Lightening the Load ... Getting Help When You Need It
© 2013 Elena Fawkner
If there's one immutable fact of life when it comes to this
business, it's that there's so much to do but so little time to
do it all in. At some point around the one year mark, if you've
been even moderately successful in your online business,
you'll find you've reached the limit of what you can do with
the time you have available. At that point you have a choice:
to deliberately retard the growth of your business to maintain
the status quo, or take on additional resources to help you
cope with a business that continues to grow beyond the
capacities of just one person.
That's just the choice I was faced with when I returned to
the full-time workforce last month after running my online
business on a full-time basis for two months. I realized
almost immediately that if I kept on the way I was, my
business wasn't going to go any further. It was taking all
my time to deal with the administrative side of the business
and that left none for the really important business-
development activities that kept getting pushed to the
back-burner until I magically found the time to get to them.
In this article, we look at getting help when you need it. And
no, I'm not talking about going out and hiring a wage-earning
full-time employee or even a part-time employee for that matter
although that, of course, is one option open to you. Instead,
with a little bit of lateral thinking you may well find you can get
the help you need for very little (if any) up-front cash outlay.
COMPENSATING YOUR ASSISTANT
Because (I assume) you're still running your business
on a shoestring, you can't afford to pay someone a wage
in advance of generating additional income. This means that
whoever you choose needs to be someone who's prepared to
work for a percentage of the profits of the business rather
than a wage. For this reason, the person you choose will
most likely be close to you ... a family member, spouse
or very close friend.
As for the proportion of profits that you pay to your assistant,
this is up to you and your assistant to negotiate and will
depend on several factors including the types of tasks your
assistant performs, the time they have available to work (and
actually do work) and the overall contribution they make to the
business. An assistant who takes an entrepreneurial interest
in the business and contributes to its growth in addition to its
maintenance should be rewarded accordingly.
Be sure to get professional advice before you start your
arrangement with your assistant. You need to think about
tax and other issues such as whether your profit-sharing
arrangement might create a partnership rather than an
employer-employee relationship (this may or may not be
something you want). Also, assuming you're not intending
to create a partnership relationship with your assistant, think
about whether you want an employer-employee relationship or
whether you prefer your assistant to be an independent
contractor. There are tax consequences for each of the
above scenarios so be sure to talk to your accountant about
CONVERTING TIME INTO INCOME
It should be self-evident that you are going to have to
convert the time you free up with the help of your assistant
into income. In other words, if your business doesn't
generate any more income as a result of you taking on an
assistant, by the time you split your profits, you're going
to be behind. So it's crucial that you take the time you save
and spend it wisely. That means using your time on projects
that are going to increase the income of your business by
more than the cost of splitting your profits.
WHO TO CHOOSE FOR YOUR ASSISTANT
Now, who should you choose for your assistant? To start
with, consider who in your immediate circle has both the
time and the ability to help you in your business. It could be
a spouse, teenage son or daughter, parent, next door neighbor,
brother or sister, close friend or colleague.
In my case, my first choice for an assistant was my
computer-savvy mother but, because she is retired and on a
pension, she can't earn an income without jeopardizing her
retirement income. I therefore didn't consider her as a
I then considered one of my sisters but, because
of technical problems (she didn't have a suitable computer
and wasn't in a position to get one quickly) that wasn't
going to work either. Then my other sister, not computer-
savvy but obviously a lateral thinker, suggested that, instead
of paying my mother her share of the profits in cash which
would have jeopardized her pension, why not pay her in airline
tickets from Australia to the US? Because I have recently
relocated from Australia to the US, this was a perfect
solution because it was expenditure my parents would
have incurred anyway. And, from my business's point
of view, because my mother works for the business, the
airfares the business pays for will be tax-deductible as
our visits will be, at least in part, business-related.
So, give some thought to your particular circumstances
and think laterally. Perhaps you have a teenage son or
daughter who is good with computers and is looking for a
way to earn additional income. Not only does appointing
them as your assistant achieve this goal, it also gives your
child crucial experience working in the ecommerce field and
that sure can't hurt!
Perhaps you have a close friend who is a single mother
and is looking for at-home ways to supplement her part-time
income. Perhaps a sibling is in a similar position. You
idea. I imagine that most people know at least one person that
they could strike such an arrangement with.
TASKS TO DELEGATE
OK, so you've lined up your assistant. Let's turn now
to the kinds of things you can delegate to him/her.
As a general rule, you want to delegate those tasks that
are routine, repetitive and which maintain (rather than
grow) your business. Growing the business is your job.
That's what's meant by working "on" the business rather
than "in" the business.
Consider the following:
=> Processing Subscribe/Unsubscribe Requests
If you publish an ezine, then you know what an administrative
headache it can be processing all those subscribe and
unsubscribe requests even with the aid of automating software.
Despite your best efforts, and clear instructions in your ezine,
there are always at least a dozen people who can't seem to
figure out how to unsubscribe themselves and send you a
message asking you to do it for them. Then there are those
who write asking to be added to your ezine list because they've
been referred by a friend and don't have your subscribe URL.
So you add them manually too. Then there are those who want
to unsubscribe but keep trying to do so using an email address
other than the one they signed up with. They send abusive
emails to you when, for some mysterious reason they keep
getting your ezine. They, of course, think you're so desperate
for subscribers that you have set up your devious systems so
that once they're subscribed they're on your list forever.
Annoying as this is for ezine publishers, the real problem is the
time it eats up dealing with this stuff. So delegate this task
=> Processing Advertising Orders
Another routine task that can be delegated to your assistant
is the processing of advertising orders in your ezine. Set up
your systems so that all orders go straight to your assistant
(with a copy to you so you're in the loop) who then schedules
the ad, confirms the booking with the advertiser and then
formats the ad ready for the next issue.
=> Sending Your Ezine
Actually sending your ezine to your list is something that
you can delegate to your assistant, too. Just email your
ezine to your assistant when you've finished it for sending
to your list. You may even leave your assistant to insert the
=> Submitting Your Articles
Another routine task that your assistant can take care of is
article submissions. I have a list of article submission
services that I submit my articles to on a weekly basis,
as well as a handful of publishers who have specifically
requested to receive them. My assistant sends for each
article after it is written (they're all available on autoresponder)
and submits it to the article submission sites/lists I
specify. A longer-term project is to seek out, on a regular
basis, new article submission points. That, also, I have
=> Submitting Your Ezine
Similarly, I have delegated the task of submitting my
ezine to the various ezine announcement services that
are always springing up all over the place.
=> Negotiating Ad Swaps
If you're an ezine publisher, you know that receiving ad swap
proposals from fellow publishers is a frequent occurrence.
Delegate the negotiation of these swaps to your assistant.
=> Web Site Updating
Depending on how computer-savvy your assistant is,
they may also be able to take on some simple web site
updating for you. We're not talking about major design
changes here, just making routine updates to add your
latest ezine, article or advertising information, that sort of
By delegating these routine administrative tasks and any
others that may apply to your particular business, you will
save yourself several hours of work every week. Don't
squander this time! Now you have the time you need to
overhaul your site, write the next month's articles for your
ezine, investigate and respond to the half dozen joint
venture proposals you've received this week, create that
ebook you've been meaning to get around to writing and,
most importantly, *promoting your business*! As stated
earlier, you MUST convert your newfound time into dollars.
If not, your business is just going backwards ... the very
circumstance you sought to avoid when hiring your
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Wednesday, 13-Nov-2019 19:21:07 CST