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Are Virtual Assistants a Must?

Are Virtual Assistants a Must?

When looking to scale your online business, virtual assistants are absolutely a must. Anyone not leveraging the ability of using virtual assistants with the technology we have nowadays with Skype, WhatsApp and email being so easy to communicate is crazy. Employing some offshore employees is seen by some as being cheap labour, and people may use the phrase ‘pay peanuts and you’ll get monkeys’. However, your VA is only as good as the training provided to them.

What is a Virtual Assistant?

A virtual assistant is also known as a VA. It is basically an assistant worker but unlike a PA (personal assistant) who would generally be based in the same office as you, these could be based anywhere in the world. Modern technology makes it just as easy to Skype your VA thousands of miles away as it is to make a phone call to a member of staff in your head office nearby.

Where to Employ Virtual Assistants?

The location of your virtual assistants is important in my opinion. I am not going to discredit any countries but some are better than others for particular tasks. The most common countries I come across when VAs are employed is Phillippines, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Thailand.

So why do I feel a certain country is better for certain tasks needed? The short answer is language barriers you might have between your offshore employee and your in-house team. I generally find the Philippines personally to be the best for content creation of supporting blog articles over many others and that is generally because all speak English very well. India tends to offer the best for web development because internet code and advanced technology is taught to kids at a young age. However this is only based on personal experience and from utilising many offshore employees this is what suited our company best.

Why Hire a VA?

If you are debating why to hire a VA then read my blog here about delegation being key to success. You need to free your time and in my opinion any task which is repeated more than once should then be outsourced. The reasons behind hiring a VA are endless. It gives assistance on workload without the need to supply office space and ability to hire them on a ‘pay per job’ basis. This strategy helps you forecast the money you will be investing more easily making your business more scalable to build your empire online.

How Do I Hire a VA?

If you are looking to hire a virtual assistant, here are some websites to help you:

  • Onlinejobs.ph
  • Upwork
  • People Per Hour
  • Elance

There are many other ways to find your perfect offshore employee. For example purchasing gigs from websites like Fiverr and Sourcemarket. If you find the purchased gig to be of a high quality then you might outreach to the supplier of this to see whether he is interested in working for you full time or reach out to see whether they would like extra work.

Do Virtual Assistants Offer Scalability?

The main advantage to using VAs is the time it frees for your in-house staff to scale out, develop and improve strategies. I personally could not have grown my online ventures without the use of virtual assistants. If you know anything about me then you will know I don’t solely employ virtual assistants because having the right systems in place is a must. Therefore I employ over a dozen full time UK based staff in our head office in Cheshire. These in-house staff are what I would like to call middle managers where they all get assigned several VAs each to outsource any repetitive work.

Setting the Right Systems is Key

Anyone who hires virtual assistants successfully will tell you it is all about the systems and training you have in place. If you have a VA which makes a mistake then the first place you should look is at your training, your step by step guides and systems in place. Could that have been improved so your VA did not make that mistake? If so develop and improve this so it doesn’t happen again.

When you first start looking into using VAs, I am not going to lie, the time, effort and patience you need is daunting. The work needed in setting this up is by no means easy and having the time and resources to properly create step by step tutorials and videos is in my opinion the difference between success and failure. The real reason you hear some VAs not working out is because the systems you have implemented are not good enough. Do not leave any stone unturned and cover every possible outcome so that mistakes are limited.

What are your Options?

Someone in the digital space who is crushing it at the moment is a chap called Ryan Stewart from Webris based out in Miami. Here is a great video which fits in perfectly with this article – Outsourcing: Pros, Cons and How to Offshore RIGHT:

3 minutes into the video above it discusses the 4 different employment types you can consider when scaling out your company. There are:

  • Employee in house – Can be costly to employ full time staff but the benefits of having someone in the same office do have many perks.
  • Freelancer – You generally find the decent freelancers are always busy, can be costly and are generally a one person set up who is limited to the time in the day to complete the tasks.
  • Outsource – You are on their terms and outsourcing to a company could be costly with you reliant on them to complete the tasks.
  • Hire a VA – If you hire well you should be able to bypass the language barrier and then you have a full time, quality employee whose daily duties you can manage. This allows you to prioritise your workload and not be reliant on others as much to scale.

When Should You Delegate to a VA?

If you find yourself doing anything in your daily duties more than once then can this be outsourced to your VA? Any repetitive piece of work you carry out should be considered to be delegated onto virtual assistants. Free up your time to be thinking and not doing. I cannot stress to you enough the importance of creating spare time for you to forward think and plan ahead.

Understand your staff’s workflow and see how this can be improved. Make sure your managers are spending time managing the team and are not bogged down on the day to day tasks. These tasks can be outsourced to your VA at a fraction of the wage you are paying your in-house team. Consideration needs to be made on the importance of the work which you outsource. If you are building a brand then your team need to be the personality behind this so I wouldn’t delegate this section of your workload. However, any data inputting or repetitive tasks that can free up time should be put into tutorials and delegated to VAs.

When looking to use a VA, it should be for executing the physical workload. Having them as the ‘do-er’ creates time for your staff and yourself to be the thinkers. Your middle managers need to be planning and setting the strategy for your VAs to then complete and execute.

Process Everything with SOPs

Almost everything you do can be created into a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP). You might like to think you are so important and advanced that you cannot simply create these tasks into step by step guides. Trust me if you break down your work into SOPs almost all of it can be created into well written Standard Operating Procedures.

Clearly defining your SOPs with actionable videos, screenshots of each task and well written process documents is where your VA can pretty much just be qualified at data entry level. If you set out the SOPs clearly then they will simply be following guides and not need to understand why, how and what they are physically doing. The process takes care of itself and your VAs can simply rinse and repeat this for you time and time again.

Create checklists for your virtual assistants so this allows you to track where they are up to on the works delegated. These checklists and documents with all the log ins clearly identified is what will prevent them from having to ask any questions and therefore allow the rinse / repeat process to be done in super-fast time.

Virtual Assistants Feedback

The feedback from my virtual assistants is generally positive. The reason for this is the systems set in place for them. Any member of staff unsure to their job role is out of their comfort zone and productivity is slowed down. Having the communication and training in place is crucial.

