Turn it Over

A few weeks ago one of my colleagues sent me an email. In it, she said,

“I have this on-going question with myself: How much of my marketing do I surrender to someone like a VA or a web-designer and how much do I learn myself?”

I’ve wrestled with this question often over the course of my entrepreneurial life and I suspect I will continue to ponder it. Here’s what I know to be true:

I never surrender my marketing to a virtual assistant or a web designer (or anyone else, for that matter) unless that person is intimately connected to my business and REALLY understands both my entrepreneurial sensibility and my brand.

However, I do believe there are benefits to be gained in asking for help and turning over tasks that free us up to focus on the more important work we are doing in the world. The work that is intimately connected to our calling.

For example, my web person takes care of the ecommerce plugin on my website. She can do that far more efficiently than I. So, it is not in my best interest to spend hours and hours figuring out the particulars of ecommerce when I can be working on content creation or orchestrating the events in an upcoming launch.

I’m a learner.

I, too, have a nagging need to understand the “back end” items in my business toolbox: auto-responders, opt-in channels, shopping carts, email management programs . . . the endless stream of technical tricks and tools that can drive a creative, right-brained entrepreneur to distraction. I do want to be able to handle as much of that as possible because I never want to lose momentum or be dependent on a virtual assistant to make something to happen on a weekend for example. When most sane people stop working.

This ‘need to understand’ has created both joy and despair in my entrepreneurial life. The joy comes in mastering a new piece of software or technology. Or in creating my very first ebook or logo! The despair arrives when I waste precious hours on a task that does not light me up and keep me energized.

Here are the questions that guide me:

What matters most? What lights me up?

For me, these questions reflect back to me what I most value in life (and in my business). If I don’t value the task, it’s not going to be compelling enough to sustain my interest. So, I ask myself this question every single day, “What matters most?”

I keep a running list of the items I’d like to understand or learn more about some day: Photoshop Elements, Logo Design, Ecommerce, Video Recording, HTML…you get the picture. And then? Then, I look at that list and I decide what matters most to my business AND what lights me up. If something on that list satisfies both categories, I start there.

If my intuition says, “Oh please, no, anything but that!”

I turn it over. . .

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16 Responses to Turn it Over

  1. Lori W April 5, 2014 at 8:26 pm #

    I can relate to what you’ve addressed here. I, too, like to tackle technology and feel so accomplished when I finally succeed. I like knowing how things work and also having the ability to easily make changes without rely on someone to do it for me. Another motivator for me, is that I am at the beginning of a new venture and my budget is limited.

  2. Michelle April 5, 2014 at 8:44 pm #

    Surrender was a recurring theme for me this week. This applies not only to marketing and our businesses, but to life! Sage advice, Sue Ann. xo

  3. Susan April 6, 2014 at 2:44 am #

    Why is it such a relief to hear that there are people who have a need to understand the ‘back end’? I am also one of those. It doesn’t all light me up but I have this insatiable need to at least try.

    At one time I did turn some things over (the building of site for instance) and while I eventually found some folks I can trust in that department, I forced myself to learn how so I would never again be dependent and truly dumb in that arena.

    I love my accountant and the woman who cleans our house and the dog groomer and my VA’s. But I am still in my learning curve with my online businesses and not willing to turn over everything.

    Somehow knowing what you don’t know and can not possibly figure out, really does help in that department:)

  4. Elizabeth MacLeod April 6, 2014 at 7:06 am #

    Oh yeah. For sure. For me, the places where I have my creativity … where I need to have control so I can follow my whims or last minute advice, it’s those places I need to learn and make sure I know. I learned first hand that not having control over these things slows down my biz and also puts a damper on those creative spurts of energy or changes that happen and they take my light out. That’s what matters to me. If my creativity is flowing, then all around me is flowing… and that lights me up! Great post Sue Ann. Sage advice for business… and also for life. What matters most? xo

  5. Susie April 6, 2014 at 11:28 am #

    Perfect timing! I just hired a VA to help with some of my social media but we agree that the creative content is something I must create. At this point I will rely in her to help schedule, repost, research and keep me moving forward to create the business that I envision. Teamwork without surrendering feels better to me.

