HOW TO DELEGATE TO IMPROVE YOUR BOTTOM LINE

Tips on how to delegate to improve your bottom line with Tim Francis

  • I didn't know how to delegate and I didn't know how to lead and manage. What I discovered after my first failure with an assistant was that at least 50% of the problem was not with the assistant, but was with me.
  • At the very top, which is what the surgeon focuses on and what I encourage entrepreneurs to focus on, is strategy, high-level skill, and high-level access.
  • Everything below that we draw a delegation line and everything below that should be done by everyone else.
  • Sooner or later there is going to be those rinse, wash, and repeat tasks that come up. They seem innocuous, but they really add up.
  • The number one of the big six concerns when it comes to hiring an assistant was actually, I don't know how to trust and let go of control.
  • I mean I am super passionate about a few things. One of which is actually our dinner parties.
  • A horrible idea is going on Facebook and posting up, “Hey, who knows someone?” That's bad advice number one. Bad advice number two is hiring the first person that you meet, irrespective of how you find them.
  • I actually think it's a great idea to go overseas if you are going to be delegating work that happens every week or every month and is a simple task that doesn't require a lot of decision making.
  • But, to have someone with those three attributes, the culture, time zone, and language, you immediately solve at least 40% of the misunderstandings, maybe 50% of the misunderstandings that are happening.
  • I think the other thing that people don't realize is how affordable it can be.

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HOW TO DELEGATE TO IMPROVE YOUR BOTTOM LINE

[just click to tweet]

HOW TO DELEGATE TO IMPROVE YOUR BOTTOM LINE

I didn't know how to delegate. What I discovered was that at least 50% of the problem was not with the assistant, but was with me.

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Doug: Hey welcome back another episode of Real Marketing Real Fast. Today in the studio I've got joining me, Tim Francis. Now Tim is a fellow Canadian, but he's also an NYU guest lecturer, certified Scrum Product Owner and lecturer at the University of Alberta. He's an award-winning entrepreneur and the founder of Profit Factory.com and the greatassistant.com. He's a graduate of the University of Alberta and in 2010, 2011 Tim was blindsided and he had a rare illness that left him unable to walk for three months. He nearly went bankrupt as a result of this, and he was re-forced to restart his business, and at that point, he promised himself that he'd never be a burnt out entrepreneur again. So I had a great conversation with Tim and we talked about why more entrepreneurs don't have assistants. I think you're really going to enjoy this episode. You're going to want to make sure that you stick around to the very end as Tim rolls out and shares with you how he got his humble start and the challenges that he had to overcome to build his business to be successful and what it is today.

Doug: So I'd like to welcome Tim Francis to the Real Marketing Real Podcast today. Hey Tim, super-excited to have you to join me as part of the Real Marketing Real Fast Podcast today, so welcome to the show.

Tim: Thanks for having me, Doug.

Doug: So we start talking a little bit before we started recording and I asked you what your superpower was and I'd just like you to recap that because I think it's so valuable. I mean, we have entrepreneurs and C-level business and executive guys on here and often they feel overwhelmed, there's lots of details and stuff to do. So do you want to take a minute and just give us a little bit of background on what you're doing and how you help your clients be more successful?

Tim: So I own a company called Great Assistant, and we help entrepreneurs to get a great executive virtual assistant that's coming out of corporate America. So we're not hiring people from the Philippines or India. We're taking people who otherwise would be corporate-level talent or professional level talent, who are looking to work from home because they've got kids or they've got an ailing parent or something like that, and they're looking for the flexibility. They find us and then we match them up with entrepreneurs who are overwhelmed and looking to get back to the work that they love instead of being stuck in the minutia.

Tim: One of the superpowers that I've developed is an idea that I call a surgeon in a room. So basically any part of business, whether it's marketing or sales or accounting, it could be literally any part of business, it all has some element of it is that is the execution part, or you could even say there's even like an operations part to marketing, an operations part to accounting. It doesn't matter what the function of business is. What I really, really, really encourage entrepreneurs to focus on, and it's the superpower I developed for myself, is how to become the surgeon in the room.

Tim: If you think about surgery, if we were to leave it as one big project, it would be impossible for the surgeon to delegate anything, but because the medical community, very intelligently, unpacked surgery into many small pieces, we now see that it's a sequence of, sometimes, hundreds of steps. So yes there is the initial diagnosis, but there's also prepping the room, prepping the tools, getting any kind of like backup blood supplies, any medication that might be needed for the surgery room, and then after the operation, there's also cleaning up the room, doing paperwork afterward, dealing with payment, whatever the case may be.

Tim: By unpacking all the different steps, we're now able to see the strata of different levels of task. At the very top, which is what the surgeon focuses on and what I encourage entrepreneurs to focus on, is strategy, high-level skill, and high-level access. A strategy is a surgeon diagnosing the patient long before they're even in the surgery room, and then the other point where they're strategy is after the surgery is done, that surgeon will meet with the patient just to make sure that everything's on track with their recovery. The high-level skill, there's only one step in all of it that's a high-level skill and that's doing the surgery itself. Then high-level access, I mean it's only the surgeon who has high-level access to their own medical license to be able to sign off on certain things, and it's only the surgeon who has high-level access probably to other high-level surgeons to get a second opinion if he or she is looking to get more clarity on their approach.

Tim: Anything outside of that, which is really only about five steps in the overall 500 steps of surgery, everything below that we draw a delegation line, and everything below that should be done by everyone else. Anything to do with maintenance, coordinating, maybe even some of the setup type work, customer support, tech support, common errands, I mean all of it, everything else should be done by everyone else. I think one of my superpowers is being able to see what elements of a project can be unpacked, and of what is unpacked, how we can kind of triage that to different people.

Tim: I think what's cool is it's a superpower that I've developed, but it's not like I'm the only one who can do it. We've helped dozens and dozens and dozens and dozens of entrepreneurs, in fact over 200 entrepreneurs now, to begin developing that lens for themselves. Now they're not only able to get a great assistant, but they're also able to work with a great assistant and keep a great assistant. Even better than that, it's not just the assistant relationship that benefits. That entrepreneur now gets better working with their accountant, with their bookkeeper, with any sales staff they have, any other managers that they might have to work under them, or even if it's just them and a partner, then separating duties with their partner better. It actually makes them a more effective delegator and leader across the entire spectrum of their business.

