Starting a Business: What Skills do You Have?

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So you finally made the decision to start your own businessNow what?  Do you know what type of business you will run?  What are you passionate about?  What would you like to do?  What would you be good at?  What skills do you have?  Answering these crucial questions will lead you to understand what your new business will look like.

Luckily, for me, I managed medical practices for a lifetime.  During those 32 years, I gained countless administrative and managerial skills.  When it came time for me to decide what type of business I would start, it helped me to compose a list of things I knew how do to and things that I was good at.  I then I re-examined my list and drew a line through the skills that I did not like to do, the ones that did not fulfill me; the ones that stressed me out.  If you are going to do your own thing, you might as well be happy doing it, right?  For example, the first thing that I crossed off my list was “Managing People”I knew for certain that I no longer wanted to manage employees.  I needed to choose a business that I could do on my own with no need for staff.  With each skill that you cross off you will get closer and closer to what your new business will look like.

There are so many things to think about during this process.  What services will you offer?  Who will you be offering these services to?  What industry will your clients come from?  Do you live in the correct geographical area to be able to find these clients?

Are you a hard worker?  Owning your own business means that you will have to toil until all the work is done.  There is no such thing as a time-clock, at least at first.  There will be no 9-5 office hours for quite some time…maybe never!

Can you work alone?  Do you need daily socialization that co-workers provide?  Initially, you will probably be the only one on the payroll.  Will you be able to handle the seclusion of working hours on end alone?

Do you have support of family and friends?  Going alone is not easy and you will have days where you feel frustrated and even scared.  Do you have people to share these feelings with?  People that will try to understand and support you?  When you are your own boss, you have to be everything to everyone.  You will need to learn to balance your new business with your spouse, children, family and friends.  Do you have financial support? You may very easily have to forgo a steady paycheck for some time.

Go ahead and move forward with lists, research and planning.  This is the time to create the framework of your business.  Take one day at a time.  Do not lose focus or sight of why you are doing this.  You have a lot to do so get yourself organized.  If organization is not a skill that you possess, hire someone that can help you stay organized and on top of all the tasks of starting a business (detailed in a future post).

Owning your own business is hard work, but rewarding.  You do not have an easy road ahead of you but you do have one that will be exciting, life altering and well worth it.

About the Author:  Sheri Miller is the Owner of Another You, LLC, a Virtual Assistant service in the Dayton, Ohio area.  Sheri helps small business owners save time, money and frustration by taking care of their day-to-day administrative tasks.  Think of her as your right hand while your left hand is growing your business.    

www.anotheryouerrands.com                937-416-2207

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No Living Man All Things Can

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I had a recent conversation with a colleague about how many small business owners and entrepreneurs have a hard time with the delegation of tasks.  I get it.  When you have the type of personality that it takes to start your own business it is hard to give up control.  But sometimes it makes too much sense not to delegate.  For example, my colleague told me about a successful small business owner who had over $30,000 on the table in outstanding AR.  The problem was not disgruntled clients that did not want to pay; the issue was that this business owner simply did not have the time to make follow up calls.

Why People Don’t Delegate

  • Not Enough Time: The perception is that you do not have enough time to properly explain the task or teach the skills necessary for a delegated task.  The truth is that delegation always takes longer the first couple of times you hand off a task. But later it will save you hours, days, and weeks.
  • Loss of Control: Most small business owners are used to doing everything on their own.  They are uncomfortable giving up control.  It is frightening to allow another person-maybe even someone that you do not know-to complete a task for your business.  But isn’t one of the payoffs expected from all the hard work in running a successful, small business the freedom to no longer have to do the “daily grind” work, the “menial” work, the “frustrating calendaring and tedious phone call” work?
  • Not sure Who to Delegate To: Many entrepreneurs do not have the funds to hire a full time or even a part time person.  Many small business owners only need help 3-5 hours per week.  Where are you going to find a hardworking, reputable person who only wants to work a few hours a week?  Where do you find a hard worker that does not need benefits?

What to Delegate

I tell my clients to give me what they don’t like to do, what they dread, or what they are not good at.  Most of them start off with tasks such as:

  • Client Follow Up
  • E-Mail Management
  • Scheduling/Calendar Management
  • Invoicing/AR Follow Up
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Data Entry
  • Recruiting

Tips for Successful Delegation

  • A clearly defined task will produce clearly defined results. Open and routine communication is a must, especially at first.
  • Let go of dictating the how and focus on the what.   Describe what you want and let the assistant decide on the how.
  • Start with a small project or task.  This will help to develop communication and trust between you and your assistant.  After you see how the task was successfully completed, you will feel confident to delegate more.

Back to the small business owner with the 30K in AR.  Think of how a few hours a week in collection calls would change his business not to mention his peace of mind!  To me, it is a no brainer that this is a task that he needs to pass off to someone.  It pays to delegate!  I know that delegation can be difficult but it is a skill that you can improve through time, effort, and practice.  The next time you find it hard to let go of a task, remember the ancient proverb:  No living man all things can.

