"Why is it that with all the information available today on how to be successful in small business, so few people really are?" ~ Michael Gerber
Whether you are looking to build your business from the ground up, or grow from where you already are, it's important to look at what you are filling your days with. Essentially your time should only be used to do two things in your business - working with clients (and therefore directly generating revenue), and doing specific marketing tasks (to plan revenue strategies, and to network with potential clients). If you are doing anything else during the day, you are possibly leaving money on the table.
Here are 5 things that you should look at outsourcing in your business:
Scheduling. Ah the dreaded appointment book! Have you ever had one of those situations where it takes 5 emails/phone calls to settle on an appointment time? There are two ways you can outsource this task. First (and easiest) is to automate it. You can do this by setting up a public calendar and having people select an appointment from that (do this free using Google calendar, of use a paid service like TimeTrade). This will save so much back and forth time you will wonder why you ever booked appointments manually.
The other way to outsource this is to have a scheduling person in place. If you have more appointment management to be done, it can be helpful to have someone managing your schedule for you (ie regular appointments that need to get set up, or changes to appointments once they are booked). In any case, this can be a serious time drain if you manage it yourself. When there are so many easy options to outsource this to, you need to take advantage of one of them!
Bookkeeping and Finance. You know it. I know it. The last thing that you think about each day is booking your hours and doing your billing. Although it's the lifeforce of your business, so many business owners leave this part until they absolutely have to deal with it. Again there is more than one way to outsource this. As a professional, it's important to track your time on task for each client. You can outsource any portion of your time tracking and invoicing - there are systems like free MyHours where you can record all of your time. I have my assistant enter mine, and then I just run and check my reports each month before sending my billing to my clients. That's as simple as it gets. You can use many other online systems to track hours and invoice your clients. The key is to get into the habit of having someone help you do this part - as you grow this will be something you will outsource entirely, so start early!
Client Care. Although it's important for you to work with your clients as a service professional, the 'administrative' part can be handled by someone else. It can be so easy to get bogged down in paperwork and things like that with a client. By setting a process to outsource things like proposals, contracts, payments, renewal dates, resources and reporting, you can free up a lot of your valuable time. Again, this is something that you will eventually outsource anyway, so you may as well get systems in place to start it as soon as you have any clients at all.
Technology. From websites to social media, technology is an important part of any virtual business. Many, many business owners get wrapped up in trying to learn these things 'to save money'. There is no way that learning something new (and unrelated to your business) while you should be finding and working with clients is a good use of your time. From the start, have someone set up a simple web presence / social media presence for you. Your online presence is a very important of how people perceive you - they will check you out before working with you. It doesn't have to be complicated... just a simple page or profile, and you are on your way.
As you grow, so can your online profiles and presences. I can't stress enough that you just need to get something up there, so get a professional to do this for you. It's one of the biggest 'excuses' I have heard from designers as to why they are not marketing yet. You can always tweak and adjust as your business grows and changes, but you need to be out there.
Copywriting. One of the places business owners get stuck the most is writing marketing material. It can be daunting to 'get it just right'... why? That's easy... because you're not a copywriter! By finding a good copywriter who can work with you for your projects, you will be leaps and bounds ahead of your colleagues! If you are building your business, you will always be marketing something, so it makes good sense to think about outsourcing this piece as early as possible in your business. Doing so will help you launch products and services faster, thereby helping you earn money faster with each item.
These are five simple ways to outsource things in your business, no matter what level you are at. When you are first starting out, it's easy to get these things looked after, very reasonably. As you grow, you will be glad you have people in place (it's a lot harder to outsource when you are used to doing everything yourself!). Take a look at your business and see where you are handling things that you shouldn't be... and find some help!
By Tracey D'Aviero
Photography by Nolte Lourens
Tracey D'Aviero is a successful Virtual Assistant as well as a VA coach and mentor. She helps new and aspiring Virtual Assistants build solid foundations for their businesses by teaching them how to put procedures and plans in place for success and growth. Pick up a copy of Tracey's free eBook "How to Get Started as a Virtual Assistant" at http://www.yourvamentor.com