As a business owner, time is your most valuable investment in the growth of your business. So how can you redirect your time and energy to work? Today’s guest is Arijana Ilibasic, the Founder of Scale & Simplify as well as an Online Business Manager and Delegation Consultant, helping service providers and course creators turn their businesses on autopilot with strategic delegating and smart systems. She chats with host Kendra Perry to elaborate on the different ways delegation helps you grow exponentially. Plus, Arijana shares important tips on how you can start delegating and stop micromanaging to achieve optimal results. Stay tuned!
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Save 10-Hours Per Week By Delegating With Arijana Ilibasic
We are hanging out with Arijana, one word, one name like Madonna. We are talking about outsourcing and delegation. This is an important topic because, as a new business owner, if you are getting caught up in the day-to-day administration tasks in your business, this will be the reason why your business won’t grow. Your time needs to be focused on sales and marketing because if you can’t make sales, you don’t have a business and if you’re not marketing, you’re not going to get sales.
These are the most important things for you to be working on. These would be things like creating social media, putting together workshops, pitching podcasts, doing email marketing, all those things that help you acquire new leads and eventually new sales, but if all day, every day you are answering emails, scheduling social media, filing, onboarding, all of these things that someone else could be doing, then that will make you very stuck.
It’s a bit controversial because new business owners typically feel like, “I’m not making money, so I can hire. I need to be making money first.” If you hire intentionally and for very affordable prices because you can hire someone at any price you want, it will move your business forward much quicker. You will have time to focus on the things that matter in your business.
A little bit more about Arijana, she is an Online Business Manager and Delegation Consultant, helping service providers and course creators turn their business on autopilot with strategic delegating and smart systems. She’s the founder of Scale And Simplify and has been working with online businesses for years, leading teams, managing launches and building funnels for six-figure course creators.
Before joining the online space, her educational and work background includes a Bachelor of Psychology, a postgraduate degree in Human Resource Management, and five years in corporate HR roles. She lives in Serbia with her husband, two young kids and a puppy. Fun fact, they moved their lives across the world from Canada. Let’s talk about outsourcing and delegating and dive into this episode.
Arijana, welcome to the show.
Thank you. I’m excited to be here.
You are coming in from Serbia. It’s a long way away.
It’s nice and sunny. I used to live in Canada. I’m always very grateful for the warmer weather here.
You used to live near Toronto. I grew up in that area. It’s pretty cold there.
Almost daily, I get multiple messages from friends and family who were in Canada, complaining and sending me photos and videos of blizzards or screenshots of their weather app. They’re like, “It’s minus twenty. I hate this.”
I grew up near there. I very vividly remember the minus 20, the minus 30. It’s super cold. I moved to West. I live in a place where we cover around freezing for most of the winter. That’s manageable. I love to ski. It’s great. I would never want to live in Ontario again because of how cold it gets. We’re going to be talking about outsourcing and delegating, which is a super hot topic for my audience. I would love for you to give our readers an idea of how you became an online business manager and how you got into this.
My background as far as my education and my career were in Psychology and Human Resources. I started my career in HR. I’ve brought a lot of that into what I do as well. I was at a point when, after I had my second child, I was like, “I am not going back to a full-time job.” I started freelancing as a virtual assistant because it was the fastest thing that I could see, do and be able to quit my job ASAP. I started working as a VA, transitioned into an online business manager and then pulled in the things I knew you were supposed to be doing from an HR perspective with also seeing how people were operating when they were hiring virtual assistants. I’ve married all of those things together.
Can you define to our audience what an online business manager is specifically? A lot of people may not know.
How I explain it to people who aren’t in the online space is it’s like a general manager, except online. An OBM will oversee a team when you have one and do the project management side of things and planning and hiring. There’s a lot of reviewing of analytics. It’s like you’re a right-hand person where it’s somebody that you know that has tabs on all of the different areas in your business or if you want to think about them as different departments and then understanding all the little things and the details that are going on so that you, as the CEO, don’t have to worry about those.
