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Ep 89. Outsourcing and Hiring with Emily Perron

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How much of your time is spent doing what you really enjoy?

Emily Perron and I are diving into the topic of outsourcing and hiring support. Emily’s work is centered around helping digital entrepreneurs, bloggers, coaches and consultants find and hire really amazing freelancers. So let’s dive in!

Common Mistakes

Ashley: So I would love for you to just start off by kind of diving into those mistakes that moms could possibly make when they’re first outsourcing and hiring support.

Emily: I think one of the biggest mistakes is not realizing that you can get help, because as moms and entrepreneurs we’re so capable. Business owners and entrepreneurs in any industry are quite similar in that way, where they do a lot of things because they have to.

This comes down to a couple of things:

  • Part of it is that we have to do it – there is no one else do these things
  • Part of it is that we’re also kind of wired that way – to just do everything ourselves

As a mom and an entrepreneur, we get kind of a double whammy of this capableness.

Another mistake that I see is just not being ready to let go of control. I see people outsource and they’re not willing to trust anyone else as they think they can do it better. Sometimes it’s still that mindset of, “I can do it so I shouldn’t ask you to do it.”

Another mindset I see along these lines is, “I’m not good at this. I don’t like doing it, so I don’t want to ask someone else to.” As moms and entrepreneurs, I think we’re missing out on that opportunity to allow someone else to work with their gifts, their talents, their experience, their interests, their passions. We’re not providing an opportunity for someone else to be in their zone of genius.

Figure it out yourself first – yes or no?

Ashley: I know that there’s often this advice out there that you shouldn’t hire someone to do something that you haven’t fully figured out how to do yourself. I’m wondering what your thoughts are about that.

Emily: I honestly have really mixed feelings about it. Because I think it depends on what your intention is from that. I think there’s a point where it doesn’t make sense for us to learn all the things. You don’t have to be able to do everything in your business. And then on the other hand, I’ve heard people talk about being taken advantage of. So I just think it’s a balance and I think it comes down to priorities. It comes down to the individual business owner, that entrepreneur and what their gifts and talents are, and whether it’s worth their time to learn it first.

With freelancers, you’re getting a specialist, so I don’t think it makes sense for business owners to become experts in things they want to start outsourcing. That’s why I don’t approach things that way, it doesn’t work for me but it might work for someone else, and that’s okay.

Ashley: I agree and just before we move on to the next question, were there any more mistakes you wanted to touch on?

Emily: I think those are the two big ones. I think we’re going to get into job postings and then there’s like a whole host of mistakes that are connected to jobs.

The Four Zones of Work

Ashley: So the next question I have for you is, what are some practical ways that our listeners can begin to shift their mindset and be more open to outsourcing and hiring that support?

Emily: I want to talk about the four zones of work, where the zone of genius is the top zone. It comes from Guy Hendricks, a psychologist who wrote the book, The Big Leap. In that book, there’s a few pages on the four zones of work. When I think of the four zones of work, I picture it like a pyramid, starting from the bottom.

Zone #1 Incompetence

So this is everything that you’re not good at doing and it’s pretty easy to identify these things. So that’s incompetence and that’s the easiest zone to outsource from because you don’t know that you don’t know those things.

Zone #2 Competence

Then the second layer is the zone of competence: this is really all the things that you can do, but there are people who are better at them than you. There are people who have the zone of genius where you have competence.

Zone #3 Excellence

Excellence and genius are close. Here, excellence is the stuff that you are better at than most people, but it doesn’t quite light you up. It doesn’t give you energy and it’s kind of draining.

Zone #4 Genius

At the top of the pyramid, this is your most specific zone. This is where you’re most passionate. You have the most experience and you’re really in your zone. You’re lit up, you feel alive when you do this work. The way I see it is, you can flip the pyramid upside down and think about how much time you should be spending in each of these zones. You should spend the most amount of time in your zone of genius and then less and less time as you work your way down the other zones.

It is such a game changer when it comes to productivity and when you build your team with that in mind. You will start outsourcing to people that are in their zone of genius for the different tasks. This is why freelancers are so great because they are specialists, and they should be in their zone of genius.