Doug: That totally makes sense, although for some people listening that might sound like an overwhelming task to go from hey, I do a lot of this stuff myself, and now I need to bring in some help and take that first step to expand my team or I'm working on a team, but I still need to have an assistant to help me do that. Could you share a breakthrough, pick a client, name the client, not the client, it's up to you if you want to give them a shout out, on how you came alongside, helped them walk through this process, get hired up, and how that impacted their business?

Tim: We work with a lot of clients across a lot of different industries, and usually one of the biggest breakthroughs we help entrepreneurs with is actually to get rid of their email inbox. A lot of people think that's impossible. We've now helped, like I said, dozens and dozens and dozens of entrepreneurs to do that. In addition to that it's, I think, really helping the entrepreneur to notice what are all the metaphoric paper cuts. So I said and it sounds kind of funny when you say that, but as entrepreneurs, we oftentimes die a death by a thousand paper cuts-

Doug: Yeah.

Tim: Yeah, right? Oftentimes we'll say, “Oh well, why would I both handing this task off to someone else when I could do it and it would only take me ten minutes, but it would take me 30 minutes to train someone else?” The thing is, is when you take a step back and you start taking a look at how often does that task come up, you start realizing ten minutes here, ten minutes there, ten minutes here, ten minutes there. Like in the world of marketing, if you're sending email broadcast once a day to your following. If you've got a very email marketing intensive strategy, then something that might take you 30 to 40 minutes to write copy, and if you actually think about it, to actually open up Infusionsoft or Aweber or HubSpot or whatever the CRM tools that you're using. If you were to time yourself to open it up, create the email broadcast, paste in your copy, fight with the what you see is what you get editor to make sure that the boding stays bold, the italicized stays italicized, and links are linked properly, and then send a test broadcast to yourself, and in the test broadcast click on all the links to make sure they go to the right destination URL's.

Tim: After that, go back into the CRM and make sure it's scheduled for the right time, date and timezone, you would discover that it's like 30 to 40 minutes to write the copy, and all the CRM work and testing is actually another like 30 to 40 minutes. It's just extraordinary how fast those little things add up, and especially if you're doing them every day, or even just a few times a week, that adds up so quickly into an hour to a week, and you start multiplying that out over the course of 50 work weeks a year, and you've got like a 100 hours that you can get back by delegating what seems like an innocuous ten, 15, 20 maybe 30 minute task.

Tim: Even if you're not using email marketing every single day, the examples are everywhere in business. If you're sending invoices if you're pulling any kind of marketing data. Previously when I was originally coming up through internet marketing, I ended up owning my own marketing firm called Tim Francis Marketing. It doesn't exist anymore, and we were doing funnels for real estate developers. I was just astounded how much time I was spending going into the different analytics tools to pull data and yes, there are aggregating apps that bring data together, but at some point there's still a human interaction to grab that data, paste it into a report or add some text, or take screenshots of which split test is working to what level inside of AdWords, and to bring that altogether in a report for a client.

Tim: Whether you've got an e-commerce company, whether you're an agency, whether you're doing marketing for your own firm, I mean, it doesn't matter. Sooner or later there is going to be those rinse, wash, repeat tasks that come up. They seem innocuous, but they really add up. What I recommend people do, this is so old school Doug, like it's so old school that it's almost easy to say, “Ah, that sounds silly,” but no kidding, if all you did for one day was every 15 minutes have your little alarm go off on your desktop or maybe on your watch or something, and just know what is it that I'm doing right now. Go one step further than listing the tool. Don't say email, don't say WordPress, or Infusionsoft or something. Go one step further and say what are you doing in that tool, so I'm in my email inbox and what I'm doing is customer service, or I'm in my email inbox and what I'm doing negotiating a contract, Something like that-

Doug: Sure.

Tim: At the end of the day when you circle back, put a D next to anything that you could delegate. Notice anything that is under $20 an hour type work, put an H next to anything you hate doing, and notice the frequency. Across those three or four dimensions, you'll see very quickly, “Oh my god. I could actually be handing this off.” This is just it, is it's not a question of getting an assistant and off-loading your life all the first 10 minutes. IT never works. It's about just noticing what are the first three tasks.

Doug: Yeah, what are you spending your time on, right? And does it move the sales dial?

Tim: Yeah, absolutely. I'll tell you what moves the sales dial is when you can be in marketing strategy. Whether that's for yourself, for your own company, or if you're working in someone else's business. When you're in high-level skill, coming up with an offer, coming up with a marketing calendar, that kind of thing. When you're in high-level access, maybe you're brokering joint venture deals with other people to get lists to send your offer to. The more that we can keep you marketing professionals in that high-level skill, high-level access and strategy, the more money that you're going to make, the more fulfillment that you're going to enjoy from your work, and the bigger impact you're going to make on those that you serve.

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HOW TO DELEGATE TO IMPROVE YOUR BOTTOM LINE

[just click to tweet]

HOW TO DELEGATE TO IMPROVE YOUR BOTTOM LINE

I didn't know how to delegate. What I discovered was that at least 50% of the problem was not with the assistant, but was with me.

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Doug: Well, and it's funny because as I was listening to you talk about the email stuff, I'm going, you've done it at least once because that's the process. What I've learned is that it doesn't have to be overly complicated with all the apps you can get now, whether they're free or paid. Like you said, that 10-minute task? I can do a screen capture-

Tim: Yep.

Doug: And I can share that with somebody who watched me. Here, I opened up Buffer, this is how I loaded my social media site, give them access to your LastPass so they can get into the software, and now I don't have to do that anymore.

Tim: Yeah. It's unbelievable. The things that you and I get to do now, Doug, didn't exist five years ago or ten years ago. The fact that you can go and grab Loom, L-O-O-M, the free plug-in for Gmail and it will record your desktop and immediately create a link that you can send off to an assistant, that's unbelievable. That used to be impossible like 15 years ago, and even five years ago, you'd have to pay for a license for something from like Camtasia or Screenflow-

Doug: Yeah, exactly.

Tim: And now it's completely free. Mind-blowing.