I hired an OBM. It was like, “This is crazy.” As someone who runs your business, you get caught up in managing people, contractors, and projects. I’m like, “I’m not super organized.” Everything was always a disorganized mess.
It’s a lot of mental bandwidth too. For me, on that side of my business, I only keep two OBM retainers as clients because I do other things as well. Also, I have their entire businesses in my head. The bandwidth of the information is a lot. It’s cool when you get to hand a chunk of that off to somebody else.
Let’s talk about outsourcing and delegating tasks. A lot of our readers are relatively new in business and feel like, “I can’t hire anyone until I make money in my business.” I would love your thoughts on that perspective.
That’s 1 of the top 3 mindset issues or hurdles that people come up against. They’re like, “I don’t have enough money to hire somebody.” When we’re talking about how to figure out what to delegate, there are two steps that you need to take before you even reach that phase. The first one is eliminating the things that you shouldn’t be doing in your business, like things that your business does not need. Oftentimes, there are a lot of things that we think we should be doing. We do them, but they don’t necessarily make sense. Assuming that you’ve gone through that and the things you’re doing from a strategic perspective will move your business forward as simplified as possible.
The second piece is automating. I call it hiring your robot assistant. For example, Zapier will allow you to automate little administrative tasks that you keep doing because you think it takes two seconds, but those things add up. Even before you hire a human, you can pay for Zapier. Even on the free plan, there are so many things that you can do to start to get things off of your plate. The next phase would be to then bring in somebody to manage the next layer of that. The other thing I would say to that, too, is once you do decide to hire somebody, you want to start with where you’re comfortable.
First of all, you can look at people’s packages. Start looking at your finances and say, “Is this true that I can’t hire somebody?” Considering also what you do with your time and how much revenue you can bring in with your time, how much freeing up your time allows you to bring in. There are lots of different contractors out there. You can hire somebody to do this one small piece. Let’s say that you schedule a weekly newsletter. Delegate that to somebody. Start somewhere, small and ASAP, so you get into the habit. Say, “My budget is $200 a month. What’s the best place to utilize those funds to help take a good chunk of tasks off of my plate?”
You mentioned time. Time, I always say, is our most limited yet most valuable resource, especially for people who are relatively solopreneurs. They’re doing all the things. We talk about things you should be doing and shouldn’t be doing. Would you agree that the things you should be working on are sales and marketing? Those are the priorities in any new business, but a lot of the other stuff has to happen, but it’s not necessarily growing the business or moving it forward.
When I take clients through figuring this out, we sit down and list all of the things that they do. Usually, this starts with time tracking and then adding to it the other things that are missing at that point. We’ll go through and you can do this, where you ask yourself for each task. “First of all, can I do it?” If there’s something that you don’t know how to do, part of what I do in my business, too, is build funnels in Kartra. If the tech side of things is something that you are going to spend days trying to figure out one landing page, hire it out. If the answer is no to, “Can I do this,” then you need to hire it out. I see this all the time.
People get stuck on the tech and don’t move forward. They don’t solve the thing. It’s a vicious circle. “Is it in my zone of genius? Am I the only one who can do this?” Everything else falls into the to-be-delegated piece. You can do that in stages. Usually, we can’t just hand off 90% of our business to somebody. You can do it in layers and stages if you’re methodical about it. If your goal is, “One year from now, I want to only keep the tasks that are in my zone of genius and that only I can do,” go from there and reverse engineer what you need to hand off between those twelve months.
I love that you said, “Just start.” It’s something that I tell my students as well. I always say, “Get someone to schedule your social media because it needs to be done. Anyone can do it. You don’t need to be doing it.” There are so many contractors out there who will work for so many different wages. People are always asking me, “How much does it generally cost to get a graphic designer? What’s the going rate?” I’m like, “Figure out what your budget is and then find someone who will do it for that.”
The just start is important, as with anything in business. We hear this all the time, “Start when you’re ready.” It’s almost a growth tool, a tool that you use for your growth as a leader and as an entrepreneur. The sooner you start, the more you’re going to flex your delegation muscles so that you can grow more quickly without killing yourself in the process.
