Today I’m chatting with Meridith McCarty as we talk about what not to outsource in your business. If you’re ready to spend more time acting as the Visionary Leader of your brand by working ON your business rather than constantly working in it, don’t miss this episode.
Are you ready to finally spend some quality time ON your business rather than focusing every spare moment IN your business? Do you know what to outsource and what not to outsource?
Look, you KNOW it’s past time to outsource, but you still feel unclear about where to begin or what you can take off of your plate. Thankfully, that’s where my guest today and outsourcing expert Meridith McCarty comes in!
BY THE TIME YOU FINISH LISTENING, YOU’LL LEARN:
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Courtney Elmer 0:00
Welcome back to the Systems Made Simple™ podcast. This is Episode 90 which is all about what not to outsource. As an online business owner, chances are you've heard that if you want to grow your business, you need to learn how to outsource. Sounds great in theory, but this is a thing that many online business owners struggle to do.
Our guest today is the go-to expert for helping business owners learn how to outsource efficiently to a virtual assistant. She’s about to share the biggest mistake that you might be making when it comes to outsourcing as well as the things in your business that you shouldn't outsource right away. So whether you haven't outsourced yet, but you want to, or you have started outsourcing but haven't been super successful with it, today's episode is for you. Stay tuned!
Courtney Elmer 1:45
Life and business have been absolutely insane the past four months. Chances are you're probably nodding and going, yeah, me too. I feel like 2021 has been 2020 on steroids in so many ways. In June, my entire family got COVID. And that was a very sharp turn for me in terms of where I'm headed and what I'm doing because it helped me to evaluate the things that weren’t working in my business. I was looking forward to the end of August because that's when my son will go back to school, but then Hurricane Ida decided to pound us down here in New Orleans.
Look, I lived through Katrina 16 years ago, it was a beast. I can remember like yesterday what it was like to be without electricity, without air conditioning for 24 days in stifling 100-degree temperatures with humidity. I remember what that was like to have no cell phone service, no way to contact anybody in the outside world. We had family members that drove hours just to find us to make sure we were okay.
So it was very interesting to me when on the exact same date, August 29th of this year, another major hurricane made a beeline for New Orleans. It turned everything upside down. We were displaced for just over two weeks before we were able to get back home. The biggest thing I've been reflecting on lately is how life is a storm. There have been storms that I have been weathering this year, externally, and also internally. I'm sharing this because chances are, you've experienced the same thing.
Maybe it wasn't a hurricane per se, but maybe your life internally lately has felt like a hurricane and of the worst kind. And maybe you're wondering, is this ever going to end. And in my meditation this morning, I took heart in the simple message that all storms recede. It's just a matter of when. It's not about how perfectly you weather it. I'm certainly not good at weathering storms. I don't know if any of us truly are. But it's about learning to celebrate and appreciate the calm between them. And when you're in them,
Courtney Elmer 8:00
To hold on to hope that in time this form will recede. So for what that's worth, that is what I've been up to these past few weeks. It feels really good to get back into a groove, knock on wood, that this will reestablish normalcy. And I’m very excited today to be here with our special guest Meridith McCarty, because she is someone who specializes in helping business owners learn how to weather storms. I say that figuratively but also literally because I feel like in business, there are many storms we have to weather.
One of the things that Meridith specializes in is helping online business owners learn how to outsource and what not to outsource — learn how to help bring someone in to help them with the storms in their business. Outsourcing is something that is so tough for so many business owners.
If you've been listening to this show for any length of time, then you've already heard me tell many stories of my failures, my downright outright failures to outsource to virtual assistants and some of the horror stories that went along with that, and a lot of lessons that I've learned along the way.
Today, Meridith is here to share with us some of her secrets when it comes to outsourcing and what not to outsource. She shares her tips on what you shouldn't be outsourcing in your business right now, and where you should be spending the bulk of your time as the visionary leader of your company. And when it comes to hiring and to the actual process of interviewing and finding virtual assistants or team members to outsource to, she shares her top tips for helping you weed out applicants who are not a good fit, and find the people who can fully support you in the way that you need. Without further ado, let's jump right into that interview.
