Outsourcing Your Life, and Creating New Businesses
How much is your time worth? If you get paid $25/hour for example, you work long hard hours on a salary (read: no overtime pay), and you have a family that is starting to forget what you look like, then how much is your time worth?
In order to gain an hour or two of family time, get out of the office at a decent hour, and save your health, is it worth $12/hour to hire landscapers? $15/hour to organize a terrific birthday party for your child? Or $10/hour to have somebody apply for visas for your next big vacation?
If you own a business and are doing nothing but running around putting out fires, how much more money could that business make if there were no fires to put out? Or rather, if somebody else could put them out for you and free you up to start averaging $50, $75, or $200/hour?
Welcome to the wonderful world of outsourcing.
Tim Ferriss describes this concept beautifully in The 4-Hour Workweek.
In fact, you can read a clip from the book here; a humorous and compelling case study for outsourcing your life.
I have read about this concept before. This is not news. I have hired cleaners, delegated taxes to experts (who can complete them in a fraction of the time it takes me and still manage to save me more money), and hired help whenever I could find a way to do so.
But when I read the book, and more specifically the passage above, I began to realize that it doesn't matter what you do for a living; there is always a way to outsource, make a profit in the end, and have more time to live life.
You can outsource your life to enjoy a fuller existence and more profitable career. But you can also create new businesses using outsourcing as the platform. Let's explore both.
Outsourcing Your Life
When I sold my business to travel full-time and write for a living, I figured I was in it on my own. Shy of sending my taxes to an accountant, what can I possibly outsource? And why on earth should I need to? For goodness sake, I travel full-time; how taxing can that be?!
Shortly thereafter, I learned that it doesn't matter what you do, or where you do it. There is always a way to find yourself too busy if you aren't careful. Time that was previously filled with client meetings, drafting financial plans, and driving all over the city became filled with visa applications, press work, destination research for articles, actually writing and editing, working part-time in trade for accommodation, internet research and posting… you get the point.
I am traveling, yet I seem to spend more time at WiFi hotspots than I do actually seeing the world.
So I started to look at how I could outsource my life. Here are just a few ways:
- Article Research: Some articles I wish to write require a lot of research. Since it costs me (in both time and money) to do internet research on the road, I tend to shy away from these projects. If I can get a stack of research done for a small fee, and turn that research into one or many paying articles, I will have a healthy profit and somebody else to have done the grunt work which normally slows me down — or rather, stops me from starting.
- Website design: I don't have the patience or time to learn how to design and maintain a website, but if I get somebody else on the task…
- Blog postings: I regularly contribute to a number of blogs. And sometimes, it takes me almost as long to post the articles (especially if I'm in a place with a pitiful connection) as it does to write them. My virtual assistant can post it, take care of the html code, and attach reasonable tags. In fact, they can probably do it considerably more efficiently and effectively than I.
- Travel Research: Instead of buying a travel guide and sifting through information I don't need, or searching on the internet for what I do need, I can have a tidy little report sent to me by my assistant on exactly the things I want to know about my next destination. And there's a potential cost savings in not having to purchase the guidebook too.
- Travel Visas: If you have ever applied for a visa in certain countries with rigorous visa processes, you'll understand why this may be worth outsourcing. It saves both time and headaches.
- Income Optimization: My virtual assistant can consolidate all my online income sources and report some of the specific activities I monitor on a regular basis through avenues like Feedburner, Analytics, and even other avenues I have a desire but no time to monitor.
- Increase Traffic: Anybody who makes money online knows there is but one golden rule to making money — thou shalt increase traffic. If my assistant can spend the time required to drive traffic to certain portals, my income can increase exponentially.
- Personal Tasks: It's a bit of a stretch past my comfort zone, but I could even outsource the monthly payment of my bills (online), and accounting. I do, however, draw the line at having them correspond with my family and friends for me!
Let's start to think even bigger.
Creating New Businesses
I just managed to find ways outsource most of the things that hold me down and keep me from traveling with a clear mind and lighter pack.
But what about outsourcing as a business?
It’s pure art in the making.
Artists by nature are rarely business-minded people. Entrepreneurial talent and artistic talent utilize different parts of the brain. I wonder if it is one of the reasons you see talented artists (be they visual artists, musicians, or — ahem — writers) who aren't "making it big" like you believe they should.
What if you could pave the way for these artists? To develop a team of virtual assistants, versed in everything it takes to market that mural, or book that gig? And what if you could connect those artists with your talented virtual assistants? The artists become your clients. You then manage their marketing activity via your virtual assistants.
What's in it for the artist? A well-organized marketing plan, and possibly the big career break they could otherwise spend a life searching for.
What's in it for you? A cut of the profits for finding the artist, taking them on as a client, and outsourcing the marketing management. It's not cheating; there's still work involved in bringing a team of virtual assistants up to speed (an initial research task which you would be out of pocket for up front), and in soliciting and managing your artistic clients. But once you get even a few clients on board, what a wonderful form of relatively passive income this could be. Heck — you could even outsource the research on how to find potential clients, and get your virtual assistant to make the prospecting calls and book meetings for you. This leaves you free to work on another outsourcing business. Or drink pina coladas. Your choice.
This is just one business idea on how to maximize the power of outsourcing. If you take a look at your own profession with fresh eyes, you may find a few ways to do something similar yourself. Heck — you may even want to outsource your own job.
So… how much is your time worth?
Here are some outsourcing resources to get you started:
- International Virtual Assistants Association — use them to find virtual assistants all over the world.
- Your Man In India — a tool mentioned in The 4-Hour Workweek. Poking around there will lead you to Get Friday, where you can hire a virtual assistant to take care of any number of tasks.
- Upwork — another portal for outsourcing and locating virtual assistants who can help you simplify your life. You can search for appropriate companies by the task you wish them to complete.
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