Doug: Yeah, your $300 or $400, it takes up a huge amount of memory, it takes forever to load, and it was a nuisance to send it. You couldn't send a link, so… We just heard a guy who was at an event down in Reading, Pennsylvania. His name is Fabio Viviani, and he's a restaurateur. He talked about systems because he grew his business from nothing to just about $2 billion a year now running restaurants and opening up hotels. He talked all about systems and at the end of that, he said basically exactly what you said. If you're doing something over and over and over again, you should be delegating that and sticking to just what your superpower is, whatever that is in your business, whether it's sales, or like you said, strategy. What do you think is the biggest reason that people, the people that are listening to this podcast today go, “Hey man, that sounds really good. Tim's really smart and that's a great idea,” and they're not going to implement. What do you think the biggest thing holding them back is?

Tim: Yeah, so actually I know the answer to this. We surveyed 149 entrepreneurs and we asked them, “What is your single biggest frustration or challenge in getting a great assistant?” I thought there was doing to be dozens and dozens and dozens of different buckets of answers, and Doug, there were six. That's it. 98.7% of entrepreneurs had one or many of the big six concerns. The number one of the big six concerns was actually, I don't know how to trust and let go of control. That was literally number one, heads and tails, above absolutely everything else.

Tim: I get it. I absolutely get it. For the first five and a half years of me having an assistant, it's like I had an assistant, didn't have an assistant, had an assistant, didn't have an assistant, right? It was Groundhog Day over and over and over again.

Doug: Yeah.

Tim: It was also boomerang tasks, right? I would say, “Hey, take care of this,” and they would do it and it would come back all wrong, or it would come back and it was done right, but it was the wrong direction, right? [crosstalk 00:14:20]

Doug: Or you take it back.

Tim: Right, yeah. You're like, “Why did I even bother delegating this in the first place because-“

Doug: Yeah.

Tim: “I've just spent three times as much fixing it. I should have just done it myself,” and then it begs the question of why do I even have an assistant. I went through that over and over and over and over and over and over again, and so I don't blame anyone who's been through that before for feeling like it's just not worth it. I can't trust anyone to do this job. We come across that all the time and we actually find that the people who are the most successful are those who have actually taken a shot at having an assistant before and it actually didn't work out because now they have a more sober view of what it means to not just get an assistant, but to keep an assistant, and to be effective with an assistant.

Tim: There's a lot of things folks that even written over the last 15, 20 years, especially the last 10 years that talk about how getting a virtual assistant is just the answer, and it's just so great. Just go to India or the Philippines and everything will be perfect. That's what I believed. I just didn't know any better. What I discovered after my first failure with an assistant was that at least 50% of the problem was not with the assistant, but was with me. That I didn't know how to delegate and I didn't know how to lead and manage them. That's why we built Great Assistant to be all three legs of the stool. It's not just getting an assistant, but it's also helping to delegate and manage and lead, as well.

Doug: That makes sense because I've heard people on both sides of the equation that hey, my assistant didn't work. Then I've had other guys that I know really well, and they're going like I'm having trouble, like you said, letting go of this and handing it over, and training and managing opposed to micromanaging and taking the task back.

Tim: Absolutely.

Doug: Do you guys provide training then, for your clients? Walk us through the process. It sounds like you can help us find the right assistant, but then the biggest part is not going to be the assistant. The biggest problem sounds like, is going to be the entrepreneur or the C-level guy who is not used to delegating and giving those tasks away.

Tim: Yeah, and I think for each person, it's going to be a little bit different in terms of which leg do they need the most help with. Some people are really good at managing, delegating, they just need their great assistant. What we do is, we'll do the equivalent of about 50 to 100 hours of work screening and we'll take a look at the equivalent of about 50 to 100 candidates to come down to two to three finalists to eventually find one winner. Whether anyone ever hires us or not, hopefully, you can use those as benchmarks for what a good hiring funnel looks like. Just like there are funnels in marketing, there's also funnels in hiring, when you start with a lot of people at the top and come down with a few winners at the bottom.

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HOW TO DELEGATE TO IMPROVE YOUR BOTTOM LINE

[just click to tweet]

HOW TO DELEGATE TO IMPROVE YOUR BOTTOM LINE

I didn't know how to delegate. What I discovered was that at least 50% of the problem was not with the assistant, but was with me.

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Tim: We're using the Kolbe Index, we're using something called HireSelect, which is an enterprise level tool that most likely, a little too expensive for anyone who's just hiring an assistant or two. We're using a handful of different assessment tools in combination and we have given that a huge amount of experience. One of our tools, in fact, we can compare against the database of 300,000 other administrative assistants, project managers, and executive assistants to take a look at the fit of any particular candidate. All of that is going into our process of finding a great assistant.

Tim: Now if someone doesn't have access to those kinds of tools, there are other things you can do. I put together something called the perfect job posting. Again, if anyone ever, even if you don't work with us on getting an assistant, I've got a toolbox. It's at greatassistant.com/toolbox and in that toolbox, I have the perfect job posting. Simply put, I'll give you the very Cliff's Notes version of this, is when you put up your job posting, you ask the candidates to reply to you with an email. In that email, the first law has a subject line that's very specific. Then in the body, there's the first paragraph is in blue font, 12 point Verdana, the second paragraph is a red font, Arial, 11 points, third paragraph, black Times New Roman, 9 points. As you're getting dozens and dozens, maybe even hundreds of applications coming in, all you've got to do is look at the subject line. If they don't get that right, just delete it, right?

Doug: Yeah.

Tim: I have and I suggest if you're going to do this on your own, that you set up a custom email inbox, so maybe it's jobs@yourbusiness.com or if it's Gmail, like hiringmybusiness@gmail.com and just set up the vacation auto reply to say, “We've received your application. Thank you for your interest. If you haven't heard back from us in the next three days, consider yourself to not have made the short list.” That way you can still be classy and professional and get back to absolutely every person who applies as a thank for them spending time to apply.

Tim: If they don't get the subject line right, you just delete them. If they do, you open up the email, but you don't even read the content to see if they got the red, black, and blue right. If they didn't get that right, you just delete them. You'll be astounded at how many applicants can't even get that right. Whether they can't get it right because they don't have attention to detail, they don't know how to follow instructions, or they're not motivated, any one of those three reasons is enough to disqualify someone for our search. No judgment, just if you're not in the right spot intellectually-

Doug: Sure.

Tim: Cognitively, effectively in terms of motivation, then perfect. No problem. We're just not a fit for you.

Tim: I know that we have enterprise level tools that aren't available to people doing this on their own and I always want to make sure people have good tools and takeaways from hearing any time I present, including in a podcast like this. I encourage folks to check that out. We also have another, in that same toolbox. It's something called 360 Delegation. I have spent a lot of hours struggling to learn how to delegate and just out of bare necessity, I invented this tool called 360 Delegation. It's very simple. It's vision, resources, and definition of done.

