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8 Ways For Your Startup To Successfully Outsource To Freelancers

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For the last few weeks I have been searching for a young entrepreneur who is absolutely crushing it and could show you how easy it is to be a successful startup if you put the hours in and have a good idea. I didn’t have to look too far when I remembered that my friend Adam Stone fitted the brief perfectly. Adam is a 20-year-old, high successful, entrepreneur who a lot of people know in the tech scene.

He started a phone unlocking company when he was 12 years old while he was living in Chicago and got handed down a Blackberry from his dad that needed a change in telco provider. The unlocking business is now highly successful and has more than 100,000 users. Adam learned the craft of outsourcing at this very young age because he outsourced all the operations of the business, customer support, and even the supplier relations.

I first met Adam at an investor’s lunch in Melbourne and was surprised to see someone so young with so many brilliant investors. Adam has one of the smartest business minds you will come across and see’s opportunities and then takes action immediately. Obviously I am not the only one that see’s his talent as he has recently moved from Melbourne to San Francisco and been accepted into the famous 500 Startups program run by Dave McClure. Once in San Fran, Adam used the powerful proximity effect of being in the right place, to put together a deal with WIX to feature in their app store through a chance meeting with them.

Adam’s latest project, Speedlancer, is the world’s fastest freelance marketplace with a 99% customer satisfaction. They deliver design, content and data entry tasks within 4 hours and connect users with the highest quality, pre-vetted freelancers. If after one revision a customer doesn’t have their work fulfilled in line with the description then they are entitled to a full refund, removing all the risk and inefficiency of outsourcing to freelancers.

Adam came up with the idea when he began outsourcing using sites like Fiver, Zirtual (Virtual Personal Assistants) oDesk and Freelancer due to not being a software coder or graphic designer himself. He found that getting little things done quickly was very difficult, and he could often be left waiting weeks for something very small. For small tasks, you don’t want to have to post the jobs, go through bids, interview people and have a choice of over 10,000 people to work with.

A lot of you are always asking what the secret is to start a business that creates a marketplace and how to get one started. In Adams case, he looks for where talented freelancers like to hang out online such as forums and blogs. The ones with a good track record are then invited to the marketplace. There is then a further two rounds of checking where more than 50% of applicants can be knocked out of the recruitment process. To stimulate the other side of the marketplace Adam validated his idea further by sending out cold emails (try Sendbloom, Tout App and Outreach.io for cold email software that helps you do this) to different segments of the market to see if they had a need for his service. He would get the business owners email addresses by using business listings and then contacting them using LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. This allowed him to fail fast and find where the customers were that could afford to use his platform.

Below are the top 8 tips from the master of outsourcing, Adam Stone.

 

1. Start small with your outsourcing

You should be outsourcing everything within your startup. Start by offloading small, easy, common support queries and operations, and then as you build more trust with your outsourcing team, start giving them bigger tasks to complete for you. If you’re a founder of a startup that can’t code then, that will also be one of the very first things you outsource. Later on you can add to the list design and content. If all of this is working well for you, then one of the final tasks you could look to outsource is PayPal disputes. The things you shouldn’t look to outsource are growth and marketing although you should be looking to systemise these areas so that parts of it could be outsourced if need be. In terms of your accounting, it’s good to have that local to where your business is so you can go and see them, and be able to talk about the tax laws with someone that understands them in your area.

 

2. Build a team around someone and then systemise

Once you have your first successful freelancer, you can then move them away from simple customer support tasks and get them to build a team around them with people they trust and know how to work with. You can then unload more tasks to this person, and they can delegate amongst their team and focus on documenting all the processes required to complete each task. This is very important because you have to think of all your outsourced freelancers as replaceable.

Always start by writing the processes yourself and writing down as many steps as possible. Once this is done, give it to your project manager to start actioning for new requests of this type and get them to expand on your knowledge base for this task. Adding videos of the task being completed, Youtube videos of other people doing the same tasks, or screenshots is also very valuable and makes the learning process easier for new entrants to the team. Once all the knowledgebase is written you need to store it in a central location such as Dropbox or Googledocs.

Once this model is setup, the idea would be that you send all the tasks that need to be outsourced to this one person and then they delegate it out to their team and manage it. The benefit for you is you now only have to manage one person for multiple parts of the business – Adam describes it like having “One Uber Manager.” This process of setting up a structure and having processes around your business makes your startup a lot more valuable, much more scalable and allows you to hire on a whim.

 

3. Streamline communication between your freelancers and customers

All the support should be managed by an email address that matches your domain, so the end customer doesn’t know they are talking to someone who isn’t directly employed by you. The support tickets can be managed through something like Help Scout allowing simplicity for your freelancers when dealing with issues. If you are an early stage startup you should oversee every ticket at the start until you are confident that your team are handling them in the correct manner (the customer is everything remember).

To reduce your risk when communicating with your customers, it’s best to start with your freelancers drafting all responses and then you physically sending the emails. In each of these cases you would send the freelancer the edits you made, get them to document it, and then they would gradually learn how to deal with each type of problem, without risking customer satisfaction. You can start to send out canned responses to your customers if you are getting a lot of the same queries and slightly tweaking each one to keep it personal.

 

4. Interviewing your freelancers

Give them a knowledge base you have written, give them common support queries and then give them the opportunity to answer them as a kind of test. Whichever freelancer answers the questions the best then moves on to round two where you interview them over Skype. Ask them if they have done the role you are asking them to do before. For example, if they had done customer service before but haven’t dealt with the phone unlocking industry before, that’s not an issue. Pick one skillset that you are really looking for and then teach them the rest. Look for the ability to learn, willingness to learn and general experience throughout the interview. The goal of this process is to find a freelancer that has an interest in what you’re doing and wants a long-term relationship. There are plenty of freelancers in the software development industry that operate under a “Dev Sweat Shop Model,” where they are just in it for the money and not the long term, which you absolutely must avoid.

If you are using a marketplace likeSpeedlancer to find freelancers, then Adam says you should allocate around a week to find the best person, although on his platform this need is removed because they do all the vetting for you.

