Growing a business is very much like raising a child. Both require lots of love and care, sleepless nights, excessive worrying and far more money than you originally envisioned. However, both are infinitely rewarding. Except, of course, that a business is not really your child. Or is it? Let’s do some serious comparisons and ask some pointed questions.read this article
Proper care of a child begins at the pre-natal stage when the mother is informed of both detrimental and positive courses to take during the pregnancy. After the child is born you take him to a pediatrician, not to a friend of a friend who finished a couple of years of medical school. When your child starts walking, you look for just the right shoes, not for the cheapest or cutest ones. Your child needs good supportive shoes that will protect the little one’s foot from the hazards of the outside world. And when it’s time for the child to start school, we oftentimes move to a new neighborhood simply because it is in a great school district. We do everything we possibly can for our children without being told to. It is human instinct to want the best for those you love.
Sadly, this is not always the case with our business needs. For all the comparisons, when people start new businesses, they often make a mistake of going to sources that are grossly inadequate or simply not the best. When planning a family most people sit down and map out just what needs to be taken care of from pre-natal care to a college savings plans. They have huge expectations for their family and strive mightily each day to realize those expectations. So why in the world would a new business owner not exercise the same due diligence with the very thing that will allow their family to prosper financially as it grows?
Is self employment right for you?
Working for yourself, much as starting a new family means that ALL responsibilities rest on your shoulders.
Do you have a support system in place?
If this was a new family you were planning instead of a business you would naturally enlist the support of family and friends. Have you created a strong support structure for those times when you are overwhelmed, need assistance, or even financial help? Plan on hiring or retaining professional service providers such as a bookkeeper, a virtual assistant, or a business coach and make sure that you educate your family about the help you will need from them.
Do you have a strong business concept and a business marketing plan in place?
Have you clearly defined who your market is for your product or service? Is your business plan actually written down on paper and includes start up and operating cost projections? Do you know how many employees you will need? How about insurance, office furniture and supplies, software, web development, social media marketing?
Why you absolutely need to hire professionals to help you.
One of the biggest and most costly mistakes that home-based, or small business owners make is trying to do it all themselves. By not concentrating on the core activities that only you can do and by trying to wear all hats at all times, you completely lose control of your own schedule. Some tasks demand your personal attention but others do not. In fact, outsourcing many tasks such as information technology tasks (social media marketing, web or blog development, etc.) to an outsourcing partner such as a highly technically savvy virtual assistant saves your company money by saving time.
Elena M. enlisted the help of her cousin to design a website for her business. She bought a template for a simple brochure-style website. The cousin was enthusiastic about this opportunity, yet life kept getting in the way. It took 2 months to launch the site and every time Elena needed to make changes, she had to wait for days. The site is not particularly professional in appearance and is almost impossible to update in a timely fashion.
Aaron B. wrote a sales letter for his technology start-up. He asked an old college friend to edit it because he remembered the guy getting As in English Comp class and on his term papers. The results were less than compelling, down to a few grammatical errors that weren’t caught by word processing software.
Ken Z. felt overwhelmed by his new business’ to-do list and needed to make more room for networking when he hired a virtual assistance company. Unfortunately, he decided to go with a lowest bidder whose work was unacceptable because of low quality and had to be redone by another multi-VA company. The time and money wasted was considerable.
These business owners went through significant issues and ended up paying a lot more than originally expected because of their choices. Why didn’t Elena M. hire a professional web designer and Aaron B. – a copywriter? Why did Ken Z. go with the lowest bidder? And why do hundreds of fledgling entrepreneurs repeat these mistakes every single day?
The first reason that comes to mind is money. When you contact a friend or a relative or select the lowest bidder, you get work done for free or incredibly cheaply. But when true costs are taken into account, it really gets to be very expensive. Some of these costs include:
Your time – a friend you enlist to help you has only limited experience with projects similar to yours. As such, she doesn’t have tools and processes in place to efficiently keep track of every aspect of the project. As a result, you will end up spending too much time overseeing every single detail of your request.
Delayed launch – when you don’t get paid for your work, you tend to put it on the backburner. Elena M. found it out the hard way when her cousin kept apologizing for not getting work done because of various events in his life, including a birthday, several holidays, and a weekend out with friends and a few evenings spent working on paid projects.
Poor quality – grammatical errors in Aaron B.’s copy did nothing to help him win customers. In this case, his friend had no quality control processes in place other than running a simple spell check, which proved woefully insufficient. Of course, grammatical errors can be corrected and a website can be redesigned. But by the time these problems are discovered and taken care of, you might lose a few clients or damage your company’s reputation. You have lost both time and money.
Additional costs – Ken Z. ended up hiring a new vendor that spent time undoing all the mistakes the lowest bidder made which made Ken’s project that much more expensive. He learned that it would have been much more cost effective and less time consuming to get it right the first time by a professional.
Damaged relationships – involving close friends and relatives in your business is in this way may lead to arguments and open or hidden resentment. It is one thing to “fire” a contractor since most of the time she can be replaced fairly easily. It is quite another thing to “fire” a close friend.