Well, I'm sorry to report that the Artificial Intelligence technology isn't quite there *yet*.
But don't let that get you down! Just the other day I had the opportunity to give a talk to the Flourish & Thrive community run by Tracy Matthews and Robin (gah what's her last name?) called Be the CEO: How to take off the multiple hats you're wearing, delegate what drags you down and lead like you mean it.
Hahahaha that is such a long title and it ended up being a super-packed talk, and it's an especially timely topic given that it's a holiday weekend. And you might be thinking, "My gosh, I have so much to DO this weekend that I can't possibly enjoy the vacay!"
So, if you're wondering how you can grow your business without working 24-7, then keep reading my pet. This one's for you. (BTW, it's one of a series on manning up to be the CEO of your company. Get ready!)
Today, I'm talking about the 10 kinds of people you need in your eco-system in order to, well, Flourish & Thrive.
1. Babysitter. No, not for the kiddies, though if you have kids then the actual babysitter is prolly a non-negotiable. Nope, I mean the babysitter for you!
If you're an entrepreneur who occasionally suffers from Shiny Object Syndrome, then a babysitter comes to your home or office and sits there while you do what you said you'd get done during the babysitter's hours.
If this seems self-indulgent, consider this: the babysitter can often do double duty as a PA, non VA or even sales team member. You don't have to pay someone to sit around and watch you work, although that is sometimes what works! I typically pay $15 to $20 for a babysitter.
2. Personal assistant. I find many an entrepreneur who feels guilty about this one. Someone who runs errands, goes to the bank, throws in a load of laundry and comes back with lunch, the dry cleaning and that plant you've been wanting. It's magic, really, to have a PA because then your day/evening hours no longer need to be tied up with making doctors appointments and taking the car for an oil change. PAs charge anywhere between $15 and $100 an hour depending on experience and location. (Remember, if you're not a celeb you don't have to offer a six figure salary.)
Regardless, having a PA leaves you more time for billable hours, content creation, and proposals. Big win.
3. Virtual assistant. These peeps are great. Some people think VAs need a massive skill set (hard coding, fluent English, affiliate and email marketing, customer service, etc). Personally, I think we should leave the really techie stuff to the techies. I use VAs for scheduling, emailing out press and speaking proposals, the occasional word press or social media task.
The higher per hour you're willing to pay, the more skilled and the more strategic will be your VA. I shoot for between $20 and $30 and hour and get high quality work.
4. Tech ninjas. This is a toughie. I have to admit that I have had a really hard time finding quality, consistent, efficient, accurate tech people to do ongoing work (not initial coding of a new beautiful site) for me. That being said, they are priceless. Still, I'm not willing to pay $80 or $100 an hour for them! With the advent of fiverr, elance, even Craigslist and hiremymom.com, you can find tech savvy people willing to work for $25 to $45 on the regular who speak English.
5. Sales team. I'm hiring sales staff as we speak. I went through www.timetohire.com so will let you know about my experience. Whether you are your sales team or you have other people setting up your appointments for you (this could be your VA too), it can be helpful to have a sales process. My man thinks of it like this: one person to be the relationship builder/appointment wrangler and then a content expert (that's you!) to be the main dish. The relationship builder can follow up with the closing/contract stuff.
6. Financial gurus. A good accountant, a good lawyer, a good bookkeeper. They'll help you create systems to keep you organized, give you advice on business entities, and ultimately save you money if they charge what feels like a lot. Some very smart people say buy the best advice you can't afford- it'll be worth it. Translation? Don't skimp on this.
7. Design experts. Do you have go-to graphics peeps? If you're not schooled in a visual lexicon, I highly recommend that you remedy that so that you can be the keeper of your own brand. I'm not saying you need to master Photoshop. For that, you need to have on hand a small number of people for different tasks. One for logos/biz cards. One for web graphics. One for print. I say you need those three because typically those skill sets don't overlap all that much. Look for specialists. You'll be happier. If you want a crash course in brand, go here.
8. Mentor/advisor. This person could be a lawyer or accountant with whom you have a professional relationship or this person could be someone who knows you in a more personal setting. Regardless, let this be someone "older and wiser" who can tell you what to do when you come to the inevitable impasses of business. Please do not be related to this person.
9. Coach. I don't have a coach allllll the time and in fact encourage my clients to "fly solo" for a while. I think it's important to cultivate our own decision-making processes and our own intuition; however, a coach can challenge you, keep you focused and growing, hold you accountable and provide all manner of internal and external support IF you pick the right one. My advice says go with someone accessible who has business experience and who has a "vibe" you like. That's more important than having someone who knows your field inside and out.
If you find yourself tempted to drop 25k on some program, please sleep on it and don't let someone tell you that you don't want to invest in yourself if you can't make that kind of decision in a few hours or without consulting your other half. Don't drink the kool-aid.
10. Mastermind. These are fab! Likeminded individuals coming together to create a rising tide for all involved. They don't even have to cost money!
I wrote an e-book about how to DIY your mastermind effectively. It has everything you need to know to save you the aforementioned $25k and get the most out of your curated group of friends/colleagues. In a nutshell: be specific about your intentions. Curate your group well. Decide in advance the structure and desired outcomes. HAVE FUN!
Honorable mention: Mom & Dad, bffs, hubs/wifeys, and your fave health/wellness practitioners and/or energy workers. These people are also vital to the success of our businesses and the achievement of our dreams. Don't leave them out!
Ok so there you have it. No longer are you a "solo entrepreneur." I kind of don't like that term because any entrepreneur is by definition not solo.
To me, the expansion and growth of businesses is one of the most inspiring things in the world. I love it. I want to support it. And I think that building our businesses is important for our soul purpose on earth and in our individual lives, not solely for the private jet it might yield.
I hope looking at your business like the integrated network that it is will help you see yourself and your business activities in a different light and empower you to think even bigger.