Ep7: Outsourcing and Automation for your business

Al Pidwell, Outset Business Advisor

No one expects you to be an expert in every aspect of your business. Outsourcing and automation can free up your precious time, allowing you to focus on growing and developing your business.

Outsourcing and automation also gives you peace of mind that tasks you’re not good at are taken care of professionally.

Al Pidwell, business advisor at Outset Cornwall, has vast experience of providing business consultancy services to clients both nationally and internationally, while working here in the UK and abroad.

Al chats to our host Rich Gunton about the do’s and don’ts of engaging professionals, like your first accountant. From there, Al talks about considering payroll solutions, and how this can free up precious time for growing your business.

Other topics include getting the right kind of tax advice and assistance with human resourcing. Al also talks through the steps of potentially outsourcing your web presence and establishing a profile online by leveraging the skills and knowledge of a professional.

Beyond outsourcing, Al offers tips and advice on optimising your business with automation. Using MailChimp for email marketing and other time saving CRM options are discussed so you can ‘work smarter, not harder’. There is so much packed into this thirty minutes, it is sure to help you take the next step in growing your business.

We hope you enjoy this episode. Get in touch for more information on how we can support your business start-up journey.

Read the full transcript here

Announcer (00:01):

Welcome to the outset podcast, the business startup podcast from Outset Cornwall, for support and inspiration to start, run and grow your business. Here’s your host Rich Gunton.

Rich Gunton (00:15):

It is the Outset Podcast. Thank you for joining us. Al Pidwell is here talking all things outsourcing, so what’s there to know about you, sir.

Al Pidwell (00:25):

Well, what is there to know about me? I’ve got a predominantly commercial background. I have spent pretty much all of my career selling people, stuff they either didn’t know existed or didn’t see the benefit of, which is always interesting. I spent a little bit of time living over in Paris, where I used to do a lot of customer service stuff. So I was involved in the front end of a five-star hotel and then came back to the UK and jumped straight back in with recruitment and outsourced payroll, which is another one of those services that people don’t know they need or necessarily understand the appeal of. I actually did consultancy within that field for a couple of years before eventually moving back down to Cornwall. Yeah, spent a lot of time doing graduate recruitment, which was good, fun as well. And at that point, my partner and I decided we were going to go to live in Paris for a couple of years.

Rich Gunton (01:12):

Brilliant, and from Paris to Cornwall. How did that happen then?

Al Pidwell (01:15):

Basically my partner at the time decided that I wasn’t quite as charming as she thought I was. So she told me to sleep my hook in the nicest possible way. And the only reason I was in France was because of her. So I thought I would come home. So went back to the Redding area, got back involved in recruitment was then in a very interesting position where one of the directors of the recruitment firm I was working for was headhunted by a payroll company. And she got in contact with me when you should probably come and have a chat with this guy. So I did, and that was the beginning of 10 years within the payroll scene. That was really interesting. I learned a whole bunch of stuff that once again, you don’t think you need to know when you get started: new ways of doing business. It opened my eyes to a whole bunch of things like for example, finance invoice forwarding. That was an interesting proposition. So I actually, as part of my process, I would actually get a more full understanding of what the recruitment company was offering. And then from there I would offer different payroll options or different accountancy solutions that would help them maximize their income. I joked that I only had one trick, but I could add about 1.2 million pounds on to any medium-sized recruitment company’s business just by having a meeting with them. It’s quite a good trick.

Rich Gunton (02:20):

I did recruitment as well. So I started off in Plymouth and then ended up in New Zealand, set up a recruitment agency out there and then came back and did a bit of immigration and found my way falling into property, and then YTKO. What is outsourcing then?

Al Pidwell (02:35):

I think the most important thing for me is when you’re getting yourself set up in a small business, or in fact, any sized business, you don’t have to be good at everything. And that’s when the outsourcing thing comes into play because, you know, everybody wants to have an all singing, all dancing website. Everybody wants to know that they’re making sure they’re doing the tax right because the tax man famously has no sense of humor. They all want to make sure that when they do get around to employing somebody, their making sure that to heal the boxes and you know, everything is done in the right way. And frankly, in addition to doing whatever it is you do as part of your business that you’re doing to the best of your ability. I think a lot of people put a lot of pressure on themselves to be able to do everything. And it’s a good idea to have a general understanding of all of those things. But actually for me the genius in outsourcing is if you were to get yourself an accountant, even a halfway decent accountant will save you money.

