As an entrepreneur, real estate investor, and writer – someone who has lived and breathed business in Silicon Valley for over 20 years, I’ve experienced the roller coaster that is typical in the life of the entrepreneur. Running a busy business, publishing a magazine, raising two children – it was stimulating, and even invigorating at times, but also grueling.
I graduated from university with a degree in entrepreneurship in 1994. (Before that was a popular major.) I’ve always enjoyed business, and love living in the entrepreneur capital of the world, Silicon Valley, where a chance meeting at Starbucks can turn into a stimulating conversation with a start-up genius.
My personal journey includes building a business from the ground up over a thirteen year period, and selling it when I no longer enjoyed what I was doing. As an immigrant who came here from Ireland with $500 in my pocket and a dream, I never had a problem working hard. As a woman however, I was risk averse, and a little rigid in how I did things.
Overseeing a business can be grueling even for the most efficient entrepreneur. However, there are strategies to deploy increase effectiveness. Here are three.
Three Simple Strategies to Create Efficiencies & Results :
1.Invest in high caliber people:
Depending on the size of your business – a couple of high producing, results oriented team members who buy into the vision can transform the business by invigorating and injecting a new lease of life into the team. One great addition is better than 10 mediocre ones.
For example, I was struggling with a heavy workload, and when I analyzed where I was spending the majority of my time, the results were enlightening. I discovered that a large portion of my week was spent putting out fires, and dealing with operational tasks. While important, these are not game-changers in any business, and could be easily delegated.
Armed with this new knowledge, I decided to hire someone to oversee operations and wrote an extensive job description for that position. With a little effort and a lot of clarity, I found the perfect person who brought her own gifts to the table. She surprised and delighted me very quickly with her competence, energy, and operational strengths. That position filled with a more appropriate person freed me up to focus on growing the business.
2. Outsource the tasks that are difficult and not your core competency:
This step can create spectacular results as well as allowing business leaders the time and mind space to explore opportunities to grow and develop the business.
As an example every year tax season rolls around with increasing speed – from my perspective, my least favorite season. I was anxious about the book-keeping, accounts and figures that needed to be put together for tax preparation purposes. Other entrepreneurs were of the same mind I discovered. I elected to address this by outsourcing my accounting and bookkeeping needs, something I had not considered previously. Keeping in mind that all outsourcing companies are not created equal, get a good referral. Don’t trail blaze…
Accounting, marketing, social media strategy and implementation, and numerous other tasks, can be outsourced (locally or nationally) or off-shored (out of country). In either case, the recipe for success includes having a clear vision and itemized list of what needs to be accomplished/handed off. Selecting a reputable company to ensure that you get good quality service is key. One point of contact at each end creates continuity and simplifies the process.
The result for me is peace of mind. Outsourcing is available 52 weeks per year with more qualified staff that you can easily scale to accommodate your business cycle. Further, it creates diversification in terms of staff. If you have one staff member primarily responsible for the accounting – if that person leaves suddenly you have a problem.
3. Marketing & Branding are keys to your success:
One of my clients has a strong business model, but neglected to project and invest in a professional online presence. Gone are the days when websites cost thousands of dollars. Hire someone and task them with improving your image, website and online presence, keep it simple and elegant. Revise your logo, update your professional photo, take electronic payments with Square, have a professional email signature, update your LinkedIn profile. Reputation management and addressing poor online reviews is important also.
Appearances still matter. Intentionality is a key piece here, what we focus on grows bigger. Once we addressed these weaknesses, business increased the following year by 36%.
I’ve enjoyed some success, but in hindsight, had I been focused less on the day-to-day operations, I could have attained the same results in a much shorter period. When one is too focused on running the business and managing the details, growth suffers, and opportunities for additional revenue streams can be missed. Additionally, as human beings we thrive on companionship, and when we build teams that create synergy, results are the inevitable outcome, and we thrive.
Remember, have fun along the way – life is short and the bottom line with business is that it is all about the relationships. They make the world and business turn…