PreneurCast is a business podcast. Each week, author and marketer Pete Williams and digital media producer Dom Goucher discuss entrepreneurship, business, internet marketing and productivity.
This week, Pete and Dom discuss what is the most important skill to learn in any business, regardless of whether it is online or offline, and it’s probably not what you think.
Take a look at Pete’s PDF on this topic here:
Pete talks to Dom about the most important skill in business
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The most important skill in business
Dom Goucher: Hello, everybody, and welcome to this week’s edition of PreneurCast with me, Dom Goucher, and him, Pete Williams.
Pete Williams: Hey, mate. How’s things?
Dom: Pretty good, pretty good.
Dom: Folks, this week, I just want to say, I think, officially, Pete, this is the probably the pipiest title for a podcast that we’ve had so far.
Pete: Quite possibly.
Dom: It’s a big claim, it’s a big claim. This week, we’re going to talk, folks, about the most important skill in business. It might not be what you think. A lot of people who might say that that was a bit of a hype-y title, but I think people are going to be interested in what we’re going to say this week, Pete.
Pete: Definitely, I think. You see, it’s an important question to ask, really, and make sure people are aware of the answer. I’m guessing a lot of people are probably thinking things like you ought to be very creative, you’ve got to be a great leader, maybe in the internet marketing space, you’ll be really technical.
But I don’t believe it’s any of those things, and it’s something that I’ve used quite a bit in pretty much every project I’ve ever done, unconsciously first, and then realized that this is what had me stumbling on the successes with the MCG [Melbourne Cricket Ground] venture and stuff like that. So it’s very close to my heart, and I’m looking forward to discussing it.
Dom: Cool. And I have to say up front, and to add to the mystery and build the suspense, you are, I would say, a master of this skill.
Pete: Well, appreciate it. It’s been something that I’ve worked on for years. I realized it was the little leverage point, so to speak, that helped my success. It was something I really worked on.
Dom: Cool. So, we’ll come back into that in a second, in the main part.
Pete: Hype-y titles and open loops.
Dom: Hype-y titles? Hey, I’ve heard about this stuff called marketing, people do that, I don’t know. So, back to where I was going with that. We like to do, I like to do, a catch-up with you and just see if you’ve been reading anything interesting. Because you do have a habit of finding these books, and these authors, and these topics that are out there. And we like to bring those to the audience. So, have you been reading anything or listening to anything recently?
Pete: Listening is definitely the right term. Yeah, a book called Contagious, which is a really interesting book that was recommended to me by Luke Moulton, who was the co-host of The Small Business Big Marketing Show, which is now solely chaired by Timbo Reid, and doing an excellent job over there.
Luke’s been a friend of mine and part of the mastermind group that we catch up with here in Melbourne quite regularly, and he recommended this book. I think the claim was ‘his favorite book of all time’ now, ‘favorite marketing book of all time,’ which I think is a hype-y title in its own right.
But the book’s called Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger. We’ll link that up in the show notes at PreneurMarketing.com, and will be available from Audible, our loyal sponsors here, at AudibleTrial.com/PreneurCast. You can get yourself a copy of the book for free.
But I’m about halfway, two thirds through, so I haven’t completely consumed all this book. But it’s a New York Times Bestseller. It talks through a lot of signs about the things that make stuff tick and make stuff go and be ‘Ideaviruses.’ Obviously, Seth Godin really popularized that term, an Ideavirus, and making things become an Ideavirus, and get shared, and go viral.
This book Contagious is a play on that same germ-filled language that Seth started, but it puts a lot more science behind what makes stuff infectious, and gets contagious, and gets shared online and offline, and word of mouth. It’s a really interesting book with a lot of weight behind the argument, which is what I really like about it.
Dom: That’s great. I’d like to say it’s a hot topic, but it’s a constant topic, especially with anybody that has grown up with the internet, and come across things like YouTube, this concept of the YouTube viral video, and things like that. People are always trying to recreate it, but not everybody knows what they’re looking at.
And, therefore, they might almost make like a carbon copy of something, thinking that they’re going to get the same results. But there’s a lot more to it than that, so this is quite an interesting topic. As you say, there’s a science behind it as well as the general message, right?
Pete: Yeah. And the good thing is he talks a lot more of analog examples than online. Definitely, there’s a lot of online stuff. He talks about Rebecca Black’s song Friday, which is a great favorite of mine. But he also talks all about restaurants and brands, and a whole bunch of traditional analog [examples], which is really good.