You really get the efficiency from outsourcing tasks to someone that is a specialist, because they’re going to do it in a fraction of the time.

Time Tracking To Find Your Zone

Ashley: How would you sort of recommend that our listeners go through this work and start to prioritize? What if they don’t even really know, I don’t even know what my zone of genius is right now.

Emily: I love time tracking for this, so just keeping track of how you are really spending your time. It’s best if you can do it for at least a week or two and just notice throughout the day which zone you’re in.

  • Do 15 minute increments
  • Categorize each of those increments into one of those four zones
  • Look at which zone you’re spending time in

That’s how you can really start to build awareness of what do you need to get help with and where is your zone of genius lying: When you’re feeling lit up and energized and, if you don’t have that experience, then when it’s time to start exploring the possibility of outsourcing. It’s time to make some real changes so that you know that you are working in your zone of genius.

Ashley: That’s great. I love the idea of time tracking. That’s something that I’ve done in the past but never like consistently. So sometimes it would just be like, “Oh, I wonder how long this task will take me.” But then I fell out ,of that habit and I kind of check back in periodically.

Let Your Zone of Genius Evolve

Ashley: As you start to grow in your business things shift and change and you know that what once may have lit you up, might not anymore. So your zone of genius can change, is that right?

Emily: I used to think that it was stable. But I no longer think that way, I think it does evolve and change over time. Personally, I’m a very good writer, but it is so draining, and I found over time that speaking has become so much easier. I love speaking and talking, but 10 years ago I wasn’t that way. When I went through Toastmasters, I did a lot of public speaking training for several years to light that up. I couldn’t share my ideas verbally and that’s what brought me to Toastmasters. It had really long term implications as I never would have known I’d ever do a podcast interview when I started.

Opportunities to Grow

Ashley: Another popular entrepreneurship mindset is, “Well, if you’re not good at something, you should just focus on the things you are good at.” But when it comes to things like public speaking, or things that can grow and stretch you in multiple ways to make you a stronger entrepreneur, I feel like those are the places we need to lean into the most. You can’t start outsourcing your ability to speak. I mean some people can, but we don’t all get that luxury right? So I think some things you do have to get a little bit uncomfortable with as an entrepreneur, wouldn’t you agree?

Emily: I do agree with that because historically, and typically, I’m more in favor of focusing on your strengths. But if we never try things, we never try things that are out of our comfort zone, we miss out on those opportunities to grow.

Your Zone of Genius Is Your Narrowest Skill Set

Ashley: So now that all these mamas listening are tracking with us, and they’re like, “Okay, cool. I’m ready to figure out my zone of genius, and really think through what it might look to outsource.” Where can these photographers start? How can they even begin to wrap their head around this?

Emily: I think the first step is figuring out what you’re going to start outsourcing. You’re starting to notice what tasks you can outsource and then from there, you might have a huge list of all the things you don’t want to do yourself, or you that can’t do yourself because you don’t know how, but you’ve been wanting to and they’re holding you back from growing.

You have that list, then you start to look at what kind of roles can you hire based on the tasks. It might take two or three positions to get it all covered, because you are looking for when you use that zone of genius as the frame for outsourcing.

To get people that are highly specialized in that area, can take a couple of different positions to cover it.

Are there any areas in which you typically see photographers begin to outsource? What are some of their first hires?

Emily: Yes, a virtual assistant. I have found it’s really helpful, I think with photographers in particular, in terms of client communication and scheduling. My word of caution with that though: not to feel the pressure. I think it’s really important to make sure that that’s the right role based on what you need done. Not to just go hire a virtual assistant because that’s what everyone else is doing.

Ashley: Yes, that totally makes sense. I feel like when I started to step into that role of needing an assistant, that’s what I did. Not exactly time tracking, but making a list of all the things I had to accomplish every week on repeat. What are the things that I am continually doing that are sort of mundane. I started thinking through, “Okay, what would it look like if someone else did this for me?”