Courtney Elmer 11:17
Meridith, welcome to the Systems Made Simple™ podcast. I'm very excited for our conversation today because I know that this is going to hit home for so many listeners because that is something that the majority of people are struggling with right now in their business.
Meridith McCarty 11:35
Thanks for having me. I'm excited to jump in because well, I work with clients every day about this. So I'm really excited to reach more people and get the word out about outsourcing and all that good stuff.
Courtney Elmer 11:46
So as I mentioned in our intro, you know, you have a systems background. I feel like we could probably go on a riff about all things systems here. But the thing that piqued my interest about you specifically is the niche in which you work with your clients. Outsourcing has been a topic of recent conversation here on the show. This is one of the things that so many online business owners have reached a point in their business where they know they need to outsource, what not to outsource, they want to delegate, they want to get some of their time back, they realize, they can't get to it all themselves, but they have no idea where to even start. Or maybe some of them have tried to hire and it has been a total disaster.
So I thought what would be fun this morning is to pretend that I'm one of your clients. I've just discovered you and I'm like, Oh my gosh, maybe Meridith is the person who can finally help me crack the code on this outsourcing thing. Because you know, Meridith, I have a kid at home, I have so much going on, not to mention the pandemic has completely changed the way that I have to run my business. I've been doing a lot of one on one work, but that's not very leveraged. I've tried to launch my programs, but they're not really where I want to be yet. I mean, heck, just trying to post on social media every day is like an all-consuming full-time job. So please help me — where on earth do I even begin?
Meridith McCarty 13:15
I take a holistic approach to what to outsource and what not to outsource. If someone comes to me and says, you know, I know I need to outsource, but maybe I'm nervous, or I don't know what to outsource. The first thing I say is, well, could you outsource in your personal life? What not to outsource in my personal life? Because obviously, that sometimes gets overlooked when it's so easily could be something that helps you in your business world, especially as entrepreneurs, it's all kind of mushed together sometimes.
So in your personal life, you can start outsourcing there. The number one question I’m asked is “What should I outsource?” and “What should I not outsource?”
Most people will say “outsource what you dislike”. But what I suggest outsourcing first are the tasks that will help you create revenue. Because what can happen is we will outsource stuff that we dislike and don’t know what to outsource; it doesn't have an effect on your bottom line, which then you get into the cycle of “I'm paying for this service but I'm not really seeing an increase in my revenue but now I have this expense.”
So I say first to outsource things if you're doing like you mentioned that generate revenue. Take one on one client care for example — what about outsourcing to a general VA that can help you give those clients a really great experience? That will free you up.
Courtney Elmer 15:36
Yes, this is such an important point. I'm so glad you brought this up right out the gate, because I agree, most people think, “Okay, I'm going to outsource all the things that I hate in my business.” Social media is a big one. But like you said, they wind up in that place of paying for outsourcing but not making any more money. This is one of the first things that I talk about, when it comes to figuring out where to focus your time in your business. It always comes back to revenue, because if you don't have revenue, you don't have a business. It's the harsh truth. So many online business owners and course creators and coaches want to hold onto their hobby like, “No, no, I have a business.”
But how much money is it making you?
And is that the amount of money you want it to make for you?
And if not, how can we get the business generating that kind of money for you?
This is the first mindset shift that has to happen as a business owner. So I love the idea of outsourcing tasks that create revenue. If social media is not making you money, don't focus there, right? Outsource your sales calls instead. Is that what you're saying?
Meridith McCarty 17:12
That's exactly right. Social media is actually typically the first thing that people will say, “But I feel like I should be on social media.” And again, I say no to the shoulds. If social media is not affecting your bottom line or it’s not where you are getting 99% of your clients, I would not suggest outsourcing that first. That can come later once you're already creating the revenue to outsource to where it should go and what not to outsource.