 

5. Be aware of cultural differences in different countries

Cultural differences in each country affect the way your freelancers can operate. Certain countries will expect more money than others and it can be often hard to pinpoint whether the person you’re actually talking to is from, and whether the country they say their in is where they actually are. Reviews and honesty will help weed out these types of challenges.

Some freelancers will quickly say yes to things even if they can’t deliver on them and other times you will find a difference in how hard freelancers work. You may find that freelancers you deal with will not value long-term relationships and may just be after the quick sale, so you need to watch out for that as well.

 

6. Understand pricing structures

With freelancers, you can be charged by the hour or by the task. You need to be weary of this because Adam has had times where developers have quoted on a certain amount of time and then taken three times as long to complete the task. You don’t need to pay for the most expensive person, and it goes without saying that you shouldn’t ever pick the cheapest. If you have very little money to spend then you can find a freelancer that has zero feedback and tell them they have to do it really cheap. In this scenario, you would only pay them after the job is complete. The promise you make to them is that if they do a good job you will give them excellent feedback and more work in the future. While this strategy is someone riskier and can see you fail a few times before you get it right, it can be a great long-term way of doing things.

“The biggest mistake a startup can make is not outsourcing”

For small tasks, freelancers will usually charge a fixed price on most marketplace platforms likeSpeedlancer. For larger tasks, you will typically pay hourly or weekly, and you can pay the freelancers using PayPal to avoid fees. Maintenance and building features on a development project with freelancers will usually be billed hourly as well. When you’re figuring out how much you are going to pay them, everyone’s ethics will vary as to what’s fair. It’s always a good idea though, to pay them more than they can get elsewhere, so they stay loyal to you. If you want to WOW your freelancers then build in performance bonuses, so both you and them win as well as giving them five-star feedback.

“Spend more time on your marketing and getting sales, than trying to hustle down the price of your freelancers”

The other area of pricing that is hard to manage is when you are being charged by the hour. When you’re not physically next to the freelancer it is hard to know how long it really took to do a task. Some platforms have a time tracker and allow you to see their screen. Trust comes into play a lot here and everyone’s idea of big brother tactics to manage costs will differ. One of the reasons Adam made Speedlancer a 4-hour deadline on tasks was to stop procrastination. In an 8-hour workday the average person is only really working 4 hours. On some platforms it can take 15-30 mins to complete your task, yet it takes them days and even weeks to complete the smallest of tasks. Efficiency on a platform like Speedlancer is a great way to control the price in a fair manner.

 

7. Post a great job advertisement

It goes without saying that when you are creating your ad to put up on a marketplace like Speedlancer, you want to be specific. It’s important to remember though that if you’re too specific then you will usually pay more to have the task completed. With something like development, you don’t want to disclose everything up front to them. It’s better to disclose the sorts of things you’re looking for first.

 

8. Think about disclosure when outsourcing

Don’t worry about getting them to sign a Non Disclosure Agreement because if they are in another country and they break it, there is not a lot you can do about it. If you want to limit your liability on the customer support / operations side, you can limit permissions to your software and websites, and only allocate certain tickets to them that don’t require them to know secret information about your business. Never disclose any marketing channels to your freelancers unless you have really systemised the process and there is nothing proprietary for them to steal from you.

“The rule of thumb should be don’t disclose anything to them that you are not willing to disclose publically”

One way to combat the disclosure issue is you could, for example, look to have an outsourced developer complete 90% of your home page and then get an in-house developer to finish it off. By doing it this way, if the in-house developer tries to steal anything, you would at least have some sort of legal recourse.

For Adam, the one issue that he had with outsourcing was recently when one of his freelancers sold the code for his unlocking site. Surprisingly it didn’t have much effect on revenue because you need more than the code to replicate a business. You need the SEO, relationships, the rankings, etc

Adam Stone from SpeedLancer being interviewed by Tim Denning

Adam Stone, Founder of Speedlancer

 

Adams favorite book is Tim Ferris’s “4-hour work week,” and his favorite quote is “The harder you try the luckier you get.”

 

If you would like to know more about freelancing and outsourcing, then visit Speedlancer to try it for yourself and feel free to share your own stories below.

Tim is best known as a long-time contributor on Addicted2Success. Tim's content has been shared hundreds of thousands of times and he has written multiple viral posts all around success, personal development, motivation, and entrepreneurship. During the day Tim works with the most iconic tech companies in the world, as an adviser, to assist them in expanding into Australia. By night, Tim coaches his students on the principles of personal development and the fundamentals of entrepreneurship. You can connect with Tim through his website www.timdenning.net or through his Facebook.

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8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Shanky

    Jun 14, 2015 at 9:09 pm

    Great concept and I am really inspired with Adam. I worked as freelancer and now providing tips related to freelancing career.
    Sppedlancer is very useful…
    Thanks again for very creative blog post

    • Tim Denning

      Dec 30, 2015 at 2:38 am

      Not a problem Shanky and all the best with your freelance work.

  2. Sally Baughman

    May 24, 2015 at 7:49 pm

    Helpful tips, thank you. I just met with SPARK in Jackson Hole, and they are working to bring the freelancers visibility up. So, if folks have “co-working communities” where tech skilled people are working in shared office space, knocking on THEIR doors can help us entrepreneurs, too.

    • Tim Denning

      May 25, 2015 at 9:56 am

      Thanks for the insight Sally I will be sure to check them out.

  3. Dion

    May 24, 2015 at 1:36 am

    Tim, Solid post as always.
    I’ve got a question for ya. For tip 2(building a team around someone…) How do you go about finding the “right person” to assist you in building a team? Are there any particular practices that you use to find and screen potential freelancers?

    Thanks,
    Dion

    • Tim Denning

      May 24, 2015 at 3:18 am

      Hi Dion, once you have started to interview and try different freelancers you simply just pick the most responsible person to build a team around. If they have proven that they are capable and they want to know your startup, they could be a good fit. There is no magic solution though, you just have to try someone out and see how they go. The moment you know they are the right person, get them to help you build a team, suggest people and delegate out tasks.

