Today’s guest is Connor Giilvan from Freeeup.com.  We’re going to be talking about finding specialized help from different parts of the world.  The specialty of Freeeup is helping you find people to help your company from the Philippines.

You probably are thinking that I have 25, 50 or even 100 employees and why would I ever want to have someone from the Phillippines helping me in my business.  The answer is that you might want to have some specialized marketing help, but the price tag of hiring someone is to join your company is too hard and on top of that you don’t need someone to help full time.

This is where using an outside virtual assistant is the perfect thing for you to do.  The truth is using virtual assistants in a smart manner helps you stretch your dollars in ways you might not have thought about.  Join us we help you understand what a virtual assistant can do to help your company.

In today’s episode you’ll learn:

  • What a virtual assistant is and how you can find one.
  • What are some of the pitfalls of hiring the wrong virtual assistant?
  • What’s the best way to train a virtual assistant so they’re doing the job correctly?
  • Why if you’re going to use a freelancer you must have systems that support them doing the job properly.
  • Understand that you’re or someone on your team is going to have to spend time to get your freelancer up to speed.


Transcript:

Narrator:         Welcome to The Sustainable Business Radio Show podcast where you’ll learn not only how to create a sustainable business but you’ll also learn the secrets of creating extraordinary value within your business and your life. In The Sustainable Business, we focus on what it’s going to take for you to take your successful business and make it economically and personally successful.

Your host, Josh Patrick, is going to help us through finding great thought leaders as well as providing insights he’s learned through his 40 years of owning, running, planning and thinking about what it takes to make a successful business sustainable.

Josh:                Hey, how are you today? This is Josh Patrick and you’re at The Sustainable Business podcast. My guest today is Connor Gillivan. Connor is the Chief Marketing Officer at Freeup.com. What they do is they help business owners hire freelancers online.

We were speaking for a few minutes just before we started about the podcast about freelancers and what virtual assistants can do and what my particular needs are for virtual assistants. And instead of me wandering around what I need, let’s bring Connor in so we can talk about what freelancers can do for you and for me and get his expertise.

Hey, Connor, how are you today?

Connor:           Hey, Josh. How’s it going?

Josh:                I’m doing great. Thanks so much for joining us today.

So, let’s talk a little bit about freelancers because this is a big deal especially if you have less than 10 employees, I think.

Connor:           Yeah.

Josh:                And we have four people in our office, three of us actually work with clients. One is a full-time assistant in our wealth management business. But I’ve got lots of stuff I’ve been doing probably too much stuff on social media. And I spend way too much time doing it myself.

Connor:           Sure.

Josh:                How would I go about finding the right people and training the right people if I don’t know how to do it?

Connor:           Yeah. Great question.

And I think it’s a problem that most business owners run into as they’re first starting their company and even going through the first one to two years of scaling and figuring everything out. I mean, there’s a lot of options out there to where you can find freelancers. Freeeup, my company, is one of those options.

And so, if like what you’re saying is you’re looking to take some social media work off your plate, you can come to our website. You can create an account for free. You can request a freelance that has a certain social media experience. Maybe you’re focused on Facebook or you’re looking to build more videos and you’re doing more on YouTube or, really, any channel that you’re looking to expand onto. You explain what that freelancer is you’re looking for. You set a budget for what you’re looking to pay for that freelancer so that it makes sense for your business. And then you go ahead and submit that request.

With us, we actually have a network of pre-vetted freelancers. So we’ve already interviewed them. We’ve vetted them for their skills, for their communication methods, and also for their attitude – their passion for freelancing. And then we introduce you to one person that matches up with what you’re looking for. And you can hire them and you can manage their hours and see their billing all through the software.

And like I said, Freeeup is one option and there’s a lot of other websites out there that are offering these types of services as freelancing just continues to grow and grow around the world.

Josh:                So lots of folks I know, who have tried freelancers have not been very successful at it. And they have a hard time training their freelancer what to do. What kind of best practices should we, who are hiring freelancers or virtual assistants, what kind of skills do we need to train properly?

Connor:           So I’m very much a systems and processes guy.