Al Pidwell (03:29):

So actually, why would you go through the pain of learning, how to do all of those things yourself, when as soon as you reach a certain threshold, that you can agree as part of your business plan, you can turn around and go fantastic. As of this point, I’m going to get my accountant on board and he will do these things for me.

Rich Gunton (03:44):

And I think that’s the thing, isn’t it, when you first start off, whether you, whether you new to self-employment or whether you’ve got a small business you’ll know that you’ve got a number of hats with different things written on the front of them, be it, you know, IT guru and financial controller and the marketing and the sales person, and all the other roles that go along with running a business, as well as actually doing and delivering your actual business. And I think, like you say, the tax man and woman don’t often have an awful lot of personalities or any room for error whatsoever, which is fair enough. That’s where a tax specialist and an accountant can come in and really add value rather than take away. For sure. I certainly agree with that. So if we’re a small business then, and we’re listening to this and we’re thinking, okay, great. So where do I start? What do we look for in an accountant do you think?

Al Pidwell (04:31):

One of the lovely things about the fact that we live in the 21st century is the fact that there will be review sites anywhere and everywhere. So I would probably start looking at reviews for places that have been, that you find online, or actually my personal favorite route of finding somebody is to actually ask a couple of your friends who are in a similar position and see if they have an accountant that they can recommend. Yeah, I think they’ll probably be, those are the two most direct routes to market. It also depends on whether or not you’ve actually registered yourself as a limited company, because if you set up as a limited company, you’re probably going to start getting contacted by accountants because of the way the Company’s House works these days. So, but yeah, I mean, for the most part I would probably say, have a chat with somebody that, you know, who is doing either a self-employed thing or sole trader thing, and just find out who they’re making use of and why it works for them and then have a conversation with them.

Rich Gunton (05:20):

Yeah. And the way of the world, how we all work, we don’t necessarily need to be, you know, near the high street for an accountant. They could be anywhere in a lot of respects, but I do think that kind of initial recommendation from someone who’s, you know, not too far away from you, who’s doing some of the good stuff, but it’s that personal relationship I would think. And obviously there’s large accountants, multinational companies, smaller local regional companies and one person businesses as well, isn’t there? That perhaps specialize in small businesses or specialized within your industry, that type of thing.

Al Pidwell (05:56):

The other thing to bear in is the fact you will be talking to this person fairly regularly. So I would also want to make sure that it’s somebody that you would at least be comfortable having a bit of a conversation with. And it’s somebody that you feel comfortable perhaps pushing back on some advice on as well, because you want to make sure they’re giving you the best advice for your business. Not necessarily the thing that they think is the best advice, because quite often there will be almost a moral gap between what your accountant is advising you to do. So for example, you know, how are you going to include these people? Do you want to employ them as being self-employed individuals? Or do you want to employ them yourself? The average accountant will turn around to you and say, well, actually let’s make them self employed may not be the best advice and it could open you up to all manner of unfortunate. So it’s worth having a bit of a chat seeing what works well for you.

Rich Gunton (06:40):

Certainly I think that’s it, the role of an accountant, I guess it could be slightly varied. You know, the more that we’re able to do for ourselves, maybe more of the bookkeeping element of it, scanning in receipts, et cetera, et cetera, can save us time with the accountant and therefore money in the early days. Things like Sage and QuickBooks and NYOB and different counting software platforms that accountants might use that will often they share with you and say, ‘Oh, this is what we prefer to use.’ And you could log in and upload your information and they can log in as well down to, or up to whichever way you want to look at it. Other accountants who have, you know, nice formatted, very basic spreadsheets that they email across and say, you need to fill this in at the end of each month, that’s how we work. So that can work well as well.