  6. Cathy April 6, 2014 at 1:30 pm #

    One of the sagest pieces of advice I got in University (while studying costumes) is that you never ask anyone to do something you wouldn’t be able to do yourself. And so, we started with the basics of sewing before moving on to the complexities of pattern drafting and design.

    I approach my business ventures the same way. While I may some day hand over a chunk of it to a VA – and I can already feel which tasks those will be, by the weight they create in my body – it’s important that I get to know the process so that I’m fully aware of what it is I’d be handing over.

    To do only the parts that light me up: what an absolutely delicious and freeing thought!

  7. Dana April 6, 2014 at 2:35 pm #

    Sue Ann, thank you for this post; this is timely as I ponder hiring a VA to do a few things non of which are creative. For me, as I begin to dip my toe into the water of allowing access to a stranger I realize I must ensure they are the right person regardless of what they are working on 🙂

  8. Heather April 6, 2014 at 5:06 pm #

    This is the question in my universe right now! Hiring someone to help me or carrying it all myself. I do have a web guy who I let do all my techie web stuff – and I totally trust him and like him a lot. But marketing? I might just take biting the bullet and try it..

  9. Julia April 6, 2014 at 6:40 pm #

    As a marketer/web designer, I’ve got a unique perspective on this–I always remind my clients that they are the subject matter experts and working together is a collaborative effort, not a hand-off. There are great, trustworthy people out there who do this type of work–there are also a lot of less than reputable people. You’ve got to be careful, trust your instincts, and really get to know that person you’re bringing on to help. Set expectations clearly and in writing. This was such a thoughtful post, Sue Ann. I enjoy your wisdom.

  10. april April 6, 2014 at 11:38 pm #

    yes, very timely and relevant for me as well right now. i know two things: 1) that i greatly dislike technology and 2) that, despite how i feel, i need it. so i’ve been debating hiring someone to help me out. i’ve learned many things i thought i’d never be doing, but the fact remains that there will always be more. i like the way you phrased it, sue ann – i will never “surrender” my marketing. the integrity of my brand is too important to me.

  11. Kathleen Naomi Atkins April 7, 2014 at 3:21 am #

    amen! I love what you wrote and have similar thoughts – I can’t give up the creative parts as that’s the essence of who I am. I have been able to give up control of a few things, such as a technical tweak here or there. Baby steps 🙂

  12. Cathy April 7, 2014 at 2:49 pm #

    The thoughts expressed here are prevalent to most business, I think. Giving up that control on my precious baby can be quite trying sometimes. But learning what and when to delegate is key to any successful business. I have wrote blogs about that very thing. My brand integrity is very important to me and I agree, I will never “surrender” that over to anyone. Thanks for sharing this all important aspect of business.

  13. Marci April 7, 2014 at 6:33 pm #

    Such a great post, and a relief in that I am not alone in having the desire to learn it all, or as much of it as possible, for myself. For me, I love to tweak and change things as I go along, and the idea of having to call someone every time I need something done feels constricting. However, there are only so many hours in the day, so picking those things that “light me up” as you say is wise advice indeed.

  14. farah April 9, 2014 at 4:06 pm #

    I can relate! I taught myself wordpress, but in this techy world things move so quickly and there is a constant stream of marketing for what to do next. I say- breathe!! Do what is right and pressing for you know, and if you can- let go and outsource whatever doesn’t ‘need’ to be done by you !!

  15. Tracey Ceurvels April 26, 2014 at 12:53 pm #

    I can definitely relate to this. I like to know how to do the back end and will spend hours (unnecessarily?) figuring things out. I’d probably be better off having someone else do those things, but then there’s that part of me that doesn’t want to rely on someone else. What lights me up: writing, traveling and cooking, so I’m going to stick with those things and maybe, just maybe, leave the tech stuff to someone else.

  16. Kim Bultman April 30, 2014 at 11:01 pm #

    Sue Ann, as someone who’s always been “delegated TO” (for many reasons) it was especially important for me to hear this message. If something doesn’t light me up, it’s time to outsource. Many, many thanks!

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