand you a little bit more. I mean it’s been a while since, if you look at the beginning, from a mainstream perspective, you know, the book like ‘4-Hour Workweek’ where they talk about outsourcing, that’s been around for a little while, right? What I’m interested from you being involved in this for quite some time, I mean we hired our first VA – I hired my first VA, actually through Virtual Staff Finder. I don’t know how many years ago.
Chris: Oh very cool.
Austin: Yeah, it was great. It was about three-and-a-half years ago, three years ago, and worked out really well. It’s happened but what I’ve seen is people becoming more comfortable with it. Be experienced in this field and seeing kind of the changes, where do you think, where do you think it’s going or what has changed since you started Virtual Staff Finder and help find virtual staff for companies? And where are we going in that range?
Chris: Yeah, that’s a great question. I think, you know, I think ultimately just people’s perceptions of work, in general, has changed; you know, and you’ve got guys like you know Tim with 4-Hour Workweek, I mean I’ve never met Tim, we don’t know each other, and I obviously read the book along with, you know, hundreds of thousands of other people, and you know, that book did ultimately, it created a new generation of entrepreneurs is what it did. Do I think you can work four hours a week and become a raving success?
No, I call BS on that obviously, but I mean you know, just the – you know, Tim, the funny thing is that Tim’s come back to that is well, you know really it depends on what you class as work. Like what is that about? Like, you know, I enjoy being in my inbox for five hours a day, so that does not work to me. You know what I mean? Like there’s always an out there, right, which I love. But I think honestly that people’s perception of business, in general, has changed. It has become more virtual, it has become more remote, it has become more global. We are truly in a global environment now when it comes to not only hiring people and getting truly the right people for the right jobs and roles.
You’re no longer constrained to geographical areas anymore you know, if you can shift your mindset that is. Like if you want us to work in 1985, you can do that, everybody has to live in a 10-mile radius of where your office is, that’s okay, but ultimately, the world has shifted already. And if you want to go ahead and make that shift with it, then life will become easier in terms of running a business. You know, just the idea of not even owning a desktop computer anymore is weird for some people, “Oh no, I need my–” do you really? Do you really need a computer on a desk, a great big fat computer on a desk all the time? Probably not, you know what I mean? So, I think ultimately the perception of business overall has changed because of books like the 4-Hour Workweek and Remote. What a great book, Remote, by the guys 37signals, an amazing book by the guys over there, and obviously Virtual Freedom is a pretty good read as well, but just caveat with that one.
But no, I think that, you know, I think the shift has already happened; in terms of where we’re going with it, you know I’m, I don’t have a crystal ball, but what I can say is I believe that you’re going to get – I think businesses that take on board that virtual-ness, in terms of the way that they are run and supported, operated, grown, those are the businesses, for me, that I believe will actually end up growing faster, they’ll make more money sooner, and they’ll actually end up being acquired and/or grown and just in general, in terms of like when you think of the evolution of a business, like you work 10 years, you get your first acquisition offer, you either sell or you don’t, you know that kind of thing, that kind of general business mentality I think will actually speed up at a ridiculous speed in the next 5 to 10 years. We’ve already come leaps and bounds, you know what I mean?
Chris: I’m excited, you know, I’m an old school, traditional entrepreneur, and you know I’ve only been online for five years really, but I’ve embraced the online and the new media approach to doing business. I wish more brick and mortar, old school, stuck-in-the-mud entrepreneurs would do the same, the world would be a much more exciting place. But I’m very excited about the next 10 years as an entrepreneur. I can’t wait to get my hands dirty.
Austin: You mentioned this a couple of times, being an old school, stuck-in-the-mud, you’ve mentioned micromanager, and you talk about your mindset shift and mindset shift you’ve mentioned a couple of times. You also mentioned that you know, you physically had to make changes because of your health. What about somebody who’s not at the point where you know, they’re still let’s say, in year 2008, before you went to the hospital and you were still pushing at that point, what do you say to somebody who’s there and they haven’t broke down yet, but they’re not comfortable? How do they begin to make that mindset shift? What is the – besides the list, is there, is there a way of thinking, a thought process that they can begin to understand, to kind of move in that direction?
