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Mar
16

Help Me! I Need Your Insight On My Growing Business

By Char

Since I know my readers are an amazing source of information, I am asking for some help and insight.

I have been running my Web design company Keystrokes Design & Marketing primarily as a sole proprietorship (that happens to be incorporated as an S-corp) for the past 10 years. I am now at a crossroads. My client base has grown to a level where I really can not take on any new clients, however, in the fall my youngest will go to Kindergarten full day and I will really have more time to devote to growing the business.

I have already approached another designer to work with me as an independent contractor to relieve some of the immediate backlog. That’s the easy part.

What I am lacking is the operational resources needed to take my business to the next level. What resources should I be looking at? As a sole proprietor I have done it all – the books, sales, account management, billing, design and maintenance.  I am thinking that now I would like to take on more of a managerial role and RUN the business – with others to help me. Does that make sense?

If you have any insight, please leave me a comment or drop me a note at charlene *at* keystrokes *dot* net.

Categories : Doing Business

16 Comments

1

Hi, Char–I’ve been struggling with these same kinds of questions lately.

My best recommendation (with the caveat that I’m still figuring it out myself) is to read the book “The E-Myth Revisited” if you haven’t already. It talks about exactly this dilemma, the “stuck” spot we reach when we start a business because we’re good at the work the business does, but without the experience actually *running a business*.

The book offers lots of good advice and more importantly, ways of thinking about the issues.

Another thing I’ve been slowly doing is bringing other people in (e.g. an accountant) to help me focus on the areas I want to focus on. The focus part is essential, as I found I’ve been “focusing” much too broadly and need to narrow my vision a little to make progress.

Hope this is helpful, and I’d be glad to brainstorm with you any time!

2

Sarah – I am definitely in that “stuck” spot right now. An accountant is probably one person that I really need to bring into the picture. The trouble is, finding one in my local area that will understand what I am trying to do.

I will definitely be in touch! Thanks so much for coming by this morning.

3

I’ve been thinking along similar lines lately, so I’ll be interested to know what further advice you give.

5

I sort of intended to get an accountant since the first of the year, but put it off because I wanted to get recommendations from people in my exact situation. Turns out for me, that was just a kind of stalling technique.

I ended up getting one recommendation from another consultant (in a completely different industry) and going with it. Time will tell if that was really the best course, but I felt like I just needed to move forward and make some progress, even if it wasn’t “exactly right.” It helps, too, that my accounting needs are basically for tax reasons and occasional advice on general business topics, not really stuff that’s truly specific to web development.

Now I DO need to find a lawyer to help me draft a contract… and I’m wondering how specifically web-savvy THAT person needs to be…

6

David – if I get some good advice, you know I will share it – so both words really apply!

7

I’ve been there – a number of times.

I started writing out a comment, then it got to be more of a post (as in when the comment’s word count is twice as long as the original post :) )

Thanks for the inspiration. I think I’ll write it up as a post for next week.

8

Tony -

I can’t wait to read it – I’m sure you will have very sound advice!

I did have an a-ha moment today, when it occurred to me that my brother was in a similar situation with his landscape business a few years ago. We are scheduled to brainstorm over the weekend and I’m sure he’ll have good info, too.

Thanks again Tony! I value your words of wisdom.

9

Two thoughts:

- I was told, hire people to work “in” your business so you can work “on” your business.

- Check into virtual assistants. These are people that work from home (usually), they are contractors, and do all kinds of things.

You need to focus on what you do best and delegate (or hire out) stuff that eats your time that someone else could do more effectively.

Jason Alba
CEO – JibberJobber.com

10

Thanks for the insight Jason. What was the first part of your business you outsourced?

11

First hosting (at GoDaddy but have changed because I had to), second development, third accounting, fourth design, fifth QA … in that order :p (oh yeah, somewhere in there, legal).

12

Hi Char.. We have gone through this phase and in fact, still sorting out on delegating the billing/filing work to a part-timer so I can understand what you are going through. I agree with Jason on #1 and the need to focus on what you do BEST. For us, we do best in marketing and maintaining a close relation with our clients. And I do the regular emailing and designing. All this while, we have an accountant that handles the figures (tax and accounting and auditing) cos these things are beyond us. Personally, you can look into outsourcing the admin/accounting if that is robbing your time from spending more time doing the work and servicing your clients. As a sole proprietor, your one-to-one contact with your clients still stand as key importance.

My opinion…

13

I agree with Doris that the one-to-one contact with your clients is most important.

14

You are so many galaxies ahead of me Char. I have no idea what I could possibly offer up to help. I’m still so new at this stuff myself.

I like the idea that you have about sharing the responsibilities and the work load. What a great way to keep from stressing yourself out AND it’s giving somebody else some much needed exposure so that they can grow too.

Silly me, I’m struggling with html vs. css. vs. xml and have NO idea where to begin on THAT one!? And I thought my moutains were tall. Your’s reach the Heavens!!

15

Char- Put yourself in position to “do what you do best”. The other elements are best outsourced or developed as other key positions. You can’t try to enhance your weaknesses or unknowns when you have so much to offer in specific areas. Delegation is in every good leader, find out what you can delegate and charge ahead with what you rock at. As far as who gets what … do your research, always trust your gut and if you make a mistake … just learn from it. You can do it.

16

Much of the wisdom shared already with you Char is very useful. There are a couple of questions would ask you :

- what you want to be doing when your youngest goes to high school? (vision)
- what do you love doing?
- what are you good at doing?

The head thing is that sometimes great “technicians” (to borrow from the E-Myth) don’t make good General Managers of a business.

I have been where you are several times over my 3 businesses/18 years. This time around I have decided that I love doing the design and client work so much that I will stay solo (with some admin and accountant) even if that means turning away business. My decision is that I want to be my business (for the next 20 or so years).

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