Online Business Systems – Liam Martin
online business systems
Having online business systems in place makes it easy to delegate tasks efficiently. It also allows you to be somewhere else and still making sure that business is running smoothly.
In this episode with Liam Martin, co-founder and CMO of Time Doctor and staff.com, he talks about creating processes and how it can help you run a remote business.
One of the key things he said is making instructions that are impossible to misunderstand. When you do that, you can further scale your business.
If you want people to be able to work anywhere from their laptop, you need to build operational processes and procedures inside your business.
Think like a big business, but you need to do it on a bootstrapped budget.
Make directions that you know everyone will get.
Having systems in place is what helps the team to run.
People run into roadblocks because they weren’t able to accurately identify all of the little details of what someone is doing or even what they’re doing as the entrepreneur.
There should be no sacred knowledge inside of the business.
You need to have processes in place so the business could continue if anyone’s hit by a bus including you as the business owner.
Take into consideration that someone you’re hiring wouldn’t necessarily know everything that’s written on your procedure.
Start with a baseline to see how much you’re going to have to lay out for the other person.
TRANSCRIPTION: ONLINE BUSINESS SYSTEMS – LIAM MARTIN
Hey Thriving Launchers, how about building an outsourced team, outsourced staff, finding the endless possibilities of freeing up your time, doing less work, and having other people do it for you so you can do more of what you love.
All right, Thriving Launchers, how about building a business that you don’t always have to clock into? And if you clock into it, you can be on the beach on your laptop.
Let’s bring on one of the guys known to this and help people scale their businesses with a touch of freedom.
Without further ado, Liam, are you ready to launch?
All right Liam.
Processes are crucial if we want to grow our business and understanding how to do that, and how to manage time and our employees. We love some of the software you’ve created and help people utilize like Time Doctor.
What are some of the things we should understand when we’re trying to create this lifestyle through online business systems?
Online Business Systems Lets You Run A Remote Business
I think there are things a lot of people recognize or don’t know when they get into online businesses if they want to be able to run a remote business.
Just to give you context, we have about 80 people, and they’re located throughout 27 different countries. I have a tiny office here. We have about seven offices located all over the world, and about 25% of our team is what I would call nomadic. They work from their laptop.
We don’t just want that lifestyle to be applicable to me and co-founder Rob, but we want anybody to be able to have access to that type of lifestyle, even people that work inside of our business.
Building Online Business Systems To Work From Anywhere
Unlike a brick and mortar business, you can’t communicate the little details of how to do a job to people that are remote, because they’re 10,000 miles away.
If you have someone right next to you, you’d be able to say, “Hey Luis, this is how you set-up this web page. This is how you set-up a blog post to be able to launch it.” But, if Luis is 10,000 miles away, then that becomes a lot more complicated.
Think Like A Big Business When Creating Online Business Systems
You need to be able to have operational processes and online business systems inside of your business, which most Fortune 500 companies already have those in place. You need to think like a big business, but you need to do it on a bootstrapped budget.
That’s what I’m quite passionate about, is building those operational procedures and online business systems so that your employees don’t necessarily know everything that’s happening inside of the business.
Online Business Systems – Make Directions That Everyone Will Understand
I have a great quote. I kind of edit it a little bit but Napoleon originally had it.
Once you change your mindset from “Hey, these are directions that I think anyone could get.” to, “These are instructions I know everyone will get,” then your mindset completely changes. That’s when you can scale a business from running three to four employees to running three to four hundred employees, to three to four thousand employees because the process remains the same as incredibly clear for anybody that implements it.
You are talking my language. As the team manager, I love this. I love setting up online business systems.
How Online Business Systems Helps The Team
Because, it’s what helps the team to run, and we’re in an era where I don’t even have to be there. I hired my staff, and I haven’t even talked to them or Skype with them or even gotten on a phone with them since I hired them because they know what their job is, and they can run the laptop lifestyle too just like we’re doing because we have the systems in place.
I’d love to hear from you more about how you recommend setting up your systems so people can succeed from the very beginning.
Let’s say you have a virtual assistant starting from employee one or even looking to hire employee one.
