If you know it’s time to start outsourcing in your biz and you’re struggling with not only how to do it, but how to stop feeling guilty about it, this is the episode for you! Join me as I interview Michelle Thompson and finally get clarity on why doing it all yourself is not a badge of honor.
Do you struggle to identify where you should even begin when it comes to delegating and automating?
Are you grappling to pinpoint the specific tasks that are sucking so much of your time and energy as they pull you away from your true role as the visionary leader of your brand?
Trust me, I’ve been there and my guest today, the amazing Michelle Thompson, is here to help!
BY THE TIME YOU FINISH LISTENING TO THIS INSPIRING INTERVIEW, YOU’LL WALK AWAY WITH:
Also, here are the game-changing resources that we talked about on today’s show:
If this episode how to save time or how to be productive inspires you, leave a review and share your biggest takeaway with me. And while you've got your phone out, make sure to follow me on Instagram @thecourtneyelmer for more quick tips on how to streamline your business systems and spend more time in your zone of genius.
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Courtney Elmer 0:00
Welcome back to the Systems Made Simple™ podcast. I’m Courtney Elmer, your host. This is Episode 91, and today we're talking about how to identify the time leaks in your business that are keeping you from growing as quickly as you could be, how to save time, and how to be productive. We also talk about three things you can automate in your business today to start buying your time back.
My special guest also shares her story about how overcoming major adversity in her life taught her to think differently about her business and caused her to put the systems in place so that now she doesn’t have to work more than two to three hours a day. So if I've piqued your interest, stay tuned, because all of that is coming up next, right here on the Systems Made Simple™ podcast.
Courtney Elmer 4:41
As you can maybe imagine, this show has grown a lot over the past year and a half. We launched this podcast a month before the shutdown, February 11 of 2020. Then all of a sudden, the world stops spinning. But the podcast has been the one thing in my business that has kept me going. The podcast has been the one constant, sitting here with you week after week, having these conversations, helping you simplify your business. As you can imagine, we get a ton of pitches for guests here on the podcast. I personally read every pitch that gets sent our way. The truth is, there are a lot of incredible people out there doing absolutely amazing things. But we're very selective about who we bring on the show, first because I know that your time is valuable. Second, because I love highlighting guests who can add a new dimension to the conversation on business systems and how to save time as an entrepreneur.
Contrary to popular opinion, business systems don't have to be boring. In fact, they're anything but. Once you get bitten by the business systems and how to be productive bugs, it actually becomes addictive because then you want to start automating and systematizing everything. Even if you're not an organized person or a systems person, you can still have effective systems in your business. All you need is a little creativity, a little ingenuity and a little persistence. And you can put the kinds of systems in place that will help you spend more time in your zone of genius and ultimately, avoid burning out.
Courtney Elmer 5:51
That's why I'm really excited and truly honored to introduce you to today's guest, because you are going to be blown away by her story and how she applied these three elements: creativity, ingenuity and persistence to create the company she has today, after a massive stroke at 36 years old caused her to have to start her life all over again. She has learned how to save time, and how to be productive as an entrepreneur.
She's going to tell you how she overcame this insurmountable challenge to create and grow a six figure company and how she now helps other online business owners find freedom from the unnecessary tasks in their online business because she first had to learn how to do it herself. Her name is Michelle Thompson, and when you hear her speak, chances are you will walk away from this episode feeling inspired, feeling encouraged, feeling confident, that if Michelle Thompson can implement the simple systems to grow a successful business and help you save time, and navigate the challenges of everyday life without working more than two to three hours a day, so can you.
Courtney Elmer 7:45
Michelle Thompson, welcome to the Systems Made Simple™ podcast. I am delighted you are here today. I feel like “working less” is something many entrepreneurs say they want to do, but they don’t truly believe it’s possible to be successful without working so hard. So we've got a lot of things to talk about today like how to save time, and how to be productive, and I think the best place to start is with your story. You have a powerful story because you had to figure out all this stuff in your business the hard way. And you've done it. And now you teach other people how to do it. So let's start there. Take us through what it was like to go through the life-altering experience you had.
