Are you head marketer, administrator, sales person, bookkeeper and deliverer in your business? You probably also make the coffee and clean the toilets! Why is it that so many of us small business owners are reluctant to share our workload?
Ask mega successful business leaders to share their tips for success and most will say something about surrounding yourself with good people. So why do so many of us think we can go it alone? Are we superhuman? Do we have more hours than everyone else? I don’t think so.
I know the excuses. I’ve used them all. ‘I can have done the job whilst I’m explaining it to an assistant’ ‘No-one else will do as good a job as me.’ ‘I can’t afford to pay for help at the moment’. And lots more.
In 25 years running my business I’ve had some very successful collaborative projects working with other business owners but what I’ve not done enough is get assistance with running my business. It’s held me back so this year I decided enough was enough and it was time to bring in some help.
The obvious place for me to start was with publishing my book. This was a completely new experience for me so working with a publisher and her team of copy editors, designers, proof readers and a PR consultant made perfect sense. I learned the value that experts can bring to a project but more importantly I learned that working with an expert didn’t take control away from me. The final decisions were still mine. For a Control Freak that is a valuable lesson.
Onwards and upwards
Learning to let go of some more routine activity was the next challenge but I was offered the opportunity to be a case study/partner for a Digital Mums trainee. If you’re not familiar with https://digitalmums.com/ then it is a training organisation offering Mums the chance to retrain as a social media manager in order to have flexible work around a family. I signed up with the accelerated programme which only takes trainees who already have a marketing background. It was a brilliant decision.
My ‘Mum’ has a very sound track record in PR which made her a really good fit with my more generalist marketing experience. Whilst there was a small financial investment for me in joining the programme and an obligation to commit to an advertising budget (again small) the biggest commitment was really in time and working in partnership. My investments have been repaid many times over.
How have I benefitted?
The Digital Mums programme is quite structured and trainees have a number of assignments to do in the early weeks of their training before they launch their campaigns. We considered things like ideal customer personas and my business’ tone of voice. As a marketer these were things I thought I’d nailed but insightful questions and probing by my Digital Mum drove an even more detailed understanding.
Over the months my Digital Mum has gained a really good understanding of me and my business and we have developed an effective working partnership. My Mum has challenged me, she has asked lots of questions and she’s been willing to tell me when things haven’t been clear or needed rethinking. That has been invaluable.
When you’re a one woman band there is no-one to bounce ideas around with, no-one to challenge muddled thinking and no-one to give you a different perspective. In fairness I’ve got around this in the past by using a coach or an accountability partner but it’s still me doing the work. The beauty of having someone else on my team is that the work is shared and when it’s shared we can get so much more done.
My Digital Mum has enabled me to show up on social media much more consistently, to test out new ideas and to develop a greater understanding of what works and what doesn’t with my audience. But the best bit has been the honest and constructive feedback and ideas that have led to better business decisions and an exciting plan for the future. So the control freak isn’t quite slain yet but she is learning to take a back seat and say yes to help and that can only help my business to grow in the future. Will you let go of the Control Freak and say yes to help?