10 Steps When You Need Help in Your Business

By: Martin Haworth


You start off alone. Be it as a solo business owner or a manager looking after a part of a larger business. It gets busier, you get distracted from what you want to do, because there's only one of you and you've only got one pair of hands.

So you need to find help.

Sometimes you need to find help fast, but there are things you can do to prepare.

If you think ahead and plan, many of those nightmare situations can be overcome.

By ensuring that you have a great group of people around you, there will be more to fall back on when the going gets tough - because that, as they say, when the tough really do get going.

Big challenges can be very difficult to face - and they can be fascinating and exhilarating. So here's some thoughts on how to make the best of these times, by getting ready in advance and making it work.

1. Plan Ahead

Look out for what you might need in the future and plan to make business life far, far easier for yourself. Decide what your business will be when it's the best it can be and focus on getting to there. think then about whether the resources are within or outside your business, which will depend on the size of it.

2. Size Doesn't Matter

Even if you are small, tiny even, don't think you can't afford a specialist - it will often make sense, both in relieving stress and financially. I mean you didn't get into your business to always do your books did you? (And if you did, maybe you want to try bookkeeping as a business!). Chris Barrow aka The Million Dollar Coach always reckons the first thing any self-respecting entrepreneur should do, is get a PA. In these days of VA's (virtual assistants) it's becoming a do-able option for all.

3. Look For Talent

With your mind set on what you want, look out everywhere for people who can help. If you are small business owner, that might not be for a little while, but keep your eyes open, both within your own business, your family and your acquaintances. Anyone, anywhere - be alert!

4. Build Networks

Get out there and make sure that you listen to people who might use some of the experts you need. This means that if you have to choose, you have already got testimonials up front. This makes it a lot easier. Recommendations work! Many local specialists, when they are worth their salt, get more than enough clients through recommendations rather than need to advertise.

5. Seek Recommendations

Again, it's about keeping your eyes and ears open. You need a whiz with computer experience. By talking about it and listening hard, you may well find the help you need. Didn't you know that your cousin Myrtle's step-brother is learning all about HTML at college - shame on you!

6. Set Quality Standards

By being very clear about what you want from the help you get, you are much more likely to get it. You will save yourself a lot of time and probably money by getting really specific (so, dot 'i's and 't's very carefully). It's very interesting how what comes out of our mouths is interpreted in so many different ways than we might expect (hint - it's always your fault, not theirs - so get over it).

7. Measure Performance

In with the standards you agree with your help, be they a member of your own team, or an external contractor, it is vital that you have a way of measuring performance on a regular basis. Keeping your requirements SMART (Specific, Measurable, Agreed, Realistic and Timescaled) will make this much easier. And don't be afraid to require penalties from external contractors if the fail to deliver.

8. Take Some Risks

Sometimes you have to wing it. So, if you take as much care as is practical, you can take a few risks with those who you have to help you. So don't be afraid to give more responsibility to one of your team, especially if they show promise - give them the opportunity, support and your confidence and often they will deliver way beyond what you expect.

9. New Blood

If you are missing an ingredient with your internal or external help, don't be afraid to get someone new in. It helps everyone if the right person is in the team, and there are a lot of folks out there who can do a great job. Anyone doing a poor job knows it and is not helping you at all. For outside help, if you have even a hint in your gut that it isn't working, be tough and get it fixed - or get out - dragging bad deals on is a very bad deal for you.

10. Give Accountability

And finally, make it very, very clear who you are holding accountable for the help you hire, whether it is in your business of from outside. You have a name to an accountability and that's that. They are where the buck stops. Internally, it can be through one-to-one meetings and milestones, externally, well, much the same although maybe a little more formally. Set them up with agreed 'T' - timescales and make them stick.

Being aware of the help you need well in advance, will make a big difference for you - you can focus on the aspects of business you bring value to and, while we're on the subject of value, have fun and get a life for yourself as well.

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2006 Martin Haworth is a Management Coach. He has hundreds more at his website, Coaching Businesses to Success.

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