Importance of Outsourcing Workforce - Amazon Seller Tips with Gianmarco Meli - Part 1

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Things we discussed in this session:

A. Part 1

Things we mention in this session of Seller Round Table:
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https://www.thesellerprocess.com/tasktracker/

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Transcription in this episode:
[00:00:01] spk_0: Welcome to the seller roundtable e commerce coaching [00:00:04] spk_1: and business strategies with and er not and amy, we's, [00:00:08] spk_0: hey, what's up everybody, this is Andy Arnotts, Amy wees is not here today, this is sell a round table number 129 and we're with jean marc Lomeli today, john Gianmarco welcome, [00:00:22] spk_1: thank you Andy, thank you very much. I'm very excited to be here. [00:00:25] spk_0: Yeah, so we always love to start out with some background, so we would love to hear you can share as little or as much as you want in terms [00:00:34] spk_1: of kind of your [00:00:34] spk_0: journey to where you are today, kind of in the e commerce space, you know, we even love to know like where you're born, raised, kind of the hard knocks, um you know, anything you'd like to share with our audience just so they can get to know you a little better. [00:00:47] spk_1: Yeah, yeah, for sure. So hi everyone, my name is john Marco, I am, I'm originally from ITaly and I moved to Shanghai after university, started after, after I finished university, Sorry, so I, I say they're in Shanghai for like six years, where I launched my first e commerce startup in 2016 and that was uh, I was very lucky to be involved into a program backed by S O S. B Ventures, which is a venture capitalist, who basically helped funding my, my first startup idea when I was like 24 I joined, you know, I, I created this, this platform in selling imported food in china, so that was my first e commerce experience, which unfortunately unfortunately you know didn't go that well, I had a chinese partner and we we didn't really go along very well and that ended up like after a couple of years I I kind of you know transferred the the what was left of this company to a friend of mine who acquired that. So so you're during this time in china, I I got lots of great experiences. I I worked on really a lot of different types of businesses like import export, I did catering services, web development consulting, I was also like a national representative of an NGO. So I did all kind of stuff and uh although these all these things are very different from each other, I found that they have one thing in common and that is that the level of success I've had in managing those businesses was directly related to my ability to create a solid structure to systematize the business and design effective processes around the daily operation. So essentially what I found is that in business solid systems equal success. So therefore from from there, you know, I I really got passionate about systems processes and S. O. P. And I I've been really uh spent the last couple of years of my life really trying to to get more knowledgeable about that. I I joined trainings accelerators and I really implemented all I've learned in my my amazon business and I ended up founding the seller process podcast which is as a podcast like this one that discusses, especially like systems processes and S O PS for amazon sellers to help them accomplish more with less time and effort, which is something, you know, we can talk about today. [00:03:37] spk_0: Yeah, absolutely. [00:03:39] spk_1: I [00:03:39] spk_0: love it. Absolutely. So the first thing I want to start out with is, you know, for people who you know, maybe don't even know what systems or processes are, um you know, can you give maybe a quick kind of basic example of of what a basic process or or a basic system in an amazon business would be? [00:03:58] spk_1: Yeah, yeah, for sure. So usually, you know, we hear about this word called S. O. P, which stands for standard operating procedures and that's that kind of be, it can be like a scary word, but essentially it's just the way we do things either written down on a video formed so that it can serve as a model, which can be also said as a, you know, the easiest path or the most efficient way on how a task should be performed. Okay, so essentially, you know, we run tasks every day. We do stuff every day. We wake up in the morning and do stuff open up our computer and starting do keyword research and a lot of different things. So all all that, all those things are tasks and you do it in a certain way, you do it step by step, even though you don't have any like written or or formally um documented systems. Actually you do already have S. O PS and systems and processes in place. You just have it everything in your mind and what makes a good company and an efficient companies that the knowledge it's not uh taken just inside of your mind, but it's like written down in formal documents that are called S. O. P. S. That can be easily shared with your team so that you can scale your effort with through the help of other people. So that's essentially what a system is, a number of tasks uh put them in in in in in order to to perform a certain a certain task at a goal. [00:05:46] spk_0: I love it. So what what are some of your favorite tools that you like to, you know, say you want to build a system for, you know, customer feedback or inventory management, something like that, uh kind of uh what kind of tools would you use and what would the that process look like on on the functional side of things? [00:06:07] spk_1: Yeah, so one of the most underrated kind of uh tools that people really don't use much in amazon, but I really widespread in in any other type of businesses are the the project management to software like for example, Asana or