What I Learned From Mentoring The Next Generation Of Female Business Leaders

We live in a topsy turvy world. A world full of conflict. A world where not only do we have big problems to deal with, but we have it forced upon us by the media. The current paradigm of the state of the world is thrust upon us as not only negative, but in dire straits.

This weekend gone by, I had the privilege of being a mentoring at the ‘Girls In Tech’ Startup Bootcamp, held at Facebook Singapore office. It’s event’s like this that give me a very different paradigm of the world that we live. Not only am I confident that we can save the world problems, but I’m positive of a world of abundance for all humans.

Why? Being a mentor to a group of around seventy female entrepreneurs, mostly in their teens & twenties, I got to witness innovation & an intention to change the world on a massive scale. Not only do these young women have the ideas to change the world to be a better place, but they have a level of thinking that is far more leveraged than my generation.

A lot of judgement gets thrown around towards millenials & Generation Z that they are lazy, spoilt & demanding. It might be the case in many circumstances. But in the context of entrepreneurship, it’s these very qualities that have these young future leaders to be thinking on a very leveraged scale. I was bought up in an era of business where you put one foot behind the next & slowly build a sustainable business with solid foundations. This new era of entrepreneurship is about moonshot thinking, where there are no limits, no boundaries. Building a safe sustainable business is of no interest. Taking huge risks & making the hugest impact possible is.

Of course there is some naivety in these qualities. And this world they live in where they are focused on funding above revenue, they need people like me to help them build the actual business. But I’m inspired! Inspired by their thinking. Inspired by their visions to want to change the world as THE priority. And I think it’s up to leaders from my generation to give these visionaries the tools & support to make these innovations a reality.

I believe in a world where moonshot thinking is the normal. I believe in a world of positivity & optimism is the norm. And I’m excited to see these young people’s dreams come to reality to build a better planet!

Have an inspired day! Monty….. 🙂

Why Businesses Don’t Grow – And What To Do About It!

I have a long history as an entrepreneur, I had my first business when I was just eight years old. And I hate to admit it, I’ve got a terribly long history in not succeeding in growing businesses. It was only after I lost my business in 2009 following the “Global Financial Crisis” that I started to “get it”.

From that time, I have become obsessed with understanding the patterns of what makes businesses “tick”. I can 100%, definitively say, there are patterns in how businesses operate, & how entrepreneurs behave that will cause success & failure. I know this not just from my own experience (I have 3 companies, I’m an advisor & on the board for 3 more, & I run the Singapore branch of an international company), but from having worked with 600 companies at Ezy VA (the outsourcing company), I’ve seen the major differences between those who scale easily, & those who don’t.

Here’s the top things I see that determine your success or failure in scaling a business:

1. Fundamentals First, Then Tactics – We live in a world where we are bombarded every day with someone telling us their take on how to grow a business. Usually they are marketing tactics on why you should use Linkedin & not Facebook, or why you should use Facebook & not Linkedin. These are all somebody’s unique take on what worked for them. Not to discredit all of these tactics, some of them work of course. But the point is, this is all noise. And it’s so easy to get distracted by that & not focus on the fundamentals of growing your business. Being able to “Pitch” properly, being able to have sales conversations, these are business fundamentals that entrepreneurs have become lazy in, because they are looking for tactics to automate.

Fundamentals first, then tactics!

2. Accountability – The other thing that having so many tactics & noise has caused, is a complete lack of accountability. Scaling your business requires building a team, building a team requires leadership, & leadership requires you to be 100% accountable for your results rather than blaming those you have around you & the tactics you’ve engaged. Become good at the fundamentals first, & if you fail at that, you have nobody to blame but yourself. That’s a good thing. If you don’t think it’s a good thing, don’t be in business!

3. Build A Heart – Because of the emergence of outsourcing & freelancers that we can so easily access, entrepreneurs are of course able access resources much easier. But there is a downside to engaging with freelancers. Freelancers work for themselves, not for you. And it’s next to impossible to build a team of freelancers.

