Escape The Pressure Cooker: Part 3 – Lightening The Load

Although we may like to think our capacity is infinite, it isn’t (unfortunately) which means sooner or later we reach a glass ceiling with our business…and usually at the worst possible time.

For many, this realisation hits when they get ill or experience some other life changing event like a marriage or a new baby, and they find they can no longer do it all themselves. 

But even without the stress of a major event, most owner-run businesses will eventually become ‘full’ and struggle to balance the demands of new and existing customers. 

So what’s the solution?
Halt your marketing efforts and limit growth? It would be a shame to switch off a successful marketing engine, especially when it’s producing results.

Take in a new resource? Employees, even on a part-time basis are a significant commitment. If you can be sure of an ongoing need for another member of staff then perhaps, but if not, this probably isn’t a good choice.

There is another option though that is far more flexible, I’m talking of course about outsourcing.

Taking the next step
You don’t want to put yourself or the business under extra pressure – or reintroduce it if you followed the steps in Part 1 and Part 2. But nor do you want to turn down new business or perhaps even the chance of a bigger, more lucrative contract. So, it’s important to recognise when it’s time to move things forward and expand your current capacity.

What can be outsourced?
Your aim here is to restructure the day-to-day running of your business, so it’s even more efficient but less dependent on your input. Done well, it should leave you free to work on other aspects or even take time out.

Have a look at your diary or To-Do list; tasks that possess these merits are ideal candidates to hand out to a freelancer, virtual assistant or some other kind of independent:

  • Anything repetitive: When taken together, it’s surprising just how much time these little jobs consume, so consider passing out data-entry and other basic administration so you can focus your efforts on things that require your expertise.
  • Tasks that have clear processes: In theory, any task that you have systemised and broken down into a replicable step-by-step process should be suitable for outsourcing. So depending on your business, this could include any number of things from social media management and email marketing to client outreach and invoicing.
  • The stuff you hate doing: Focus your time and energy on what you do best. There’s no point hanging on to anything you loathe doing, especially if it can be performed just as adequately by someone else.
  • Jobs that require a specialist: Beyond the practicality of getting a task done, there are times when you also need advice and guidance. For this reason, you’re better off calling in a professional to get the job done especially when it comes to things like accounting or even IT management, where an error could have significant repercussions.    
  • Things that require an element of human judgement: Some tasks fall somewhere in the middle. A portion of it can be automated, but other parts need a human touch. A virtual assistant, for instance, could be a useful addition to your team to handle customer support queries or aftercare, to ensure your resources are directed to where they’re most needed.  
  • The ‘better someone else do it’ stuff: Sometimes it’s preferable to call on the services of someone at arms-length from a situation, rather than do it yourself – especially when it comes to things like chasing invoices or imposing non-payment penalties. 

Ultimately, the decision as to what you keep and what you outsource will depend on your situation and your goals for the future. This may include a plan to scale up the business or even exit from it. Or perhaps you simply want to spend more time with your family and have the freedom to take regular holidays.

Whatever your reasons, don’t forget to consider the things that you love doing and that you are best at – you don’t want to risk resenting the business you’ve worked hard to build by removing the sense of personal satisfaction it gives you!

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