Tim: When you're delegating, and it doesn't matter whether you're delegating through a tool like Slack, or whether it's in a Loom video, or I've even 360 Delegated something to my assistant over a voicemail message when I was stuck and I didn't have my laptop and there was no internet interconnection. It was really dicey. I just followed the process. Vision is what do I want to be done, what are the milestones along the way, and how can the assistant see a sample of success? That is a huge 80/20 shortcut right there. If you want your assistant to send an invoice, show them a sample of success.

Doug: Yeah, makes sense.

Tim: If you want your assist to help upload a podcast episode, show them a sample of success. So then there are a few other items in there.

Tim: In resources, it's like what kind of access do they need, usernames, passwords. Is there any kind of training that they're going to need? There's a whole list. There are probably about 20 items in the 360 Delegation checklist. Thirdly is a definition of done. What does success look like? Are there sign-offs that are required by the client, maybe by me? Me, as the person delegating the work, do I need to double check the work before it goes live? That's actually another 80/20 trick right there. If you're going to make a list of the things that you don't think that you can delegate, and theoretically you made that list, from there, if you were to then say okay, well what if I got to double check the work before it went live? Then you would actually find that you'd be able to delegate a lot more if you had the peace of mind knowing that you got to double check the work before it goes live.

Tim: Those are just a couple of tools that in that Delegation Toolbox at GreatAssistant.com/toolbox.

Doug: That's awesome. I'll make sure the link is in the show notes. As you were saying you have the peace of mind knowing that you have a chance to delegate it, I remember when David Allen's book came out, Getting Things Done, and I remember looking through that and the biggest take away for me was that if we had a place that we knew we could put everything that needed to be done and we wouldn't lose it, it would free our mind to do other things. I went, “Wow! That's it! That's the thing they need to do with our staff, is when they're standing on the side of the soccer field, I don't want them thinking about, ‘Oh, I got to pick up this thing for work.' Or if they're at work, I don't want them thinking, ‘Hey, I got to get my daughter's ballet slippers.'” Just find a way to record it so you know it's done, it's a trusted system, and you can carry on and it frees your mind from that worry.

Tim: Yeah, and a tool a lot of people use it, some people use Voxer. You can also, inside of something like WhatsApp, if you want to just record a voice note or even Apple iMessage. I'm not wild about using text messages with our teammates for a few reasons. One is it's tough to organize the information as it comes in-

Doug: Yep.

Tim: And recall it. Secondly, I actually do want both me and my assistant to have a separation in our brains between our personal lives and our business lives. I just think that's healthier. If we can agree that Voxer is for business or WhatsApp is for business, and then a text message is for personal matters only, like if I want to celebrate with them. “Congratulations on your wedding anniversary,” or “Congratulations on your child's fifth birthday,” or something, I want to make sure that we can kind of have that division-

Doug: Yep.

Tim: And so that also, if there's a true emergency like I mean medical emergency and they receive a text message from me, they know that this is like, “Oh, we can't put this off,” like this is something that needs to be responded to immediately.

Doug: Yeah. That makes sense. Other words, it's the blur. They just get this constant, you know, barrage os text messages that are coming in and they just think it's just another message.

Tim: Yeah, and if a person's a fan of the Getting Things Done system, you can just have your assistant read the book Getting Things Done and let your assistant know that you're going to send a near stream of consciousness list of ideas over the course of the day and they don't have to take action on any of them. They can put them just all in the David Allen inbox. That inbox can look like a Trello board, for example, or an entry in Teamwork, project management software, any of the tools out there. Then from there, you can set up a rhythm where once a week, you and your assistant have, if you're familiar with Scrum project management or that terminology, we would call it like backlog grooming-

Doug: Yep.

Tim: Or some kind of like, spring planning. Or we'd say, “Okay, of all the ideas you sent me in the last seven days, what would you like to put on the calendar for next week?” That kind of thing.

Doug: Sure. Yeah. So what are you most excited about in the next six to 12 months? I mean, you've got lots going on. You shared a little bit before you got on air some of the stuff that you've been doing, which is a pretty intense schedule of dinner parties. So what just wakes you up first thing in the morning, you're so excited to get going?

Tim: Hmm. Wow, I love this question. When I'm actually networking at events, the question I ask people, and it can occasionally be a bit of a dangerous question is, “What's getting you excited these days?” Sometimes people look at me a little sideways like, “What do you mean?”

Doug: Yeah. Okay, in the context of business.

Tim: Yeah, exactly. Yeah, right, exactly. Get ourselves into trouble here. So, yeah, I mean I am super passionate about a few things. One of which is actually our dinner parties. Doug, this is going to sound probably pretty funny, maybe even kind of silly, but I think it was like six or seven years ago, I was like, “When I grow up, I want to be an old rich guy.” I was like, “Hmm. So what does that mean? That means right now I'm an old rich guy in training. If I'm an old rich guy in training, what does an old rich guy do when he's in training?” I realized that hosting dinner parties, like I just imagine fancy, wealthy people that are in the later stages of their life, sitting around and having a lovely dinner party.

Tim: So for fun, and kind of like tongue in cheek, I started hosting dinner parties when I was up in Canada, which is where I'm from. I hosted probably six or eight of them, and at one point, my friend Thanh Phan from AsianEfficiency.com, which is an amazing website dedicated to personal productivity. Talk about Getting Things Done, oh my goodness. If you're a fan of GTD, make sure you check out AsianEfficiency.com.

Tim: Thanh had actually come up to visit me. He's a friend of mine and I hosted him as the guest of honor at this dinner party. We had such a good time, all of us, the ten Canadian entrepreneurs plus Thanh, that when I got a place in Austin, Thanh said, “Dude, we should totally host these regularly, exactly like you hosted me up in Canada. We should do this down in Austin.” We've now done that and presently, we're in a stretch of doing three dinner parties in eight days. These dinner parties are no joke. I hired a professional interior designer to make sure that my apartment looks awesome. We called them Skyline Dinner Parties because I'm on the 15th floor, downtown Austin, overlooking Ladybird Lake, which is a gorgeous view, gorgeous, gorgeous view. We actually have a view of the skyline and I have ceiling to floor windows, which are just spectacular to be able to look out.