      Private message me on Facebook if you want to know more.

  4. David

    May 6, 2015 at 2:13 pm

    Fantastic article, thank you so much! I am going to sign up for Speedlancer.

    • Tim Denning

      May 7, 2015 at 10:33 am

      Glad you liked it David and thanks for your comment.

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Startups

The 5 Most Common Myths Associated With Starting a Business

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business myths

We live in a world of opportunities. I can remember growing up and always dreaming of wearing a suit and tie to work. It was my absolute dream. I was maybe 14 years old at the time and my grades in school were awful and I didn’t exactly have the brightest future ahead of me. I always had these misconceptions about success and what it took to achieve it.

After almost a decade of putting my head down and investing the time, I can finally say I have a profitable business. However, this isn’t about me and my business. This is about the myths that most people are allowing to rule their lives and hold them back from their greatness.

Running a business isn’t about making millions of dollars. When you own a business you’re making the world a better place. You’re providing a solution to a problem. You’re giving others an opportunity to earn money by becoming an employee. You’re doing so much more than making money. It’s good for the economy. So don’t let these common myths about starting a business fool you.

Here are 5 common myths you need to let go of once and for all:

1. You must be intelligent and good in school

Have you ever thought that it’s a basic requirement to graduate college with a business degree? It makes sense if you look at it from a distance. You go to school. You learn how to run a business. You start a business.

The flip side? Business school doesn’t teach you how to handle failure. School will never teach you how to adapt to the market place and make split second decisions that could impact millions of people’s daily lives. School can’t teach you to be you. Although school may not hurt, it’s 100% not required to run a successful business.

“Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.” – Henry David Thoreau

2. You need money

Almost everyone I’ve asked about starting a business has brought up the concept of needing money to get started. I’m here to tell you that you can start thousands of different businesses without money. The most practical piece of advice I can give here is to go out and sell your service, collect the money, then invest a portion or all of that money into the tools needed to complete the job.

If you’re dead set on a business model that requires a lot of cash upfront, use resources like kickstarter or angel investors to get going. You personally don’t need to have any money to start any business ever. You just have to be willing to get creative when it comes to finding the necessary money required.

3. You need experience

As entrepreneurs, we are actually innovators. A lot of the things we are doing have never been done before. We’re constantly experimenting with new ideas and that comes with a lot of failures. You gain the necessary experience needed to run a business while you run your business. You’ll never learn everything you need to know and not a single day will go by where you don’t gain more experience. So dive in, have fun, and don’t give up.

4. You need a following

With all of these mega influencers on social media, it can be challenging to believe you can do anything without a massive following. This isn’t true at all. Everyone on this planet starts with the same following. ZERO. No one knows who you are until you put yourself out there.

Sure you may not have thousands of subscribers, you may not even have ten subscribers. The point is that if you put out good content and provide a service or product that actually helps make the world a better place and solves a problem for your customer, you will win. Just keep putting in the time and energy.

“If you are not willing to risk the usual, you will have to settle for the ordinary.” – Jim Rohn

5. There’s too much competition

Everyday you wait there will be more and more competition. If it was easy everyone would be doing it right? Your product or service is the difference. If you provide a better experience you will win. If you put in the work for the long haul and ignore the short term gains, you will win. Business is a massive competition and if you’re doing it right your competitors will become your friends, mentors, and possibly customers.

This article was written specifically for you. To help you overcome some of the fears of taking that leap of becoming an entrepreneur. Don’t get me wrong, it’s challenging. However, if you truly believe in your idea, there should be nothing on this planet that can stop you from bringing it to life.

What tips have you used to start your business? Comment below!

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Startups

How I Started A Business And Defeated 5 Years Of Procrastination When It Came To Doing So.

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I finally started a business! So many people had asked me when I was going to start one again and for the last five years, I’ve procrastinated. There’s a whole bunch of statistics which I’m not going to recite that suggest that many people (including me) want to start their own business.

Before each of us leaves this world, there’s a very strong chance we will try to start our own business at least once.

I talk to so many wannabe entrepreneurs who have an idea or a passion that they want to turn into a business yet they never take action. It’s been five years since my last business venture. I know what this feeling of wanting to begin a business is like because it’s plagued my thoughts for so long.

I’ve always had that spark in my brain that says “Tim, you love this passion of yours. Go and start a business and earn a living from it!”

I have ignored this bright spark for so long. I’ve made excuses. I’ve procrastinated. I’ve told myself I wasn’t good enough.

Then finally, a couple of months ago, I said to myself “SCREW IT! I’M STARTING MY BUSINESS.”

If you’ve ever had similar thoughts, then I want you by the end of this article to take action once and for all. I am going to give you the exact steps and tips I used to defeat five years of procrastination, and finally start my coaching and social media consulting business.

Here’s what I did to start my business:

 

Make a loss if you have to in the beginning to get a free education.

The first client I brought on made a loss. At the end of the consulting, I figured out I didn’t charge enough. This is perfect because I basically bought my first client and got a free education at the same time. The lessons my first client taught me were what I used to base my entire business on.

Rather than overthink the idea of a business, I decided to experiment by actually creating one and attempting to find a business model. The truth is you don’t need to know anything to start a business. As long as you can charge money for what you’re going to do, you’ll learn the rest from experience.

 

If you have no ideas at all, then ask yourself “What can I coach people on?”

Not everyone has a business idea they want to pursue. Some people just know they want to start a business. This was the same for me. I knew I wanted a business, but I had no idea what it was going to do. Then I went to an event and the speaker said that all of us could coach somebody, on something.

So I asked myself the same question and the answer I got back was social media and life. They are the two things I can coach everybody on. They are also the two things I’m passionate about. For you, the seed to your business starts with this same question.

While you may not become a coach, knowing what you can teach people will lead to knowing what you’re passionate about and are motivated to do for free.

 

Float the idea of charging one person, for one product or service.

The way I got started once I knew what I wanted to focus my business on was to float the idea with people. One of the people I floated the idea with wanted to be a client except they wanted me to write very long blog articles for them.
While ghostwriting is a service I’m considering to add in the not too distant future, writing long blog posts about a topic I wasn’t passionate about was not something I was willing to do and I said no.

