Brad Stevens | Delegating, Outsourcing, and Managing a Virtual Team
Brad Stevens
Smart Business Revolution

Brad Stevens is a lifetime entrepreneur and the Founder and CEO of Outsource Access, an offshore managed virtual services firm that has built over 200 staff in just 18 months — and is projected to hit 500 in 2021. Brad is an expert in scaling, automation, outsourcing, and high-performance virtual teams. He is also a keynote speaker through his firm, Brad Stevens Training International. He has shared stages with John Maxwell, Deepak Chopra and advised Martin Luther King III. He speaks primarily on agility and scaling for CEO peer groups.

Brad has been heavily involved in Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) and is currently the President of the Atlanta Chapter of EO. He has also been involved in some philanthropic efforts including launching Virtual Assistants Give Back, a documentary film made about his firm. He was also selected to run a think-tank on economic growth at the United Nations headquarters. Brad also has a new podcast called Automate and Delegate.

Brad Stevens, the Founder and CEO of Outsource Access, is John Corcoran’s guest in this episode of the Smart Business Revolution Podcast, where he talks about delegating, outsourcing, and managing a virtual team. Brad explains how he built a 270+ employee firm, the challenges he faced along the way, and how being a member of Entrepreneurs’ Organization has impacted his life.

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Here’s a Glimpse of What You’ll Hear:

  • How Brad Stevens learned about the importance of delegating and outsourcing
  • How Brad started his outsourcing firm, Outsource Access
  • Brad discusses his low point while building a teeth whitening business
  • What Brad learned about outsourcing and managing a virtual team, and the challenges he faced building a virtual team
  • Why Brad outsources from the Philippines — and how he built a 270+ employee company
  • The personal skills Brad hopes to improve 
  • The role Entrepreneurs’ Organization has played in Brad’s life and career
  • The peers Brad respects and those he acknowledges for his achievements
  • Where to learn more and get in touch with Brad Stevens

Resources Mentioned In This Episode

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Episode Transcript

Intro 0:14

Welcome to the revolution, the Smart Business Revolution Podcast where we ask today’s most successful entrepreneurs to share the tools and strategies they use to build relationships and connections to grow their revenue. Now, your host for the revolution, John Corcoran.

John Corcoran 0:40

Welcome everyone. John Corcoran here, the host of this show. You know, every week I got to talk to such amazing CEOs, founders, entrepreneurs of all kinds of companies and organizations ranging from YPO, EO, Activision Blizzard, Lendingtree, OpenTable, Ace Software, and many more. Go check out some of those past episodes, you will enjoy them. And you know my story. I’m a recovering political hack and a recovering lawyer. I spent years working in politics, including stints at the Clinton White House in California for a Governor practicing law, but 10 years ago, I discovered this medium of podcasting. I’ve been doing it ever since. And I love that I get to talk to smart founders and entrepreneurs and today is no exception. But first before I get to that, I want to give a quick shout out and thank you to Chris Krimitsos of Podfest Expo who recommended today’s guest and I’m excited. 

His name is Brad Stevens. He’s a lifetime entrepreneur and CEO of Outsource Access, which is an offshore managed virtual services firm that built over 200 staff in just 18 months, pretty impressive, and projected to hit 500 staff in 2021. He’s an expert in scaling, automation, outsourcing, and high performance virtual teams. He’s also a keynote speaker through his firm, BST International, all around the world. He shared stages with John Maxwell, and Deepak Chopra and advised Martin Luther King the third. He speaks primarily on agility and scaling for CEO peer groups. So we’re going to ask him all about that. He’s been heavily involved in Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO), and he’s currently the President of the Atlanta Chapter of EO. And he also has been involved in some philanthropic efforts as well, including launching Virtual Assistants Give Back, a documentary film, which was made about his firm and slicer. He was also selected to run a think-tank on economic growth at the United Nations Headquarters. And he has a new podcast. It’s called Automate and Delegate. So you’ll have to go check that out, as well. 

Brad, it’s such a pleasure to have you here. And what I found interesting about you and researching your background is that you had been speaking and teaching and training on delegation and outsourcing for a long time before starting your virtual assistant firms. I told everyone, they started a podcast long before we had any vested interest at all, in others doing that. So take us back to where’s the aha moment? When did you start to realize the value and importance and significance of getting good at delegation? outsourcing.

