When You Just Can't Do It All

While it’s a great problem for a small business to have, sometimes the workload simply becomes too much for one person to handle on their own.  I recently hired my first employee as a solution to this very situation.  His name is Charlie.  Not to make the HR professionals cringe, but I hired this particular applicant because he was the cutest of the candidates.  And he proved to be a great cuddler during his interview.  So far he’s been a real asset to the business; however, he does have a tendency to nap on the job, stroll across the keyboard at crucial moments, and distract the boss with repeated and urgent requests to throw toy mice.  I’ll deal with these items at his next performance review.
All kidding aside, if you’re not ready to hire an extra employee, but you occasionally need or want some extra help or collaboration, here are some options to consider.

Use Networking Groups to Outsource

Every community has these.  You can join your local Chamber of Commerce, or a formal business networking group like BNI.  Look around and see what opportunities exist in your community.  You’ll meet people who work in other industries, and have skill sets different from your own.  When you end up with more work than you can handle, you’ll know exactly who to talk to about out-sourcing various facets of your business.  As small business owners, we tend to try to do it all ourselves.  But you may reach a point where it’s time to consider hiring someone to do your bookkeeping, or marketing, or take care of some landscaping and maintenance chores that you don’t have time for.  Having an established network of professionals across all disciplines will make it easier to find the help you need.

Build Your Own Network

Chances are you know some other folks who work in a similar industry to yours.  Without giving away all your secrets, sharing ideas and asking for feedback from people who understand the kind of work you do can be a really good experience.  I have a few people that I can call or email when I get stuck or need a second opinion.  They are honest, helpful, and kind in their feedback.  A couple of them have become mentors, having much more experience than I, and I value their input and interest immeasurably.  Find some of these folks to collaborate with to keep your creativity flowing.

Schedule Some Face Time

I communicate with my clients almost 100% by email or phone.  It works for me.  But occasionally I find it really helpful to sit across the table from someone at a coffee shop and have a real conversation.  Live and in person conversation has a different back and forth flow than electronic communication.  Ideas have a different energy when you look in the eye of the person communicating them.

Social Media Crowd-Sourcing

When you work in an office environment with co-workers close by, it’s easy to ask for help when you get stuck on a project, or just need a second opinion.  I’ve crowdsourced on Facebook on several occasions and found it to be extremely helpful.  On social media, you get the added benefit of a diverse cross-section of folks, as opposed to co-workers who are in the industry and may already be familiar with your project.  I’ve held informal focus groups to select the most suitable logo out of several options.  I’ve tossed out a troubling phrase in a section of copy and asked for better ways to say the same thing.  With your client’s privacy in mind, crowdsourcing is a helpful and productive way to not feel quite so alone in your small business endeavour.
Of course, if none of these options appeal to you, Charlie highly recommends adopting an animal from a local shelter.  A furry friend is great company if you’re working long hours on your own!