Grow tall or stay small?

Last post: Apr 12, 2023

Businesses often evolve organically - you have an idea and that becomes reality. You love what you do and you’re passionate about sharing it with others. Everything is rosy, and every task is tackled with enthusiasm and energy. With hard work and a fair wind, a sustainable business emerges. Over time you’ll have good days and not so good days and realise that sharing the load is the next step. Do you want to stay small or grow tall?

This dilemma becomes even more apparent when you realise how exhausted you are and that balls are being dropped. It's then that the 'if only' conversations creep in. If only I could do this better, if only I was more efficient, if only I had someone to work with. 

At this point take a breath. Know that your business is unique, it was created to fit you and your aims, and it is succeeding. It just needs some adjustment to get it to the next level. There is plenty of information out there and lots of different styles and approaches so it's important to aim for the one that suits you, your business, and your longer-term plan. Take time to consider options and don't be afraid to change tact if the first path turns out more complicated than you envisioned.

Where do I start?

The first step is to consider where you need support as it's likely that you'll need skills particular to your specific business as well as generic business management skills.

Give yourself a skills audit. Allocate some time to remember why you started your business and appreciate which of your skills led you down this path. Conversely, now you now have some experience, the skills you don't have and the tasks you don't like will be more obvious. Use these thoughts to create an ideal person profile.

To help with this I often use a system called the Three L's – categorise each task into columns – love, like, loathe. The loathe items are easiest – these are the tasks you need to pass onto someone else. The like items are the middle ground – consider the value of the task and the actual time you have, could they be passed to someone else? The love items tend to be the tasks you keep – again, be mindful of the time you have and if these tasks fit more seamlessly with other tasks.

Finally, consider the skills required – both professionally and personally - and you'll have your ideal work buddy! 

A superhuman work buddy! 

At first sight your work buddy may appear to be superhuman, and in all honesty unrealistic. That's ok – you started your business, and it's a team that will help it thrive. Divide the tasks and skills list into manageable people groups. A basic divide is Sales, Marketing, Admin, Accounts. These groups will help quantify how much work is involved in each area and therefore how many 'people' you may need.

Buddy or buddies?

You're now ready to look for support. People and teams come in many different formats. Do you want to employ someone? Full or Part-time? What about contractors? Are freelancers more suitable? It's important to explore all options. 

Employees need a consistent amount of regular, repeating work for a set number of hours until the employment ends. They receive a regular wage and benefits according to their employment contract.

A Contractor tends to be 'employed' for a fixed term, usually a specific project or limited role. Their hourly fees may be higher than an employee, but it is for a fixed term and so is potentially more manageable. 

A freelancer is often the most flexible option, at least to start with. They work via their own business charging either an hourly or package rate and manage their own additional costs, benefits, and office location unless otherwise agreed. They can be used an an ad hoc basis as and when work is available. 

Whichever option you choose be aware of the legal and financial requirements. Holiday, sick pay, flexible working, office set up and appropriate equipment, National Insurance and pension contributions are just some of the areas to consider. An employment lawyer and accountant are essential (but will also add to costs, so don't forget to factor this in).

One size is all you need

Once you've decided how to evolve your business go for it! As mentioned at the beginning, change is part of the process. Working with others on your business is scary and sometimes daunting, but it is manageable. It will take time and patience, but it is worth it. You'll find people that are right for you, and they will want to see you succeed. 

Keep using the Three L's exercise too – a great way to assess all those 'stuck in a rut' situations!

With thanks to Karen at 'Admin Accomplished' for providing an insightful article and allowing Choice Business Loans to share this with our customers.

If a virtual assistant could benefit your business, Choice Business Loans are happy to talk through your requirements and make an introduction.

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