with Aliza Sherman
If you own a business - home-based or otherwise - this is the blog where you'll find practical tips and smart ideas about entrepreneurship. I've started and run 4 different businesses so "been there, done that." I'll also invite successful entrepreneurs to share their best advice with you.
To learn more about Aliza, check out her profile on Work It, Mom! and her website, www.mediaegg.com.
I’m in the age-old quandry many business owners face at some point: Should I let my business grow? Maybe that sounds like a strange question because perhaps this is a more “female business owner” question. Maybe I’m being sexist, but I think most men start businesses to make money so business growth is a given.
Most (many?) women start a business for different reasons such as having more flexibility to be with their kids (a misnomer, by the way); to make a difference in their life, their community, their world; to make enough money to pay the bills with some to spare. I haven’t met many women in my immediate sphere who have started a business to become a millionaire. They are driven by a myriad of other motivations.
My reasons for starting my business?
1. I wanted to work from home.
2. I wanted to do what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it.
3. I wanted to be able to pick and choose my clients so I would always what I’m working on.
I’ve achieved #1. I work from home and even wired cafes where I can sip a chai as I plow through my almost exclusively online work. With the beautiful weather, I can also take my laptop out onto the balcony or set myself up with a chair and lapdesk in the back yard. This is a good thing.
#2 is a little different than I had hoped. I still get to set my hours to a degree, but life also dictates my working parameters so I still struggle to find that balance.
And #3 has been my favorite part even though I have had some challenging clients in the past. More often than not, however, I can refuse work if I’m just not interested. Right now, I can honestly say every project I am working on and every client I’m working with are awesome.
Now for the tough part. I’ve been landing more and more work - through referrals, through Second Life (yes, the virtual world is providing many good business leads), and through the local virtual team of PR, marketing and Internet experts of which I’m a member. And I’m landing fantastic projects that, at this stage, are requiring that I bring on others to help. And that is freaking me out a bit.
Don’t get me wrong - I like the fact that my business is becoming more and more successful. The growth has been at a manageable pace, the projects have been varied and interesting, and the extra income is always welcome. But I’ve run a company before with a staff of 25, and I hated being in that role. How do I bring on these bigger exciting projects but not have to manage other people who I inevitably need to help me complete the work?
Over the years, I’ve gotten much better at managing others, but at this stage in my life as a wife and mother and a woman in her 40s trying to adjust to wifedom and motherhood, I can barely manage my own day-to-day let alone the assignments of several others.
Right now, I’m only hiring independent consultants so I don’t have to even think about getting a workspace outside of the home. I also like the fact that they are motivated and able to hit the ground running with minimal input and oversight by me. I just wouldn’t have the mental bandwidth to hand-hold at this time.
I’m also using the heck out of Basecamp for my client projects and just started using DeskAway’s free version to have similar project management tools without having to upgrade Basecamp (costs me $24/month right now). Now that I’m using Web-based project management applications, I can see how ridiculous it was for me to rely on email in the past.
Right now, I’m in the process of finalizing a big content development contract and will be speaking to a new potential client about a major social media, content development and community building contract. These are the tipping points for bringing on more help. I know I could say no to some of this work, but the projects are totally up my alley - women’s content and resources - and fits my personal mission and focus to a tee.
So if I do not say no to big new projects, I’m going to have to say yes to bringing on more people. I’m going to have to delegate. I’m going to have to manage.
I think I’m going to need a drink.
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