One of the turning points in small business ownership and management is when you realize that you can’t continue to do everything yourself. This realization can happen when you lack time to complete all the tasks on your to-do list, and/or when you realize you don’t have the skills in yourself to develop what you want.
When I first started my business, I didn’t understand this distinction all that well. I had big ideas, and big goals, but was constantly getting bogged down in the minutiae of bringing those goals to fruition. So, for example- let’s say that I wanted to launch a new coaching program. I’d have the idea, develop the content, and write the sales page. All of those tasks seemed to line up with my capabilities. But then when it came time to create the pretty sales page, connect to my shopping cart, hook up to the autoresponder, set up bridgelines- and so on- my generally detailed nature still wasn’t up to the task.
Not to mention I’d spend hours doing tasks which someone else could have – and should have- done for me much more easily and less expensively; and with less frustration.
There is always a big question, though, of how to hire, who to hire, and where to find them. We have all heard horror stories of bad assistants and interns who never show up, or who make egregious mistakes that you find out about later.
Yet, at the same time, this does not reflect ALL assistants, ALL interns- and you don’t want to avoid outsourcing because of fear. Instead, you want to be clear about what you need, and find the simplest way to get these needs met through your outsourcing.
So here are 5 ways to get inexpensive help for your business, once you’ve decided it’s time to expand:
1) Fiverr.com – this is a service marketplace, where people offer to perform various actions for $5. The pricing model has changed and there is now a surcharge, so it ends up sometimes being more than $5, but you get the idea. Fiverr.com has a mix of reliable and unreliable providers. You can track this by recommendations and starred reviews. I don’t use Fiverr a lot, but it has been useful to me at times when I’ve had a one-off project that someone could easily and quickly do. So that’s one option.
2) Your own children– even if they are young. Don’t discount that your kids can perform tasks like addressing envelopes, data entry, or filing if they are older. If they are younger, maybe they can help dust your office and take out the garbage periodically.
3) High school students– if you need just a few hours a day, let’s say afterschool, high schoolers can be a great option for your business. They may be of driving age, so they can get to your business easily- and often they may have technical skills- just as typing, digital publishing, or computer systems management that would be great for your small business.
4) Elance.com or ODesk.com – these are professional level service recruiting sites where you can post your job needs and receive bids from qualified contractors. I tend to use Elance.com when I have a more specialized need that is a bit higher level than I can get accomplished on Fiverr.com. I used Elance to find the illustrator for one chapter of my internet marketing book.
5) College interns- if you are located near a University, you may have access to a supply of college interns who would be able to help you in your business. They, too, may have certain skills that they are developing in college which would benefit your small business.
In my experience, the most difficult decision an entrepreneur has to make is around the right time to bring in more help. Often, I think, we wait too long to do so. If you feel your business is ready to bring in some more help, and free up your time and energy- consider one of these five resources as a place to start. Once you start getting more help in your business, you’ll wonder how you ever got along with it!