Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
Why Small Business Owners need to outsource and focus on their core business
It’s tough being a small business owner - especially at this time of year when you are juggling many different
priorities such as completing tax returns, Christmas and new year planning, and the constant pressure to
develop the business as well as maintain the status quo. But this year more than ever, they may need to focus
more on bringing in revenue than sorting through receipts, data entry to maintain their own mailing lists and
preparing the PowerPoint presentation for the next client sales meeting.
The recession is making many owners re-examine priorities. Many may realize that chores they've handled themselves in the past, such as database maintenance, presentations or keeping the company books, should be turned over to someone else.
Focus on Growing Your Business
These tasks do detract from the business and what you really need to be focusing on and business owners who choose to spend their time on book-keeping and admin tasks are missing an opportunity to take care of the three things that are going to keep the business going – existing clients, their employees and new business.
Hayley Dean from Me Marketing Agency
is herself a small business owner, and addresses this point very well, when she says, “Be brave! Heck you have taken the risk to start your own business in the first place so take a leap of faith and concentrate on what YOU are good at. If you are a chef, concentrate on your food, let someone else do your books. The more you try and do yourself, the more you will struggle to do what you do really well. It’s best to be the Master of one, rather than a Jack of all trades, master of none.”
Taking care of clients should be the top priority, especially if the business took a hit in the last year or so. The
best thing to do is to retain clients and retain them through great service. Owners reluctant to spend money
on the help they need should weigh up whether the investment in outsourcing, on a flexible basis, will pay off
over the long as well as short term.
Where do you find good people?
of years. He now has five direct employees. He looked for good quality, cost-effective resources to support
book-keeping, IT, web development and simple data resourcing in his business. Tim recommends Flying Solo
as an excellent online resource and BNI (Business Networking International) which is an organisation with multiple ‘chapters’ essentially groups of businesses supporting their individual business growth and promotion. He has experienced credible recommendations on good resources from his face to face meetings here.
Tim is happy to pay a recruitment firm to find his people as he believes an agency they add a lot of value to the
process, however, he always negotiates on the rate, after all he is a small growing business. He also believes in
some instances that paying an outsourced business for minutes and hours worked can be a lot more efficient.
Pay as You Go...and Grow
There are boutique recruitment firms and employment websites who specialise in employment for working mums, such as http://www.careermums.com.au/ where you can post your job advertisement for a fee and wait for response. Our own business, Virtual Angels, specialise in the provision of PAs, and book-keepers on an hourly basis, with no placement or advertising fees up front – you brief us on your requirement and we find you the right person. The beauty of such an arrangement is the “try before you buy scenario” or indeed remain entirely flexible and only pay for the hours worked ongoing. That way you avoid having to fill someone’s time when things are slower and you don’t have to worry when things pick up, because your person is on call to you on a permanent yet flexible basis. This takes the fear away from SMEs, Hayley says, “the fear of the unknown is high for SMEs”.
Physical Vs Virtual Support
Your office circumstances may determine the answer to this question. If you work mainly from a home office or virtual office and do not have accommodation for a P.A. or book-keeper than Virtual would be the way to go. We find that our clients prefer to have a face to face meeting with their virtual assistant on a regular basis but most of the time are happy for them to work remotely. Others prefer to have someone in the office, albeit mostly on a part-time basis, so that phones get answered and a sense of team is established. It’s horses for courses.
Tim believes that it comes down to credibility and experience. He uses a very good book-keeping firm called Intelligent Accounts
who provide a extremely cost effective service but more importantly it’s extremely professional. They operate virtually, but they do have access to physical people if they need to meet up.
One precaution worthy of mention when hiring a Book-keeper is to ensure that they comply with recent Tax Board Legislation and have a Tax Practitioners Board Registration Number – if you are unsure what this is, please refer to the Tax Practitioners Board
Tim also uses other specialist services such as IT and Marketing, people he has engaged, but cannot afford to pay in a stand-alone role. He recommends an in country person who you can have face to face, office based contact with and believes there are huge efficiencies in using companies in this way.
Hayley agrees that the benefits are huge in outsourcing these roles and comments that because she is not involved in the day to day politics or agendas she is very focussed on delivery which in turn provides the best ROI. She is driven to do the best job she can because her next job depends on it, she says, “My drive is not only the desire to do the right thing by my clients but if I fail, they won't knock on my front door again so I am driven twice as hard as I used to be when I worked in big corporations”.
Struggle no more and become a company of giants
Many new entrepreneurs struggle with delegating and prioritizing, believing that they can and should do it all
themselves and asking for help is the biggest hurdle. There are many innovative small businesses, like yours,
who exist to help you grow your business – so struggle no more and make sure you are using your time wisely
to grow your business, invest a little now to reap the rewards in the future. Hayley’s favourite motto comes
from David Ogilvy (Grandfather of Advertising) who once said” If you ever find a man who is better than you
are – hire him. If necessary pay him more than you pay yourself, for if you always hire people who are smaller
than you are, we shall become a company of dwarfs. If on the other hand you always hire people who are
bigger than you are, we shall become a company of giants”.