click up. That's really like a big one that I use and I know also m is using a lot. So that's basically you know uh management tool that help you to systematize your business, you basically create several dashboards with with projects in it. Each project has different tasks with different sub steps, so in each each steps can have their own links and and and so on. So a great tool that I really really would recommend everyone to use is Asana or click up project management systems like that, that will basically be, you know, the basic structure of your business. And then on top of that you can start building the S O P S S O P S. You know, you can really build them on google drive or or a drop box, you know, that's where basically your shared folders will be and you can simply start writing uh these S O PS which I have, you know, certain like formulas and ways on how to how to create them and especially especially, you know, videos and uh checklist flow charts, different types of uh processes that can be represented in different ways. You basically just order them into like shared folders that can basically live on on google drive or dropbox and uh yeah that's that's pretty much it it can be really run the whole your whole organization can be really run within, you know, google docs and google drive and uh just some few management or you don't really need to be that me to go that fancy really just documents and spreadsheets, you really go a long way with those. I [00:08:21] spk_0: love it. So uh one of the things that people don't realize is that when you build systems, that's how you can scale your business, right? That's how you can bring on more employees uh and things like that. So at what point do you think uh you know somebody who's an e commerce seller owns a brand, what systems should they try to tackle first in order to scale the business to start passing, you know, kind of these day to day tasks off to uh new employees or maybe even like a v A. [00:08:48] spk_1: Yeah, yeah. So that's you know, usually it's kind of a common mistake or a misconception that people think that if they are so open your they don't need systems don't need processes and they can just go with the flow. That's not true. You can really start from the very beginning when you're solo because that's, you know, we will set the foundation for for your company and it will basically give you an edge before your you will you will actually outsource any any task because one actually of the advantage of building these systems in advance is that as soon as you will you will need to scare you can do it quickly because you will have everything ready to be handed over to your your next uh a team member. So to, to answer your question, you know, there's really several ways that people can figure out what kind of tasks they should outsource first and I can give a couple examples. So one is that you know uh the easiest way is to really understand know yourself and understand what you're good at and uh and just asking yourself what what you enjoy doing and what you don't enjoy doing. So that would be already, you know one of the the task, the task that you think you're not good at and you don't enjoy doing, you know, you you will feel miserable you know doing all day those kind of tasks and you will not even do it well. So those are the first type of tasks that you should consider avoiding and and start outsourcing to other people. For example, in my case I really don't enjoy much optimizing PPC. So that was for example, in my case one of the first thing about sourced to like a manager who enjoys numbers, who enjoy staying on spreadsheets and crunching numbers. I don't really like that, I I more more like more doing more like a strategic work um and more like a visionary at a visionary level. So I decided to outsource PPC first, so that's that's one of them at method. Then another method could be looking at the low value tasks. So for example uh check check all the tasks that you are doing and now actually I can share with you in a second, a method on how you can track uh the task that the task that you are performing in your business, so find out what are the low value tasks of your business. For example something that can come to my mind is like creating shipping plans or uploading pictures or like copy paste thing, like uh the text of the of the listings, you know the bullet points title and so on. So those things are kind of a low value tasks because you don't need like uh to be a graduate to to do to perform those tasks really. Like Anybody with a brain and that can understand English can do it. So your time is super valuable, we only have 24 hours in a day. So so that's really what you should focus on as much as possible really to value your time as much just possible. So so find out what are the tasks that are the lowest value possible and those could be the first one that you can outsource to to Aviva and and by the way, another common mistake that people make is that they think they cannot outsource things like right away because they might, they think they might like hire a person like full time or that will cost you a lot. So but actually there are via is they're willing to work three hours a week or even like I don't know five hours a month. Okay, so just identify those low value task and start outsourcing it, so you can also train yourself in the in the your management skills. But these two ways are the the easiest ways to to find out what kind of tasks you should, you should outsource first, and then I have also some other some other like more advanced, let's say techniques that I can I can share. [00:13:09] spk_0: Yeah, absolutely, let's move on to that here in a second. But so what people don't realize is what you're talking about is actually as simple as taking out a piece of paper, right? And just jotting down what you do