I strongly recommend both step by step guides on articles for your VA to read and also a video tutorial as well to physically show them the guide on how you want this done. Once you have these saved on your documents then it is easy to edit should anything need improving or altering.

Get the feedback from them on whether the tutorials could be clearer and listen to what they have to say. Improve, develop and optimise your systems because every day you strive to develop this will help you grow your online presence further down the line. Make sure you remain positive regarding any problems you encounter because this gives you room to improve. Do not moan at your problems but take action and develop so it does not happen again.

Some VAs are Now my Best Mates

I personally have now become good friends with a lot of VAs throughout the world. I love the fact these people are grafting for me to help build the business. Therefore I would recommend once you find a decent virtual assistant to keep them by rewarding them. A pay rise or a birthday bonus goes a long way to keeping them happy.

There is nothing worse than chopping and changing your employees. The staff retention we have has been unreal and I think this is mainly to do with the respect and rewards we show to our virtual assistants. These are hardworking staff taking massive action for your business. So, like you would an employee based in your office, reward them when it is needed.

VAs Help You to Synergise

The assistance of VAs gives you more time to forward think and more time to do the most important element of any business growth – SYNERGISING. Every minute you spend networking is gold in my opinion because you bounce ideas with entrepreneurs to optimise and develop further. The synergy and networking gives you ideas to build more joint ventures. The more joint ventures you do with like-minded people the more you learn because we all have different strategies to market and there are so many ways to get the best results.

Be prepared to hustle and don’t become lazy thinking it is easy just hiring virtual assistants now because developing and improving your systems is the key. I love the wording SYNERGY and any mate will be laughing now reading this because I repeat it so many times in all my blogs but it is not just a work reason why I adore it. I truly believe in the ‘rising tide lifts all ships’ mentality so the more friends and pals I can help out the better. A happy millionaire is way better than a lonely billionaire in my opinion and life is all about the journey – certainly not the bank balance.

Are You Doing Enough Joint Ventures?

Ask yourself: are you doing enough joint ventures with mates in the same niche? If not then don’t make excuses and get them started. It could take years to become successful but making money with friends is so rewarding and satisfying. I am always up for JVs and run my no risk supply of enquiries for this reason because I want to see folk around me crushing it.

Hit me up with a message if there is anything here I have missed that you feel should be added, or if you have a project you think be good for us both to get our teeth into. I have staff and resources to scale niches out if I feel it will be fun and worth our time in doing so. Take care and thanks for reading the article as I’m just on the plane ride home from Las Vegas which was one of the best weeks of my life. Peace and love you all x x

Delegation is the Key – Working on (Not in) the Business

Delegation is the Key – Working on (Not in) the Business

Recently I have become manager to a local football team. I find myself using the delegation techniques in getting players to assist my workload and because of this get branded lazy or saying I am a chief delegator. But actually this is where success comes from and getting everyone to muck in and help out. This is actually good management skills because if you read my road to failure article on laziness then it will show that success is when the managers can spend time physically working on strengthening the football team or business and not working within it (i.e. personally writing the blogs, building the links, cleaning the offices in workload should be delegated as should in football collecting the kits, filling up water bottles etc).

Your value as a leader isn’t knowing how to do everything, it’s knowing who can do what and getting them to do it!

In the military the best leaders and commanders are the individuals who have the knowledge and ability to delegate. Here is an amazing article on 5 Reasons You Need To Delegate Your Way To Success which runs through why delegation is very important. It’s impossible to know everything your employees know. This doesn’t make you a less professionally competent person, it makes you normal. Richard Branson does not know how to drive one of his trains or aeroplanes but he runs a successful business in Virgin in these industries.

Delegation Key Points

Delegation and setting systems in place is the Key to Sustaining Success.  When you are growing a business, there are always more things that need to get done than there is time to do them. You really need to step back working on the day to day tasks like pricing, sales, project management and set strategies in so your team can run this efficiently. To keep your business growing, you have to find ways to get more done without working yourself inside of the company.

If you are delegating out some tasks right now doesn’t mean you are good at delegation. You’ve probably delegated the simple, repetitive, low risk tasks. To really make delegation work, you have to be able to delegate some of the truly important work that you do. What’s so hard about delegation? Why does it seem especially difficult for entrepreneurs? To be an effective delegator, you need to understand the roadblocks in your way. Until you realise the problems and issues that can arise you will always struggle to live the laptop lifestyle travelling the world.

Delegation is a risk. What if your staff make important decisions and they made the wrong one? How much might it cost? Whatever the short term cost of that bad decision might be, I promise you that it will cost you much more in the long run if you do not delegate important work. If you insist on having the final say over every important decision, you will never develop an effective management team and never realise the full potential of your business. If you delegate effectively and set systems in this then making the wrong decisions should not happen – if it does then blame your strategy and in your training methods include the pitfalls so it does not happen again.

If you think it’s easier and quicker for you to do it rather than taking the time to train someone else to do it. Yeah, that’s right, you can do it in 15 minutes but it will take two hours to train someone else to do it. That works for a one-time task, but for repetitive tasks, you’re just kidding yourself if you think this is an effective use of your time. If this is the way you work, you’re trapped on a treadmill going nowhere. For the sake of your company (and your sanity), at some point, you’re going to need to let go. Here’s how smart owners delegate work effectively. Here are key points to effective delegation:-

1. Set Goals – Make a list of all the tasks you now do each week. Pick out the one task that makes the biggest contribution to moving your company toward its goals. Give this task the number one. Then pick out the second most important task and assign it number two. Continue through the list numbering all the tasks. Now split the list in half by ranking. The bottom half of your list becomes your Delegation List of tasks you will begin to offload. Set times against these goals and create the indepth training for your staff to delegate this to.

2. Select Strengths of Your Staff – You need to position your work infront of the right staff. Passing accounts work to your most creative member of staff will not get you the best results. Selecting the right personnel for the work you are delegating is crucial. They need to really enjoy be able to understand the work you are passing them and play to their strengths. Review each of the people in your organisation in your mind and decide who is ready to take on more responsibility. Determine what skills each of them has and how those skills match up with your Delegation List. While employees need to be skilled and knowledgeable, they also need to be enthused about their work. Enthusiastic employees accomplish more, perform better and are more creative. Good managers can inspire their people by communicating how they will be integral parts of your business plan for the coming year.

