Dean Soto joins Marcel to discuss documenting and scaling your processes plus figuring out how to outsource your time. He helps all manner of businesses to leverage their processes to improve profits – all it takes is 5 Minutes a Day with Your VSA.
About Dean Soto
Dean is an expert at Systematizing Businesses while helping owners become truly wealthy – in all areas of life. All you have to do is commit to 5 minutes per day to help double your profits and reduce your workload by 70% – 80% in a matter of weeks.
Host of The Freedom In Five Minutes Podcast and Founder of Pro Sulum, LLC – a 2022 Inc. 5000 honoree, Dean also enjoys Jiu-Jitsu, good coffee, and simply having the time to enjoy himself.
Points of Interest…
- Dean’s ‘aha moment’ when leveraging processes to improve profit 1:45
- Offering process documentation as a service 4:26
- Methodology behind process-driven profit improvement 6:24
- Differentiating a process from principles 14:01
- Challenges of changing process to improve profits 16:29
Dean’s ‘aha moment’ when leveraging processes to improve profits
By way of some backstory; Dean was running a business that was struggling due to a lack of processes function. Discovering the power of leaning into documentation and process helped him find success in that business, resulting in him eventually offering this service to other agencies.
“I was running an Amazon drop shipping business, and at the time I was doing probably about $250,000 a year in revenue. That always sounds nice – a six-figure Amazon business, right? When, really, you’re only keeping 10% of that.”
While Dean was, at times, not making enough money to cover his mortgage, he was outsourcing work to people. These hires would inevitably depart after three months of working in the business. Why? Because they’d become overwhelmed.
“I literally had created a course on how to drop ship on Amazon, and I gave it to them thinking it was going to work, but it was all video. They’d have to go through hours of video to even learn what to do. And it didn’t work.”
What led Dean to his “aha moment” was a book by the name of Work The System, by Sam Carpenter, which promoted the ethos of documenting processes step-by-step. Writing his first process wasn’t easy, what with it taking two full days initially.
That said, this mammoth effort was worth it; Dean saw he could outsource one of the trickiest parts of his business. So, he kept writing and writing processes, turning his $250,000-a-year business into a $3million-a-year business.
“Eventually, I did nothing at all in the business. My whole entire team did it, and I just got to see the money coming in, which was great.”
Offering process documentation as a service
It won’t surprise you to learn that Dean’s path toward service offerings happened “totally by accident.” Some call it accidental, but mostly it’s serendipitous. In Dean’s case, he was having a chat with a financial advisor as he was looking to invest his profits. When this advisor asked if he had any free time over the coming week for a sit-down, Dean casually flipped his MacBook around to show a completely clear calendar. This was enough to pique interest.
“He looked at me and said, ‘How do you have nothing on your calendar? I’m booked solid all the time.’ And I told him what I do, and he just said, ‘Can you do that for me?'”
The beauty of what Dean does is that the person he outsources to actually does all the process documentation. In other words, it should take you five minutes to document a process instead of five days to write the entire thing. From connecting this one financial advisor with someone who could help with process documentation, the business then snowballed.
“I had no plans of creating this business whatsoever. And now, years later, it’s turned into what it is now. We just keep on growing and growing.”
The bottom line is, you need to find a way that works for you. In my case, I record a short video and then hand it over to the team undertaking the work. From this video, they write the required process. And in writing that process, it helps refine said process as a part of an organic process.
Indeed, every process should have a process – which sounds more convoluted than it actually is. For further insights on documenting processes, here’s my chat with “ultimate process nerd” Chris Ronzio from last year.
Methodology behind process-driven profit improvement
As a fellow founder, I’m interested in learning Dean’s methodology for taking the friction out of process documentation, enabling business owners to start doing it without sucking more of their time.
“When you have a process, I’ll call it the Master Key Process, which details how to create process documents from the videos that you send – you can then give that process to a someone overseas for a specific rate. Even if they have no idea of anything else in your business, you can send something to them to get documented, all you need is that one process detailing how to write an entire step-by-step process to create the process document.”
By honing this “Master Key Process” you or your team can do a five-minute video informing your outsourced person of everything that needs updating to the process and let them do the documentation for you. Now you’re able to just have your entire team constantly updating process documents with that outsourced help.