I really like it when people talk about real-world examples, not just this little niche of online marketers. He talks about putting triggers into your campaigns to make sure they go viral. He talks about a restaurant in New York City which is hidden behind a phone booth and a pizza parlor.
Just some awesome examples of what things happen, and how things happen more importantly, and how you can manufacture that type of result, as well, which is really cool.
Dom: Cool. As you say, it’s great that he covers the real-world examples. So many people are caught up in this online world and, “Oh, I’ve got to make a YouTube video and make it viral.” It’s not just that. This idea is across all things. You mentioned the Ideavirus from Seth Godin. But there’s also The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, which is on a common thread with these.
Pete: Yeah. It’s a similar book.
Dom: Cool. So, that’s Contagious by Jonah Berger. I’ll be putting that on my list, as always. And as Pete said, you can listen to this on Audible, as we do, Pete and I. If you’re PreneurCast listening, we have a discount for you. In fact, this is a free trial from our sponsors at Audible. You can go to AudibleTrial.com/PreneurCast. And if you’re not already a member, then you can join for free and get a free trial. So try out Contagious with Audible.
Dom: I think that’s enough tension, suspense, and open-loop waiting that we’re trying to do with people. Actually, we’re not trying to do it, that’s just the way it goes. But let’s get back to the super mega hype-y (I’ve run out of superlatives because I don’t do it very often) topic that we started the show with, which is the most important skill in business.
My interest in this comes because both through just the PreneurCast, comments on the PreneurCast shows, people contacting us directly, and the [Preneur] Platinum Q&A that we do regularly with our Platinum members. One of the questions that we get asked a lot is, what should I focus on? What should I learn about? What is the most important skill?
Where do I put my effort in this business? How do I get the biggest return on investment for my time? Sometimes, it’s the questions like, should I do this? And this will be, ‘learn about Facebook advertising,’ or it will be, ‘learn how to make a video,’ or ‘learn about pay-per-click.’
All these other things. All these, as we would call them, tactics. These specific things that are there now, working in a particular world, or on a particular platform, and in a particular market, or whatever things to focus on. People always ask that. And as you said, Pete, the real answer is not what I think anybody would think.
Because maybe they don’t want to hear it either, but you are living proof that it’s the right answer. As I said, you are the true master of this skill. And we’re not, by the way, talking about copywriting. We’re not talking about managing money. We’re not even talking about Influence, that psychology, the Cialdini stuff that we talk about.
Or, some things that I’ve talked in our shows, the Foundation shows. I’ve talked about persistence and determination and focus. Having the drive to keep going and all those things, focusing your effort — it’s not even that. Do you want to take us towards the answer, Pete?
Pete: Yeah. Well, to me, there’s so many things that you can master in business. Copywriting, learning how to influence people, managing your team and your staff and things like that. Very, very important. You really have to develop those little muscles in your business.
But I really do believe that the most important skill you really need to master as an entrepreneur, as a business owner, and as a marketer, is leverage. Learning how to use leverage really well in every aspect of everything you do. Whether that’s leveraging your rates to your clients.
Whether that’s leveraging your own time through systems and resources. Whether it’s leveraging your business. Whether it’s leveraging a whole range of different skills. I think that is what it comes down to. If you look at some of the projects that I’ve worked on, and then very fortunate to have been successful with over the years, it’s always been leveraging.
Sometimes it wasn’t really conscious, as I alluded to earlier. I think assembling the MCG, that project — when I looked back at that and was very fortunate to have the opportunity to really look back and pull that apart when I got that good opportunity to write a book, and got asked to do a lot of speaking about what made that project successful.
At that time, I just stumbled my way through. Looking back, it really was a leverage that I was able to get, in a number of different ways through that project. If you break it down, I wasn’t and still am not, a very manual labor guy. I think it’s pretty obvious for our listeners that that’s not the case for me.
So I had no idea how to make the frames, how to cut the timber that we bought that was part of the MCG that made the actual frame itself, so I had to leverage my own skills and find someone else who had that skill set to do that, and do that for me.
I leveraged by using a delivery person to do the delivery. I leveraged the media. I didn’t have a big marketing budget, my credit cards were maxed out from spending time overseas and traveling back and forth. So I didn’t have that. I had to use leverage to get the exposure for the project, and that was through publicity and media manipulation, as Ryan Holiday, a past guest on our show, would call it.
At the time, I was just struggling through, trying to get that project to work, and it was a huge success. But all the key points that really made that business were all around me leveraging and setting up that business in a structure that allowed me to get the most out of everything, and the most out of that project, not just the most out of me. Does that make sense?