Al Pidwell (07:26):

Yeah. And the other thing is obviously that they’re also in a really good position because quite often your accounts that we’ll be able to offer at least rudimentary payroll solutions. So when you do reach that stage where it’s time to expand, to maybe get somebody on board to help out with all the other stuff that, you know, either you’ve reached your maximum capacity of production, or you may be at the point where you want to handle some of those additional responsibilities, actually your accountant should probably be able to help you with payroll for at least the first couple of months, or in fact, there’s no reason why they couldn’t do it on an ongoing basis. So that’s another, another reason for engaging with them. They can take away some of the teething involved in doing payroll.

Rich Gunton (08:00):

Employing people in then, and getting the PAYE correct and national insurance contributions and all that kind of thing that we are doing another podcast on a little later on as well around all of that. So, in terms of an accountant, we’ve got a tax advisors that will obviously advise us on tax and what else is perhaps going on at home. You know, so if we’re living on our own and there’s no other source of income coming in that’s great. That’s one consideration. If we’re living at home and we’ve got a partner and perhaps they’re employed or self-employed, that could have an impact on our structure as a sole trader or a self-employed person. And equally, if there’s more than one person involved in the business or the activity or where it’s based and all those sorts of things, that’s where, someone like an accountant in respect to what we were saying earlier in terms of their fee, should be able to save us money and make sure that we’re going along the right road in everything that we do, especially in the early days.

Al Pidwell (08:57):

It’s once you’ve reached that stage, they’ll also then be able to give you additional advice. So for example, is it worth you looking at registering yourself about some suppliers will only do business with you if you are VAT registered. So, you know, getting somebody who can give you a really good concrete, “Yes, this is a good idea. No, this is a terrible idea.” Or even milestone it for you, so they can tell you how long it will take, all of those things are invaluable. So yeah, I can definitely see the benefit involved in that as your first stop with regards to the first person you should get on your team. I think the accountant is a good shout.

Rich Gunton (09:29):

So yes, go out there to talk to three or four different accountants. Meet them or have some time on the phone with them. I always sort of say, most accountants will be happy to give you 20 minutes, half an hour, of free advice. And those sorts of initial calls and conversations will allow you to, one, find out who they are and what they do and how they do it. And if there’s a fit for you. And it’s also a bit of a learning curve as well, where you take the plunge and employ somebody.

Al Pidwell (09:55):

I mean, the Dummies Guides are amazing. So you can get your Dummies Guide to WordPress and get started with putting together a website. But once again, if you’ve got a business where you were involved in doing a particular thing, you know, nobody is going to expect you to be able to put together an all singing, all dancing website and manage your books and make sure that your taxes are paid up to date. So I would say probably the next thing to look at with regards to outsourcing, if you could, would be to actually get your web presence organized by somebody who actually understands how they operate.

Rich Gunton (10:24):

No, absolutely. And talking about the Dummy’s Guide, we’re doing this recording on zoom, and I can see to the left-hand side of your wonderful bookcase there is that brand Dummies Guides, you can see books there are those guides or are they just similar branding?

Al Pidwell (10:40):

No, I’ve actually got three there. I’ve got a copywriting and proofreading for dummies. I’ve got social media marketing for dummies, but it’s about five years old now, so it needs to be updated and there is another one about publishing. So yeah.

Rich Gunton (10:53):

Ah, there we are.

Al Pidwell (10:54):

I say, practice what you preach. That’s what I said.

Rich Gunton (10:57):

Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. So the wonderful world of websites then, you know, it’s a massive thing when thinking of either starting out in business or whether we’re already in business and we’ve realized that we need to be online or our online presence isn’t perhaps what it should be. The initial steps then to thinking about outsourcing that. What do you think we need to be looking for in a web designer?

Al Pidwell (11:21):

Probably once again, I’d ask for recommendations. So if there is somebody whose website you’d like maybe ask who did it for them and see if they organize a conversation, normally they’ll, they’ll label to have a label at the bottom righ or left hand side of most pages of who did the website. But it’s definitely worth having a look around and seeing if there’s anybody local who is doing the kind of work that you’re interested in. I prefer working with people who are local, because you can just go there and have a chat. You know, I think you can do a lot more with a five minute face to face or a 10 minute face-to-face than you could do with any number of email exchanges that go back and forth. I mean, zoom good, but I do really have a bit of a preference for actually sitting down with somebody and having a conversation with them. With regards to finding them, I would literally make a list of the things that you think are important. Is there a particular style of website that they do well? And the other thing is, what do you want your website to do? So if you’ve got somebody who is a specialist in e-commerce, then that may not necessarily be the right thing for you, if you’re not actually planning on using your website as a shopping port or anything along those lines.