Michelle Thompson 8:55
First of all, thank you so much, Courtney, for having me on the show to discuss how to save time, and how to be productive is an honor and a pleasure to be here. Nobody banks on the fact that they're going to have a stroke at 36. Quite honestly, it was just another normal day at work. I had zero warning signs. I was looking at a computer monitor and then all of a sudden, literally half the monitor went black. I turned to look at the wall and the black line followed me and I went oh, that's not good. And so we called 911.
Fast forward, it actually took six months to figure out that I had had a stroke because nobody was looking for that because I was so young and healthy. What we found out was I actually had a blood clot that actually went to my brainstem. So to this day, I can no longer remember things in a sequence. I have a very hard time doing math. I got the majority of my vocabulary back, fortunately. And luckily, my speech and motor coordination came back. So I got very, very lucky. But yeah, at 36, I had to completely start over. I realized I can't do things on my own anymore. So I'm either going to figure out how to outsource and delegate to systems and other people. Or, I'm gonna sit on the couch and watch Friends for the rest of my life.
Courtney Elmer 10:51
Wow, I cannot even begin to imagine what that was like. I related so much to your story when you first reached out to me about coming on the show because at 25, I was diagnosed with cancer. So I relate in the sense that you never see that coming. For you listening, this is not to scare you, but just, you're not excluded from that. All the more reason to look at systems and automation for your business.
Courtney Elmer 11:28
Because if you want your business to continue to run without you, it’s necessary to think about. Michelle, was there a moment in that experience where you felt like you didn't know where to turn? The fact that you, you came, we made such a comeback from that is incredible in and of itself. But I want to know, at that lowest point, what was going through your mind?
Michelle Thompson 12:00
So if we're going to be completely transparent and raw, I had literally left my neurologist’s office. I was very happy in my career, but he basically said, Michelle, that part of your life's over. You're going to have another stroke, we just don't know when. The reason for that is I have an underlying blood condition that is hereditary, that I was lucky enough to get from both parents. So we had to start doing things to prepare for the next one. I had to create a will and a power of attorney and set everything up in place. I was planning my funeral at 37.
Michelle Thompson 13:50
So I decided that I was just gonna end it all, I was literally on my way, driving to a cliff. I was just going to drive off. I thought that’s a pretty easy way to go, because I’m too chicken to do something drastic that would hurt a whole lot. So somehow, I thought driving off a cliff might not hurt as much. Right at that time, my primary care physician happened to call and she's like, Hey, Michelle, you've been through a lot lately. I just wanted to check on you and see how you're doing. I literally started laughing. I told her the truth that I was about to drive a car off a cliff. She said, Well, you could do that tomorrow. So if you just want to come in, and we can talk about it, and if you still want to drive off the cliff tomorrow, okay.
For whatever reason, like she didn't get emotional, she was just so logical. I was like, alright, that's fair. So I went in, and got some help. I would love to tell you that was the turning point, but it wasn’t.
Michelle Thompson 15:22
My physical therapist said, Michelle, do you have any idea how lucky you are? I said, What do you mean, lucky. She's like, Michelle, if you would have been born 50 years ago, we would not have the technology that we have today. If you will just stop being so stubborn, and let me help you. I can teach you how to have a pretty normal life with the technology that we have today.
So what happened is, over the next year, they taught me how to outsource every single thing in my personal life, whether it was remembering to take medication, remembering to take my keys out of the door, remembering to turn the stove off, setting up systems, so that I don't pour water in the toaster when I think I'm making coffee. We were able to systematize every part of my life and use a piece of software or a computer or something to help me function.
I got to the point where I had a very normal life. I live in a very controlled environment now, but I live a pretty normal life. And the MBA in me started clicking, and I thought, well, I'll be damned if we can do this for me remembering to brush my teeth, why can't we do it for business. That was when the idea really sparked. So what we did was we started taking some of my friends, businesses, and they were kind of the guinea pigs. And we would test the systems that I had learned in physical therapy and occupational therapy on business to see if we could get it to work.