Dom: Absolutely. It’s why I say you are a master of this skill. And yes, I agree, you might have dropped into it by accident, it may have been a circumstance thing that got you there. But you spotted it, you identified that this was what was making the difference.
And you’ve really, really developed that in the way that you run your businesses. The alternative title for this show was going to be ‘Doing the Impossible,’ because that’s what you do. If someone looks at you, looks at your businesses — you run five businesses — most people can’t manage with one.
You write software, you create websites, you have books published, it sounds — pick something, anybody wants to do, and you’ve done most of them in terms of producing something, getting something done, creating a business, running, advising a business. The one thread — I find this hilariously funny — the one thread through all these things is that you haven’t got a clue how to do them.
Pete: Well, exactly. Take the telco, for example. It’s been eight, nine years I’m involved in that business. I still have no idea how to install a phone system, and that’s the primary thing that we do with that business. The business was around a couple of years before I came along.
They were selling phone bills, carriage, cheap phone calls, and we shifted the business to be more hardware-focused. That’s where I came in from a marketing perspective. But the way we started that business, those boys have no idea how to install a phone system either.
So we could either invest a lot of capital and risk and hire a whole bunch of staff who knew the technical side of things, or we could outsource that. That’s what we did. We outsourced it to our competitors. We would do the marketing, we would make the sale.
Our core competency was sales and marketing. We would generate the links of the business, and make the sales, and then we’d outsource installation of the phone system to what would traditionally be our competitors. They were out there on the streets trying to make the same sale for the phone system.
We turned around and said, “Well, we’ve made the sale. Can you do the installation for us, and we’ll pay for that?” That was working really well to help prove our business model. Until we got to a point where it made more economic sense, so where the financial acumen does come in, you have to have those skill sets. Otherwise, you’ll not succeed.
The most important thing for us was to prove the business model through leverage, by leveraging the skills of our competitors to do that implementation for us and allow that business model to prove itself. And we’ve used it again in the telco, and now with the e-commerce projects where we have outsourced, again, the installation of that.
We’ve outsourced a lot of the product management in terms of the actual products you see on the site. The pricing that we do, the actual data, the writing of the product descriptions on those e-comm sites is all outsourced to our team in the Philippines who run a lot of that e-commerce side of the content for us, as well, which has been hugely successful.
Dom: I love this uncommon thinking. To me there are two traps with leverage, and you’ve overcome one, and I’ve got a different one that faces me. You’ve overcome the one I think that faces a lot of people, which is I have no idea how to do that. That’s where that ‘Doing the Impossible’ title came from, originally, because you do some great things.
A lot of them are what people, our listeners would love to be able to do: run multiple businesses, run a business that you’ve had this idea for but you’ve no idea how to do, etc. And you used some uncommon thinking there. Because a lot of people, when they look at the marketplace — you looked at the marketplace of phone installation and you said, “Hmm, okay, we want to sell phone installation.”
We’re absolutely confident that we can get the leads, we can do the marketing, we can get the leads, we can do it cost-effectively. But the infrastructure setup to go from zero to a full installation team is going to cripple us, and it’s not a good idea to do that.
Also, by the way, there’s competition in the marketplace. There’s already people out there doing phone installation. On paper, if you evaluate it that way, that would be a no-go. But what you did was you took that competition and looked at it as your service provider.
You’ve played to your strengths, that marketing, the sales and marketing approach, a little bit of uncommon thinking, and maximum leverage. Do the stuff you’re good at, do the stuff that’s important that makes a difference, which is get the client, make the sale. Then you utilized your competition as a supplier, which is absolute genius.
And this is why I say you’re a master of leverage. Well, for people out there — to me, I said there’s two groups of people. There’s the people that are looking at something as doing the impossible, and that’s — I think you, in a way, represent those people.
You’re like the poster child and the great hero of those people because that’s what you do. You write software, you publish books, you run companies, you leap tall buildings in a single bound. Really. Super hero stuff. But then there’s the other group of people I think that are like me that can do the things, and that is quite an insidious thing.
We’ve talked about this before in a lot of different episodes like about core and mechanics, and things like that. Because being able to do it causes you just as much trouble as not being able to do it. For example, my background is incredibly technical, and I’m desperately trying to get away from it, but I can’t.
From time to time, we talk about technical things on the show, I don’t really like doing it, but we do. We try and make it accessible to everybody. And one of the things that we love with regards to our websites, building websites, and getting people online, is we love our website system, called WordPress.
