Automate, Delegate and Outsource

Are you working too hard?

I came to a conclusion a few months ago; for my business to be extra productive I have to detach myself emotionally from some tasks I hold so dear. These are task that could be handled by someone else  and do it even better. Without that move, I will not be able to focus on business development, which is a necessary requirement for business growth.

So I decided to print this sign and paste it on my wall to remind me and ensure I spend time working on my business and not just in my business.

My New Acronym ADO – stands for Automate, Delegate and Outsource

I bet some of you are probably so emotionally connected to your business and your clients, you feel no one can do the job like you. You do almost everything yourself and refuse to let anyone ‘taint’ your perfect work.  Let’s be frank, very soon you are going to burn out and leave your business with no one in the driving seat.

To prevent a standstill, I will like to examine these three words that can save your business and keep stress at bay.

Automate

Automation means – ‘The technique, method, or system of operating or controlling a process by highly automatic means, as by electronic devices, reducing human intervention to a minimum’. Dictionary.com

Now I must say that nothing beats human intervention, if you’ve watched the movie called The Matrix, you know that systems can go mad.  But there are some tasks that you need to automate so you can focus on other parts of your business that can’t do without human intervention and are important for growth.

A good example is email marketing – the likes of Aweber, Mailchimp, Vistaprint and a host of others allow you to plan and distribute your emails, newsletters etc in advance.  There are also platforms that you can use to automate your social media updates. If you dedicate a day in your week to schedule some of your business tasks for a month’s distribution, then that is a good job done.

Delegate

‘To give or commit (duties, powers, etc) to another as agent or representative; depute’. Dictionary.com

Sometimes we juggle too many balls and unfortunately the most important ones end up on the floor.  You should learn to delegate some of your business tasks to those who can deliver quality output for your business. God bless Virtual Assistants, they are good for business.  If you can’t afford to employ someone on a regular basis, a virtual assistant is just what you need for those hectic days or seasons, so you can keep your balls in the air.  You may even have someone who is willing to train/volunteer under you, why not delegate some of your tasks to them.  Not only will you build your business, you will also help someone else develop some useful skills.

Outsource

‘(of a company or organization) to purchase (goods) or subcontract (services) from an outside supplier or source’. Dictionary.com

Ok, I agree there are some dodgy people out there, who promise and never deliver on a job.  But thanks to the extensive scope of the internet, you can outsource your work to someone anywhere in the UK, as far as Australia or Brazil and get good quality work in return. You can outsource your social media updates, content for your business articles or newsletters, website updates, accounting tasks etc.  The time you save outsourcing outweighs the money you think you will save if you don’t.

So there you have it, when next you feel overwhelmed just think ADO.

If you are thinking of starting a business, this is a great mindset to imbibe so you can free yourself to do the really important things for your business.

A Simple Exercise to Help you and your Business

Get a sheet of paper (or do it on a word document) and draw three lines.  At the top of each column, write Automate, Delegate and Outsource.  Now list under each title the business tasks that can be allocated to each heading i.e. what can you automate, delegate and outsource.  Test the waters in small chucks, maybe start with automation this month or for the next three months. Before you know it, you will be flying and conquering new territories for your business.

I wish you good success

Temi Koleowo

Business First Steps will help you kickstart your business start-up dreams. We provide the tools and services for your business start-up and development.

Photo courtesy of BigStockPhoto.

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Business Reality Check

Musing about my business tasks today and the following realities of starting and running a business came to mind.  Just what I need to remind myself of my role as a business owner.

The Time Factor

Everyday we are bombarded with the miracle cure for whatever business ailment we may have. Whether it is procrastination, low self-esteem, lack of skills or imagination.  There is something out there prescribed to help you get results in an instant. Starting and growing a business takes a lot of time and effort.  Stop buying into those lies about the next best thing for your business that could make you an instant £100,000 profit with absolutely no effort on your part.  I spent a fair amount of money on some miracle start-up remedies some years back, they got me nowhere. Now I know better – one has to dig deep foundations for a business, so that when it grows it will not topple over.  Shallow foundations and quick solutions do not provide lasting results.

However, there are some great products out there that compliment your efforts – those are the ones worth buying.  They not only help your business but also make the job of running your business a lot easier to manage.

It’s Your Job

You can hire a consultant, an accountant or even cajole your mum to help.  If you want your business to succeed, then you need to do a lot of things yourself.  Even if you eventually employ people, you cannot ignore or shy away from your role as the business owner.    Yes you can copy systems off the internet or go to numerous seminars and get all fired up, you still have to put what you learn to work.  Take ownership of your business idea and push it till it becomes your reality.

The Dark Side

As the main decision maker in your business (if you are not a partnership) you should be ready for the dark and lonely days.  The days when the weight of the business decisions will be on your shoulders alone. When people will look to you for answers and to make decisions that will benefit the business. Create the right atmosphere you will need for those dark days; surround yourself with people who can uplift and motivate you to keep moving forward.

