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Home » Podcast » How to master virtual assistants and outsourcing

How to master virtual assistants and outsourcing

Join Up Dots

Today I am being interviewed by David Ralph, the host of the Join Up Dots podcast. I had a really good conversation with David about all things podcasting. I get a little bit excited about the whole outsourcing podcast. I share a few stories there and a little bit into my inspiration.


Join Up Dots podcast


How to master virtual assistants and outsourcing
Outsource Accelerator – Derek Gallimore

Intro: When we’re young, we have an amazing positive outlook about how great life is going to be. But somewhere along the line, we forget to dream and end up settling. Join Up Dots features amazing people who refuse to give up and chose to go after their dreams. This is your blueprint for greatness. So here’s your host live from the back of his garden in the UK. David Ralph

Outsourcing beginnings

David Ralph: Yes, hello there. Good morning. Well, good morning and welcome to another episode of Join Up Dots. We’re somewhere in the –  I don’t know where we are now – probably 1600s maybe a billion episodes we didn’t deliver to you. 

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But certainly, we’re getting more and more feedback on every single episode, which is the desire for the show right at the very beginning to inspire you guys to go out and do something different and don’t just sit there taking a crap on that boss you don’t like. Don’t sit in that box just doing the things that – boy, you stupid. Take chances, take risks, but do it in a structured way. 

Now today’s guest who’s joining us on the show is a man with knowledge to burn. He can talk passionately about how he created a huge success in the entrepreneurial world, actually bootstrapping a business to the tune of 20 million, as well as building a multi-million dollar property portfolio business but he’s also seen it all come crumbling down around him, too. 

Starting his first venture at age 17, he has traveled extensively and lived in more than five countries as a young man. Now, this blend of travel and business means that he’s very familiar with a wide variety of business models, work cultures, and methodologies. Heard the phrases digital nomad, online travel, and – well, he was all of these before anyone knew actually what to call them. 

Due to no short measures to his travels, he’s been firmly obsessed with the world of outsourcing and virtual teams. He was introduced to outsourcing in 2011 when he needed a solution to a 24/7 staffing requirement and simply could not afford to hire labour cost of the West. He is now one of the industry’s biggest advocates and so founded Outsource Accelerator in response to the growing need for an independent source of outsourcing information and education. 

Now outsourcing, otherwise known as offshoring, or BPO, is a booming industry. The West is outsourcing many of these roles to the developing countries of the world. And this is happening at an increasing rate as technology facilitates faster transfer with better interface across a broad range of applications. 

As he says, there is an unstoppable trend of this as naturally high-cost functions will seek out lower-cost alternatives. And outsourcing is the way to go. It greatly benefits the developing countries that it utilises and is a huge economic boom for the developed countries that seek cheaper resources. So, how do you make this work for your business without having to micromanage the work you needed to be done in the first place? And I guess most importantly, how do you find good workers when you’re so detached on ever personally meeting? 

Well, let’s find out as we bring on to the show to start Join Up Dots with the one and only Mr. Derek Gallimore. Good morning, Derek. How are you, sir?

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Derek Gallimore: Hi, David, how are you? Thank you so much. And what an incredible introduction that was just amazing.

David Ralph: Hey, it’s nice to get stuff out of the way, isn’t it? And then we can go in any direction. 

Now, I was just saying to you beforehand, I was watching YouTube last night, and you popped up and I saw a walk around your office. And very impressive it sounds, too. Now, the question that came to me last night, if you’re outsourcing do you have to pay for office space? Or do you rent that office space off to somebody else? Does the outsourcing kind of continue down the line somewhat?

Derek Gallimore: I mean, to only introduce outsource, it’s easy. If you really just think about it as employment, it’s really no different from employment. And as you get in general employment, there’s every sort of option, every way of kind of skinning the cat. And generally, I suggest that it’s better to get facilities, it’s better to have your people in a warm, comfortable, functional office environment, but you don’t have to. There’s also a lot of home-based options out there as well.

David Ralph: Now, you obviously have got an English accent. But where are we talking to you today? Sir?

Derek Gallimore: Yeah, so I’m sitting in Manila in the Philippines, which is really the mecca of localised outsourcing. The Philippines and India have been the world leaders, but my heart is in Manila, in the Philippines.

David Ralph: And where were you originally? Why did you leave our country? What will be not good enough for you, Derek?