Chris: You know the fact of the matter is that if you’re in that position right now and you haven’t burned out already, you’re going to have to get over yourself; like this is some tough love right here because whether you like it or not, you will burn out. There’s just no way in the world that anybody can continue doing that for a long period of time, and not eventually hit the brick wall at 180 miles an hour. Like you are going to burn out, it is inevitable that you will burn out. So, my advice quite frankly, is to get over yourself and stop drinking your own cool-aid and believing that you don’t need the help, because you do, you will need the help.
You know, there’s no – there’s no magic pill you can pop I think, for that mindset shift. I think, and also the other thing is this also, some people don’t want to be helped, some people are happy doing what they’re doing, and that’s fine. And if that’s the case, you can’t and you shouldn’t try to change those people’s minds. The people that are on the verge of overwhelming, they know they’re there, man. Like, I’ve coached hundreds and hundreds of entrepreneurs, I’m telling you, they know that they’re there. The large majority of people know that they are on the cusp of burn out, and when it hits, you truly do have that crossroads in front of you where you either build that team and you start alleviating some of the pressure off of yourself or you decide to carry on doing that you’re doing, and you will eventually end up hitting that brick wall. Like I said, it’s inevitable. So, it’s not, you know, there’s no real hard fast action point I can give for that. It really does come down to, like I said, just getting over yourself and understanding that, you know, your businesses do not have to revolve around you. You should actually revolve around your business. You should be the one on the outside looking in, not the other way around.
Chad: I think that’s absolutely pretty awesome points there, but the one thing I’m struggling with, and I know that a lot of people listening are struggling with, like we understand that this is the mindset shift that needs to happen, and we understand that you know, it’s definitely become more acceptable to create virtual teams. We’re already making that shift, it’s been around for a while, but the one thing I noticed, not only from talking to some of our clients but even talking to just you know, even within our own organization, the inability to create the team, the virtual team to help us get to that point, we are missing the mark in so many ways. I can’t even express to you the amount of people that we’ve talked to that are clients who tell us that they hired these virtual, remote workers, and next thing you know, it bombs half the time that they hire them. I read your book probably two months ago or something like that, and I was like, “Wow, this logically makes so much sense and I’m going to follow this to a tee.” So, we’ve now got the mindset shift, we’ve got the –everybody’s starting to make sure this is, you know, or starting to believe that this is okay, what do we do next? Like how do people listening actually put this in play?
Chris: Well, you know, once you do that first initial exercise, the three list to freedom, what happens is, you create yourself a blueprint ultimately for the tasks that you can then start delegating. Some of the tasks that you hand out will be just that, will be just tasks, and once they’re done, they’re done and everybody moves on, thank you for playing. Some of them will be more project based, which will last for a certain period of time, maybe it’s a website rebuild or something like that, you might need two or three people involved in that type of project, but again once the project is ultimately finalized, everybody goes their separate ways and gets paid, and everybody’s happy. I’m the builder, you know, the advocacy that
I’m all about is building a team, and you know, that’s where you have to start hiring for the role and not for the task. So, I talk about it in the book where I say like, you know, there’s no one super VA that can do everything. You know, the two biggest mistakes and they are both assumption-based, surprise-surprise, right? The two biggest mistakes that I see people making over and over and over again is that number one, they assume that one person can do everything for them. So, they want to hire one virtual assistant to do all their online research, to manage their website, to do all their SEO, to edit the podcast, to edit videos, to design graphics for social media, to run their schedule. They literally want one person to do the job of four or five people.
Chad: They want the handyman.
Chris: Yes, and it doesn’t exist. It doesn’t exist. Why do you think we have accountants and operations managers and IT consultants and, you know, sales people, and graphic designers? Why do you think all these other, all these positions exist because people have specialty skill sets, and that’s how you build a team right. You don’t expect to hire one person and have that one person do everything for you. It can’t, it doesn’t happen in the real world, it sure as hell doesn’t happen in the virtual world. So, that’s the first mistake that I see people making, and the way to do that is to hire truly for the role and not for the task.
