15 Nov You can’t do it all yourself
As your small business grows, you will need to bring more people and resources on board. Especially if you aspire to have a business that operates without you so you are free to go on holidays or earn money while you sleep! Even if you plan to remain small, it is likely you will need some support.
If you have been the ‘everything’ in your business – from the CEO to the director of sales, the financial officer and the tea lady – it can be hard to let go of some of the day-to-day activities of your business. After all, no-one will do it the same way you can! But growth will not come without you moving from working in your business (serving the tea) to working on your business (developing growth strategies and new products or services).
You may already have people and organisations in place who have supported you in setting up and starting your business, such as an accountant and a lawyer. If you needed finance to start, you might already have a relationship with a banker/angel/ investor. However, if you don’t have any of these supports yet and you’re at the stage where you want to grow your business you are going to need them.
Finding the best help
Recommendations can be a good way of finding the best professionals. Ask in your networks and through Beyond Business Groups too. Make a list of all the things you want from specialists and interview a range of people to see if they can meet your needs. What might be right for someone else might not be the one for you.
Remember – sometimes the bigger the company and the bigger the office, the bigger the bill!
You may be tempted to accept offers from friends and family who want to help you out by providing their service for ‘free’. While the gesture is nice, if they don’t have the specific skills or expertise in the area you need, you may be better off paying for someone who does. And you don’t want to have to wait for services if they prioritise paying clients ahead of you. Is there really such a thing as ‘free’? (Ah, the fine print.)
Just as you are the key to your business success, the people you involve in your business can be critical to your long-term sustainability. No-one will love or be as committed to your business as you are, but you need to surround yourself with people who support you and your business idea and can contribute to its success.
You can bring other people into your business through employment or outsourcing, or reduce your workload with the help of automation (which has become the new outsourcing!). By having a resourcing strategy you can:
- improve efficiencies and therefore increase profit
- more easily adapt to market demand
- increase your marketing return on investment (time and money)
- create a better and more consistent customer experience
- leverage skills from people and organisations who may operate remotely from you.
What to get help with
Before deciding on what types of jobs you want someone else to do it is useful to undertake an audit of your own skills and passions. What are you good at? What do you like doing? What do you want to continue to do? And most importantly – what are you happy to handball to someone else?
The most common areas to outsource or employ people for in small business include:
- bookkeeping (made easy through cloud solutions such as Xero, Quickbooks and MYOB)
- social media
- administration (virtual assistant, personal assistant)
- sales (agent, representative)
Employee or outsource?
As well as deciding what skills you want, you need to decide if you will employ someone directly or outsource to them through a contracting or project-based arrangement.
If you are employing someone you need to decide on:
- employment conditions and entitlements
- level of pay (often based on employee awards and agreements)
- other costs of employment, including skills and training needs, and new equipment and facilities
- work arrangements.
Before you decide to advertise a job, prepare a position description that defines the responsibilities and functions of the job. This will help you identify the knowledge, experience and skills required, as well as the interview questions you might ask.
If you are outsourcing to a person or other business you need to agree on the fee, the desired outcome and payment terms.
As well as employing and outsourcing, you should also consider what areas of your business could be automated. Automation is basically handing over a job to technology. If you are using a social media management tool such as Hootsuite you are already using automation. Automation can help improve your efficiencies and reduce your costs.
The best tasks to be automated are all the jobs you do regularly and you don’t want to have to put too much thought into such, as social media, email marketing, invoicing, customer data management, eCommerce and inventory management.
Planning and implementation
Like anything in your business, before making a decision you should start with setting your goals and developing a strategy to avoid falling for the new ‘bright shiny object syndrome’.
Start by identifying areas and workflows that can benefit most from additional resources and decide if they are best to be managed in-house by employing people, externally by outsourcing or by investing in automation.
Plan, decide and implement and of course, measure and make adjustments. Don’t forget all of these business challenges can be made easier by using your Beyond Business Groups brains trust. If you’re not yet part of a group, the next cohort starts in February 2020.