Several years ago, I had a coaching client who owned her own holistic healthcare practice. She was a sole proprietor renting small office space with two rooms, one for her treatments and one as a waiting room. She procured my coaching services for suggestions on how to grow her one-person business. One of the things that I noticed was that she was doing everything – providing her services, marketing her business (which ironically is how we met), and administering her business including bookkeeping, processing payments, and preparing her own tax returns. An admirable unique personal touch she would perform was sending out a batch of birthday cards to current/past clients prior to each new month, all by hand.
A challenge for the owners of a one-person business is the feeling that they need to do everything, and I mean everything. The thought process is that if one does everything themselves, they are not paying anyone else, thereby saving money. If they are performing tasks, no matter how many hours they are spending, it’s only their time they are spending and not their money. Other issues one faces – will someone else perform tasks to their standards, will others be as motivated to contribute to their business as they are, what control will they lose by handing responsibilities to a stranger?
As we began our work together, I asked her to log her time on all activities over the course of the last two months and the one upcoming. In this way, she could get a sense of how she was spending all her work time over three months. Then, I had her put a monetary value on the time spent for each. Starting with her billable time when treating patients, then the estimated cost of other duties performed should they be outsourced. By analyzing this data, realizations began to surface that if she’s paying someone an hourly rate of X and her own hourly rate is Y, how many Ys is she wasting on tasks that could be paid at X. This helped her to realize that if she focused on what she was proficient and earned even more revenue, the outsourced services well performed would pay for themselves. This took a while for her to accept, we worked slowly. Having some duties outsourced a few hours per week and then building on that over time. She began to realize that someone who could answer calls as they came in and managed her appointment schedule was more efficient. Preparing any marketing other than a handwritten message was also something that an assistant could do. She was able to outsource much of her obligations as a business owner while keeping her personal touch.