By Joanna Martin
When you are getting started in your business, most (or all) of your business activities will be reliant on you… taking time off is difficult because if you’re not around, no business can be done.
To experience a true lifestyle business, you will need to remove this reliance on you being around and put steps into place that enable the business to function fully in your absence… otherwise you won’t be able to enjoy your lifestyle and your income will suffer when you are away from work for any period of time.
Let’s think beyond your lifestyle business design for a minute… what would happen if you were unexpectedly taken ill tomorrow and couldn’t work in your business for a while? Could it continue to run without you or would everything stop until you had recovered?
Makes you think doesn’t it?
I wrote a blog a couple of weeks ago about passive income. Having passive income streams with fully automated sales processes are the first steps to building your lifestyle business… processes that enable your customers to pay for and access your programs with no involvement from you.
Automated processes can only do so much though, so today I want to talk about how you should be building your team around you… the people who will carry out all the individual tasks requiring human input so your time is freed… with no compromise to income or service levels.
Telephone answering service
Virtual Assistant (VA)
Telephone answering service:
These are businesses that answer your phone as if they are a member of your staff. You can choose to have every call answered by the service or divert calls only when you are away from the business.
Your calls will be answered “Good morning/afternoon, [your business name] how can I help you” and the caller will be asked to leave you a message which will typically be emailed to you (or a designated team member/your VA) immediately so the call can be returned at a convenient time.
This service is often offered by VA’s… so if you already work with a VA, ask them if this is a service they can provide for you.
Before making your final choice, I’d recommend you check what their out of hours policy is… the benefit of using a call answering service is to avoid your callers being greeted by voicemail or an answering machine.
Many people will not leave a message so ask how calls are managed when the VA or answering service provider is unavailable… choose a service which offers human call answerers 24/7.
All reputable call answering service providers will be happy to allow you to approach existing customers… ask permission to contact some existing clients and be sure to call outside of business hours so you can assess how your call is handled by the service provider.
Virtual Assistant (VA’s)
When you are growing your business, a VA is invaluable. VA’s take care of routine admin tasks such as transcriptions of your audio programs, data entry, booking appointments, event planning, internet research and many other similar tasks. Some VA’s are also qualified Book-Keepers so you may be able to hire one person to handle all of your admin and accounting tasks.
You can choose to work with a VA in person from your local area or virtually from anywhere in the world. Ask around for recommendations… pricing and expertise can vary from one VA to another so take time to find one who you feel comfortable with and has experience in providing all the services you require.
A Book-Keeper will take care of making sure your accounts entries are correct, up-to-date and compliant with financial regulations. If you have a bag of receipts you never find the time to enter into your accounts program, working with a Book-Keeper will prove invaluable in saving your time and worry.
Depending on the set up of your business, you will also likely benefit from working with an Accountant to ensure all your tax submissions are correct and on time… it is very easy to forget (or not really understand) your financial requirements as a business owner… your Book-Keeper and Accountant will take care of everything and ensure nothing is missed.
Book-Keepers often work from the Accountant’s office but there are many independent, smaller Book-Keeping services who offer a reasonably priced option. Ask around for recommendations from business owners in your field or with a similar set up to yours and meet with 2 or 3 before making your final choice.
Unless you are a proficient writer, composing regular blog posts may take a lot of your time that could be better employed by hiring a Copywriter to post on your behalf.
Choosing to hire a Copywriter to take care of all of your web and sales copy is a good investment… bad copy loses sales so hire someone who can write quality, engaging and optimized copy for your business.
For one off jobs, you can source Copywriters from sites such as Elance.com but finding someone locally who understands your business will often produce the best results.
Outsource or employ?
All of the above team members can be hired on an outsource basis (payment on per hour, month or job basis… outsourcer is paid only for the time spent working with you) or as an employee (contract for a set number of hours per week).
Before you choose to hire an employee, I’d highly recommend you speak with a Lawyer who can advise you of your legal obligations as an Employer. Hiring outsourcers is simpler… the outsourcer invoices you and takes care of their own taxation but could prove more expensive or difficult to source if you require a lot of their time.
Take advice and make the right choices for your business… but don’t leave it too late to build your team. The sooner you have the right people in your business, the sooner you can begin to enjoy the benefits of running a lifestyle business.
At what stage of your business did you begin building your team? Are you seeing the benefits of having skilled people around you? Please share your experiences of growing your team and building your lifestyle business in the comments below.