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
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.
5 Hacks to Improve Your Writing Skills in English for ESL Learners
Studying in college is hard for everyone, but ESL learners arguably suffer the most. Moving to a foreign country, learning a new language, and keeping pace with the rest of the class may seem like an unbearable burden. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed, but you have to pull through and not give up.
In moments like this, it’s always a good idea to seek help. Whether you go to WriteMyPaper to order an essay or just talk to a friend, admitting vulnerability is an important step towards improvement. In this article, you will find some tips on how to get better at essay writing, even if English is not your native language.
Control Your Environment
Improving your language skills is all about constant practice. Living in an English-speaking community is the first thing you should do to start your practice. It might be tempting to surround yourself with people who already speak a familiar language. However, this way, you won’t be practicing English on a daily basis.
You need to make those lessons almost intuitive in a way that you don’t have to do anything to learn the language. If you live in an English-speaking community, for example, if your roommate speaks English, you will have to practice the language, whether you want it or not.
Still, make sure you don’t take it too far. Taking care of yourself is still as important as ever. Feeling like an alien for the sake of education is not worth it. Remember to keep in touch with your friends and family, talk to them as often as necessary.
Practicing language is not just about doing your homework. You can make practicing English a normal part of your daily routine by watching TV, listening to music, and reading books in this language.
Yet, this is a bit tricky. When being surrounded by white noise, people tend to learn not to notice it. You need to ensure this doesn’t happen. As you watch movies or read books, maintain your attention on what you’re doing. If you hear or see a word that you don’t understand – translate it and write it down. Be mindful and remember what you’re doing this for.
Writing Is The Answer
If you want to specifically learn to write, you need to do one thing, and that is to write. Continuous practice will help you understand what mistakes you often make and, in time, eliminate them. Focus on your goal, and don’t get discouraged when something’s not working. After all, even Rome wasn’t built in a day!
Get a journal and write in it daily. Pick a new topic every time and note everything you can think of. It’s also important that you write by hand, a spelling checker in your computer is tempting, but it will not help you remember how to spell words correctly.
Besides, journaling as a habit has multiple health benefits, and it can be therapeutic. It can help you get in touch with yourself and process your emotions better.
Learn In a Group
It’s proven that learning in a group is more efficient due to the sense of competition. Find a bunch of like-minded people who want to study with you or join an already existing one, like a speaking club.
The benefit of such activities is that you get all these people from entirely different backgrounds who are all good at various things. This will help you exchange experiences, which is impossible if you’re alone.
Schedule regular meetings, come up with topics to discuss and activities to do. You could watch videos or movies together, or talk about common things. Having assignments like describing an event can also be beneficial for the entire group. This way, while one person speaks, the rest think about how they would say the same things differently.
This will help you feel more confident in your skills and, consequently, speak and write better.
The most important thing about learning a language is not to be afraid of making mistakes. It’s inevitable; you just have to take it as a natural part of a learning process.
A child that is learning how to walk doesn’t give up after falling once, and you shouldn’t either. It’s most likely that your friends understand that you’re just learning a language, and they won’t laugh at you for misusing a word or a few.
Get over that fear of error and make as many mistakes as it will take. Treat it lightly, and don’t beat yourself up for it. On the other hand, try to attend as many events as you can that will expose you to the foreign language. Not only will it boost your English skills, but also improve your social confidence!
Learning a language is hard; there’s no arguing about that. However, it’s going to get easier with time. Take every hard thing that life throws at you and turn it into a lesson.
Watch your favorite movies in English, converse with native speakers, and you’ll see the improvement very soon!
Remember to be patient about it. Don’t give up, and don’t beat yourself up over something that you have so little control of. Good luck!
Remote Work + Education: 3 Tips for Students Who Want to Have It All
Probably one of the greatest changes for the last year is the shifting to distant learning and working. There are many advantages to the issue, like, not having to commute every day, staying at a cozy home for a whole day. It makes our lives easier in terms of saving time and energy.
If you’re a student, you don’t have to bust out your textbooks every time you go to university. Instead, you have everything close and on the tips of your fingers.
However, within all the positive moments of distance learning, it is highly challenging for many of us. At college or in the office, we have a schedule, a plan which we simply have to stick to.
There is also a boss or a teacher who gives us tasks, checks and monitors our performance.
Well, now, we are our own bosses and teachers and have to come up with the plan and track our tasks independently.
So, how to stay tuned and efficient if you work and study from home? How to get the most of it and not drown in the ocean of procrastination? In this article, you will find three tips to help you out!
Set Up Your Workspace
When many think of a distance learning or work, they imagine themselves wearing pajamas and lying on a couch all day with the laptop. No more dress code, make-up, early mornings, coworkers or group mates, paradise!
This is a common misconception of remote work. If you want to work and study from home, it is crucial to create a space where you would stay focused and productive.
Still, if you have had a hard day and feel like having rest on your comfy couch, but there are assignments to be done, leave your worries to professionals in paperwritingservice, just place an order and enjoy your day.
When we both work and study from home, we stay with all those household essentials and, at the same time, have to focus on tasks. That is why a perfect workspace has to be created. So how to reach this ideal atmosphere at home? Here’re some pro tips.
Separate Spaces for Everything
This is a common problem for many that they sleep and study at the same place. Our body is a smart mechanism, which gets used to conditions very quickly.
