The Moment I Realized How To Achieve Limitless Productivity

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Today I wanted to talk about a profound transition that I’ve been making over the past year and a half. In reality, it’s actually not that profound, but it’s a place that has taken me a very long time to reach. When I first started my entrepreneurial journey, I was all about doing everything myself.

SuperSteve
When I started my online store, I took an off the shelf shopping cart, customized it and coded in new functionality by writing my own plugins.

I also designed the store template, learned how to use photoshop, and created a lot of the art work on the site even though I had no idea what I was doing.

When I started my blog, I dissected the WordPress source code so I could understand how the platform worked before I wrote a single blog post.

I did all of my own artwork. I designed my own theme and I went through the code for most of the plugins I used before I activated them.

When I created my online store course, it was more of the same. I created my own membership site using S2Member. Instead of using 3rd party plugins, I wrote my own code to tie in the Ejunkie shopping cart to my membership site.

When I started accepting payment plans, I integrated the Stripe payment gateway to the site by creating my own forms and writing the javascript for the site. I also created the artwork, the content, and edited all of my own videos and slides.

If you still don’t see the pattern here, I’ve been basically taking on everything myself. And I prided myself on the fact that I could do all of these things on the side with 2 kids, a full time job, an online store, a blog and an online store course.

What Has Changed Recently

PodcastImage300But something happened to me within the last 3 months. As many of you know, I’ve been working on a brand new podcast and it has really taken its toll on my psyche.

While I’ve enjoyed every single minute of creating the podcast content and interviewing like minded entrepreneurs, I’ve started to dread doing some of the other tasks involved in publishing an episode.

For example, it’s a major slog going through the audio for each podcast to remove the ums and the ahs. It’s also quite a tedious task to edit out pieces of audio content to make sure things are interesting.

In fact, creating my podcast has been the first time that I’ve felt completely helpless because it’s impossible to automate the process using computers or technology.

What sucks about launching a podcast is that for every single episode that gets published, someone needs to listen to all of the audio in order to have it prepared for posting. In other words, podcast editing is not scalable via a computer program.

The Need To Outsource

Anyway while working on my podcast, it finally dawned on me that I’d finally reached my limit of productivity. In order to maintain my leisurely lifestyle, I would have to outsource some of my tasks.

For example, the recent redesign of my blog was actually contracted out to one of my friends. While I laid out the overall vision for my site using Adobe Photoshop, it was my buddy Ian who did all of the hands-on dirty work to implement the site.

And through the outsourcing of my blog design, I reluctantly discovered that I could be far more efficient with my own time by hiring someone else to do the heavy lifting.

In fact, my website redesign was the first time that I had ever handed the reins over to someone else and I’m happy to say that Ian did a fantastic job.

My only problem now is that I’ve become quite addicted to getting others to do my work for me. I’m now looking to outsource other parts of my businesses in order to focus on doing the things that I actually love doing.

Should You Outsource Parts Of Your Business In The Beginning?

One question I get commonly asked by my students is when to outsource different parts of your business. If you are a complete newbie, should you be contracting most of the work out to specialists?

Of course it depends on the circumstances, but I strongly believe that you should try to wear all of the hats for your business in the very beginning.

If you don’t know anything about websites, then pick up a book and learn HTML/CSS. Learn about javascript and PHP. You don’t have to become an expert but you should at least understand the basics.

If you don’t know anything about search engine marketing, then take a class. Run your own campaigns to understand how pay per click services work.

If you’ve never handled customer support before, make sure you take a couple of support calls to see what’s involved in running the day to day for your business.

Most newbies make the mistake of outsourcing too early before they have any idea of what is being outsourced.

When my friend Ian finished my blog redesign he told me that I was one of the easiest clients that he ever worked with.

Why? It’s because I knew exactly what I wanted. When the project first began, I provided him with detailed photoshop mock ups for how I wanted the site to look. I provided coding guidelines for the style of code that I wanted him to write.

I even had strict requirements for what 3rd party code could be used because I didn’t want my site to load slowly.

How did I know what I wanted? It’s because I designed the first 2 original themes for my blog back in the year 2009. I knew the code inside and out and I knew exactly how I wanted the site to look and behave.

Ian later told me that some of his clients simply ask for a website and are completely ignorant to the different tradeoffs between design and usability. And as a result, certain clients have unrealistic expectations for what can be done.

