Paul Higgins – Freedom within a Framework when Outsourcing
Last updated August 19, 2019
Derek is joined by Paul Higgins the founder of Build Live Give. Derek deep dive and talks about Paul’s background, fantastic corporate and entrepreneurial experience.
- Paul worked for Coca-Cola for 18 years.
- He share his own outsourcing experience, the initial part and challenges from the start.
- New way of doing things won’t make or break you but it might take time.
- They both discussed the differences and similarities in terms of big corporate and SME outsourcing.
- He gives an initial advice on what is outsourcing and what are its benefits
- Build Live Give is a global community for people like corporate escapees that are running their own business as the name suggest to build their dream business, live a great life and also give back.
- Coca-Cola company has been outsourcing for over 126 years.
- With outsourcing there needs to be freedom but there also needs to be a framework for people to succeed.
Derek: Hi and welcome to another episode of the Outsource Accelerator Podcast. My name is Derek Gallimore and this is episode 157. So today we are joined by Paul Higgins of Build Live Give. Paul has a fantastic background, fantastic corporate, and entrepreneurial experience which of course we will dive into in this episode so I won’t go to deep into it. But I certainly learned a lot and I’m sure you will too. If you wanna get in touch with Paul or know any more about this episode then go to outsourceaccelerator.com/157 enjoy.
Derek: Hi and welcome back everybody, Today I am joined by Paul Higgins of Build Live Give who’s sitting over there in Australia. How Paul, how are you?
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Paul: Hi Derek, great thank you.
Derek: Good, And thanks so much for joining us Paul and you’ve had quite a long journey to this point and you’re far better at introducing yourself than I am but there’s a lot of corporate experience in there, there’s a lot of outsourcing experience in there, and then there’s also kind of raw business experience in there. So really glad to have you on board and I suppose initially can you just give people some insight into how you came to be here today and how you got all of that experience.
Paul: Sure thanks, Derek. The short version is I worked for Coca-Cola 18 years, I started at about 3 years of age because my father worked there and I said never worked for coca-cola and all of a sudden 19 years later I was there. Great company, great global experience, I still think one of the best companies in the world or one of the best run companies in the world and near my end of my career there I have had a bit of health jump and I had jumped out and find a better way to control my health. Travelling around the world and being on planes and all the stress that comes with corporate wasn’t right so I jumped out basically grew a series my own businesses and along the way built an outsourcing business in the Philippines, sold that but a very strong proponent of outsourcing. And now we run a global community for people like me, corporate escapees that are running their own business as the name suggest to build their dream business, live a great life and also give back.
Derek: Fantastic, So you have quite a few evolutions there, you know you’ve gone from corporate, you lived in the outsourcing world and now you’re coaching and mentoring, have a community around supporting people to leave the corporate space and build their own dreams I suppose. And you know it’s interesting that a lot of this came out of your needs, as I say scratching your own itch, and you’ve developed businesses around your needs and now helping others facilitate that. Can you give us a little bit of insight into your outsourcing experience, what you did in that space, but also what on earth made you think about outsourcing, how did it even get on your radar?
Paul: I think whether it’s nature or nurture but I’ve always been a global citizen, I’ve always thought globally, I grew up in a little country town in Australia but I always thought global and then working Coke you should can’t but help think global so the coke company been out one of the biggest outsources for over 126 years and you know effectively the coke company did the marketing and then they use bottlers to manufacture distribute and use partners all around the world so it was a form of outsourcing so I was very much aware of it but when I left I did some work for Bain which is one the biggest consulting companies in the world and I am, was doing a project for them and I was just doing so much admin myself and it was killing me, I just didn’t have the people to help me scale my own business and I said look, why I don’t the next workshop, don’t pay me but what I want is just time with your number one global outsourcing expert because I wanna work out which countries, where, so how can I solve my own issue as a small business owner and that’s eventually led me to the Philippines the week after I jumped on the plane. Before long I had a team of 20 people helping business owner all overs the world so it’s sorta it just took its natural course, I think outsourcing is something it’s always been part of what I’ve done and but it wasn’t for small businesses per say.
Derek: Yeah it’s funny isn’t it, you know I’m sitting here in Manila and you see a lot of business people coming over here initially outsourcing but then moving in to the outsourcing space I think because they’re so inspired by it and see so many opportunities that actually they kind of evolve and as I’ve mentioned it’s true scratching your own itch, filling your own needs and seeing the vast opportunities out there. But you know, in your experience what was it like outsourcing, what are some of the initial, you must have some wins but also some challenges from the start.