As I kept putting out into the universe what this business was (which didn’t exist yet), I had several people express interest in what I was doing. One of them turned into my first client without even realizing it. Telling people what you are thinking of doing is how you get those first few clients.

“Act as if the business exists already and you can offer your product or service right away. That’s been a key concept for me to take action and start a business again finally”

 

Your first client gives you the confidence.

Winning the first client gave me the confidence to pursue my business. Getting a client is the best way to back yourself and motivate yourself to avoid procrastination and keep going with your business venture.

“It’s harder to fail when you have a client depending on you”

 

Forget business cards and websites.

I meet so many entrepreneurs in the making who spend hours creating websites, designing logos and even printing business cards (maybe they haven’t heard of LinkedIn). None of these activities will get your business started or give you the motivation you need.

Having the skill to sell yourself and start charging for something, anything, is how you start a business. A business is only a business when it has money coming in the door.

 

Act as if you’ve been doing it for years.

I’ve never done consulting. I didn’t do any business degree. I’m no brainiac.

I read a few books and watched a few consultants that my current employer use. Then I just acted as if I had been consulting for years. In a way, I had. Blogging is kind of like consulting.

In fact, in almost any job, you consult to somebody about something. So, we can all do consulting if we choose too.

Acting as if your business has existed for years is how you give your early clients the confidence to try you out and see if your business can serve their needs.

 

Put together a rough plan on the back of an envelope.

Okay, don’t really use an envelope because that would make you a dinosaur. Jot your rough plan down on the notepad of your not so smartphone. My plan for my business was literally nine things I could teach a business about social media.

These nine things became the plan I was going to follow when I consulted to a business. It took fifteen minutes to write. I suggest having a rough plan, so you know where you are heading and what the business will look like. Please don’t overthink the plan or you’ll never get started!

 

Ask yourself, “What’s the worst that can happen?”

This question will help you mitigate the risks that are buzzing around in your head and preventing you from starting a business. When I asked this question during the startup of my business a few months back, I realized that the worst that could happen is I disappoint a few clients.

By asking this question, you figure out that there are no life-threatening consequences to giving a business a go.

 

Ask yourself, “What would this look like if it were insanely easy?”

The temptation with a new business idea is to make it complex and overthink it. This is what so many wannabe entrepreneurs do and it’s a disaster. Asking yourself “What would this look like if it were easy?” helps you to chunk down in your head what you want to do.

Making something easy by default makes it doable to get started. If something is really easy, then it’s pretty hard not to give it a go. With my new business, easy looked like this:

– No website
– One service
– One customer
– Using my existing services like Zoom to enable the business
– Only doing it part time for one hour a week

With these boundaries in place, there was no way I was not going to follow through. I knew that if I wouldn’t do one hour a week of my new business, then I’d never do it seriously, or even at all.

Making my business easy was the first test to see if I could ever do the run-my-own-business gig again. I use making things easy as my BS test for any new idea. Try it for yourself.

 

Add your business into conversations you have with everybody.

I get messages on social media and emails all the time asking how I’m doing and what I’m working on. In every conversation during the early weeks of my business, I added in one phrase: “I’ve started a business.”

I didn’t say what it was. It was only natural people would ask, and I’d politely answer them. By using this approach, you’re not selling and you get to test your idea with real people who could become customers. Some of these conversations ended up in them becoming clients.

 

Always do it as a side hustle to start with.

The reason we procrastinate on our business ideas is that we have heaps of fear about what we’re going to do. A lot of this fear comes from the misconception that you need to quit your job or primary income source to start. You don’t.

Giving up your primary income source is the worst thing you can do. You don’t even know if your business will work or whether you’ll like it. Plus 90% of businesses fail in the first five years. That’s why I committed to only one hour per week to put myself to the entrepreneur test yet again.

Starting your business as a side hustle lets you find your niche and learn what your business will become. In the early days, your business will change lots of times, so you don’t want to bet your life savings on it until you are solid in your approach.

Again, by making my business a side hustle to begin with, I removed the fear, gave myself room to explore and allowed myself to fail. I’d suggest this approach for anyone wanting to start a business.

It’s so much easier this way which means your chances of success are higher. The worst case is you end up with a part-time business which gives you a second income. That’s not a bad result either.

So why can’t you start a business and stop procrastinating again?

If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net

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Startups

3 Questions to Ask Yourself for a Winning Business

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successful business

“My pleasure”. We’ve all heard this before right? It is probably not implemented more than in the culture at Chik-Fil-A. I can’t tell you how many times I go in there and like clockwork they respond to every request with my pleasure. This is something that, not only separates them from their competition but continues to make them a destination for people to seek out when they are hungry.

This attitude that every employee from the cook to the owner carries is something that we should all learn from and understand the importance of in our daily interactions with people, prospects, and customers.  

Are you conditioning yourself everyday to be in a position of service for your family, friends, clients, and anyone that you come into contact with? Too many times I see people not focused and aware of the potential opportunities walking around them every day. Do you want to know why they are missing them? It is because their attitude sucks and isn’t one ready to be of service.   

1. Are You Approachable?   

Are you presenting yourself to everyone with a smile? This is a simple tactic you can implement right now that will open up more conversation opportunities for you and will have others asking how your day is going and the most common question or response from others will be, what has you smiling today?  Nature guards humans and to break down the barriers they have up, you have to be someone they feel is there to help them or be of service. Smiling first is key to opening them up and start breaking down their defenses.  

“To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity” – Douglas Adams

2. Are You A Good Listener?

After you create the introduction and start the dialogue with your customer or prospect it is essential to be quiet and listen to them.They will begin to tell you what, how, and why they are looking for help and give you the opportunity to show them how your service will solve their problems and needs. Too many times I see salespeople or business individuals talk right through their prospect or customer and in essence, talk themselves right out of a sale.  

Listening is crucial to being in the customer service business. I mean how you can indeed solve a problem for someone if you first refuse to listen to them and find out their problem/problems in the first place?  

