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Outsourcing: Balancing SME Focus, Going the Extra Mile & Overload

Over the years I have gleaned a rudimentary understanding of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). I have a niece who required special education and my sister was blessed with the single mindedness to provide for her special needs. In short, she founded a special needs school and has recently been acknowledged for the difference that she has made to the lives of hundreds of special needs children by her, this month, receiving a national award. This award got me thinking about small business, for I am on record for having presented keynote lectures on the topic of focus and work.
People with ADD do not lack focus, in fact they often have the ability to have a dedicated focus. What is a problem for people with ADD is that they cannot maintain focus and so, if you like, they are blessed with a "roving eye;" having to constantly battle to complete tasks and achieve results.
With the help of a special education and medication, people with ADD, can learn to manage their challenges and they can and do succeed in life and achieve results.
Allow me to suggest just three symptoms of ADD:
 
  • That "roving eye;" a constantly changing focus.
  • The enthusiasm for doing too much; resulting in a multitude of unfinished tasks.
  • Frustration
Allow yourself the indulgence of believing, as I do,  that a business has a corporate persona.
 
  • Now ask yourself; how many businesses have ADD?
 
Please slide the VOLUME button on the video to listen to the presentation.
 
In big business one works in a specialist area such as sales, marketing, finance, warehousing, shipping, etc. Each of these presents unique challenges and so, if you like, they are each a ladder against the wall that must be climbed to achieve the goals of the business. With experience, you will graduate to a management position and so you will move up the ladder. In small business you are the ladder. In fact, you are all the ladders!
In small business, work overload often leads to bad decisions, frustration, inconsistent focus, a lack of business growth and foregone opportunity.
 
  • Ask yourself; are these not the symtoms of ADD?
  • Does your business have focus problems due to constantly having to react to the most pressing challenge that arises at any one time?
  • Do you find your self constantly climbing ladders?
Okay, I think that we should have consensus on the above.
 
  • Do you now need a business coach to help you decide on a course of action to achieve a balance between work and life, business growth plus results through the completion of tasks?
Small business grows by way of satisfying customers. You meet demand by supplying products or services.
 
  • What then should be the core focus of your business? 
  • Satisfying customers or finding them?
 
Allow me an analogy. You supply T-shirts.
 
  • What is more important; size or colour? You know the answer, if the T-shirt does not fit the colour does not matter. In similar vein; if you do not satisfy your customers finding new ones will only spread the word about your inability to supply. Thus your core focus should be on satisfying demand. Do this right and with a one-click customer loyalty programme interfaced with a customer relationship management system your customers will grow your business. All that is needed is for them to be nurtured to do so. Do this right and building an audience of new customers will be beneficial as the conversion from audience to customer status will be accellerated by customer referrals and reviews if these are conveniently located to be easily found.
Please refer to the diagram titled " Sales Viral Loop."  It is a funnel into which we feed audiences of new customers, from the left, that move along the funnel as their needs are met and they are nurtured to understand the value and benefits that you offer and which they are incentivised to share and recommend to their friends. Yes, your customers can be the most effective agent you can have to grow your business and in addition, they can be the catalyst to converting new audiences to become loyal customers.
In our business, I outsource the systems development programming and have done so for the last ten years. We also outsourse content capture, server hosting, firewall monitoring, daily backups, hacker infection cleanups and more. My focus is on consulting to clients on their strategic direction and on helping them define who their ideal customers are, where they are and how to convert them from being in an identified audience to being loyal customers who refer your business to their friends. My focus is on the interface with clients. The rest will be outsourced until such time as a job, at any level on the ladder, justifies the appointment.
 
Steve Jobs, in an address titled  The Power of Focus  said  Focussing is about saying no.
 
Stick to the knitting, that is, focus on your core competency, own the customer interface and outsource the rest.
 
Take a look at the picture of the ladders against the wall.
 
  • Is this an accurate representation of the situation outlined above?
 
I believe it is and I believe the solution, to make it happen, is to remove the responsibility for as many of the ladders as you can by outsoursing the work to virtual assistants. In this picture these are the ladders that do not have a member of your staff on them.
 
  • In fact, in a small business, ask yourself if you should not be the only person on a ladder and if so what is the core focus of that ladder!
Note: Medically/Educationally speaking ADD falls under ADHD and I believe that the H (hyperactivity) has risen in prominence in the medical /educational arena. I left out the H as I feel the purpose of the topic is to draw an analogy, that in a more simple form, may serve to remind business to check for the symptoms.
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