Recap: #34 - Paul Higgins / Build Live Give
#34 - Paul Higgins / Build Live Give

Paul focuses on supporting former corporate executives or collaborators in moving from a “job description” lifestyle towards an “entrepreneurial spirit” lifestyle according to what they enjoy doing the most and ending up giving back something to the community, therefore the motto Build Live Give.

Paul himself had to undergo such process of leaving a stressful corporate life at Coca-Cola, due to a health condition, so as he tells is back in 2011 he left the company, having attempted several “miss fire” business initiatives due to some basic mistakes and that is why now he provides consulting support to people who may find themselves in the same position as he was back then (so they do not run into the same mistakes).

For the 1st year, the endeavor was focused on applying towards his business what he had learned during his corporate life, including copywriting, cold calling, answering emails or all sorts and of course what was his core business, consulting. The point is that no single one of us is scalable and business to grow needs to scale up.

Paul had been hired by one of the largest Outsourcing advisory consulting companies and he decided to make a business proposition, one free day’s work against one day by their side to learn what and how they work.

Having a long background of researching companies and businesses that would afterward be bought by Coca-Cola including the due diligence processes in 2012 he flew to the Philippines having interviewed the best companies there ending up picking one to Outsource his less adding value daily tasks.

Strategically during the due diligence phase, Paul chose two Outsourcing providers of distinct scales (one employing over 2,000 people and the other just over 100), this was aimed at assessing in which manner would his small business endeavor be supported by such two distinct types of organizations. At the end of a 6 month trial period the smaller company was the elected one, also since he could directly assess the company top management, and now that company has over 600 employees.

Having worked with those two companies has been almost like doing an Outsourcing MBA

Outsourcing Scale

Outsourcing basically comes back to having someone doing something that you are either not able to do yourself or doing it is not cost-effective.

Many large businesses have productivity losses because some employees do not have a workload that covers more than 75% of their time.

Therefore, independently of the case of a “one-man shows” company which just outsources work to one single VA or in the case of Coca-Cola where the entire call center was outsourced the principles are basically the same.

The Process

Upon undergoing a new life as an entrepreneur there are some steps in sequence that one needs to cover, namely:

  • Defining a Brand Strategy
  • The marketing cradle (website, marketing automation, other)
  • Your Sales Strategy
  • Supporting roles (copy writing, VA, other)
  • And other

Upon someone reaches out to Paul, he starts by advising several tested and therefore, trustworthy Outsourcing provider options, based on the posed problem to be solved. This avoid a common pain that is inherent to any procurement process, which is to make the wrong choice and ending up not getting what you are paying for and most relevant the quality that you must have.

Common Outsourcing Pains

Some of the commonly found pain points have been:

  • The “vanishing freelancer complex” – you have dedicated time to develop a working relationship and then you provider just disappears, mainly out of countries where social standards imply potential unforeseen disruption on people’s lives.
  • Communication – this is absolutely critical for any project and working in different time zones can pose serious challenges, therefore we always look for suppliers that are really good at communication and status updating. We enforce that by using collaborative platforms like Asana or Trello and other.
  • Cost blow-out – this happens when you are in the middle of the project, with no time or even budget to restart and the provider says the effort estimation was not accurate enough, therefore more money will be required.

These are, in fact, the most common and critical due to the potential impact of a project that Paul usually comes across.

Why is communication an issue

Here the Coca-Cola example is given, being present in most of the world’s countries, which implies different cultural backgrounds, hence distinct attitudes towards some aspects of life and business, the company had measures in place that promptly allowed problems or incidents to be forward for fixing to other geographies if it was proven not possible at the point of origin.

Some people dough (or most people in fact), do not have the required backlog of establishing communication as need across borders and mainly towards the client. Living and working in a virtual context opposite to having your counterparts by your side or in the same city, implies an added effort towards fostering awareness and that can only be achieved through timely communication.

Volume It is common for people to look at the world from their “own window perspective”, therefore one thing Paul does is to look at the individual personality of each of his clients. Is this person a natural born communicator, is it not?

There is also the individual learning curve, which differs amongst each one of us. In one specific case of a client, her personality was purely visual, therefore talking would not do the trick or it would require much more effort in conveying the message; once a visual aid was provided then the concepts were immediately apprehended.

There are all kinds of tools available nowadays that can significantly aid in properly conveying a message independently of the complexity or range implied.

What systematically does not work

One major problem is that while companies spend time and effort marketing and selling their services, afterward the operational component is not able to keep up with demand.

Volume requires focus in flawless Quality because it just takes one issue to potentially destroy your brand overnight.

Hiring a VA

The one thing that is not scalable on any business is the individual time and mainly the Business Owner’s time.

The way in which the owner uses that time can make or break a business initiative, and given the fact that in average 50% of one’s time is used in admin work, it looks more “break” than “make”.

Paul starts by doing a personal assessment towards each client’s work schedule; how much time was it spend on reading and forwarding emails, or social media and so on … couldn’t that be entrusted to someone else who assists the client in doing so?

The use of a VA may lead the client to liquidity (profits) in half of the time (or less) than if running a “one-man-show” where he/ she is, in fact, working “in the business” instead of “on the business”.

Then there is also the fact that while an entrepreneur, your time should be worth around some $100 per hour while a good VA will cost you from $8 to $15 per hour.

Paul now also use a Project Manager who assures the link and track & tracing of all suppliers while meeting with him once a month.

Growth comes from having the ability to make the right decision in a timely fashion, which is why Coca-Cola is so successful.

Establishing the bridge between clients and suppliers

“Build Live Give” has an online Facebook community that allows people to share their experience while swapping between a corporate life and going solo in business.

Then there is a membership program which allows reaching out to providers, in his own words “like a Google for small businesses”, that makes possible to quickly find best-fit providers.

And last there is a “Master Mind” service which provides advisory support towards specific needs.

Most people in corporate do not realize the potential nor the way to explore this brave new world of online business and therefore there is no where to resort for support there.

One should start by focusing on building the customer first and then the support infrastructure that allows addressing their needs and pains

How to start

Reading good support material is relevant and there several books like “Ready, Aim, fire” by Michael Masterson, or “The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries from which Paul has developed an entire methodology which in online at a platform where people can input their ideas and validating them.

Get a great VA and focus on your core knowledge, then get reliable suppliers that will cover the areas you are not strong at or it just doesn’t make sense you put your effort into (e.g. marketing, sales, other).

Sometimes Outsourcing get a bad reputation with people accusing it of taking jobs out of the country you live in, but nowadays we live in a global society and therefore the main contribution you are giving is really where you pay your taxes. So, instead of taking jobs away you are actually creating new revenue streams towards your country by selling services abroad. And there is no better time to do it than now.

One Work according to your strengths and Outsource everything else

I'm an Outsourcerer. I'm a DNN Geek. I help people with their sites @ DeskPal. I'm a #Pomodoro practitioner. I'm a husband and a father of 2 beautiful girls.

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Aderson Oliveira
Aderson Oliveira