“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth” – Muhammad Ali

3. Are You An Action Taker?  

The best of the best take action to service their customers, clients, or others for that matter. Talking points are great but it’s the activity and the action steps that people are looking for and out of you. If you really want to create an environment of service, this is non-negotiable. Don’t just communicate with your prospects how you are going to help them or service them, SHOW them through your commitments, actions, and abilities to solve their problems. This is a major part of the attitude of service framework that is necessary to separate you from the all the rest.   

You must first create an environment of service in your own daily habits everyday to create the atmosphere of service you want your colleagues, clients, and general surroundings to see from you as well. Your attitude is the first thing you have to check to get this mindset in alignment with your habits.  

Create a daily smile that others find welcoming.  Listen to everything going on around you so that you are sharp and aware of your surroundings, and then attack every day with actions of solving problems and elevating yourself as the solution others seek out when they need a product or service to better their situation and business.

What are some things you do that show your attitude of service? Comment Below!

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5 Simple Strategies for When You’ve Made a Business Mistake

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business mistakes

Anyone in business with years of experience will likely be able to cite a variety of past mistakes, whether they involve missing a meeting, not delivering content by a deadline or upsetting a client. The reality is, it’s impossible to be error-free in the demanding world of business, where deadlines and individual client preferences are numerous.

Ideally, businesses have a structure in place that helps prevent mistakes before they occur, even though they may still happen. As a result, businesses should realize that a mistake shouldn’t be a deal-breaker. A mistake can present an opportunity to solidify a client relationship, by giving you a chance to make up for it and more.

Here are five simple strategies to address mistakes in business, with integrity and honesty:

1. Provide Clients With Transparency

Businesses that make a mistake and refuse to tell a client about it until questioned will find themselves at the receiving end of an understandably irate client. Giving clients a heads-up shows integrity and a steadfast commitment to making it right, especially if they are not yet aware of the issue.

Ideally, you can address the issue with the client in person, or at least by phone. Showing an apologetic tone in an email is difficult. When apologizing, don’t beat around the bush. Directly clarify the mistake, why it happened and the resolution in progress. By telling a customer or client about a mistake before they realize it on their own, you enforce a willingness to take responsibility and right wrongs.

2. Offer Reassurance on Resolving the Issue

Being transparent about a business mistake is just the first step. It’s equally important to clarify with a client how you will resolve the issue. Since the last thing anyone wants is for the partnership to dissolve with a refund or termination of a contract, the best route is to offer a clear plan on how the project’s results will improve. You should also clarify what steps have been implemented to ensure the mistake does not occur again.

For example, if a PR agency sends out a press release for a client with erroneous content, it can immediately notify the client of the issue, while ensuring them that this round of pitching and its corrective follow-up round will be free of charge. This shows a business taking responsibility for its mistakes, while also offering a solid plan as to how it can resolve the issue without taking more resources or money from the client.

“A lack of transparency results in distrust and a deep sense of insecurity.” – Dalai Lama

3. Ask for Their Resolution Idea

After providing your own reassurance and strategy to amend the mistake, you should ask the client if there’s anything else you can do. If you proposed a firm plan for correcting the issue, then it’s likely they will simply say no — though the question provides room to make things right if they are not satisfied with your proposal.

If you intend on providing a discount due to your mistake, it’s better to ask the customer for their idea of a resolution before offering a discount, as their ideal discount may be less than what you initially intended on proposing. By accepting their idea for a resolution, the business is essentially admitting all wrongdoing while increasing the confidence of the client.

Additionally, for whatever the customer proposes as a solution, it’s a good idea to increase their desire slightly. For example, if a customer feels that a 10 percent discount is fair, counter with something like, “10 percent is very fair, and I’m very apologetic for our mistake. As a result, I will provide you with 15 percent off as a thank you for your understanding.”

4. Value the Power of Word-of-Mouth

Most clients are knowledgeable enough to know that mistakes happen. Their evaluation of a business incorporates how it responds to its errors. Especially in the digital age, reviews of a business are prevalent on social media and various review platforms.

A business that goes above and beyond to amend its mistake, by informing the customer of its error and offering a fair compensation, is likelier to be praised in reviews as taking charge of mistakes. Combined with other reviews from clients who ideally did not experience mistakes, a business will have an excellent review presence online.

“Free publicity and word of mouth is probably the best and cheapest form of advertising. Learn to use it to your advantage.” – Richard Branson

5. Don’t Stress That It Wasn’t Purposeful

If a client or consumer has spent time and money on your services, then they likely already know your mistake was just that, not some intentional sabotage. As a result, continually stressing that your mistake wasn’t on purpose is a waste of time, especially when you can be spending the dialogue on ideas for resolution and compensation. Taking the lead on amending a mistake is significantly more important than declaring its intent or lack thereof.

Mistakes happen in business, quite often. Eliminating these mistakes is ideal, but when they do occur, it’s possible for a business to salvage a client relationship with transparency, reassurance and a viable resolution.

How do you recover from a business mistake? Comment below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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Entrepreneurs

10 “Brick-In-The-Head” Moments You’ll Encounter as an Entrepreneur

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entrepreneurship

The entrepreneurial life is one of the most challenging, stressful and risky avenues to success you could possibly choose. The issue with doing it alone in business ventures is exactly that; you’re alone. To be a successful entrepreneur, you have to be driven, thick-skinned, and ready for any curve balls. (more…)

Vladimir Yakimenko is a CEO, Investor and Founder of Kanbanchi, a popular project management add-on for G Suite. Kanbanchi is one of the fastest growing add-ons for G Suite and has over 80,000 active users. Our work has been featured on Today.com, Lifehacker, Lifehack and more.

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8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Shanky

    Jun 14, 2015 at 9:09 pm

    Great concept and I am really inspired with Adam. I worked as freelancer and now providing tips related to freelancing career.
    Sppedlancer is very useful…
    Thanks again for very creative blog post

    • Tim Denning

      Dec 30, 2015 at 2:38 am

      Not a problem Shanky and all the best with your freelance work.

