There’s a staggering amount of stuff you can do for your business all by your lonesome.
As technology evolves, more and more tools are suddenly at your fingertips! For perspective, this is what a fancy phone looked like 10 years ago:
But this blog post isn’t about phones.
It isn’t even about all the cool stuff you can do to run your business as a one-person show.
It’s actually about all the stuff you SHOULDN’T do.
Because even though there are all kinds of tools and apps and programs and gizmos that give you the power to do almost literally anything your business needs by yourself, actually DOING it is about as practical as SOMETHING.
Just because you CAN do something doesn’t mean you should.
Sometimes, you need some good old fashioned expertise on your side – the type of know-how that comes from training and practice in things outside your wheelhouse.
Think of yourself like a movie director.
Your job is to have the vision and the overall strategy for your business, not to actually run around doing every single job just because you can!
(Steven Spielberg probably knows how to use a hammer, but that doesn’t mean he’s building his own sets.)
That’s why you need to fire yourself – from one job at a time.
It’s a matter of letting go of certain tasks, and entrusting them to people who know how to do them well and do them efficiently.
(But what tasks ARE those, exactly?)
When you’re figuring out your #SquadGoals, who are some of the first people you should think about enlisting?
Whether they’re part-time, full-time, or freelance, here are some of the pros you’ll definitely want on your side sooner rather than later:
Building a website (or even just a blog) using WordPress is like building furniture.
Sure, you can use the plug-and-play themes and whatnot to put something together on your own with no coding experience. That’s like the Internet version of building a table from IKEA – it’s foolproof, and you don’t need to do much other than put the round peg in the round hole.
But your business didn’t come from IKEA.
It’s unique! It has authority! You didn’t just pick it up in a warehouse along with some meatballs and lingonberries – so why be all boring and cookie cutter?
Don’t settle for a plug-and-play website just because you can build it yourself. Your site should be more like one of those fancy oak tables that an Amish craftsman made in his workshop – a gorgeous, functional investment that you can tell was made by practiced hands, and smells kind of like fresh varnish.
A WordPress developer will save you serious time and headaches.
Because even once the site is built and running, you’re going to need stuff. Adding or changing plugins, making tweaks here and there, implementing quick fixes when things change or unexpectedly stop working the way they should – these are things you could technically learn to do yourself, but by going to a professional instead, you can get them done faster and know they’re getting done properly.
(Like changing your car’s oil, or getting a tongue piercing.)
Having a developer on your side – even just a reliable freelancer – is one of the most worthwhile investments you can make in your business, especially early on.
And speaking of people who know how to make something look all nice and professional…
Graphic design is another one of those things you can absolutely do yourself – but probably shouldn’t.
“It’s not like I don’t know what looks good,” you might think. And you’re not wrong! You totally DO know what looks good. (We weren’t going to say anything, but your outfit today? On point.)
There’s a big difference between recognizing that something works visually, though, and understanding why. And unless you have the training and experience of a professional graphic designer, using that understanding to create something brand new is darn near impossible.
You might not need a professional designer often – but that doesn’t mean you don’t need one.
It’s not the look we ultimately went for, but we fell hard for the designer’s color scheme of choice and kept it as part of Edgar’s branding!
The design elements determined and/or created by a professional live on in our team wiki, so they’re accessible to us and to any designer we hire for future one-off projects – because we know that projects like those are best left to people who do it for a living.
Okay, who else?
We know you can write words. Heck, you’re reading ‘em right now!
But keeping up with the trend here, writing is something that anyone can do – but that doesn’t necessarily mean you ought to.
For one thing, writing takes a ton of time. Just consider the sheer volume of writing that goes into any business, for things like:
- Blog posts
- Social media updates
- Email newsletters
- Marketing emails (announcements, offers, thank-yous, etc.)
- Landing pages
- Your homepage
- Dirty limericks
And that’s just scratching the surface! Bottom line is, you can easily fill your hours with nothing but writing – and that wouldn’t leave much time for anything else.
It isn’t only a matter of time, either – effective writing just isn’t as easy as it looks. Specifically because the easier it is to read, the harder it is to write.
Content marketing like blog posts and conversion copywriting for things like sales pages are surprisingly complicated disciplines, so finding somebody to take writing jobs off your plate one by one won’t just save you a ton of time – it can make a significant direct impact on your bottom line.
A Customer Service Superstar
Since we don’t have an office, we don’t get to do fun stuff like pinning inspirational notes on the wall of the break room.
We do, however, have this tweet embedded in our company wiki:
Customers may forget what they bought, they may forget what it cost, but they won’t forget how you made them feel. #custserv
— Alf Dunbar (@AlfYATD) October 20, 2013
Customer service is one of those things that always seems really easy to provide until people actually need it.
When push comes to shove and people need support, though, it’s tricky stuff! And just like with doing all your own writing, it’s an undertaking that can easily become a full-time job if you allow it.
Maybe you’d like someone to check your support inbox a few times a day, or to build a database that your leads and customers can use to find answers to their own questions. An experienced CS pro has the tools to make people happy at the times when they need it most – and whether your business needs one full-time or just part-time, it needs one.
Just like designers and writers have their own styles, CS pros can have drastically different philosophies – but unlike creatives, they don’t typically have online portfolios you can browse through to get a feel for their work.
When we’ve hired for our CS team in the past, then, we’ve given candidates test questions similar to how we give test assignments to people applying for other positions. How would they handle certain situations? How would they phrase their responses to certain questions? Are they formal or informal? (Or, semi-formal, like your best little black dress?)
Finding a CS person who’s a good match is a matter of fit as much as anything else – and once you find one who clicks, you’ll know!
A Project Manager
Don’t skip this section!
We know. You kind of want to scroll down. Who needs a project manager, right? Isn’t that basically just paying someone to do the “running the company” type stuff YOU do? What’s the point?
There are two sides of running a company – and you should only be in charge of one of them.
First, there’s the big picture stuff. Strategizing, creating new things, perfecting what you have, deciding what comes next.
Then, there’s the nuts-and-bolts stuff. Stuff like dealing with logistics, managing assignments, payroll, insurance, and so on.
Which one of those sounds like more fun?
Would you rather spend your days mired in paperwork and chasing people down, or working on actually growing your business?
Handling your company’s logistics (and similarly, its financials) on your own is tempting, especially because not doing it yourself can make you feel a little like your head’s buried in the sand. You’ve been in charge of this stuff from the beginning – why give it up now?
Trouble is, as your business grows, so do its logistical needs. Even just adding new people to your team – you know, like the ones we’ve been talking about this entire time – introduces all kinds of new organizational busywork. It’s not a question of whether or not it’s going to start getting in your way. It’s a matter of when it will get in your way – and whether you’re willing to hand over those responsibilities when the time comes.
That’s kind of the thing, though.
As time goes on, you’ll eventually hand over more and more of the tasks like these that you take care of on a regular basis. You’ll fire yourself over and over – and despite what you were always told, you’ll find that being fired feels amazing!
The less time you spend on those jobs, the more time you can spend on growing your business, and the things that make you feel like you’re moving forward instead of just treading water.
Kind of makes you think about going ahead and firing yourself right now, doesn’t it?