3. Communicating Your Message – This is my opinion is so important and if anything goes wrong on workload I always blame myself for not explaining or communicating this well enough. Be certain that you clearly detail the outcomes you expect. Be less clear about how those outcomes should be achieved. This way your people will be able to work towards the same objective you are aiming for while using their creativity to perhaps find a better way to achieve that goal. Ask the employee to write up the notes and to carefully define the issues listed above. Ask them to prepare a proposal detailing how they will perform the tasks and achieve the stated goals. Before concluding the meeting, set a time for a followup meeting. At the second meeting, discuss the employee’s ideas, make any revisions required and finalise the plan. Be certain that a timeline is associated with each step of the plan.

4. Develop and Improve – If you think your standard operating procedures (aka SOP’s) are going to be spot on first time you are deluded. Regularly checking the training with the people you are delegating to is key to success. Asking them can they think of ways to improve this which might save time, money or be better systems to get to the end goal faster. Keep communication and looking to develop your training strategy. Technology evolves so fast so what might be best practice this month could be outdated the following and listening to your team and improving the SOP’s is vital. It’s important to be aware of, and use, your surrounding talent. It’s good for employees, too, because blocking the skills and ideas of employees can lead to the loss of the best talent. When employees see a manager is listening, they feel empowered and vested in the manager’s decisions. Managers must be willing to learn and that means listening closely. And managers can communicate that willingness to hear by responding to employee statements with productive questions.

5. Keep the Faith – Naturally mistakes will happen and things will get missed. Keep the faith that the delegation will work and when work does go wrong (which it will in the infancy) then plan to do #3 and #4. Basically improve your training and include what issues could come up then communicate these improvements to the staff you are delegating to. Let your staff know that you realise there can be no progress without risk taking. Let the staff or virtual assistants know you are available to help and that you will do everything you can to make them successful. And don’t forget that regular followup and communications will avoid unpleasant surprises for you and your employees.

6. Don’t Chase Perfection – Sometimes 90% is more than good enough. Your objective is to get the job done, not create a masterpiece. Establish a standard of quality and a fair time frame for reaching it. Once you establish the expectations, let your staff decide how to carry out the project. Everything can be improved and developed but don’t waste too long on the small things. Perfection is the enemy of progress.

7. Indepth Standard Operating Procedures – Make sure your employee has all the information needed to complete the job. Confirm that they understand and accept the requirements. Step by step articles and also if possible videos to go with the wording is best practices.

8. Say Well Done – Motivating the staff and making sure they are rewarded with a well done goes a long way. Make sure employees know that their efforts are recognised and appreciated.

Create More Time To Synergise

When you spend less time working in the business on day to day routines this free’s up time you should spend synergising. Read this article on the importance of creating a synergy and networking with like minded business owners. From speaking to close friend and team mate at football he has recently taken on someone at his work as he was a sole trader and could not believe the impact it had. He said now being two onsite literally gets 4 times the amount of work completed. So if these figures of 1+1=4 does not tell you synergy is soooo important then I am not sure what will.

The video above which reviews the 4 hour work week book shows you what is needed in reducing your hours of physical work. Outsourcing work and delegating to staff is so important if you are serious about scaling your company out. Using the 80/20 rules helps you a lot where you get rid of the worst 20% of your clients so that you are never running at 100% capacity as this does not allow any room for growth.

Invest in Your Staff

When looking to delegate work and scale your business then I cannot stress to you enough the importance to invest time in your staff. Setting up SOPs for your employees is very important to set procedures for repetitive work in accordance with agreed specifications aimed at obtaining desired outcomes. Having a standard operating procedure is great but I always find spending the time to explain what and why they are doing this work helps them to understand the importance. This allows them to look out for any potential shortfalls or errors and highlight these as they go along. You want the staff to grow their knowledge and development with the business so these members of staff can become middle managers and train new starters also.

Why Delegating is a Must for Myself

If you have read my other articles on this website you will realise I love to travel and here is a Digital Nomad Life Lessons blog on why I enjoy travelling so much. Freeing up my time to forward think allows me to create better more efficient strategies put into place to scale out work. Becoming a digital nomad shows how easy it is to work anywhere in the world with wifi and internet connections evolving so much.

Those first several years trading before making it into a functioning business, you wear many hats, usually because you can’t afford to hire anyone else to take the trash out, keep the books and talk to the web designer. But the truth is, your job should be running the business. When you realise that and start delegating, your business will grow. It is important to realise that people will do things differently than you might have but that doesn’t make their way wrong. You need your staff you give the SOPs to be brave enough to tackle you or ask questions if they feel anything can be improved or developed better. Infact, a new viewpoint could expand your company’s reach and allow it to grow in ways you never would have considered.

Plan for Working on (Not in) the Business

When you are looking to grow the company you run then to progress and strengthen the business might mean you have to take a step back personally to move two steps forward. You need to find systems to remove yourself personally from the day to day routines. Lots of business owners wish they could be less involved in the day-to-day operations of their businesses. When you have 10 or even 20 employees, you can be intimately involved in all aspects of the business from sales to finance to operations to purchasing. But if you want the company to grow and perhaps get to that elusive “next level” everyone’s always talking about, you have to build an organization that can get the job done without you managing every detail. Here is an amazing video showing the review of the book E Myth Revisited which is one of my personal favourite books.

If you read this article then you will see he had less stress and aggravation with 105 employees than when he had 10. It allowed him to work on marketing, new business opportunities, networking or travelling the world. The article highlights the issues that must be hurdled to make the transition from doer to manager to executive. Naturally, surmounting these hurdles is easier said than done and can take years to accomplish. This list does not have all of the answers but should at least provide you with the right questions to ask yourself.

1. You. You really have to want to get out from under the day-to-day. It requires getting out of your comfort zone, learning new things, and unlearning old habits. It all has to start with prioritising your workload and offsetting repetitive workloads.

2. Hiring.
If you don’t learn how to hire the right people, you will continue to chase your tail. (This does not come from a fortune cookie; if anything, it comes from a no-fortune cookie.)

3. Standards. A company’s reputation and its customers’ satisfaction will be determined by what a company expects of itself. Setting standards should not be done casually by  whoever happens to be in the driver’s seat. The standards should be well thought out and aggressively communicated, and they should be lived. Whether it is response time or product quality or how clean you keep the bathroom, there are numerous things that define a company.