Eat the Humble Pie

There is no doubt in my mind that when you start your business you will be humbled.  Not everyone will think you have a good idea and not everyone will think you are smart. Be ready for criticism, irate customers, competitors who will steal your ideas, oh! be ready for all sorts.  The important point to remember is not to lose the values you hold dear when you face your business struggles.

Commitment

You can’t make a success of any venture if you do not commit to it.  You get out of your business what you put into it.  If you want it to grow then you have to commit to developing your idea on a daily basis. There is no short cut to business growth, be innovative and prepared for opportunities.  Set goals for yourself and commit to achieving them within a given time frame. The more you do this, the better you become and the more tasks you mark off your to-do-list. When you look back in a few years time, you will be amazed how far you have come.

Till next time, I wish you good success

Temi Koleowo.

Get the eBook: Bring your Business Idea to life and start the business of your dreams.

Photo courtesy of Bigstockphoto.

The Power of your Talent

I am sure most of us have watched British Got Talent. Isn’t it great when you see an unassuming person come on stage, watch people smirk and then everyone stands in awe as they perform their act? In the same way, others come on stage and go on about how good they are, but once they start their act, you wonder what on earth they had to drink before the show. They probably spent the better part of their lives believing they were the next best thing until the BGT judges brought them down to earth.

My Damascene Conversion

Many moons ago, I used to look at many people with envy wishing I had their talents. The better part of my life a few years back was a wish list. I wish I could run; wish I could sing, wish I was a little bit taller and wish I was good at this or that. After I was made redundant from my last job a few years ago, I finally got my ‘Damascene conversion’. I was forced to stop and take notice of MY TALENTS!!! I was pleasantly surprised to discover I had a collection of skills I had disregarded over the years. These were skills that were needed in the market place, skills that could make a difference, skills that could start a business. Well, all that is now water under the bridge as my talents have now become Business First Steps.Tada!!!

Your Personal SWOT Analysis

I come across many people in my job who fail to recognise or act on their peculiar and God-given talents. Some of the categories of people I find are listed below:

  • Some are aware of their talents but don’t do anything about it
  • Some just think what they do is nothing special
  • Some know what they are good at and want to do something with it.
  • Some know how to maximise and magnify whatever they have.

Well I know the things I struggle with (gardening and entertaining guests for starters) and when I see someone else do these tasks with it ease; I can’t help but stand in awe.

A good way to take stock of your talent is to do a personal SWOT analysis on yourself. You may have heard of SWOT analysis used mainly for business plans. The good news is you can also use it to self-diagnose your own strengths and weaknesses, so as to find and fan those innate abilities within you.

Strengths – These are the positive things you can control within yourself such as education, organisation skills, attention to detail, business experience, communication skills, fortitude, ability to see project through, ability to transfer skills to others, ability to teach, listening skills, self-confidence, ability to cook, gardening, parenting skills, good inter-personal skills etc.

Weaknesses – those internal negative things you can control, which can be personal or business traits such as nonchalance, disorganisation, low self esteem, inability to focus, lack of experience in specific field, impatience, inability to finish project etc.

Opportunities – situation within your control that you can take advantage of and maximise. These are opportunities you can identify internally and externally to enable you to develop the skills you need to start a business, fill a career gap in the market, find a novel way of doing things, remodel a system, add to an existing role, product or service etc.

Threats – External conditions that are beyond your control but which you can lessen the impact; these can include shortcomings or limitation in your chosen field.  Other threats could be the negative perception of your skills, industry, business, career, product or service, government legislations affecting your ideas etc.

Step Two

Ask a few family and friends to give their honest opinions of what they consider to be your strengths and weaknesses.  Be prepared for some hard truths as some might have more to say about your weaknesses than you bargained for.  Before I started out in business, I did this exercise too and my family had the opportunity to express themselves (ouch…truth hurts!). I also sought the opinion of a business consultant who was able to help me streamline my ideas and focus on the right ones.

These two exercises should help you identify some of your peculiar talents and what you do next will determine how far you can go with them.  Opportunities present themselves around us every day. Being prepared helps you spot those that fit in with your repertoire. Stop letting these opportunities pass you by whether to start your own business, develop an idea, a social enterprise or advance your career.

If you need help with your SWOT analysis or to identify your passion and turn it into purpose with profit/value, I can help.  Business First Steps provides the tools and services to help you bring your ideas to life.

I wish you good success

Temi Koleowo

Get the eBook Bring Your Business Idea to Life www.businessideabooster.com/

Business and Cobwebs

I don’t know about you but I have seen so many spiders this year than I have in the last few years gone by.  I am not sure if I have heightened spider sense (too many spiderman movies I guess) or I am just getting older.  Anyway since I am no longer afraid of them, I can deal with them quite easily.

