Is outsourcing overseas the best option when it comes to building your team? It depends.
Inside today's episode, you're going to discover the pros and cons of outsourcing overseas so you can make the decision that's best for your business long-term.
Plus, I'm revealing the hiring process and interview process you need to have in place if you want to grow your own team of A-players and create an enviable team culture that people want to be a part of!
BY THE TIME YOU FINISH LISTENING TO TODAY'S EPISODE, YOU'LL DISCOVER:
PLUS, how to get your hands on the exact interview process and hiring process we use here at The EffortLESS Life® to build your dream team!
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Courtney Elmer 0:00
Welcome back to the Systems Made Simple™ podcast, I'm so excited you’re here today and for our conversation today about the interview process and hiring process you need to have in place if you want to outsource effectively. If you've been in the online business world for any length of time, you've likely come across the glittery option to take things off of your plate by outsourcing them overseas. But is outsourcing overseas the best option when it comes to building your team? That depends. When you finish listening to today's episode, you're going to discover the pros and cons of outsourcing overseas so you can make the decision that's best for your business, as well as the hiring process and interview process you need to have in place if you want to grow your own team of A-players. That's all coming up next, so stay tuned!
I remember when I first started my online business, outsourcing and hiring people to help me (much less putting any sort of interview process or hiring process in place) was the furthest thing from my radar, because a) I didn't even know what the heck I was doing, b) I had a broken mindset that I should do it all myself, especially in the beginning, and c) I told myself the story that I couldn't afford to outsource, and that it was faster/quicker/cheaper to do it myself.
I know. It's the common denominator amongst all entrepreneurs. As the years went on, and my business grew, there was no way that I could keep up with it myself anymore. Plus, I had a baby on the way, and I was under nine months of pressure to get some systems and support in place so that by the time the baby came — which of course if you've been listening for a while, you know is my sweet little now three-and-a-half-year-old son, AJ — I could take a breath and enjoy those early days with him.
But because of the pressure I felt to figure out some sort of interview process and hiring process and outsource, it was like once I'd made up my mind that I needed to outsource, I couldn't find people fast enough. The problem was, I still didn't have a budget for it. You're gonna laugh at this, but about $50 a month was all I could afford at that time. Where on earth would you find someone for $50 a month, right? I was like, I'm out of my mind! There's no way.
I was going through all of the options. Can I hire interns? Can I hire family? What can I do to hire someone within budget? I was still feeling this desperation that I needed to help so badly. I was in an online program at the time where I first discovered the option to outsource overseas. I didn't even know outsourcing overseas existed before listening to this person talk about all the benefits of hiring overseas. As I was listening, the thing that caught my ear was that you could outsource overseas for as little as $2 and $3 an hour. And I thought to myself, That is ridiculous. Nobody's going to work for that. That's absurd. There is no way. Is that even legal? Is that morally acceptable to ask someone to work for such little pay? Fast forward after a whole lesson about exchange rates, I learned that outsourcing overseas could be a great solution for business owners like me who didn't have a huge hiring budget but desperately needed help. What I found out was that after the US dollar had been exchanged into the local currency of where these remote workers are based, which is often in the Philippines, it was the equivalent of paying someone here in the US $15 to $20 an hour to do the same work. That made sense to me. Plus, did I mention? I was desperate.
So I went through the hiring process laid out by this mentor for outsourcing and followed it step by step. I had a slew of applications come in, and I chose someone that I thought would fit the bill. They seemed willing to work. They were familiar enough with some of the software I used, and they seemed willing to learn anything that they didn't know. But it was a few months of agony. It wasn't that there was anything wrong with this particular person. What was wrong was that I had gone about the hiring process the wrong way. I'd hired for the wrong reasons. I didn't have an interview process in place. I didn't have a clear onboarding process in place. I was flailing around throwing things at this poor person saying, Can you please help me with this? What about this? and because there were a lot of skills that they hadn't mastered yet, it was taking longer than I expected and created so much headache and stress.
Eventually, I decided it wasn't working out. I let them go and then — get this – I repeated the entire process to outsource and hired and fired two or three more VA's in a span of about six months. I started thinking, This whole outsourcing thing is more trouble than it's worth. No way. This is faster to do it myself. It takes too much time to train someone. But at the same time, all of these industry experts out there kept saying, You need to outsource! You need to delegate! You need to hire! and I thought that's what I need to do to grow. So I kept hiring. I tried more VAs. I hired freelancers. Sometimes we had several people working at the same time, but nothing ever jelled. Most people didn't stick around beyond six months, which was incredibly frustrating, because I felt like I was forever starting back at square one. Maybe you can relate. I thought that outsourcing was supposed to relieve stress. But somehow things always wound up back on my plate.