4. Training. People are not going to figure out everything on their own. And if they do, it will be after messing up orders, customers and your reputation. How many different kinds of customer problems can there be? How many solutions are there? Challenge your staff to develop and overcome problems that is natural to come up in daily life circumstances. To be followed and respected you need to be understood, so make clear communications your goal. Express what you want from your employees in easily understood statements that can be translated into workplace expectations.

5. Systems, Procedures, Planning and Tools. There are ways to avoid mistakes, to keep track of things and to be more effective and efficient. Every time something goes wrong you should ask yourself, is there something we could have done to avoid this?

6. The Wrong People. Your employees have varied talents and needs. Taking a genuine interest in their lives will foster their loyalty and pay rich dividends. Sometimes it is bad hiring, sometimes it is just a bad fit. I used to put out fires all of the time. I finally figured out that it was better to get rid of the arsonists. That doesn’t mean these employees don’t mean well.  It may mean, assuming they have been properly trained and managed, that they can’t do well. This step requires will — as in you will do something about it. Is there anyone working for you that you would be happy to see quit?

7. Delegation. This one seems pretty obvious, doesn’t it? But delegation only works when you have the right people. And the hardest part is accepting that some of the things that you delegate will not be done as well as you could have done them yourself. You can afford to fix occasional mistakes more easily than you can afford to do everything yourself.

8. Compensation. It is difficult to run a smooth operation if you are constantly losing good people. What is your turnover rate? Do you pay enough, respect enough and provide a pleasant work environment?

9. Feedback. Have you surrounded yourself with yes men and women? You do not want your staff sitting on the fence and agreeing with everything you say. Of course, you have to be able to handle the truth! Sometimes I am wrong, sometimes I am oblivious, sometimes I am delusional. The last thing I want is to stay that way. This is where fear of the boss can do the most damage. Don’t get me wrong, I am not naïve enough to think that no one is afraid of me because I am the boss. I do feel that the lonely-at-the-top thing is very, well, lonely. But there is no greater feeling than knowing that people are with you on a common cause, and you don’t have to read their minds. Get your staff being honest and have the brave nature to tackle you if they feel it is wrong or could be done better.

10. You, again. Maybe you really like being the sales rep, the production manager or the one doing the work. Maybe you are trying to be someone you are not. I have learned that there is such a thing as big enough. It can be liberating to people who are ambitious to recognize that they have limitations, and that they do not have what it takes to be the next Bill Gates — and that it is O.K. More than O.K.! I have also learned that many entrepreneurs want to hire someone to take care of the things they don’t want to do. I would be very careful about thinking that one person is going to come in and handle everything. Build the organization. Or not. Small can be beautiful.

11. Dont blame Staff – Blame Yourself. Do you find yourself getting mad at employees all of the time? That is a waste of energy and bad for the moral of the company, including the people you never get mad at. It guarantees that no one will want to make decisions. There are three possibilities: you haven’t trained people properly, or you have some people who should be working in a different job (for you or for someone else), or you still think that everyone should think like you. If everyone thought like you, they would own their own business. And then they could have the opportunity to be mad all of the time.

Growing the Business

When reading through articles about scaling out businesses then I loved this bit of content from this webpage – Just as you can over-parent you can do the same thing to your company. I had to come to the place where I know that the staff I have is capable and then let them go, because they are ready and can handle it … if you hold on too tightly, it doesn’t grow. This really goes hand in hand with the millionaire fast lane book where you have three financial paths being the sidewalk, the slow lane and the fast lane. If you really believe you are able to cope with the fast lane then outsourcing your work and delegation is really key to success. Watch this video and it will explain the three financial paths and see which one you are?

Some business owners spend so much time working on their weaknesses and trying to be everything but the problem is that company will only grow to the limits of the talents of that individual. You want it to grow to the talents of entire team. It takes a group to move an organisation forward. Once owners understand that, they are well on their way to success. True leaders understand they don’t have all the answer and they surround themselves with the right talent hence the reason why synergising is so crucial to business owners.

Being An Affective Leader

When you get bogged down in simple details that your employees could be working on, you are not being an effective leader. If you want to run a successful business you have to know how to play to your strengths. It’s pretty easy to micromanage everything. You may think that you can get things done better and more efficiently than anyone else. That might even be true, but all the time you are spending doing jobs that other people could be doing is time that you are not running your business. When you get bogged down in simple details that your employees could be working on, you are not being an effective leader.

As the leader of your business, you are responsible for spotting problems and delegating solutions. You are responsible for setting goals and thinking about the future. The only person in your company who will be genuinely motivated to grow your company is you. Every minute that you spend working on tasks that can be delegated is a minute that you are not planning, strategising and building the best business possible. Work on your business, not in your business is the real key to success and for this you need to develop delegating techniques. More information on this can be read here.

You are in charge of the big picture. When you see areas that need improvement, delegate the work out, so you can continue to be the troubleshooter and visionary that you need to be. It may take some practice if you’re used to getting really hands on in your business, but your employees will appreciate the trust and responsibility you give them, and you will quickly learn that you can do the job of leading your business that no one else can do!

Are you Too Involved?

We all get heavily involved in the day to day tasks where we strive to deliver our promises, satisfy customer deadlines but we need to look at the warning signs I have put together below that we are too involved in all day to day tasks:-

  1. You have to check everything once your staff have completed a task
  2. Your staff feel they have to run decisions through you
  3. You bring the most sales into your business
  4. Any bad debts land on your desk to chase
  5. Long term plans never get completed because of day-to-day works
  6. Working long hours but still not seeing the rewards financially
  7. No clear vision where your business is growing
  8. Before you know it the week or even worse the month has passed you by with no growth
  9. Reactive in the workplace instead of being Proactive

Here are all tell tale signs that you are too involved in day to day running of works. You need to manage this if you need the company to grow. If you are working as an effective leader then here below is workload you should be working on day to day:-

  • Looking on problem areas and how they can be improved
  • Setting more SOPs so staff understand the workload better
  • Training staff and spending time with them to develop and improve
  • Marketing why you have the edge on your computers and expressing this through targeted media channels
  • Strategy and monthly targets you need the business to grow into
  • Accepting or seeking help is not a sign of failure or weakness, it’s a sign of strength and leadership
  • Networking and Synergising with suppliers and even competitors

Then you are in charge of the big picture. When you see areas that need improvement, delegate the work out, so you can be the leader and visionary that you need to be. It may take some practice if you’re used to getting really hands on in your business, but your employees will appreciate the trust and responsibility you give them, and you will quickly learn that you can do the job of leading your business that no one else can do.