Even before I was sure I was going to start outsourcing, I started making a list of tasks and putting things on there. It was this idea bank so that when I was ready to hire an assistant, I knew what I needed to look for. So that was really helpful.

Emily: I usually recommend looking at the tasks that you are repeating on a daily, weekly and monthly basis, because that’s the easiest stuff to outsource. The second role to outsource I wanted to mention is a photography editor, and then also a social media manager. This can be a good one, depending on how you’re connecting with your clients. If you are using Instagram, Facebook, Tik-Tok, or whatever you’re using to reach new clients. You can get someone that will help you get your content scheduled or even have them put the post together. Again, you can keep the fun parts if you like writing your captions or if you like picking the photos. You can decide what you’re outsourcing.

Perfect Your Job Posting

Ashley: I would love to kind of dive a little bit deeper now into after these photographers have started to figure out, “Okay, I have some things to start outsourcing. I’m ready to hire.” How do they start with posting a job? Where’s the best place? What’s your advice on that?

Emily: The most important thing whenever people ask me, where do I find these people, I always look at the job posting itself. So a couple things that I typically see with job postings:

  • The job posting is too vague
  • They’re expecting too much from one person
  • Or they’re trying to make the job sound fancier

All three of those things are detractors for freelancers. They’re looking for specific things. They’re looking for whether you know what you need done. They can tell you don’t know what you need help with, so you’re not going to be the most attractive client to them. The other thing is that they’re wary of you expecting too much from them. So if it looks like it’s three or four or five jobs wrapped into one, they’re also not going to apply for that.

You need to be specific enough with the terms of the position itself so that it is attractive.

Also just using language that’s easy to understand. If they don’t know what you’re talking about in five seconds, they’re clicking right off. They’re not going to put any more time into your job posting because of complicated language. So aim for about a third to fifth grade reading level on job postings. You can check that by using the settings in Word and Google Docs; that will give you the reading level of your job posting. The job posting is the core and it is the key to hiring 100,000,000%. You can’t mess it up. If you get the job posting right, you can’t mess up the rest of the hiring process.

The Interview Process

Ashley: Once they have the job description, and they have the pool of people to actually start interviewing, do you have any tips as far as how do they go about the interview process? Do you have like a certain number of candidates you recommend they interview?

Emily: I think the first step is to actually use a work sample before you interview, so you can see the quality of their work beforehand. It saves everyone a lot of time because you can interview fewer candidates. You also get to have some insight into how the two of you would work together. You can see if they pick it up based on your instructions. They can also say no to the work sample or you don’t hear from them and it’s like, great! This was really helpful, there was a reason we weren’t supposed to move forward together.

Ashley: Yes, I love that. So before we end our conversation, and before I ask you to sort of tell us a little bit more about yourself and your services, was there any other thing that you wanted to end on?

Emily: Outsourcing is not a quick fix. It is really a long term investment, and you are going to learn a lot and you might take some missteps. But you can always start again. You can let someone go, you can go back to the beginning, go back to the drawing board and start again. I’m here to support people with this, you don’t have to do it alone.

ACTION STEPS

Emily: My signature program is called The Hiring Fix. It’s really focused on fixing your job posting because the more I do this work, the more I know that this is the core problem. Once you can put together a really amazing job posting, you can run the rest of the outsourcing process. If you want to learn more about it, you can go to thehiringfix.co and check it out.

I also have a mini version available at emilyperron.com/minicourse, it’s a free course that walks you through five emails for the hiring process and gives you tips and tricks. I’m available on Instagram as well @Emily.Perron. I love taking questions over there, I really do love connecting with people and enjoy that platform the most. So I’d love to see you over there!

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My mission is to help fellow momtogs (mama photographers!) experience success in business and in motherhood. As an Arizona brand photographer for mompreneurs, I’m passionate about capturing authentic images that show off my clients’ unique personalities so they can connect with their ideal clients. And as an online business coach for momtogs, I LIVE for helping mamas experience incredible transformations that help them build a business they love, without sacrificing their precious time with their littles.

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