If you are anything like me, you have a gazillion and one things to do to keep your small business running, be profitable AND make payroll. If you are anything like me, you can sometimes find it incredibly overwhelming, if not impossible. In one of my moments of despair, I asked myself (while eating ice cream and watching Anger Management-- always good to stimulate creative thinking)
"If there was one thing that I could change about my business, what would it be?"
And the answer came to me like a lightning bolt: I want a like-minded partner who wants to grow their similar business like I did, whom I could rely upon to do some of the things I was now doing, and who added value to my overall offerings. You might say to yourself, "Dream on, Lori." But me, being an internet addict, web developer, digital marketer, and dreamer, (notice the subliminal advertisement) decided to go to my old friend THE INTERNETS (ada Craig's List) and post this gig:
This might sound crazy, but what the heck. It's Craig's List after all. My web development and design business has created and built some AMAZING stuff. However, I need some help to reach our next level. We have a kick APPS development team, an amazing graphic designer and a fantastic CEO/CRO (aka Moi). Looking for a minded business partner to help us reach new heights. This is NOT a job.
And lo and behold, I got a few great responses. Ok, one that I would actually consider. We are now in the phases of "dating" and have completed several projects together that I would not have been able to do alone. Will this work for everyone? No, probably not. But I believe two brains are better than one.
PART TWO: Next step - prioritizing
As a small business owner, you’ve got a million and one things to do. And, most likely, each one of your tasks is critical to the success of your business. I’ve been there. I am there. Getting organized and finding time to grow your business is worse than cleaning your closets. But, if you don’t clean your closets, no more new clothes. If you don’t organize your tasks, you will be on a treadmill all day. Here’s a short way to try and get at least your most important tasks get done. AND, remember, give yourself a break. This is NOT going to work every week. And you might need a few weeks to get into the groove. But everyone needs to start somewhere.
1: Tools for your list: There are a LOT of online tasks that allow for collaboration with employees, etc. Click HERE for some suggestions. But they too take a LOT OF TIME to learn how to use. I just use a plain ‘ol excel spread sheet. I share it in Drop Box, and it take me about 20 minutes each morning.
2: Priority structure: I start my week (either Friday night or Sunday- glass of wine in hand) with the TO DO list for the following week and categorize the impact each task has: Since I am a digital marketing agency, my list can look like this:
Next I assign each person on my team their tasks for the week.
I spend 10 minutes with each person of the beginning of the week and ask them to estimate the time they will spend on each task. Obviously, this can change based on inaccurate estimates, but at least I get an idea of how the week might look.
3: Don't shoot yourself yet: OK, you're a sole proprietor and you don't have any help at all. Seriously, the first thing you should do is figure out which task MOST helps you increase your sales. Next, looking for good short term employees? Try these areas:
a) Interns from your local College or University: Pay minimum wage and YES, you will have to spend some time to find, hire and train. However, the results could well be worth your time and increase sales as well as your overall productivity.
b) Use websites such as ELANCE, ODESK orGURU.com to find local or remote freelancers. With all of these sites, you can check skill ranking, reviews, references, etc. Make sure you do your due dilgence.