Don’t Try to do Everything Yourself; Build a Virtual Team
As a small business owner, there is so much to do and typically, you try to do it all yourself. But you need to concentrate on your core business, as that’s where your revenue is. So how do you get it all done? One option is to build a Virtual Team of independent experts.
Everything in running a business is important, whether that’s getting your Terms & Conditions right, doing your marketing, keeping your accounts up to date or really anything on your to-do list.
But what if you’re not good at this stuff? What if it takes you away from selling and doing the thing that will bring in your revenue?
You could take on employees, but without a stable revenue line, you maybe reluctant to take this step; another option is to create a virtual team of independent experts.
What is a virtual team?
In large businesses this would typically mean a network of employees that are not based in one location.
However, for small businesses, it’s slightly different. Your virtual team are not employees, but a group of trusted independent businesses that you use instead.
When you work in a corporate environment there will be times when you need things done that aren’t in your job description. For example you may need to do a business case or get your product onto the company website. You wouldn’t do this yourself, you’d go to the right department and they would help you.
This is effectively what you can still do as a small business, your main job is to bring in the revenue, but without other departments to turn to for everything else, you outsource instead. You can use other independent businesses to be your company departments.
There is a lot of expertise out there, that you can draw on. At the start of 2017, there were 4.3 million businesses, that didn’t employ anyone apart from the owner(s) [source: FSB], and they, like you, need to get stuff done too!
How to make this work financially?
Obviously, the main difference between departments in a large business to a virtual team of independents, is money. When everyone works for the same company, you’re all salaried, so there are no worries about paying! That is not the case here, when you seek expert advice you should expect to be invoiced for it! But likewise, you need to also charge for your time too. By outsourcing you will have more time available to make your business money!
If every small business concentrated on their core activities and then outsourced the rest to other small businesses, there would be an abundance of work and healthy cash flow. However, this is the utopia and not the reality!
If, like a lot of small businesses, money is tight and you can’t afford to outsource everything, here are some options to consider:
Do you have something that someone else wants and do they do something that you need? If so, you could swap services rather than paying each other? For example, are you a graphic designer that really needs some help with their accounts? Do they need a new logo, or help with their branding? Could you swap so you both get what you need without incurring costs?
The best way that I have found this to work is if you do an exchange based on time. eg: for each hour you work on their stuff, they pay you with an hour’s work on your stuff. That way it’s a fair exchange and means your time is deemed equal, rather than on individual rates of pay.
Be careful not to do so much skill swapping work that you leave yourself short of time to do revenue generating work. It is still important to feed your bottom line and create an income for yourself.
- Get it all done, but slowly:
Prioritise the one thing that needs to be done on your business, that prevents you from moving forward. Is there something that is stopping you from selling or doing your revenue generating stuff? For example, are you intending to sell your products via your website, but you’re struggling to build it yourself? In this instance, prioritise your website build over outsourcing anything else. Get this first thing done to sell more. This will then build up your revenue and enable you to look at what your next priority is and then outsource that.
Each time you outsource something you are freeing up more of your time to generate new income; but by doing it slowly you’re achieving sustainable growth and not incurring huge debt to grow quickly.
- Get a VA
If you have a massive list of tasks and need someone to help, rather than outsourcing the big bits, get rid of all the small stuff instead. Virtual Assistants are a great all-round support. They can help you with all sorts of things including:
- diary management
- responding to clients
- chasing invoicing
- setting up spreadsheets
- book keeping
- social media
- and much more.
Virtual teams are not only good for building your business, they are also good when it comes to doing work for your clients. By collaborating with other independent businesses you can access new clients that would otherwise be closed to you. For example: a potential customer might want an exhibition stand designed and created for them. If you were just the designer they might not be interested, but by collaborating with someone who could turn your designs into the actual stand, then together you would be able to pitch for that job.
I built Brilliant Together purely using independent businesses for each specialist area. I have a virtual team of experts that I’m proud to recommend. Take a look at our Brilliant People page, for some of the fabulous experts we work with.
If you have a growing business, but you’re not ready to take on employees, think about building your virtual team.
Advantages of a Virtual Team
- Trying to do all the things that aren’t to do with the heart of your businesses will take up your time and take you away from earning money.
- Using experts to do the things you need will provide you with better quality or more professional looking finish
- By investing in other small businesses, you are supporting them, and in return they will support you.
- If you build up a relationship with them, they are likely to recommend you to others, gaining you new clients.
Sound good? Get in touch and we can help connect you to the specialist help that you need.