Do you have any tips on if people are hiring their first contractor or they’re outsourcing for the first time? Are there any things that they need to know or common mistakes?
There are two things. There is a good chunk of people whose first hire is like, “My friend told me that I need a virtual assistant so here I am.” We want to step back and make sure that before you start going out to find somebody, you’re clear on what it is that you want to delegate. This goes back to being intentional with the listing, “What are the things that I want to hand off ideally from now until forever? What am I going to start with?” Write a clear job posting that outlines the tasks that you want those people to be doing and their attitudes. Get specific about who they are, the way that they work and what time zone they work in.
In the same way that we sit and connect to who is our ideal client avatar, you want to do the same thing with a team member. Otherwise, what happens is people hire reactively. I see this all the time. On Upwork or in a Facebook group, people will post a two-sentence description like, “I need a virtual assistant. Can somebody send me a recommendation?” There are many nuances there that you want to make sure that you do your due diligence upfront because the time you take upfront and doing that preparation will save you a ton of time and money down the road and prevent you from making the wrong hire.
It’s so funny. I’m being reminded of an outsource that I did early. It was probably in the first year of my business. It was a website task. I remember being unhappy with the job that was done, but years later, I found the email communication I’d had with this guy. There was no direction. I was expecting him to read my mind. With the poor guy, I was like, “This is a terrible job.” I didn’t give him anything. Being clear is important because you’re the boss and people don’t know how you want them to do it unless you tell them.
That’s what I mean. It’s a personal growth journey too. It forces you to think about things from a different perspective and then also think of things from someone else’s perspective. The first time that I hired somebody, I was still working as a virtual assistant. I hired a VA very early on. I was blogging at the time. She was creating pins and scheduling them out on Pinterest. I’m so glad I did that. There are things along the way that I’ve outsourced that I shouldn’t have even been doing in the business in the first place, but I’m so glad that I started early on because I have control issues like most of us entrepreneurs.
It’s hard to give that up. I feel like the sooner you start, there’s less at stake almost. Your business is smaller, so it’s easier to delegate than if you hold onto it for dear life. You’re two years in and you have all of this stuff going on. It makes it even harder to start at that point and give up the control because then you’ve been doing all the things and wearing all the hats for so long. It makes it that much harder.
I agree with that because that was me. I hired my first VA in year two. At that point, my whole business was in my head. I hadn’t written down any processes or credits. I remember bringing on this girl. I have to create how-to stuff and how to start creating this manual and bring her in. It’s interesting too that you talk about control. This is hitting me in the heart because I hired my online business manager.
I had this big grip of control around the company but didn’t even realize that it was only upon entering a business mastermind that my coach was like, “You’re micro-managing.” I’m someone who is like, “Micromanaging is the worst. I’ll never do it. It’s terrible. It’s the killer.” I’m like, “I’m micromanaging. I’m such a hypocrite.”
I had no idea. I had a discussion with my OBM. I’m like, “I’m sorry. I want to give you control.” She was like, “I’ve been waiting for this.” That has been a journey. It’s hard because I want to get my claws into everything all the time. I have to sit back, trust and understand that they’re going to make mistakes while they’re doing this and it’s okay. We have to move forward and learn how to work together.
Communication is a huge part of it. I see these two people hiring somebody and getting frustrated in the first 1 or 2 weeks that they’re not performing at the level they would want. You have to look at yourself. Look in the mirror like, “What part do I have to play in this? Do they have the information that I need them to have? Also, is it realistic that they’re going to be able to read my mind in a week? No.”
Having that expectation and understanding that it does take, they say up to three months. It’s true to have somebody settled into their role and have them understand you. Sometimes you will make the wrong hire and you’ll have to say goodbye but give it time too. Make sure that if you’re noticing errors and things aren’t working like you thought they would, look at yourself first and consider, “What parts do I have to play? What can I change? How can we communicate between us better?”
There’s also something to say about empowering your team members to speak up when they think something’s not working or something could be done better. We’re talking about this micromanaging, this control thing. We want to make them do everything our way, but maybe this person is good at what they do and has an idea of how it could work better. We need to create a safe space for our contractors, employees or whoever where they can come forward and be like, “It would work better if we did this. I need more communication regarding this.”