Never once did it occur to me, during all of this wasted time going through the hiring process, and interview process, and training, and firing; then going through the hiring process, and interview process, and training and firing again, was that the common denominator was me. I was going about the hiring process and interview process completely wrong. I had the wrong mindset about outsourcing, to begin with. I had the wrong intentions for hiring, it was very self-serving. Of course, no one wanted to be part of that kind of team! I was trying to create a team culture and a sense of belonging by outsourcing overseas to people that I didn't know, and expecting freelancers, as well as remote workers from halfway around the world, to work only for me, which goes against the very nature of freelancing.
So long story short, I went about the hiring process and interview process totally backward, and it cost me hundreds of hours and thousands and thousands of dollars. But before you start thinking, holy cow, maybe I shouldn't outsource overseas or rely on freelancers to grow my business, hang on, because there is a good ending to this story. And getting the right interview process and hiring process in place to prevent these kinds of problems is what I want to talk with you about today.
Because once I figured out the mistakes I was making in my hiring process and interview process, we went on to interview, hire and train not one, not two, but three new team members and counting. People who share our core values, who have the right skills and who are full of fresh ideas, and who are now part of our very quickly growing team, a real team of local people who are real bonafide members of Team EffortLESS Life® and who are here to grow with us long term.
The problem is, most online entrepreneurs and course creators do the same thing I did. They go about building their team ass-backward like I did it first. (Sorry if you're listening, dad. You know, I rarely cuss. But there's no other way to put this.) So today, I want to break down the mistakes that most entrepreneurs make when it comes to the interview process and hiring process, and show you how to avoid them, so that when you're ready to hire your first team member or your next team member, you can make sure that you're fully prepared and can go into it with clear expectations. This is so, so important. So let's talk about a few of the mistakes that most entrepreneurs go into the hiring process with.
Mistake #1: Having the wrong mindset about outsourcing.
Mistake #2: Outsourcing for the wrong reasons, or out of desperation.
Mistake #3: Expecting freelancers to want to be part of a team and trying to create a "team culture" with a team of freelancers, who, by definition, are freelancing. They're not tied to any one team of people, but they serve multiple clients at a time, and therefore they only have so much time to give you to support you and your growth.
Mistake #4: Not having a clear interview process or hiring process in place, which we covered in even more detail back on episode 68.
Mistake #5: Having no clear system for onboarding and training people, but instead, hiring them, throwing a bunch of stuff at them, and expecting those people to take it and run with it without any real training. That is incredibly frustrating not only for you when the person doesn't get it right away, but it's incredibly frustrating for that poor person on your team who is trying to help you but doesn't have the resources or the support that they need to learn what they need to learn in order to support you fully.
All of these are completely honest mistakes. If you've made any one of them when attempting to outsource, please do not beat yourself up about it. I've made all five of these mistakes when outsourcing, many times over, and there are a few reasons why. As I mentioned a moment ago, so many industry experts out there tell you, outsourcing is the next step to scaling your business. You need to outsource. You need to have a hiring process. Get an interview process in place, hire some people, and get to work. That's what visionary leaders do, right? Yes, but if you don't have the right systems in place, the interview process and hiring process is going to be a whole lot more trouble than it's worth. You will wind up back at square one because it will feel easier and quicker to do it yourself.
Another reason that people make these mistakes so often is that they feel this need for help, they are desperate for it. So they're willing to throw money at that problem and outsource to "solve" the problem. But throwing money at a problem doesn't actually solve the problem.
And the final reason for these mistakes is that there's often a belief there under the surface that I can't afford to outsource or to hire employees. And maybe you've thought this "I can't afford to pay someone as an employee, I can't offer benefits, I can't offer a 401k plan, I can't offer any of those things that I presumably would need to offer an employee." And therefore, many online business owners begin thinking that, well, my only choice is to outsource overseas or pay higher-priced freelancers who can do contracted work.
Truthfully, outsourcing overseas is not your only option. But if that belief is there that I can't afford to hire an employee, then, of course, it's going to prevent you from hiring skilled people who can help you. When you continue to operate without a clear interview process or hiring process, it will cost you. You will wind up like I did two years into the hiring process and training and onboarding at least 10 different people, wasting your time and energy in the process. I'm not lying, I went through at least that many people only to wind up back at square one with me, myself, and I, and everything on my plate. It was an incredible waste of money. It was an incredible waste of time, it caused me more stress which by default that caused my family more stress. It was not a good scenario.
What happens is when you continue blindly hiring and outsourcing, trying to make something work, it's going to reinforce the beliefs that hiring is hard, and that there are no good people out there, and that it's faster and cheaper to do it yourself, or that there's no one out there who can support you the way you need them to. And on and on. It continues to reinforce those beliefs, and you wind up getting the same old thing.
So how do we fix this? What is it that you need to do differently in terms of the interview process and hiring process when outsourcing, so that you can actually get the support that you need?