I’ve seen this time & time again. The tipping point is around 7-8 scattered remote staff or freelancers where it all becomes shaky. None of these people work for you, they have their interest first. If you want a scalable business, you need a central team, or the “heart” as we call it. What we commonly see work, is having a balanced team where 50-70% of the total staff are local, I.E working from head office, & 30-50% working from a central office offshore in Philippines. Having everybody housed together means you can embed your cultures, values & training to this offshore team. If you want to grow your business beyond 10 staff, centralising our teams gives you foundations for scalability. Of course you can still work with freelancers for ad-hoc projects where special skills are required, just don’t try to build your team with that.

4. Not Supporting The Key Players – As your business starts to scale, it usually means you’re doing bigger volume. More clients, more transactions, more staff, more systems. The inevitability is that the amount of menial tasks, administration, emails etc will also grow. One of the major blockages for businesses not growing, & the cause for talent leaving you, is not supporting the key players to have the menial tasks & admin supported in their roles. I believe that everybody in the business should be on a trajectory to working on more high value activities, and a constant emission of low value activities.

Let me give you a real life example. Business X is getting growth & a lot of enquiries. They are still a small team of 8 people which includes 3 Business Development Managers. The “easiest” approach to scaling would be to simply duplicate the BDM roles. But that’s not the smart play, in fact it’s the lazy play that will end up causing low productivity, high cost & high level of attrition.

Lets say the base salary of the BDM is $70,000 AUD per year. With some proper “unpacking” & systemising, you might find that 30% of the role of BDM could be done by an “assistant”. These tasks could be email handling, preparing reports, data entry to CRM, meeting notes etc.

So what now if the BDM got that time back to do 30% more high value activities such as lead generation, phone calls, meetings, presentations, onboarding etc. So with some proper organising, the 3 BDM’s for Business X could put in an assistant offshore for $25,000 all in (no overheads, no office, no superannuation, no HR to manage etc). Whats the net effect of this then?

* Spend $25,000 instead of $70k ++ (probably $100k in total). That extra margin can be used to drive growth, innovation & profit.
* The BDM’s actually become more productive because they don’t have to bounce back & forth to menial low value tasks. They enjoy their job more which has a positive effective on culture.
* You have a system for scalability to build out teams & duplicate more easily in new regions.

So, there’s my top 4 things to think about to help you have a more scalable enterprise. If you are interested to know just how scalable your business is, do this quick 5 minute scorecard test at www.outsourcetoscale.com. It will give you clarity on just how scalable you are & what might be missing, or what you can do to accelerate your growth.

Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions or comments. Have an awesome day wherever you are!

Definitive Do’s & Don’ts For Scaling Your Business

Some Definitive Does & Don’ts About Scaling – What We’ve Learned Working With 600 Businesses

So over the past 4-5 years, we’ve worked with over 600 entrepreneurs & businesses, & we’ve had some clients who started with nothing & built a team of 15 offshore staff with us in Philippines, & we’ve had plenty who tried to put in a part-time staff & failed miserably to make it work. So what were differences in these businesses?

1. Defined roles – Those who fail to work with their offshore virtual staff are not clear on the tasks. They know they need help, but don’t have clarity on what tasks to give & how to delegate them, so they hire based on ambiguity rather than plugging staff into a set of defined tasks. The businesses who do well, are those with procedures manuals, training, & clear defined roles.

2. Communication – Those “Solo-Preneurs” who never seem to move beyond themselves have a lack of accountability in their communication. When something goes wrong, they tend to look at the other person & blame. Whilst of course people make mistakes, based on the thousands of incidents we’ve assisted with, 80% of the time it’s poor communication from the “boss” that makes it fall apart. Poor communication can be dealt with, if that party is willing to look at themselves & do better, but when the entrepreneur just points the finger & blames, & is not even willing to look at their part, this will be a massive roadblock to growth.