Some people need permission from you. It’s crazy what happens when you give people that permission where sometimes somebody, certain types of personalities or certain ways of working, people will wait and will try to do things the way that you’re telling them to do, even though that might not be the best way in that scenario. Having those open conversations and giving them permission will probably be surprised at what good comes out of that.
It feels better when it feels more of a collaborative atmosphere. It’s how you create this team environment while also being the boss and in charge of it. It can feel good. Something I would love you to respond to is I hear this all the time from my students, “I want to delegate, but I hired this one contractor and it was an awful experience. I can’t do that anymore.”
I see this all the time too. I would go back to two things. The first is, what could you have done differently in that scenario? Two is making sure that you have that backend and the due diligence so that when you bring someone on, they have at least a skeleton of a process to follow and have the information that they need. There are horrible freelancers out there and also horrible employees. That’s the way it is. It could happen that you stumbled on a bad apple, but it doesn’t mean that that’s always the case and it’s not always the case. There are so many amazing contractors. Our industry is getting older.
Many people have years of experience in what they’re doing. There are amazing trainers out there who train these virtual assistants, social media managers or online business managers, all these different roles who train them on doing their roles more effectively. If you take that time to do the prep work, then you can be confident that you will find the right person. They’re out there. You have to make sure that you’re clear on who it is that you need and then find them.
The other thing, too, is that what might be at play is panic hiring. Take your time with the hiring as much as possible. This is why it’s also important to start earlier because you don’t want to be in a situation where you’re desperately hiring and then the result of that is hiring the wrong person and having some of those not-so-great experiences.
I wonder if some of these “bad hires” are a lack of communication or clarity and clearness where the contractor didn’t truly understand what you were looking for. It’s almost like a badge of honor. We’re all going to hire a bad contractor at some point. There’s always going to be someone who doesn’t work out. We’re going to invest in a course or a coach at some point that isn’t aligned. I don’t think we should use that as an excuse to never do it again. I’d love to circle back around to this robot assistant stuff when we talked about Zapier. Do you have any hacks or tips for utilizing that kind of robot assistant and creating those automated processes?
There are so many things that you can do. For one, start with exploring. Go to their website, have the explorer section and take inspiration from that because oftentimes, people aren’t even aware of what’s possible. That’ll trigger some ideas. Also, start with going back to documenting what are the things that you do and getting specific. Even small things like Zoom meetings, if you are saving those recordings for some reason. For example, if you’re a coach and you save the recordings for your clients, that can be automated with Zap.
They would save to a specific folder on your Google Drive without any intervention from you or anybody else on your team. You can also save responses from a type form into a spreadsheet if you need that for something. Any of those tiny little administrative things, you can create new documents when let’s say, a new lead comes into whatever system that you use and they have a specific tag and this is a new coaching client or something. You can have a folder created for you through Zap where you don’t have to go in and start to do the small backend administrative things.
You can do anything. We connect everything through Zapier. It’s amazing. Where people get a bit confused is like, “It only takes me five minutes to do that.” I’m like, “If you’re taking 5 minutes every day, that’s 25 minutes a week and then 2 hours a month. You could be doing other things with those two hours. Take a break.”
The time adds up. I have a spreadsheet that I use with my clients. I have so much fun with it because I have them put the time it takes them to do each task each time and then they put the frequency and then the spreadsheet will calculate over a year how much time. That’s always a nice, fun eye-opening moment that I can share with them.
It’s not just the time. It’s also the mental space. You may not think that clicking through to save a file into your Google Drive takes up a lot of mental space. When it’s not there, you will notice the mental space that it got because it puts you into that CEO seat where you’re like, “I don’t have to worry about saving a file.” It changes your energy and then has this ripple effect of, in general, how you operate.
When we think about time management, we can’t give ourselves more time, but our energy is what we need to manage. If you’re spending all your time doing something that’s super menial, annoying and you hate it, that sucks your energy. When it comes time to do the things that matter, you don’t have the energetic capacity to do that 100%.