It’s something that if you get your website hosting from a company like HostGator, for example, you can literally press a button, and it installs the stuff on your website. It makes it easy for you to create pages, create a blog, publish information on a website. Brilliant.
But one of the best things about WordPress is that it has this concept where you can change what it looks like without spending hours and hours and hours, and hours. You can, literally — just like you change the clothes on a Barbie doll, you can pick one of these what’s called a theme, and literally just drop it.
Again, click of a button, drop it. You can go out, and you can buy these things online. You can look through like a catalogue, like you look through clothing catalogues, and pick a theme and drop it on. And it changes the entire look of the site, and gives you functionality. It’s great, it’s great. There you go, that’s WordPress.
And by the way, WordPress is free. But my point, all that stuff underneath the hood is incredibly technical. To make it work, it’s incredibly technical. But I love this idea so much that for a project that I was working on, I had somebody make one of these things custom for me, for my magazine that we talked about a few weeks ago.
That’s how the project started. Now, the problem came because it’s technical. It’s programming, it’s interesting to me. I can do that. So I’d started looking at it and I’d started reading about it, and got, “Oh, that’s interesting. Look, if I do this, that happens.”
And I had to stop myself there and then. I just completely stopped — stopped looking at the books, stopped looking, reading the website, reading the articles, stopped reading about it, completely. I had to stop because (I haven’t said this for a while) just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
Pete: I wish we had some t-shirts made up that our listeners can purchase with that on it, I reckon.
Dom: Do you know what? Folks, he’s beat me to the announcement. Watch out, watch this space.
Pete: Oh, really?
Dom: Yep, t-shirts and mugs on their way. With not just, ‘Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should,’ but a lot of other stuff. Watch this space.
Pete: This is new for me, too. Interesting. I like it.
Dom: Yeah. But it’s a serious problem. It’s an equally serious problem. I think, traditionally, the business group, people getting into business, those people would be the people going, “I want to do this, it looks hard.” And therefore, they come under the ‘impossible’ heading.
But so many people are starting businesses and they’re coming from, maybe, a job that they’re good at. These are the people that we might call the mechanics, literally mechanics, or people that are good at the actual day-to-day doing of job. But, as we’ve always said about core versus mechanics, the hardest thing about running a business is realizing that you have got to run the business, and somebody else will have to do the work.
That’s where we come back to leverage. So to me, Pete, your perspective; but to me, there are those two very distinct sides. And they both require you to use uncommon thinking.
Pete: Yeah, absolutely. Something you spoke about then just reminded me of a story that I think is definitely relevant to this about leverage; and even if you’ve got mechanics in your world, about teaching them about leverage, too. Because I remember five years ago, maybe six (we get foggy on the dates), but in the telco, in their real-world businesses, we use things similar to WordPress to run our sites.
Now, we’re using Magento for the e-comm sites, and we used to use Joomla, which is a very similar thing to WordPress, but probably a little bit more professional, a little bit bigger in the way it works. We hired a new developer to join our team because we had a lot of projects on at the time.
He came in. We said, “We’re going to build a website, and this is the new project,” and started scoping it out. And when we said we were going to be using Joomla as the framework for the site, he freaked out. He was like, “What do you mean? Why aren’t we coding from scratch?
That’s what coders do, they build stuff. Don’t cheat and use this.” He used the word ‘cheat.’ I’m sitting there going, what are you talking about? We tried and tried and tried to educate him that leverage is important. The business is here to make money.
That means everything, every element of the business needs to have a positive ROI. And that means leveraging everything as much as you can. So why would we not leverage his time as a coder to work on top of a platform that makes him get stuff done quicker, get more of an output done than the alternative?
He just couldn’t get his head around that. Obviously, he didn’t last very, very long with us. He didn’t get past the probation period. He couldn’t just get his head around having some business acumen about everything you do, and not wasting time on things that aren’t going to give you a positive ROI for the bottom line of the business.
This is what, I think, a lot of people, who listen to this show and do communicate with us, face as well. Just because you could code doesn’t mean you should have. Just because you can do something, or you can learn a skill, doesn’t mean you should.
The skills you should be learning is how do you leverage every element of your business through things like WordPress, and plugins, and tools, and themes, and things like that, as well as through outsourcers or out-taskers. If you’re in this internet business, or any business, and you’re getting started, and even bootstrapping.
