For many business owners, stepping away from their business can feel like a daunting prospect. After all, your business is your baby! As your business grows, it can be increasingly difficult to keep up with all the responsibilities that come with it. But there are some very real benefits to stepping away, and leaving your business in the hands of a capable team. You could also consider increasing your team members by outsourcing. Here are some reasons why you should consider letting go of the reins once in a while.
1. Delegating tasks allows you to focus on growth opportunities
When you’re bogged down in the day-to-day running of your business, it can be easy to be too busy to take on bigger projects that could help to take your company to the next level. By letting your team handle the essential day-to-day tasks, such as accounting or customer service, you free up time and energy that can be put towards achieving more ambitious goals.
2. Helps to stay competitive
By delegating certain tasks to professionals who understand the market, you can make sure that you’re up to date with the latest trends and best practices in your industry. This will ensure that you remain competitive in an ever-evolving landscape.
3. Outsourcing increases efficiency
When work is outsourced to a third party, they often have access to better resources and technology than what is available to you in-house. This means that tasks can be completed more efficiently and with greater accuracy than they were before.
4. Reduces costs in the long run
Of course, outsourcing does come with an upfront cost. However, it’s often worth it in the long run when compared with trying to do everything yourself or relying on expensive full-time employees who may not be as productive as external specialists would be.
5. It gives you time for other areas of life
Sometimes, running a business means you put other important areas of life on the back burner. This may be spending time with family, looking after your health and well-being, or neglecting personal projects that you want to do. With a good team around you, you can take some time to focus on other things.
Is Stepping Away Right for You?
If you’re not sure whether leaving the responsibility of your business to others is right for you, here are some things to consider:
- Are you struggling to keep up with the demands of running your business?
- Are you finding it difficult to find time for the things you love outside of work?
- Are you feeling burnt out and in need of a break?
- Are your profits stagnant or declining?
- Are you having trouble scaling your business?
If any of these things resonate with you, then delegating might be something worth considering for your business. It can take some of the pressure off, free up your time, and allow you to focus on the things that matter most to you.
Stepping away from your business isn’t always easy, but it can have numerous benefits if done correctly. By outsourcing or delegating certain tasks, you’ll be able to focus on high value activities while staying competitive and saving money in the long run – all while giving yourself some much-needed breathing room!
Hiring an OBM
One of the best ways to step away from your business and leave it in capable hands is by hiring an Online Business Manager (OBM). OBMs specialise in taking on the day-to-day tasks of running a business, so that you can focus on the big picture, or take some much-needed time for yourself. But that’s not all! They can manage your team and help them be more productive, help you develop and implement strategies that will drive growth, and provide valuable insights and feedback based on their experience in the industry.
Whether you are in the coaching industry, or a small business owner, I can help you achieve your business goals while you take a break. Feel free to book a call for a friendly chat, and gain back some time for yourself!
An Online Business Manager (OBM) must have a varied skill base to be good at what they do. Team management is an essential skill to get right to ensure goals are achieved in a positive manner.
Managing a team successfully is much more than being able to coordinate everyone’s activities and deadlines. It is an array of interpersonal skills, as well as organisational skills, that enable an OBM to get the most from their team members and decide on the success of a project.
Here are some essential skills every OBM needs for an effective and happy team. Some of these skills overlap, showing how each often relies upon another – just like a team itself!
Understand your team as individuals
An OBM may be managing people who specialise in different skill sets, as well as being from different walks of life. Examples include virtual assistants, copywriters, social media managers, web developers and more. An OBM manages people who are task driven and need accountability to meet deadlines.
On top of that, it is important to remember that these people are individuals. That means they all have strengths and weaknesses. Getting to know your team is essential in order to get the best from them, and for them to be happy and productive members.
Giving instruction, delegating, understanding problems and finding solutions all rely on effective communication. Finding the best ways to collaborate allows good communication between the OBM and their team, but also between team members themselves. There are a variety of platforms that make communication easier, such as Asana, ClickUp and Trello.
Effective communication is about clearly explaining roles and what is expected of people, but it also includes listening. This leads to emotional awareness, which is another key skill for any team leader.
Emotional awareness is a skill that helps you understand your individual team members and communicate with them. When you can put yourself in another person’s shoes, you are able to motivate and encourage your team, as well as understanding what may be holding them back from achieving their potential.