Rich Gunton (12:19):

I think so, absolutely, and we have another podcast where we talk about web design and development and that type of thing. And, and whilst there’s a number of free and fairly affordable platforms that you can use to create your own website, be it Weebly or Wix, or some of the others, whether it be on WordPress, et cetera, I do think, and perhaps talking from personal experience here, you can start to go down a bit of a rabbit hole on wanting an all singing, all dancing website, whereby you’re too sort of emotionally involved in it. Where if you have a third party helping you with it, that’s what they do as a business that is their business. They know how a website, it should look, they should know how it should work. Then I think it can only be a good way of outsourcing something that is again, taking you away from potentially growing your business in terms of your customer base. That’s the whole concept of outsourcing isn’t it?

Al Pidwell (13:12):

I think so. I mean it’s one of those things. I’m in the process of learning desktop publishing for a thing I’m involved in. I’ve had a chap who I spoke with the other evening and something that has taken me approximately five hours, cause I’ve been timing it. He did with me on a zoom meeting in about four minutes. And he made it look effortless and it’s like, I am more than happy to pay this person some money to do that thing, because actually I could be spending those four hours or those five hours so much better getting in contact with people on my social media, engaging with suppliers, you know, all of the other stuff that I know how to do. I think it’s important to have an understand about how your website works. I think it’s important to have an understanding of how people navigate around it and what the functionality will be, but, you know, I don’t need to know exactly how a car works in order to drive it. Right.

Rich Gunton (13:59):


Al Pidwell (13:59):

So it’s just that kind of thing. I think websites is probably a really good kind of secondary or even a, even a primary kind of go-to with regards to that kind of thing, if you’re really looking at it. And then I suppose the other one that you could be looking at will be things like human resources, bureaus. There are an awful lot of organizations out there that are actually just responsible these days for managing your human resources side of your business. So once again, if you are getting to the point where you need to employ somebody, and that’s probably a little way down the road for a lot of startup businesses, actually knowing that you can phone up and have a conversation with somebody who is a specialist in employment law, who can help with regards to the advertising of your vacancies and can help you with interviewing and making sure you’re not getting yourself into any kind of trouble that way as well. Once again, just from peace of mind perspective, I think that’s a really useful resource that people should be aware of that exists because a lot of people aren’t.

Rich Gunton (14:48):

I do think so, and it’s something similar to taxes we were talking about earlier on is it’s an ever changing landscape, in terms of employing people or even subcontracting, which I think a lot of us find that we end up doing and potentially we don’t necessarily do it in quite the correct way. So safeguarding ourselves and our businesses by bringing in someone who’s expert in HR and employment law and all those sorts of things, hand in hand with perhaps in accounting, I think is a really strong way of starting to grow and develop your, your business and your team for sure.

Al Pidwell (15:25):

But I’m not sure if there’s anything else. I mean, maybe things like designers, because I don’t know about you, but personally, my limit when it comes down to art is generously described as doodling. So if you wanted to get a logo done, there are loads loads of places that you can go to, to with regards to that kind of thing. Or indeed anything we mentioned earlier on when we were having a conversation just before we went online with regards to Fiverr. The services people offer on Fiverr is phenomenal. You’ve got everything from people who do copywriting for you. You’ve got people who will write your CVS, you’ve got people who will do graphic design and logos and page layouts. And it’s a massive resource that once again, a lot of people aren’t aware of.

Rich Gunton (16:03):

Absolutely. Yeah. I mean I’ve used Fiverr personally for exactly that graphic design and also for video creation, you know, be it explainer videos, or even presenter ‘face to camera’ videos. The people that I’ve used, some have been either Australians or Americans or people from the UK. So depending on what it is that you’re doing as a business, depending on where your market is, the world of video and use of social media. And as we were talking about websites earlier on, I think video is so much more of a usable tool and affordable than it’s ever been before, you know, in, in sort of, you know, a 45 second video, you can get across quite a lot of information, can’t you?