Just because you can learn how to go and code something, or install a particular piece of software, or run AWeber, or manage that side of your business, is it the best use of your time? Is it the best ROI for your business? How can you outsource or out-task that to get that done through leverage?
Dom: You started to name that — this is a whole can of worms now. Because this raises another question. And this is, again, back to doing the impossible. One of the biggest questions — this just came up recently in a Q&A on Platinum — talking about outsourcing.
People are scared of outsourcing, Pete. People are scared of it. They think it costs a lot of money, they think it’s hard. But one of the most interesting questions I heard about it, and I want your take on this, was how do I get somebody to do something when I don’t know how to do it?
Pete: That’s a big issue. I know that was raised on one of the Q&A calls that we had recently. It’s a big friction point for a lot of people. I don’t think it’s a hurdle, I don’t think it’s a road block, it’s just a friction point which makes things a little bit harder.
And once you can lubricate that, you can get straight through. So, realistically, I don’t know how to install a phone system, but I know what an installed phone system is meant to do. Can I pick up the phone, can I make the call, can someone call me? Yup, great.
So, to me, it’s about making sure you get an effective result, not necessarily an efficient result to start with. I’ll come back to that in a moment, so please remind me, Dom. But it’s about just making sure, okay, what does the outcome need to look like?
And then managing for the outcome, not managing for the process. This is really important. Because so many people, what they’ll do is they want to know the minutiae of the process. Exactly what this outsourcer is going to do, and really want to learn that element of it.
For me, I don’t care. As long I get the outcome I want in the quickest amount of time and within budget, I’m happy. This is the example. The topic of today’s show, do you know the most important skill to master in business, I’ve got a report that’s getting written up.
By the time the show goes live, it should be available on the blog. So if you go over to PreneurMarketing.com, you’ll be able to download a report that supports today’s show. That has been designed out by an outsourcer. I have absolutely no idea what software he used to create that.
Probably going to guess, maybe Adobe InDesign, or Premiere, or something like that. But Dom, I think you’ve seen this report. I think you probably agree that this could be done, just as easily, by me, probably in Keynote or PowerPoint, and it’ll be a pretty similar looking report. Is that a fair statement?
Dom: Yeah, absolutely. It’s not a technically complicated document.
Pete: So I think a lot of people, what they’ll do is they’ll be like, “Oh, this has to be done in Adobe or this has to be done in Keynote,” because someone suggested to them that the actual document, the best way to produce it, is in Keynote. To me, I don’t care about the process.
All I care is, is it readable? Is it in PDF format? Does it look like the outcome I want, and was it within my budget? Yes, it was? Fantastic. It’s not about the process. I don’t care how a phone system gets installed. I don’t care how a plugin is coded, whether they use PHP or whether they use HTML or CSS.
Whether they use some other programming language — Rails, whatever the other ones might be out there. That does not bother me as long as they get the outcome that I’m after. This is something that I think a lot of people need to make that shift from in terms of managing the outcome, not the process.
Dom: Absolutely. In fact, folks, I just want to prove a point to you. Very few people listening to this will probably be able to do this, so I’m going to do this for you. If you think Pete’s putting this on, let me tell you. Pete just said three or four of the most ridiculous things in the history of technology, document design. All those things he was talking about, he only got one of the pieces of software right in each one.
Pete: InDesign? No?
Dom: Yeah, that was right.
Pete: What does Adobe Premiere do?
Dom: It’s video, mate. It’s video.
Dom: Seriously, the plugin, the technical stuff. It proves you don’t know. You absolutely haven’t got a clue. It’s great. You really, really haven’t got a clue how to get these things done. But you did it.
Pete: There must be pattern to this or not. You can’t just blatantly be calling me an idiot.
Dom: No, I’m not. This is the thing. Because you are successful. You are living proof about leverage and about what you need to focus on.
Pete: True. A lot of people will probably take that as being called an idiot and be offended by it.
Dom: I’ll let that one hang there for a while. But seriously, no. Seriously, I have respect for you and your abilities to create and run successful businesses. And that’s the point is that you know deep down; you may be interested, but you know when to cut it off, you know when you need to do it.
You know when to give it to somebody else. The important thing here, though, is how you give it to somebody else. You put it in there, between all those different technical things that you were talking about. It comes back to the point you said, which is effectiveness versus efficiency.
A lot of people are so hung up on efficiency. Efficiency comes from an understanding of how and what it should take, and how long it should take, and why. There’s more efficient ways of doing things, but that requires knowledge on somebody’s part.