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HOW TO DELEGATE TO IMPROVE YOUR BOTTOM LINE

[just click to tweet]

HOW TO DELEGATE TO IMPROVE YOUR BOTTOM LINE

I didn't know how to delegate. What I discovered was that at least 50% of the problem was not with the assistant, but was with me.

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Tim: The dinners, it's like we have this beautiful process that from… Behind the scenes, at three o'clock, our hostess shows up and she starts shining the cutlery or the flatware and ironing the linen napkins. Then at four o'clock the host planner arrives and gets the place tidy. Then at five o'clock, we cut a deal with a local restaurant called True Food. Amazing, healthy food and they arrive with all the food at five o'clock, and we had them, True Food, teach our hostess, Mandy, how to plate the food so it looks like just True Food. Then at six o'clock, our first guests arrive and we stand on the balcony with a glass of champagne or beverage of choice, and that's from six till seven. Seven o'clock, we start our first course with gratitude and then with introductions.

Tim: We've got people who've flown in like, like literally, from all over North America to come to the dinner, so sometimes the stories that people have are just amazing. One of the defining, unique parts of the whole experience is something called The Big Ask. The Big Ask is from 8:45 PM until about 10:15 PM and we bribe people a little bit. We tell them if we finish on time by 10:15 PM, we'll open a bottle of rare Canadian ice wine, which is so delicious. So we always finish on time, which is really great.

Tim: During The Big Ask, we are inviting each people to share a project that they're really passionate about. It could be in any domain. It could be business or personal. From there, what's their ask is of the room… Now, we're not looking for storytelling, or masterminding, or coaching, or consulting. We're just straight up looking for introductions. All this happened when we had two guests sitting next to each other one day. This is before we figured out to have The Big Ask. One guy had a charity that supported inner-city youth in Austin to see that there were more ways to improve their circumstances than sports, music, or drugs. He's teaching them about entrepreneurship and investing, and other paths like that. As he was sharing his passion project, the guy next to him, no kidding, said, “Oh my God. One of my top clients is an investor and is looking for an opportunity to invest to support inner city youth in Austin.”

Doug: Wow.

Tim: And to Thanh and I, at the end of every dinner party, people leave at about 10:30 or 11:00 each night, will actually spend one to two hours after every dinner, and we'll do a retrospective. Again, that's Scrum terminology for those of you who are geek-ish like I am that way. We'll take a look back and say what could improve? No kidding, we realized how many dinner parties, I think at that point, we'd had 10 or 12 dinner parties, how many opportunities had gone by where people's lives could have been changed, and yet, we missed the opportunity because we never set the stage for people to share what was on their heart.

Tim: Since then, during The Big Ask section, yes we've had people say things like, “I'm looking for an opportunity to get on more stages.” We've had people say, “I'm looking for mentorship.” “I'm looking to raise money.” That's all perfect and fantastic and viable and we love creating introductions around that.

Tim: We've also had people unexpectedly say things like, “I'm looking to adopt kids. Do you know of anyone-“

Doug: Wow.

Tim: -“who has done it before?” “I have an illness I've told almost no one about and I can't find a specialist who can help me with this. Who you recommend?” When I look at the level, whether it's business or personal, of how deeply… It's a freaking dinner party. You would think it's like a nice time, but not that big of a deal.

Doug: Yeah.

Tim: But as soon as we introduce The Big Ask, instantly this took what was… Kind of like a wedding is a one-day thing, but a marriage is a lifetime. We're able to take the impact from a nice, pleasant evening for some guy who's an old rich guy in training, like kind of tongue in cheek, it's gone from that to being actually life changing because I really believe that anything we want in life, whether that's healing, or success, or impact, contribution, anything like that, is only one or two introductions away. Because we all know the 80/20 rule, you don't have to know everyone on the planet. You just need to know a few of the right people and our Skyline Dinner Parties allowed that to happen.

Tim: I'll actually open up, as an open invitation to all of your listeners, Doug, and to you personally, if anyone's interested in coming to a Skyline Dinner Party, you can send us an email. Can't promise you I can get you in. We're already booking three, four months in advance here, but if you know that you're coming to Austin, and fingers crossed, hopefully, we can get fellow entrepreneurs who are listening to your podcast, Doug, into one of our dinner parties.

Doug: That's amazing. You know, as you said, you just never know who's in the room. One of the speakers at this event was a guy by the name of Chuck Balsamo and he was talking about bucket lists privately with the rest of the speakers. I said I don't really believe in bucket lists. I just kind of belief in doing stuff and crossing it off. He said, “Really?” I said, “Well okay, I do have one thing on my bucket list, but I've never really shared it,” and he goes, “Well, what's on your bucket list?” This is the first time I've shared it in my podcast as well. I said, “I want to be knighted by the Queen.”

Tim: No way!

Doug: That's what he said. Then he goes, “Do you have a business card?” I said, “Yeah.” He goes, “My buddy works at this…” you know, and he told me where his buddy works and this is who he reports to, The Pope. He said then he has an audience with the Queen once a week. He said, “I think I can make that happen.”

Tim: And you're Canadian just like me, so we're already under the Queen.

Doug: Yep, so I'm going like who would have thought, right? Like we're just half a dozen guys sitting around, having a beer, having a conversation. He goes, no, I'm serious. Have you saved anyone's life? I went, “No.” He goes, “Are you a famous musician?” I said, “No.” He said, “Okay, so let me make the call, figure out what the process is and then you and I need to get back on a call. Maybe I'll fly to Vancouver and hang out with you. We need to figure out your story.”

Tim: Wow.

Doug: So, who knows, right? As you said, The Big Ask and the person sitting beside you at your dinner party in Austin looking at the skyline might be able to make that introduction to solve that problem or fulfill that dream, or whatever it is that you want to do.

Tim: I love that. I absolutely love that. If the subject matter of our dinner parties wasn't so personal and intimate, I'd love to share with you some incredible stories in that realm, but I'll just say that we've done 28 dinner parties. Tonight is dinner party number 29, is tonight. 28 was last night, 29 is tonight, as crazy as that sounds. I'll you that yeah, the stuff of that caliber happens all the time. It is super, super cool. I don't want to leave people hanging. If they want to send us an email to see if they can get on a list to possibly come to a dinner party, you can just email me Tim@GreatAssistant.com. I don't handle my own email inbox. It's my assistants who read it first, so don't send me any super, super confidential information just yet, but that is how you can reach out to us if you'd like to be put on a list.

