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When Doing It All Stops Your Business Growth

By Audrey Seymour

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Many of my clients who are growing solo businesses grapple with the decision of when to hire an assistant.

They argue with themselves:

"I can do it all myself and save the money. Saving money is what matters most while the business is growing."

"But I'm really tired of doing everything myself!"

"Well, you wanted to start a business so you could do it all yourself, with no one looking over your shoulder."

"Does it have to be so hard to keep everything moving forward? I'm tired and not enjoying this as much as I used to."

"When you are a business owner, you just need to work incredibly long hours. Eventually it will pay off and you won't have to work so hard."

But should you listen to the voice that says to just keep pushing through the feeling of doing too much?

In the beginning it can be inspiring to do everything yourself - not only delivering the products and/or services, but also creatively expressing yourself in marketing, sales, operations and finding new ways for your business to grow.

You can feel confident that your vision is being executed exactly as you imagined, and you can change course on a dime when you feel like it.

But then at a certain point, staying responsible for every aspect of the business will interfere with its natural growth. You can automate some business functions by setting up systems, but that will only take you so far.

Here are some good indicators that it's time to hire someone to help:

  • You've been happily immersed in your work but have postponed balancing the books for months, and you don't know how you're going to catch up in time to file your taxes. Looking at this scenario, how could you possibly know how well the business is doing, and where to put more attention to increase profitability?

  • You advertise in numerous places and attend several networking groups, but don't know which ones are working best for you. Imagine having someone set up a tracking system so that you can evaluate which marketing strategies bring in not only the most clients but the best clients. Imagine being able to stop wasting time and money on those avenues which are not fruitful, so that you can focus your energy effectively for business growth.

  • Between meeting with clients, marketing, and running your business your schedule is full, but you never seem to have time to write that book or create that information product that's been in your head for a year. If you don't offload something, you will be continually tied to a pay-for-time model and not have the benefit of growing passive income.

  • You are thrilled at the way your business is growing -- but lately every time you find a message from a prospective client, you feel tired and postpone calling them back. This could indicate a need to delegate, or alternatively a need to readjust your life-work balance and to schedule more time for self-renewal. Don't miss out on these opportunities to keep expanding. Get curious and find out what's true for you.

I have to laugh because of how long it took me to "take my own medicine." I had hit a plateau that persisted for two years in the number of active clients I coached each week. I diligently worked on any possible psychological barriers, added more downtime in my schedule and fine-tuned my time management system, all without shifting that plateau.

My situation was complicated by the fact that I actually love doing the books and billings -- my original background is in math and playing with numbers is fun for me.

But something had to go, and I finally hired a virtual assistant. Bingo! In that month, my practice increased by 30% and I broke through my plateau.

What I found was that it wasn't even the time savings, since obviously in the first month I had to spend extra time training her in my business systems.

What made the difference was letting go of the mindset that I had to do it all myself. When I delegated the administrative work, I felt so supported that I gained extra energy and enthusiasm to support several more clients.

Here's the bottom line:

The factor that holds many entrepreneurs back when they want to grow is the belief that it will save them money to keep doing it all themselves. However, the truth is that this belief costs you money, because saving money in this way prevents you from earning much more from an expanding business.

If you are a solo entrepreneur, the first level of help to get is usually either a bookkeeper or virtual assistant, who typically charge between $25 to $50 an hour. This includes businesses that deliver bookkeeping and virtual assistance services!

Whether you are designing products or delivering services, how much is an hour of your time worth?

© 2008 Audrey Seymour. All rights reserved.