But effective can be done by you finding one someone somewhere that already exists, or something like it, and showing that to the person and saying, how much for one of these? How long for one of these? Can you do this? That’s it.
Pete: Yeah. I’m just going to talk about that efficiency and effectiveness for a moment. I think the problem when people hear outsourcing (this is where we’ll lead to a little bit), is that they start thinking, “I’ve got to get it super cheap. Outsourcing is about getting it done cheap.”
And that’s just the absolute wrong mindset. Outsourcing is about getting stuff done that you can’t do or shouldn’t do yourself. Yes, there’s some sheer arbitrage benefits of finding someone overseas in the Philippines or India or the Ukraine, or wherever it might be, possibly a different country or the same country to you.
And there’s currency fluctuations that make it cheap, and that’s fantastic. But that shouldn’t be your ultimate goal when you’re outsourcing. It should be about getting the effective result within your budget that makes it worth for your business.
What does the result look like? I want a PDF report which is designed similar to ABC examples that you’ve sent across to that person. “I want some software designed,” “I want,” whatever it is. You know what the outcome should be and how it should operate from a user’s perspective.
That’s the outcome you’re after. You want to make sure it fits within your budget, so the mechanics and the financials work, that’s just obvious. So that’s how you should always start off. Always go for an effective result. And then, over time, with your own experience, you can start negotiation for efficiencies.
“I want it done quicker. I want it done cheaper.” When you’re training an outsourcer, the rule I say every time I have a new staff member joining our team, the first thing I want to get is an effective result. I don’t care if there’s a quicker way to do it.
To the point where I remember sitting down, years ago, and someone will teach them how to do a particular process in the office. They were using the mouse and going Edit, Copy, Edit, Paste, and they’re literally clicking the mouse. I’m sitting there just like, biting my teeth, seeing my hands going, “Why aren’t you using CTRL+C and CTRL+V, CTRL+C and CTRL+V?
It’s going to be faster. It’s going to be faster. What are you doing?” Driving me nuts. And I went, no, hang on, it’s about getting the effective result. So it takes them a little bit longer to get the result they need, that’s what they need to learn here. They need to learn the result, what the business needs them to produce.
Then once they get down pat and are very confident, and become almost unconsciously competent with that result, then you can go back and make them a little bit more efficient. “Hey, do you know you can use CTRL+C and CTRL+V to get it done quicker?”
“Do you know that you don’t have to hit minimize and expand, you can use ALT+TAB?” A very granular example, 10 years ago, some people were not that okay with those technology, and some people still might not be. That doesn’t matter.
That is what you do as a second level, second run-through or second phase of the training with that outsource person. It’s making them more efficient. So who cares if they’re slow? Do they get the right result? Great. Then you go back and train for efficiency.
Dom: Couldn’t agree more, couldn’t agree more. Again, it’s a common mistake, if people don’t look at outsourcing as another element of a business. For some reason, some people can run a business incredibly well, on their own or with a small concern. But the moment they get to outsourcing, it’s like they forget everything.
It’s like running a parallel. You’re talking about effectiveness versus efficiency. Another way to look at that, by the way, is done is better than none. If you sit there, just like if you were trying to write an advert, or you’re trying to write a sales letter, or you’re trying to write a sales page for a website.
If you sit there, and you study copywriting for a year, and then you sit and agonize over the headline and the body copy and the bullets, the message on this and here and there and everything else, and that, in about two years, maybe, you’ll get your advert ready.
That’s two years of your time completely lost, which has cost you lost business, lost income, lost everything. And then, the second that you print it or put it out there, then all you’ve got is an advert that you’ve written. You’ve got no information about whether it’s effective or not, because nobody’s seen it yet.
You’ve just got to guess. You wouldn’t do that. What you would do, you would write something, put it out there, and see what you get back. What you get back tells you how effective it was, whether it was effective. And you can build on that. We talked in the past about split-testing headlines.
Changing small pieces of data and things like that, which you learn as you go along. That’s what you would do. So why, when you go out for an outsourcer, you try and get somebody to build you a world-beating product for five dollars, and you’ve never done it before, and you don’t know what you’re doing.
You’re going to get in a mess. What you want to do is go out there, find somebody who can give you a thing you can reasonably define. Like, “Can you build me a website? It looks like this. Yes. How much is it going to be? It’s going to be this much. Okay.”
Well, then you go back to your business, forget about technology. You go back to your business and you go, is that a good return if I get the website that will sell this product for my business? For this much, is that a good return today in my business? Yes. Okay. Thank you, go and do that job.