Brad Stevens 3:10

Sure, John. Thanks for having me. I appreciate the opportunity to to be on we’ve had a lot of very esteemed guests. So glad to be number to among them the opportunity, very humbled by appreciate it. And yeah, I mean, I’m super passionate about this topic, you might have seen me speak and discuss it. It’s absolutely been a game changer in my personal life, redefining how I think about scaling and growing a business. It just equips you with what I call a kind of this magic toolbox of know-how and resources that are affordable and effective, that just changed the game as an entrepreneur. And for me, you mentioned, I’ve been a lifetime entrepreneur. And long story short, my prior business before I launched this business, we manufactured and distributed teeth whitening products all over the world with a partner manufacturer, and we had a product disaster happen. I’ve always had these crises that occurred, just like COVID has been for a lot of people. But we had a product defect issue. So we had 1000s of units that were deemed defective all over the world. And so long story short, cash got tight, had to get super lean. And that’s what I had to learn to look at alternative options of how to get things done in the business to save money, get things done fast. So kind of a blend of sort of growth hacking and outsourcing and automate and delegating, I kind of learned this craft that has led me to what I’ve launched today. So we were able to kind of save that business at that time by building a team of gig economy workers all over the world and doing some pretty crafty creative things. And so what ended up exiting that that business at this knowledge base and so as you mentioned, it started off with first I just I wanted to help and share it spread the message you know, so I did a lot of speaking initially and so did a lot of speaking now but then didn’t have kind of a business connected with it. Except we would do consulting so to kind of help companies understand that these deep dive assessments are their constraint points and then introduce them to this whole world of quote outsourcing, which is for most small to medium businesses. They think that for large companies, they don’t realize that it can be accessible to them as well. And how do you use, you know, skill based outsourcing for one off things like websites and graphic design and data scraping and meet graphic videos, to actually having a full time staff in your business that works in somewhere like the Philippines where our operation is based, they completely can change the game and how they grow. And after doing it for a number of years, I just realized that there was a gap in the market that I felt I could kind of do things differently. And so instead of referring people, I decided to launch my own operation. And so that’s Outsource Access, based on my experience with a woman j cell that I brought on with my very first VA in the Philippines, and just was blown away. And once I learned the difference of English as their first Lang, you know, their second language, incredibly competent, very driven workforce, but also very affordable in terms of the strength of the US dollar, decided to launch. So see, June 2019, we launched Outsource Access. And it’s actually funny enough, 20 months later, if too much to it, we’re actually just hit 277 staff. So it’s been a crazy scale growth experience. But just changing the lives of business owners and changing the lives of our staff employees. In the Philippines, we have a very unique way we go about building our business and our culture, though, that’s kind of led us to where we are today.

John Corcoran 6:15

So I want to ask you all about the current business but first take me back to you mentioning the low point with the previous business, the teeth whitening business? Yeah, what was the low point where you feel you’re looking back now you realize this? Are you flat on the ground on your back?

Brad Stevens 6:33

Yeah, it was, um, you know, I mentioned that the product issue that we had, so we had to give the detail behind it, it’s a teeth whitening pin that we had that teeth whitening gel on one side and lip gloss on the other. And we had a very high end manufacturer that we worked with out of Taiwan that manufactured the components for it. And then women loved it, you know, because I had the teeth whitening gel that could brush on their teeth to whiten their teeth. lip gloss on the other had a little mini LED lights in it so they could shift a light. It actually serves as a little flashlight in their purse. And it was really, you know, a vector product. And so we had done 1000s and 1000s of units and it seems successful. But on our next batch that we ordered from our manufacturer, somewhere down the line, somebody changed the bioadhesive glue that held the little brush piece on the teeth whitening gel side. And so the way our manufacturing works was that our components are manufactured in Taiwan and they would ship to the states where our teeth whitening gel manufacturer put the whitening gel side in where that little brush was and put the cap on it. Well, because that supplier changed that by adhesive glue is still safe from what he said standpoint, but they didn’t realize that there was a component in it, they had it react to that teeth whitening gel, the hydrogen peroxide. So what happened is it would happen immediately. But after they filled the teeth whitening gel and put the cap on it and we started shipping these things out, it would start building up gas. And then when people would go to open it, two things would happen actually, it would build up enough gas that the thing would just crack and just ooze inside the box. And I would lose all over the shelves of our clients, it would lose all over the purse of one of our clients. Or it would build up enough gas where it wouldn’t crack but you get to open it. And it would literally shoot across the room. I make it almost like crack glass. So basically we started allowing you two years later, hopefully? Oh yeah, it’s like they say by COVID you never waste a good crisis. But it was about a moment when I saw that happening. And we could control it, we had these batches going out all I mean, we were shipping in 18 countries internationally. So this guy sent 1000s and 1000s of little mini grenades all over the world. And I had to deal with recall issues and you know, replacing, you know, purses and so forth, you know, internationally and just you know fortunately the manufacturer agreed to provide replacements for all that stuff. But I mean, I know the supply chain, how much did it cost you? Oh 10s and 10s of 1000s of dollars. I mean, if you look at not only direct costs of replacement, I mean easily over 100 grand plus i mean it was substantial with having to replace product but also this is the batch of course this is the batch that we send to all the major beauty editors all the major publications because we got enough traction with it, you know, like you know what, let’s go get it to all the major editors and let this be the batch that they can do right you know right up on it because we were thinking about maybe even making a separate entity just for this one product cuz it was so successful. We found a way to like custom engrave practices names on it, they could use it as a giveaway product. So of course that was the batch that got into the hands of all these people that now had this experience with it. And instead of creating a positive press Create a negative. So if you look at hard cost replacement plus opportunity cost that it costs us in lost opportunities. I mean hundreds of 1000s of dollars