Small businesses, marketing, SEO and the reality of not having enough time

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Running your own business, or a small business can be a fantastic experience.  You have the capacity to pursue a calling, make decisions, and be the captain of your own ship.

However, that ship won't sail itself.  Beyond providing the primary goods and/or services for the business, there are all sorts of necessary tasks from book-keeping to the promotion that sometimes can take a back seat.

There is no 36-hour work day and we all need to eat, sleep, socialize with friends and/or family.  So, how is a business supposed to attend to the daily requirements of their business and customers AND still handle the necessary tasks to keep their business going and growing (e.g. bookkeeping, marketing, and any infrastructural needs)?  The judicious use of outsourcing can be an incredibly helpful tool for small business owners.

Outsourcing has developed a bad reputation in the media, but that shouldn't mean that a small business owner should shy away from it.   If the choice is between not taking care of a task in a timely/regular manner versus not getting to it at all, that shouldn't be a difficult choice.  

I realize that budget and available time are real issues that will impact your ability to hire and work with someone to help with invoicing.  Assuming you can afford the cost and can make the time, working with outside vendors can enable a business to get items off of their to-do lists.  

This isn't rocket science, but it does require a business owner to stop working in their business and work on their business for a moment.  I suggest taking a minute to contemplate the following questions:

1)  What tasks aren't getting completed or completed within an acceptable timeframe?  
2)  Is there a way to routinize these tasks with a bookkeeper or marketing service to help get them off the to-do list?

If you are able to answer either of these questions with a tangible list of tasks that could be outsourced, the next step is to find a credible, reliable service provider.  These providers could be virtual (that is, a company that you interact with strictly through email and phone) or in-person.  This will depend mostly on your comfort level and the nature of the tasks to be completed.

To find providers I suggest looking in a few specific areas to start:

1)  Local networking groups such as a Chamber of Commerce or BNI type business group.  These tend to be self-selected audiences and it can be easier to get references and recommendations out of these groups for the kinds of services you need. 
2)  Online forums on sites like LinkedIn and Facebook can be incredibly helpful in identifying service providers, but be sure to do your homework, ask lots of questions and be wary of anyone making guarantees that sound too good to be true.
3)  Some of the online freelance sites (Fiverr, PeoplePerHour, Freelance.com, etc.) can be useful, but again, shop wisely, start with small projects to get a feel for the quality and reliability of the service provider.

At the outset, it may be that you find yourself spending the time to answer questions, review submitted work and evaluate the performance of one of the vendors you have chosen.  The hope is that, over time, that amount of time slowly shrinks and the tasks that weren't getting done are now regularly being completed, alleviating stress (yours) and helping improve the health of your business.

This process can take time and effort to put into place.  But, the benefit for the small business owner is that they have a better feel for what their business needs, accepts that they can't do it all and focuses on finding the right people to work with on these needs.  It will also help to ensure that the time they spend on their business is focused on the aspects that they are most interested in and qualified to address.

So, what are the projects that you'd like to outsource?  Send us a note and let us know.