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Small Business Myths: Are You Sabotaging Your Business? Print E-mail
Written by Roxanne Ravenel   
Monday, 31 July 2006
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Small Business Myths: Are You Sabotaging Your Business?
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Roxanne Ravenel
Roxanne Ravenel
We live in a do-it-yourself society. With the constantly fluctuating and obscene price of gasoline, who can blame us? Yet, there are certain times when doing things ourselves just doesn’t make good business sense; even worse we may be sabotaging our businesses.

Remember how Cliff Huxtable and Carl Winslow would insist to their wives that it was nonsense to pay someone else to fix the bathroom when they could just as easily do it themselves? If you’ve ever watched The Cosby Show or Family Matters – enough said. If you are one of the five people that has never seen either show; let’s just say that in the end, not only did these DIYers need to hire a plumber anyway - they usually also needed to fix the additional damage that they’d done. Have you ever done that to your business?

If you have, you may be subscribing to two small business owner myths that may be sabotaging your business: The belief that you can start a home-based business with no money and that you’ll save money by doing everything yourself.

Dooming Your Business From the Start

Can you start a small business on a shoestring budget? Definitely. Many of us have done this. Can you start a small business with NO money? Absolutely not. After all, even in the case of the kid on the corner selling lemonade - someone had to pay for the water, lemons, sugar and disposable cups.

We must be willing to invest in our own business – whether it is a bricks and mortar establishment or a completely virtual business - to increase profitability and growth. If we are unwilling to invest in our business; it is doomed from the very start. Certain products and services are necessary for our businesses run efficiently. We must market our businesses and allow for ongoing training to stay on top of trends and technology – both require time and money.

Consider this: If you are not willing to invest in your own business; why should anyone else be willing to invest in it? What type of impression will it make on a potential client if you hand them a business card that says on the back that you’ve gotten it for free? It is worth it to spend a few more bucks to get the cards without the “I got ‘em for free” sign emblazoned on the back. What if the potential client does take the next step and visits your website – only to discover that this, too, is an “I got it for free” deal? What impression have you made? The perception is likely that your business is more of a hobby. The potential client will probably wonder whether or not you’ll have any more regard for their business.

Spend a Little to Make a Lot

We probably started our business out of a passion of ours – a product we believe in or a special skill or talent that we possess. However, the reality of the small business owner is that there is far more work to be done to make our business successful than just our core products or services. For instance, a PR consultant or marketing coach must do more than just “work their magic.” They must nurture their business to make and keep it profitable and to make it grow. This requires building a database, updating contact info, running a marketing campaign, keeping their website and/or blog updated, creating marketing collateral and seeking speaking opportunities. As a solopreneur or small business owner, how can you find time to do all of this and still handle core, revenue-generating tasks?

Your first option, of course, is to do everything yourself. In the beginning, this might be your only option. However, your growth is limited to what you can personally handle on both the front and back-ends of your business.

Option two: Enlist help. Hiring onsite employees is one solution. However, if you are reluctant to commit to employees - consider the powerful alternative of teaming with other professionals. For instance, why would a contractor spend time struggling with a database, drafting documents and following up with vendors when he could contract the services of an offsite professional – a virtual assistant – to do this?

Virtual assistants (VA) are experienced professionals that render administrative support and other services to small business owners from an offsite location. This is done via telephone, email, internet, instant message and more. While many VAs focus solely on admin services, others offer niche services like web design, copywriting & PR or marketing support. A VA might handle all of the entrepreneur’s administrative duties, build and maintain databases or draft important business documents and correspondence. Over the past decade an increasing number of solopreneurs – notably real estate professionals and business coaches – have partnered with VAs in order to catapult the success of their businesses. How much more would your business achieve if you partnered with a virtual assistant?