Show notes for this episode:
Today we're going to talk about how to scale an Amazon business - or really, any business - to unimaginable levels by using one of the most powerful pieces of leverage you have as a business owner. And that is outsourcing.
So I've been using outsourcing for the past six years. Before I even started my Amazon business, I actually had a virtual assistant who was helping me with some music freelancing work that I was doing.
Now, I realized that if I sent enough emails to companies who create computer games, then after a while, one of them would get back to me and say, yeah, we'll let you do the music for our game and we'll pay you. I didn't want to spend all of my life sending out emails to these companies.
So I actually hired somebody from across the world to do this task for me. And they spent four hours a day emailing companies and it resulted in a couple of contracts, paid contracts, in music freelancing. This was my first experience of outsourcing.
So today I wanted to talk to you about what I've done since then. I think I've worked with over 50 freelancers, over 50 virtual assistants, over the past six years of doing this. I don't want to tell you how this stuff can really transform things, because really, if you think about it, this can be unbelievably powerful.
Let's say you had four full-time virtual assistants working for you in your business. Stop and think for a second about just how incredibly powerful that could actually be and just how much that could move you forward and take your business to the next level. Right? So, first of all, let's imagine you didn't outsource and you just did all the work by yourself and your business. It was just you.
Now you have a limit of how much time you can put into your business, how much energy you can put into your business. And also, you have like an emotional burnout point where you just can't take any more stress.
So if you never outsource anything, if you never hire anyone to do any work for you, really, you can only earn as much money as that threshold will allow, because you can only do a maximum of whatever the threshold is per week in terms of hours.
So that might be 40 hours a week for you. That might be 60 hours, maybe 80 hours, if you're really willing to put in a lot of time. But beyond that, you can't put any more time into your business. It's just not going to happen. You won't be able to sustain it for a very long time.
However, let's say you had four virtual assistants working for you. Putting in full time hours each that's potentially an extra hundred and 60 hours going into your business on top of the hours you're doing without you lifting a finger.
So think how many tasks could be getting done every single week if you had a team of virtual assistants. Even just one virtual assistant, you'd already be able to double the amount of hours going in to your business.
So now instead of having one person's work, output, and income generated from that, you could potentially four times, five times the output and the income coming in from your business without putting in any extra hours.
Another awesome thing about having a virtual assistant is you could get them to put in full time work, and then you could bump your hours down to part time outsource most of the tasks to them to free up time for you. Right? This is one of the incredible benefits of actually having people do work for you inside your business.
Also, one of the best benefits of having someone do the work for you is, tasks that really stress you out, tasks that aren't in your zone of genius - as in, the stuff that you enjoy doing plus you're really good at - anything outside of that, you can get your virtual assistants to do that for you, which means the tasks you're going to be working on will only be the stuff that you're really good at. And the stuff that you enjoy.
Think how much more efficient your business will be if that's the case, right? You're just working on stuff that you're really good at. You're really efficient and you enjoy. Obviously things will be running much, much more smoothly.
So these are just some of the benefits of outsourcing, there's many, many, many more. How it can be very fulfilling giving people jobs, right? And looking after people, it can be a really awesome experience. And it can be nice knowing that you have a team around you to bounce ideas off. And it's just undoubtedly, if you want to scale your business, I mean, you have to do it at some point. So it's worth doing it, as soon as you can.
Let's talk about how you can do this because I've had virtual assistants who have worked with me for years. For years, if you speak to a lot of companies who outsource stuff, you'll find that they say things like their turnaround time for VA's is unbelievable. They'll have people working for them for like a month and then leaving, or having to constantly go for and rehire over and over and over again. Cause people keep leaving.
I've had the same VA work for me for several, several, several years. So let's talk about how we can actually make that happen, build great relationships with your virtual assistants, and make this stuff real.
I get my virtual assistants from the Philippines. That's where I usually hire. The reason why is because Philippines has really become, in recent years, the outsourcing country. It's like an entire nation. Well, the main thing that they do is working in the outsourcing industry.
In fact, you'll find they have these BPOs - or business process outsourcing companies - and a lot of the people who work in the Philippines who go to an office and work, work in these BPOs. So they're just like office buildings where you go in and there's a company in there. Especially like an agency that hires loads of workers.
And they are agencies that do tasks for foreign companies. So you get loads of UK companies who hire these BPO agencies to do tasks for them. So they might do all of their customer service, for example, in the Philippines, using one of these agencies. In fact, Amazon does the same thing. They have all of their customer service in the Philippines. It's just the best place to hire because that's what they aspire to do.
A lot of Filipino people really want to work in the BPO industry because it's great hours for them quite often, it can be very flexible, the pay’s great. And you know, it's just presented them with a really fantastic opportunity. So usually, Philippines could be the best place to find a virtual assistant.