And I'd be darned if it didn't. And it just turned into this snowball of amazingness, where now we take just one process at a time. And we slowly turn it into a system and we hand it off to either another piece of software, or another human. So now literally, I have a full blown business, rapidly scaling to seven figures. And I work three days a week for two or three hours a day. And it's because we've been able to set those systems up. And like, set it and forget it kind of a deal. And it's been amazing.
Courtney Elmer 18:04
This is why you were the perfect person to share what you have to share with us today about systems because I mean, first of all, congratulations on you and your life and what you have overcome and accomplished. The fact that you are here doing what you were doing is testament unto itself. I know everyone here is listening on the edge of their seat like okay, what on earth did you put in place to be able to only work three days a week, two to three hours a day? How do you save time and can you share how to be productive? So let's get into that a little bit. I'd love for you to unpack for us even just the top two or three systems that you put in place to begin to automate your business in the way that you have.
Michelle Thompson 18:58
Yeah, a great question. What's really important here is to remember baby steps. If I would have looked at my whole business and systematized everything all at once, it would have been way too much to handle. How could I save time?
The first thing that you should do is do a time audit to figure out what are the things that are completely sucking your time. I've actually developed a cool tool for this, happy to give it to you guys. For a week, we track and list out every single thing that we do. Then ask ourselves, If I were hit by a Mack truck tomorrow, how would I transfer the information that's in my brain to someone else or something else, so that it can continue to happen?
We go down our time audit list and the things that are sucking the most of our time. That's what we're going to automate first. I'm a big proponent of using software and virtual assistants together as a hybrid. I think it's a perfect model, because there are so many pieces of software that can get us 80% of the way there. But it's not like a human touch. So let's let the computer do the 80%, and then have the virtual assistant come in and do the last 20% and polish it up.
So some of the very easy wins that you could get off your plate that would give you a ton of time back is if you're doing like social media management, or any type of like, outreach on like Facebook or LinkedIn, there are all kinds of pieces of software out there, whether it be like social B, or HootSuite or Meet Edgar, I don't care which one you pick, you can literally go through and you could you could time block three hours.
Michelle Thompson 21:58
And you could do basically all of your social media posts, and upload them so that it just runs on autopilot. The piece of software will literally post it for you like, two, three times a week, whatever you want to do. Another thing that was hugely beneficial for me, I use a system called Ontraport. There's nothing honestly magical about it. It's the same thing as Keap or Infusionsoft or any one of those guys, I just happen to pick Ontraport.
And what it does is it allows me to create a system so that a piece of software follows a prospect from the very beginning when they hit my landing page and enter their name and email address all the way through to give them the piece of information that they were looking for. Give them a 12 email, follow up sequence, give them a button to book a call with me. So then what happens is I have set up my system where literally, a prospect comes in all the way to the point where they get on a sales call with us is completely automated. And then from that point, once they meet with our sales rep. This is how to save time, and how to be productive as an entrepreneur.
Michelle Thompson 23:10
We create a blueprint for them of the action steps that you need to take before you're ready to start delegating, and then from there, it literally will go through and mail them a thank you card. It will then send them an invoice, and it will onboard them. So it sends them a contract that they need. It sends them everything that they need to sign to become a client, all the disclosures, all that good fun stuff, sets them up like a Google Drive. And all of this happens through both Ontraport and a piece of software called Zapier.
If you're not familiar with Zapier, it is like the greatest hidden secret everywhere. Basically, all a zap is is it gets two pieces of software to talk to each other so that you don't have to manually transfer the information between those two places. And that sounds like a huge animal and it is, and I don't mean to overwhelm you. But we literally did that one step at a time. Like we set up the landing page. Okay, now we set up the email sequence. Okay, now we set up the calendar booking. Okay, great. Now we set up the onboarding process. And we literally did it one step at a time. And it took us a couple of months to build it. But now it literally runs on autopilot and is the ultimate way to save time, and how to be productive.