So, as you sleep in your bed, every time you lie on it, your body gets ready to relax and concentrate is the last thing it is ready for. This principle is applied to any other space in your house.
So, your workspace should be particularly aimed at learning or/and work. Every time you get there, your brain will be ready to do the job.
Get Rid of All Distractions
This is a very important step if you want to stay productive at home. Your home may be a dangerous space in terms of concentration. To make it easier, help your brain and get rid of everything that might attract your attention and ultimately prevent good performance.
Plan Your Day
Every morning when you wake up, you approximately know what the tasks for a day are. So, what’s the sense in planning a day if you already have it all in your head?
This is one more important concept that helps us have everything done on time. Planning a day saves you time and boosts motivation and disciplines.
Here’s how it is done:
- You write down a list of tasks that have to be done;
- Prioritize them from less important to more important;
- Hang this list somewhere, where you can always see it;
- Mark completed tasks.
When you mark the task as accomplished, you’ll get a sense of satisfaction, which may be compared to some sort of praise. There are many tools to write a to-do list from paper to online apps.
Dedicate Time for Yourself
When you work and study from home, there will be a risk of abandoning our personal time in favor of more important matters. This factor leads not only to great results but also a concept called burning out.
When people face it, they feel exhausted, demotivated, and apathetic. To avoid this, it is crucial to have time for things you enjoy. It may be a sport, hobby, listening to music, watching movies, seeing friends. Your brain has to relax and get positive emotions to be more efficient in the long run.
No matter if you want to work and study from home, these principles can be applied to any activity. To manage it all, just follow these basic rules, and you’ll see how your productivity boosts.
Good luck with all your endeavors!
5 Ideas on Starting a Business in College
Getting your own business is a very responsible yet liberating undertaking. By starting a business while still in college, you can be sure to have an income when you graduate or to at least get some life-saving skills and experience that will help you land whatever job you like later on.
Although starting a business can be quite intimidating, there are lots of resources online that will help you go through the process easier. In the meantime, here are some valuable ideas that will help you make sure your business turns out to be a success.
Develop a Business Proposal
Before starting a business, you need a working idea, something that you can sell to your potential customer. Having an idea is, unfortunately, not enough for success here. It is important to make sure that there is an audience, a group of people that actually needs the product you want to create, and will be interested in buying it. You can even define a “Buyer Persona,” which is basically a description of your target customer, what they are like, what triggers them, what their interests and needs are.
Business proposals can be different, depending on how big a business you want to start. In case you are thinking about looking for some investors, your business proposal should be a solid description of your business idea, convincing enough for people to understand that they will get their money back and gain some profit when your product goes live. In case you don’t need investors, your business proposal can be more of a business plan outlining the main facets of your business idea and the things you need to do to make it work.
Get Some Help
As a person new to the business world, you might need some helpers and advisors to keep everything under control. When it comes to your studies, there might come the point where you need to choose between your business and your degree. To manage the problem, you can reach out to a professional academic writer from essayservice and ask them to take care of your assignments while you focus on developing your business.
Additionally, you might need to reach out or hire some business or tax advisors, or at least request a consultation with them. Starting a legal business will require you to be good at paperwork, which means some preparation is in place. With a business advisor by your side, you can be sure not to miss any important steps when developing and marketing your business. If you define your company as a start-up, it is possible that some business advisors will be willing to help you out for free, given that they get interested in your business idea and want to get profit out of it too.
Create a Website
Whatever business you choose, whether you deliver services or products, you need to have a website. Luckily, you can make do with little investments here: you don’t need to hire an IT guy or a Web Designer as there are lots of tools where you can create a great website from scratch. You might just have to pay for your domain if you want it to be unique. One of such sources is Wix; it is a free website builder.
Why do you need a website, you might wonder? Well, the days when people learn about businesses from newspapers and leaflets are long gone. Now everyone will go online, look your business up, and expect to see some clear definition of what it is you do and what value you can bring. In case you want to open a shop, your website will function as an online shop. In case it is a service you are offering, your website will give your potential customer enough information about your service and will hopefully convince them to reach out to you and order the service.
Work on Social Media Channels
Having social media channels is as essential as having a website in 2020. While a website is a place where people can order and buy your products or services, social media is a sort of a platform that will lead them up to your website.
With the help of social media channels like LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, you can find the right people, give them a brief description of your business, and get them to visit your website and learn more about what they can get there.
Social media is what can also help you develop a strong online presence and customer loyalty. Online presence means that your business gets regular online exposure. People see posts and notifications about it daily and thus remember and highlight it. When it comes to customer loyalty, social media can help you engage your potential customers, get their interest, and devotion to the product and the very idea of your product. They basically need to feel “at home” with your business, like it is something very close and personal to them.
Try Again Until You Make It
The reason why many businesses fail lies in the fact that people tend to give up if they fail, simple as that. However, the truth is that failure is part of the process. It is a sort of a learning curve you need to go through before you make your business into what it should actually be like. That’s why you should never expect to succeed on your first try or get disappointed if you fail several times in a row. Maybe it is just the universe testing how serious you are about achieving your goal.
Every company has this “success story,” where they tell everything about their ups and downs, their insights, and takeouts. It is good to read those stories to get some inspiration and do a reality check on what building a business actually looks like. If your determination and motivation are strong enough, your business will definitely succeed, no matter how many tries it takes to get there.
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