  2. Sally Baughman

    May 24, 2015 at 7:49 pm

    Helpful tips, thank you. I just met with SPARK in Jackson Hole, and they are working to bring the freelancers visibility up. So, if folks have “co-working communities” where tech skilled people are working in shared office space, knocking on THEIR doors can help us entrepreneurs, too.

    • Tim Denning

      May 25, 2015 at 9:56 am

      Thanks for the insight Sally I will be sure to check them out.

  3. Dion

    May 24, 2015 at 1:36 am

    Tim, Solid post as always.
    I’ve got a question for ya. For tip 2(building a team around someone…) How do you go about finding the “right person” to assist you in building a team? Are there any particular practices that you use to find and screen potential freelancers?

    Thanks,
    Dion

    • Tim Denning

      May 24, 2015 at 3:18 am

      Hi Dion, once you have started to interview and try different freelancers you simply just pick the most responsible person to build a team around. If they have proven that they are capable and they want to know your startup, they could be a good fit. There is no magic solution though, you just have to try someone out and see how they go. The moment you know they are the right person, get them to help you build a team, suggest people and delegate out tasks.

      Private message me on Facebook if you want to know more.

  4. David

    May 6, 2015 at 2:13 pm

    Fantastic article, thank you so much! I am going to sign up for Speedlancer.

    • Tim Denning

      May 7, 2015 at 10:33 am

      Glad you liked it David and thanks for your comment.

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Startups

The 5 Most Common Myths Associated With Starting a Business

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business myths

We live in a world of opportunities. I can remember growing up and always dreaming of wearing a suit and tie to work. It was my absolute dream. I was maybe 14 years old at the time and my grades in school were awful and I didn’t exactly have the brightest future ahead of me. I always had these misconceptions about success and what it took to achieve it.

After almost a decade of putting my head down and investing the time, I can finally say I have a profitable business. However, this isn’t about me and my business. This is about the myths that most people are allowing to rule their lives and hold them back from their greatness.

Running a business isn’t about making millions of dollars. When you own a business you’re making the world a better place. You’re providing a solution to a problem. You’re giving others an opportunity to earn money by becoming an employee. You’re doing so much more than making money. It’s good for the economy. So don’t let these common myths about starting a business fool you.

Here are 5 common myths you need to let go of once and for all:

1. You must be intelligent and good in school

Have you ever thought that it’s a basic requirement to graduate college with a business degree? It makes sense if you look at it from a distance. You go to school. You learn how to run a business. You start a business.

The flip side? Business school doesn’t teach you how to handle failure. School will never teach you how to adapt to the market place and make split second decisions that could impact millions of people’s daily lives. School can’t teach you to be you. Although school may not hurt, it’s 100% not required to run a successful business.

“Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.” – Henry David Thoreau

2. You need money

Almost everyone I’ve asked about starting a business has brought up the concept of needing money to get started. I’m here to tell you that you can start thousands of different businesses without money. The most practical piece of advice I can give here is to go out and sell your service, collect the money, then invest a portion or all of that money into the tools needed to complete the job.

If you’re dead set on a business model that requires a lot of cash upfront, use resources like kickstarter or angel investors to get going. You personally don’t need to have any money to start any business ever. You just have to be willing to get creative when it comes to finding the necessary money required.

3. You need experience

As entrepreneurs, we are actually innovators. A lot of the things we are doing have never been done before. We’re constantly experimenting with new ideas and that comes with a lot of failures. You gain the necessary experience needed to run a business while you run your business. You’ll never learn everything you need to know and not a single day will go by where you don’t gain more experience. So dive in, have fun, and don’t give up.

4. You need a following

With all of these mega influencers on social media, it can be challenging to believe you can do anything without a massive following. This isn’t true at all. Everyone on this planet starts with the same following. ZERO. No one knows who you are until you put yourself out there.

Sure you may not have thousands of subscribers, you may not even have ten subscribers. The point is that if you put out good content and provide a service or product that actually helps make the world a better place and solves a problem for your customer, you will win. Just keep putting in the time and energy.

“If you are not willing to risk the usual, you will have to settle for the ordinary.” – Jim Rohn

5. There’s too much competition

Everyday you wait there will be more and more competition. If it was easy everyone would be doing it right? Your product or service is the difference. If you provide a better experience you will win. If you put in the work for the long haul and ignore the short term gains, you will win. Business is a massive competition and if you’re doing it right your competitors will become your friends, mentors, and possibly customers.

This article was written specifically for you. To help you overcome some of the fears of taking that leap of becoming an entrepreneur. Don’t get me wrong, it’s challenging. However, if you truly believe in your idea, there should be nothing on this planet that can stop you from bringing it to life.

What tips have you used to start your business? Comment below!

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How I Started A Business And Defeated 5 Years Of Procrastination When It Came To Doing So.

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I finally started a business! So many people had asked me when I was going to start one again and for the last five years, I’ve procrastinated. There’s a whole bunch of statistics which I’m not going to recite that suggest that many people (including me) want to start their own business.

Before each of us leaves this world, there’s a very strong chance we will try to start our own business at least once.

I talk to so many wannabe entrepreneurs who have an idea or a passion that they want to turn into a business yet they never take action. It’s been five years since my last business venture. I know what this feeling of wanting to begin a business is like because it’s plagued my thoughts for so long.

I’ve always had that spark in my brain that says “Tim, you love this passion of yours. Go and start a business and earn a living from it!”

I have ignored this bright spark for so long. I’ve made excuses. I’ve procrastinated. I’ve told myself I wasn’t good enough.

Then finally, a couple of months ago, I said to myself “SCREW IT! I’M STARTING MY BUSINESS.”

If you’ve ever had similar thoughts, then I want you by the end of this article to take action once and for all. I am going to give you the exact steps and tips I used to defeat five years of procrastination, and finally start my coaching and social media consulting business.

Here’s what I did to start my business:

 

Make a loss if you have to in the beginning to get a free education.

The first client I brought on made a loss. At the end of the consulting, I figured out I didn’t charge enough. This is perfect because I basically bought my first client and got a free education at the same time. The lessons my first client taught me were what I used to base my entire business on.

