Often starting a small business means giving up a lot of personal time in order to see your dreams realized. But, at some point in your business you’ll realize that you’ll need to learn to leverage the time of others in order to get back more time for yourself so that you can do more things that you love.
The fact is, if something is not your specialty – the thing that makes you the money, your bread and butter — you should consider outsourcing it. When you let other people work within their efficiencies, so that you can work with in yours, you’ll almost always increase your income over and above whatever it costs you to hire someone to do the “thing” – whatever it may be. Understand that people you outsource to, unless you hire them as employees, are business owners and should be treated as such.
What to immediately double or triple your reach? Combine forces with other people, even your competition. By aligning yourself temporarily or long-term with people who sell to your target audience, complementary goods and services, you can both see an immediate increase in income, reach, and perceived expertise. A well defined contract for each joint venture is an essential element to ensure success.
This idea is a little trickier, and you need to check the laws of your state regarding internships. But, in most cases you can offer internships to people who will do work for you in exchange for real training. As long as you are very clear about expectations, pay, benefits and the potential for future employment if any exists, it should work out well for all involved. Do ensure that contracts are signed to protect both you and the intern.
Leveraging the time of others does not mean you’re using anyone. Typically, all three of the choices above offer benefits to both parties such as earning income, sharing resources, and getting an education.
But, none of these things can work without also practicing:
Organization, Planning & Systematization
Before involving yourself with too much outsourcing, JV partnerships or internships ensure that you’ve set up a good organization system. As a contractor and virtual assistant myself, nothing is worse than feeling as if you’ve landed a promising new client, then finding out that they actually have no idea what they want from you, and no intentions of listening to your ideas.
If you need help creating systems, the help is out there, if you take it – usually in the form of an experienced virtual assistant or online business manager. Find the experts you need to assist you. No one can do everything themselves, nor should they.
When you work with other people, let go. When you hire an expert in social media marketing, for instance, let them do their job. All you need to concern yourself with are the results (deliverables). Don’t micromanage their time, or insist they work outside of their scope.
Instead, choose true experts to work with and let them lead the way. Notice that I said experts with an S. There is no one person who can do everything for you. There are some online business managers who have their own teams, but typically you’ll need to outsource to more than one person at a time.
If you are starting with a general VA who does a variety of tasks, be sure to assign tasks on a regular basis with realistic deadlines. If you don’t assign something with a deadline, it probably won’t get done.
A great example of empowerment is in the book The 4 Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferris where he discusses his vitamin company. He outsourced his customer service and at first it was difficult. But, when he learned to trust that they knew what they were doing, and let them solve problems with customers under a specific dollar amount without involving him, he saw an increase in sales and customer satisfaction as well as fulfillment and pride among his team.
Levering the time of others can, when done right, put you on the fast track to working your business, vs. working in your business. When you started your online business you wanted more than on online job, you wanted freedom, and the surest way to get there is to leverage the time of other people so that you can find more time to do the things that matter most to you.