One Size Doesn’t Fit All

Rounding this up then it might sound easy to delegate work out. When actually this is one of the hardest things you will ever have to do. Delegating and building your team to help out and be motivated like yourself is hard. If you are reading this article you will be motivated yourself and dedicated to the cause so it is easy for you to grasp this but trying to get your employees to understand it is an art. A fine art then many might not be able to cope with because of many reasons. You might expect too much from your staff, find it too difficult to let go and prefer to get your hands dirty.

This is fine and growing into a big business is not for everyone. Having a multi million pound company does not necessarily make you happier because sometimes a small company that is manageable is great as little stress involved. We are all built differently and over the years I have learnt working 7 days a week and 18 hour shifts is not healthy. You need a fine balance in your life and this is where delegation for myself is certainly key to my own personal success. That success in my eyes is more time to spend on creating amazing memories with my family / friends and travelling the world which is why I became a digital nomad and live the laptop lifestyle working whilst travelling. That is keeping healthy with exercise and being able to have the freedom to enjoy the limited time we have on earth.

Let me know whether you feel I have missed anything on this article and hit me up on social media to discuss this further. I love discussing anything related to what I write about and always want to network so be good to hit me up!! Take care and speak soon.

Digital Nomad Life Lessons

Being the youngest of three sons I believe is the reason for being so loud and confident. But throughout my life like everyone I have learnt many life lessons. When you are younger you hear your parents tell you these things but take them with a pinch of salt. I have compiled a list of lessons I personally have learnt along the way below.

1. Take Action – This certainly has to be my #1 life lesson and for more information on this then read this article which covers a lot of reasons why people fail and mainly to do with the fact that they take zero action

2. Spend Money on Memories – I am a huge believer that the most valuable asset in life is your memories. People can spend millions on materialistic products but the memories on the death bed are what you truly remember.

Spend Money on Memories - Digital Nomad Life Lessons

Celebrating Mike Hughes Stag Party In Las Vegas

3. Develop and Improve – Show me a fully satisfied person and I will show you failure. There is no such thing as 10/10 in my opinion. We can all develop and improve and for our sanity and life goals we should look to improve in all walks of life. It does not matter how old you are as you should always be improving. If you are not improving yourself then are you being lazy?

4. Friends and Family – Surround yourself by loads of friends and family. The more friends the better because it means more different experiences but keep your best mates and family close because they will be there in all situations. I wrote how networking was important in business but this also applies to personal lifestyles also.

5. Play a Team Sport – Whether this is football, rugby, netball or whatever you decide. Being part of a team sport will give you the laughter and fun as a team. The exercise is great for health benefits but for me the banter is the real reason why it has so many benefits because it gives you the social side of life which will create you so many happy memories.

Play a Team Sport - Digital Nomad Life Lessons

Leigh Athletic FC Team I Play Football for

6. Health is Wealth – Your health is who you are and who you will become. Eat nice healthy food and exercise daily. When young you feel you can eat whatever you want but in later life this catches up with you. Make sure you live your life so your tomorrow self will be happy of what you did the previous day. Neglect your health and energy levels will drop and your whole life will change as health is the engine behind who you will become.

7. Learn a Martial Art – Great for conditioning and health benefits again. But the reason for learning martial arts is the respect it generates, building your concentration levels and discipline in focusing your mind. Oh and obviously helps you in self defence situations.

Learn a Martial Art - Digital Nomad Life Lessons

Me in Koh Samui learning Thai Boxing

8. Be Proud of You – We are all unique human beings but do not chase your life trying to be someone you are not. Be yourself and proud of who you are instead of leading life a lie. Your friends, your teachers, your parents and family all have expectations of you but just be yourself. Do not try to live a life someone else would like you to be because that might not make you happy. You are awesome and have your own qualities no one else in this world has as you are unique. Here is an introduction to myself.

9. Choose your Own Path – Let close friends and family advise you on best practices but you are responsible solely for your own path in your career, health and happiness. Choose your own path as it is your life. I absolutely love and enjoy networking, SEO and travelling so becoming a digital nomad was a no brainer for me because included all three of these things.

10. Treat People How You Want to be Treated – Ironically people start to change their attitude towards you when you begin treating them the way they treat you. There are a few great quotes I love on this life lesson.

11. Focus on Solutions Not Problems – Identify your problems but give your power and energy to solutions. Too many complain and waste time whining instead of accepting the problem and quickly finding a solution. Here is an article I highly recommend everyone to read about how to face your problems with solutions because if you focus all your ideas and energy into solutions then all the problems will make you the person you are today. Play the cards you are dealt the best you can and learn from all the mistakes along the way.

12. Think BIG – You really are capable of so much more than you can imagine. Chase your goals and set them high. You will be surprised how much you can achieve if you believe in yourself. Do not set your goals too small because you are capable of so much more. I love the quote “Think big, believe big, act big and the results will be big”

13. Surround Yourself with Positivity – You’re a product of your environment so surround yourself with the best. Positivity breeds positivity so hanging around successful folk and happy people is key. Influence your family and close friends because a rising tide lifts all ships so your attitude can help others around you succeed.

surround yourself with successful people

Sir Alex Ferguson farewell game

14. People Come and Go – This could be university friends you lose touch with as you move back home. Or it could be loved ones who pass away. As awful as this sounds but we all are going to die. Instead of constantly feeling upset a close family member or friend has passed away then celebrate their life. Have you ever watched X Factor and seen all the sob stories people come out with thinking they are unfortunate. The fact is it’s going to happen to us all so are you going to waste your life away moaning or be positive and make them proud looking down on you. You need to learn how to let go as hard as it might feel.

15. Learn to Forgive Yourself – You are probably your own harshest critic. Do not beat yourself up and be your own personal enemy. You will make many mistakes and if you cannot forgive yourself how can you expect others too. Be kind and caring to your inner self because you can then look to make amends or get back quickly to your positive attitude. Learn from it and analyse if you have done something wrong but quickly forgive yourself and move on. There is no sense in punishing your future for the mistakes in the past.