Courtney Elmer 24:33
That's amazing. I geek out on all this stuff. To tie it all back to what you first said, which I believe is so key. This is the takeaway I want you listening to walk away with — it doesn't have to all get done at once. Let it be a process, let it take time. Just imagine, if over the next 60 days in your business, you were to implement just half of these things that Michelle has mentioned, where would you be at the end of those 60 days? We put all this pressure on ourselves to hurry up, when really you're competing with no one but yourself. It’s your business, you get to choose the pace.
Michelle Thompson 26:21
You don't have to do it yourself either. So many people think I need to learn the tech behind all of this. I didn't set any of this up. I went out and I hired people who were smarter than I was. I'm almost the Henry Ford model, right? He went out and he hired somebody who was smarter than him in every single division so that anytime he needed an answer, he could just call and get the answer. And you're like, Okay, great. That's nice. I'm a solopreneur. I don't have a vat of people at my disposal? Well, yeah, you do, you just don't realize it.
So if you can set the piece of software up, then you can hire for one-off tasks, and set yourself a goal to save time. This week, I’m going to have a lead magnet funnel built. So just go onto Fiverr and hire somebody for 30 bucks, and have them build it for you. So I just want to make it super clear. I didn't build all this. I went out and I had somebody figure out what's the best tool to use, told them what I wanted it to look like, and we tackled it in tiny steps. I didn't have a ton of money. I had like 100 bucks here, 50 bucks there. So I built it like little pieces at a time. And then when we plugged them all together, it worked out to be this amazing thing.
Courtney Elmer 28:17
Yeah, you don't have to do it all at once, and you don't have to do it all yourself. But some people struggle to delegate. Do you think it comes from needing to do it all ourselves, being afraid it won’t get done right, or taking pride in doing it all yourself as a badge of honor of some sort?
Michelle Thompson 30:10
Yeah, I would say that. I struggled to hand it off at first, because it's my baby, and I'm not going to let somebody screw up my baby. We, as entrepreneurs, have worked so hard to get where we are that we're just absolutely terrified that somebody is going to screw it up. We live in this culture that if we fail, we're a failure. That is so not true, that is such a lie. Failure is nothing more than feedback. You're never going to get it right. But that's how you grow. Right?
I got to this point where when I started handing stuff off, I was like, oh, man this is gonna be bad. And it was bad for two reasons. A) I was afraid they were gonna screw it up, and it was going to make my brand look bad. And B) I felt guilty. I felt guilty because I wasn't doing it myself. And I had been taught that Michelle, you are a hard working blue collar American, you go out, and you put your nose to the grind, and you get it done. And that's how you're successful. That's how you contribute to the GDP. That is how you find your worth in this world.
So when I gave it to somebody else, I felt a twinge of guilt, because I felt like I was cheating in a way. The combination of those two, ended up being this huge mental block, that once I dealt with it, I realized it’s ok not to have everything figured out. It’s okay to not have to do it all myself. It's okay to fail, and then make it better.
Michelle Thompson 33:40
And it's so easy to get the info in your brain into someone else’s brain that we don’t realize how easy it is. You can take five minutes to record yourself showing someone what you want, explaining why, and giving them your thought process behind it. So without having to create this crazy SOP manual that constantly needs updating, all I do is hit record. I record one task at a time--this is how I save time. And with one task at a time, I got 30 minutes back, and then I got an hour back, and then I got two hours back, and it turned into this amazing snowball effect. It doesn't have to be perfect. Just get the information out of your brain and get it to the person so that they can help you.
In the word beLIEf is a big old fat ‘lie’. The beliefs that we have about the way we ‘should’ run our business are keeping you stuck. Stop lying to yourself. Just learn how to save time, and how to be productive. And thank you for coming to my TED Talk.
Michelle Thompson 36:56
Yes! Okay. So, a caveat to TED Talk. So if you are like how do I retrain my brain and overcome my own beliefs, much less realize what they are, the greatest book ever is Psycho Cybernetics.
