Any advice on what to do when a first-time business grows quicker than expected?
I own an online digital publishing company. We help authors publish their work and make sure that their content is ranking and selling well. We do a lot of promotional and marketing services, and typically 90% of our books make it to the top 100 free list on Amazon by day two. As of current, I am managing all of this myself, and recently teamed up with a lady who specializes in PR. I have roughly ten authors who I am working with directly and I am an author myself, trying to manage my own work. It's completely overwhelming, but I love it. When I have an author come to me for services, it's kind of hard to turn them down because my income has been so good.
On the contrary, I haven't even been able to keep track of my finances because I am so busy with other stuff, and I am worried about that probably the most. I also don't have time to manage an official database for my leads and conversions, even though I've paid for a subscription with insightly.
The two things I am best at and I want to focus on are;
1)writing my own books
2)optimizing and ranking/selling other books
I need help with all of the other tasks, but it is hard because I can't seem to find anyone I trust enough to really get the job done and manage the sensitive info like client accounts and my financial info.
Definitely lost and wingin' it!
E McNew; Advice: Businesses like children need time to grow, to stretch and orientate. If your growth is out running you, buy some new sneakers..Your growth should never be unchecked, once you loose control, it can literally eat you alive. You can loose the forward motion, go off on tangents. Know where you are headed, keep the reins in your hand.My Granddad once told me an adage, if a tree out grows it's roots, eventually it will topple mover, so keep it trimmed and let the roots keep pace.
My organizations are branches from me, I am their roots so I try to know where they are headed and how fast. Keep your interest on steady growth, avoid spirts. It is your baby after all, I assume you went into business with the idea it will be around for quite some time. Let it shine for you and only at your pleasure. if things are looking great, but feel a bit off, they are. Diversify, find new avenues / income streams to lead your child back home.
Clearly your new business has found a open space , clientele who are looking for you products and services, and that's great, but beware the pit falls that come with to big to fast. You may need to designate someone to hold the throttle, steady to keep things in perspective, particularly in finance. I hope you have a good CPA available. you need to look for help that will overtly keep you informed when things are getting messy, so that you may again take the reins. Keep you team looking for the clutter that will inevitably be your downfall.
Our Mr. Mark Fackrell is correct except I wouldn't outsource it I would hire a book keeper on a part time basis, I wouldn't hire an expert I find myself an eager upstart who wanted to make a name for the self, someone who was eager to work and had at least good grades. I don't trust so called experts they are only interested in their own career and not your company.
My greatest advice I could give is Don't waste Time and Don't rush either, get your bookkeeper in first make sure they understand cash flow projection and risk analysis, then start hiring essential personell from there OR find someone who can do that.
Dear E McNew,
Number one rule: Do NOT outsource your financials, ever. If you are the business owner, YOU own your financials. You are better off finding a professional to handle your administrative takes tasks. Tiy to prioritize your work. You describe a haphazard organizational structure.
You might try acquiring 10 manila folders (talking manual here). Name each folder the name of the author. Insert the contract/agreement for that author and the investment rate that author agreed to. Use a calendar to help you track your schedule with each author.
This is a simple start to organizing your business so that you can begin to think about who you need to help you and what tasks that person needs to perform.
My second recommendation is you create a waiting list for service. You are one person and cannot do it all by yourself, but you must be clear on what you are doing.
If you are busy with other stuff, define for your self what that 'stuff' is. If it is 'weedy' stuff, dump it until later. If it is revenue generating stuff, organize and prioritize. It is your responsibility as an owner to get this details in place.
You have positioned yourself where your entire operation can sink if you do not have simple pieces in place similar to what I describe.
You can manage a very simple lead database with Insightly. What you describe appears that even Insightly is not working for you.
I would step away from the keyboard, take a deep breath, and take a big picture view of what you have, decide your direction, organize, then determine specifically what you need help with, what you can specifically outsource and the costs.
Again, my financials are NOT an outsource candidate until you get a handle on what you are doing, what your need. Then you can determine what resource is right for you.
By the way, you are not alone in this regard. It happens to best accelerated growth businesses. Where failure shows up is in the lack or organization. If I as an author invest in you and your service, you better believe your clients can hear it in your voice and see it in your face that you are scattered in your thinking.
Sorry to be so blunt but you are in a business not a hobby. You are responsible to your business, to run your business effectively.
Hope this helps.
If you can afford it, get a topnotch administrative assistant. If you need Web site development and SEO services, seek out http://seocreativity.com.
Richard Stern-To manage growth requires an Action Plan.
ThePlan contains the following:
1. The structure of the present organization
2. What activities are working
a. Why and how much money are you making?
3. What activities are not working
a. Why and how much money are you losing
b. What corrective actions will you be taking?
a. Current Staff
b. Job description
c. Growth Plan foe added personnel
1. Job descriotion
2. Payments required
5. Financial Analysis
a. Compare 2013-2014
Then bring in a Consultant from your industry to review the aforementioned.
The Consultant will assist you develop the Action Plan for expansion including finding resources for additional personnel
Lastly before hiring anyone "test" the candidate on what they claim they can do.
You can outsource some of your administrative duties. For your accounting and billing, I suggest you contact a local CPA firm to help set-up systems for you and perhaps provide you support by having a bookkeeper help you. I have no idea where you are located, but you should be able to have someone refer you to a good local firm.
As to other work such as editing or formating, you should be able to find someone local to work with you. As tto sensitive information, you should have employees sign a confidentiality agreement.
Since I do not know precisely with what other things you need assistance, it is difficult to make suggestions. However, the hardest thing for an entrepenuer to do is delegate and trust others to do things for them.
Sounds like you're in the classical situation for hiring a VA as Amara and Dana have already pointed out.
Selecting and hiring one directly is more cost efficient if you have the time and skill set for evaluating candidates. Alternatively, most BPO companies are happy to act as your HR Generalist to handle this for you. You mentioned trust is concern. A BPO company would place the VA on their payroll with benefits and staff lease the VA to you. This means your VA can be treated like an employee and all the work-product of your VA belongs to you. This is not the case if you hire a freelancer.
Hi Elizabeth -
I would love to spend a few minutes with you on the phone -- just to introduce myself and to hear more details about your business. You already received some good suggestions here, but maybe I can add some more insight and guidance. Virtual Assistants and/or Bookkeepers may answer your immediate issues, but you may still want analysis and oversight. I'm located in the New York area but my team handles businesses like yours all over the country. Check out my profile and then send me a note when you are ready. Look forward to talking with you.
Richard T Veltre CPA MBA
Try using MosaicHub to search for experts in your area to find a bookkeeper and a VA. If they have recommendations in their profile, it's easy to send a note to find more about the person you would like to hire. Getting organized as you grow is very important and outsourcing is a stress free way of staying on top of all the tasks that are not your focus.
You do need to find and partner with a Virtual Assistant.
There are many reputable Virtual Assistants out there. The trust issue is something that can develop over time. I have been a VA since 1998, and it's totally understandable that you feel this way. I would say start with smaller tasks, see how they handle them, then delegate more and more. Depending on your office set up, if you have space, you might even consider hiring an intern to come in a couple days a week to help you with the administrative tasks that you prefer not to deal with.
Good Luck, Let me know if I can be of any help to you.