Rather than overthink the idea of a business, I decided to experiment by actually creating one and attempting to find a business model. The truth is you don’t need to know anything to start a business. As long as you can charge money for what you’re going to do, you’ll learn the rest from experience.

 

If you have no ideas at all, then ask yourself “What can I coach people on?”

Not everyone has a business idea they want to pursue. Some people just know they want to start a business. This was the same for me. I knew I wanted a business, but I had no idea what it was going to do. Then I went to an event and the speaker said that all of us could coach somebody, on something.

So I asked myself the same question and the answer I got back was social media and life. They are the two things I can coach everybody on. They are also the two things I’m passionate about. For you, the seed to your business starts with this same question.

While you may not become a coach, knowing what you can teach people will lead to knowing what you’re passionate about and are motivated to do for free.

 

Float the idea of charging one person, for one product or service.

The way I got started once I knew what I wanted to focus my business on was to float the idea with people. One of the people I floated the idea with wanted to be a client except they wanted me to write very long blog articles for them.
While ghostwriting is a service I’m considering to add in the not too distant future, writing long blog posts about a topic I wasn’t passionate about was not something I was willing to do and I said no.

As I kept putting out into the universe what this business was (which didn’t exist yet), I had several people express interest in what I was doing. One of them turned into my first client without even realizing it. Telling people what you are thinking of doing is how you get those first few clients.

“Act as if the business exists already and you can offer your product or service right away. That’s been a key concept for me to take action and start a business again finally”

 

Your first client gives you the confidence.

Winning the first client gave me the confidence to pursue my business. Getting a client is the best way to back yourself and motivate yourself to avoid procrastination and keep going with your business venture.

“It’s harder to fail when you have a client depending on you”

 

Forget business cards and websites.

I meet so many entrepreneurs in the making who spend hours creating websites, designing logos and even printing business cards (maybe they haven’t heard of LinkedIn). None of these activities will get your business started or give you the motivation you need.

Having the skill to sell yourself and start charging for something, anything, is how you start a business. A business is only a business when it has money coming in the door.

 

Act as if you’ve been doing it for years.

I’ve never done consulting. I didn’t do any business degree. I’m no brainiac.

I read a few books and watched a few consultants that my current employer use. Then I just acted as if I had been consulting for years. In a way, I had. Blogging is kind of like consulting.

In fact, in almost any job, you consult to somebody about something. So, we can all do consulting if we choose too.

Acting as if your business has existed for years is how you give your early clients the confidence to try you out and see if your business can serve their needs.

 

Put together a rough plan on the back of an envelope.

Okay, don’t really use an envelope because that would make you a dinosaur. Jot your rough plan down on the notepad of your not so smartphone. My plan for my business was literally nine things I could teach a business about social media.

These nine things became the plan I was going to follow when I consulted to a business. It took fifteen minutes to write. I suggest having a rough plan, so you know where you are heading and what the business will look like. Please don’t overthink the plan or you’ll never get started!

 

Ask yourself, “What’s the worst that can happen?”

This question will help you mitigate the risks that are buzzing around in your head and preventing you from starting a business. When I asked this question during the startup of my business a few months back, I realized that the worst that could happen is I disappoint a few clients.

By asking this question, you figure out that there are no life-threatening consequences to giving a business a go.

 

Ask yourself, “What would this look like if it were insanely easy?”

The temptation with a new business idea is to make it complex and overthink it. This is what so many wannabe entrepreneurs do and it’s a disaster. Asking yourself “What would this look like if it were easy?” helps you to chunk down in your head what you want to do.

Making something easy by default makes it doable to get started. If something is really easy, then it’s pretty hard not to give it a go. With my new business, easy looked like this:

– No website
– One service
– One customer
– Using my existing services like Zoom to enable the business
– Only doing it part time for one hour a week

With these boundaries in place, there was no way I was not going to follow through. I knew that if I wouldn’t do one hour a week of my new business, then I’d never do it seriously, or even at all.

Making my business easy was the first test to see if I could ever do the run-my-own-business gig again. I use making things easy as my BS test for any new idea. Try it for yourself.

 

Add your business into conversations you have with everybody.

I get messages on social media and emails all the time asking how I’m doing and what I’m working on. In every conversation during the early weeks of my business, I added in one phrase: “I’ve started a business.”

I didn’t say what it was. It was only natural people would ask, and I’d politely answer them. By using this approach, you’re not selling and you get to test your idea with real people who could become customers. Some of these conversations ended up in them becoming clients.

 

Always do it as a side hustle to start with.

The reason we procrastinate on our business ideas is that we have heaps of fear about what we’re going to do. A lot of this fear comes from the misconception that you need to quit your job or primary income source to start. You don’t.

Giving up your primary income source is the worst thing you can do. You don’t even know if your business will work or whether you’ll like it. Plus 90% of businesses fail in the first five years. That’s why I committed to only one hour per week to put myself to the entrepreneur test yet again.

Starting your business as a side hustle lets you find your niche and learn what your business will become. In the early days, your business will change lots of times, so you don’t want to bet your life savings on it until you are solid in your approach.

Again, by making my business a side hustle to begin with, I removed the fear, gave myself room to explore and allowed myself to fail. I’d suggest this approach for anyone wanting to start a business.

It’s so much easier this way which means your chances of success are higher. The worst case is you end up with a part-time business which gives you a second income. That’s not a bad result either.

So why can’t you start a business and stop procrastinating again?

If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net

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3 Questions to Ask Yourself for a Winning Business

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successful business

“My pleasure”. We’ve all heard this before right? It is probably not implemented more than in the culture at Chik-Fil-A. I can’t tell you how many times I go in there and like clockwork they respond to every request with my pleasure. This is something that, not only separates them from their competition but continues to make them a destination for people to seek out when they are hungry.

This attitude that every employee from the cook to the owner carries is something that we should all learn from and understand the importance of in our daily interactions with people, prospects, and customers.  