Doug: So what does the subject line need to be and what color fonts do we need to use?

Tim: Oh Doug, that's awesome. I mean, in the subject line if you just put something like, “Interested in Skyline Dinner Party,” that would be great. That would get it done and if you're off by a character or two, we won't delete you.

Doug: Okay, there we go. That's funny. Well, I mean you did mention that there's been a number of authors write about assistants. I'm going to steal a quote from Tim Ferriss, or a question from Tim Ferriss. In your business of helping people hire great assistants that make a major impact on their business, what's the bad advice that you hear at, not your dinner parties, obviously, but at other dinner parties when you're out when people talk about hiring a VA.

Tim: Horrible idea is going on Facebook and posting up, “Hey, who knows someone?” That's bad advice number one. Bad advice number two is hiring the first person that you meet, irrespective of how you find them. A huge part of our success with each and every hire is just the sheer volume of people that we go through. No kidding, the equivalent of 50 to 100 applicants to come up with two to three finalists to get one winner. I keep saying “the equivalent of” because we have economies of scale and if an assistant doesn't fit quite with an entrepreneur, sometimes you can put them to the second entrepreneur. We've hired 239 or 240 assistants now, so it's not like we've done 22,400 applications if you were to multiply that by 100, but for someone doing it themselves who don't have our economies of scale, if you're not looking at dozens and dozens of candidates then you're really at risk. I would say that's some really bad advice that I oftentimes hear is hire the first person. Like, oh, just quick and dirty? Like, oh my god.

Tim: Quick and dirty is great if you have such a tiny project that only happens once and you're not really needing to count on this person. There's a huge difference between an assistant who's going to be your great assistant, versus someone who's just like a one-off project contractor.

Doug: Yep.

Tim: I actually think it's a great idea to go overseas if you are going to be delegating work that happens every week or every month and is a simple task that doesn't require a lot of decision making. When I analyze a situation, I'll take a look at what is it that needs to be delegated that is a simple task? That would be something like send an invoice. What's a little tougher than that would be a simple decision. That would be like booking a hotel or an Airbnb. There are a few decisions to be made like what was the location, what was the price. There was a kind of guidelines that we can put around that. The next level of difficulty up from that is a hard decision. Actually booking a flight, believe it or not, is a hard decision. There's so many if this, then that type scenario that is on this huge hierarchy that it's actually quite difficult.

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HOW TO DELEGATE TO IMPROVE YOUR BOTTOM LINE

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HOW TO DELEGATE TO IMPROVE YOUR BOTTOM LINE

I didn't know how to delegate. What I discovered was that at least 50% of the problem was not with the assistant, but was with me.

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Tim: For example, if I were to try and figure out what flight to book for you. Let's say I was your great assistant, Doug, I would need to know do you prefer aisle or row? Is it more important that you're at the front of the plane or you don't care if you're a little further back? Is it more important to you that we buy with cash or credit card versus points? Are there certain carriers that you hate? Are there times of day that you don't want to fly? Is it more important that you spend as much time in your home city, and therefore you want to show up the day of the event, or is it more important that you get a great night's sleep by getting there a day early? There are so many different criteria and if someone doesn't get to know you, there's no way that they could possibly do that job accurately.

Tim: The next step up from a hard decision is something called an outcome. My assistant's been with me long enough now that I can actually say to her, “I'd like to have a dinner party on June 30th,” and that's all I have to say. She takes care of everything. I could literally not even mention it again until June 30th, when I walk into my apartment, and all the people are there. Yes, I'm still involved with high-level access, right? Because that's one of the three things that we keep. High-level access for me is like texting people who I think should come to the dinner party. Like last night, we have Ryan Levesque, from the founder of the Ask Method, best selling author of any 500 company. We had Roger Hamilton, founder of the Wealth Dynamics Test. We had… It was an amazing crowd and I have high-level access to a lot of these people, so that was part of my job for the dinner party last night, but everything else. I mean, that is not my job. It just isn't. It used to be my job, once upon a time.

Tim: I think this is an important respect piece, is to respect every single task. Everything from the surgery that the surgeon does to emptying the trash in the surgery room, it is all critical work. I think the more respect that you have for every single level of the task, the more effective you'll be at hiring and delegating and leading. I get that 100%. If the food doesn't show up, we got a problem, right?

Doug: Yep.

Tim: All of it is important. The question is just what's appropriate for me to be doing. I just really feel like the more that we can have respect for the whole hierarchy, the better off that we are. In terms of just good advice versus the bad advice, is that I think there are a time and a place for an overseas assistant. I think there really is. I think though, if you're looking to get someone who's going to be your right-hand person, the second half of your brain, someone who anticipates what you need before you even ask for it, you've got no choice but to hire someone from similar or same time zone, similar or same culture, same first language.

Tim: If someone is in Australia or New Zealand, don't hire an American or a Canadian. Hire in Australia or New Zealand. Someone who is English speaking, similar or same culture, similar or same time zone, right? If you're in the United States or Canada, hire someone in the United States or Canada to be your right-hand executive assistant. Similar or same time zone, similar or same culture, same first language. It doesn't have to be like mountain time zone is mountain time zone. If you're in Pacific, Eastern is fine most likely, right?

Doug: Yep.

Tim: But, to have someone with those three attributes, the culture, time zone, and language, you immediately solve at least 40% of the misunderstandings, maybe 50% of the misunderstandings that are happening. I think the other thing that people don't realize is how affordable it can be. A lot of the posted virtual assistant services out there are charging like $35 to $50 an hour for a North American assistant. No kidding, we regularly, and I mean every single week, we're hiring talent for $17 to $20 US dollars an hour. That's all it takes because people love the opportunity to work from home. They'll take a pay cut. Oftentimes they'll have a spouse who can take care of their insurance needs in the United States, and or carry like a lot of the big paycheck of the household. Also, even if they don't, they've done the math and they're going, “Wow. If I don't have to pay for childcare, which can be like $2000 a month, I don't have to deal with driving and being in traffic two hours a day at least, I don't have to pay for food, I don't have to pay for a wardrobe, I don't have to do all the things that are involved with going to a nine to five downtown,” they go, “Wow, it's actually not that much of a pay cut to be now making $20 an hour as a virtual executive assistant, working from home.”