16. Travel the World – Have you truly experienced life and seen the wonders of the world? Have you experienced the different cultures? You will be amazed by the beauty of this living world and you will grow your knowledge and memories massively from doing this.

Travel The World - Digital Nomad Life Lessons

Recent trip to Chiang Mai and loved the culture

17. Gratitude – Be grateful for what you have in life. Even if you think your life is shit be grateful because someone is certainly struggling more than you on earth. Do you have a roof over your head, two arms, two legs, fresh tap water, hearing, sight or none of these. Unless you literally have not got any of these mentioned then stop not feeling grateful. Expect nothing and appreciate absolutely everything. We are so lucky to be alive so cherish every breath we take on earth.

18. Loyalty Over Greed – Be loyal and fight the greedy guy from inside of us all. Loyalty is a huge attribute I expect from all my friends and business partners. I was grown up with the ethics and morale to be loyal. You will encounter many times in life where you can get financial gains by not being loyal but this falls under the ‘treat others how you want to be treated’ How would you feel is a close friend was not loyal? Do not betray a friend or human being for personal gains otherwise karma will come back to bite you in the ass. Be loyal and not greedy.

19. Fail Regularly – This might seem a strange one to put down but it is so true. Failure in life is inevitable if you truly push yourself to your limits. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default. You can’t be paralysed by fear of failure or you will never push yourself.

20. Work Hard but Play Harder – Grafting in work is an absolute given. The harder you work the more successful financially you will be but have a fine balance in life. If you do not play harder you will struggle to grow your friendships, to travel so much and create all those awesome memories. I certainly play very hard because for me life is about living so what makes me happy is banter, laughing, experiencing new adventures my playtime is when I create my best memories.

Work Hard and Play Harder

Myself at the best music festival in the world #TomorrowLand

21. Don’t Be Judgemental – Do not judge a book by its cover. You will be surprised in ife what you get out of everyone you meet. I have heard stories of a homeless guy on the streets giving his last dollar to somehow who need to catch the bus. That act of kindness is unreal and similar story here which went viral about a tramp giving a student £3 to get a taxi home safely. Don’t base your opinion on someone by their appearance and try to learn something from absolutely everybody.

22. Patience is a Virtue – Patience is not the ability to wait, but it is the ability to keep a positive attitude while waiting. Patience is not a skill but is a decision. Our inner self decides to get annoyed and one of my weaknesses certainly is not being patient enough. Like the attitude to not give up then you need to remember the best things in life are worth waiting for. Try to improve and develop yourself to become more patient for your own self being.

23. Break The Rules – I do not mean break the law but breaking the rules. There are too many rules in life and if you are too well behaved and don’t break the rules you will never be a maverick or true original. Here is a great video from Arnold Schwarznegger about breaking the rules.

24. You Cannot Please Everyone – Grow thick skinned for certain situations you will encounter. As we are all unique we all have different opinions naturally. Do not chase to please everyone because it is impossible and reverts back to being proud of who you are. Competitors, jealousy and others will not like you or make an opinion on  who you are without even knowing you as an individual but be hard skinned to understand this instead of fighting it. “The People who Matter Dont Mind, and The People who Mind Dont Matter”. There will be times certain folk in life are selfish or have a hidden agenda. I wrote an article about how wasted time is worse than wasted money because you need to quickly weed out the people in life who will not make you happy so more time can be spent with loved ones.

25. Question Everything – Never believe something without testing or seeing it for yourself. Too many times in life we take everything for granted when actually we should create our own opinion from experiences. Obviously seek advice but then check this for yourself to develop your own thoughts on situations. Trust people but verify it.

26. Never Give Up – Too many people in life think of an idea then never see the whole idea through. They give up when being so close to something big or life changing for them. Focus your mind to complete tasks and do not jump from one minor task to another without finishing any.

27. Time Flies – If you do not live for today and make the most of your time before you know it then you will wonder where your time went. A great video from a friend I met in Chiang Mai named Diggy shows his life lessons here. This video is superb and the reason I liked it so much was because I could relate to all his opinions. He also finishes this video with how time flies.

28. Delegate Work – When you travel and meet other digital nomads you start to realise so many of these have read the amazing books like the 4 hour work week and the emyth revisited which are possibly the best books I have ever read. These teach you techniques to stop getting yourself bogged down on day to day running of your businesses. I wrote an article about working on your business and not in it which explains the reasoning why delegation is key. We all have 24 hours in a day and are restricted to this so there is only so much you can physically do yourself. Hence the reason delegation of works is a real key to success and many entrepreneurs struggle to let go but this struggle will always hold them back from further growth.

I hope to add many more life lessons onto this article as I experience them. I am sure there is some I have missed off this list so please comment below on life lessons you have learnt and if I can relate to this then will add onto the blog. Hope you have enjoyed the read and i you can share that would be great thanks!!

Be Positive To All Your Problems

Be Positive To All Your Problems

Why waste time in life moaning or whining about a problem? Life is too short for this and you need to remain positive. Do not be that lazy person who sits on the sofa moaning about why you are overweight when others are sweating in the gym. Do not moan you are unemployed when you have been lazy and not tried to improve your skills and knowledge.

Focus on Solutions Instead

Do you want to spend your time complaining about a problem or finding a useful solution to it? You’ll make much better use of your time by relaxing and looking to deal with the issues you are having. This will then benefit you in the future as you’ll be better equipped to solve the same problems or even prevent them from happening again.

Here is a list below of solutions you can use to try and resolve some problems you have:

Accept the problem – This is the one I try to do first when I run into a problem and I use it almost every time. When you accept that the problem already exists and stop resisting then you also stop putting more energy into the problem and “feeding it”. Now it just exists (well, more or less, you might still feel a bit down about it). And you can use the energy you previously fed the problem with – the energy that probably made the problem look bigger than it was – to find creative solutions to the challenge.

Ask yourself: what’s the worst that can happen? – This is another one to do early on. You can easily to use your mind to blow problems all out of proportion. By asking this question you can restore the problem to its original size. And realize that the worst case scenario – if you actually define it – is perhaps not so pleasant but something you can handle and solve.