Online Business Systems – Identify All The Little Details
A lot of people will make the mistake, and we see it with a lot of our clients that come in.
We just sell software to be able to manage what remote teams are doing. We don’t tell you how to do it, but there are a lot of guys that will just start out. Then they’ll run into a lot of roadblocks because they won’t properly identify all of the little details inside of what someone is doing or what you’re doing as the entrepreneur.
What you need to be able to do is pull your knowledge out of yourself, and you need to be able to communicate that to another source.
Online Business Systems As Open To Everyone
I have a methodology.
If anyone’s hit by a bus, including you as the owner of the business, you need to be able to have processes in place so that the business could continue.
Even as an example, me and Rob, who’s my co-founder of Time Doctor, we have operational procedures in place in case one of us was hit by a bus. We have a whole bunch of systems set-up to be able to make sure that happens because someone needs to make sure that payroll still happens.
Documentation Of Online Business Systems
What are the actual procedures for being able to do that? How do you access the bank accounts? What are the connected factors to making sure all of the departments are running seamlessly?
You need to be able to document all this stuff, and we do it in multiple sets of ways.
For anyone that’s just starting with employee one, something like a Google Doc is fantastic to be able to start that.
Commission Structure Of Online Business Systems
We have a wiki system at this point so you can edit and you can see the history of that documentation over time, and you can see how it relates. We’re currently just changing all of our procedures for SEO, and I’ve just implemented a commission structure inside of updating the processes inside of the business.
Anybody who updates a document and people agree that that is the new version of the document and that it’s better than it was before, get a bonus. It allows the document to evolve organically throughout time. It’s just been quite useful for us.
Online Business Systems – Break Down All Your Different Major Time Sucks
If you just have this one employee and you’re starting out your process, what I would suggest you do is break down all of your different major time sucks throughout the day. I don’t know what that would be for you guys, but I know for me, the biggest time suck I have throughout the day is email.
What I do is I create some operational procedures on who to be able to talk to, who my assistant can speak to based off of answering my emails. I use Google apps, and I have a process.
Online Business Systems To Delegate Tasks To Another Person
There’s a process inside of Google apps that will allow you to delegate email to someone else. They can view your email without accessing all of your passwords inside of emails so you can have your assistant go through, delegate emails that you need to read, delegate emails that they can respond to on your behalf, and it is signed not by Liam, but by my assistant inside of the signature. That’s usually the only difference you’ll be able to detect,
Then, there’s a third category, which is things I don’t even need to see.
Online Business Systems Helps Cut Down The Amount Of Time You Spend On A Task
I had about 380 emails in the last 24 hours, and I looked at 42 of them. That cuts down the amount of time that I need to be able to check email. To look at over 300 emails a day would take me the entire day, and I’m down to about two to three hours of email, which is our primary communication source regardless, but that’s something you could easily start today, and move through that process.
Usually, you’re going to see explosions that happen inside of this processes and procedures.
Problems Of Not Having Online Business Systems
One of the first problems I had with my first business, which is an online tutoring company, I remember I asked my assistant to be able to refund a certain client for three months of service.
There were two buttons on my merchant account.
One was to refund the specified dollar amount, and then the one was to refund the entire amount. Unfortunately, that assistant clicked on the other button so instead of refunding one or two thousand dollars, they refunded over $10,000, and that was kind of me not documenting the process. It was easy to understand, but it wasn’t impossible to misunderstand.
Those are one of those lessons you’ll learn throughout the process as well.
Tweaking Online Business Systems Until You Have The Results You Want
I usually just start working through email, have five or six different operational documents in place on how to answer an email, see what the results are, and then go back and try to work that document until you’re happy with the results. That’ll usually take a couple of weeks to be able to implement, but once it’s up and running, you can as in my case, reduce any amount from 300 plus messages a day to under 40.
What I love to do is take a time suck, just kind of breakdown the things I have to do, and then write out every single step of that process very clearly so my team can follow it step by step.
You could create video and things like that, but I find that systems change, processes change, and having it all written out in a document helps because then, I can go back in quickly change something.
Are there any tips like that that you recommend?
I usually have three versions of a process.
