I’ve been blown away by Leverage so far…

That’s the new “assistant” service I’m trying.  Not so much an assistant service, as a connection to service providers to accomplish almost any task, as well as support in getting the most out of having this access.

I actually had a big goal for this quarter that I thought I wouldn’t hit.  But after a call yesterday with the Leverage team, I actually think it’s going to happen far faster than I expected.  Simply because they were able to connect me to the best tools to make it happen WITHOUT a bunch of work required.

Not only that, this one piece of assistance (sorry for being so coy), is going to help me big-time in giving you even more value at a far smaller expense.  Which means I have more to reinvest in creating value for you, rather than in things like coding and tech that you’ll never see.

But that’s not even what I wanted to write to you about today.

What I wanted to write to you about is PROCESS — and you can call me inspired.

The entire Leverage business is built on process.  Meticulously honed and optimized process for, as co-founder Ari Meisel coined it, “Less doing, more living.”

Now, I’m not trying to run a lifestyle business.  I’m not trying to work a 4-hour workweek.  What I am trying to do is create a highly-leveraged business that lets me focus on the things I do best and my unique abilities…   And do less of those things that I don’t contribute a lot of value to, that take me away from my most important tasks.

Which means things like little graphic design tasks are things I just shouldn’t touch.  Could I do them?  Absolutely!  Should I?  No way!  For big important graphic design projects, I have my favorite direct response designer (Lori Haller), and for littler things, I can trust Leverage to bring their resources to the table.

Which is exactly what’s happening right now…

Here’s the breakdown of one example of process at work, and some of what I know is going on behind the scenes…

I decided I wanted not one, but two related logos created.

I opened up my Trello board, that was setup by the leverage team.  I went to the list titled VA, and I created a card.  (This may sound a little foreign if you’re not a Trello user, but this is like adding an item on a specific to-do list — it’s really simple.)

I added some comments about what I wanted, and the Leverage process went to work.

Behind the scenes, their system analyzed my task.  It looked at what I wrote, and showed it to the most relevant assistants to coordinate.

Note, this isn’t even the graphic designer.  This is a member of the team that is coordinating tasks to different service providers in the Leverage network.

Because my tasks fell under a standard process of logos, they gave me a list of 7 questions that really forced me to clarify what I expect on this (including the 4 types of logos — who knew?).  I realized that even though I had a clear picture in my head of what I was thinking, it wasn’t until I was answering these questions that I actually explained it.

Also, behind the scenes, the coordinator followed the link I’d given, and grabbed the logo there and loaded it into their system as a reference point.  Although I’m not looking for a variation on that, maybe it will be helpful to the designer to know what came before.

By the time these couple steps were done, the designer is suddenly sitting on explicit expectations of what I am hoping for, as well as some additional resources to fulfill on those.

It was totally seamless.  And fast.  My project is now in the hands of a designer, to get initial designs, which will be edited into a final design.

Because there was a process in place to deliver, and the process is designed to effectively deliver the result desired.

The Leverage business is FULL of these processes.  In fact, that’s their entire business model.  Taken to the extreme.

And I’m certain they — because of the nature of their business — even have processes for dealing with things they don’t have a process for.  In fact, I know that to be true.  Because that’s part of what they told me as part of the welcome process.

Here’s my question for YOU: what processes do you consciously and unconsciously follow in your business?

I walk the line between being really creative and being really process-driven.  That is, I’m naturally creative and I love to CREATE processes, and so I love processes…  But getting me to FOLLOW a process?  It’s like herding cats.

That said, I have a TON of processes in my business.  Putting this essay out every day is a process.  I have other daily items that are a process.  I have longer-term processes.  I have processes for starting projects, and for starting with new clients.

Most of them aren’t documented.  Most of them aren’t spelled out.  The ones I do daily are automatic.  The ones that I do less often are more or less haphazard.

But when it comes to getting the BEST result, there is a process for that — whether it’s what I use or have even discovered yet, or not.

The one thing working with Leverage is challenging me to do — and that I was thinking about even before them — is to get my processes out of my head.

Jeff Moore, President of International Pacific Seafoods, is a regular reader and a professional friend.  He also runs a podcast with Australian entrepreneur Brett Campbell, called The Deep Dive Podcast.

In their latest episode, Brett had a brilliantly simple idea for getting processes out of your head, and documented.  (And he had to learn how to do it, because he grew a rapid-expansion franchise business that could only be successful because of process.)

He said create a PROCESS folder in Dropbox.  Inside that folder, start creating subfolders for all the processes you know you have.  Just create the subfolder, even if you have nothing to put into it.  10 or 20 minutes spent doing this, and you’ll have a lot of process categories throughout your business.  Then, as you go through various processes, you can document them.  Create a list in a word document.  Do a quick screencast video.  Whatever.  Just get it in there.

Then, draw on those next time you need to execute the process.  Did it work perfectly?  Great!  You don’t have to do anything.  If you found an area to improve, tweak your documentation.

Keep iterating, and keep iterating.  It’s a constant process.  But every time you add or improve process documentation, your business runs smoother.  Plus, you’re setting yourself up to outsource tasks and processes that others could do as well or better than you, so you can focus on where you contribute the most value.

I’m adding one layer to this for myself…

When I think a process is something I’m going to need help from Leverage for, I’m creating a process template in Trello.  This will allow me to copy tasks to them, that they can handle easily in the context of the bigger process.  This gives me full use of their capabilities, inside the processes I create.

Why do all this?

If you’re in a solo business, especially a business like copywriting and consulting that requires so much constant adaptation, it might seem strange to do all this.

But you will surprise yourself.

For example, you probably have a list of things that would be useful to get from your client at the start of every project.  What if instead of trying to look for that every time, you knew exactly where to go to get the list, and used that as the starting point for any adaptations or customization?

Or perhaps you have a set of questions you ask by email, and a set of questions you ask on your first phone call.  Maybe you have a place you store client contact info, but you’re not always perfect about that.  Et cetera, et cetera.  You get the point.

The more you’re able to create these little systems and reminders, the more you can devote your mental resources to what you do best.

And that’s just the beginning of the value you’ll get from starting to document your process…

Yours for bigger breakthroughs,

Roy Furr

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