Derek Gallimore: Well, you know, my parents took me away. I was born in Coventry, for better or worse, and then I – 

David Ralph: I can understand why you left, Derek. I can understand why you left.

Derek Gallimore: I know but now I’m actually very fond of Coventry. I left when I was about three years old so I have a lot of original memories. 

I was raised in New Zealand. But then as a lot of Kiwis and Australians do, they go back to London. So I spent about eight years in London between about 20 and 28 years of age sort of thing, and then I had one of my biggest businesses still based in London. So I was commuting back there for about the next 10 years as well every quarter. So, very fond of the old Blighty, London, and of course, Coventry, where a lot of my family’s still there. 

Globalised workforce

David Ralph: And now with your business being a global entity, do you look at it and think to yourself, really, there is no restrictions to anything now with the way technology is changing literally on a daily basis? The sort of old business models, Are they dead? Or they still thriving, but just in a different way?

Derek Gallimore: That’s a big question, David. Well, look. Globalisation, I think, is absolutely mind-blowing. It wasn’t it was over just about 100 years ago when Greenwich Mean Time was invented. England had different time zones because no one bothered to make all the clocks the same because people were so infrequently traveling between towns in England. 

And then, the steam train came along and enabled people to travel very quickly between towns. They realised, hey, we actually need to standardise the times within the stations here. And that is not that long ago, that’s about sort of two or three generations ago only. 

And, now we’re seeing – you and I having a discussion spanning the globe, we regularly jet-set across the globe – it’s incredible how small this world is becoming. And one of my main motivators for this is I really believe in about the next 15 to 20 years, we’re really going to have one globalised economy and, very specifically, one globalised labour force or labour pool. 

Everything is heading towards sort of one market and I believe that’s a fantastic thing. It’s not things that people should necessarily be worried about, but there’s definitely a convergence into one market.

David Ralph: So moving into your realm of expertise, I know that so many people, they talked to me about how to get a business started. One of the things I say to them is, you know, outsource what you can do as quickly as possible, because when you see exponential growth if you do it right, but there’s always a reluctance to go with, as they say, sort of the non-Western countries. 

Now I have outsourced. I have found the Philippines to be amazing, and I found the Indians to be good. Once I kind of get past this, there’s certainly a language barrier there even though they speak English, but I didn’t have at all with the Philippines. It was just like, probably at a bang, it was done. And it was amazing. How do people overcome that mindset that they are going to be struggling to actually get the right work done direct?

Derek Gallimore: Look, there’s a nuance to it. And there’s a skill to it. But as with general employment, you know, there are thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of books out there on management, how to manage teams, how to motivate people, how to build culture, how to get people on board with your mission. 

And to be honest, it’s no different when you outsource to the Philippines or India. But when you outsource offshore, you just have to consider that there is increased friction, and that friction might come from language barriers, from cultural differences, and it might also come from the fact that you’re communicating through a computer or apps, instead of actually being there, shoulder to shoulder. 

Now, you need to watch that these friction points don’t get too big, that it makes the endeavour of the project or the employment unviable. Because you, as a boss, you don’t want to go to work. Kind of shaking your head every day saying oh my God, I’ve got to tackle this again. 

So outsourcing is the balance of removing as much friction and having an easy go at this as possible. And now with improving technology, I believe the Philippines is very culturally aligned. It’s really easy to build teams and staffing overseas, and this is only improving with time. Just notably in the Philippines. 

The Philippines was conquered for better or worse, about 500 years ago by the Spanish, they became Catholics about 500 years ago. So there’s incredible sort of alignment in terms with Western venues and kind of being Western. They were then conquered by the US about 75 years ago, which is where they adopted not only first tongue, English but also NBA basketball, Netflix, Spotify. 

So this is a super modularize country. It is the third largest English-speaking country in the world. And all the kids, all the millennials, all the people in their 20s, that growing up on a diet of NBA and basketball, YouTube, and this, again, is one world. So there’s very little friction really, in terms of doing business with Filipinos.

Work onboarding

David Ralph: Now I found them brilliant. And as I say, I had a PA for a while. I don’t know because I’ve got the systems really structured, I just do it myself. But this lady was brilliant. I knew at the beginning, there was going to be some training involved. 

So what I did, I recorded videos in bite-sized chunks, put them onto Onedrive, I allowed her to watch them. Then we did a test over a couple of weeks, but she got up to speed and then she was up and running. But I’ve heard nightmare stories where people expect the staff to just understand by a few emails back and forth. 