You can just flip on a Loom, or a screen recording tool, and outline how you’re doing what you’re doing, talking them through the process, and then sending that on to someone who writes the process. What you need first, however, is that initial process document. That Master Key to process improvement, if you will. That one key process document will lead to uniformity throughout.
***More on this and writing good SOPs from 10:58***
Differentiating a process from principles
There is an element of being forced to design a process that exposes the questions that need to be answered – especially in terms of a new area of the business. One of the things that we found helpful internally was differentiating a process from principles. For example; there are times when we’re just like, “I don’t know how we’re gonna do this, but here’s what needs to be true about the outcome.”
- It needs to be error-free
- If it involves a video, determine the screen specs – be it 16:9, 9:16, or 4:3 aspect ratio
- Specify the video length; under a minute or otherwise
In other words, you may not know every aspect of the process from the offset, but that shouldn’t stop you from defining some things at a high level. Then you can let that process of defining how we do it be a little bit more organic.
The forcing function of saying this has to end up as a process is useful for change mangement. It helps you to pinpoint the questions that need answering as a team to land on so that this can scale. As for what Dean uses to get to these answers…
“Our team uses traction like EOS (entrepreneur operating system) and Rocks. For anyone who doesn’t know, Rocks is basiscally 90 day goals for defining what something should be.”
***More musings on this from 15:46***
Challenges of changing processes to improve profits
Before we dive into the challenges Dean has witnessed in terms of starting to implement clear documentation and process (whether that’s mindset blocks or actual tactical blocks) it’s worth starting from the top down. By which I mean, you can’t just start offloading stuff to your team without looking at you and your role as an owner first.
The main issue Dean sees here is the owner/executive’s inability to let go. There is that “this can’t be done without me” mindset which isn’t beneficial to anyone in the long term. Owners don’t in fact need to get bogged down in lead generation, proposal writing, or follow-up. All they need to do is document their process (via video) and hand it over to someone else.
“I always try to get owners to do one process. And that’s identify the thing they should end up doing that brings in money. That changes their entire mindset of what can be done… Once they do that, and a proposal then successfully gets generated and accepted and they make money, the world changes. Then it’s like, ‘Oh, process isn’t just this unnecessary thing!'”
Speaking from personal experience, I’ve had to acknowledge at times that there’s an identity crisis that is deeply embedded in that fear of being unable to envisage the value I bring to the business if I’m not doing this “thing” anymore that I feel like I’m really good at. My identity is wrapped up in my usefulness as it relates to this function in the business!
So, I’ve found myself coming up with all these ridiculous reasons as to why I can’t get somebody else to do my “thing”. In fact, it’s just because I’m not personally ready to let go of that identity… Should this sound familiar to you, rest assured, you’re not alone.
“You spend so long starting a business, to then offload everything to other people, sometimes you think ‘Did I do all that for nothing?!’ Like, sometimes I’ll text my partner and say ‘I’m just going on podcasts, or travelling to an internet marketing party, I feel so useless.’ And he’s like ‘Yeah, that’s what’s you’re supposed to be doing, man’.”
Let’s face it, you’ve earned it!
Dean’s initial experience writing processes was also my initial experience writing SOP documents, which can be a massively arduous task. As a founder, it still gives me hives thinking about having to sit down and write out this process document.
So, if you’re ready to have a conversation about how VSA’s can make a difference for you and your business, watch Pro Sulum’s story, or feel free to book a quick discovery call with Dean’s team.
See more from Dean…
- Dean’s LinkedIn linkedin.com/in/fdsoto/
- Pro Sulum’s FaceBook facebook.com/prosulum/
- Freedom in Five Minutes Podcast freedominfiveminutes.com
Did you learn anything new from this episode? Let us know in the comments below! We have helpful blogs designed to bolster your agency profitability, such as How To Calculate Your Billable Employee Cost-Per-Hour.
Our next installment of #APP, on May 17th, will see Marcel talk with Nigel Thomas for our 113th edition. Our previous blog – Episode 112 with Peter Levitan – can be viewed here…
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