As a solo working from home internet marketer, I miss the support network of secretaries and assistants that I used to enjoy in the corporate world and for many years running my own off-line businesses.
Although farming in Africa with its unique third world problems required that I was able to use skills ranging from, arbitrating workers domestic disputes to welding, first aid to designing buildings, I had a huge work force to get things done.
When you are responsible for a large staff complement in the corporate world, a small group of employees in your own business or even a large unskilled work force on a farm, it is comparatively simple to assign people to things that need doing or even hire new people.
Not as easy when you are working on your own with a limited budget and a tendency to see all parts of your on-line business as your own personal projects.
It’s not just the financial implication. Even though going from none to one, part-time worker is a big jump in overhead, I don’t think that is the biggest problem for most solo entrepreneurs.
I suspect it might be worse for us boomers who came to the internet late in life. Many of us are still somewhat amazed that we have been able to decipher the mysteries of html, SEO, WordPress, plugins and social media. Perhaps we are secretly reluctant to relinquish the little control we have been able to master in case we become rusty and never regain it.
When I listen to webinars on the subject of outsourcing and effective use of time, I understand that it is not a generational thing at all but a bigger problem in on-line businesses than off-line.
Why should this be?
- Started as hobbies or part-time businesses.
- Working from home.
- Many different tasks.
- Easy to get absorbed in the technicalities.
- Difficult to justify extra expenses of a VA.
- Always more to do, social media, overlap with personal on-line activities.
Strange as it may sound, it might be an advantage to be completely un-technical as an Internet Marketer or blogger. Why? Because it is just too easy to become fascinated with the technical side and get too involved with it.
Compare an Internet marketer to a motor mechanic. A mechanic does not spend a lot of time studying how his wrenches are made, how a hydraulic car lift or diagnostic tester work. He uses them to do his job, if they need repair or modification beyond basic maintenance, he calls in an expert and gets them fixed. He also uses an accountant to do his books, and an electrician if he needs more lights fitted in is workshop.
Not only does he not waste time doing those things, neither does he spend time learning about them just in case he might need that knowledge in the future. He spends his learning time learning how to fix cars better and learning how to work with new technology inside the cars.
One huge difference, when the mechanic locks up his workshop at the end of the day, his work is done, he can’t fix cars using his laptop or tablet while he is watching TV.
To be successful as Internet Marketers, our focus has to be on finding or creating products to sell, finding customers and persuading them to buy our products. If we consider ourselves bloggers, then our priority is to create great content. Not to design spectacular websites, become SEO experts or know the intimate details of the top 100 WordPress plug-ins.
The big problem, and one I am as guilty as most of, is that creating and thinking are hard work, they take focus, determination and commitment. Tweaking blog design, re-hashing sales pages or discussing the effectiveness of super bowl ads on Facebook is much more fun and less mentally challenging.
Outsourcing any or most of the routine tasks is a bit of a chicken and egg situation for most solo Internet marketers, we can’t afford it until we generate more revenue, but we won’t generate more revenue until we start using our time more effectively.
Unlike many experts who propose hiring a part-time virtual assistant (VA) first, I suggest that we need to get our priorities right first, cut out as much of the busy work and interesting but unimportant stuff, work more strategically, start seeing results and then start outsourcing.
Rich Schefren of Strategic Profits has put together a series of videos with Pete Williams a young Australian who gets through a huge workload each day. They are only available to subscribers but you can read a post by Pete Williams here. (I have no commercial interest in promoting Strategic Profits)
Two useful tips I got from the videos:
Record audio replies to emails and attach the audio file to a short standard email reply. Not only is this a time saver, there is a novelty premium, not many people are doing it, it makes you memorable.
Use text expander software to save time on frequently used email messages, or any other text application.
I downloaded Phrase Express, a free (for personal use) programme that seems like it will be a big timesaver, I will report on it in more detail in a future post when I have given it a longer trial.
What do you think? Are you using your time effectively? Using a VA or outsourcing? Leave a comment.
Wishing you success.