Got a partner?

My previous post talked about not having all the skills required and solving that issue by finding others that have complementary skills. My research showed micro-businesses that grew were often run by two people rather than just one on her own. In other words, ladies, there really is only so much you can achieve on your own. Some of my interviewees said they were too busy and/or tired to think about growing the business. Others had plenty of work for themselves and didn’t want to push forward into new areas because that would disrupt the life/work balance they had worked so hard to achieve. Those who wanted to grow would have liked someone to bounce ideas off and discuss the business with. Many of my interviewees with growing businesses were working with their life partners/spouses; others had business partners. Either way, the interviewees valued the role of their partner a great deal. It gave them the ability to divide up tasks according to strengths and provided space to think about the future.

If you don’t have a partner, would you like one? Can you find one?

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Do you have what it takes – or can you solve the problem anyway?

You’ve taken the plunge and launched your microbusiness. Or maybe you haven’t yet because something is holding you back. What would that be? “I’m not a real businesswoman”, “I can’t write a business plan”, “I’m not good with numbers”.

Running any kind of business takes a wide range of skills and there’s plenty to do – make/buy products, provide services, find customers, admin tasks, bookkeeping, solve the IT issues, possibly supervise/manage others etc. We each have our strengths and weaknesses and will do some of these things better than others – and that’s just fine. We can’t be good at everything.

My research into microbusinesses that grew showed that these were run by women who – knowing they didn’t have all the answers and skills required – were able to solve the problem anyway. They looked at the matter head on and found a solution. Here’s one example from my own business. I work for a number of customers who are located across Europe and each one has a different invoicing procedure. Certain words need to be on the invoice, it has to be issued at a certain time, have a particular date or other information on it, be submitted online, by post or email. Attention to detail for words – fine, love that! But this level of detail and it’s all numbers – no thanks. And anyway, spending all that time issuing invoices means I’m not translating – so not earning money. Answer: get someone else to do it – in my case a family member. I pay them – but I earn more translating as a result of not spending hours a month doing something necessary but I’m not good at.

My research showed that this problem-solving attitude also helped when it came to employing others – a big step for any microbusiness owner. Strategies used by growing businesses included using short-term contracts, work experience students, interns, agency staff and outsourcing.

Nobody can do it all, but can you find someone who has the skills you don’t have?