I just received a coupon with a discount for a PR webinar. The tag line is “Learn How To Launch An Effective, Do-It-Yourself Public Relations Campaign.” I hit “DELETE!” I’m in over my head with all the Do-It-Yourself things I do. All by myself. And I’m not alone. 78% of US businesses, or over 21 million firms, have no payroll. We do-it-yourselfers account for a very large number, and we’re growing.
Here’s a slice of life from today’s calendar to illustrate the problem.
CEO: The company forecast has to be revised to track the break even point and the margins. I wish I could call upon my business analysis group for relevant reports, but instead, I’ll pull up a spreadsheet and get to work.
LEGAL: A trademark filed online with a company that ‘does not provide legal advice because they are not lawyers’ needs adjustment to be completed. I’m not a lawyer, so either I’ll have to pay the non-lawyers to try again, pay a considerable sum to a real lawyer, or hand it off to someone who wades through the legal jargon and makes the necessary adjustment. Oh yeah, that someone is me.
ACCOUNTING: I’ve purchased accounting software so I can track expenses, and generate invoices and checks from the system. Strangely, I’m still handwriting checks and creating invoices as word processing documents. I may need to attend a Webinar on the accounting software…
SALES & MARKETING: Call in the sales and marketing folks to develop plans for building a bigger customer base. Network! Make contacts! Update the prospect database! Advertise! Reinforce branding! Expand social media! Create a promotion! Update the website! Write a newsletter! Oh. That’s my job. I am the sales channel AND sales support.
IT: Last count, I’m using over 30 software products and web-based tools. Each is updated regularly to constantly improve products and services while lowering costs. Recently, I learned that one of these companies charges “Premium” rates if you want the customer service agent to explain how to use their new features. Unfortunately, the features I’ve been using have been upgraded into new features, so in order to do what I was doing last week, I will have to pay more. Or, I’ll just figure it out myself…
PRODUCTS/SERVICES: I coach small and new company owners who have to solve complex business dilemmas, such as the impact of changing regulations on their product offerings, market testing ideas before launching a business, or making a growing company more profitable. I also create apps to provide, in audio format, 100 Entrepreneurial Lessons Learned. Each day, on top of the other activities, I must work on the very heart and soul of the business to generate revenue. Besides, this is what I love to do!
So how do entrepreneurs prioritize all the hats they have to wear? Here’s what I’m thinking:
1) Send out invoices and write the checks- the company runs on cash and vendors need to be paid. Just keep great records, then worry about learning the accounting software later. Maybe they’ll make it easier to learn by then? Or, I’ll have grown the business enough to hire a Comptroller…
2) Products and Services – develop and provide the services that generate invoices (see 1 above).
3) Sales and Marketing – make more contacts to sell services and create marketing programs to support new customers generation. That will allow me to provide more services and generate additional invoices (1 and 2 above).
4) IT: Avoid gnashing your teeth (dental bills) by setting a daily time limit to “relearn” online services. They’ll only change it again later.
5) CEO: Right before I call it quits for the day, long after dinner, I’ll work on the company forecast. After all, I want to make sure I’m still headed in the right direction.
To all you do-it-yourselfers out there, take heart! You are not alone. Look out your window and take a deep breath. We understand!
All the best,