And you can evaluate it because you showed them what you wanted it to look like. If you want something else doing, or you want another one doing, then that’s when you look at efficiency — when you’ve had one done, when you’ve got the base result.
That’s looking at that from a business point of view. Don’t try and get everything done perfectly at the maximum efficiency and speed when you’re not really settled for it.
Pete: Business is never about being perfect. Business is about being profitable.
Dom: That’s true.
Pete: This is a thing that so many startups and first-time entrepreneurs really struggle with. “I’ve got to create the best sales documentation. I’ve got create the best product in the world. I’ve got to create the most perfect A, B, C.” Well, not really. As long as your business is profitable, and your customers are satisfied, that’s a good business. You can grow through perfectionism, but you’ve got to start off being profitable.
Dom: And again, some of the things we’ve talked about in the past like ‘minimum viable product.’ This idea that you need to get something in front of somebody so that they can give you feedback as to whether or not it’s going in the right direction. You’re getting data back about whether you’re doing the right thing.
You don’t want to try and build the entire thing perfectly the first time. Honestly, you don’t know whether it’s perfect or not. Your client’s going to tell you that, or your customers are going to tell you that. So don’t try and be perfect off the bat. Don’t try and get the best deal.
Don’t try and be the most efficient. Just, as you say, effectiveness first. They do it. Now, interesting change in perspective, briefly, from a psychological point of view. For example, with training people, what’s a very good one? If you’re in a situation where you’re trying to train an outsourcer to follow your process.
I’m going through this at the moment — I’ve got some great tips from you, Pete, about doing this. Because one of the things that you’ve said in the past is to hire for attitude and train for skill.
And, again, that comes back to that effectiveness versus efficiency. When you looked at that programmer for your team, on his CV, his CV looks awesome — super mega programmer. Done all these systems, great. But he had the wrong attitude.
He wasn’t willing to follow your lead for optimizing the way that things get done. And it wasn’t even like, ‘do it my way or the highway.’ It was, ‘this is far more efficient. We have systems that are already in place, you’re just adding stuff rather than starting from scratch again.’
But that was the wrong attitude. And if you hire for the attitude, like somebody who can deliver effectively, then you can train for the efficiency. But when you’re doing that, and this is from my background as a trainer.
I can tell you, if somebody doesn’t understand the basic core skill, the reason why they’re doing what they’re doing, what the goal is for doing that thing, and the basic way for doing it, and what effectiveness looks like, then it’s going to cause a problem down the line.
This is absolutely proven in training, that if you went — your example, Pete, you used a slightly technical example which is copying and pasting things using a computer.
Pete: Slightly technical? It’s probably one of the most basic things, these days. But yes, I know what you mean.
Dom: To you, maybe, but Pete, I’ve been training for basic skills on IT for people that don’t know what a mouse does.
Pete: Yes, fair enough.
Dom: So, this is my point. If you’re bringing somebody into your business, you’re bringing outsourcers in and you’re trying to train them, your business may be completely new to them. It may be obvious to you because you’ve been running it for 10 years.
And all these things that you did when you were apprenticed, the mechanics, they may be so ingrained in you that you just go straight towards, just do CTRL+C, CTRL+V, bye, and it’s very common for people to do that. Somebody may not understand what copying something from one place and pasting it to the other place means in the context of your business.
So telling it the super mega optimized high-speed way, for example, actually, if you hold the CTRL key with your thumb and press the C key with your finger, it’s faster than using your left hand and your right hand at the same time. You can get into these levels of optimization. But if you don’t understand what you’re doing, then you’re optimizing nothing.
Pete: Completely agree.
Dom: So, again, it’s effectiveness first, then efficiency. Looking at it from both sides, whether it’s from monetary results, ‘getting things done’ point of view, whether it’s the actual effectiveness of the training, it’s still a great thing. Pete, do you have any more tips on the effectiveness versus efficiency, or any other outsourcing stuff?
Because you’re kind of my outsourcing hero. Whenever I have a problem on outsourcing, I’m straight on the phone to Pete. I say, “Pete, I’m really struggling on getting this done. What am I doing wrong?”
Pete: I think one tip (and we’ll probably start wrapping up the episode because we’re getting close to time), is that when it comes to giving direction, it ties back into a lot of people and the problem they have. “I don’t know the technical aspects of the project, so how do I give a good brief?
How do I give a good job brief to someone, whether on my team or I’m using an out-tasker on Elance, or oDesk, or Freelancer, or a service like that?” To me, it’s about being very clear. You’ve got to tell them what you want, what the actual outcome needs to look like, or on a PDF document that I can then share somewhere.