Gather some good knowledge – Information about your problem can often decrease that uncertain anxiety and fear we face when we are challenged with something. Knowledge wisps away the clouds of fear around a problem. And we often find that the problem might not be as bad as we thought. Developing a real understanding of what the issue is and why it is happening will help you see it more clearly and make it easier to find a solution.

Try to figure out possible problem along the way – This is something you can do before the problem even arises. Be prepared. When you research – as described in point # 3 – also try to find out what others in the same situation ran into, what kind of challenges they faced. Ask people what they did. If you don’t have anyone to ask then books, forums and blogs are good resources for gathering the personal experience of people. Also, be on the lookout for local groups and organisations. Google it and see what you find. If you keep your eyes and ears open you are sure to find something helpful.

Ask for help – You can ask people for advice on what to do and what they did in similar situations like yours. But you can also ask for more practical help. You don’t have to solve every problem on your own and sometimes it feels better to have someone by your side, even if it is just for emotional support. It is often true that a problem shared is a problem halved. Things can seem much more difficult when you’re dealing with them on your own, but once you get advice from someone else it can become much less overwhelming. Check out this page to see how we offer practical help to small businesses looking to boost their client base and generate more work.

Let go of the need to be right – Open your mind to a solution that may work and try it out instead of just making snap judgements based on little information and experience. The need to be right can make you disregard solutions that are just what you need for far too long. Accept that you might be wrong, and try some solutions which you may not have thought of before. This could make a big difference to how you run things in future to prevent the same issues from happening again.

Come up with more than one solution – You don’t know what will actually work before you try it. What may seem like a good solution in theory doesn’t always work in reality. So brain-storm and come up with at least a few solutions. If the first didn’t work, try the next one. This always gives you a few back up plans and things to try so you’re not stuck with one idea which isn’t working for you.

Be Positive to Your Problems

Redefine failure – This is important both to handle fear of failure for the whole problem and to get you to start trying different solutions without too much hesitation. The definition of failure we are brought up with in society might not be the best and most useful to have. If you look at the most successful people you quickly notice that they have a different response to failure than the more common one. They don’t take failure or rejection that seriously. They know it´s not the end of the world if they fail. Instead they look at each failure and see the good part about: what they can learn from it and improve next time? They have an abundance-mentality. They know that if their first business-venture fails it feels like crap for a while but it’s ok in the long run. They learn from it and then they try again. Redefine failure as feedback and as a natural part of a successful life.

Break down the problem into smaller pieces – Completing a task or solving a problem can seem overwhelming and impossible if you take it all in at once. To decrease anxiety and think more clearly, try to break the problem down. Try to identify the different things and people it consists of. Then figure out one practical solution you can take for each of those pieces. Try those solutions. They may not solve the whole problem immediately. But they might solve a few pieces of it. And then you can keep trying other solutions for the rest of the pieces until there are none left.

Use the 80/20 rule – Use 80 percent of your time to find solutions and only 20 percent to complain, worry and whine. It might not always be easy but focusing your energy, time and thoughts in this way is much more beneficial to you and others than doing the opposite. Complaining won’t find you any solutions, so it’s much more beneficial to spend more time actively trying to fix the problem.

Use Parkinson’s Law – This law says that a task will expand in time and seeming complexity depending on the time you set aside for it. For instance, if you say to yourself that you’ll come up with a solution within a week then the problem will seem to grow more difficult and you’ll spend more and more time trying to come up with a solution. Combine this law with the 80/20 rule to find solutions quickly. Focus your time on finding solutions. Then just give yourself an hour (instead of the whole day) or the day (instead of the whole week) to solve the problem. This will force your mind to focus on solutions and action.

Find the lesson or opportunity within the problem – There is almost always a good side of a problem. Perhaps it alerts us to a great way to improve our business. Or teaches us how our lives perhaps aren’t as bad as we thought. Finding this more positive part of the problem reduces its negative emotional impact and you may even start to see the situation as a great opportunity for you. When you are faced with a problem ask yourself: How can I use this? What is the good thing about this? What can I learn from this? What hidden opportunity can I find within this issue?

Actually talk about the problem and communicate clearly. Many problems arise because someone misinterpreted what someone else said. One way to make sure that you and everyone else have the same interpretation of for instance a project is to have people repeat back their view of the project and their part in it. See if your and their view matches. If a conflict arises then maybe you need to just talk it out, let go of a bit of steam, emotion and tension instead of everyone bottling it up. After that the discussion may be less emotionally charged. And it becomes easier to communicate clearly and reach a good solution for everyone involved.

Create fewer problems – A lot of our problems are created by ourselves. You save yourself a lot of trouble by being proactive, thinking before you speak and trying to avoid creating or complicating problems more than necessary. One way to decrease problems is to follow – as much as you can – Dale Carnegie´s wise words: “Never criticise, complain or condemn”. Many problems are somehow connected to relationships with other people so a good way to create fewer problems is to improve your social skills. Check out ‘Do You Make These 10 Mistakes in a Conversation?’ and ‘5 Mistakes That Can Make You Look Dumb’ for some tips in that area. And go down to your local library and borrow a copy of ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’.

Use the power of words to your advantage – Our minds respond more than one may think to what words are used to describe something. A problem is a negatively charged word. To make it easier to handle the problem use the more neutral or positive word challenge instead. This may sound like some empty and in reality just useless advice. But, at least to me, I have found that doing this small change has some impact on how negatively/positively I view a situation.

Keep your motivation up – It is easy to be discouraged, especially if you fear failure and your first and second solution to a problem did not work. You might feel like just giving up. Then it is time to give yourself a boost of motivation. Try a few of the techniques described in ‘25 Simple Ways to Motivate Yourself’ and ‘5 More Ways to Motivate Yourself’. Changing your mental state to a brighter, more positive and more motivated one can make all the difference in the world. It will keep you going. Even though a few minutes earlier you may have felt like all hope was gone.

The solutions come from an amazing article here from positivity blog which keeps you upbeat and motivated in a positive manner. Every manager wants a team that suggests solutions rather than just raising problems; employees who bring solutions play a crucial problem-solving role, take more ownership in the success of your team, and free you up to stay focused elsewhere.

This adds so much value to a company as not only does it stop people from being discouraged, it also helps to prevent the same issues happening again in the future. The key here is to deal with situations in a positive way. By doing this, you reduce the overall impact of the situation and make it much simpler to improve your strategies and move forward.