Having emotional awareness helps you smooth the way ahead for your team members, offer constructive criticism and advice to help tackle obstacles and get results.
So, you have a great team, and everyone is keen to bring their ideas to the table. That’s great! But an effective team leader needs to have the experience and confidence to make decisions to take projects forward.
Some decisions you make may be popular, others may not. Being able to communicate logically and using emotional awareness will ensure that no one is offended if their ideas are not used. Giving your team feedback and constructive criticism will help them understand why you make such decisions and emphasise the importance of achieving a goal rather than decisions being taken personally.
Putting it all together…
Your team are the people around you who perform the necessary tasks to achieve a goal or take a project forward. In that way, an OBM should also view the client as a team member and use their skills to fully understand their needs and communicate methods and progress often. Having these team management skills in the armoury is what helps someone to become an effective OBM.
As an OBM, I understand that people skills are a big part of being an effective leader and can determine the accomplishment of a project. When you have a good team behind you, your business is set for success!
If you would like to work with me, find out more about OBM services by getting in touch.
In your business, have you ever stopped to really consider how many tasks you do on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis? It may surprise you. It’s no wonder that so many of us feel overwhelmed at times. What if there was a way to cut down on tasks, without compromising on the quality and quantity of your output? Well, there is! It’s called the art of delegation!
What can I delegate?
Delegating is where you offload some of your tasks to others, freeing up your valuable time. When you are busy with the day-to-day operations, it can be hard to know exactly what can be delegated and to whom. First, you need a breakdown of all the jobs you do within your business, and that’s where the Business Task Audit can help. It helps you identify everything that you do, so you can get a clear idea of what can be outsourced to someone else.
Benefits of delegation
The most obvious benefit of delegating tasks is that it helps you to manage your time. This enables you to improve your focus on other jobs, or creative thinking, strategizing, or even just have some time to yourself!
If you are not ready to hire someone, or outsource tasks, you can make use of automation tools to help you work smarter. Rather than delegate to a person, hand over your email marketing, social media, call scheduling and more to software and apps instead!
Better time management has the added effect of making you more productive and drives forward the growth of your business. So, delegate those time-consuming tasks!
Should I outsource to a VA or an OBM?
A VA (virtual assistant) can be a fantastic asset to your business. They are usually well-versed in many of those repetitive admin tasks, understand how to use lots of different software and business tools, and can help take some of those everyday jobs off your list.
But, what if you want to outsource more complex projects? That is where an OBM (online business manager) can help. An OBM can handle entire projects, use their analytical skills to improve workflows, and can assist you in strategic planning for the growth of your business. They can look closely at your business systems and create alternative ways of working that are more effective. An OBM has those higher-level management skills. They get to know your business and bring fresh ideas that could help take it to the next level. Read more about the differences between a VA and OBM.
Take the leap!
So often as business owners, we feel as if we must be in control of all aspects of our business. This means that we under-delegate, or think that in order for things to be done right, we must do it ourselves. After all, it would take time and effort to train someone new. Or, perhaps it is a fear of failure that makes it so hard to let go of our ways of doing things.
It is important to remember that delegation will benefit your business. When you are juggling too many tasks, YOU are the one who is more likely to make mistakes. Whether you hire an OBM, a VA, or pass some extra tasks on to your existing team members, delegation will help your business run smoothly and lower your stress levels!
If you’re ready to take charge of overwhelm and make better use of your time, begin by downloading my Business Task Audit. It’s a simple process, and a valuable experience. When you see how much time you could save and how much more you could achieve by delegating, you’ll be excited to start!
Sometimes the words ‘Virtual Assistant’ (VA) and ‘Online Business Manager’ (OBM) are used interchangeably. While both are support roles for a business, there are some key differences between the two. If you’ve been considering hiring a VA or OBM, knowing the difference will help you decide what level of service you need for your business.
What is the role of a VA?
When your business grows and tasks become too much to handle with the capacity and resources you have, outsourcing to a VA is a great option. Whether it is help with general admin, or specialist tasks such as social media management, a VA has the expertise to take on many common business processes on your behalf. A VA takes direction from you, so when you want help, you send your VA tasks for completion.
A VA often works for a number of clients, each for an agreed amount of hours per week.
What does an OBM do?
