Section 10: Your Virtual Team
As an entrepreneur, you will be faced with a variety of challenges in the everyday course of your ventures. As we have discussed previously, it’s important to have a great team around you. Sometimes you have tasks to accomplish in your business or venture that you could do, but someone else with greater experience in that area could do it better and faster. With every task you face, there is something called an opportunity cost. That means that if you dedicate yourself to one task, it costs you the loss of opportunity to complete a different task.
I hired a cameraman (Jimmy) to help film the courses. I hired a student (Alisha) to be on screen with me and also be one of my teaching assistants. I hired video editors from the Philippines and India to edit my videos. I hired my daughter (age 16) to help keep my Facebook page up to date. I hired my son (age 13) to help with my SEO. I hired Dr. Despres to do my peer review.
In this section, I want to share with you some of the lessons I’ve learned that you can apply as you set up your virtual team.
That a lot of work! One person can’t do it all. The solution is to find out what tasks I can delegate to others and then I find the best solution to hire them. From my list above, I outsourced a lot of the research to a young woman in the Philippines. Since the research is mostly web based, I knew that anyone in the world with research skills, English speaking ability, and an Internet connection to do the job.
9. Sell the idea and the courses.
10. Connect with interested people through social media.
11. Attend education fairs and conferences.
12. Film the courses.
13. Edit the video footage to make the courses engaging and fun.
14. Build web pages to support the lessons.
15. Put text, audio, and video on the web pages.
16. Communicate with schools and curriculum providers.
17. Teach the courses.
In my business, here’s a list of what needs to get done to see my courses come to market and be made available to different schools. Note that this is only a partial list for the sake of this example.
1. Write courses (this alone is several hundred hours per course due to the research, organization, and writing involved).
2. Get courses reviewed and edited by someone wiser than me (thanks Dr. Despres!)
3. Build a website – both a traditional site and a mobile friendly site.
4. Build a Facebook fan page.
5. Keep my Facebook page updated.
6. Take action to optimize my search engine rankings through SEO.
7. Research various markets, schools, curriculum providers, etc. to come up with lists of prospects.
8. Contact everyone through letter, email, or telephone.
I consider the key requirements of expertise, time, and money when it comes to hiring to “outsourcing” my work. Outsourcing simply means that I find someone outside of my office to do the work. Let me give you a scenario that will help you understand the complexity of building and growing a business or venture.
Remember the mind map? Remember all the tasks that have to get done? It might be that to run a successful venture, you need 200 hours a week of work … but you can only do 40 or 50. That means you have to outsource the other 150 - 160.
I asked one friend and he quoted me about $1,000 per minute for video editing. (Yikes!)
I asked another friend who was a former student. He said, “Pat, I could edit your videos for $12,500 per course. That price is as a special favor to you.”
However, I’m a bootstrapper. That means that I find ways to get things done on a limited budget. In the past, I recalled that some of my mentors recommended outsourcing basic tasks to virtual assistants. What is a virtual assistant? It’s someone who helps you that doesn’t come to work in your office or the place where you do your business. They could live across town, across the country, or live in a different country. In any case, you will communicate with your virtual assistant by telephone, skype, email, or any other preferred method.
Let me give you an example. If I have 8 hours in my day, I know that I can only accomplish so much work. I might be faced with two different tasks to perform. One is to write the content for more courses. The other is to edit the video of some courses that I have previously filmed that still need to be edited. I know I can’t do both.
Here’s the key: I need to focus on my core strengths and do what I do best. That is, I need to keep writing. There are actually tens of thousands of people around the world who can edit my videos for me, but there is only one “me” that can write the courses.
At this point, I start to think, “How will I get these videos edited? I don’t have the time myself.”