It is much easier to outsource your work if you’ve already taken the time to understand the basics. Otherwise, you could be wasting a ton of time and money. Even worse, you could get taken advantage of by an unscrupulous worker.

Becoming A Thinker Rather Than A Doer

If you’ve followed my blog all along, you probably know that I’ve always been a do it yourself type of guy rather than an outsourcer and I’ve been quite vocal about it.

But given the point where I am at with my entrepreneurial journey, I’ve finally come to realize that my time is better spent thinking about how to expand my businesses rather than tinkering with some random piece of source code.

After all, I already know what I’m doing. I don’t have that much time. It simply makes sense to get some help. I don’t know why it took me so long to figure that out.

Anyways, just thought that I’d share some of the things going through my head as of late. Thanks for listening.

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26 thoughts on “The Moment I Realized How To Achieve Limitless Productivity”

  1. Steve, thanks for your thoughts on outsourcing. In the early days I too wrestled about outsourcing and was not sure if I should. I decided (and for lack of $) to do most of the work myself. At times it was difficult and very time consuming, but I learned much. I recently have come to the same conclusion as you ….I need to concentrate what’s important to building the business (thinking) and what I enjoy. Of course, the added free time is quite valuable too.

    1. Thank you Mr.Online Income For Everyone. Do you happen to have a first name:)?

  2. Along with my husband, we’re now at the point where we understand the need to outsource and it’s sped up our process immensely. Plus it allows us to work on what we are best at.

    We now outsource everything where we are not experts. But for us, we’ve saved tens of thousands of dollars by doing it like you. First identifying what we need exactly, and providing very clear guidelines.

    For our packaging, we provided the sketches to save thousands and just got it approved and printed in China.
    For our other websites, my husband drew up mockups and wireframes and got a designer to provide the final images which we then handed off to a developer.
    We were quotes $7000 from an agency for a simple website, but got it done for $3000 total with 2x the number of pages, features, updates, fixes etc.

    Outsourcing is a must so that you can focus on your own strengths and work towards growing the business instead of working in the business or maintaining the business.

    I could go on and on, but that’s all for now.

    1. Hey Hanna. Pleasure to meet you. Going to check out your ceramics now!

  3. Steve, I could not agree more with every part of this post. Like you, I’ve tried to do everything myself. And by everything, I mean EVERYTHING, even the most mundane, boring tasks.

    Did it give me a lot of experience? Yes, and I’m glad for that.

    But like you, when I started my podcast, I was doing everything for it. And while I loved the interviews, I hated the editing. Finally, I found a good audio editor through a friend, and it’s like a whole new world has opened up.

    Now, I’m free to do the more “CEO” tasks, while I am attempting to delegate out the other types of tasks. I’m still not perfect at it, and I still do waaaaayyy too much myself, but just getting the podcast editor has helped me see the light.

    Congrats on coming to the realization yourself, and posting this so that others will as well!

    1. Hey Travis,

      WOuld you be willing to share your audio editor friend? Is he taking on new clients? THanks for the comment!

  4. Manny says:

    Hi Steve

    You must be ridiculously busy. What is your routine for working on your business and how many hours do you work on it daily ?

    Thanks

    Manny

    1. Hey Manny,

      Prior to this podcast, I would spend roughly 5 hours a week on my blog and course. This podcast has pretty much doubled that workload recently which is a little more than I want to take on. Right now, I’m looking for someone to do editing and create show notes.

  5. Steve, I appreciate your sharing this. I like your redesign on your website. And some of the fresh wind as well 😉
    When possible I also like the DIY approach. It takes courage to accept that others may do the parts of lifting for us. It is not easy to find the right people to outsource, though. Either you know somebody well (i.e. their work ethic and what they can do for you), or you “click” with them, or you keep testing until you find the right person.

    I would be interested in your thoughts on how to schedule your working days.
    Many thanks,

    Ela

    1. Thanks Ela. It does take tremendous trust and courage to outsource your baby to someone else. Thankfully, I found a great web developer.

    2. Courage to outsource! That’s a novel (for me) way to look at it.
      While I’m not quite as DYI (I bought a high quality theme and modified it mostly myself) as Steve, I know I’d be making faster progress if I had help.
      I’ve had some less than pleasant experiences outsourcing – I felt like it took me more time to order and then edit the work into something I was willing to publish than if I’d done it all myself!
      So, I gotta get over that hurdle and give it another go soon.
      Thanks – Leah the MoneyDiva.com

  6. Wow, you really did a LOT on your own. But I think you need to get your head around something before you let others do it for you. This way you understand the process and don’t get fleeced. And like your example with your re-design it really helps in conveying what you want exactly when you understand the process and the language of what you want done.

