ASBN’s Jim Fitzpatrick sits down with Liz Goddard, owner of CcMyAdmin.com, a company that provides virtual assistance to small and large business. With her experience in running a virtual business, she shares her advice on the difficulties of delegating in a business and provides solutions. Tune-in to hear Liz’s advice.
JIM: Welcome in to another edition of The Atlanta Small Business Show. As a small business owner, do you feel that you could do a better job of delegating tasks to your employees or your vendors? Well on today’s show we’re joined by Liz Goddard, owner of CcMyAdmin.com, a company that provides virtual assistance to small and large business. Liz is going to tell us about how her experience is running a virtual business, and also about the power of delegation. Welcome to The Atlanta Small Business Show, Liz.
LIZ: Thank you for having me.
JIM: Sure. Tell us about how you got started.
LIZ: Cc: My Admin, it was really created to solve a problem. I’m a co-founder. The other business partner is Nicole Grinnell. She and I grew up in separate parts of the country with business owners as fathers. Mine was a serial entrepreneur. I grew up in many of his businesses, and her father the same. But the outcome was very different. My father passed when I was 19. I inherited his business.
JIM: Sorry to hear that.
LIZ: I learned a lot about small businesses. Learned what to do, but more honestly learned a lot what not to do. I learned about how much of his time was spent on just creating a business that only worked with him. When the business passed on we weren’t able to pick it up, because it really only worked for him. Whereas my business partner, her father had a business where he was very successful and he was able to sell it when he was about 50 years old, and was able to retire pretty early.
LIZ: What we did is we both grew up understanding the pain points of business owners and what it was like for them to have it completely own their lives, and how well it could have been run had they had quality support.
JIM: Yeah, for sure.
LIZ: I went on in my career actually … I actually developed my career in human resources and she developed her career as an executive admin. We saw a need where small businesses really needed quality support but may not be able to hire a full-time employee. They may only have two hours of bookkeeping or four hours of executive admin support, but they need quality people. And so we went out and tried to solve that problem, which is how do we help small business owners scale their business safely but with the quality support that they need?
JIM: I know as a small business owner, there’s so many different tasks that you end up, if you can’t delegate to somebody, you just end up taking care of the fire in front of you and you let the other things go by the wayside. What are some of the struggles you’ve experienced when launching your traditional staffing business?
LIZ: Some of the trouble is … One is, even though we are becoming more technologically advanced as a workplace, there is still that struggle of trusting. “Can I really give somebody work if they don’t sit in an office outside next to me or the cubicle outside next to me?”
LIZ: That’s a hurdle. And then just getting people to delegate, because if … You’re a small business owner. One of the hardest struggles is letting go.
JIM: I know. No question about it. One of the biggest problems that I have, for sure. Do business owners struggle with the idea of going virtual if they’re used to having someone in their office?
LIZ: It really depends on the person. I would say there is an element that people do struggle with that if they are so used to having someone right outside next to them. But once you get them used to it and they see the benefit of having somebody virtual, they become more nimble. They’re able to only use them when they need them so they’re not paying them for eight hours when they’re really not working eight hours. The benefit really does outweigh some of the hurdle of not being able to call up the office and then be right there.
JIM: Yeah. And then I would imagine that the millennials that go into business for themselves and run businesses are very used to doing that. Doing things through an app or just utilizing somebody’s time as you needed rather than the old-fashioned way of having somebody right outside your office, right, or on the staff.
LIZ: Exactly. Some people are that much quicker than others, but ultimately we can read the clients and understand, is this going … How do we need to go about this? Some millennials, they catch on real quick. In fact, they actually expect it. Then others, you’re gonna have to hold their hands a little bit.
JIM: Yeah, for sure. I would be a hand-holder, that’s for sure.
LIZ: We would hold it.
JIM: What are the benefits of having a virtual assistant, overall?
LIZ: There are several. One is just cost savings at the end of the day. We’ve been able take some clients, either remove them from having a brick and mortar so where they them … They’re out, they’re selling, they’re meeting with clients. They don’t need to have an office to come back to. But we found that some people were literally owning office space or renting office space just so they could have an admin.
LIZ: When I broke it down to them to explain, “You don’t need to have an office because this person’s here. It’s a phone call away. It’s an email away,” they realized how nimble they could be. That’s a huge benefit, is you just save money. You’re not having to rent an office and you’re able to pivot quickly.
JIM: We just interviewed somebody two days ago on the Atlanta Small Business Show that is a staffing company. They don’t have an office anywhere, and yet they have 50 employees and they all work from their home. The best part is that you can get really good talent even though they’re not in your locale. It could be somebody across the country, but they fit the needs perfectly. We see so much more of that, don’t we?
LIZ: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Absolutely. You’re working with a bigger pool.
JIM: As the owner of a small business, delegating work can be difficult. Some feel a loss of control or feel it’s easier to take on the task themselves. Why is that, and why is it so important that owners delegate their daily tasks?
LIZ: Well, as you mentioned, that’s honestly the biggest hurdle. Every client I take on, they say, “I don’t know if this works for me. I’m a control freak.” I was like, “Hi. Me too.” Every business owner’s a control freak. But ultimately, there’s a couple steps that we go in with every client. First of all, we have to teach them how to let go. And there’s always gonna be about three different excuses they give. “I don’t have the time to devote to it. I don’t have the money. It’s not the right time.”
LIZ: At the end of the day, if you keep giving that answer, you’re gonna have the same problems four years down the line or having the same conversation.