Okay, you can’t just bunch a load of tasks together and find one person to do it all. It doesn’t work that way. The other big mistake that I see is again, an assumption that even if the virtual employee has the skill set, has the experience, has the mindset, has the attitude you need in your business, even if they have all those things, the assumption is they know exactly how you want things done right out of the gate, and that’s not the case. A lot of people hire VAs and they think, well I don’t need to train this person up because they know how to do everything I need done.
That might be true but he’s never done it for you. If you want Arial, size 12 and green and blue font colors, then you need to tell your VA that, otherwise they might end up using purple and pink, and Times Roman and 10. You know what I mean? So, it’s that, on that initial onboarding that a lot of people want to skip over. I’m a busy entrepreneur, that’s why I’m hiring a virtual assistant, I don’t have time to train them. Well, good luck with that mate, good luck with that seriously, because if you don’t train them out of the gate, it won’t work out. And those are the two things that I see over and over and over again.
Austin: We’re getting kind of towards the end, but I got a couple of questions about the onboarding process, because I think that people listening who have hired someone and maybe made a mistake in the past and maybe they’ve done the exact same thing you’ve said, hired somebody, did not train them, they burned out. What, like when you’re going through your onboarding process for somebody new, what does that look like, timeline and what type of things do you typically go through when you’re onboarding someone?
Chris: Well it’s those day to day tasks, you know, they’re the ones that are covered first and foremost because they’re the ones obviously that are taken up the most times. So, you know we have, you know we have SOPs put in place already for pretty much everything. So, you know, if you haven’t got SOPs in place, Standing Operating Procedure, you need to write them out, plain and simple. You need to spend time systematizing your business. So, you know, you write an SOP for how to update a blog post, or an SOP on how to add a product to a product database if you’re more ecommerce related, right? What’s involved?
Well you need an image, you need a price, you need key selling benefits, you need a general description, you need to maybe then list the products you want to cross and upsell that product from and to. So, you know, these are the things you need to put in place and once those SOPs are in place, you then walk, you then have to walk through that VA on utilizing that SOP. Now the way I like to do it and the way I train all of my virtual assistants is with videocasts; so you know, I’m a Mac guy so I’ll use ScreenFlow to record my screen or you know, if you’re on a PC, you can use Camtasia, and you know for me, that’s the easiest way to train people. I can walk them through exactly how I want something done, visually on my screen, and now I can talk over that screen so they can actually see and I can explain not only how to do it, but why I’m doing it.
Why am I putting this first sentence in bold, why is the last sentence in that product description in italics, and so on, and so on, and so on because mainly to understand why their doing these things. You don’t want your staff just to be robots, you want them to be living-breathing human beings, so they can make decisions on their own sometimes as well. But then what I do is when I’m done with that Screencast, I’ll export, turn it into a video, stick it into Dropbox and what happens is you then have this kind of ever-growing encyclopedia of training documents that every time you have an SOP put in place, you record a new video for it. If for whatever reason the virtual assistant that you currently work with or the first one that you end up hiring doesn’t stick around with you or if it’s not a good fit, you end the relationship, whatever it is, at least then you’ve got all the information you need, you’ve got all those training videos that you need, you don’t have to start all over again, and it’s the best way to train somebody is to do it via video because they can go back and watch it two or three times if they need to, and you don’t then have to invest or spend any more time or waste any more time actually having to train somebody over and over again in all these different tasks. So, that’s what I suggest people do to get started with it.
Chad: Yeah, I mean these are some of the things we’ve been, we’ve been trying to harp on, but coming from someone like you who obviously has much more credibility at this point in this arena, I mean it’s helpful to hear that again. Now, we’re going to close this up here in a couple of minutes, but before we do, you know, let’s just say that the virtual staffing foundation has been set up, can you give us like a 30-second bit on what that next level would look like once it’s all set up?
Chris: Oh, I mean what do you want, you want to talk about going from one VA to a team or what exactly? Can you kind of –
Chad: Well, yeah because I was thinking about your book, right, I read the book, getting the foundation set up. The foundation according to the book is, is what, there’s like a five or six VAs that would be, or five or six virtual people that would be working for you at that point, correct?
