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20 Days to A Better Business: Day 19 Know what you don’t know

“>20 Days To A Better Business

Each Monday we focus on one activity you can do today or over the next week to build yourself a better business. These short, actionable posts will show you what steps you need to take to take your business to the next level.

We are almost at the end of this series of posts, but you can catch up here: 20 Days to Build A Better Business.

This is Day 19: Know what you don’t know

Most entrepreneurs I meet wear many hats. They are the book keeper, the marketer, the designer, the strategist, the sales person, the receptionist and the administrator.

Some entrepreneurs spend hours upon hours labouring away on Photoshop, Powerpoint or Word to make sure that documents are exactly the way that they’d want them.

Some entrepreneurs go on courses to learn how to use applications so they can do things faster.

This is all very time consuming. Which for entrepreneurs, and especially solopreneurs this is very costly. Invariably it means that you are spending more and more hours working in your business as opposed to on your business.

Most entrepreneurs became entrepreneurs becuase they wanted more freedom and a better standard of life. But that only happens when when you’re working on your business.

When you’re working in your business, you’ve replaced being a business owner with having a job. Before very long a job working for someone else with holidays and benefits starts to look a much better prospect.

So this is the opportunity to think about what you know you don’t know and what you’re not an expert at.

For many, this could be design work. Just because your Mac or PC ship with some drawing or painting application it doesn’t mean that you have to use them.

Outsourcing activities which you aren’t good at, find boring or simply don’t have the time for, can create time to allow you to focus on building and growing your business.

Short of hiring your own staff, here are two ways you can shed the burden quickly and get results fast:

Virtual Assistants

If you find book keeping or administration time consuming, difficult or something you aren’t very good at, to outsource the activity to someone else doesn’t mean that you’ve got to take someone on full time,or local to do it either.

Where you have a regular and ongoing requirement for work you could hire a virtual assistant who as the name suggests could be located anywhere in the world. A virtual assistant can do essentially any job which doesn’t need a physical presence to do. You can advertise the job you want undertaken on services like elance or odesk but this can be a bit hit and miss because of the number of people and providers on there.

When I needed a Virutal Assistant I used  Virtual Staff Finder. They did the hard work for me by interviewing candidates, checking references and testing their skills. (Although there is a one off service fee of $350, this saves a lot of time and provides you with re-assurance that the person you’ve hired isn’t going to scam you).

I personally have two virtual assistants; one who undertakes a variety of administration roles including book keeping and making travel arrangements and another who undertakes web design and design tasks for me.

The important thing to remember if you decide to go with a virtual assistant, is that no one person can do everything! It may be possible that you’ll find someone with some skills in design as well as administraion but unlikely that you’ll find good a web designer and a good administrator in the same person.

Just like in the real world you wouldn’t necessarily use a plumber to fix your computer, you wouldn’t use a VA to book your travel arrangements and optimise your website.


Not many entrepreneurs require a regular designer which means that you have plenty of options when you come to design. Depending on your requirements you might find a site like fiverr of use – as you can find designers willing to design whatever you require for $5. Although this can be an unreliable and again a bit of hit an miss approach.

A better option, although a little more expensive, is 99designs, here you post your job (which can be a logo, banner add or website_ and designers will compete against each other to do your work by submitting designs. Giving you a choice of designs to select – meaning that you only pay for the design that you use.

With designers competing against one another for your work means that you’ll get a better result and much more choice.

In addition to these sites, you can also find designers on Elance andOdesk as above.  In fact the logo for The Big Red Tomato Company was designed in Argentina by someone I found on Elance.

This week’s challenge

To think about the things you aren’t actually expert at and think about whether you can get these tasks outsourced. How much will this save you in time which you could use to grow your business?


  • Terje Sannarnes said:

    Great article, I would like to pay special attention of users to web resources like Odesk and Elance. They are mentioned in this article and can be effectively used by entrepreneurs, who are going to sell or buy web services like web design, content writing, website promotion, website development and so on. A lot of employers and employees from all over the world are gathered at this websites.

  • Matthew Needham said:

    Thanks for the comment Terje, I appreciate it. Elance and Odesk are great! Thanks for the endorsement!