3. Focus – Businesses that tend to have a narrow focus on both their product/services, as well as their tactics, not changing what they are doing every 5 minutes – tend to scale a lot more easily. As business owners, we are bombarded with so much “noise”. Every second person seems to have the miracle cure for how to grow your business using some new marketing ploy. Those businesses who don’t listen to the noise & focus on what you need to do at the right time of the journey, generally win.

4. Systems & Processes – Businesses of 10+ staff for the most part have better systems & processes in place, procedures manuals etc – This is key to scaling. Was it the systems that got them there, or was it that once you reach a certain size, you need the systems? The latter is definitely true, but those who have systems & procedures at an earlier stage, definitely have an easier time of scaling their team.

There’s obviously a lot more, but these four above are fundamental & if you are in early stages of business, this already hopefully should get you thinking. If you are a small business or entrepreneur looking to scale, we’ve created a cool diagnostic tool which will help you understand just how prepared you are for scaling, & uncover the areas you need to work on. It’s free to do the test, definitely worth your time doing this.

www.outsourcetoscale.com

Automation vs The Human Touch – How Outsourcing Can Bridge The Gap

There is no question, the nature of how we do business has evolved exponentially in the past decade. How we do our marketing, how we interact with our customers, how we manage our processes, & how we build all the infrastructure to run this way – has all changed with the evolution of the internet.

But at the core, businesses are grown through the interactions of business people with human customers or clients. Several years ago, that could be argued, where so many were seeking to automate EVERYTHING & do away with the human element. But in 2017 it’s a different playing field, people buy from people & expect &“exceptional delivery”. (Look for the book ‘Oversubscribed’ by Daniel Priestly on this topic).

In my company Ezy VA, we’ve seen a shift recently towards more & more companies looking to humanise their automation. Putting in “Customer Service Representatives”, “Client Account Managers”& the likes, to bridge that gap between automation & “exceptional delivery”. There are some commonalities that I usually see with these businesses who typically adopt this methodology:

  • Innovation is one of their core values.
  • It’s obvious from the outside they are leaders in their industry.
  • They get noticed. A lot! They win awards, get media attention & they have raving fans who share their wins on social media.

I’m not at all suggesting it’s a given that if you put in a “Client Account Manager” (or whatever role fits in your business model) that you’ll get this attention, you still have to do a good job of it! I’m just saying that it’s these types of innovative leaders that are the first to embrace this level of quality in their business, coupled with everything else they do, they are the ones usually winning business.

So where does outsourcing come in? Here’s a few pointers to make sure that if you’re considering this, you have the best chance of success:

  • Outsourcing is no longer about just saving money from getting cheap staff. The Philippines especially has a huge talent pool which you might even find people on par or better than locally. Getting them cheaper is just a bonus.
  • You get what you pay for. Don’t try and get VA’s (Virtual Assistants) for a few dollars an hour. You’ll end up with wasting your time. (Trust me, I spent 2 years of my life doing this).
  • Bring your staff on as team members, don’t treat them like external freelancers. This is one of the biggest mistakes we see. Bring your new team members into the culture of your company, include them in everything, treat them as if they are in your office with you. You’d be amazed at what they will do for you over time if you treat them well & include them!
  • Work with a partner company who has the infrastructure offshore to manage the staff. You don’t want a staff representing your business who works from home, is attending to their baby at the same time they are working for you, have unreliable internet & you can hear chickens in the background. Partner up with a company that houses the staff in professional offices with multiple internet lines, backup power etc. You’ll pay extra, but not only will you get the professionalism, you’ll get more than the extra you spend in productivity.
  • Especially in a role that requires phone work, you’ll want that partner to support you with the technology to ensure you have quality communication with your clients.

That’s just a few pointers of many. Of course, your business will have its own unique needs & challenges, and depending on where you are at in your business cycle or level of growth, putting in staff to execute “exceptional delivery” will require a different strategy. For some further insights, please download the ‘Essential Guide to Offshore Outsourcing’ at www.ezyva.com.

