Mom-and-Pop Multinationals: How to Go Global


The Wilburns have used freelancers in India, Israel, and Britain. (Photo: Dana Smith)

Here is the beginning of a worthwhile article in the current issue of Businessweek called “Mom-and-Pop Multinationals.” Ever wondered how much personal outsourcing really costs? How to divide and delegate the various tasks that consume your time? This article includes several useful case studies:

From the outside, the gray Victorian with the stained-glass windows on a gentrified block in Dorchester, Mass., is a typical middle-class dream house. But it also is the headquarters of what you might call a micro-multinational. Randy and Nicola Wilburn run real estate, consulting, design, and baby food companies out of their home. They do it by taking outsourcing to the extreme…

Read the entire article here. I was not aware I was featured until my agent sent me the link.

Posted on: July 8, 2008.

Watch The Tim Ferriss Experiment, the new #1-rated TV show with "the world's best human guinea pig" (Newsweek), Tim Ferriss. It's Mythbusters meets Jackass. Shot and edited by the Emmy-award winning team behind Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations and Parts Unknown. Here's the trailer.

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68 comments on “Mom-and-Pop Multinationals: How to Go Global

  1. I’ve been using outsourcing in my internet marketing business for months with great results…

    I’ve just partnered with someone in india and we’re putting together a markeitng campaign that should bring me over six-figures in income within 90 days… and its all automated.

    This stuff works – just embrace it and run with it.



  2. As a small business owner, and a control freak, I was scared out of my mind at the idea of parceling some of my responsibilities into small packages and then sending them out to other people to do. But once I finally took the plunge (after I started reading your book, Tim), I have never looked back.

    I was partly afraid that I’d be exporting my expertise and eliminating my own value, and also wary of sending work overseas. But I’m finding that I can find reasonable pricing in other US shops smaller than mine.

    So to folks going over to read that link — if you’re not sure just try it for a month, start out with a virtual assistant, and just look at the time you save and what you’re paying for it, vs what you charge and what a better lifestyle is worth.


  3. Tim,

    Appreciate the heads up on the article and the call. I’m looking forward to hearing the recording (as its already started.)

    Any word yet on the ‘Endless Summer’ contest? I thought results were supposed to be posted by now.



  4. Another great article!

    I myself am in the process of setting up my business and contacts. The plan is to get a handful of clients going so i can put them on automatic pilot. As outsourcers i am using friends and other people i know, but once things get busier i’ll use (foreign) workforce.

    What’s amazing is that they rely on different sources of income and not just one business.

    To Tim:
    Do you also do this? Multiple sources with a 80/20 analysis of course. If so, want to share some? :)


  5. Hi Tim and 4HWWers,

    I’ve wanted to post here for some time but never really had anything to add to the conversation other than “liked your book, don’t have the courage to implement your ideas and step outside of my comfort zone.”

    I graduated with a BA in Digital Media and spent most of my early 20s in jobs where I loved everything but the low wages: news, media, advertising, even a non-profit. I loved the work but scraped by with support from my parents. I finally got tired of living paycheck to paycheck and got a grownup job at a Fortune 500 company. My parents and my checking account were elated. And so was I, for a short time.

    Cut to my pleasure/distress when my company gave me a substantial promotion, relocated me to a tiny rural town and put me in a position I was not trained for, in an area I had little experience with and a role in which I began spending 70-80 hours a week in the office and working from home.

    It seems that there is never enough time to complete all the work, so it becomes a game of what can be put off for another week? The following week, that task becomes the !!!URGENT OVERDUE: FIRST PRIORITY!!!! email in your inbox. My position also requires that I am available to the 150+ employees in my building for questions and guidance. I’m suffering from a chronic case of task paralysis.

    To my question: In a job where my priorities are reorganized for me daily by urgent emails and knocks on the door that I am required to handle, is there a way to apply the 4HWW principles?

    The college student in me says put in your two weeks notice and torch your inbox. The approaching-30-bill-payer in me says the current job market is tough and to be creative with what I’ve got. I feel like I’m writing to Parade magazine, but can you “settle the debate?”

    Thanks for your (very precious) time,



  6. Awesome stuff. What a great validation of the ideas in your book. I just finished reading your book and then to see this article, is just a motivational icing on the cake. I will say though, that I have used outsource writers from India for the past several years, so I have actually been doing some of the things in this book for a few years now, but the book just expands on what I have been doing and validates it. So, I feel pretty good about that.

    The one thing I want to say though, is that I am finding that my freelancers are starting to charge more as demand for their services rise and I do not see that some of these folks are the bargain that they used to be. I will say I have not been using any of the services mentioned in the book and so I will be using the resources in the book to expand my net for quality outsource workers.


