Do you do it on your own?

For the more astute amongst you, you may realise that this email hasn’t arrived on Tuesday afternoon as usual.  There is a very good reason for that (although not a very good excuse) … my VA is on holiday and I’m doing it on my own.

In theory that would work, I know how to use the system so I’m perfectly capable of setting it up to send, however I was out all day yesterday and when I got back it slipped my mind.  I’ve had a pile of other work to do today and so it’s got to Wednesday evening before I’ve had a chance to do it. 

I did consider missing it this week but realised that it’s a great example that probably 80% of business owners will recognise (EC members should know where I’ve got that number from, if anyone else wants to know just ask me).

Over the last 8 years of talking to many small business owners, I have come to the conclusion that as a breed we are mostly control freaks.  We don’t believe that anyone else can do things in our business as well as us and so we battle on trying to do everything ourselves.  The result is that we either start dropping some balls (like this email being late) or we work all hours God sends to try and keep up.

Super successful people are not ‘one-man-bands’.  They have a team of experts and professionals around them.  Richard Branson is very clear that he has always gathered a team of people around him who are good at the things he isn’t good at.  Even athletes don’t do it single handedly – they may be the ones that run the race and get the medal at the end, but they’ve had a whole team of people helping them behind the scenes: trainer, manager, physio, nutritionist, etc, etc.

Stupidly I do have a team of VAs and I should have asked someone else to cover for the VA who usually helps me get this email sent out, but at least for me it’s only a temporary glitch, my help will be back next week.  If you don’t have any help coming back next week, you should seriously consider how you can bring other people in to support you.  A few weeks ago I emailed about the Important/Urgent matrix and it would be worth you spending a bit of time considering what tasks you really need to spend your time on and which ones can be outsourced to people who are experts in their particular field.

I’d be happy to speak to you if an admin professional is what you’re looking for!


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The easiest way to grow your business

I had the privilege of listening to one of my VA colleagues the other week talking about the breakthroughs in her business and one of them was when she learnt to outsource.  This might sound a bit odd coming from someone who provides an outsourcing service, but it is a key factor in any business being able to grow.

There will most likely come a point in your business when you need some extra help but aren't ready to commit to employing someone.  This is an ideal time to consider outsourcing whatever it is you don't like doing / aren't good at. 

A lot of small businesses are outsourced suppliers to other small businesses and you can buy help in pretty much any area you're struggling with:

·         Social media management                                                                            Easiest way to grow your own business
·         Writing
·         Bookkeeping
·         General Admin
·         Accounts
·         Website maintenance
·         Design

The list goes on. 

I am fortunate that I have a team of VAs in-house so it's easy for me to make use of them and a lot of my admin is carried out by someone other than me, freeing me up to focus on growing the business and work on the higher value tasks. But it's just as easy for you to make use of a VA as well.  You'll most likely meet one at any networking event you go to these days, or you can always give us a call.

When using outsourced help you are usually just paying for the hours worked (although you will be able to negotiate retainers if you prefer to work that way) and that won't include toilet breaks and a chat round the water cooler, so it's a really smart way to start to grow your business.

The other facility I have made use of lately  when I've needed small jobs like an e-book cover designing or a video file converting into a different format.

So, what tasks do you hate doing and who do you know that you could pay to do it for you - most likely making a much better job of than you, in a fraction of the time - and free you up to do other things?

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Where do you keep your whip?

One of the biggest problems I find with working for yourself if not having a boss.  Don’t get me wrong, I love being my own boss and I’m not sure, after 8 years of working for myself, that I’m employable any more.  However, the downside of not having a boss is the lack of accountability.

I’m certain we all get our customer’s work done, we have accountability for that from our customers, but it’s the stuff we should be doing for our business that’s too easy to put to one side when it gets busy – and there’s no-one to ask us why we haven’t done it and when it will be completed.

I had a conversation with someone a couple of weeks ago about how their blog was late going out again, and how good I am at getting my email out each week.  On reflection I realised that there is, in reality, only one reason that this email comes out regularly each week.

Interestingly, it’s not because I have a boss cracking the whip, it’s because I have a VA who has time set aside each week to send this email out on a Tuesday afternoon.  There are many weeks that I don’t know what I’m going to write about and I know that if I was sending the email myself it just wouldn’t get done.  But because I have someone else involved in the process, I know that I have to get something onto Dropbox by Tuesday morning so that she can get it sent out.

I have other forms of accountability set up at a more strategic level but I’ve realised over the last couple of weeks that from a practical, getting things done point of view, having other people involved in your processes is also a really good form of accountability. 

For those of you who have teams (in-house or outsourced) I’m sure you understand where I’m coming from.  If you’re someone that’s working on your own and struggling to keep things going, I would really advocate getting someone else involved, even if it is just outsourcing some things to a VA.  It’s really helped me to keep things happening that I know from experience have fallen by the wayside in the past.

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