I’ve always been better at working alone, or at least being in charge. I'm such a control freak (Scorpio!), that things tend to work out better that way (for everyone. Trust me.). But I've been thinking a lot lately about how I could grow my business if I just had a little help. Then, of course, I start to get anxious because I can't imagine letting go of the tight reins I have over all aspects of my blogs, my brand.
But it's true what “they” say, that you personally can only take your business so far; if you want to take it to the next level, you'll have to start thinking of ways to work with other like-minded people, or at least let go of some of the control. I read a great article this week in YFS (thanks to Cora's suggestion in her article on advanced blogs about blogging) and this quote really made an impact on me:
if your success is built squarely on the shoulders of your own hard work, you haven't created a business, you've created a prison
Food for thought, huh? I have mixed feelings about this because the author writes primarily for small businesses that sell products or services, and while we as bloggers DO do that to a certain extent, our business is also based more on our influence and us as “personalities” than a lot of other types of businesses. So, while we do have to remain “the face” of the blog generally, if it's a personal style blog or blog built around your own style & life, we don't necessarily have to maintain such a tight control over EVERYTHING. And it IS overwhelming to think of all that we do every day to keep things going; like we're boxed in without any relief.
think of any of the super-successful blogs & blog-based businesses out there, how many of them are one-person enterprises? I can't think of any…most at least have interns or photographers
I'm definitely coming to terms with the fact that if I want to truly grow my business & brand, I'll have to let go of some things, ask for help, and maybe even work with other people (GASP). Knowing this now, I would actually recommend that even if you're just starting out, but you know you want to grow and expand from a blog to a business that encompasses more, you should start to think about working with other people early on. Don't be like me and get so invested in it for 10 years that it's harder to let go!
When it's time to start expanding beyond just YOU, think about these things:
What do you actually NEED help with?
What are some of the things you just don't know how to do? Maybe you don't know how to customize your theme, or do backups. The economist in me is always thinking about opportunity costs: sometimes the cost is too high (in terms of lost time or money) for you to learn and then do those things yourself. If so, it'll end up SAVING you time and money to outsource it. It's not the worst thing in the world to have someone else manage your blog's design and customization. And it will save you a lot of time and effort worrying about it.
What can you let go of and be MORE productive?
What do you do everyday that is a waste of your time, or that you're constantly putting off because you HATE doing it? can you afford to outsource it? For example, could you use a sales person to deal with selling ads on your site? A manager to deal with managing your advertisers for you? If letting go of these things allows you to be more productive and grow your business, then do it! There will definitely be a period of adjustment while you're letting go of these things, but when you find the right person and create the right relationship, having help could be the best thing that ever happened to your business.
What can someone else do BETTER than you?
Are you terrible at graphic design? Cold-calling? Taking photographs? Find an intern who can do some of these things for you, or hire a graphic designer. Find a budding photographer who will take photos for you in exchange for exposure.
What can you TRUST to someone else?
Can you trust a company to handle your backups, updates and any issues that might take down your site? If you're on blogger, you're already doing this, but if you're self-hosted on wordpress, you might not be. This is hard – especially if you're like me, and have had control for so long. But when you find the right person or company to work with, it'll be the best thing you ever did.
What do you think? Have you outsourced things to other people/companies that you used to do yourself? Can you imagine doing that in the future to grow your business? Have you actually seen your business grow by starting to work with other people? I want to know!
[Image credit: Shutterstock.com]