Al Pidwell (16:45):

You really can. One of the things that I found quite useful in the past with some of the projects I’ve been involved in is voiceover actors. For example, I have discovered since I’ve been presenting on zoom, um, there you go. I’ve done it again. I say ‘um’ a lot. I had no idea it was a thing, but in one session, one of my lovely clients kept count for me and apparently I said it 37 times in a three hour session. Now clearly the session wasn’t massively engaging, beause she had time to actually take down every single one of those! But having been warned about this, getting a professional voice actor in to actually read, it was a two minute piece that we were going to put video over the top of was an absolute brilliant investment as far as I was concerned, it was really well presented. It was a much better sound quality than I would have been able to manage because obviously he’s got all the equipment and all the tools, and it just came packaged. So I could, I could upload it onto the website really, really easily.

Rich Gunton (17:37):

I think that’s very valid Fiverr and Freelancer. There’s a number of those sort of freelancing kind of websites where you’re literally just buying in the resources as, and when you need it and 25 pounds could buy you a graphic designer to create a really decent logo that might cost you four or five times that elsewhere. And I think that’s the power of an online global community. It’s really about knowing your customer base in terms of the reach that you’ve maybe got on your website or social media. But like you say, you can show a real full and robust presence in terms of being slightly larger than you are by using multiple, voiceover actors and face to camera and graphic designers and web designers, et cetera, et cetera. I know in some worlds of enterprise and self-employment people talk about building a dream team or something like that, and even if we’re a home-based small business or we’ve got the aspiration to grow and develop in the early days, we can kind of create a dream team or a power team, whatever you want to call it, where we’ve got an accountant where we’ve got a designer where we’ve got someone to help us with the legalities and the HR and the recruitment and the employability side of things, but all of which are essentially outsourced rather than having them all sitting in an office, looking at each other and on the payroll.

Al Pidwell (18:55):

Absolutely. I mean the other thing to remember with regards to that is, obviously, by having those people who are involved, you’re not diluting what you do. I think we’re probably getting a little bit ahead of ourselves, if we’re going, you should definitely have sort of everything because a lot of people are going to be at the point where they’re like, well, hang on I haven’t made very many sales yet. That’s a little bit ahead of the way to go, but it’s not a bad idea to have that as a roadmap or a milestone achievement that you can sort of like sit back and go, okay. So I’ve gotten to the point now where realistically, can I justify paying X amount of money per month for my accountant.. well yes, I can. Fantastic. And then figure out how much time that’s going to spare up.

Rich Gunton (19:30):

Absolutely. Well as you were talking about something that took you five hours before and whoever it was that it was in, within less than five minutes, and I think there’s, there’s a classic example of that value of your five hours versus paying for their five minutes or an hour or whatever it is. It certainly stacks up in terms of the overall productivity, isn’t it?

Al Pidwell (19:49):

Yeah. And I think when I told him we were halfway through, when I told him how long it had taken me, I think he slowed down just to make me feel slightly better.

Rich Gunton (19:56):

Okay. Also from optimization to automation then. So in terms of, you know, our systems and processes, as we, as we grow and develop our business, be it a database and capturing information from our existing customers and our prospective customers, to sales leads and all those sorts of things. If we’re going to look at how we can automate some of the elements of running our business, where do we think we start with that?

Al Pidwell (20:25):

I would probably start with something along the lines of MailChimp. That’s the most obvious automation system I can think of. MailChimp is fantastic. It’s a really useful resource. It enables you to send lots and lots of emails without being marked as being a potential spammer, because obviously, if you’re emailing from a particular email lot that could be problematic for you. But the real power in something like MailChimp, and there’s a couple of things out there that do a similar kind of thing, so once again have a look around and see what works best. But the thing that I love about it is when you’ve got somebody who gives you their information online. So you’ve got your landing page and it’s for more information, give us your email address here. So you fill in the email address and you send it off and you can actually set MailChimp so that it will send that automated responses.