The law of attraction says you attract what you think; therefore positivity is very important in life. Are you that person who loves to moan? Be truthful to yourself and see whether you are taking massive action every day to improve your life. If you are not then you only have yourself to blame! When you start to look at things more positively, you’ll feel more positive in yourself and it will be easier to deal with problematic situations.

Here is a little background to myself and how I got into SEO and online digital marketing. Over the years I have developed a strong team and networked with many successful SEO gurus. Surrounding yourself with positive players in your niche is crucial because they will help you manage your problems with the solutions you need.

Wasted Time is Worse Than Wasted Money

The reason for this article is because recently I have dozens of random people I have never heard of or ever met private message me on facebook asking for advice. Anyone who is friends with me knows I love to waffle on and network with as many people as possible. My whole perception in life is about helping others and synergising because I then believe others will help you in return should you ever become stuck on something.

However recently I cannot cope with the amount of random folk asking for help and consultancy. If someone said I would pay you for an hour consultancy, then something for you to understand, is that is not myself. I will not put a time against money in my working pattern because want to scale out earning passive income like most digital nomads do. If you need consultancy and direction in your SEO strategy then speak to the likes of Charles Floate because he will offer an hourly rate. Some might think the charges are high but if you are honestly looking to build your knowledge it will be the best investment ever spent if spending it on yourself to develop skills.

Wasted Time Vs Wasted Money

Wasted Time Vs Wasted Money

Here above is a recent picture from a trip to Chiang Mai with some amazing SEO gurus but more importantly close friends. Time spent here was the best ever experience business wise. We all bounced ideas off each other to assist others and add value so each and every one of us got something out of the trip.

Cheeky Vs Building Relationships

So when you meet up and build relationships like in Chiang Mai we did recently then that is a perfect example of synergy. Helping and adding value you both get something from building those relationships. But on the flipside to building relationships is someone random just adding yourself and asking noob questions straight from the off. Not a ‘Hi James hope you are doing well. I have read your fatrank blog and find it very interesting and informative’.

OH NOOOOO I just get straight from the off something like this ‘I see you do SEO? Can you help and tell me how to rank’. This in my opinion is cheeky and actually rude. My response is going to be me sending you this link to read through and then your next response is going to make me either block yourself or help you out from a positive reply by you.

What I expect from you is something along these lines:

  1. Read the introduction to SEO if you do not understand the basics
  2. Read this article about taking action and before replying to me make sure you have a website built out
  3. Understand we all have the same amount of time in a day – do not be lazy and get testing now
  4. Engage in the groups first and tag me in comments if needing help but do not private message straight away
  5. Add value to others online and get networking with others in the facebook groups like The Proper PBN Group
  6. Go through and understand this url content and make sure you do not sound like that annoying client

Be selective with who you invest your time, wasted time is worse than wasted money!!

Now I am listing this above and some of you might already be advanced in SEO and asking for help which is fine. But when you just randomly message me saying ‘can I help’ then I do not know how far along this process you are. The next reply for me not to block you needs to introduce yourself, add your website, your targeted keywords you are struggling with and why you are needing assistance. I can then quickly take a look for you and try to help or put you in touch with someone. Here are some questions at present I am being asked so you understand my frustration:

How Many PBN links do I need to rank? – While asking me this question they would not send me their niche or website. Guys there is not a formula where 16.2 PBN links get you #1 ranking. This is why I am saying for me to help you via private message if you are not going to send a website, niche, keywords and why you are struggling then you are just going to get blocked.

Where is best place to buy PBN links from? – I responded to say there are many decent link vendors available to buy links from. But one personally I recommend highly is Diggity Links. The response to this was ‘well they are expensive at $4 a backlink’. This is frustrating because again without knowing a niche then you cannot gauge what is expensive and what is not. But TBH I have purchased links at £500 and upwards so in my personal opinion it is far from expensive as long as you see an ROI. If $4 a backlink seems expensive them my reply to this is maybe change your niche because does not seem like you are getting good returns on profits.

Who is best to get content from? – Again there are many places to purchase content from depending on budgets and you could just purchase from places like iwriter. However I said that I’d recommend using Jon Kiekbusch at PBN Butler who delivers high quality content. In amazement the response I got was $20 per article is too expensive. You pay more for quality and if this is money site content then in my personal opinion this is very cheap. But are you starting to get my frustration.

Can you help me with SEO? – My response to this is going to be really simple in future. Which will be replying with how many websites have you built out and tested yet. Too many people sit back and enjoy researching and studying the arts of SEO. But never actually get around to physically taking any action and building things out. Read all the articles on this www.fatrank.com, read charlesfloate.co.uk website and read diggitymarketing.com then start to implement and test things.

Why Ask When You’ve Never Tested?

Until you take action then no one can help. Here is a private message I sent someone recently “Stop being a pussy keep trying to learn – take action and when you do something wrong fire it over and I can assist so you can tweak”. I do not mean to sound harsh here but you try and put yourself in my position. I have a large team to manage, I have hundreds of money sites to develop and I get over 100 private messages and emails asking for help. If you are not going to bring something to the table in return for this relationship to be a synergy then guys why keep asking.

Have a think to yourself at what you can do in return to lure myself or others into helping you. Some ideas to offer could be:

  1. Take a paid consultancy session with Charles Floate if serious at developing your skills
  2. Like, share and comment on our blogs to engage before just asking for help
  3. Offer to do some free work in return for advice if money is low for you
  4. Try to add value otherwise from a business sense what do we get out of spending hours per day just helping you out (you might think it is only 10 minutes for free I am asking for, but then multiply that 50 times a day and it is more than a normal working day in offering help free of charge).


This might not be like my normal positive blog article. But recently the amount of time FREE OF CHARGE I have spent helping others needs to stop. Especially when it becomes frustrating because I find the people I am talking to are the sort of people taking zero action. My personal thoughts on building relationships are that I would go above and beyond to repay anyone who has helped me.

Recently a good friend of mine Mr Causer has helped myself and my team so much. I cannot thank him enough because spent countless hours on skype with my team to develop new strategies. I know personally I will repay him for this assistance in the next few years several fold. I will go the extra mile to make sure he understands I appreciate the effort he has put in. But are you private messaging myself thinking this same way? It is very easy to block a person and relationships are broken down before they have even started.