Have you got any advice for somebody sitting here thinking Actually, I’ve never thought about this, how they can get their chosen staff member up to speed as quickly as possible?

Derek Gallimore: Absolutely. And there is no getting away with the need to invest time. 

And again, like normal employment, that is exactly the same with anyone that they’re sitting in your office in the UK. You have to spend a lot of time upfront and this increases when you’re not sharing the same office and you’re not in the same space. You have to really get them on board with your business, your mission, and then show them the technical aspects of what is required. 

The industry generally is very process-oriented. It’s all about mapping the processes, identifying the processes, identifying the key outputs of those processes, and how the metrics so that this can all be tracked. 

Now, that might sound a little bit of advanced. You don’t need to do all of that before you outsource. What I suggest is just outsource and then sort of treat them as you would a new person in your office. 

Just spend time with them over Skype, show them being shoulder-to-shoulder, you can share Google Docs. Then as you progress, you can gradually build out systems if you don’t already have in your business. 

But again, the Philippines has been doing it for 25 years. And there’s incredible executive talent here in terms of building out systems, building processes, having KPIs and metrics in place so that everyone knows where they are on the same sheet. The people that you bring on to help, you can actually help you build out these processes as well. 

But, unfortunately, there’s no escaping the requirement for spending quality time with people upfront, bringing them on board and training them and showing them the processes. And, ultimately, it takes time. On the first day, you’re not going to know each other’s communication patterns and processes. But after a couple of months to three months, then you’ll be working together, you’ll be in step and it will be a little bit like a dance, you’ll be working well together. So it’s a little bit of time investment. 

And as you say, investment into the processes and making sure it’s all clearly laid out.

David Ralph: So basically, for at least the first couple of weeks, you should create dummy work that somebody can do that doesn’t affect your overall business. But then you can see that they’re getting up to speed and then you can give them feedback before you actually make them go live exactly like you would do in a normal office environment.

Derek Gallimore: Absolutely. You know, if you’ve never outsourced before, it depends on the client on the requirement of your business. If you’ve got 500 staff, you have a lot of processes in place, and this is just really augmenting another role, then it would just follow your natural processes. 

Whereas if you’re sort of SME or solopreneur and bring on your first staff member, then there’s a lot of things to tackle there. You’re learning how to delegate, you’re learning how to create processes yourself. So just take those things easy. It depends if they’re a generalist that you’re hiring. 

If they’re doing general administrative tasks, then, of course, you need to onboard them with those things. But if you are hiring an expert accountant, an architect, or a marketing executive or digital marketer, then, of course, they should be more obviously aware of their profession and vertical, and be able to sort of help and assist you far quicker. So it depends on the roles that you’re hiring for and the processes that you’re building.

Drawing setbacks in life

David Ralph: Well, let’s play some motivational words now. And then we’re going to delve away from the virtual world back into your own personal life. Here’s Jim Carrey.

Jim Carrey: My father could have been a great comedian, but he didn’t believe that that was possible for him. So he made a conservative choice. Instead, he got a safe job as an accountant. 

And when I was 12 years old, he was let go from that safe job. Our family had to do whatever we could to survive. I learned many great lessons from my father, not the least of which was that you can fail at what you don’t want. So you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.

David Ralph: Now, leading to where you are now, it seems like it’s your thing. But as we said, In the introduction, you’ve had a roller coaster as most people have. You’ve had how many successes and you’ve had it all crumbling down around you. 

Now looking back, did it go wrong because it wasn’t the right business for you? Your Passion wasn’t in it, was in outside market trends, because Jim says you might as well go for what you love. Have you always done that?

Derek Gallimore: Yeah. You know, it is interesting what Jim said. My parents also were obviously commentary, very conservative, and they were always sort of pushing me to go down the safe route. And from very early on, I always had it in me that I had to go the path less traveled. 

I was drawn to entrepreneurship, I think before it was such a big thing. And I was always craving for a life less ordinary, I think, and I was always pushing towards what is out there and how can I live an exceptional life. And I think we actually owe it to ourselves as a civilization to kind of push the boundaries of being on this planet a few thousand years now. And it’s not just doing the same thing, how do we push the boundaries, and how do we better ourselves personally, but also as a civilization. 