An online business manager is less task oriented than a VA, rather they focus their expertise on helping you manage your business to drive growth and increase revenue. Partnering with an OBM means you allow them to understand your business inside out, and use their knowledge to work independently and manage things as they see fit. The advantage with this is that you do not have to micro-manage, an OBM can solve problems and keep your business running smoothly without your input.
Another advantage of working with an OBM is that you can take time off work or put your effort into new projects without worrying about the details of your existing business. Your OBM handles it all!
Adding to the confusion between the two roles, there may be some VA’s that also offer OBM services, but an OBM typically dedicates more time to their clients and has a deeper level of business management knowledge. An OBM tends to have fewer clients, and charges a higher rate due to their higher level of business acumen and expertise.
Do you need an OBM or a VA?
The level of help you need, how much control you are willing to hand over, as well as your budget, will be factors in deciding whether to hire a VA or an OBM for your business.
If you are looking for someone to oversee the complete management of a project, want to hand over the running of some parts of your business, or need help with planning and strategy to take your business forward, an OBM is the right choice for you.
If you need more staffing power to speed up day to day tasks, you like to keep a close eye on your operations, or would prefer to hand over the less exciting jobs to free up your time, a VA is there to help.
It is easy to see why the two roles are often confused with one another, as there is some overlap with the types of activities that a VA does, and an OBM will oversee. But when you really understand the difference, the two roles are distinct.
There are many great reasons to hire an OBM, especially for small business owners and entrepreneurs who typically lack a balance in their professional and personal life. There may also be a point where you feel as if you are spending too much time managing your business, and not doing the creative thinking that made you start your business in the first place. Whatever the reason for hiring an OBM, it can make a huge difference to your time, stress levels and overall well-being, as well as enabling new business growth and direction.
If you are looking for an OBM to help take your business forward, feel free to get in touch.
When you first started your business, chances are you were keen to take on pretty much any client that came along — even if you weren’t 100% sure about them at the time. After all, you were more than likely still finding your feet and securing business gave you the confidence boost you needed.
But over the years as you and your business have grown, you will have come to realise that some clients just aren’t worth the hassle. And while you have now learnt how to spot potential problem clients before you take them on, you may still have a few whom you still work with.
The bottom line is that people and relationships change, and that’s fine. You just need to learn to know when to say goodbye and move on.
Now you might be thinking, why on earth would I want to actively get rid of a client, Jo!? And it’s a great question, which you’ll hopefully have the answer to by the end of this post.
Problem clients are restricting you and your business
Whether you realise it or not, problem clients are almost certainly restricting you and your business. That’s because more often than not you will be spending time satisfying their whims, instead of focussing on the stuff that matters to your business.
Then there’s the stress they cause you, which is sometimes reason enough to say goodbye. If there’s one thing that the recent coronavirus lockdown has taught me it’s that my mental health is more precious than I ever realised and it should be protected at all costs.
The problem for many entrepreneurs, freelancers and business owners though is that they hang on to problem clients because they are worried about how they will fill the financial hole that would be left if they got rid of them. I know this because it’s exactly how I felt until I finally took the plunge.
But once I’d politely informed a couple of my clients that I wanted to part ways with them, I felt a huge sense of relief and renewed determination. The best part is that I managed to secure a new client the very next day — some of that newfound determination shining through perhaps?
5 problem clients you should consider dumping
While a client can become a pain for all manner of reasons, here are the 5 main problematic traits that I and people in my professional network have come across:
You know the ones. Those clients who always seem to have a reason for why they haven’t paid you yet this month, despite your agreed payment date having not changed for years. Clients who regularly pay you late disrupt your cash flow, cause you headaches and you simply do not need them.
These are the clients who frequently expect you to do stuff outside of what you’ve agreed. For example, they’ll ask you to carry out a task, which you do, then they move the goalposts and assume you’ll be okay with that.
Having your confidence knocked in your personal life is bad enough. It’s even worse when it happens in your professional life too. Clients who constantly make you doubt your abilities and tell you where you are going wrong are not good. They’re not good for your business, your confidence or your sanity.
There’s a good chance that you started your own business so you’d be the boss and not have to feel like an employee again. But this all changes when you’ve got a client who acts like they’re your manager. Remember, while you’re providing them with services, you are your own boss.
