Don’t Put Your Trowel Down

Don’t Put your Trowel Down!

Construction worker laying bricks wall of building

Working my way through college, I spent a couple of summers working as a laborer for a brick mason. He liked to find good, concrete ways of making points about work. The one I’ll never forget is his definition of my job description. “Your job,” he told me, “is to make sure I never have to put my trowel down.”

Of course, taken to its ultimate extreme, that is impossible. The client may come by with questions, or he may have to perform some other task too technical for me to take on for him. We won’t talk about the time he tried to teach me to actually lay a straight row of brick.

Nonetheless, how I kept his trowel in hand was by making sure he was well stocked with brick or block and mortar, especially, when appropriate, by getting the next work station set up. If we were building a chimney, I had to make sure by the time he actually started laying brick, I had made enough progress stocking up the basement that he could work uninterrupted while I finished stocking and started on the first floor. This repeated through a second floor if there was one, the attic and the roof.

You’re probably not a brick mason. But, what are the activities that are directly bringing you revenue? These are probably the things you went into business for: the web designer designs websites, the marketing expert consults and develops custom marketing plans, the insurance broker writes policies.

What’s your equivalent to putting down the trowel? Think about the things that keep you from doing the most productive work. How much of that is general administrative overhead? Think about things like filtering through emails. While you may need to respond personally to a certain percentage of emails, what about weeding out the spam and dealing with stock responses such as frequently asked questions? What about the printing and sending of invoices? The entry of receipts? Consider the time spent just getting your latest blog onto your website, posting your clever tweets on Twitter at the right time, getting your awesome photos and graphics onto Instagram or Pinterest?

If you were to consider the hours spent on your actual productive activities, how much revenue per productive hour are you bringing in? Suppose then, that you could free up, say, five hours a week, whether all in one day or an hour a day. What if you could do that at significantly less than your productive revenue rate and, instead of working on non-revenue activities, you could get help with that and focus more on what brings in the money?

This is where a virtual assistant can help. Well versed in various business skills, such as entering transactions into QuickBooks, keeping your CRM up to date, weeding spam out of your emails or taking care of the technical aspects of maintaining your web site and posting your social media content, a virtual assistant can help you turn that non-revenue administrative overhead into true productivity.

Working with a virtual assistant can often be a great partnership which just may help you execute your business plans, achieve your goals and realize your dreams.

How freelancers help you scale your business responsively to your needs.



How freelancers help you scale your business responsively to your needs.

Consider this. You’re a small business owner, an artisan, perhaps, or a consultant. You’re working busily pretty much near your capacity but open to a new client with a small to average project for you. But, you get a call for a nice lucrative deal that’s a bit too much for you to take on right now, but you really want to and it would be a great deal for your business because success here could open some new doors for you.

You’re not quite ready to expand your business unless those doors actually do open. You don’t want to hire on a staff, deal with payroll issues, provide space and equipment and incur all the overhead that this strategy involves.

What if there were a way to scale up your business to the next level just for this project and find out if you’re ready to expand?

In today’s freelance economy, there are other options. Freelancers are, essentially, contractors. They do the job you need done, the projects or work that you can delegate. And you contract them for the duration of the project and that’s it.

The number of self-employed people who are available for these kinds of engagements continues to grow. Being self-employed, they work out of their own space, provide their own equipment, and, in most cases, the only payroll hassle you have to deal with is the 1099 and, of course the ubiquitous reporting to the government – no payroll deductions, workers comp., W-2s, and W-4s. You don’t have to worry about any benefits.

If you need them for an hour this week and five hours next week, all is well. There’s no need to find things for them to do.

As a small business owner, you probably don’t need a graphics department unless that’s core to the business, so when the need arises, you can hire a graphics artist for the task at hand. You probably already have such arrangements with, your accountant, lawyer and bookkeeper, for example. You don’t need a full time financial department. At least not yet.

By taking full advantage of the talents available to you through the freelance economy, photographers, marketing experts, consultants, coaches, web designers and virtual assistants like myself, for example, you can let your business get bigger when the demand calls for it, and scale back to a smaller size easily when your busy season comes to an end, knowing that you have the ability to call upon those resources again next time.

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