Managing your own business is not easy, especially if you’re a 1-person operation. You could theoretically find yourself having every job title imaginable from Founder to Graphic Designer to Marketer to Salesperson to Legal Expert to Accountant to Buyer to Administrative Assistant. That last one comes up a lot more often than I ever expected! Just today, I was on the phone with HP for over an hour trying to resolve an issue I was having with my printer in my home office. Gone are the days when I could delegate tasks outside of my comfort zone to someone else down the hall.
With all the tasks you could get bogged down with as a self-employed, small business owner, how in the world can you cope? One approach is to attempt to do it all yourself. After all, most entrepreneurial folks are very resourceful and capable individuals with an uncanny ability to figure things out.
However, what I’ve found is that it still remains much more efficient to delegate tasks outside your expertise, even if you don’t have a physical team around you. When it comes to branding (developing logos, brand names, marketing collateral, websites, etc), plenty of online marketplaces exist to help connect you to Creatives who can help bring your brand to life.
If you’re starting a new business on your own, I would strongly recommend crowdsourcing creative ideas for your logo, name, website design or other marketing collateral. In the past, you had to select a specific agency then be at the mercy of their creatives to come up with ideas. Now, you can have access to an array of talent across the world. It’s actually fun! There are people who think crowdsourcing is a bad idea, but I’ve found it can actually work if you use the right platforms (examples below) For example, I worked with 60 Creatives in over 25 countries worked to develop 500+ names before I eventually selected Ilumity, a name conceived by a Designer in New York City. I then received 200 Ilumity logo designs from various designers before landing on the lead design from a Designer in Mexico.
If you don’t know where to start, below are a few resources I would recommend checking out, including some I’ve used myself.
Disclaimer: Some links below are affiliate links. However, these resources and tools are some I’ve used myself, and I genuinely believe they’re helpful.
99Designs is at the top of the list. They make the process of creating a design brief fun & intuitive instead of writing one from scratch. Folks like Tim Ferris & John Lee Dumas, host of Entrepreneur on Fire (a podcast I listen to religiously!) also recommend 99designs. You basically run a design contest & only pay for the designs you love.
My visitors can go to 99designs.com/go/ilumity to receive a free upgrade valued at $99 (or £65) that drives more engagement with your design project. Disclosure: I’m a partner affiliate with 99designs, which allows me to share this deal with you.
Are you looking for a virtual assistant? If you’re trying to free yourself from spending time scheduling meetings or taking care of other time consuming administrative tasks, you might consider investing in a virtual assistant, especially if you don’t want to fork over the cash to have a full-time one. I first heard about this from Scott Britton who hosts the Competitive Edge podcast. You can read his experience using virtual assistants here.
Hire freelancers to handle marketing, mobile development, accounting, to administrative office tasks. I found my IP attorney this way, which saved me thousands on my TradeMark applications and still got the job done. Full transparency though, I had zero luck finding a reliable accountant, but I don’t think that’s an issue specific to Elance per se. Aug 2015 update: Elance and ODesk have now merged to be called Upwork. New interface needs work, but still a solid place to find freelancers.
If you need a quick illustration, voiceover, or basic graphic design, look no further than Fiverr. Services start at $5. I first heard about Fiverr in a blog post about getting your face drawn as a Simpsons character. How cool! I’ve actually used Fiverr to find someone to create the graphic signature that features on my Contact page. I realise you can do that yourself on a Mac in a few steps, but for $5, I figure why not have someone else save me the time.
Similar to Elance, oDesk provides a platform where you can find freelancers to help you with web design, software development, and other administrative tasks, both big and small. I haven’t used this myself, but I’ve heard good things about the service. They even offer a free service to help you write a job posting, which can be especially handy if you’re hiring for a technical task outside your area of expertise. Aug’15 update: Per my note above, oDesk is now Upwork.
I used crowdSPRING to find designers and Creatives to develop my brand colours, logo, and company name. Great range of work at affordable prices, although the interface can be a bit clunky at times. Also, although I got what I needed from the vast array of international designers on this site, I found crowdSPRING’s customer service to be very poor.
The next time I need a logo or brand materials designed, I’m going to try DesignCrowd instead of crowdSPRING. From what I can tell, this platform works the exact same way as crowdSPRING, but after being disappointed by crowdSPRING’s customer service and somewhat cumbersome creative review interface, I’m going to give DesignCrowd a shot next time around, as the interface seems a bit cleaner. If anyone out there has used DesignCrowd, I’d welcome your thoughts below, and when I used them I’ll be sure to post an update on my experience here. Check out DesignCrowd’s US site or DesignCrowd’s UK site.
Find a freelancer to handle a range of administrative tasks that include business support, web development, photography, and design. I haven’t used this service myself, so I can’t vouch for the quality of the freelancers here.
There are others out there to help you with some non-work related things. After all, as consuming as running a business can be, it never hurts to have an extra pair of hands to take care of other things in your life too!
A peer-to-peer marketplace to help you with neighbourhood errands or small household chores, which includes cleaning or even standing in line for you! They used to have a Business-specific portal, and the services still seem to exist, but the dedicated website seems to now be down. If you’re outside the US, you might find they haven’t made it to your neighbourhood yet. Love this idea of getting help with those random household tasks though.
You can read more of my views on which freelance platforms are the best in this Slickplan post. I hope these resources can help you work more efficiently, spend more of your day doing the things you enjoy, and dedicate more of your time creating value in those areas where only you can, which will allow you to serve your clients and grow your business more effectively.
Over to you! What are some resources you’ve used to help you delegate & get stuff done? Share your tips with others here.
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