Are You Holding Up Your Own Business Growth?

meme-v2-032416I’m going to cut straight to the chase & be brutally honest – Some “leaders” should not be leading a team!

At Ezy VA, we work with over 200 active businesses at any one time. The cool thing is, we are providing staff to work in the processes of these companies, which gives us a something of an unfair advantage in business. Because we are on the inside of their business, we get to see what works & what doesn’t in terms of the best business practices & strategies. Also, we work very closely with many of our clients on a strategic level.

Interestingly, this insight of seeing business owners who try to lead a team and fail, has come up a lot lately, both with clients & internally within my organisation.

For my role in my company, I’m at the top of the tree and really only work with managers. The managers then have their varied roles and team to lead in some capacity. My focus is leading managers, not staff. It’s my job to support the managers in leading their staff. I have my ear to the ground with many entrepreneurs, & I see a common downfall for so so many “entrepreneurs” – Trying to lead people they shouldn’t be.

The thing is, we are all gifted in different things. Real leaders know what they are not good at, & focus on where they add the most value. If you are brilliant web developer, then you probably shouldn’t be focused on being the CEO. As CEO you need to lead multiple teams across different parts of the business. if your brilliance is as a technician, then you should be focused only being the CTO, not CEO. I’ve seen some crazy examples recently of entrepreneurs trying so hard to be the “CEO”, because they want the world to see them as the “Boss”. The ego kicks in with its need to be seen, & its often at the detriment of the business.

Most people have no idea who “Paul Allen” is. Do you? He’s the guy behind the scenes at Microsoft. Everyone knows Bill Gates, but very few know Paul Allen. Well he’s worth a cool $17 billion! Like Paul, maybe your pathway to wealth doesn’t need to be as CEO.

There is so much bullshit these days about entrepreneurship….. Fuck, anybody can be an entrepreneur these days. A monkey could make $50k online and call themselves an “entrepreneur. But being the leader of a business is a different game, & it requires some brutal honesty to yourself about whether you are the best person to be leading a team.

I will tell you right now, I am not the best person to be CEO of my own company. My next move is to step down as the CEO & let someone better take over. Can I do it, yes… Am I the best person for the job, no…. That doesn’t make me any less of a leader. I’m still the guy at the top pulling the strings, and my success as a leader is hiring better leaders than I am! That’s what will make me a great leader!

I am not saying this you. But, if you are struggling to grow your business & build a consistent team around you, take a look & be brutally honest – Is it you getting in the way of the growth of your own business?

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How Reliant Are You On Tools, Software & Systems?

Let me ask you a question – If the internet were to collapse today, 99% of us would be pretty much [email protected]#&ed right? What would you do? I’d get me a rotary phone and start calling people. Why, because I know my success is due to me, not the tools I have at my disposal. Seriously, what would you do?

Read on……

I noticed something interesting whilst riding Uber taxi’s here in Manila which seems to be something of a cultural thing, but it also prompted me to think about this on a deeper level for all of us. So what I’ve noticed is that the drivers here are so dependent on Google Maps or Waze (popular navigation app in Asia) that they completely disregard & forget the they know the way.

The issue with that in Manila is that then mobile network isn’t reliable so the map keeps dropping out & I end up having to tell them the way. But here’s the thing, I’m not local there & I can pretty well guarantee they have driven that road 100 times before & certainly more times than I have. The route I normally need a ride on is easy too, its like 1 major street & that’s it. But it’s like all common sense & trusting their own memory has one out the window, because they focus only on the app.

In your experience, what makes a good driver? A driver who knows where they are going is what makes it easy for me. So fi 9/10 drivers I have to tell where to go, means there’s not too many 5 star ratings being given. So this begs the question. How reliant are we on the tools of 2016, & how does this affect our ability to trust ourselves? One thing I see a lot of as a business mentor, is sooooo many “entrepreneurs” hitting a ceiling in their business & not being able to move beyond that. And the income level on that is probably around $50,000 a year. Anybody can get in to business & make $50k a year! A monkey could do that in 2016.