Josh:                Yes.

Connor:           So when I’m building a business, I’m always thinking of it in that sense.

So let’s use the social media example just so people could relate to something. So on Facebook, you may have to create a content calendar. You want to post one time, five days a week, seven days a week or whatever it may be and you want to vary up your content. So you want some of your own content. You want to feature some of your partner’s content or maybe some publications content that’s relevant to your industry and you kind of put this game plan together and you figure it out yourself first. That’s always my advice is understand your process first on your own and figure out what’s working best for your community.

And then what I like to encourage business owners to do is to write all of it down. So put it together in a— I like to use Google Documents because you can share them easily with other people. So put it all together into a document, even list out the steps that you’re actually taking on a day-to-day basis to complete that given social media task. And then what you have is a great blueprint that you could share with a freelancer that you’re introduced to.

Kind of walk them through the process. See if they have any advice based off of their experience on how you guys can make it better. And then let them practice it for a little bit. So give them a task. Give them a couple of hours to go through it. And then see how they do. Give them feedback. And make sure it’s up to par with what you’re looking for. And over a week or two weeks‘ process, hopefully, you can get the VA to a point where they’re doing what you were doing before and they’re doing it at a high level as well.

Josh:                So do you guys have a guide for how to do this on your site?

Connor:           We do. So we create a lot of content that centers around how to first hire and then manage freelancers. So we have some cool documents that I can send over to you and you can include them in the show notes or share them out to everyone that’s watching too.

Josh:                Yeah. That would be great. I would appreciate it if you would do so.

One of the questions that I read that people talk about is the advantage of hiring what sounds like an individual freelancer which is what appears we’re doing with your site versus an agency where the agency manages the process and, as freelancers come and go, they just plug somebody else in to do the job. Can you talk about the pros and cons of both approaches for a few minutes?

Connor:           Yeah, of course.

I’ll just go through the pros first. So the pros to your agency is that is that is more of a all-inclusive hands-on experience. So let’s say you’re looking to get into something that you don’t know anything about. So you’re trying to start Facebook Ads for your business and you’re looking to drive people in and get them to a sales page and eventually get them to purchase your products or sign up to your service. If that’s something that you don’t know anything about, an agency is going to bring you all that knowledge. They’re going to have a team that’s been doing it for other businesses. So that’s a huge pro, right? And it adds an expertise to your business that you can trust, that has a lot of background behind it with other businesses.

The pro to a freelancer, I would say they’re usually less expensive than agencies. So you can be a little bit more budget conscious if you’re hiring an individual freelancer. And then what I really enjoy about working with freelancers is that you can build a really good relationship with them to an extent where, if you were to hire an employee and they were in an office sitting next to you, you create a relationship with that person as well. With a freelancer, you can build a relationship with them. You can understand their skill sets. And then you can apply them into different areas of your business where it makes the most sense.

Josh:                I guess, this would be considered a con, when it comes to individual freelancers and that’s freelancers come and go. And when your freelancers goes, you maybe have transferred six, seven, eight, nine, ten hours a week worth of stuff to them. You filled your time up with all this other stuff which is higher value – that’s why you hire a freelancer in the first place, and now you’re stuck back to doing all the stuff you gave away and you have to start from scratch. Is there a way to overcome that?

Connor:           Yes. So, like you said, it happens, right? I’ve had a plenty of experiences where freelancers do come for a few months on a project and then they have to go and work on something else. But the way that I like to try to mitigate that is by setting really clear expectations in the interview and then the setup process.

So I let them know how long I’m looking to potentially need them for this project. I give them clear expectations that, “If you are going to leave, I’m expecting , two weeks’ notice in turn for you actually leaving.” And you can set these expectations. You’re not always going to get them honored but I think it’s smart to say them upfront so that you can try to mitigate those issues.

And it’s one thing that we’ve really focused on Freeeup. So we have a cool no-turnover policy. So in the rare case that you hired anyone from us and they do have to quit and move on to something else, we replace them within one business day and then also cover any replacement costs. So we definitely see that as a con to working with freelancers as well.