Chris: Yup, yup, yup.
Chad: And then after that, once you get those five or six set up, how does that, how does that expand from there?
Chris: Well I think the biggest error that people make once you get those five or six people in place, the biggest mistake that I see people making is that they go from business owner to people manager, and you want to make sure you don’t let that happen because then you’re stuck inside of your business again, running the business, and I think what you really then need to do, you know, you’ve replaced yourself to a certain degree by bringing these people on board, and you know, we can talk about general virtual assistant or web developer, graphic designer, writers, web developers, video editors, audio editors, you know, mobile app developer may be, you know, all these different roles that you can bring into your business, you’re being smart enough to bring these people in to help you run, support, and help you grow your business day to day.
But what happens now if you’re just stuck managing all those people? You’re not building your business anymore, you’re just managing people. So, at this point, the biggest thing that you can do and probably the most important thing that you can do on the entire concept of this thing is to start thinking again like the business owner that you are, and not getting sucked into that people management position, and that is to make one of those VAs you’ve already got on board and 9 times out of 10 is the general VA, and you make one of those VA’s your project manager or your operations manager if you’re slightly larger, you know, operation or whatever the case may be. You need to take yourself out of running that business or running that team rather, and once you do that, what happens is you then end up freeing up all that extra time that you’ve now got to be able to then take the business up to the next level in the more traditional fashion of developing more products, launching more services, hitting up more trade shows, etcetera,
Chad: Perfect, now that’s exactly what I definitely wanted to hear because I knew that there was a next level that we should be aspiring to rather than just getting those first few assistants onboard, so.
Chris: Yeah, and it’s a beautiful thing, you know, like once you’re in a position where all you really need to do is focus on the stuff that you like, you know, you truly like and love doing, then it becomes fun all over again. You know what I mean? It’s like I often say, “You should do what you do best and delegate the rest” and that does also include managing your team. Like for me, and this always comes as a big shock for the majority of people when I say this, but I am a horrible manager, like, I am a crappy manager. I’ll go out on a limb and say, I’m one of the worst managers you will come across, I’m not exaggerating that.
This is a guy with 400 people working for him, but what I can do is lead. I’m a good leader, I’m a good motivator. I can get people to do stuff so what I do is I get people to come in and manage the different areas of my businesses for me, and I work with those people as a leader, as a mentor, not as a boss, not as a manager, but I work with those core, you know, I have a core team of about 10 people that work over those three businesses and they are the ones who day to day manage the business and the people within the business, so that I can look at that more kind of – you know, here’s a bit of management speak for you, I can then look outside of the box, right? And that, let’s ‘blue sky’ this, right, you know that’s what I want to do, I want to be ‘blue skying’ this thing. I don’t want to have to be stuck inside it, so yeah. It’s, and it’s a beautiful thing when you truly doing what you do best and you’re delegating the rest, it’s a great feeling from an entrepreneurial perspective as well.
Austin: And I know there’s definitely people that are in that people manager position, because I was just talking to one of my good friends, he’s got to that point and he felt like, he was cracking me up; he runs an online ecommerce business selling a product, and he was telling me, he’s like, “I have literally found a role, every single person has now taken over what I’m doing.” He’s like, “But I’m trapped in the office because I’m managing every single aspect of the business” and he was kind of freaking out, he’s like, “I don’t know what to do next.” So, I’m going to tell him to listen to this podcast and get his ass outside of it and start ‘blue skying’ a little bit more.
Chris: Well, you know, the other, the other thing is like you know if you’re running a successful business, now I mean what are we looking at, let’s say you’re doing in profit, in profit let’s say you’re doing, I don’t know, 20 grand a month, right? Let’s just – we’ll pluck it out of the air, maybe you’re doing more, maybe you’re doing less, but I mean, let’s say for example you know you’re doing 20 grand a month in profit, you can afford to bring somebody on board and pay them a grand a week, that’s four grand out of your profit, that leaves you with 16,000 dollars a month, that’s a good earning. You know, that’s a good living right there, but what you got to understand is that by removing yourself from the day to day pain-in-the-butt stuff that you’re having to handle right now and get somebody else to bring in and fundamentally work on all that for you, you’re creating all those, all those extra hours in your month, man.
