Setting up systems for my side business was probably the single biggest game changer. When you have a full-time career, time is precious. In fact, time is precious no matter what your situation is. We all have the same 24 hours to work with.
But if you’re trying to build and maintain a side business, and you’re already working during the day, time becomes very limited. I have a wife and 3 daughters and a career that comes with a lot of responsibility…so, honestly, me setting up systems was a matter of survival.
Work On Your Business
There’s a book by Michael Gerber called E-Myth Revisited. It’s very popular so you might have heard of it. The basic premise of his book is how you have to work ON your business not IN your business. Meaning, don’t get bogged down by all the nitty gritty details when you can easily set up systems (usually meaning a team) to handle them for you. As the business owner, you should work on growing your business and moving it forward. That’s how successful businesses operate.
Now the one exception to this is in the beginning. In the beginning when things are just starting to kick off, you’ll likely have to do everything yourself because funds will be tight. And it’s not a bad thing to understand every little detail. This way when you do create systems, you know what you need.
And really important here, make sure you keep notes of all the things you are doing so when you are ready to create systems so you can just focus on the growth tasks, you know exactly what you need to create systems around.
I’m going to give you an example of the systems I created so this makes more sense, but nowadays virtual assistants are usually the structure of systems. You develop a team, either overseas or in the USA, to handle tasks for you. My friend Nick Loper of Side Hustle Nation runs a review website of various VA services and I recommend you check it out if this is the route you go: http://www.virtualassistantassistant.com
Real Life Example
The services of my side business WPamplify primarily revolve around SEO setup tasks, link building and blogging. I do offer WordPress support, but I outsource that to a developer friend.
From the very beginning I always outsourced the link building because I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle very many clients if I was handling that too (because it’s so time intensive). Plus, there were plenty of online services that could handle my link building so it was an easy thing to outsource. Also important to note here is that I had been doing link building for various niche websites for years before I started my side business. So I already knew what I was looking for.
I also outsourced the blog writing as well for the same reasons as the link building. Well, actually in the very beginning like 2010 and 2011, I didn’t even offer blogging. But as Google changed, I adapted, so in 2012 I started offering blogging. But I was the one ordering the content, coming up with the topics, publishing the content to the client’s sites and sending them the published URLs.
I was also handing all the SEO setup tasks. So for every client I got, I had to pick the keywords, write out all the meta data and do a full audit of their website. Very time intensive stuff!
Focus on Growth Tasks
I knew if I wanted to continue to grow my side business while putting most of my focus on my career and family, I had to primarily focus on growth tasks.
- Finding new clients
- Making sure current clients are happy
- Brainstorming ways to improve my service
So what I did was find a couple of people that know what they are doing — and that I really trust — and outsourced as much as possible to then.
- I now work with a woman in New York that handles all my link building and blogging, full-service. She even sends the blog content and link reports to my clients. I manage her through Podio so I know what’s happening at all times.
- I also connected with a guy in North Carolina that specializes in SEO audits, meta data and keyword research. So when I get a new client, he steps in and does all the research and sends me a report.
Now keep in mind that finding good help is not easy. Over the years, before my current set up, I worked with other people and was often disappointed. So when you find good help, hold onto them and treat them well! Also be super clear in what you’re expectations are. Lastly, keep in mind that you usually need to know what you’re doing in order to find good help and manage them. It’s very hard to outsource what you don’t understand.
As a side note in case you’re wondering, I connected with both of these people on Elance.
My Advice to You
To grow your side business…and honestly, to enjoy it more…you have to outsource the nitty gritty details. You as the business owner should only be focusing on strategy and growth. But you should know the business in and out before you start to outsource.
Start keeping a list of the the tasks that you should be outsourcing. The tasks that someone else can handle for you, and don’t directly contribute to strategy or growth. Even better, make the list detailed so that eventually you can just hand this list off to the person(s) you hire as a “getting started” manual.
Lastly, don’t feel like you have to outsource everything at once. Like I described above, I started outsourcing things in chunks. It was very manageable and didn’t interrupt my business as if I had gone all in because there will be a training period with the people you hire.
Once you start working on your business, and not in your business, you’ll be amazed at how great it feels!