That’s the outcome. Give them the context. Well, how are you going to share it? For example, a perfect example is only a couple of days ago with me, is that I was talking to an outsourcer, a member of our team who does the PDFs. This is the PDF I’m referring to, again, that ties in with today’s episode topic.
I said, “I need to get this designed up as a PDF, and it’s going to be probably 18 or 20 pages. However, I want to send this e-mail out as an attachment to everyone inside the Preneur Community. So an e-mail will be going out with this PDF attached.
Not linked, though it’s nice to go click and opt-in, and download it. It’s going to be attached to the e-mail like I was sending it to a friend, or my wife, or something like that.” What that means is it has to be small enough to attach to an e-mail. It has to be an 18-page PDF, but it’ll only be two or three megs big.
So I gave some context as to how I was going to share that PDF. That way, he knew that, hang on, when I’m designing this PDF document up, I have to make sure that I’m not using crazy images or crazy graphics that are going to really make the file quite large.
It has to be very color-based and text-based, not image-based. So that gives him some context to design it appropriately. It’s not just the outcome of another PDF designed under this content, but I’m going to be using it in this way. That way, he knew how to work and how to design it.
It gave him some more information that he could determine the actual procedure part of the process. I also gave him some examples. I said, here are three or four PDFs that I like the look of, that I think could have a similar feel to our new report. I also sent him a couple of PDFs saying, this is not the type of report I want.
I don’t want a text-heavy, white paper style-looking one. I want it to look more graphical like this. So I gave him both parameters. I gave him what it should look like, and what it shouldn’t look like, so both ends of the framework. We had, again, a bit of a fence to work between so that he could work out that process himself.
That’s two or three examples that you can use when you run up a job advert for someone who’s going to be working for an out-tasked project for you, or full-time outsourcer that you might want to work with on a regular basis. There’s some takeaway.
I do encourage people to check out PreneurMarketing.com, not only for the show notes and things like that. But also, if you check it out, there’s going to be a copy of this particular report that we’re talking about, so that you can get an idea of the actual finished product that I used as examples here.
It talks about the topic that we were talking about on today’s show, and it’s got two or three small case studies about how other people that you probably know (definitely know at least two of them, if not all three), and how they use leverage in their business in a unique way to be successful.
It’s definitely worth a read. It’s an easy read, not that heavy, as I said — text, white paper-type report. It’s very graphical and very engaging. So check it out at PreneurMarketing.com, and let me know your feedback in the comments, as always.
Dom: I’ll put a link to it in the show notes once it’s up and ready to go. There’s some great tips there. The positive and negative constraints, I think, are really important. But the one thing I will add, which I alluded to earlier, but I’m going to be clear about this. It’s something that I first read actually in Tim Ferriss’ book, The 4-Hour Workweek.
He talks a little bit about outsourcing in there. It is that if you’ve not done it before, or not had that task or job outsourced before, then start simple. Don’t try and have something built that you can barely define yourself, that you’ve never seen before, that doesn’t exist anywhere, that there are no examples of.
If you look at the things we’ve said to do, show examples of positive and negative, know how to evaluate the outcome for effectiveness. If you can’t do those things, then maybe you’re asking somebody to do something unrealistic, and maybe you should lower your expectations, lower the goal that you’re trying to get implemented, and achieve that, and then build on it. And that’s my big tip for that one.
Pete: Awesome. Well, everyone now knows the most important skill to master in business, which is, Dom?
Pete: Beautiful. All right, guys, again, thank you so much for listening to the show. We really do appreciate every single one of our listeners, and make sure you come over to PreneurMarketing.com and leave a comment. Let us know, did you enjoy this episode?
Do you enjoy one of the interviews we’ve had recently? Comments on iTunes are great, but even comments over at PreneurMarketing.com are loved as well. We reply to them all. We really do appreciate you guys listening because that makes this more fun when we know people are up to downloading it, getting value from the shows each and every week.
Dom: Certainly. Thanks everybody for listening this week. We’ll be back next week. Pete’s got a great and very interesting interview next week. And I believe, Pete, that’s what you would call another open loop. Okay, folks, see you all next week.
Contagious – Jonah Berger
The 4-Hour Workweek – Tim Ferriss
You can try out a lot of the books we recommend in audio format with Audible:
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http://preneurmarketing.com/business-building/know-important-skill-master-business/ – Pete’s PDF about the most important skill in business
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