So for somebody who is just starting out or hasn’t hit six figures yet, I’m speaking to you right now. The main things you need to be doing are your sales conversations, you need to be networking, and getting your name out there--these are the things not to outsource. That's what the business owner needs to be doing. So anything that you can outsource to free up space in your mind and on your calendar to do that is what we want to outsource.
I also encourage people to kind of take a time audit of where they're spending their time. Because then you can start catching things that you're doing that can go onto what I call the “Horizon Project list.” The things that can wait until you have more support to take that on. In the beginning, the goal is to let go of anything that’s not creating revenue.
Courtney Elmer 19:20
Circling back to this idea of a time audit. What's the simplest way for someone to go about doing that? How can someone figure out what not to outsource?
Meridith McCarty 19:30
If you don't have a project management system, you can even use a weekly planner. At the end of the day, you’ll go through and write down what you did and how much time you spent on it. If you are a little more advanced and you are using systems in your business, you can pull reports in your project management system to tell you this too.
Courtney Elmer 20:11
This is so valuable, just that right there. If you listen, walk away with nothing else but to audit your time for a week and see where it’s going, you’ll begin to realize whether you’re using it as intentionally as you think you are.
Meridith McCarty 21:19
It gives you an idea as well as to how many hours of help you may need to hire someone for and how much time you need to preserve on what not to outsource.
Courtney Elmer 21:45
I want to touch on something for a moment here that’s helpful to understand whenever you are beginning to think about outsourcing in your business. It's this idea of using your limited finite resources. What I mean by that is, we have time, we have money. And when we try to build a business based only on those resources, your results are limited, because you're using those limited resources.
This is why team-building and outsourcing help you create this word that we love as entrepreneurs: leverage. But time and money are both limited, they're finite, because we only have so much time, and we only have so much money.
Yet, when you can begin to recognize that an investment of whatever money that you have, maybe it's $5, maybe it's $50, maybe it's $500 into buying back your time so that you can then take that time and go out and generate more money with it. Then you don't have to worry or be afraid of hiring someone and breaking the bank because I don't have the revenue in my business right now. Which again, circles back to your point so beautifully about outsourcing tasks to create revenue.
Meridith McCarty 23:15
And you said the buzzword that I love: investment. A lot of people come to me and say, I don't have the money to outsource. But let’s do the math. Let’s say you're hiring somebody for $20 an hour, for 20 hours a month. You're paying $400 a month. Yet how much do you charge per month? Let’s say your time is worth $150/hr. Which is on the low end but what’s $150 x 20 (because you just got those 20 hours back). That’s $3000. So thinking of it as an investment in your business is the most important piece. Before you even hire.
Courtney Elmer 24:07
Yes. And sharing personally here, having a team holds me accountable to focusing my time on revenue-generating activities. Otherwise, it is so easy to slide back and say, “Oh, well I'm just gonna post on Instagram stories today.” Being busy is an illusion of productivity. It makes you feel productive, but that doesn’t mean it’s revenue-generating. So having a team, even if it's just one person, helps to hold you accountable to your time so that you stay focused on the things you need to focus on as a visionary leader.
Meridith McCarty 24:57
Absolutely couldn't agree more.
Courtney Elmer 25:01
So let’s pretend someone listening is thinking, I get it, but, where do I start when it comes to hiring? Where do I even go to find a VA or to find someone who's credible and reputable? And how does that process even look? What not to outsource? Take me through that process.
Meridith McCarty 25:23
I always say finding somebody by word of mouth referrals is a great way to find good team members. You could also do LinkedIn or Indeed. You can post on Facebook groups that you know are catering to virtual assistants, but know if you go that route you're going to get a lot of applicants.
So I do have some tricks to weeding those down. The most important thing to figure out is, do they match your company values? You're going to be working with them on a daily basis. So I always have my clients in their job description be very clear about their values, and explicitly state what they’re looking for. It also makes it easier to promote from within down the road.
Courtney Elmer 27:53
Yes, promoting from within is so much easier when they’re aligned with your company’s values and when they have a greater understanding of your company and how it operates. So when you put a job post together, what are your tips for finding qualified applicants and weeding out those who aren’t a good fit?