Paul: I approach no different to a partnership when I was in corporate so I used to buy billion dollar businesses that we do full diligence so I followed a similar path and I went in, spoke to the biggest operators in town, I spoke to some mid that were growing and I spoke to some small that I thought are gonna be the stars so I interviewed a lot of companies and ended up finding two, and one was the big guy that was growing and still growing but I thought I could learn from then I pick the little guy that I thought that would treat me as a bigger fish in a very small pond so it was great combination basically learnt from both of them and then ended up going to one and that transition of going from one to other was hard because the big one didn’t want us let me move my staff which I can understand that but on the grand scheme I had five people on that stage I had thousand so that was a little disappointing but I sorta learnt that, that was one key challenge and then just picking the right people I think interviewing was something that I was used to incorporate, coke have brilliant people processes but it was different culture, it was different. So it took me a while to adjust to the fact that when people said yes that will always mean yes and when people where there constantly please you and not give you the real honest and raw answers. Something you could improve on, something that a manager is said to you on the past to improve on and they couldn’t just come up with anything and I’m like well these people just aren’t self-aware and it wasn’t because I was self-aware but culturally you just don’t talk about so there was little nuances that I learned along my way and now I think we’re getting very good at recruiting people from the Philippines but when I first started I found it really hard.
Derek: It’s a big learning process isn’t it and even that we advise people to really sit down and have a think because often people can get into outsourcing in the first step might be getting a VA in the province working remotely but then you know, it takes a little bit of force I think, what if we scale this, what if expand this if we want centralized it into an office will they be a move in there and we advice people as well to make sure that if you go with one BPO, if you wanna move or if you wanna expand, what are the options there presented to you because it can be, you know you can really stake take quite a few steps back if you have to move your team and if you have to leave a lot of the people behind it’s really something to consider isn’t it?
Paul: Yeah I think it’s really, it’s quite, I tell you it’s a modern industry that’s got very old school tactics. So I found that they’re very good at sales approach but then what they promised you is on no ways they deliver, so I found that really difficult and the provider I ended up going was brilliant and now we got a network of providers that we refer clients too but it was really difficult and that’s where I think service that you guys provided is really important. I took the step of going and learning at myself and that’s cause I wanted to double then. That’s a lot time, that’s a lot cost that I spent. I’ve spent, I’ve been about 20 times to the Philippines if don’t wanna do that I think really get people you can trust and are experts in it because yeah you can waste a lot of time and a lot of money by picking the wrong people and it won’t be obvious to you and that certainly wasn’t for me.
Derek: There’s quite a learning curve , you know you’re very successful in your own right, there’s a lot business people that are very successful and they come over here and they think all of that is directly transferable but then you don’t realize that it actually there is a learning curve, and there’s a new culture, and there’s a new way of doing things that as you say it won’t make or break you but it can take 1 or 2 years to come up learn the new process is coming.
Paul: Yeah they’re very much slow and you know like I said I learnt that the hard way, and that’s where I help and guide a lot of people today a lot about community members it’s often it’s not the fact that they wanna outsource, it’s just the fact the fear of getting it wrong or picking the wrong partner. I’ve heard bad experiences so we just try to minimize those as much as possible.
Derek: Let’s sort of draw on that experience because you have incredible corporate experience in one of the biggest companies in the world and now you’re coaching and mentoring sort of small business community. What are differences there in terms of processes and in terms of needs when it comes extending into outsourcing because this is one sort of gripes I have with industries that these big boys have been outsourcing for 20-30 years and the opportunities there are now for the SMEs they are just not aware of it and just not sort of aware or have enough awareness to jump on this outsourcing opportunity. Where do you see the differences and also similarities in terms of big corporate and SME outsourcing?
Paul: Great question. I think the biggest thing is getting processes out of an owners head into something that someone else can follow. You know often the owner blames the outsourcing provider or complain whether it’s virtual assistance or someone else for things not going right. But when I actually dig in or often the owner that hasn’t been clear or hasn’t at least the standard operating procedure or constantly changes what they’re doing so there’s not that consistencies so at coke, 126 years they got really good at doing a similar things so yes they always iterating but there was core amount of IP and business processes in place and they’ve been build up for a long period time or it’s a lot small business owners that’s all in their head they’re so busy doing all the time that they don’t have ability to extract that in a way that someone else can do it so that’s where we find the biggest gap and having really well documented standard operating procedures and normally most business owners soon hear that word they run for the hills and I completely get it you know, I completely understand it. But we find ways of getting those standard operating procedures right. And having the right technology is well which I think is absolutely critical and I think those 2 things combined work well and then you got that cultural overlay that you spoke of as well. So if you get those 3 things right I think you stand a much better chance but those challenges are the same at corporate today just normally solve them they’ve got lot of resources that are solved over a long period of time.
Derek: Corporate time by their nature as they don’t need to be as agile whereas the small businesses if you only got 10 or 20 employees there’s a lot kind of cross functionality where’s the big boys they have probably a thousand people in the room doing the same task that’s been the same task for the last ten years and whereas small businesses they need a lot of agility and I often find that you get businesses in the west thinking they coming to the Philippines and it’s the third world and it’s they will be able to teach the Philippines a lot of things and then they come here and realize as you say there’s a lot of process sophistication, things have to be mapped out they need KPIs. they need metrics. Where’s very commonly in the west maybe up until kind of 50 staff, a lot of things are more organic and fly by the city of pants and people just figuring it out as they go where’s here often doesn’t fly and people then come here and it almost the whole company has to go through a maturation process as they developed and mapped out and kind of mature their processes.