And clients you simply don’t get along with
As I’ve already mentioned, people and relationships change. If you find that you are simply no longer getting on with a client the way you used to, maybe it’s time to call it a day. There’s no point struggling along for either of your sakes. The connection will never be the same, unfortunately.
How to let your problem clients down gently
It’s never nice or easy sending a goodbye email or having a final telephone call, but it’s an inevitable part of business. To help you out and conclude this post, I’m going to give you a quick takeaway on how to let your problem clients down gently.
- Give them plenty of notice — follow what’s laid out in your contract and give them as much time as possible to replace you. It’s going to be hard after all, right 😉
- Stay professional — it’s never a good idea to burn bridges or make public any difference you had, especially in the business world. You never know when you might want a reference or similar.
- Finish any outstanding tasks — don’t leave them in the lurch with a bunch of unfinished projects.
- Refer them to someone else — maybe you have an associate who could help the client out. If they’re a better fit for the work or the individual, consider making an introduction.
Getting rid of problem clients might seem counterintuitive, but doing so can genuinely save your sanity, renew your sense of self-worth and end up strengthening your business going forward.
I regularly get people contacting me through LinkedIn to ask how I started being a virtual assistant (VA). In fact, the frequency and number of enquiries prompted me to write this blog post – after all, I’m all about boosting productivity and efficiency, which is why it made sense to write an informative post and direct wannabe VAs towards it.
First and foremost, before I started my VA business, I did huge amounts of research. I spent a lot of time online digesting as many free resources as I could and absorbing all the advice and tips I was finding – there was a lot!
Google is your friend
A quick Google search for ‘how to become a virtual assistant’ yields a whopping 8.4 million results (at time of writing). Even if you just take the time to go through the first page of results alone, you’ll glean a huge amount of relevant info (as I did more than six years ago).
Next, I looked to satisfy the avid reader in me and checked what books relating to becoming a virtual assistant were available on Amazon. There wasn’t actually that many (at the time), but one did stick out, so I placed an order. It was “The Virtual Assistant Handbook: Insider Secrets for Starting and Running Your Own Profitable VA Business” by Nadine Hill. It’s a great resource because it’s so easy to read. I couldn’t put it down once I’d started and read it from cover to cover in no time. It was definitely worth the cost as it contained information about things I hadn’t thought about.
Another great book written by an acquaintance of mine is How to be a Virtual Assistant: Start and run your own successful VA business by Catherine Gladwyn.
With my interest seriously piqued and my passion to learn more in overdrive, I joined the Virtual Assistant Forums. Like most Internet-based forums, this one allows you to post questions and discuss topics with people who are virtual assistants already or working towards becoming one.
A great way to gain some exposure in such forums is by linking your blog and Twitter accounts, then adding real value to the conversations that are going on. People will naturally look at your profile if they see you as someone who knows what they’re talking about and may click through to your website/social media accounts as a result.
I then joined the International Virtual Assistants Association (IVAA). It’s a non-profit organisation dedicated to VA development, education and raising public awareness of what VAs do. There are several different membership categories, all of which boast a number of benefits. Check out the IVAA website for more information.
There are two VA directory sites that I’d recommend to anyone looking to start out in this industry: Virtual Assistantville and BeMyVA. They are great places to advertise your services and potentially secure your first clients. Be sure to check out the membership benefits of BeMyVA, as there’s a chance you could feature on their social media accounts and have your articles featured in their newsletter.
Twitter lists featuring virtual assistants are great; all you’ve got to do is find some. The easiest way to do this is by using the Twitter search feature to find out profiles relating to virtual assistance, VAs, etc. One you’ve started following some of the profiles you’ve found, go through their accounts and look at any lists they’ve created and been added to. Chances are there will be some relating solely to virtual assistance, which can join or retrieve more useful contacts from.
Hashtags like #VA and #virtualassistant are also a great way to find tweets and profiles relating to the industry.
Last, but certainly not least, are all the virtual assistant Facebook groups out there. There are so many, each with their own benefits, that I would never be able to review each one separately. However, I have compiled this list of groups to get you started:
Two other Facebook groups I highly recommend are Freelance Heroes (great for general freelancing discussions and lead generation) and my own Online Productivity Tools & Applications group (great for insights into all the best tools and apps designed to boost productivity).
Over to you…
Are there any resources you use/have used that I haven’t mentioned? I’d love to hear about them. Drop a note in the comments or tweet me @JoHarris0n.