Meridith McCarty 29:26
The values piece is so important because if your values aren't aligned with the people that you're hiring, it won't work out. If you value responsiveness, but you hire a VA who also has a nine to five job, that's probably not going to work out in the long term. So knowing your values and knowing that you're hiring somebody that matches those are very important.
I also like to request people that apply to upload a two-minute video in the application sharing why they’re interested in the position. You want to have somebody that's a good fit personality-wise, too. And if you’re going to be sharing this job opening with the masses, definitely include the video submission, because that will cut down your applicants because some people just won't put in the extra effort. You can create your job application in a Google Form, which makes it easy and quick to go through and determine who is and who is not a good match. This way you don't feel as overwhelmed, because then maybe you get down to those core people that you know are going to be getting the interview with you.
Courtney Elmer 31:38
The video thing is such a great idea. I love that because it demonstrates the extra effort and most people are not going to do that. But the people that you won't work for you will and they'll love it and be eager to participate. It shows you how much they want the job and how much they already care from the get-go. I'd love to know if there are any other tips or words of advice that you might have for someone who is ready to outsource but are still afraid to take the leap. Any tips on what not to outsource?
Meridith McCarty 34:01
I would say that if you are struggling with the feeling like you know maybe I don't trust somebody else to come into your business, the best way besides any mindset work that needs to happen is preparing the foundation for your new hire. You can do this little by little over the span of many months. What you don't want to happen is tob hire somebody and then having to put together training while you're onboarding them. We want it all to be set up and seamless before you hire.
So a few action items you could start doing today, are your time audit, number one. Also recording yourself via Loom of you doing things that you do every single day, so you can create a video library of things that you are doing in your business that you’d like to pass onto someone else. This way you also have documentation in case you're sick, you go on vacation, etc. Record yourself doing it via Loom and talk through it. That's a huge, huge thing that is so helpful when you hire, and I'm sure you agree just to have documentation of things that you do in your business is so vital.
Courtney Elmer 36:02
Those are such tangible tips. I can't tell you how valuable that has been when we onboard new team members for them to be able to look over your shoulder in a sense watching you do what you’re asking them to do. It helps them learn very quickly. If pictures speak 1000 words, video speaks 10,000 words because it really helps people understand what it is that's in your head
So Meridith, I'm really curious then to hear your answer to this last question — what does it mean to you to live an EffortLESS Life®?
Meridith McCarty 39:02
To live an EffortLESS Life® to me would be that I wake up every single day doing what I love. Taking a hard look at what I’m doing during my day and asking myself, is this something that I enjoy? Does it fulfill my soul? As a business owner, you’ll start to notice things that light you up or don't light you up. Focusing on the tasks that bring you joy is what gives you that effortless feeling of loving what you do.
Courtney Elmer 39:45
That's the ultimate right? Waking up and feeling so fulfilled in what you’re doing.
Meridith McCarty 40:30
It gets to be fun, and it gets to be easy.
Courtney Elmer 40:35
Yeah, I love it. Meridith, thank you so much for all that you shared here. This was great. Where can people connect with you online?
Meridith McCarty 40:45
Courtney Elmer 41:00
Awesome, Thanks for being here to talk about what not to outsource.
Meridith McCarty 41:03
Thank you so much for having me.
Outsourcing & Systems Strategist
I am an outsourcing and systems strategist, and owner of McCarty Virtual Services LLC. MVS is a one-stop operations and business management agency for established coaches looking to outsource in their business.
I have been working 1:1 with business owners for over two years on how to most efficiently outsource to a virtual assistant to maximize revenue and minimize time-consuming tasks.
I was born and raised in Des Moines, IA and after many moves for my husband Alex's career, we currently reside outside of Baltimore, MD. After the 3rd move in 4 years, I decided to create the lifestyle I desired and used all the experience I had gained in the corporate world, to begin my own operation and business management agency. Thus, McCarty Virtual Services, LLC was born in November 2018.