However, it's not the only place. There's loads of other places too. You could go to India, you could actually get a virtual assistant who's in the same country as you. And you could go to maybe Eastern Europe, you could look in America. You know, it doesn't really matter where they're based, to be honest, the main thing is that they're capable of doing what you want them to do, they're reliable, and you can build a good relationship with them.
But having said that, I mean, the best place to find them are places like onlinejobs.ph, which is all Filipino VAs - great place to start. Also places like Upwork can be good as well. Cause then you can get applicants from all over the world. Although, one thing with Upwork is they do take a percentage of the pay. So that's one thing to bear in mind. So you will have to effectively pay a little bit more to your freelancer to cover that percentage that Upwork takes. Something to bear in mind. But yeah, that's the best place to get VAs from.
I have one VA who was actually so loyal to me that at one point, his internet connection went down in this house and he wasn't going to be able to continue working. So what he did was, he went and got a motorbike from his local town, bought a motorbike, and every day he would ride from his house to a local internet cafe to log in and do work and then ride home.
When you offer a great employment opportunity, this is the kind of loyalty and amazing things you can get when you work with a virtual assistant.
Let's talk about a few of the practical things you need to do to make this happen. Like how much should you pay a virtual assistant? Well, there's a huge range of different hourly pay wages salary that you can offer. And there's many, many different ranges that you can pay your virtual assistants.
In fact, I've seen as little as like, a dollar fifty an hour pay for some virtual assistants in some parts of the world, all the way up to I've seen virtual assistants who charged $60 an hour, you know?
The key really isn't about necessarily thinking about, you know, how can I get it as cheap as possible or worrying too much about what the price is really. What you should think about is, what is the task that I need to get done and how valuable is that task within my business. And therefore, how much am I willing to put aside to outsource this task?
These are the questions you should be asking yourself, then seek to find a virtual assistant who can do the work for you, right within that range, within that price range and make sure that it's a fair deal for them, and it's kind of what they would expect to be paid. Right?
For example, someone working who lives in the UK is obviously going to be expected to get paid a hell of a lot more than someone in the Philippines. And the reason why is because the cost of living is way, way higher in the UK. The expected salary is a lot higher and the exchange rate is one to one.
If you're paying in pounds, they're receiving the money in pounds. Whereas in, say, India, it might be a different story. The cost of living might be lower. You'll be paying them in rupees, which the exchange rate is very favorable for them.
The amount that you end up paying because of the economy and other things, will be different. So you have to consider what is the going rate. And then the one good thing to do is you can just Google this, just look up what would be the pay for somebody in a similar job to what you're offering in that particular country. And in that particular part of that country - because each part of each country is slightly different.
For example, in Manila, Philippines, you'd expect to pay a bit more than someone living in maybe the southern islands. Same as in the UK. If you were to hire someone in London, you’d expect to pay them a lot more than somebody living way up North be paid less. Just because of the location, cost of living, and other things that all play into it. Right?
So you have to do a bit of due diligence and a bit of research to figure out what the going rate is, and then make sure, just wherever it is, that the finances make sense within your company. And as always, obviously, the cheaper that you can get it, the better, as long as the quality is there. So that's a little thought on price.
So when should you outsource stuff, then? Let's say, you want to do this. You want to get a team of VA's. You want to get them doing the work for you, and you want to build some scale, build some leverage.
At what point should you outsource? Should you do it from day one? As soon as you launch your first product and start getting VA's to do these tasks for you, or should you wait for a year, maybe do everything yourself for a year or two, build the business up to a decent level, then outsource? What would be the best approach? Now, to be honest, there's many ways you could think about this.
I started outsourcing before I even had a decent income coming in. I was putting my own money, personal money that I had from like working in a bar and stuff, I was putting that into a virtual assistant and it was basically money I didn't even really have at the time. That was how I was doing it. I started before I even built the Amazon business.
Now this was bad in the respect that I was paying something like $400 a month or whatever, for a few hours a month. It was like basically part time. And I wasn't making any money. So before I even started my Amazon business, I'd probably spent about, I don't even know, a grand or two, on hiring this VA.
So it was bad because I didn't make much money from it other than a couple of music contracts, which weren't exactly massive, but it was good because I did get some experience in how to hire and train a VA.
I don't really care about losing the money. I just didn't bother. I knew I was going to build a huge business anyways. It was like, whatever. But you might want to think about whether you're willing to spend the money so soon or not.
My advice would probably be to wait until you have fully mastered the skills yourself. In fact, one thing I would always, always suggest is - this should be a rule for you - never, ever outsource something that you can't do yourself. Never outsource something you can't do yourself.
