Copyright 2006 Donna Gunter
One of my clients was asked, “How do you know when you need help?” at a presentation she conducted recently, and she wasn’t sure how to respond, except perhaps to say, “Well, you’ll just know!” As generic as that answer might be, it’s not so off-base. There will come a point when you’ll “just know” that you’ll need help in your business, whether that’s an in-person employee or two, or a virtual assistant/online business manager or other type of independent contractor. However, for those who might need a more structured response to this question, here’s a list of hot buttons that I’ve heard business owners frequently mention over the years:
1. You spend nights and weekends at work. Most people go into business for themselves because they want more control over their lives, like the ability to make their own decisions about when they work, how they work, and with whom they work. However, one of the most common pitfalls of self-employment is the “I need to do it all myself” trap. When you become caught in that trap, many of your dreams of self-employment fade away, as you find yourself relentlessly toiling all day and all night to keep the business up and running and moving forward. Was this an aspect of the kind of life and business you wanted to create? Probably not. If you’re meeting yourself coming home at night when you go to work in the morning, you probably need some help in your business.
2. You are paralyzed by overwhelm. There is no lack of things you need to do each day — your to-do list runneth over. However, you find yourself trudging through the day, fighting fires, too tired and too overwhelmed to tackle anything on that darned to-do list. If you find that no tasks are ever eliminated from you to-do list because the thought of tackling the list just paralyzes and overwhelms you, you probably need some help in your business.
3. You have little time to market your business. Reaching out and touching prospects as well as finding new prospects for your marketing funnel are vital to preventing your client well from running dry. You may have enough business for the next 4 months or so, but what happens at that point if you’re too busy working “in” your business to work “on” your business? If the process of running your business is eating away all of your marketing time, you probably need some help in your business.
4. You are exhausted and have continuous thoughts of going to work for someone else. When you’ve had a really frustrating or disappointing day, you probably fantasize about chucking it all and going to work for someone else. The thoughts of paid vacations, company expense accounts, and company-subsidized health insurance float freely through your brain, and you begin to wonder why in the heck you opened you own business in the first place. If you’re constantly questioning the sanity of self-employment, you probably need some help in your business.
5. You put off tasks that are vital to the success of your business. There are some aspects of your business that you love, and some that you have absolutely no incentive to complete. Perhaps you cannot stand the thought of doing a particular task and will do anything to avoid doing it. Or, perhaps you simply don’t know how to do it, don’t have time to learn, and profits go by the wayside because it continues to sit on your list uncompleted. If your to-do list contain items that have sat there undone for at least 90 days and the notion that it’s up to you to complete the task gives you an immediate headache, you probably need some help in your business.
6. You spend no time with family and friends. Who goes into business for themselves to work at the business 24/7 without time to take a break for a life? Not any business owners that I know, but I also know that your business can be very seductive and rob you of all of your free time if you let it, leaving you with no time for anything — or anyone — else. If your family/spouse/significant other have sent out an APB for you, you probably need some help in your business.
7. You can’t seem to get any clarity or focus. Your business can be a cruel taskmaster, whipping you here and there from opportunity to opportunity, or keeping you on the move fighting fires (problems), with little time to do any real planning of where you want to go in the business and how you want to get there. If you function from day-to-day like the walking dead and are not sure where you’re going, you probably need some help in your business.
8. You live an “at the last minute” life–addicted to adrenaline. Running a business is hard work. Trust me, if it were easy, everyone would be doing it. The demands of business ownership can cause you to feel pulled in many directions at once. Many times this results in over-committing yourself and having to “pull an all-nighter” or pay a very high “rush fee” to get something done that you left to the last minute. If you find that your drug of choice is adrenaline, you probably need some help in your business.
9. Your “lost opportunity” costs are skyrocketing. Let’s say you’re a consultant charging $200 per hour, and you publish a weekly email newsletter. Writing the content of the newsletter comes easily to you, and you can whip out an article in about 45 minutes that’s perfect for your target market. However, HTML newsletter formatting isn’t your area of expertise, and you spend the next 3 hours wrestling with your web design program and ezine broadcast service to ensure the ezine if formatted properly so that it can be easily read by your list. How much did this wrestling match cost you? $600. You were paying yourself $200 per hour to do something you could have easily delegated to a staff member or Virtual Assistant for around $50/hour. If you find yourself wasting $200/hour (fill in your hourly rate here) and losing out on great opportunities that would easily pay you your hourly rate, you probably need some help in your business.
10. You’re tired of being a Lone Ranger. Even the Lone Ranger couldn’t do it alone–he had his trusty sidekick, Tonto, beside him on his adventures. Having a virtual partner/consultant/coach/employee to help you think through how to best run things just might be the best investment you make in your business. If you’re tired of doing it all alone, you probably need some help in your business.
When you first started on your self-employment adventure, you probably had more time than money and could easily handle much of the day-to-day aspects of running your business yourself. However, once you’ve been in business for a year or two, the pressures mount — greater demands from clients, the continual need to fill your marketing funnel, increased drains on your time for day-to-day operations. If you think you can do it all alone, you’re sadly mistaken. That thinking will lead directly to the placement of a “going out of business” sign on your front door. Find the help that you need for your venture, before it’s too late!