I certainly failed. When I was successful, I always felt that the fear of being ordinary was much worse than the fear of failure itself. And I’m actually throughout my entrepreneurial journey have been, reasonably, you’re very successful two or three times now. And then I had a failure where I closed down a business, and it took a large proportion of my wealth and the progress that I’d built up with it. 

So that was a big failure, but you learned a huge amount when you’re failing, and you’re learning a huge amount when you’re suffering and under pressure. So, bounce back, I would prefer to avoid the hardship that you go through. But then I think it creates a better life overall.

David Ralph: It does. Jump into that, every single person that I’ve spoken to, their worst times become their best times five years down the line. When they look back on it, they could not get to where they are now. 

So you would say quite firmly that where you are now is in a better position, because of your journey and your ups and downs.

Derek Gallimore: Yeah. You know I would prefer a life of just ups and ups and ups, but I totally agree with you. The best things in life seem to be the hardest things in life. 

You know, marathons are fundamentally fun that people get a lot of fulfillment and purpose from. Children, I hear, are a lot of hard work, and marriages are a lot of hard work as well. But it’s these things that are complex, take a lot of work, a lot of energy, that are actually the most fulfilling, most purposeful in life. And I think exactly that about businesses. 

Coming back to your original question – sorry for sort of sides getting that – I don’t know whether my original business was the absolute kind of up to some point life. But I actually get fulfillment and incredible excitement from building businesses. And to me, the act of building a business is like the game of chess itself. It’s the strategy, it’s the execution. And I find a lot of fulfillment in just business here.

David Ralph: And then do you find now – obviously, because you’ve been on the journey, I’ve been doing this work for six years, the podcast, about 15 years old and all, and I look at it, and I just think people make it so much more complicated. 

I 100% think that it’s about relationships. It’s about building trust, building relationships, and then the money and the sales will naturally come. 

But certainly in the online world, you get people that just brought up a website, they drive traffic to it, and then they wonder why it’s not converting? Do you feel a similar thing that it’s about people, it’s always about people?

Derek Gallimore: You know, I listened to a lot of podcasts, and I read a huge amount of books on business. I think you could actually be in business for eight years and yet still be learning. And I think business is so unique, that every business is different, and every situation that has businesses in them changes all of the relevant variables anyway. 

I was listening to a podcast today and they said that every business problem is a people problem. When a business is small, you focus on building the product or the service. But ultimately, as you grow, and you build a hierarchy and a team. You’re managing the people that then manage the business. 

So ultimately, it is about finding the right people, bringing them on board, getting them aligned, and then getting them to produce. Then we sell to people. So everything comes down to that common denominator.

David Ralph: So when you were the young man, you were bootstrapping the business. But now you would probably go outsource and get it done quickly. But were you the marketer, the sales director, the customer service officer, were you everybody at the beginning?

Derek Gallimore: Yeah, of course. I mean, I’ve always been bootstrapped. My first big venture was in property, and I got into property development, essentially on the property ladder as a young child. And typically in property, you’re doing everything yourself. 

I then built my second business, which was in service departments or corporate housing, and that was bootstrapped. So I was doing everything from the leases for the properties to serving the clients and building the website. 

But of course, as you scale, then you get more staffing on and it was actually about two years after I set up that business that I realised counsel soon as out there, because you need staff and specifically in hospitality, you need staff 24/7, and that just wasn’t viable. In London, you’re not going to get anyone working the night shift, and it would cost you much anyway. 

So that was my introduction to outsourcing. And again, this sort of these on-ramps and off-ramps in life and business. And like, you never expected that to pop up. But then it popped up and it opened doors, and it closed other doors. And it’s an incredible journey

David Ralph: It’s an incredible journey in so many regards. And I reflect on my own journey, as I’m listening to you talking. 

And one of the things that I still have a problem with is freeing up stuff that I can just do quickly, I still have that issue where I think I can just deal with that might as well do that. And I’ve also got a problem, Derek, and I’ll throw this over to you that I so love what I’m doing. But it’s not a business, it’s a hobby. So when I’m not doing it, I don’t really know what to do with myself. And I go, Oh, I’m gonna have a day off today, I’m going to do this. I literally have to go to another country to really recharge myself because if I’m in the vicinity, I just love doing it. 

Do you have the same thing? Do you think I’ll just pop into the office, I’ll just do this, I’ll just do that? Or can you wander the streets of Manila, enjoying yourself?