Al Pidwell (21:13):

So actually once that person has sent you their details, you can actually have an automated response that will send them out. I hi, thanks, it’s really, really good to meet you. And depending on what information you’ve taken from them during the email capture, you can actually really fine tune what you’re going to send them. Or you can just send them a really nice introductory email or a really nice post, maybe send them, I don’t know, a five or a 10% money or factor as part of the immediate response. And that will be automatic. So actually your website can be making money for you while you’re asleep.

Rich Gunton (21:42):

To be honest, I’ve used MailChimp before in the past. It’s something that’s kind of grown and developed and it gives some of the other platforms out there, a run for their money really, because there’s an awful lot of free tools on there, isn’t there to be able to use.

Al Pidwell (21:57):

Yeah. I mean, you can get up to two that you can use it for up to 2000 emails for free. And I would argue that if you’ve got 2000 people on your mailing list, hopefully you will be at the point of that stage where you’re entering a relatively solid state of business. So at that point actually paying for the additional whistles and bells will be quite useful. But I can only be using it when I used to do business consulting. I would be in a position where I would have sent somebody an email. And I’m thinking about whether it’s time to follow up on that email or not. And quite often I would get a little notification that would say, oh, by the way, Rich has read your email. I’m like, oh, fantastic stuff. I’ll phone him. So I would then phone Rich and say ‘Hi, Rich, I just wondered if you had a chance to check the email I sent you’. And depending on what they tell me at this point, I’ve got a bit of a read on the situation as well, because I know you’ve read it. And if I generally go, have you had a chance to look at the email? Yeah. Oh no, not yet. And it’s like, okay, either that is, he’s being far too nice. And doesn’t want to say no too quickly, or they’re not quite decided at that stage or wherever it may be. Okay. That’s fine. Well, while I’ve got you on the phone, why don’t we open it now and have a quick look. And you can see what was going on there, or alternatively, if they have looked at it quite often though, a really good way of using it will be to have a link that you can put into the body of email messages that they can then click into to be taken through to something else. And you can see how often they’ve opened the email, when they’ve opened the email, if they forwarded it, which is a really useful tool. And also how many times they’ve actually clicked into the links. So the amount of information you’re able to gather from that one simple tool is fantastic. It’s really empowering. So yeah, there’s some, some really clever stuff that you can be doing with that kind of thing.

Rich Gunton (23:26):

That’s great. My limited knowledge, and when, when you’re looking at things like MailChimp and then perhaps also, HubSpot and Zoho, and some of the CRM systems that you can get where they’ve got a plug in email system and that type of thing. Let’s just say someone visits your wonderful website that you’ve possibly outsourced. And then they fill out a form and then that email comes to you and therefore they join your mailing list. And the automation from that point is that they maybe receive another email 24 hours later, or three days later or seven days later. And there’s a slightly different message with each of those emails that you’ve pre-written, and pre-populated all in one go that any visitor to, in this example, your website or your social media campaign, advertising campaign, perhaps that guides them through to try to keep re-engaging with them, to bring them back so that then perhaps the conversation or click to buy or whatever the call to action is for your business. It’s a powerful tool, isn’t it?

Al Pidwell (24:26):

That’s very good. The other one that I’m really a big fan of is: there’s an extension you can get when you’re actually making your website Shopify compatible, where people may have left stuff in the basket. And I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced this. I had it the other day when I was looking at something, I don’t know when it was probably on Monday or Tuesday. I had to go and cook dinner, shut everything down and went to cook dinner, had an email coming back today to me. Oh, by the way, you’re looking at this, you left before you buy it, would you be interested in a 10% discount? I’m like, I would. So once again, it’s removing your involvement in that particular part of the cycle. And as long as you’ve built the pricing structure of your product is robust enough actually, can you afford to have a 10% discount? Well, yeah, probably.

Rich Gunton (25:12):

Absolutely. I think that’s fantastic. And so from MailChimp to briefly mentioned there about CRM systems, you know, I understand we’ve got HubSpot, a number of different ones, Salesforce and so on, that are available now either for free to use and then you’ve got paid pay for packages whereby a lot of the administration of things can be not necessarily completely automated, but certainly far more streamlined. And the processes that you have in place rather than jumping from contact book to spreadsheet, numerous spreadsheets, et cetera, et cetera. I think that’s starting as you mean to go on is it’s usually quite a useful way to go, isn’t it?