Josh:                Cool. Well, that’s actually unusual as far as the whole freelancer world works, I think.

Connor:           Yeah, agreed.

Josh:                So let’s talk about why freelancers? Look, I get the idea of why freelancers altogether.

Connor:           Sure.

Josh:                The average freelancers I hire is going to be somewhere between probably $8 and $25 an hour unless I get into programming or something that’s much more complicated. Now, how would you would decide, as a business owner, what task you want to move to a freelancer? And talk a little bit with me, if you would, about why it’s the dumbest thing in the world for business owners to do $25-per-hour activities.

Connor:           Yeah. Good question.

So for anyone who’s just getting started with it. And even for myself still, I like to start with the simpler things. So if I’m, as a business owner, working on a specific task that’s even taking me an hour every day, that’s pretty repetitive. It has a very set process to it. That’s the first thing that I like to try to get off my plate because it can usually be given off to someone that is more in that $5 to $15 per hour range. Of course, depending on where you’re hiring that person from.

So my strategy is usually about every month or so, I’ll just go through all of my tasks on a daily basis or a weekly basis and I’ll identify a few that are just bothering me, or I know I shouldn’t be doing any longer, or I’ve built the process out long enough that it’s time to pass it off to someone else. And that’s where I started to look for people to help me with those aspects of the business.

Josh:                So one of the things—

I’m going to tell you a bit of my background. My first business was a vending and food service company which I grew to 90 employees.

Connor:           Nice.

Josh:                And I’m one of those strange people who actually loved having lots of employees. And I loved having lots of employees for one very simple reason, I only focused on my unique ability activities. Everything else, somebody else in my company took care of.

Connor:           Sure.

Josh:                It seems to me that with some work and some forethought you can do that using freelancers.

Connor:           Yes. I very much agree with you. So that’s kind of what we preach, as the owners of Freeeup, is you should always be looking to stay focused on where you add the value most. So if it’s lower level things that are repetitive and taking a lot of your time, pass that off. And then also, if it’s areas of your business that you don’t know enough about or that would take you time to create an expertise within, try to find freelancers that could you in those areas as well. So we always encourage people stay on their path, their medium where they make the biggest impacts on the business.

Josh:                So how would they go about figuring that out?

Connor:           How do they find out what they do best for their business?

Josh:                Yeah, yeah. Really, I mean, this is— you know, I actually teach this but I want to ask you how you would go about doing that.

Connor:           Yeah, of course. That’s a good question.

So, I think, just looking at my situation, I think you have to first look at what your greatest strengths are. So I myself am good at creating content and communicating to communities or partnering up with people. So a lot of my time spent is focusing on the company’s content and the company’s ability to partner with other businesses within our industry so that we can reach their communities and we can further build our community. So that’s where I spend a lot of my time. And anything else that comes up around me, I look to surround myself with other people that have more skillsets within those. So that’s kind of one way you could do it. But I’d love to hear how you advice people to do as well.

Josh:                What we try to do is we say, “Look. Okay, here’s what you want to do. First of all, you want to figure out what’s the highest value activity that you do?” And the highest value activity somebody always does in the business is strategic activities.

Connor:           Sure.

Josh:                So the truth is, most business owners spend 90% to 99% of their time on tactical activities, stuff that somebody else could do that might be $25-an-hour work. It might $50-an-hour work. It might even be a $100 per hour work but that’s not the value you bring in.

And here’s the other thing that I’ve always found over my lifetime is that business owners are really good at thinking strategically. They’re really bad at acting strategically. And part of the problem is they just don’t have time to do it because they’re so busy doing stuff in the business. They’re not thinking about the stuff they need to do on the business. And by the way, working on the business, which everyone’s heard about, is not thinking – it’s doing. You know, the thinking part’s pretty easy. So to get to a unique ability, you say, “What do I love to do? What gives me the best results that I’m doing it at? And how does it fit in with my values and fit in with my core competencies?” For example, I don’t know. Are you familiar with the Kolbe Index?

Connor:           I’m not which I’m surprised, yeah.

