Bite-sized lessons in building an online business that feels good.
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Today I'm answering a question from a listener hoping to identify when is the best time to hire and/or outsource elements of her business. This is a common concern of small business owners that often presents a catch-22, generating enough income to hire versus hiring to free up your time to grow.
In this episode I chat about:
– Why biting the bullet early can be such a valuable decision for your business
– The benefit of exploring the varied options available for online assistance
– Understanding what's holding you back and evaluating the opportunity cost of doing it yourself
– The process of identifying the capacity at which to hire
– Focussing on your ‘Zone of Genius'…just because you can doesn't mean you should (do it yourself)
Today is an episode of ask Steph where I'm answering a question that was submitted by one of our listeners. So today's question is an anonymous question. And the question says,
How do you get admin support? When do you decide you need VA help? How did you go from just you to having others help you? And are they working full-time or part-time for you? For someone who is older, I am not savvy with Canva, et cetera. I understand it. But all the admin, et cetera, is not my zone of genius, but there must be that point where you can't do everything and you outsource.
I find I get stuck because I don't quite have the income to employ, or I'm not confident enough to start employing others. But I'm stuck trying to do everything myself. And I feel like my wheels are spinning or I give up and get nowhere. It feels so discouraging.
So this is a very common scenario. This is such a common scenario where you get stuck in the doing. And you don't have enough time to do anything more to increase your income, yet you're stuck with an income that you don't think is enough to start to bring in somebody else to free up your time. So let's break this down.
I honestly think if you can bring in somebody to help you in your business, the earlier the better. The sooner you do it, the sooner you free up your time to work in your zone of genius to do the things that are going to grow your business. It's so easy to get stuck in this little middle point where you are spinning your wheels. And something has to change, because you aren't magically going to get any more hours in the day.
Your income might increase if you get a few more clients, but the trade-off then is usually that you need to work more hours to deliver on those extra clients that you've got. Now hiring doesn't have to be this all-or-nothing decision. And that's the wonderful thing about the online world we're in right now. You can work with a VA. You can work with some other contractor or a Virtual Assistant. Even someone who you're working with on a project basis, through Upwork, or through a similar platform. The benefit of this is that you're not locked into a long-term employment contract, so it can be a lot more flexible. It can give you a little bit more freedom to test the waters without committing to hiring somebody long-term.
Now some VAs will let you buy packages of five hours, 10 hours, or whatever their packages are, and you can buy these in advance and then delegate tasks to them to use up those hours. That would be a really great place to start. I used to do this a few years ago.
And I love working in this kind of capacity because you're working with the same person rather than where you're somewhere like Upwork and each time it's potentially a different person and you're having to brief them and it becomes a little bit harder when you're having to constantly explain your business, constantly explain where everything's saved versus somebody who you work with regularly, who you can add to your password management tool so they can access your different apps and you can share your Google drive with them so they can access all your documents and things.
Now a lot of freelancers on Upwork and similar platforms they will work on a project basis and this can be a much smoother way to ease into delegating and ease into freeing up your time without a huge commitment.
So the second point that you made was I don't quite have the income to employ, or I'm not confident enough to start employing others. These are two separate things, right?
You might be lacking the confidence to employ somebody and it might just be more convenient or easier to hide behind the excuse of, I don't quite have the income to employ somebody yet. So start getting really clear. Is it really that you do not have the income or is it really that you're not confident enough to take the risk that comes with bringing on other people into your business?
If you are doing everything in your business yourself, what is the opportunity cost of doing it all yourself? I mean, how much more income could you be making if you weren't wasting your time on tasks that you're not good at? Or tasks that somebody else can do at a lower, hourly rate than you because even though your hourly rate doesn't cost your business, it does still cost your business. It costs you in terms of growth or revenue lost.
So coming back to that hourly rate, how much do you value your hourly rate? So, for example, let's say you charge a hundred dollars an hour to your clients. And maybe you can hire somebody at $30 an hour to do that admin work that you hate doing. And if they save you an hour, you then go and use that hour to work with a client.
You're $70 better off than if you had done that admin work. And you've got to do work. That's in your zone of genius rather than things that you hate. So it's a big benefit, right?
How did you go from just you to having others help you? And are they working full-time or part-time for you?
So nobody on my team is full-time other than myself at this stage, we just don't really have enough to do yet. And I'm sure if I really dug deep, I could find enough for somebody to do full-time, but I really don't think we need it at this stage. It's a very streamlined business.
Now I maybe started working with my VA three or four years ago. I think it was about 2019 that I first started working with her. And I mean, we were working on very few hours at the start and I've slowly increased them over time. And then about a year ago, I hired my operations manager, who is my only proper permanent employee. Everyone else that we work with is a contractor.
So if we need a designer to do a sales page, we'll hire a designer. If we need a copywriter to write a sales page or write some cart open emails, we’ll work with them. If we need somebody to edit short-form videos, we found somebody on Upwork who can do that. So that gives us a little bit more flexibility as well rather than also trying to hire somebody who's good at all of the different things, just so we can have them in there full-time. Now, this has all been a very gradual process. So I didn't just go from me to, oh, I'm hiring a big team. It's been a process of, let me work with the VA. And, you know, I had casual employees in the past when I was working with clients. I've had an intern at one stage, so it's been a process of figuring out what has worked and what looks good and feels good in this business and you will figure that out yourself as well.
Now, the last point that I wanted to touch on, you mentioned for somebody who is older, I am not savvy with Canva, etcetera. I understand it, but all the admin, etcetera, is not my zone of genius.
Now, how much time are you wasting doing all of this? And I mean, it might be a good exercise for you to even track your time for a week and find out how much time you are wasting on things that are not in your zone of genius.
Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should do it. And at some point, you need to change. You need to do something different. Otherwise, you will end up in the same place 12 months from now, and it doesn't have to be a big shift. It can be just deciding that, instead of doing this ebook design yourself, you're going to get somebody on Upwork to do it for you. And that might potentially save you 10 hours. I don't know how long it takes you to design things on Canva but that's a rabbit hole you can get stuck in.
And then slowly you start to save time and you start to begin more comfortable with delegating. And eventually, it becomes addictive. Like you have a team that you can trust and you give your things to them and they just get done and you don't have to put your time into it. It's kind of magic, actually.
You have to do something different, unfortunately. And I know it's not easy. It's scary. But every time I have taken that risk, it has paid off big time.
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