So for example, let's say you wanted to outsource the process of finding products to sell on Amazon. So product research, this is what you wanted to do, right? Get someone to do it today, four hours a day of product research, to find those hot niches for you.
I would never ever pay someone to do that stuff if you're not even really sure on the process yourself. Because if you can't get a decent list of products to sell on Amazon, how the hell is someone else going to be able to do that for you?
Whenever you hire someone to work for you, you should probably expect their energy and enthusiasm levels about the task to be about, at best, about 70% of what your enthusiasm levels are. This is what you need to consider because it's not their business.
Think about it. If you have a job right now and you work for a company, how enthusiastic are you about the products and services that company offers versus the owner of the business? Obviously, they are more enthusiastic about the business than you, right? Otherwise it would just be weird. It’d be like being more in love with someone's kid than the parent, it just wouldn't make any sense, right?
We need to expect our staff to be slightly less enthusiastic about our business than us. Therefore, you should expect their results perhaps to not be quite as good as yours. So if you suck at product research and then you train and hire someone with your skills and pass them onto the person you're training, do the product research for you, and they're only 70% as good as you, then you have absolutely no chance of getting a decent result from them.
It's just going to lead to a ton of frustration. So the first thing I'd recommend doing is at least launching one product on Amazon that makes you some profit so you can get an idea of what it really takes to actually make this stuff happen, to find that product, to get it to sell, prove to yourself this stuff really works and get some money coming in.
Then you can use some of that money, some of that profit to hire the virtual assistant, rather than just being an expense where you just throw the money down the drain, you're taking a bit of the profit, reinvesting it into somebody else's time and using it to scale your business even faster. Right?
So that's the first thing to think about. I wouldn't do this stuff until you're up and running already. However, the reason I'm talking to you about this now, even though you might not have started yet, is because this very concept of being able to outsource things was one of the things that seriously motivated me to actually build my business in the beginning, knowing that I could get other people to do the work for me.
It's just amazing, genuinely amazing. Because think of the scale, you could have a team of 20 people doing work for you. That's 20 times 40 hours a week. Think of the pure power of business would have if you had that many people working for you, think of how fast you could move if you had a team that size.
And this is totally achievable. In fact, I think the most staff I've ever had simultaneously at the same time was about six or maybe seven at one point. And you know, I've done six figure months. If I had more staff, I had a bigger business, then it could have taken off even more, right? This is what excited me.
So one exercise you can do is just have a think about what kind of team you could build. Because once you can figure out what tasks need to be done in your business, then you can start to allocate roles based on these tasks.
So for example, you know that you need to be looking for products to sell on your Amazon account. Well, that could be a job in itself. I have several virtual assistants who work for me full time, put in eight hours a day, and their job is just to find products to sell on Amazon for me and add it to a database. That's their job. They just sit there looking for products and they add them to a database. Something I would find boring if I was doing eight hours a day.
But to them, you know, they find it’s just a great wherever earning an income, right. They find it relatively simple. They can work from home and it just works very well for them. They don't have to commute and, you know, they can just log off at the end of their shift and look after their family. So it's the perfect role for them. So that's one role you could have.
Another thing you're going to have to do is constantly contact suppliers, find great manufacturers for your stock. So maybe you could assign a role and have a virtual assistant, and their job could be to find you new manufacturers who can get your stock for cheaper and better negotiate with them and get the good prices and manage the importing process.
Another role that your business will need to have will be marketing, managing pay-per-click campaigns, tweaking the prices, managing the keywords, and the different manual and automatic campaigns. This takes time every day, right?
Usually it starts off only taking about 15 minutes a day. But as you get more product lines, all of a sudden it will start to take maybe an hour a day, maybe an hour and a half every day. So you could even get a virtual assistant to work for you a couple hours a day and just do this.
When you start to break down all the different things that need to happen within your business, you can start to create a dream team of virtual assistants who can run the whole thing for you.
And then instead of you having to do all the hard graft of, you know, all the manual labor within your business, you can transform and focus on working on your business, creating systems and processes to pass to your team members to carry out for you.
Instead of doing the tasks yourself, you will be managing people and making sure they are doing the tasks for you. And as I said, this is the best way to scale any business.
So I hope this has given you some food for thought. Hope you're going to go check out onlinejobs.ph, which is one of the best places to find virtual assistants. And hopefully this makes you as excited as I am about building an online business, having this possibility to outsource, and get as much leverage as you need as the business grows. So hopefully it's given you some inspiration.
If you want to get in touch, maybe book a call with me and discuss getting started and building your Amazon business. Just go to ecommercefreedom.com. and there should be a link at the top of the page for an Amazon Accelerator call where we can have a chat, talk about your goals, and see if there's any way I can help you. All right.
Thanks so much for listening. I'll catch you next week.