Josh:                Okay. The Kolbe Index measures energy units in four different areas. And they’re just exactly what they sound like Fact Finder, Follow Thru, Quick Start and implement. I happen to be an off the wall high Quick Start.

Connor:           Nice.

Josh:                I have almost not energy for follow-through activities. So things that are systematic, I can do. It’s sure not my unique ability so I should find someone else to do it for me.

Connor:           Sure.

Josh:                So once I figure that out, where do you guys come in and play? I mean, this is really the— you know, one of your competitors is Upwork which I’ve used many times over the years. And they’re good for vetting and letting me vet VAs.

Connor:           Sure.

Josh:                But they’re really bad at helping me figure out what I should be doing versus what I shouldn’t be doing. Is that something you guys are getting involved in?

Connor:           Sure. It’s a great question and I love your advice. It’s very useful.

We do try to take a more hands-on approach when it comes to helping business owners hire. So myself, my business owner, and then we have an internal team of individuals are always available to take phone calls or Skype messages or emails with a lot of our clients. And we’ve created great relationships with them to the point where, Yes, we do help in certain situations where they give us a situation about their business and where they’re at and what they’re looking to take off their plate, and we kind of give them some options. We can’t give them straight advice and kind of consult with them but we do try to give people options so that they can make the right decisions for their business.

Josh:                This might be a business opportunity for you today is that, you know something, it might not be a bad idea if you guys actually develop a consulting organization that helps business owners figure out how they can use other people outside their business. And the numbers are just mindboggling, how many— you know, there’s 28 million businesses in the United States. This is probably four- or five-year-old numbers from the Census Bureau but 22 million of them don’t have any employees.

Connor:           Yeah, it’s crazy.

Josh:                And I have spent a lot of time working with groups that cater to this world and all these business owners are among the most confused people in the world – not because they’re bad and not because they don’t know. Well, they don’t know. But not because they don’t want to know. It’s because nobody has really sat down with them and taught them the basics of running a business. And one of my favorite quotes is by Michael Gerber in the E-myth. And he says, “You know, most small business owners are people who are technicians who’ve got an entrepreneurial cramp” [laughs].

Connor:           Right. Right. Yeah, that’s a great quote.

Josh:                It’s a great quote. I love it. But the truth is they’re technicians. They don’t know how to do the strategic activities and figure out how to move themselves. And, you know, it’s sort of like—

Oh, I have a question for you about this because it’s a big deal when it comes to delegation. How do people build trust with somebody who is on the other side of the world?

Connor:           That is a great question and it definitely depends on the individual too, right? So I would say I’m very open to it that I would say some business owners that I’ve met are very skeptical of working with someone on the other side of the world but—

Josh:                Well, most business owners are terrible at trusting other people – period.

Connor:           Right, that’s true.

Josh:                I mean, we have to start there. And it comes down to not having a tolerance for mistakes.

Connor:           Agreed. So the way that I like to do it is I really handle it or try to handle partial of it in the interview process. So when I’m first meeting that person, I really try to ask key questions around three different factors.

So I, of course, want to know that they actually have the skills that they say they have. So if someone says that they’re a Facebook expert, I’m going to ask them a lot of questions, diving deeper into how they’ve helped businesses in the past build their Facebook presence, or what strategies they’re using to engage with different communities, or create partnerships, or increase engagement. So, really getting into the skills and making sure that I can trust them there and that I have a confidence that they actually have the skills that they say they do.

The second thing is communication. That one’s huge, especially when working with people remotely. I think it’s one of the biggest issues that business owners run into when they try to outsource. They hire someone. They think it’s going to go well and then they don’t have good communication channel set up so they start to create stories in their own head about what the freelancer is doing and maybe they’re messing up and they get frustrated, and a lot of people just walk away from it because they couldn’t communicate properly.

So in my interview process, I set those expectations very clearly. You know, on a daily basis, when you start work, I expect you to check in with me. Let me know what you’re going to be working on. Let me know that you’re going to be there so I can ask questions. And then when you’re finished with work for the day, send me over a report. Let me know what you were able to complete. Let me know if you had any issues. And do that every day so that we can stay in touch and keep up to date on things.