Derek Gallimore: Look, I’m a bit of a workaholic. And I think that’s had a toll on me. You know, I am, as I say, an incurable entrepreneur, I believe. I’m always sort of pushing. If I do get a bit of response and things are going well, then I can get quickly bored, and I want to build the next thing and build the next product, and you never want to stop. 

But it’s both a good and a bad thing. I don’t want to be half-asleep through life, I really want to be pushing the boundaries and trying to achieve and if you don’t achieve, then you’ve had a good race. Anyway, you’ve run a good race, and it’s been for a purpose. 

One thing that I never do, I never wake up in the morning and feeling kind of empty. What am I going to do today? I think so many people are, these days, life can sometimes be a little bit too easy. People lose momentum, people lose purpose. And that, to me, is the worst kind of thing in the world. I couldn’t imagine anything worse than that. 

So, you know, entrepreneurship, I think, is an incredibly hard pursuit. Money is not guaranteed. The statistics for small and medium-sized businesses are pretty bleak in terms of the ones that fail, and a lot of business owners are earning less than minimum wage. It’s incredible pursuit, I think, and….

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Fulfillment and gratification

David Ralph: I love the fact that you laughed there knowingly. So if you were in a pub now and there was a load of people sitting around, would you say to them you should do it? Or would you say, you’ve got to know yourself first? What would your advice be?

Derek Gallimore: If it was a young kid, I would probably hesitate. And I think there’s too much kind of rah-rah-rah around entrepreneurship now. Everything is about [inaudible] at the moment. And I’m really concerned. 

When I was growing up, the best of the best would become a lawyer or doctor, or they would go to Wall Street and have five or 10 years of really good, sort of pedigreed training in an investment bank. 

Whereas now, kids are leaving school, they’re going straight into startups. And if you have one or two famous within a small startup that never reaches TechCrunch or any of these magazines, then your career is really gone down the golf hole. 

So there is quite a big risk associated with jumping on to the next startup. It gets a million bucks funding, then it runs out of funding, and then it’s gone. It’s a very risky path. And I love it, I embrace it. But I’m not sure it’s ideal for all of society to pursue, because you need sort of a good foundation in society of safe, contented people. So I’m sure because you say…

David Ralph: Well, Jim Carrey always says you go for the thing you love. Now, I think to myself, well, I’m in something that I’m obsessed by. And I’m obsessed with the nuances of taking it where I am, I wouldn’t say I love it. 

You know, if somebody came along and gave me 10 million, I’ve quite happily turn everything off, just walk away, and leave it behind. But I think that you’ve got to have something that you become obsessed with. 

And that’s where I think people struggle, because they expect instant gratification. They expect to click an app, they expect to do this and that. And when I come up to 1600 episodes, as I say, people say to me, Well, that’s a lot. I feel like I’m just getting going. But when I speak to other people, and I say, Oh, yeah, I did 30 podcast episodes, it didn’t go anywhere, so I gave up on it. 

And I think well, that is the failure. It’s the instant gratification market that’s out there, which I think is getting worse. I see it in my own kids, if I don’t get the rewards, if I don’t get the gold medal – well, I do get gold medals just for turning up. They just have to go to some competition, everyone gets a medal. 

And I come back and go, who won? We didn’t win. But you got a medal. Well, I was at work, I think that is where a lot of problems happened to it.

Derek Gallimore: I agree. Life is a grind. And I think to be successful, life is an even bigger grind because unless you’re lucky, you’ve got to get out of the gravitational force of everyone else trying to better you. And it’s almost impossible to break out of that gravitational force. 

You’re not going to do it by taking a few Instagram shots and becoming an influencer. It is hard work. Because you’re not only competing, you’re competing against every single person on this planet. 

So it is grit and grind. But, I think going back to what we said earlier, you look back, and that actually is the reward. It’s not necessarily the Ferrari at the end of your career, but it is actually the fulfillment of succeeding and going through this process.

But, every day, I love what I do, and I’m challenged, I love outsourcing. I love our business, and it’s successful. But every day, I come to the computer, and I’m like, jeez, another day, I get emails, and you got to push through it. It’s crazy, but it’s fulfilling.

Virtual assistance

David Ralph: But let’s take you back into the virtual assistance. And I love the phrase you used about the gravitational pull, you’ve got to – the effort of getting a rocket off the ground is 80% the first bit and then very little once you get going. 

Now, with the virtual assistance, one of the things that I struggled with when I did this in the early days was I found myself in a kind of poll where somebody would do 10 minutes work for somebody, and then the management – now I imagine we go right, okay – you’re now on David’s work, and that there wasn’t that connexion, they didn’t quite understand it. 