  7. Mum of four creates [URL in URL field] (Women ROAR here)- it excels beyond her expectations but then after only two pages into your book Tim- she realises how limited her expectations were.
    I followed your principles without knowing it and now I am going to the next level!
    My heart is on fire, my body wracked with excitement, my brain bursting at the seams.
    Thankyou seems trivial so I will cook you dinner with my divine family when you come to Australia next Tim!
    See you on the Oprah show-oooohhh in about 6 months time I reckon!
    Love this life- its bloody sensational,


    Thanks, Ness! I’m up for dinner next time I visit Oz :)




  8. Awesome article Tim! I have been in awe of the power of outsourcing ever since I read your book last year. I now outsource work for my investment business, book review website and all kinds of personal tasks (including finding a Valentine’s gift this year…don’t worry, I still picked out and wrote the card). I feel like Combs from My Outsourced Life. It’s awesome.

    Also, I just sent Amy a note about a speaking event in Santa Barbara that I think you would really enjoy. I know the crowd would love to hear from you. Hopefully she will pass the note along to you.

    As a reminder, you and I met up stairs in the Quest Center in Omaha. We had a chat about living in Sevila.

    Thanks again for everything and we hope to see you down in Santa Barbara in the next few months,



  9. Jenna, not to derail the thread any more, but I though I’d chime in. “My priorities are reorganized for me daily” seems to be the root of your problem. You must set your own priorities and set the expectations of those assigning the tasks rather than the other way around. Don’t be afraid to tell people that you will perform their task after another task, at a specific time, or not at all. Otherwise they will continue to expect that you will drop everything for them but not your 10 other bosses.

    Applying the 4hwwk would suggest that you need to cut off some of the inputs. It sounds like you do a lot of hand holding during the day, face to face meetings, and checking email. Maybe force those that need hand holding to scheduling specific times, with specific questions, prepared in advance (that you can reply to in seconds rather than minutes/hours of face time). Don’t allow people to interrupt you at your desk; “hey can you shoot me an email I’ve got a pressing matter to attend to.” Then batch process your email.

    When all that fails, hire a VA to make some internet money and torch the place.

    I’m actually experimenting with the idea of paying a virtual assistant to do every step of the 4hwwk on my behalf (select a muse, find someone to make, advertise, etc. just get me a specific return) so that I can have a zero hour work week. I was thinking what if I just paid someone to read the book and do whatever it says. Well I’ve just skipped the read part. Wish me luck.


  10. Another great article!

    I follow your blog religously since reading the book a few months ago. I’m actually planning on re-reading the book after I finish Cali and Jody’s book. This article is yet another great example of using outsourcing!

    I currently have approx. 200 people in Manila that work for my company broken into 2 call centers, 7 home-based research teams, a graphic design team, a subscription team and 2 teams of VAs. I love discovering new things to outsource and articles like this and your blogs continue to help me come up with new ideas. For instance, I have been outsourcing most of my wedding planning, appointment making, research, etc thanks to an article I recently read.

    Keep up the great work!

    On another note, are you headed out to the Massachusetts area any time soon? One of my slashes is being owner of an Argentinean Steakhouse ( and would love to chat over a glass of Malbec and a wood-fired steak if you find the time….let me know. I’m headed to Argentina at the end of the year (hopefully) and can’t wait!

    Thanks again!


  11. When is the next book coming out? The one where we can outsource
    impossible creative talent. My paper work is 4 hours a week. Then I’m on
    my hands and knees producing intricit murals on walls, floors. (30-40 hours a week) If I’m not installing, problems are a calling. I would love to sink my teeth within my many fancies, but I’m booked solid. I’ve tried the apprentice route. ..and I won’t sell naked pictures of myself on the web. What would you, Tim, or anyone recommend. I’ve looked at this at all angles. Oh Jenna you sound nice, could I have your phone number.

    stone legend


  12. Thanks for the advice Allen. In retrospect the post is pretty off-topic. I was listening in on the conference call with Cali, Jody and Tim and got a little fired up and had to post! Thanks for your time!


  13. Tim and Everyone,

    I have just started working on outsourcing some duties I need done and one of them happens to be getting my Operating and Subscription Agreements and becoming SEC 504 Compliant to start raising capital. Has anyone ever worked with an outsourcing company on these issues? What questions should I be asking? Will they help me figure out the terms of what shares each investors gets and ownership rights? I’m just really concerned because these are serious legal matters that need to be PERFECT and I just don’t want to make any mistakes. Any help, guidance and assistance would be great. Thanks in advance for your support!


  14. Great Post Tim,

    I can tell you that your info has really helped me grow my on-line fitness business. The two things I learned from you that I have implemented are
    1.) Outsourcing about 50% of my work to virtual assistants
    2.) Gaining more time by checking my e-mails at noon and 4:30 p.m.

    I get one or two projects knocked off my to-do list in the a.m. and my whole day goes better that way. Both of these seem little in the grand scheme of things, but my on-line business has grown 200% in the last month with these changes.

    Any time you are in the Chi-town area, please get a hold of me, I would love to train together in my private facility and compare fat loss & muscle building notes.

    Keep up the great work!!


  15. This concept makes so much sense to entrepreneurs like myself that do not have the technical expertise to build website, automate systems, etc. You can probably spend big bucks hiring someone here in the US to do all your “tech” stuff, but why not do just what the articles and Tim in his book suggest. The interesting thing is that the quality of work is sometimes higher than what you would find in the US but for a lot less money.