Al Pidwell (25:53):

I think so. And there are a lot of them out there. It’s interesting because MailChimp actually has a CRM system that’s incorporated into its backend. So it is part of it is native software. So you can keep track of where you are and what’s going on. So if you are a company where you’re relying on responding to inquiries, where you’re going out and you’re cold calling, and then you’re following up on those, it depends on what your sales funnel looks like, but actually you can get some real control out of that, just from the one piece of software. So yeah, once again, with regards to the kind of automation/outsourcing side of things, it’s definitely ticking a lot of boxes.

Rich Gunton (26:26):

I think from automation, staying with that kind of field, perhaps working smarter not harder, and streamlining things,. Let’s just say for someone listening to this, they’ve got a small business making cakes, for instance. And I think this is quite a common thing that is often missed, certainly in the early days of any of any business whereby you’ve got all the ingredients out there to make your cake ready to sell, and you can do it all up and you’re figuring out how much time it’s taking you and your ingredients and blah, blah, blah, versus what the, what the market allows you to potentially charge for it. If you were making two cakes at the same time, or if you were making five cakes at the same time. That mindset of having a real clear systems and processes and automating in a way what you do for a business in that kind of example, is a really worthwhile sort of thing to consider. Isn’t it?

Al Pidwell (27:21):

I’ve got a mate who is a really talented woodworker and he’s actually in the same kind of process. So what he’ll do is, he’ll make a project and he will then sort of like deconstruct it and figure out what stages he can either streamline, or he can get to the point of having some pre-production stuff that he can already get made. And some of the projects he can do. And the amount of time it takes him to do this kind of thing. I’m in awe. It’s a little bit like wizardry, to be honest with you, it’s just one of those things. I think when you start looking at your processes and the time’s involved with that, you’re doing things it’s a very powerful tool to be able to say, I’m going to go, okay, how can I make that quicker, or how can I reduce steps.

Rich Gunton (27:58):

Smarter, not harder. So we’ve talked about out sourcing, we’ve talked about securing an accountant perhaps, or a tax specialist or a bookkeeper. We’ve briefly had a look at employment, solicitors or HR sort of support. I suppose, you know, recruitment goes along with that. We talked about websites and the logo and the graphic designs, perhaps using platforms such as, as Fiverr or Freelancer. And then most recently automation, MailChimp, you know, whether it’s something for emails or a more full on CRM system coming up with systems and processes that makes your day to day of running and growing your business, enjoyable and as less stressful as it can possibly be, to work towards, you know, productivity, I guess.

Al Pidwell (28:43):

I mean, the thing that I’m thinking is the number of people that I speak to and I’m really lucky. I spend every eight weeks, I get to meet another group of 45 people, who’ve all got the most brilliant ideas. And actually I would very much like them to be in a position where they’re not only successful, but they’re able to enjoy the thing they want to do. And if they can find a way of not being bogged down with, I’ve got to do this, I’ve got to do this, I’ve got to do this. It would be so much better for them. I think in the longterm, if they adopted the right kind of business practice from the get-go. So it’s like, I’m not going to get bogged down with doing this stuff that I don’t really enjoy doing. I started doing this because I really liked woodworking, or I started doing this because I really wanted to make beautiful things or whatever it will be. So I actually think that adopting the right kind of outset or the right kind of mindset towards outsourcing the automation, the optimization working smarter rather than harder. I think that is going to be absolutely key to being successful in your first one or two years. Because actually, if you wanted to do something that you didn’t enjoy very much you could have just stayed with your day job.

Rich Gunton (29:39):

It’s been a pleasure talking to you Al. Thanks so much for being part of our Outset Cornwall Podcast.

Rich Gunton (29:46):

I was talking to Al Pidwell, all things outsourcing.

Announcer (29:51):

Thanks for listening to the Outset Podcast, brought to you by the Outset Cornwall program, which is funded by the European Regional Development Fund, H M Government, and the Outset Foundation, supporting people to become self-employed and start their own business. For more information, visit dev.outset.org/cornwall