Exactly, because you’re stuck in the weeds.
It seems like outsourcing can be so inexpensive.
You can start small and you’ll see. If you’re freeing up, let’s say you decide to free up even ten hours a month, that’s going to have a ripple effect where you’re going to be able to bring in more revenue and scale up how much you’re outsourcing and then not just that ball keeps rolling. Start yesterday. I had one of my first clients. As a virtual assistant, she was making between $4,000 and $5,000 a month as her business revenue. She was just starting up. She hired me. The package at the time was $800 to $900 or something like that.
It was a good chunk of the monthly revenue. That was a terrifying moment. She knew that she hot to do that. Quickly after that, she was able to then start scaling because she saw how much all of the tech stuff was weighing her down. She knew, “If I suck it up, jump in both feet and know that this is 1/5 of my revenue for the month, I know that next month and the month after, I can recoup that at such a higher level.”
The lack of time is such a big reason why people aren’t able to scale and grow a business because if you’re stuck in all those super annoying administrative tasks, especially when you’re a new business owner, I’m always like, “Sales and marketing. That’s all you need to be doing to grow your business. You need to be focusing on that.” If you’re filing and finding client recordings and putting them in play, it takes up so much of your time.
It’s hard to be strategic when you’re in that place. When you hand things off, then it opens you up to new ideas, insights and strategies that come to you that you can have the time to take action on.
The moral of this whole episode is to outsource now.
I would say concretely, take the next week to track your time. There’s Toggl or Clockify. People have so much resistance to this, but do it for a week and have a daily reminder that tells you, “Remember to track your time.” Track what you’re doing because you’re going to see a pattern and there are probably admin things that you think are like, “It’s just two minutes here and there.” At the end of the week, you’re going to see that it’s not just two minutes here or there. It’s taking you longer than you think.
When I signed up for this mastermind program, the first thing they made us do was the time tracking. That’s how my coach realized, “You’re micromanaging. Why are you delegating these tasks? You have an OBM.”
There are always insights that come out of that. That’s going to give you your list of what to outsource. You’re going to take that and create a job ad. You’re going to pick the things that you want to start with outsourcing first and then build onto that.
You have a free cheat sheet for the audience. Can you tell us a little bit more about that?
It’s 55 tasks that you can outsource starting now. I broke it down by type of role or the job title that you would be looking for because people get confused about that. I see this all the time, “Do I need a virtual assistant, a social media manager, an online business manager or a Pinterest manager?” It’s broken down by who typically does those tasks. There is some overlap, but that can help you get started. If you take that and pair it with the time tracked, then you can be like, “I have my list. I know exactly who I’m looking for and what I need them to do.”
If people want to connect with you online, on social or on your website, how can they get in touch with you?
Everyone, go follow Arijana. Is there anything else you want to leave our audience with before we sign off?
I would say one last thing is if you feel like you’re struggling with hiring and you want to start, step back for a second and make sure that you know what the actual struggle is. What I mean by that is, is it systems that are the problem? You might need to address that first. By that, I mean the processes and the way that you work, what you do and all of that. Is it maybe a mindset thing that you need to step back and address for a moment? What is it that’s preventing you from hiring? Is it that you think you don’t have money to hire or is that the truth? If it’s the wrong hire or you had a bad experience in the past, step back, reflect first and then do it.
Thank you so much for talking with us about this. It’s super valuable. Thank you, everyone, for reading. I will see you again in the next episode where I help you to become wealthy AF.
About Arijana Ilibasic
Arijana Ilibasic is an Online Business Manager and Delegation Consultant, helping service providers and course creators turn their businesses on autopilot with strategic delegating and smart systems.
She’s the Founder of Scale & Simplify and has been working with online businesses for over 5 years, leading teams, managing launches, and building funnels for 6-figure course creators.
Her educational and work background prior to joining the online space includes a Bachelor of Psychology, a Postgraduate Degree in Human Resource Management, and 5 years in corporate HR roles.
She currently lives in Serbia with her husband, two young kids, and a puppy (Fun fact: They recently moved their lives across the world, from Canada!).