Long And Short Form Processes Of Online Business Systems
I have the long form which is generally for me; a process shouldn’t be more than two pages regarding text documentation. If it’s longer than two pages, then I either want to refine the process a little bit more, or I need to break that up into two different procedures. That’s one side of it.
I also have a short version that’s probably about a paragraph, a five or six bullet points, and that’s for if you’ve already gone through the long form of the process, then you can go back to that short form and just figure out exactly what’s going on.
Online Business Systems -Video Walk Through
And then, third is I’ll usually do a video walk through of that process, and I use various tools. You can put together YouTube videos on listed mode, and I also use Jing, which is a little tool that allows you to do a screenshot or screen grab, and do a five-minute video.
Usually, a five-minute video is as long as you need to be able to build it a process. If it’s longer than five minutes, you might need to break that up into multiple processes so that the employee can know “Here’s exactly all the details throughout that process.” And then “Here’s if I’ve already gone through that process two or three times, and I’ve gotten it right, here’s a concise form of the same process that I can just use as a refresher to know where I’m currently at.
Maybe I haven’t put together a blog post as an example in the last three to four weeks, and I don’t remember exactly how to do it. I can easily do that just by looking at the short forms instead of going through 20 to 50 minutes of the long form.
I love this idea.
Online Business Systems Saves You A Lot Of Time
One of the things I recall when we interviewed a chiropractor who has multiple chiropractic offices, is when he hires a new doctor, he has them go through a series of videos. Those videos teach them kind of everything they need to know how to be a chiropractor there in the office, and how to do their job.
He said that he doesn’t have to spend much time with each new staff in whatever capacity they’re in when they join his offices. He doesn’t work that often. He has several different businesses because he’s learned how to do exactly what you’re talking about.
And yeah, those mistakes you brought up are part of the game, aren’t they?
Sometimes, we forget that minor detail of selecting, refund the whole thing or a dollar amount is something we might just know to do, but when someone else is doing it, they’re not sure.
Online Business Systems’ Rule Of Three
I have what I call the rule of three.
The first time I do something, I always go through it without thinking about documenting it. The second time I do something, I go through it, and I reflect on all of the processes, and all of the steps I’m taking to be able to complete that particular task, and in the third time I do it, I document it.
The reason why I do it on the third time, and not the first time or the 20th time, is the first time you do it, you don’t understand that process well, so you’re working it out on your own.
Documenting Online Business Systems On The Third Time
If you’re doing it for the 20th time, there are a lot of details that you’re just taking for granted that you haven’t received any consideration because the process is old for you and it’s old hat stuff.
Using the blog post example, I put together 200 of these blog post pages. I know what I’m doing.
I had a client about a couple of years ago, and he was very frustrated with an employee who he had hired and who probably he shouldn’t have hired. But he’s very frustrated nonetheless with his employee because he had put together all these procedures for somebody to be able to install WordPress on a server, and then gone through all of these little steps to be able to implement it, and how you do it.
This guy was a developer, and he was frustrated because the guy couldn’t figure out what to do, and the answer he had when he came back was “Well, what’s WordPress? I don’t know what WordPress is.”
Online Business Systems – Take Things Into Consideration
We make a lot of assumptions, and I think you need to justify that all those assumptions are correct, that you should take into consideration that someone you’re hiring wouldn’t necessarily know what WordPress as an example. In this case, it was a bad hiring process.
There are all of those small little details inside of what we do that we take for granted. To not take any in consideration is where you’re going to divide the easy to understand versus impossible to misunderstand the process.
Online Business Systems – Have A Baseline
You have to have a framework at least a baseline to see how much you are going to have to lay out for the person on the other end. If they don’t even know what WordPress is, that’s a bigger training process.
You probably want to at least start with a baseline with the person before you layout the online business systems.
We’ve been here with Liam Martin. We’ve been talking about how to get your systems in place to run a business without you having to be there, getting your operations down packed so you can be somewhere else or do something else and your business can run without you. This is what it’s all about.
I can’t tell you enough good things. That four hour work week, we are living it because we have the systems in place.
It’s fantastic to have you guys here with us today learning about online business systems. I just encourage you to go out and see about creating your systems today. Keep thriving everyone.