How can you get somebody, without breaking the bank, who is totally your person? Or is it better now than it was three or four years ago? Is it not that kind of conveyor belt of shifting tasks around the desk?

Derek Gallimore: No, absolutely. As I mentioned, right at the side, it’s really like employment, you can get any kind of employment in the UK. And if you’re going to get a part-time university student for five quid an hour, don’t expect too much from them. 

The same applies to the employment world when you outsource. There’s obviously UpWork and Freelancer, the gig economy. And there’s a lot of friction with initiating a task. If it takes three months to get to know someone gets another job and process, if that job is only one week or one month long, and it takes three months to really get to know the process and the person, then you’re never really going to get it. There’s always going to be friction, there’s always going to be drop off. 

This is what you see in these project gig economy, this UpWork and Freelancer. Because as soon as you’ve got the person up to speed, they’ve done one project, and finally it’s right after all the revisions in the projects finished, they leave or you cannot find them again, then it doesn’t really work. 

We really think that dedicated agents, dedicated people that get to know you and you get to know them, work incredibly better. Now, of course, it’s down to budget. But, luckily, the Philippines is a cheaper place to be. And you get well-qualified, highly-motivated people, and, sort of Jim wise, with a college degree for 500 US dollars per month base salary. 

And if you can’t afford that, then go to the UpWork and Freelancer. Then as soon as you can afford staffing at about all in $1,000 to 1,500 US dollars per month, then go through and start to build your team, start to build the culture of your business and the hierarchy around that, and you will not look back.

David Ralph: Now there was a guy – I assume he’s still around, I don’t really listen to podcast – when I first started, called Chris Ducker, and he had a book called Virtual Staff Finder. I think it was, and I know he was in the Philippines. Basically, you would pay him and he would find the right member of staff for you. 

Is that kind of service that you provide? Because as I was reading the book, I thought to myself, you have this is what you need, you need this filtering process so that you end up with maybe four or five candidates that you can then speak one on one.

Derek Gallimore: Absolutely. Chris Ducker is down in Cebu, and he’s also listed on our website. 

But we are a little bit like TripAdvisor for outsourcing. We list 700 outsourcing suppliers on our website, we have about 5000 pages of content, we have videos, we also have a podcast with about 250 episodes. So we have a bit of catching up to you. 

But it’s basically a site where you go to learn about outsourcing. You can get free quotes for whatever your requirement is, whether it’s one person or 1000 people, and then we can come in, offer free brokerage to find that perfect supplier or facility for you. 

Or, we can do anything up to a fully-managed solution. So we managed teams as big as 100 to 150 people and we manage everything from staffing to right through to the output. So, we are completely independent, we basically cover the entire Philippine industry and provide thousands of pages of information just so that you can basically explore, learn about outsourcing, get a sense of the prices, get a sense of the different facilities and structures. And then if you’re comfortable, make the first move.

David Ralph: Now, for my listeners’ point of view, one of the things that I know they struggle with is when they are so entrenched in the weeds or building a business, they can’t come up with a list of tasks. 

Or if they do it’s so eclectic, you wouldn’t get one person to be able to do all of it. Any advice, Derek, for the people out there that are thinking, yeah, this is a good idea but I don’t know how to find the right tasks, first of all, that allow me to play to my strengths and develop my business?

Derek Gallimore: Absolutely. You do have to go through a process, you have to be honest, pause for a little while or take one or two steps back so that you can progress. And if you do that, if you take the time out, then you will go into the next phase of your business. And you will never look back. 

You actually have to, as a business owner, get things out of your head and onto paper or into a process. Because your businesses, not you, is a process and you have to get a team on the same page working on that process with you. 

So in terms of practical processes, just write a list of what you do. You can even track things every day. As you do them for about a week, you will get a sense of the things that you aren’t doing, you’re probably spending a lot of time on non-core activities, on low-value activities. If you can get those off your plate, then you can concentrate on doing the high-value activities, those revenue-generating activities, and you will go to the next phase very quickly. 

Common activities are, you’re probably spending a lot of time in your email inbox, doing basic bookkeeping and accounting, things that you’re not particularly good at yourself. Like basic digital marketing or social media updating. Write all these things down. 

Also, write down the things that you really can’t stand doing. Get these onto a sheet, itemise, and block them together into skill sets. And then figure out if there is a dedicated role available for those. 