Doug: Sure, yeah. No parking, no work clothes, I mean yeah, I know we like to shop, but we don't have to every day. I mean, lots of times you can be in your comfortable clothes while you're sitting behind your computer working.

Tim: Yeah, well I know that my clothing budget cut in half because all my video meetings require me to look good on the top, but the bottom [inaudible 00:41:55] every single day, man.

Doug: Most of my clothing right, now as fellow Canadian appreciator, Lululemon. So it's normally-

Tim: Well good.

Doug: Go to the gym in the morning, sit my gym gear, work until about noon, go yeah, I should really get out of this stinky gear and get showered up and go back to work.

Tim: I get more dressed up for my five to nine, which is hosting dinner parties than I do for my nine to five.

Doug: Well I think the other bad advice that I hear, and I think it applies to just about everything in business is that it didn't work. If you compare that to people and sports, I hear [Gary Bee 00:42:24] B say it, just because Facebook advertising didn't work for you doesn't mean it doesn't work. It means it didn't work for you that time. Just because you hired an assistant before and it didn't work doesn't mean that hiring VA's doesn't work. It means it didn't work for you. What went wrong? Did you hire the wrong person? Did you not understand, like to your point, how to delegate and how to let go of that? Look at the most successful baseball players, how many times they strike out before they get a grand slam.

Tim: Sure.

Doug: In business, we expect that every time we get up to bat, hit a grand slam, which is just an unrealistic expectation.

Tim: Yeah, and if you talk to a lot of people, Ryan was saying this around our dinner table last night, and pretty much everyone was nodding their head in agreement, he was like your first hire should be an executive assistant. I'm always careful to say for everyone, in every situation, all the time, but I mean most people, most of the time, as an entrepreneur. If you're a solo entrepreneur right now, your best next hire is most likely an executive assistant because they will come in and they will have the same jack of all trades presence that you do. They're not limited to being a marketing assistant. They're not limited to being an accounting, or bookkeeping assistant, or a production assistant.

Tim: They are there and they might help you schedule broadcasts right now and 20 minutes from now, send an invoice, which is two different functions. One is marketing, one is administration, right? Then after that, they might actually be part of fulfillment. If you've got a marketing agency and you need to duplicate a landing page for a split test, your assistant could go in and actually be a part of the production of your company, right?

Doug: Sure, yeah.

Tim: [inaudible 00:43:54] intended to float between functions. Before you go and hire specialists, I would way rather help you become the surgeon of the room. That's way more important, is to get you up to be the surgeon. We do that by getting an executive assistant. Then after that, we can go and hire other specialists after the fact.

Tim: Part of the reason is specialists are just way more expensive. An executive assistant at $17 to $20 an hour, if you were to take off your plate, a marketing specialist task, that's very easily $40 to $150 an hour. Something like copywriting, for example, data analysis, maybe even some harder coding type stuff, that's all $40 to $150 an hour work. If you could hand that off your plate at that cost, or hand off sending invoices, which is a $20 an hour, maybe even only a $17 an hour task, obviously, right? What is going to give you the bigger bang for your buck?

Tim: I observed on my own path as I was coming up and what we now observe with our clients all the time is this phenomenon I call the positive profit loop. I know that I was charging $40 an hour as a solo marketing consultant many years ago. I had just come off an illness where I actually couldn't walk for three months. I'd lost $120,000 in a combination of real estate and bad mentoring arrangement, and I had messed up my first couple assistant processes like it didn't work out. I came out of that and I really, really, really didn't have the money.

Tim: I didn't have the money to get an assistant. I didn't know what I'd delegate first, and I didn't know where to find them, and yet, I knew… Like I had just had this huge scare. I think I was 27 or 28 years old. It was 2011, January. I went, oh my God. I went from being a touring drummer who was selected and played at the Western Canadian Music Awards, and I had four homes in real estate investing, to having nothing, to the point I couldn't even walk. I had to move back in with my parents full time. At that moment, I just realized how precious life was. I realized that if I was ever going to fulfill my potential in this lifetime, that I'd have to get help, that life is a team sport, and business is a team sport.

Doug: Yep.

Tim: I had already been burnt a couple of times trying to get assistance before, and yet there was no turning back, Doug. I was like if I had been burnt two times, I got to try a third. If I had been burnt 10 times, I got to try 11. Whatever it takes, right?

Doug: Yep.

Tim: I would listen to Perry Marshall podcasts. Not podcasts, but training, in my earbuds, while I was painting houses because that was my first ever business when I was 19, as I had a College Pro Painters franchise. I hated every minute of it, but it taught me so much. When I could walk again, I started painting houses again as kind of the fastest way I knew how to make money. I was charging $20 an hour and I'd listen to podcasts, and I would work from, kind of 10 AM until five PM on my brand new marketing company, called Tim Francis Marketing, and then after that, I would eat dinner, and then I would go and paint in the evening.

Tim: Now the one condition I had with my painting clients, I told them, “Look, I'm going to charge you $20 an hour, which is half the price of most painters. You're going to get the cleanest, quietest, and most perfect paint job you've ever seen. I'm pretty meticulous when it comes to detail.” They said, “That's exciting!” And I said, “There's one catch.” They'd say, “Well, what's that?” I said, “The one catch is you have to allow me to paint any time that I want, day or night.” They said, “Okay, fine.”

Tim: I think they thought that meant that I'd show up at like six PM and paint until ten. What they didn't realize what that meant is I'm going to show up at 10 PM and I'm going to paint until six AM. I would paint through the night and I would listen to podcasts and then also Perry Marshall training on marketing. I'd sleep from seven AM until maybe 10, 11 AM and then I would wake up, and I'd do my marketing business, which was brand new. I was taking $20 an hour income and I was working, hustling, grinding, to be able to turn that into $40 an hour income, which was my marketing work.

Tim: Once that happened, I then hired Sara and she took just five hours a week off my plate, which I then used to go to my clients, and I said to my clients, “Hey, you know, I'm doing AdWords for you. I think we would be in better shape if I could actually create a custom landing page. It would really help our click-through rate.” Clients would say, “Oh, that sounds good. What's it going to cost me?” I said, “$40 an hour, couple of hours or work. Cost you $80.” They say, “It sounds good. Let's do it.”

