Posted: December 06, 2011
The reluctant entrepreneur
Wearing too many hats? Consider outsourcingBy Teri Karjala
You've stepped into private practice, so you haven't let fear overpower your determination. Determination is the force that feeds motivation and builds strength during times of weariness. However, the same determination that promotes strength can lead to weakness by putting too much energy into business operations and too little focus on your expertise - which is treating clients.
How do you know when it's time to take your hands off operations and focus on the practice? When is it time to outsource and what tasks do you handle or pass on to someone else?
In the beginning, you may find yourself working ridiculous hours for financial security. You're treating numerous patients, handling your QuickBooks, marketing your practice, taking phone calls and, in between patients, still squeezing in time for various speaking engagements. You have built a great foundation in helping people, yet you can't find a moment to breath and enjoy your life. Once you've reached the point of securing a financial cushion, it is time to consider outsourcing, so you can focus on what you love to do most, which is helping.
The entrepreneur is focused on building a profitable future: a good trait. However, if your head is always in the future, you will never accomplish anything in the now. As a manager, you're the glue of your business. The manager keeps track of the books, and pays the taxes and the other bills related to making sure you stay in business. Spending too much time in this area means it's a matter of time before you begin slacking in your core function.
The technician lives to work and enjoys taking on new tasks and receives pleasure from obtaining and completing tasks. The downside to this role is that it's easy to take on too much, which means you may well ultimately feel overwhelmed and quickly reach burn-out - not accomplishing anything.
How do you find balance and when do you start outsourcing? It's not a hard science and varies from practioner to practioner. My own decision to outsource didn't happen instantly or overnight but was and continues to be a gradual process. Gerber's book inspired me and I was left with this message which works: Take small steps in order to reach the finish line.
Michael Gerber, author of The E-Myth, encourages beginning with a company flow chart. The flow chart makes a list of all of the tasks or roles required to fulfill your business needs. Once these items have been listed, write your name beside each task/role you fill. As time progresses begin to think about how someone else can start to handle these roles and how someone who is a specialist within in these areas can add to the overall essence of your business.
I chose to start with an area I found to be very daunting, QuickBooks. After teaching myself the software for nearly one year, let's just say once the 365th day hit the calendar I was ready to move on and handed it over to someone who enjoyed doing it. Interestingly enough as a more experienced individual took over this task they quickly found minor mistakes I made over the past year. Instead of feeling embarrassed that I made errors, I had peace of mind knowing the task was being done correctly and I could spend more time on other areas within my practice.
Other professionals you may consider outsourcing services to include: accountants, business attorneys, marketing and development (if you're planning to grow), a social media expert, or a sales person. Keep in mind that whoever you outsource to they should have a clear understanding of your businesses mission and vision and are willing to make a commitment as an extension of your personal reflection. They need to be there, in large part, to help your business flourish.
Teri Karjala is a licensed professional counselor and marriage and family therapist. She can be reached directly at: email@example.com.