Courtney Elmer 37:12
Oh, I love that book.
Michelle Thompson 37:15
It will blow your mind. It is fascinating. Without even realizing it, it will teach you how to retrain your brain for those lies, and you'll be able to pick them out. It will also teach how to save time, and how to be productive.
Courtney Elmer 37:32
Such a great book, I'm so glad you recommended it. We're gonna link to that book in the show notes. With the weird title it’s one of those things you would never pick up off the shelf. But so worth the read especially if you’re a coach, course creator, or online business owner.
Courtney Elmer 38:01
So Michelle, every time we have a guest here on this show, I have a final question that I ask, and the question is this: What does it mean to you to live an EffortLESS Life®?
Michelle Thompson 40:11
That's a great question. For me, being able to have the freedom to do what I want, when I want while changing other people's lives, is the big thing. And if I, if I just was able to do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted to, that would be effortless, but it wouldn't necessarily be life. So what drives me is being able to help and change others' lives. When you put the combination of the two together, that's pretty incredible.
Courtney Elmer 40:55
I think a lot of us get into business for two reasons, personal freedom and to help others, it’s a powerful combo. Michelle, thank you so much for being here today and for all the wisdom that you shared. Where can our listeners find you online and connect with you?
Michelle Thompson 42:26
The easiest place is our website, awesomeoutsourcing.com. You can find me hanging out on Facebook quite a bit on our Awesome Outsourcing page there as well giving tips on how to save time, and how to be productive. If you want to get directly to me, email me email@example.com . You can also get the time audit tool I mentioned at awesomeoutsourcing.com/task-discovery
Courtney Elmer 43:26
Amazing, we will definitely link that up. Thank you so much for sharing that.
Michelle Thompson 43:30
Absolutely. It's been a pleasure. Thank you so much for having me on the show.
Courtney Elmer 43:34
I don't know about you, but I had goosebumps just about that entire episode. If Michelle is not the definition of inspiring, I don't know what it is. If you got value from this episode today, please be sure to leave a review on the show and mention how valuable this episode was to you on how to save time or how to be productive.
Courtney Elmer 44:01
Now next week on the show, Courtney Elmer, I am going to bring you another special guest who has spent the past 13 years mastering the art of sales systems. He's going to give you an insider's look at how you can begin automating the sales mechanisms in your business with just a few simple tweaks. That's coming up next week. So be sure you're following the show and have it set to automatic downloads so that you don't miss a single episode. Until then, go live your EffortLESS Life®.
Outsourcing & Automation Expert, LinkedIn and FB Lead Generation Expert
Michelle Thompson went from being an MBA graduate to having a second-grade IQ level overnight after suffering from a life-altering stroke at only 36 years of age. Literally starting her life over again, she’s had to learn how to automate and outsource as much as humanly possible. Now she’s on a mission to help others find freedom from all the unnecessary tasks they do, using the strategies and systems she’s successfully created for herself.
After receiving her bachelor’s in counseling from Valley Forge University, she went on to earn her MBA in finance and entrepreneurship from Ashford University. After suffering a life-altering stroke, she left her corporate career and built systems to help her navigate day to day life and business. Combining her strategies with her talents of untangling peoples problems to create actionable and easy to follow plans for them to hand things off, her business Awesome Outsourcing, LLC was born.
Michelle teaches people how to delegate and outsource tasks correctly so they can gain back their time and their lives. Awesome Outsourcing, LLC specializes in organic Facebook and LinkedIn lead generation, creating omnipresent content for entrepreneurs, and virtual administrative services.
Her courses include how to delegate tasks to others without a dip in quality or the need to micromanage, helping clients hire, train, and manage a team, and how to hand tasks off to be magically delivered back, completed.
Her podcast Automate to Dominate follows her amazing journey of automating and outsourcing her way to financial freedom, sharing everything she learns along the way about building multiple passive income streams in numerous areas of life. This show is for entrepreneurs and small business owners who want to build passive income streams to create the freedom they have always dreamt about, and aren’t afraid to work for it.