We are so excited to welcome Sarah Hayes to the Outsourcing With Love blog today!
Sarah is a systems strategist and educator for right-brained business owners who would color code the world if she could. Two years after abandoning her print design business because she “wasn’t cut out for business,” Sarah rejoined the world of creative entrepreneurship to encourage and empower other entrepreneurs to maximize efficiency in their business so they can spend their time on what matters most. Most days you can find her streamlining everything from client to project management systems, geeking out over a new way of color coding, or brainstorming a new project. The founder of Love & Spreadsheets and the co-creator of Trello Like a Boss, Sarah loves using systems, organization, and the perfect amount of planning to create a life you love. An unabashed bookworm and constant traveler, Sarah believes life is a gift meant to be celebrated, Tuesday morning should be as memorable as Saturday night, and nothing boosts your confidence like the perfect red lipstick.
Whenever I hear entrepreneurs talk about growing their business, nearly everyone jumps immediately to outsourcing. And while outsourcing is one excellent way to grow your business (as the Outsourcing with Love team knows well!), it shouldn’t be the first step.
Instead, the first step to outsourcing and growing your business is actually by streamlining your systems.
Now, you might be thinking, “But Sarah… that’s why I want to outsource — I don’t have the time to streamline my systems myself!”
And I hear you, girl. Trust me. But what would you say if I told you outsourcing a hot mess of a business to a virtual assistant or someone similar could actually cost you time (and therefore money), instead of saving it?
WHY STREAMLINING YOUR SYSTEMS IS THE FIRST STEP TO OUTSOURCING
Still don’t believe me? Well, here are just a few reasons why streamlining your systems should actually be your first step to outsourcing and growing your business by growing your team.
IT HELPS YOU GET CLEAR ON WHERE YOU NEED SUPPORT
If I asked you to give me a detailed list of the areas in your business you need support today, would you be able to do it?
You see, when the systems in your business are a hot mess and your business as a whole just feels overwhelming, it’s nearly impossible to identify where you actually need support, which makes it difficult to figure out who to actually hire.
Do you need help with general admin tasks? Client management and onboarding? Social media? Bookkeeping? All of the above? None of the above?
If you can’t answer those questions, you could easily hire the wrong type of support, which will leave you still feeling overwhelmed and possibly even more stressed because now you feel like you’re wasting money on support that isn’t actually supporting you!
When your business is streamlined, it becomes super clear which areas you really need support in for the short and long-term!
IT HELPS YOU IDENTIFY WHAT TASKS YOU CAN ELIMINATE
Something that goes hand-in-hand with figuring out where you need support is figuring out the specific tasks you need support on.
The question here is… if your business isn’t streamlined, how can you be sure the tasks you’re outsourcing actually need to be outsourced?
I’m not saying you could outsource tasks that you shouldn’t (although that is always a possibility). Rather, you could be outsourcing (and therefore spending money on) tasks that no one in your business should be doing because they can be automated or eliminated!
When your business is streamlined and organized well, you can be sure the tasks you’re outsourcing to a VA or other team member are actually worth the time and money spent on them!
IT HELPS YOU PRIORITIZE WHAT YOU NEED TO OUTSOURCE
Depending on the long-term goals for your business, your list of things to outsource may be pretty long. But if that list includes everything from general admin and bookkeeping to content writing and social media strategy… how on earth do you figure out what you should outsource first?
If your business backend is on the organizational struggle bus, it can be hard to prioritize, which means everything can seem like the most important thing when it comes to outsourcing. Since the business as a whole feels overwhelming, you may find it difficult to figure out the biggest stressors that would give you the most bang for your buck in terms of relieving stress and overwhelm.
But if your business is streamlined, it’s easier to identify the eventual roles you want to fill on your team, what things you should outsource first, and what things you can keep on your plate for a little longer.
IT ENSURES YOU WON’T BE WASTING THE MONEY YOU SPEND ON OUTSOURCING
Most business owners agree that one of the last things we want to do is waste money. You work hard for those dollar bills, so few things feel worse than spending them on something you later regret.
Yet what so many entrepreneurs don’t realize is when they outsource before automating, streamlining, or simplifying their business, they’re almost certainly throwing money down the drain.
If you hire someone to handle tasks that could be automated, simplified, or eliminated from your business, it’s just as much a waste of their time as it would be of your time, which means it’s also a waste of your money.
Streamlining your business before you outsource ensures that the tasks you’re outsourcing actually need to be outsourced to a real, live person and the money you spend will give you the ROI you’re hoping for!
Now, it may be in your plans to hire someone in order to streamline your systems. While this isn’t the worst thing in the world, not every virtual assistant is equipped with the skill set to streamline your systems well. Not to mention, if your systems aren’t in place when hiring your VA, it makes the onboarding process a whole lot more difficult.
Which leads us to the next point…
IT MAKES THE PROCESS OF ONBOARDING EASIER FOR EVERYONE INVOLVED
Take it from someone who has been onboarded to multiple business, some with streamlined systems and processes in place, others without… it is infinitely easier to onboard someone onto your business if you’ve streamlined first. Both for you and for the person you’re onboarding.
Think about it this way — if you were joining someone’s team, which situation would you prefer to be in?
Joining someone’s team and them saying, “Welcome to the team! These are the things we kind of hope you’ll help us with. There might be other things, we’re just not really sure yet. We don’t have a process in place for that, we have a process in place for this but it’s all in my head and isn’t written down anywhere, and all this over here is a bit of a hot mess. Let me know if you have any questions!”
Or joining someone’s team and them saying, “Welcome to the team! Here’s a list of things for you to walk through to get to know the brand, the team, and how we do things here. Here’s a list of the responsibilities we’d like you to cover and here’s our current processes for making them happen. Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions! Excited to have you!”
I don’t know about you, but I would definitely prefer to be in the second situation — both as the person being onboarded and the person doing the onboarding.
By taking the time to streamline your systems before you onboard new team members, you ensure that the process will be a smooth one for everyone involved, which will save you both time and a whole lot of headaches.
HOW TO STREAMLINE YOUR SYSTEMS
You might still be thinking, “This is all great, Sarah, but I still don’t have time to streamline my systems myself!”
Well, don’t worry, girl. There’s an answer — outsourcing.
Now, hold on. I am not talking about outsourcing to someone you’re hiring on a recurring basis. Like I’ve already said, while that’s not the worst thing in the world, I do believe it’s rarely the best option.
What I am talking about is outsourcing the streamlining of your systems on one-time basis as a defined scope project with a systems strategist — someone whose bread and butter is making businesses more efficient and organized.
And streamlining your systems to save you time and help grow your business is exactly what I created the Systems Overhauls for! I would love to chat with you, so send me a note and let’s get the conversation started!