Lots of books and articles have been written about business, some by those who have never started one themselves, but merely picked up where others have left off. So I thought I would offer my wisdom into the mix and give a bit of detail on my most important lessons so far.
As an expert in your business you will probably be a perfectionist and having someone else do what you do will send shivers down your back! You should start with things you’re not so good at, for me it was phoning people. I have less of a problem with this now, in fact I actually enjoy a good business chat over the phone. However, early on I hated it for a variety of reasons, some quite daft.
I decided that a PA would be a good idea, but I was concerned that the hourly rate would cripple me, after all year two wasn’t as much fun as year one! Good business advice led me to Alison Rothwell of Lifeline PA services. So why use a PA?
Well for a start when you’re in your car travelling to see a client or a prospective client, do you want to phone someone to book an appointment? What if they don’t answer, will you remember to call after your meeting? A good PA will enhance your business and your reputation, you will be seen to be more professional and larger than you are. I often get asked which of the other desks in my office is Alison’s. They will need to be trust worthy as they have access to client data and contact lists, so it’s important that you get recommendations from business coaches and people they already use.
Alison has a nice, posh voice, which works well with my clients and contacts; she likes people and it comes across and I’m sure the chit chat she has with them costs me a little bit more because they like to talk to her also; as I do! However, she frees me up from dealing with my diary, I don’t have many scheduling mishaps because it’s rare that I
get involved with booking people in. I don’t have to worry about chasing people up for things as she does it so it’s kept at arm’s length from me. I get a detailed report of her
time and her bill is of course much less than hiring a part time PA, let alone a full time one. Don’t look at the cost per hour, ask yourself how much your hourly rate is for doing it half as well as your PA
I’ve also started using a para planner service, which is a bit like a legal secretary. My letters are many pages long and some have taken up to three days to finish because of other distractions. As a perfectionist this was one of the toughest choices I have made, to let go of part of my work. The cost implications are great, because it’s a technical service they offer, however for some cases it just saves me so much time and worry. I have more time to work on other parts of my business now. This is one of the problems you will have as you grow, if all you’re doing is processing you can’t increase your sales or business because you can’t process more business. At this point you need to accept the extra costs to increase your ability to grow your business by freeing up your time.
So lesson three is: to accept that you can’t do everything and you must use the services of other companies to free your time and energy so you can grow.