And then I also let them know that we’ll be having a weekly meeting where we kind of go over things. We look at the tasks that are ahead of us. We set some goals and we make sure that we’re continuing to move forward. So those communication channels can make a really big difference in how you trust them and how often you’re communicating with them.

And then the final one that I like to ask questions about is the individual’s attitude. So when I look to work with someone remotely, I try to find someone that really loves what they’re doing. Like you were saying, the business owner should try to find something that they love and where they add the most value to their business, I look to find freelancers that have a huge passion for the skill set that they say they have and where they’ve actually added value to other businesses in the past.

So going through those three areas, at the end of it, I definitely have a higher level of trust with that person if the conversation went well. And if it doesn’t, it kind of gives me a red flag to keep interviewing people, keep asking and keep seeing how things go. So that’s really how I like to approach it in at least the interview process.

Josh:                Cool.

So what you’ve just described is a hiring system.

Connor:           Right.

Josh:                And one of the five areas of business sustainability is to create a business that’s systematized. We have a hiring system that I’ve been using for 36 years now.

Connor:           Nice.

Josh:                And it generally gets me about 85% success rate, which we also teach.

Connor:           Nice.

Josh:                And when it comes down to it – and then I believe this is true with Vas as well as someone sitting next door to you, there should be no difference in your hiring process. But you need to have a hiring process.

Connor:           Yeah.

Josh:                Now, mine’s not the only process in the world. Your process would work well, I would add one thing. What are the values that you hold dear? And you have to make sure that that VA that you’re hiring is compatible with your values.

Connor:           Definitely. Yeah, that’s huge. So we’ve always been about company culture—

Josh:                Yes.

Connor:           And that is a big part. I’ve left that out but we always try to figure out, “What motivates this person? What drives them? And does that align with what the company is doing as well?” Because overtime, I think, if that isn’t aligned your relationship won’t be great and you’ll definitely have some trust issues.

Josh:                Yes.

So, Connor, unfortunately, we are out of time on the podcast.

Connor:           Okay.

Josh:                And I would like to have you tell people how to find you so they could take a look at your company and maybe even contact you if you’re into that.

Connor:           Yeah, of course. So you can visit Freeeup.com. It’s F-R-E-E-E-U-P.COM.

Josh:                So it’s three e’s?

Connor:           Yep, three e’s.

Josh:                Okay.

Connor:           If you’re interested in hiring freelancers or if you’re interested in freelancing yourself, and then if you’re interested in speaking with me, I will give you my calendar sot that if anyone listening wants to set up a time to chat or ask questions about their business and hiring, I’m more than happy to set up a time to speak with them and provide any advice that I can. So I’ll send that over to you and hopefully we’ll be able to set up some meetings.

Josh:                Cool. Sounds good.

And I also have an offer for you. I have just published my first book.

Connor:           Nice.

Josh:                I can even show it to you because it’s right here.

Connor:           Congrats. Nice.

Josh:                It’s called Sustainable: A Fable About Creating a Personally and Economically Sustainable Business. It’s a business parable. It’s relatively easy to get it. If you would like the bonuses I have, you have to go to my website and that’s www.sustainablethebook.com. And if you just want to get the Kindle version, you can go to Amazon. It’s there. And if you want to buy it at Amazon, you’ll get it but you don’t get the bonuses. And bonuses are a free 20-minute conversation with me and a how‑to guide, how to implement all the lessons that are in Sustainable.

So thanks a lot for stopping by today. This is Josh Patrick. You’ve been at the Sustainable Business. I hope to see you back here really soon.

Narrator:         You’ve been listening to The Sustainable Business podcast where we ask the question, “What would it take for your business to still be around 100 years from now?” If you like what you’ve heard and want more information, please contact Josh Patrick at 802-846-1264 ext 2, or visit us on our website at www.askjoshpatrick.com, or you can send Josh an email at jpatrick@askjoshpatrick.com.

Thanks for listening. We hope to see you at The Sustainable Business in the near future.

Topics: employees, sustainable business podcast, Marketing, virtual assistant, freelancers

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