Have You Got Cobwebs in Your Content?

I browse the internet a lot to read articles, blogs and other publications from a wide range of industries.  I do this to keep abreast of what is happening in other businesses for the benefit of my clients.  This way we can find gaps in the industry and set our businesses apart. Whilst browsing I came across so many dead links on great articles, blog posts and other publications that take you nowhere.  I must have come across at least 20 dead links in the last few days which is a real shame as I would have loved to find out more about the people/businesses behind the posts.

This is what got me thinking of cobwebs (I tried to make a joke out of this i.e. Websites and Cobwebs but drew a blank).  But the similarity between the two is uncanning.  This is the way I see it:

Spring Cleaning – If you do not dust your home regularly, there is a tendency that spiders will build a lot of cobwebs in every nook and cranny they can find which can be quite unsightly.

Website Cleaning – The same goes for our websites too.  If we don’t look after our websites and carry out regular housekeeping, visitors to your website or those who read your articles and other publications will end up clicking on dead links.  Most small businesses might not be able to afford the cost of paying someone to maintain their websites all year but these simple chores can be done in-house.  So rid your site of dead links as you know that no information = no customers = no sale.

The Cobwebs Cleaner

One of the solutions I will suggest is to link your articles, posts etc to your homepage. The likelihood of your homepage URL changing over time (except you close down your business) is unlikely.  If you are promoting a temporary offer, why don’t you add the details to your homepage too.  At least people will be able to find it via one or two clicks.  This helps avoid the dead-link syndrome after the promotion is done and showcases your attention to detail, care for your business and visitors alike.

You should also make it a habit to check your website links regularly especially the pages that are linked to your home page. Click on the links, check where they lead to and fix the dud ones.

Business Start-up!  If you are a new business, I know we all get excited of what is to come.  But try not to succumb to the desire to show off your website URL until it is operational.  It is quite disappointing to click on a hyped link and find nothing, so let the first click lead to an inspirational experience and not a deflating one.

So have you got a system in place to check your website links regularly?  If you do please share as a comment below.  I better get my spring cleaning hat on and carry out my maintenance routine too.

Till next time, don’t stop dusting.

Temi Koleowo

Business First Steps provides a range of tools and services for your business start-up and development.  Affordable, practical and result-driven services is what we offer.

The Gear Stick

I remember when I was learning how to drive and the thought of changing gears used to fill me with dread. I prayed to God that the traffic lights will always be green so I could avoid the notorious biting-point when moving on. Oh the pain of learning how to drive! I was so elated when I passed my driving test. Guess what! I was also quick to forget my driving fear, the neck pain and throbbing headaches from concentrating so hard.

How do I go from Gear One to Six? 

Getting the kids ready to go back to school today got me thinking of why I need to change my business gear too.  Every now and then I get restless with my business goals and it is always an indication that I need to do more to grow my business.

Lately it seems I have been stuck in gear three for a while, business is not slow but my speed is limited to a certain level on the speedometer. You might be familiar with this – getting enough clients to keep you motivated but not enough to stretch you. I had my reasons for travelling at that speed, one being family commitments but that excuse is fading fast  as my little one starts school this week.

My driving instructor once told me that if I keep travelling in gears 1,2 and 3 only, I will do some damage to my car. The same goes for any business stuck in slow.  So I got my pen and paper out to consider what I need to do to raise the bar and travel in gear six. After all there is no way I can travel in gear six if I move at 20mph.

If I want to grow my business and make it as big as it can be, I better get ready to travel fast.  So as I write my list, I will implore you to do the same.

So what controls do you need to put in place to grow your business?

  • Do you need to wake up a bit earlier in the morning or add more hours at night?
  • Watch less TV?
  • Reduce the number of personal phone calls you answer during the day?
  • Read more books or publications about your industry?
  • Get qualified or training?
  • Take your to-do-list seriously?
  • Find a mentor, a consultant or someone you can share your ideas and brainstorm?
  • Exercise more to be fitter so you can think better?

If your business is stalling because you are stuck in gear one, isn’t it time you change gear so you can accelerate and reach your destination faster?  It is going to be a gradual process to travel at 80mph and beyond. But first thing is to gain control of your vehicle so you can at least increase your speed.  Once you can establish how to do that, then press down those pedals and change that gear stick. It is amazing how the car/business responds to that.

That is my plan for the next few months. I am going to get my head down and improve my business systems so I am more effective and efficient thereby producing more profitable results.  I hope you do the same and if you have other ideas of how we can accelerate to 100mph, do share.

If you need help with your business start-up or development, I can help you make sense of your ideas with my Business Brainstorming Sessions and other services.  Get in touch for more details.

I wish you good success.

Temi Koleowo

www.businessfirststeps.co.uk

Photos by runrunrun and buryosiol