Business Mums: Are you prone to Do it All Yourself?

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I run a group in Stafford for mums who work run their own business, and at our last meeting, we got talking about the tendency most of us have, to try and do everything ourselves.

We may tell ourselves that it's about

a)    lack of options "if you want something done, do it yourself"

b)    lack of money "can't afford to pay someone else to do it"

c)    just the way things are "a mother's work is never done", "not enough hours in the day", etc.

Actually it's probably more to do with being a perfectionist and control freak. Which is common not only with mums, but with small business owners too, so being mums in business probably multiplies it somewhat.

Reading this article today – Startup Therapy: Ten Questions to Ask Yourself Every Month – I found the following particularly relevant:

If someone handed you $100,000 today, how would you spend it to maximize future profits?

Ok, kids are expensive. Mothers learn the art of penny pinching – especially when it comes to spending money on ourselves, and the same principle tends to extend to our businesses. Even though we probably have even less time than money, we are still much more likely to opt for the "free-but-takes-tons-of-time" solutions.

Of course it makes sense to keep costs low, but do we sometimes focus too much on the cost, and not enough on the impact and effectiveness of our marketing and business development activities?

If you were forced to hire someone today, how would you define her job such that she would contribute enough revenue to cover her expense?

Yes, we may be still figuring out how to pay ourselves a full wage, let alone anyone else. Still, this question gets us to assess the effectiveness of what we're doing, check our priorities and what we might be procrastinating on, and explore the possibilities of delegation and outsourcing. And if you do decide to take that path, there are all sorts of potential approaches: full/part time employment, agencies, contractors, consultants, partnerships, job swaps…

Which of your business operations do you hate?

Let's face it, you started your business because you wanted to be in control of your time, making money doing something that you love.

So what happens when you're bogged down in paperwork that makes you lose the will to live? Or if you're a bookkeeper that loves paperwork, but freezes when it comes to making the sales calls to keep the paper flowing in?

Do you take the head-in-the-sand approach? Or do you find yourself stuck in it, being drained of energy, passion and motivation? Either way, maybe it's time for a bit of a strategic thinking and consider some of the possibilities mentioned above.

What initiatives could be done half-assed without significant impact?

I LOVE this one. A brilliant challenge for those of us who are perfectionists.

If we're thinking "No one else could do it as well" – does it matter?

If you could get one solid hour of advice from a guru you respect, what would you discuss and what would be the goal of the meeting?

As mums and business owners, we may be very good at trying to do it all ourselves. But when we want to, we're also great at networking, and asking for directions! Once you know what you want to know, it's a lot easier to find.

And you'll be surprised by how many people, even those you think are out of your league, will be happy to give you an hour of their time, if you ask nicely and use it wisely.

What do you think? I'd love to read your thoughts or even your answers to these questions, if you'd like to share them, please leave a comment below.

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