    1. Yeah. I think the photoshop mockups greatly sped up the design. Plus, I made things a lot less complicated by removing certain features that didn’t matter to me at all. Every little change needs to be tested on a dozen different browsers.

  7. Very Right in a business sense … I am heath proffesional but investing time in blogging and online marketing.. By doing everything initially you learn to handle and talk those aspects later on and no one can cheat you on those as you become “knows all” guy.

  8. I have been following your blog and email posts and tried to get through your free course but the truth is I am not a computer savvy gal. I got out of college in the late eighties and the age of tech was just revving up. Do you have any ideas for how an artist can generate internet sales using other peoples platforms how to drive traffic to it?

  9. I think so many of us can identify with the “do-it-myself” syndrome. But as you point out Steve, once we let go of the reins a little, via outsourcing, then we can capitalize on our own strengths. There are only so many hours in the day!!
    Thanks for the post.

  10. Ian did a great job, love how you redesigned your blog, very clean and much easier to see you. And, it is a good thing I love learning, although it is a bit painful expanding my brain power learning coding and such, but I know I can do it, a little bit at a time and it slowly sinks in. Currently I’m working on FTP and trying to understand that and feel fortunate that these sites, particularly my hosting site has great support to ask questions. Also, I went through your free building site lessons last year, fantastic and highly recommend anyone that wants to build a business to take your course. You are the guy in the know! A dedicated reader.

  11. TC says:

    It is a great point to raise. You need to be the general dogsbody for your business at the start, jack of all trades if you like. You need to get dirty to learn. Then you know what your workers and contractors are doing. You can understand and relate to them.

    By the way, I don’t believe that you are just sitting and letting others do the work. I am sure you are always watching from the corner of your eye.

    1. Steve,
      Love the superman picture! But I’m very happy for your aha moment. I already have dreams of a time when my store is making enough money for me to outsource some of the work that I either Am not the fondest of or Am not the expert at. However, I will totally agree that in the beginning I think it is paramount for the owner of a new company to know every aspect of how their business works. I recently lost my job with a company that did not do that and slowly but surely drained all their resources and had to end up getting rid of all if their employees and now they are struggling to do the work themselves. There was a lot of things they had/have no idea how it works, and I feel for them. I was the last person they let go and I was pretty much handling everything for their online store. I feel for them now but it definitely taught Me how important it is in the beginning to have your hand on the pulse of every aspect.

      Now that I’m starting this for myself, I’ll be honest stating from the ground up is harder than I expected, because like I said I was already running an online store. But I didn’t build it from scratch and they had a website designer that handled all of those issues for us, so now that I’m trying to do this myself, wheeeeewww it’s hard.

      I’m very curious if you could suggest some books that you think were very helpful in teaching you the knowledge of CSS, HTML, php and JavaScript that you use now. I say almost daily, “if I could wrap my brain around how all of this coding works, I probably wouldn’t be so frustrated”. I completely feel sometimes that the kinks that need fixing are not hard I just don’t even know much about coding at all, and the framework of building an ecommerce site. Love to hear your thoughts.

  12. Outsourcing can be a powerful and beneficial tool, but I think you are right when you say many people do it too soon. If you are going to get someone to do the bulk of the work, its quality will to a large extent depend on your ability to communicate what you want. If your outsourcer doesn’t have a clear idea, then you can get some strange looking final products. Thanks for the post.

  13. Do-it-myself is very common to each and every one of us. It’s glad you have realized how to achieve limitless productivity. Great story.

  14. Very true. Heck, if I could, I would outsource all the crappy jobs but my business won’t be able to manage the costs just yet. I made a start by hiring a cleaner that comes in once a week. I’d rather work and earn more money and pay someone else. 😀

  15. I don’t have enough money to outsource the work on managing my blog, but once I have extra money to do so, I will definitely hire one that can help me promote my blog while I focus my efforts on creating content.

  16. Really loved this post Steve! Came at an interesting and great time for me as I’m figuring out how to best grow and scale my business by bringing people on to help. Thanks for these points and sharing your thoughts on this topic!

  17. I’m slowly learning this lesson myself. It’s important to understand what can be done by you (and cannot be done properly by someone else) and delegate the rest. This allows you to get more stuff done and earn more.

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