In anticipation of The Great British Business Show at Excel next week, this one’s for the small business owners out there.
If you run your own business, you’ll know that the balance between spending time and spending money is hard to strike. When you start out you have no clients and less money.
Understandably, you become a jack of all trades. You do your own invoicing. You provide your own web support. You wonder whether social media is really worth doing and in the absence of any real knowledge, you start randomly tweeting.
And when you’re starting out, that’s fine.
You can start a business doing everything yourself. But you can’t grow one. Once you’re generating income your time is much better spent getting new clients and servicing those clients.
Set your business up to grow
Take a moment to imagine your business in five years. It’s successful – it’s everything you hoped it would be. How do you spend your day? Are you still the admin assistant? Does your website still look like it does today? Are you a one-person sales and marketing team?
Chances are in five years’ time, you have employees. Planning for success means putting in place the resource that you need. You don’t need to employ ten people today. But systematically working out what you can afford to outsource is good practice for scaling your business.
1. Start small.
List the small jobs that are always on the to-list and that fill you with dread. Find quick and easy support through websites like Fiverr.
2. Avoid repetition
Some tasks need to be done month in, month out. These are a gift when it comes to outsourcing because explain them once, and a Virtual Assistant can take them off your hands indefinitely. And a good one will streamline your business processes whilst they’re at it.
3. Think about value
What are the tools of your trade? A builder can’t work without a spade. An online business can’t work without a website. If your website is essential then getting a professional in is an investment, not a cost. Pay a web designer once – and for that matter a copywriter – and it will reap dividends over the years.
4. Think about growth
Which tasks are central to your business’s growth? Approach them as professionally as you can, as quickly as you can. Address all issues to do with product and service quality as a priority. Get an effective sales process in place swiftly. It’s a false economy to cut corners in those areas.
Choose who you work with carefully
Think about your buying power. A small company will never be the priority for a huge agency. Equally, a small agency might not be able to meet the needs of a bigger client. You need to work with suppliers who will give your business the attention it needs. And ideally, that company can flex to accommodate your business as it grows. The advantage of dipping your toe in the water and starting to outsource early is that you give yourself time to work out what your business needs.
So, when is it time to hire a copywriter?
If people visit your website but don’t buy, it’s time. If you’ve sent out leaflets and the response has been disappointing, it’s time. If you’re tweeting ten times a day and nobody is reading, it’s time.
Copywriting isn’t about just about writing words. It’s about driving sales. A good copywriter will take the time to understand your sales and growth strategy and focus in on what will make the difference to you. If words are part of your sales process then getting them right is an investment in your business growth.
Whether it’s your communications plan, social media or your sales letters – take a single element and ask a copywriter to review it. Find out for yourself whether it makes a difference and what that is worth to you.
Building a small business into a medium size business requires a broad skill set. Identifying what you can cost effectively outsource will build resilience and flexibility into your business and ready it for expansion.