throughout the day and then kind of ranking them on least important to most important when it comes to terms of skill sets, right? Like you were saying, you know, things like customer service, um data entry, you know, all these really lower level tasks when you offload those things, you can then move your time to more valuable tasks which might be finding new products, which might be partnerships, which might be, you know more visionary, more um you know, coming up with new uh product designs or um you know, sourcing, uh you know, finding a new manufacturer, all these kind of higher level tasks that the manager or the owner of the business should be concentrating on rather than these kind of day to day monotonous tasks. So I would love to hear kind of what the next level is, once you kind of get those basic tasks out of the way. [00:14:08] spk_1: Yeah. Yeah. So okay, so after after you take those out of the way. Yes, so you automate basically the so you outsource the first ones. So yeah, basically the this is an iterative process. So you should really kind of put this like time tracking that you mentioned or task tracking um in your calendar, that's what I suggest and what I do in my business. So everything anything that is not in your calendar is not going to happen, right? So for example I would suggest to to create a routine in order to basically um go go through this process in a periodical way. So for example like every every three months every quarter I do like a time tracking um session okay. In which basically I identify the tasks that I I am I'm still doing and the ones that I basically would like to automate or outsource. Okay, so in the in the in the in those three months then I work on actually delegating those those tasks and then three months after I do another check. Okay, and then basically check again whether I was able to actually outsource those tasks or I still have it in my plate. So and act on that. So this is really an integrative process you have to repeat over and over and then what I do like on a on a weekly base or or a biweekly base, I basically look at all these tasks that I I collect into the so called task tracker. So I I collect all the tasks that I I perform or protein is performing. And basically find ah find opportunities to either eliminate tasks, delegate tasks or or automate and optimize tasks. This is what I call the Edo Framework which stands for eliminating delegating optimizing. Okay, so it's not always that you have to to delegate actually the first step I I uh you suggest to to go through, it's eliminating tasks so before, because you don't want to delegate something that in the first place should not be done. Okay, so first of all you need to come up with the tasks that are not serving your company well. Okay, so and so basically ask yourself, should I do these tasks? Can you eliminate this task in part or in total? Okay, so that's the first step. So eliminating it then after you got into you get all the tasks that has to be done. Okay, so the necessary tasks then you outsource the ones that you keep you keep outsourcing over time over and over as you get more budget as you grow the company, because sometimes that's a matter of budgets, you cannot afford always, you know to delegate everything at once. So as you grow you free up your time, you can focus on more on more high value tasks. So in theory if you're doing things well you should grow the company and then have more budget to outsource even more okay after you you outsource this this task sometimes you cannot outsource all the tasks you will have to keep some of them. So the task that you do keep you have to strive to optimize them. So optimizing means that you you can either like automate that. So for example I don't know like PPC management, you can you can definitely use PPC automation tools for example that's a way to to reduce the time that you spend on certain tasks okay or optimizing them. So you know in the task tracker that I that I use. You know you put all the tasks that you perform during the day. So basically you can go like one by one line, line by line to see okay what I'm what I'm doing in here, can I optimize it? How can I reduce the time? How can I eliminate some of the steps? And that's also that's also you know one of the benefits of riding down S. O PS or recording videos about S. O PS. Because you can like put on in black and black and white. You know the the these tasks in a written form so you can really line by line step by step, judge whether you should go through this process whether you can improve it because as long as it's in your mind you will not be able really to analyze deeply each step, but that way you will. So, so that's basically, you know, it's an iterative process. So you keep doing this over and over until you you basically free up more and more of your time. That's some yeah, that's this psycho basically, [00:19:03] spk_0: I love it. So that's uh you know, if if people aren't familiar with the 80 20 principle, I would definitely, that's, you know, probably in one of my top five business books, go and go and pick that book up and read it and and correct me if I'm wrong. But what you're saying is look at your daily tasks, right? Like if you're posting to social media for two hours a day and you're, you know, maybe doing a podcast for an hour and you, you know, look at how you're spending your time and you know, measure and track the results of the, of the time spent on those tasks tasks and figure out which one benefits your business the most. Right? And then use the 80 20 principle to pull out the tasks that are, you know, growing your business and then try to either outsource automate or get rid of the 80% of tasks that are not forwarding your businesses that kind of uh you know what, what what's your uh you know what you're trying to describe here. [00:19:53] spk_1: