Did you ever wish you could CLONE yourself? Wouldn’t it be cool to be able to have more free time and less stress? There’s a little-known secret to off-loading many of the less-enjoyable aspects of teaching guitar for a living so that you can focus your TIME and ENERGY on the things that have the biggest impact on your success…it’s called “Outsourcing”.
When you own a business, you have to wear a lot of different hats. Being a guitar teacher is no exception…there are lots of things you have to do in your business that have nothing to do with teaching guitar lessons. This article will explain how to outsource certain parts of your teaching business so you can focus on what brings in the money: actually teaching lessons.
Outsourcing: a brief history
I first learned about outsourcing 6 or 7 years ago when I read a book called “The World Is Flat” by Thomas L. Friedman. Outsourcing has been going on for a lot longer than that, but that was when I first discovered that you could take just about any part of your personal or business life and pay someone else to do it for you at a FRACTION of what it costs to do it yourself. The Internet has made it possible for people ALL OVER THE WORLD (The Philippines, India, China, Russia, etc.) to work for you doing everything from bookkeeping to website design to booking your flights and hotel rooms. And because those people live in a place with a lower cost of living, they’re willing and able to do that work for pennies on the dollar. Another term commonly used to describe outsourcing is using a “Virtual Assistant” or “VA” for short.
I know that outsourcing can be a touchy subject for some people. Some folks will argue that by doing this, you’re taking jobs and work away from people in your own country, and they might have a point. I’m not telling you what to think here or trying to start an argument…my goal is to show you how outsourcing can save you time, make you money and help your teaching business run more smoothly. You can outsource only to people in your own country, if you choose…some of the benefits will remain the same.
Types of things you can outsource
As a guitar teacher, there are lots of things in your business you could pay other people to do for you. The more you do this, the more free time you’ll have available to teach lessons or do other things that are important to you. Here’s a list of obvious things you could start with…I’m sure you’ll be able to think of many others:
- Putting together your lesson plans
- Bookkeeping & accounting
- Scheduling lesson appointments
- Tuition collection
- Website design/development/maintenance
- Email list management
- Operating your student retention program
- Sending out payment & appointment reminders
Basically, any task that is boring, recurring and teachable is a good candidate for outsourcing. As much fun as it can be having your fingers in every single aspect of your business, when you can pay someone $5 an hour (or LESS) to do something that frees you up to make $50 an hour (or MORE), it makes good sense to at least give it a shot.
Some things you definitely DON’T want to outsource
As cool as outsourcing can be, there are still some things you’ll have to do yourself. The two big things you should NOT outsource are:
1) Teaching your guitar students (obviously)
Your students are paying to take lessons from YOU, so it’s best if you’re the one primarily doing the teaching…but you could think outside the box a little bit on this one. Maybe you could bring in some student-teachers to help you and pay them less than your hourly rate (so that you still make a profit), or have your VA create lesson products for you.
2) Marketing follow-up
You can definitely get a VA to help you IMPLEMENT, TRACK and MANAGE your marketing efforts but YOU need to be the person who answers the emails, returns the phone calls and meets with your prospective students. A lot of what you do to attract new students will happen through word-of-mouth referrals, and that works best when you actually have PERSONAL CONTACT with the people who are referred to you. Teaching guitar is a PEOPLE business, and there’s no way around that…but you could definitely have your VA do most of the day-to-day “stuff” that needs to happen to get people in front of you to talk to.
How to get started with a VA
If this sounds intriguing and you’d like to know more about it, I would recommend reading the following books to get some more information:
- “The 4-Hour Work Week” by Timothy Ferris
- “The World Is Flat” by Thomas L. Friedman (mentioned earlier…a LONG book, but very good)
I would also recommend starting with a few one-off projects so you can get a feel for outsourcing, before you jump in and hire someone to work for you on a regular basis. Elance is the best place to get your feet wet with outsourcing…just pick a good project (adding a feature to your website or designing a logo, for example), post it to Elance and select someone to perform the work for you.
Another good way to start is by “hiring” a family member as your first VA, or even bartering with one or more of your guitar students (free lessons in exchange for assistant work). I’ve bartered with my students in the past to do everything from video production to graphics design, and it worked out great for everyone involved.
Finally, a great resource to check out is a program by John Jonas called “Replace Myself“. It’s designed for Internet Marketers, but most of the principles will also carry over to your guitar teaching business. He has a bunch of free info and a free webinar you can attend to learn more about using a VA. This is a great place to learn how to MANAGE your Virtual Assistants and learn the basics about being a good “boss”. The program may or may not be a good ft for you, but his free information is really helpful.
I know I’m only scratching the surface on this topic, but I’ve gotten some real benefits from using a VA, and I know using one can help you succeed with your business, too. Don’t get bogged down with trying to do everything yourself. Consider hiring an inexpensive Virtual Assistant to help you!
Got any questions or personal experiences with using a Virtual Assistant in your teaching business? Let’s talk about it in the comments below!