Paul: Yeah it’s not different like you, always hear horror stories of SAP. Now which I think about normally nearly 100% economies run on SAP these days and they always talk about SAP and terrible experience and they always talked about the technology, it’s actually the cultural change of doing things in a standard way which is always the hardest part of implementing SAP not the technology and I think with outsourcing is exactly the same it’s like yes you wanna be edge on, you wanna customer responsive, I completely understand that but there are some things that you need to have which is consistent. We call it freedom within a framework so yes there needs to be freedom but there also needs to be a framework for people to succeed and I think that’s a bit where you know we’ll just go and outsource and automatically happen, I think no actually you either I need to do it yourself or get someone to help you or make someone to help you make that transition cause it won’t to start from scratch and it is a journey you won’t be in a 100% straight away. I think a lot of people look at the savings and there is enormous savings to be made but I think but what they do is bank on those too early and think all effort and upside immediately and unfortunately it’s just not that, it’s good but it’s not that good.
Derek: Absolutely, and I think as well when they look at outsourcing, they almost think they’re outsourcing, the operational issues, their business problems but actually they don’t go away you just, you hand to operate but it’s just on another office in another country so there’s still a need, there’s still gonna be speed bumps and hurdles and things like that. It’s an interesting learning curve, isn’t it. But Paul I wanna get you back and discuss we’ll deep dive in to Build Live Give which is your business community but I suppose before we do that just initially if you advise your community to outsourcing, if it’s an SME that hasn’t really heard about outsourcing and let’s ask you what is outsourcing and what are benefits, why should i bother, what are some early wins, or what are some of the really big draw cards that you kind of tempt people with?
Paul: Yeah look I always answer this two fold, from a financial point of view, labor cost is normally your biggest cost within most SME business it’s either the owners liability at the time or their staff and you’ll definitely get an upside from a getting your local people to do more value ethic activities so things that drive more revenue and then getting the admin a repeatable task done by someone that could be up to third cheaper than what it is within your local market. So I think the financial ones are obvious but then I think the other one which aren’t always as obvious is just the risk of hiring full-time people is quite high so you can actually part higher or you can be a lot more flexible so therefore you can test things with outsourcing a lot of easier than you can locally so I think that’s a huge advantage and also the demand for people like I might wanna get a particular role for one of my clients and I might get 5 applicants locally where is oversees I might get you know 50 or a 100. So I think just the volume and the speed is great and the quality is much the same, the other thing is multiple time zones so you can actually have people working on a 24 hour clock and for my clients to get their head around that sometimes is a little confusing but once I get that and they realized they can go to bed and have someone doing stuff at night it allows you to scale and it allows the owner to have a goodnight sleep rather than worrying about work and I also think to some financial side just the working capital, most businesses that I work with don’t wanna get funding, banks won’t lend them the money so they’ve gotta get a working capital and I think they’re really smart around the ways you can improve your business or increase your business as your revenue goes up. What you don’t want is your to labor cost to marry that’s all your doing is taking a greater risk without actually getting more profit yourself so I think outsourcing is a brilliant way to manage that. You know there’s so many people focused on marketing these days and all the tactics and I think they’re great but I think a lot of those are high risk, whereas outsourcing it’s been around for so long, like huge corporate has done it for so long, if you use the right partners it’s got low risk of not working where compared to a new marketing agency or employing someone locally for a role, that’s got a higher risk.
Derek: It’s fantastic, you mentioned about ten things there, it’s incredibly compelling there’s a huge amount of arguments and this is what I say to people, you don’t have to do it but you’re crazy if you just don’t consider it, if you don’t take a moment to look at this opportunity because it really can be transformative.
Paul: Yeah and Derek just one other thing, I’m looking for a business owners point of view. The flipside of that is people over this, I’ve got some brilliant people that would just happen to be born in the Philippines and so they wanna be with their family but they’re highly intelligent and in the old days they couldn’t actually work with entrepreneurs around the world, it was very difficult, they would have to lay their family etc., whereas now what they do is work from their homes. They can work can support people all over the world so for them they absolutely love it so there’s a huge benefit not just for the business owner but also the people that are getting new experiences that are actually in the Philippines helping people around the world.
Derek: Yeah it’s a good feeling isn’t it and that’s why I’m a massive proponent of outsourcing because it really is a win-win isn’t it. Thank you so much and we wanna get you back, of course, to talk and deep dive into Build Live Give but in the meantime Paul if anyone wants to reach to you or contact you or learn about Build Live Give how can they do that?
Paul: Yes it’s through my website buildlivegive.com and also through my LinkedIn profile Paul Higgins triple 5 they’re the two easiest ways you can find more about us.
Derek: That’s fantastic, Thank you, Paul, and of course all of that will be on show notes. Good to speak to you.
Paul: Thanks Derek
Derek: Cool. thank you
Ok, that was Paul Higgins of Build Live Give, I learned a lot from that conversation and I’m looking forward to having him back so we can deep dive into exactly what Build Live Give does. So if you want to contact Paul, if you want to know any more about this episode then go to our show notes which is at outsourceaccelerator.com/157 and as always if you want to email us or ask anything then just drop us an email to [email protected] see you next time.