Tim: What would I do with those $80? Would I buy a new pair of jeans? No. I took that money and I gave it to Sara, and I said, “Okay Sara, instead of five hours a week, you're not going to work for me for six hours a week if you're up for it.” She said yes, so now I had a little more time. What did I do with that time? I did not relax. I did not go play some ice hockey up in Canada. What I did is I went to my clients, and I said to my clients, “Hey, I've got some extra time now. I noticed that we're doing AdWords, we've now got this landing page. We'd be a lot better off if we could have a lead magnet that we could set up for you.” They said, “Oh, that's interesting. What is it?” I'd explain it and they'd say what's that going to cost? I'd say, “Oh, it would take me about 20 hours to write it for you, research, write it, whatever. At $40 an hour, that's about $800.” They'd say, “Well Tim, you've done a great job for us so far. Let's go for it.”

Tim: What did I do with those $800? Did I get for a weekend trip to Vancouver? No. What I did is I gave it to Sara, and I said, “Sara, $800 extra. Instead of six hours or seven hours a week, would you be willing to work for 10 hours a week?” She said yes. What did I do with the ten extra hours of time? Did I go on a weekend vacation? No. What I did is I went back to my clients, right? And just like, piece by piece by piece [inaudible 00:49:32] pendulum back and forth, this positive profit was back and forth and I was just getting more and more time and money until the point that I could afford to go to higher level events. I went to Perry's $3500 plus flights and accommodations, consultant accelerators called Rainmaker Alchemist. This is five, six years ago now, and that allowed me to network at higher level events, so now I'm both increasing my skill level so I can charge more per hour, plus I'm also in the room with people who can afford higher costs for projects, and continued to hire Sara more and more and more, continued to reinvest in my education and my access to more successful people who had bigger budgets.

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HOW TO DELEGATE TO IMPROVE YOUR BOTTOM LINE

[just click to tweet]

HOW TO DELEGATE TO IMPROVE YOUR BOTTOM LINE

I didn't know how to delegate. What I discovered was that at least 50% of the problem was not with the assistant, but was with me.

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Tim: Before I knew it, there I was charging $35,000 to build a single funnel for a real estate developer. That positive profit loop just continued back and forth and back and forth to the point where today, I actually don't have that agency anymore. I found that the kind of business that I wanted was just different, and so today, I don't charge $40 an hour when I do consulting when I do private CEO consulting behind the scenes. I actually charge $1000 an hour. I'm not a regular contributor to Forbes. I've been a guest lecturer at NYU, and none of that would have been possible had I not taken that first step of getting Sara to take over uploading podcast episodes, uploading blog posts, and sending invoices to customers. That's it. That's how it began, with just those three tasks that seem so lame, boring, not sexy, but that was the beginning that triggered the whole positive profit loop.

Doug: Well, it's great because you shared your start. I hear so many podcasts just talk about how much work it is. I went, “You know, I don't know how to edit the audio.” They went, “Well, how do you do it?” “Well, I hire someone to do it.” That's a perfect example, like you said, how you started sick and trying to rebuild your business and step by step, you just built up by getting the right people around you as a team, and leverage that to now you're an old rich guy in training.

Tim: Yeah. Living the dream, yeah, in downtown Austin, Texas.

Doug: Yeah.

Tim: I'm also excited to come home to Canada right away. Just next week I'll be in Canada for Canada Day, which will be a lot of fun.

Doug: Yeah, right on. That's so cool. I just want to say hey, thanks so much for taking time today. I mean, you've shared a lot of valuable information and hey listeners, this makes sense to me. I've got an assistant. I've got a couple of VA's both local and overseas, and that's made a huge difference in the business and my life and lifestyle, because like you said, you get to spend time and do the things that you should do as well, which is host dinner parties. So thanks, Tim. Now, where can people track you down and connect with you?

Tim: Yeah, so to grab the free resources I mentioned, it's at GreatAssistant.com/Toolbox. If you'd like to throw your name on the list for the dinner party, the Skyline Dinner Party, just email Tim@GreatAssistant.com. If you're curious in doing a strategy session with our team, the good news is you wouldn't pay $1000 an hour to work with me directly. We've got a team of five people who help to determine if our program could be a fit for you or not. It's no charge for that strategy session. Again, you can just email Tim@GreatAssistant.com and then my assistant will help direct that to our team who'll be happy to get on a call with you. Whether you just got 15, 20 minutes for a quick call, or if you wanted to do a bit of a deeper dive over the course of 30 to 60 minutes, they would meet with you for up to 60 minutes to hear about your situation.

Tim: They'll be listening to three things. They'll be listening for fit, timing, and profitable. We never want to get into a project where we're helping you get an assistant if it's not a fit. Also if the timing isn't right, if you're in the middle of a launch, that's not a great time too onboard an assistant because it just takes some time to onboard any team member, for that matter. Then also profitability. If we're not convinced that getting an assistant will actually be a profit center for you, then we'll probably be the ones to suggest that we not work together. It's so important that there's a path to profitability because if your assistant is just an expense in your mind, then that just doesn't work. You need to figure out how your assistant can actually become a profit center.

Tim: A secret to all of that is figuring out how your relationship with the assistant becomes the profit center. Even if them, themselves, it costs you money, you got follow the positive profit loop as I described. If you're not a consultant and you don't have that clear spread of paying the assistant $20 an hour and you charge $40 an hour, no problem. We've helped people that are selling physical products on Amazon and other services that it's not as clean and tidy as the example I gave today, but I assure the positive profit loop can exist. If it doesn't exist, if you're not quite at that point yet in your business, most likely what you need to work on is not scaling up your production or getting an assistant, but rather focusing on marketing, sales, and product development so that you've got a product that's got good margin for you, and you're able to get the word out and sell it. Probably tuning in to Doug's podcast all the time is what you need to do in that instance.

Doug: Well hey, that was a great shout out. On that note, I want to say thank you, Tim Francis, fellow Canadian, living the dream, old man in training in Austin, Texas, looking at the skyline, drinking champagne, while I'm still up in Canada. Actually, the sun is out, so it has been nice weather, so Canada Day should be good for you. Thanks for tuning in listeners. I hope you enjoy this episode. Don't be shy to share it out. Make sure that you're subscribed. Subscribe to our email list so you get updates when we release great podcast episodes like this. I look forward to serving you on our next episode.

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HOW TO DELEGATE TO IMPROVE YOUR BOTTOM LINE

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HOW TO DELEGATE TO IMPROVE YOUR BOTTOM LINE

I didn't know how to delegate. What I discovered was that at least 50% of the problem was not with the assistant, but was with me.

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