Time is your most valuable commodity. Once you’ve got all that extra time, you can create all those new products, you can do all those new things, and you can start enjoying business again and as a direct result of all that, you’ll actually end up maybe even doubling or tripling your income on a year. So, yeah, you might start thinking well, “I can’t afford to pay,” you can, if you’re making that kind of money, you can afford to bring somebody on board and then let them, you know let them right for you. You know, just get over that ‘superhero’ syndrome, let it go a little bit, and start to truly, you know, run your business properly and you know, you will end up making more money and I might just be making it sound just a little easy, but trust me, you will end up making more money if you’re not stuck running your business, you know, every single day.
Chad: Yeah sure. Well I tell you what, the thorn in every entrepreneur’s side, the superhero syndrome, and just get rid of that. That seems like an easy thing to do, but it’s not so.
Chris: It’s not, it’s not. I wish it was, but it isn’t.
Austin: It’s a process. That’s again, you know, why you wrote the book to get people through that process. I would love to hear more, I know you just recently launched Upreneur, I loved it. If somebody’s listening and they want to learn more about what you’re doing, if they connected with you, are listening to you, where would you direct them?
Chris: Well, I mean my online hub is Chrisducker.com, you know, everything I do is over there; my blog, my podcast, my products, my services, everything is there. But Upreneur.com, yeah, we just launched recently, it’s an online mastermind community, we have ecommerce people there right now talking about product launches and everything from fulfillment right the way down to marketing. So, you know, this is a place where people can come and hang out with likeminded people, truly you know, get all the learning, we have hours and hours and hours and hours of proprietary training in three as well.
But you know, ultimately the guts of it is the community forums, and it’s a place to really just get the support, to be able to brainstorm, to get feedback on ideas, and obviously to give it all back to your fellow peeps as well. But then really to hold each other accountable. We have threads in there that are specifically for accountability, for a week, for a month, for a product launch, whatever it is. So, yeah, I’d love to be able to see some people over there if they’re interested in it. They can just go to Upreneur.com
Chad: Perfect. Chris thanks for, thanks for hopping on with us today and –
Chris: It was a pleasure, guys. I thoroughly enjoyed the conversation, you know it’s been a while believe it or not, that I’ve talked about the whole kind of VA team build out thing, because I’ve taken, number one, I took a little bit of break from interviews because I got a little burn out from doing so many of them when the book came out last year. But this year, I’ve spoken more on personal branding and the kind of the business of new concepts. So, it was a nice breath of fresh air to come back and talk about the whole VA thing again. I really enjoyed it.
Chad: Perfect. Well we definitely enjoyed it and I know our listeners will too. So, thanks again for hopping on.
Chris: It was all my pleasure. Thank you for having me.
Austin: Thanks so much for joining us today and joining Chad, Chris and I to talk a little bit about outsourcing, virtual freedom, living a better lifestyle. I want to let you know if you listened to today’s episode and you found a lot of value in it, head over to our website, ecommerceinfluence.com and register as an insider. You’ll be able to download training videos, we call them master classes, in-depth interviews with experts talking about traffic generation, talking about buying and selling businesses, talking about how to master YouTube. All the stuff that we talk about in this podcast, we distill down into the best versions of it, into guides and training.
If you head over there to ecommernceinfluence.com/insider, you can register for free and you will get access to all of it and we continually build out our Insider section as we grow, as we interview new people and we come up with better, better ecommerce marketing and business training. It’ll go in there and be sent out to you. So, definitely recommend doing it if you haven’t gone over there already, and also, if you enjoyed our episode or if you didn’t enjoy it, still head over to iTunes and write us a little review. It’s something that makes Chad very, very happy when he sees your review; he gets very, very happy.
Chad: It does.
Austin: Don’t do it for me, do it for Chad. Thanks so much for joining us again and we’ll see you in the next episode.