But what separates those entrepreneurs who really push above that to those who struggle? Honestly, I believe it to be these three things:

  1. Hard work – Oh I know, I hear you saying, but Monty you are the guy who teaches people how to get themselves out of their business. Yes but you need to ear your stripes first. So many people get sold these days on being able to “easily” make money whilst living the “laptop lifestyle”. BULLSHIT – Name me one person who makes more than $100k a year who didn’t hustle their arse off to get to that point.
  2. They understand & believe in their uniqueness, & that there is a market for that. Nobody has what you have. But if you don’t believe, you’ll never give people the opportunity to pay you for it (sell it).
  3. They understand that success is 90% you (hard work, belief, discipline, leadership), and only 10% is tools. Tools are the icing on the cake. They make the process easier, they don’t make the process.

Let me leave you with a question – If the internet were to collapse today, 99% of us would be pretty much [email protected]#&ed right? What would you do? I’d get me a rotary phone & start calling people. Why, because I know my success is due to me, not the tools I have at my disposal. Seriously, what would you do?

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The True Test Of Leadership

I have homes in 3 different countries & travel on average every week. And whilst that might sound cool & glamorous to some, the truth is, it gets pretty lonely. One of the things I’ve realised over time, is the level of integrity, leadership & discipline I have over myself, is 100% what determines my success in business. Overcoming obstacles & excuses, when there is nobody else to be out of integrity with other than myself, is actually a real test.

It is far easier to go & do a workout in a gym with a buddy, than it is to go on your own. What about if you didn’t even have a gym. Would you still work out? How many excuses & reasons do you need to not have the discipline to work out. In my experience, for most people, it’s not many.

There is so much talk these days about inspiring other people & the world, monetize your passion, become a leader etc. But the true test of what makes the man/woman, is how you lead yourself in the absence of others.

Something to think about??

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What Every Entrepreneur Can learn From David Bowie

db-7I have to admit, I wasn’t the biggest fan of his music, I liked his work, but wasn’t a lover. What I did love about David Bowie was his courage to be nothing but himself. The man stood for something. Loved by so many. Hated by so many. But in the end, respected by all!

As humans, especially in this digital age of KimKardashian, Facebook & Instagram stars, where it’s all about being “liked”, it’s too easy to get caught up in the paradigm of needing to be liked by everybody. As entrepreneurs, we too get caught up in this fake reality of thinking that business will come from having “followers”. Having numbers of followers means nothing. I’d rather have one raving fan and 99 people who hate me than 100 people who just “like” me.

I am not for a second comparing myself to David Bowie (I could never have hair that cool), but I learned many years back to just have the courage to speak my truth, regardless of what people might think of it. I often offend people with my views, I have even been sent hate mail. But every hater, there is somebody talking about & sharing what I do. That’s what I want….

Nobody ever got remembered for being “liked”. People get remembered for being bold, for taking risks, for putting their balls & their reputation on the line. If you want just “get through” life, that’s fine, keeping being nice. But if you have even the smallest part of you that feels like you have a bigger calling, then “Bowie Up”, be different, give yourself permission to be yourself, and most importantly, have the courage to be criticised & ridiculed. You are never going to have everybody like you anyway, so you may as well give that shit up!

My favourite quote from him is –

“When I’m stuck for a closing to a lyric, I will drag out my last resort: overwhelming illogic.”

Stamping your own path will require from time to time that you do things that are completely illogical. To do something that nobody has ever done before, in itself bears no logic. It certainly breaks the bounds of staying inside the paradigm of being liked by everybody. So stop wondering if what you are doing is right. You are unique & the world needs your entrepreneurial uniqueness. So do the world, & yourself a favour – “Bowie Up”!

R.I.P ~ David Bowie ~ You will be missed.

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