Starting your own business is very hard work – and if you don’t think it is, you’re probably doing something wrong! However well organized you are, however sound your business plan, you still need to put a lot of hours into building your business and making it profitable. You are unlikely to be an expert in every aspect of running a business, and many people start a business with little expertise but a great deal of talent and an idea they are passionate about. The reason you want to start a business in the first place is to develop your idea, or exploit your talents, to make a comfortable living and have autonomy over your life. So it can be frustrating to have to spend time on things like accounts, IT systems and maintenance that although essential for your business are not the things that get you up in the morning.
Me, myself and I
When you set up your business, unless you’ve won the Lottery you are likely to be looking for the most economical way of sourcing and setting up all the equipment and facilities you need to get going. You have the pressure of knowing you’ve invested your savings, or are in debt because you needed a loan, and any methods that will save you money seem like the obvious route to take. Why pay for a cleaner when you can easily have a whip round with the vacuum yourself every night? Why use expensive software when there are open source solutions you can use for free? On the face of it, spending money on anything you don’t have to appears sensible and economical. The trouble is, you’re not seeing the bigger picture, and your apparently clever ways of saving money are the definition of a false economy. The time you spend doing the chores yourself could be better used.
Why you should value yourself more
It’s your business, your baby, and you are the creator and the controller. Your talents and abilities are what drives your business, and the most effective use of your time is to concentrate on the things you are best at. Imagine you are a freelance tutor, working from home and going out to teach students in the local area. You charge £30 an hour plus expenses and see four students each day. You finish at 4pm, so you have time to clean, cook, walk the dogs, do a bit of gardening and collect the children from school. You can’t see any alternative because these things must be done, and it doesn’t make sense to employ a cleaner or a gardener which will cost you money and reduce your income. This is where you need to examine your reasoning more closely. If you had a cleaner in twice a week for two hours at a rate of £10 an hour, that would cost you forty pounds a week. However, you would then have the time to see one more student each day, which would earn you £200 per week. By employing a cleaner, you are actually making more money – £160 a week, and no more vacuuming!
Do what you do best
That is a very simple example of the principle that you will serve your business better and be more profitable if you spend your time using your talents and expertise, rather than trying to save a few pounds by doing everything yourself. If you do all your own deliveries because it saves paying a courier company, you’re effectively taking yourself out of the business to perform a task that doesn’t require your knowledge and expertise. If you engage a reliable courier company or employ your own driver, you will have far more time to work on your business strategy, product development, sales and marketing, the elements that drive your business forward.
You will almost certainly have a computer system which is the heart of your operation. If you have any problems, or want to install new software, do you sort it out yourself, even though you have no expertise beyond using a laptop for the last ten years? Consider the time you lose; fiddling with systems and trying to figure out what’s gone wrong can result in several hours down the drain. Then if you have staff, you’re hindering them with their work, which means more lost time. Not to mention the frustration that trying to sort out IT systems can cause. Alternatively, find an IT expert who you can have on speed dial, or register with a specialist IT support company like GenX Solutions. They will have the expertise to handle everything for you, and you can get back to doing what you do best.
It’s not just the money
There is another benefit to getting professional help for the functions and processes that take you away from your primary role, and that is the knowledge and experience professional people bring to your business. Not only will your IT guy install your software and iron out any glitches, but he can also recommend the best software systems to use, advise on IT security and show you more efficient ways of using your systems. A good accountant can not only do your tax returns – a blessed relief for most of us – she can help you analyze your figures and suggest ways of maximizing your profits. The advice of these experts can be worth its weight in gold, and the closer a relationship you build up, the more mutually beneficial your partnership will be.
Being cautious with your expenditure is critical when starting a business or becoming self-employed. If you buy a hand-carved oak desk for your office instead a flatpack, or lease a top of the range printer copier when a basic model would have done everything you needed, then you will take far longer to turn a profit and you might even struggle to keep going if you’ve overspent out of your capital before the money starts coming in. What you need to avoid is being so cautious about what you spend that you are blinded to the false economies of doing everything yourself.