I would recommend that you don’t spread someone to in so you’re not going to get someone composing incredible articles, updating your social media, also editing your podcast and also doing in finance and accounting. So just start with small, little verticals. 

And as well, it’s about training yourself. So getting used to delegate and getting used to sort of handing off tasks, then getting them back, critiquing them. sending them back, performing this process. But unfortunately at the start, it requires a little bit of time, and

David Ralph: I don’t think anyone will regret it. But there is that benchmark of bootstrapping that people forget they’ve moved on to the next phase. 

I think that’s the big thing when I speak to people, and they say, Oh, yeah, I’m doing this, I’m doing that. And I say, why are you doing that. And it’s just because I’ve always done it, but they forget that they’ve moved on, their businesses progress.

Derek Gallimore: And you leave yourself exposed. I don’t know the sort of demographic that you’re talking about. But if you’re one person, then it means that you can never go away on the whole. It means that if you’re sick, then you’re vulnerable, your business stops. 

It’s essential to get all of these things out of your hand as well. If you’re the only person running or the main person running it, then you’re not going to get very good valuations if you ever have to sell the business. 

This is a process of maturation for your business. And if it’s all in your head, plus, you have about two or three helpers running around after you doing your jobs, then that really isn’t a business, that is a job. You might be paid well for that job. But it’s not a business, it’s not scalable, and it’s not able to exist without you. 

So it is painful. And it’s one of the growing pains of business, but get it out of your head. Build processes and build a team that can execute so that you can focus on building the business on the core activities, the high-value activities, then you can scale this really quickly and cost-efficiently. 

Planning in business

David Ralph: Right stuff. Well, listen, let’s listen to some words where this guy said back in 2005. And of course, it became the theme of Join Up Dots. Here’s Steve Jobs.

Steve Jobs: Of course, it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very clear looking backward 10 years later. Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. 

So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something: your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leaves you off the well-worn path. And that will make all the difference.

David Ralph: Now one of the things you said, Derek, was the fear of being ordinary was scarier than going that the path that everyone else was treading. That’s basically what Steve was saying there. 

Now, how have you dealt with – he says, you’ve got to trust, you’ve got to have faith. What he’s also saying, there are no answers, you’ve just got to plow into the unknown. How do you deal with that? 

But when so much of entrepreneurship is doing that just kind of doing stuff, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes you look at it and think I had no idea why I was spending time doing that is so wrong for my business. How do you move through?

Derek Gallimore: After 20 years in business myself, I find it very difficult to make plans, especially the more detailed the plans, the more valuable they are. 

I think there’s a lot of intuition with this, and I’m quite science-based. But I think there’s a lot of intuition. Your brain and mind are feeding off the years of experience that you have, all of the multitude of data points that are coming in every moment. And from that you’re making calculated decisions, I think. And there’s also a lot of luck, a lot of time, and a lot of things out of your direct control. But then there’s also grit and determination to counter that. 

I think it’s this crazy mix of an infinite number of variables that are changing day-to-day. So I tend not to plan too much I have, of course, like the North Star. I know where we’re going to go. I try and not be too distracted by the newest Chinese thing that really comfortable in just a bowl being as you go. I think it’s very difficult to put into a concise plan.

David Ralph: It’s funny because I used to be in corporate land for many years. We used to have these quarterly meetings when the quarterly targets were set. I used to sit there all the time thinking you’re making it up and you’ve never once hit any of these targets. 

But every quarter, every six months, we have to sit and assess it. It always seems strange to me, but in entrepreneurship, as you say, is making up as you go along. And little by little things get stronger, and little by little things fall by the wayside. 

And sometimes the things that fall by the wayside, come back later because they just weren’t quite right at that time. It really is. It’s malleable and flexible, isn’t it?

Derek Gallimore: It absolutely is. It’s about the hard work and you’ve got to be prepared for when the good luck comes along that you are able to – opportunities – be ready for it. It doesn’t come up if you’re just sitting on the sofa waiting for it. 

So there is a combination of everything that I find an interesting comparable between sports styles, and businessmen, successful businessmen, can credit success to a huge variety of things. Some of them are saying, follow the universe, follow your intuition, work, hard work, 12-hour days work, six-hour days. 