Are you conditioning yourself everyday to be in a position of service for your family, friends, clients, and anyone that you come into contact with? Too many times I see people not focused and aware of the potential opportunities walking around them every day. Do you want to know why they are missing them? It is because their attitude sucks and isn’t one ready to be of service.   

1. Are You Approachable?   

Are you presenting yourself to everyone with a smile? This is a simple tactic you can implement right now that will open up more conversation opportunities for you and will have others asking how your day is going and the most common question or response from others will be, what has you smiling today?  Nature guards humans and to break down the barriers they have up, you have to be someone they feel is there to help them or be of service. Smiling first is key to opening them up and start breaking down their defenses.  

“To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity” – Douglas Adams

2. Are You A Good Listener?

After you create the introduction and start the dialogue with your customer or prospect it is essential to be quiet and listen to them.They will begin to tell you what, how, and why they are looking for help and give you the opportunity to show them how your service will solve their problems and needs. Too many times I see salespeople or business individuals talk right through their prospect or customer and in essence, talk themselves right out of a sale.  

Listening is crucial to being in the customer service business. I mean how you can indeed solve a problem for someone if you first refuse to listen to them and find out their problem/problems in the first place?  

“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth” – Muhammad Ali

3. Are You An Action Taker?  

The best of the best take action to service their customers, clients, or others for that matter. Talking points are great but it’s the activity and the action steps that people are looking for and out of you. If you really want to create an environment of service, this is non-negotiable. Don’t just communicate with your prospects how you are going to help them or service them, SHOW them through your commitments, actions, and abilities to solve their problems. This is a major part of the attitude of service framework that is necessary to separate you from the all the rest.   

You must first create an environment of service in your own daily habits everyday to create the atmosphere of service you want your colleagues, clients, and general surroundings to see from you as well. Your attitude is the first thing you have to check to get this mindset in alignment with your habits.  

Create a daily smile that others find welcoming.  Listen to everything going on around you so that you are sharp and aware of your surroundings, and then attack every day with actions of solving problems and elevating yourself as the solution others seek out when they need a product or service to better their situation and business.

What are some things you do that show your attitude of service? Comment Below!

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5 Simple Strategies for When You’ve Made a Business Mistake

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business mistakes

Anyone in business with years of experience will likely be able to cite a variety of past mistakes, whether they involve missing a meeting, not delivering content by a deadline or upsetting a client. The reality is, it’s impossible to be error-free in the demanding world of business, where deadlines and individual client preferences are numerous.

Ideally, businesses have a structure in place that helps prevent mistakes before they occur, even though they may still happen. As a result, businesses should realize that a mistake shouldn’t be a deal-breaker. A mistake can present an opportunity to solidify a client relationship, by giving you a chance to make up for it and more.

Here are five simple strategies to address mistakes in business, with integrity and honesty:

1. Provide Clients With Transparency

Businesses that make a mistake and refuse to tell a client about it until questioned will find themselves at the receiving end of an understandably irate client. Giving clients a heads-up shows integrity and a steadfast commitment to making it right, especially if they are not yet aware of the issue.

Ideally, you can address the issue with the client in person, or at least by phone. Showing an apologetic tone in an email is difficult. When apologizing, don’t beat around the bush. Directly clarify the mistake, why it happened and the resolution in progress. By telling a customer or client about a mistake before they realize it on their own, you enforce a willingness to take responsibility and right wrongs.

2. Offer Reassurance on Resolving the Issue

Being transparent about a business mistake is just the first step. It’s equally important to clarify with a client how you will resolve the issue. Since the last thing anyone wants is for the partnership to dissolve with a refund or termination of a contract, the best route is to offer a clear plan on how the project’s results will improve. You should also clarify what steps have been implemented to ensure the mistake does not occur again.

For example, if a PR agency sends out a press release for a client with erroneous content, it can immediately notify the client of the issue, while ensuring them that this round of pitching and its corrective follow-up round will be free of charge. This shows a business taking responsibility for its mistakes, while also offering a solid plan as to how it can resolve the issue without taking more resources or money from the client.

“A lack of transparency results in distrust and a deep sense of insecurity.” – Dalai Lama

3. Ask for Their Resolution Idea

After providing your own reassurance and strategy to amend the mistake, you should ask the client if there’s anything else you can do. If you proposed a firm plan for correcting the issue, then it’s likely they will simply say no — though the question provides room to make things right if they are not satisfied with your proposal.

If you intend on providing a discount due to your mistake, it’s better to ask the customer for their idea of a resolution before offering a discount, as their ideal discount may be less than what you initially intended on proposing. By accepting their idea for a resolution, the business is essentially admitting all wrongdoing while increasing the confidence of the client.

Additionally, for whatever the customer proposes as a solution, it’s a good idea to increase their desire slightly. For example, if a customer feels that a 10 percent discount is fair, counter with something like, “10 percent is very fair, and I’m very apologetic for our mistake. As a result, I will provide you with 15 percent off as a thank you for your understanding.”

4. Value the Power of Word-of-Mouth

Most clients are knowledgeable enough to know that mistakes happen. Their evaluation of a business incorporates how it responds to its errors. Especially in the digital age, reviews of a business are prevalent on social media and various review platforms.

A business that goes above and beyond to amend its mistake, by informing the customer of its error and offering a fair compensation, is likelier to be praised in reviews as taking charge of mistakes. Combined with other reviews from clients who ideally did not experience mistakes, a business will have an excellent review presence online.

“Free publicity and word of mouth is probably the best and cheapest form of advertising. Learn to use it to your advantage.” – Richard Branson

5. Don’t Stress That It Wasn’t Purposeful

If a client or consumer has spent time and money on your services, then they likely already know your mistake was just that, not some intentional sabotage. As a result, continually stressing that your mistake wasn’t on purpose is a waste of time, especially when you can be spending the dialogue on ideas for resolution and compensation. Taking the lead on amending a mistake is significantly more important than declaring its intent or lack thereof.

Mistakes happen in business, quite often. Eliminating these mistakes is ideal, but when they do occur, it’s possible for a business to salvage a client relationship with transparency, reassurance and a viable resolution.

How do you recover from a business mistake? Comment below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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