Yeah, Yeah, pretty much yes. What I can give you further, you know what I can add to that. It's uh it's what I define as a like a seven steps process to you know to complement what you just mentioned and and to to add to that. So so these seven steps are you know what should actually help you to to remove yourself from the company over time. So the first step starts from time tracking and task tracking. Okay so basically you as we mentioned you track everything that you're doing you and all the tasks that you are doing. And and then the second step is to define the most important tasks and focus on the on them. Focus on just the most important stuff tasks and eliminate what is not necessary. Then you start to capturing the systems and S. O. P. So that you can delegate those those remaining tasks or or automate those or optimizing them. Okay so start with the elimination and then um you create the processes that will help you to delegate then as you build your team basically you keep rebalancing the team. So as more people joining or uh as more people join basically you start to to reassess every every quarter or every time somebody new joins you start to reassess the task that each one has in their plate based on their on their strength. So there are several ways to understand the strength of each person. There are like lots of personality tests that I that I love and that will really give you a lot of good information about yourself and your team. So you rebalance your team constantly based on their strengths, so you reassign these responsibilities to those to these people. And then the next step is that this is something that you should also do do it even at the very beginning of the business, but this is also a good time to do it, which is identifying your customer avatar, Why I'm saying that now, because it's part of an optimization process. Sometimes people just go with the flow, start the business, go, go, go all in. But then as you grow, you really need to identify very well your customer avatar because that will, that will basically enable you to focus your efforts and become super efficient at a few number of tasks. So as soon as you will identify your customer avatar very well, that will give you basically, that will supercharge the process that we just mentioned before because basically it will allow you to create a filter of tasks. So you will not do certain tasks or you will not pursue certain marketing efforts or or a certain channels because it will just not make sense based on your customer avatar. Okay, so that's why I'm putting this this um step here in the middle of the process, even though you can actually do it right at the beginning and then the next step is to, you know, really creating the routines uh for for yourself to be in charge of the company. So for example um creating creating dashboards that will will help you to to identify to look at the numbers of your of your company just in a glance or organizing weekly team meetings or periodical time or tasks checks like like I mentioned before. So you start to to do more of the design work the design meaning like um like the visionary work you start doing more and more of the visionary work of the the business control. High level ceo level kind of tasks. And then the last the very last step for those who really want to go further on this and really are keen to to remove themselves from the company and are what I called the B. I. T. So business independence tests. So basically what is that what that means is as you as you start delegating more and more you will find yourself being less involved in the daily tasks of your business, right? So so then you can start to to in order to test how independent it is, your company from you, you start to running this kind of uh tests. So so for example you take one week off. Okay? And and make sure that before obviously before you take that week off, make sure everything is in place that can work exactly as it should without you. Okay? So then as you as you feel like um confident about that week, you think it went well? Okay cool. You can do two weeks, okay, it's kind of a vacation but you still, you're basically testing the business if it's to understand if it's resilient enough to keep doing the things without you. And in those tests like one week, two weeks without you which you will like kind of a foresee like control it uh from from from outside, I mean you should not actually do anything and that's actually the test. Also like are you really able to do nothing on your business or you are kind of forced to jump in and solve some tasks. So those are like really like good valuable feedback. So if you are forced to jump in, you know that there is something that is still in your place, you are still not really fully the business is not fully independent from you. So so you have to, you have to improve that part. Okay, so as you improve you you will find that the business will, will go well even without you for two weeks, three weeks, four weeks you can do it as as long as you want. Obviously, you know there are big business owners for like um built, built a very strong machine with their team and systems and processes who have multiple businesses and just just leave it uh they don't work anymore in the business. Okay, so so these are, this is like one step further running like the business business independence tests. Thanks for tuning in to Part [00:26:26] spk_0: one of this episode, join us every Tuesday [00:26:29] spk_1: at one PM [00:26:29] spk_0: pacific standard time for live Q. And A. And bonus content after the recording at cellar Roundtable dot com, sponsored by the ultimate software tool for [00:26:38] spk_1: amazon sales and [00:26:39] spk_0: growth seller S [00:26:40] spk_1: EO dot com and amazing at home dot com.

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