The variety of advice in business is so broad, yet you look at athletes, and to be honest, you can’t fudge it. As an athlete, if you want to be the best swimmer in the world, you’re doing pretty much identical training routine to the second and third best swimmer in the world because there’s no escaping the reality of excelling in sports. 

But it seems in business, there are so many routes to success. It might be the right time, right position, right strategy. Or it could be the friends you know, all the money you have, there’s incredible variability in business. And that’s why I think it’s very difficult to replicate things. And also very difficult to take advice, and learn a lot in a lot of books, but you have to, you’re on your own journey, you’re in your own path, which is a good thing and a scary thing in a way.

David Ralph: Well, we’ve been on a path moving towards the Sermon on the mic, when we’re going to send you back in time to have a one on one with your younger self. 

But before then, to summarise the whole episode, what would be your three big bits of advice for somebody that’s never gone into the virtual assistant world, but is listening to this content and thinking this is it’s time for a dabble, what would be your big three for them to focus in on.

Derek Gallimore: Okay, so you as a business owner or aspiring to be, have to consider outsourcing. You don’t necessarily have to do it, but you cannot have your head in the sand. This is happening, this is massive. And you are obligated to explore this and see whether it’s right for you. 

Number two is that outsourcing is so broad treated like employment. It is very easy to start, but it has 1000 nuances, just as employment does. It is no magic bullet. It won’t cure all of your business skills. But, it’s an incredible thing that once you start it will transform your business. 

And number three, outsourcing is so powerful. It is virtually any profession now. So virtual assistants are obviously very powerful, very useful. But you can do you can outsource anything from PhDs to scientists, to architects, doctors, nurses. 

So it is only limited by your imagination, and virtually anything can be done now over the end now and offshore. Outsource.

David Ralph: Wow, you can outsource the nurse. I had no idea.

Derek Gallimore: Incredible. It’s all being done over iPad now. So nurses are holding consultations over iPads over video. They’re taking all the notes as the doctors talking huge in America because they sort of buy all the reporting that needs to be done and regulations and things like that.

David Ralph: Testing stuff, right? Well, this is the bit of the show that we’ve been leading up to. And this is the bit that we call the Sermon on the mic when we’re going to send you back in time to have a one-on-one with your younger self. 

If you could go back in time and speak to the young Derek, what age would you like to speak to him? What advice would you like to give him? Well, we’re going to find out because I’m going to play music. And when it fades, you’re up. This is a sermon on the mic. Show.

Derek Gallimore: Wow, I’m excited. So I am talking to the younger Derek, he is probably about 22 or 23 years of age. And I would say I would support him, I would say to pursue a lifeless, ordinary, it’s an incredible journey. 

But don’t rush. Life is a lot longer and it has a lot more evolutions than you think. Take your time, you don’t need to do everything within one day. And, be confident about who you are and the opportunities that will unfold ahead of you. It doesn’t all necessarily need to be visible and clear as you’re heading into that process. 

But be confident that you can figure these things out. And things will work out. And, just reiterating a comment that is very close to me, Who would you be if you weren’t so afraid. So it’s having the confidence to really push things out of the way that is holding you back internally, and chasing your dreams and aspirations. That’s it. 

David Ralph: Great stuff. Good advice for everybody. Derek, what’s the number one best way that our audience can connect with you, sir?

Derek Gallimore: Absolutely. So just go to our website, which is outsourceaccelerator.com. And of course, people can contact me directly, which is [email protected] and Derek is DEREK.

David Ralph: We will have all the links on the show notes to make it as easy as possible. Derek, thank you so much for spending time with us today, joining those dots. 

Please come back again when you got more dots to join up. Because I do believe that by joining up those dots and connecting our past is actually the best way to build our futures. Derek Gallimore. Thank you so much.

Derek Gallimore: That was me being interviewed on the Join Up Dots podcast with David Ralph. If you want any of the show notes, go to outsourceaccelerator.com/262. And as always, if you want to ask us anything, then just drop us an email to [email protected]

Listen to more podcast episodes here:

  1. Connor Gillivan – Inception of FreeeUp
  2. Ari Meisel – Inception of Less Doing
  3. Jerome Sanvictores of Talent Tree Solutions – Recruitment and headhunting in the new normal

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About Derek Gallimore

Derek Gallimore has been in business for 20 years, outsourcing for over eight years, and has been living in Manila (the heart of global outsourcing) since 2014. Derek is the founder and CEO of Outsource Accelerator, and is regarded as a leading expert on all things outsourcing.

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