JIM: And maybe worse.
LIZ: And maybe worse. Absolutely. Because now it’s bundled up. One is just saying, trust the process of if you delegate some of these smaller-value tasks, your plate’s gonna get less full and you’re gonna be able to focus on generating more revenue.
JIM: What are some of the tips that you teach to your clients on how to delegate?
LIZ: The first one is, just like you said, learning to let go. The second is focusing on your priorities. With any small business, you’re gonna have to sit down at some point and say, “Am I trying to build a business of legacy or a business of lifestyle?” Legacy being, “I’m gonna pass this on or I’m gonna sell it.” Lifestyle is, “I wanna earn a certain amount of income for a certain amount of time and be done. When I move on, it’s done.”
LIZ: Even within that, creating priorities of, “What do I want to do?” And then educating that to the people that you’re delegating it to.
JIM: Makes sense. What are some common things that people are delegating?
LIZ: Number one, inbox management. If you are not having someone manage your inbox-
JIM: I need you right now to do that.
LIZ: I’m telling you, I have someone to manage my inbox, so they’re in my inbox all day long. I only check one folder a day. Actually, two. One says Liz, action required, Liz, no action required.
JIM: I love it. That’s great.
LIZ: I’m doing two things and the rest of my time is spent meeting face-to-face with clients, building a brand reputation and servicing our current clients. Outsource your inbox, number one. You shouldn’t be doing it.
JIM: We had a trainer on recently and he said, “Don’t be a slave to your inbox, because you can get in in the morning as we all do and just start answering.” And he said, “When you do that, you’re actually on someone else’s schedule, not on your own, because they’re in control of now what you’re going to do that day in answering emails.” So many times emails don’t even need to be answered within that day, let alone that moment. Everybody thinks they’ve got two jump on and return an email that minute, right?
LIZ: Exactly. And that’s 100% what we try to instill first with any client.
JIM: Sure. By 12 o’clock, you’ve got a to-do list that you didn’t even touch because you’re just answering all of these emails.
JIM: That’s crazy. What in your opinion is the biggest hurdle for a small business owner?
LIZ: I think the biggest hurdle for any small business owner would be cashflow. Any small business owner would say that. And the second is working yourself out of your business. Because if you don’t learn how to work yourself out of your business, then you’re never gonna get ahead. You’re never working on it. You’re working in it.
LIZ: And it’s learning how to balance the two, because you can’t suck your cashflow by just hiring everybody and then not doing anything either. It’s the balance of the two.
JIM: Yeah, sure. Sure. As a small business owner, where do you see your company going in the next five years? Ramping up in staff? And of course everything would be virtual, I would imagine.
LIZ: Yeah, we want to remain virtual. That’s really important to the culture of our company. We spend a lot of time and money dedicated to creating a culture virtual. That’s one thing that we’re able to offer is that we provide that to our clients. We give the culture to our virtual assistants so then they can just give them tasks. They don’t have to worry about giving their time away, because we’re doing that.
LIZ: But it is … We’d love to grow our presence more in Atlanta because it is such a start-up hub. Lots of tech companies, lots of small businesses. But we also have businesses all over the country, so what we’d love to do is get sales agents in Atlanta throughout the country and start building up our book of business.
JIM: Can a small business operator afford your services? Or is it for somebody maybe that’s already been off and running and has 30, 40, 50 employees? Is this something for somebody that might have no employees or maybe just a handful?
LIZ: Absolutely. In fact, we do well with small businesses with no employees because we’re that bridge between hiring an employee. They may only have three hours of work they need done, but they need that three hours. They need it done by a quality employee. They don’t want to go hire somebody who may be fresh out of college. They need somebody who’s a project manager at a large company. We can give that to them, but only for four hours a day or two hours a day.
LIZ: What we do is we are now able to give people the specific zone of geniuses with each category they need. Bookkeeping, client service, risk. And instead of hiring eight employees to do that, you’ve hired five but it’s costing you the price of one.
JIM: Right, because of the hourly.
JIM: And then do they just buy blocks of hours, or do you just bill them at the end of the month and say, “Okay, here’s what you used of us and here’s your bill”?
LIZ: Which is a great question, because we’re different from competitors in that aspect. We don’t make you buy blocks of hours because it sucks the cashflow and we don’t want to do that. You only pay for the time worked, and it’s actually … We bill you bi-weekly. It’s just like as if you had someone on staff. You wouldn’t pay them ahead of time to do the work. You would pay them after the fact. They get an invoice that says everything they’ve done so there’s complete transparency, and then you pay us.
JIM: I would imagine you’ve got some clients, or maybe most, that say, “Wow, you did a great job with that task. I’m giving you a lot more tasks to do. Can you have somebody do this one?” Does that happen?
LIZ: All the time. Yes. Our clients are our best referral source, and they actually add more and more roles to us. Yeah, that is something that we enjoy is getting to see … We’ll say, “Oh, we’ll just handle that for you.” But we know, more than likely, you’re gonna come back and you’re gonna have a lot of different roles with us.
JIM: Sure. That’s great. Liz Goddard, owner of CcMyAdmin.com. Thank you so much for joining us on the Atlanta Small Business Show. This was very enlightening. I’m gonna run now and empty my email box.
LIZ: Go do it.
JIM: Get on with my day and then maybe give you a call and see how your service works, because I know I need it, that’s for sure.
LIZ: Awesome. Thanks for having me here, I appreciate it.