About the Author:  Sheri Miller is the Owner of Another You, LLC, a Virtual Assistant service in the Dayton, Ohio area.  Sheri helps small business owners save time, money and frustration by taking care of their day-to-day administrative tasks.  Think of her as your right hand while your left hand is growing your business.    www.anotheryouerrands.com  937-416-2207

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What Are You Willing to Give Up?

ZVJ6OumLI run my work days by a schedule. Everything that I need to do is on my Google Calendar.  In my line of work, working with multiple small business owners, this is a must.

I am happy to say that MOST things that I have scheduled are completed each day and deleted from my calendar.  There are some days, where I cannot get to everything on my list.   I start with my highest priority:  1) client work 2) volunteer obligations 3) my business.  Some days lessor priorities do not get done and they are moved to the next available day.  This brings me to this Blog Post.

“Write and Publish Blog Post” was originally scheduled on my calendar for 4/15. Well today is 04/27 and I am just now getting around to starting it. Obviously, it has been moved multiple times on my calendar.  Priorities got in the way.

 How do we get everything done that needs to be done?

What can we put off or even give up?

What can we delegate?

Every small business owner that I know has this same problem; too many tasks and not enough time. As I grow my business and gain more clients I have found it necessary to give up some of the scheduled things on my calendar:

1) I network more strategically.  Networking has been a HUGE part of building my business. In fact, it worked so well that many days I can’t find the time to network!  I still want to stay in front of the contacts that I have made and still like to meet new people. But it has become necessary to me to cut back on meetings and decide which groups are really worth my investment of time.

2) I have also tried to schedule more telephone meetings than actually meeting at an office or neutral location. The drive time alone is a huge time saver and I find that people are more focused during telephone conversations; maybe because they are just as busy as I am!  Of course, I do meet with all my prospects and referral partners face to face if they wish.

3) I believe that Social Media is important-more for some industries/companies than others. I have cut back on the amount of posts that I schedule per week. To date, my clients have come from strategic networking and word of mouth.  I want to stay in front of my contacts and remind people what I can do for them so I continue to have a presence on a few social media venues (only the ones that reach my target market).  Cutting back on the times that I post per week has allowed me more time for my clients.

Try stepping back and looking at your calendar to see what things you may be able to remove to make more time. For me, I actually recorded, how I was using my time. This made it very clear to me what needed to go or be reduced.   For my clients, it was a matter of hiring someone to help with all the things that were on their calendar.  I would love to hear about some of the changes that you have made to allow yourself more time to run your business.  What have you given up?

About the Author: Sheri Miller is the Owner of Another You, LLC, a Business Concierge/Personal Assistant service in the Dayton, Ohio area. Sheri helps small business owners save time and money by taking care of their day-to-day administrative tasks. Think of her as your right hand while your left hand is growing your business. http://www.anotheryouerrands.com 937-416-2207

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It Takes a Village…(To Run a Business)

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In 1996, First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton published the book, It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach Us. The focus of the book was on the impact individuals and groups outside the family have on a child’s well-being. The book’s title is attributed to an African proverb: “It takes a village to raise a child.”

Recently, I met with a woman who, after retirement, started her own consulting and coaching business. She thought she would start a business doing what she loved and also have time to enjoy retirement with her husband. So she hung out her shingle and before she knew it her small business flourished and she got busy; too busy, in fact, to do it all herself. Her  business had turned into a wonderful success but she was working more than she wanted. She was not spending the time she had envisioned on herself, her husband, family and friends. She loved the work but understood that something had to be done. Being the well-rounded woman that she is, she was not afraid to admit that she needed help. She began outsourcing some of her work. She delegated scheduling, calendar management, social media marketing and was now discussing the delegation of other business matters to me. During our conversation, she mentioned that, “It takes a village to run a business.”

Outsourcing is a term borrowed from the corporate world that refers to contracting out a business process to a third-party. Applied to small business, outsourcing is about taking things that we need to do to run our business and having someone else do it. Outsourcing just 4 hours out of your 40-hour work week gains you a 10% increase in time that you could be spending with clients, friends and family. The average “working” person according to Dr. Wetmore of the Productivity Institute, spends less than 2 minutes a day in truly meaningful conversation with their spouse or loved one. Think about how you would improve your life, relationships and business with an additional 4 hours a week.

So, how do you know when to outsource something? Ask yourself these 3 questions:

  • Am I doing this task “after hours” or not at all?
  • Am I procrastinating on this task?
  • Do I dread starting this task?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, it’s time to outsource some of your tasks.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. It’s not a sign of weakness, but rather that of being proactive. Asking for help is not a sign of failure, but yet a sign of success. Any of us who have done it or know someone who has, understands that it takes a village to run a business. By handing off tasks that don’t require your time, energy and unique skills, you will be able to focus more on both your business and relationship growth.

headshotAbout the Author: Sheri Miller is the Owner of Another You, LLC, a Business Concierge/Personal Assistant service in the Dayton, Ohio area. Sheri helps small business owners save time and money by taking care of their day-to-day administrative tasks. Think of her as your right hand while your left hand is growing your business. www.anotheryouerrands.com 937-416-2207