And because we have a clear interview process and hiring process in place now, we've been able to grow our team much more quickly. It's very counterintuitive, slow down to go fast. It's that whole mentality. If the way you're doing it right now throwing spaghetti at the wall isn't working, then clearly it's time to try something else. We all know the definition of insanity, right? We have been able to find some incredible people who are now working with us and helping us grow our vision and it's hard to put into words what it feels like to wake up every day, and to know that I'm supported, and to know that there are people there who have my back and who want to see this vision come to life, who want our company to succeed who want to be a part of that.
What is so ironic to me in sharing all of this with you today is that I'm the system's queen. I have a system for literally everything like including folding the laundry in my house. But I didn't have an interview process or hiring process or onboarding process in place because I was in such a hurry. I was so desperate for help that I told myself, I didn't have time to put those systems in place. This is a big mistake. Please don't do this.
I want to circle back to where we started this episode today with the question, Should you outsource overseas? That depends. We have been fortunate to find a few incredible VA's overseas who do amazing work. The way we have our team structured now is that we have VA's available to support our team members when needed, but we are no longer relying on VA to be part of the team. The VA's are in a supportive role, and our team members are the core players who are helping us grow that greater vision. Makes sense? VA's truly excel when it comes to repetitive or recurring types of work. Because of the way exchange rates work, they are very affordable, they have a fantastic work ethic, and we can't say enough good things about the few VA’s that we have been privileged to find. The downside of outsourcing is that you might have to sift through several VAs in order to find a great one. That's the nature of it. Having an interview process and a hiring process in place is going to help you save some time here. But go into it with the expectation to know that the first person you hire might not be the person. That first VA might not be the one. You may have to go through a few. But again, that interview process and that hiring process are going to weed people out quickly.
And just like anyone else who you would ever bring onto the team, it takes time to train them too. So you need to adjust your expectations to expect that there will be a learning curve for you, especially if this is the first time you're doing this. There will be a learning curve for them too because it takes time for someone to get acclimated to learn what you do. It does not happen overnight, it often takes longer than we wish it would. But give it that time. You will be very pleased long-term because it is going to pay you back in dividends over time.
The other thing about outsourcing overseas that you need to be aware of is that there is a dramatic time difference. I'm based here in the Central Time Zone. When outsourcing to remote workers, you have to remember they're often based on the other side of the world. So there's going to be a big-time difference. With many of our VA's, there is a 12 hour time difference, or sometimes a 14 hour time difference. So theoretically, it might sound like that's a good thing because you can work during the day, and then they're working during your night, which is their day, and then it rolls on. But what we found is that we're working during the day, and then they're working during our night. But then they have questions so they can't continue. So then during the next day, we get to answer those questions. So then it's not until the next night, which is their day, that they're able to solve the problem. So things can actually take longer than expected. So that's something to be aware of going into it.
Outsourcing overseas is not the best fit if you're looking to grow a real team of people who can serve your greater vision long term. However, outsourcing overseas could be a good fit, if you're looking to bring on additional support for your existing team members. Or if you have a lot of repetitive recurring type tasks that having the support of a VA would help take off of your plate. The key to it all is having the right interview process and hiring process in place to save you time and find those A-players faster than you would otherwise.
I get fired up about this topic because outsourcing, hiring, training, and onboarding is something that many entrepreneurs do a poor job at. And it's not your fault. Because guess what? This is not your zone of genius! This is my zone of genius, because I have learned over the years, and because systems and procedures and workflows come so naturally to me. I've figured out the right interview process to have in place, and the right hiring process, and what that all looks like. And I want to hand over my interview process and hiring process to you because I do not want hiring and onboarding to be a headache for you any longer. I want you to be able to get the support in place that you need to be able to spend more of your time in your true zone of genius.
That's why I'm going to give you an insider's look at our playbook for building your dream team. If you want to get your hands on our interview process and hiring process, keep listening, because, at the end of this episode, I'm going to share about our upcoming hiring workshop where you can get access to our interview process and the exact hiring process that we use here behind the scenes at The EffortLESS Life®.
And assuming that you're listening to this episode on your phone today, while you've got your phone out, I would love to connect with you. Please come follow me and say hello, send me a DM over on Instagram @theeffortlesslife.co. I've been into reels lately, and it's been a lot of fun to call out the truths of entrepreneurship and show what running a digital business online actually feels like. So if you need a laugh, come follow us @theeffortlesslife.co and check out our latest reels.
Thanks for listening to today's episode about outsourcing and getting the right interview process and hiring process in place in your business. Next week on the show, we're going to be talking more about team building, specifically about the reasons why your team isn't performing the way you want them to. If you have struggled to find the right people who can support you in the work you do, you do not want to miss next week's episode. I'll see you back here next week on the Systems Made Simple™ podcast. Until then, go live your EffortLESS Life®.