By Jo Gifford Run your business How to grow your business 1 Feb 2016 Once you’ve started your own business, the next step is growing your business. Those of us who have struck out on our own, especially as a solopreneur or a microbiz, will know that we often wear all the hats. A small business owner might find themselves in charge of the marketing, scheduling, admin, actual client work, bookkeeping and cleaning. You name it, we do it. Handing even a bit of that over can be a scary thing; often, we come up with a lot of reasons not to. “I haven’t got time to show someone else how I want it done” “I don’t know where to find someone” “What if they do it all wrong and it takes me twice as long to fix it” You know what, you could carry on thinking like that. Carry on doing it all yourself. But the danger is that you could be obstructing the progression of your business. The seminal book on outsourcing The first time I really paid attention to outsourcing was in 2007, when I read Tim Ferris’s seminal book: 4 Hour Work Week. I’m sure you know it but essentially he decided to see how much he could let go of to free himself up for other stuff by automating processes. It’s inspiring to see how someone can take all the day to day stuff off his plate to free himself up to concentrate on his own brilliance. Why is growing a team helpful The first thing is that you will suddenly have more hours in a day once tasks are handed over. This, in turn, leaves you free to concentrate on what you’re really good at, which is usually what you love and the reason you’re in business to begin with. What’s more, it’s more often than not what makes you money. So as long as you leverage those hours properly you’ll be making more money and having more fun. Win and win again. Getting extra skills for your business Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you’re always an expert at it. Some things are just better done by someone else. The first thing I ever outsourced was my bookkeeping and accounts,and I cannot tell you how happy that made me. I haven’t looked back since I handed that over – sanity saving. A great place to start if you aren’t sure where to go and what to do to start handing over is Fancy Hands. It’s a team of virtual assistants on hand for you. Things like looking up train times, booking appointments, doing research. All of the time consuming but necessary tasks done for you. The earlier the better I know how tight cash flow can be in the beginning when you’re starting out, but try by starting with something affordable like Fancy Hands. Right now they’re $29.99 a month on the starter plan of five requests, that’s about £20, £4 per task. So let’s imagine you want to look up train times, book a hairdressers appointment and get some research done – that’s easily an hour of your time but it’s costing you £12. If you replace that with client work at a much higher rate than £12 you’ve already made back that investment and more. If you can start to let go before you’re really ready, you’ll see the benefits way more quickly and you’ll have time to think about what you can hand over. Other benefits My VA and I have been working together for a while and so we really started to pull all of the little bits together to make my business run more smoothly, to make things run as we want them to, rather than just reacting to requests. And now, people know to contact her and she’s there behind the scenes and I don’t need to worry about any of it. Also we have pulled together a standard operating manual for my business which means that when we start working with others it will be easy to hand over logins and tasks etc. The two things I’m most often asked are: 1. What things to hand over? The things which you procrastinate on, that sap your time and energy. It’s a simple as that. 2. How to manage things once they’re handed over? Communication is key. Even if you think you don’t have any updates, check in with each other weekly and stick to it. You’ll build a better relationship, your assistant will have a deeper understanding of your business and so will be able to provide even more value. So I encourage you to take the leap. Even if you don’t feel ready, dip your toe in and get yourself accustomed to ditching the tasks which drain you. Photo: Penny Lowe, MAAT, runs her own practice Wellington Consulting Ltd with over a 100 clients. “Having been made redundant twice I decided to take control of my fate. Setting up the practice seemed natural.” Jo Gifford mentors solopreneurs to tell their business story online and to work in smarter, creative ways on www.dexterousdiva.co.uk.