This week was a tough week. I thought I had focus – helping local businesses with their internal systems. But apparently not, that’s not focused enough.
Let me explain. I’ve spent the last 5 years focusing on raising my children. I even obtained a Certificate in Early Childhood Development and ran my own carer business to meet the needs of my family. Now that they are a bit older and not so demanding, my time has freed up. I want to refocus my career. I was working here and there during this time in various areas of administration to keep my skill set up, but I’m still behind those that were in full time employment during this time.
My family and I relocated to the country we grew up, but in doing so we moved to a new town. We have little to no network here, and this is a word of mouth place. If you don’t know anyone who can recommend you for the job, you won’t get the job.
It’s the kind of town I want to be in. Word of mouth is how I work best and obtain my ideal clients. I prefer this way of life, but it’s going to take time to build our network, but I want to work now. I want to learn, I want to clean up the mess that is my CV and get it back to its old self.
To do this, it was either find an entry level job and go back in time by 10 years… or find the work for myself. I chose the latter.
I am now a business owner where I perform a lot of business development at times of the day that work for my family. If businesses need help, I price up the job, co-ordinate that project by putting the right person in the right place to get the job done, as professionally and efficiently as possible.
When businesses tell me they have an issue, it ranges from the demand of their administration, lack of marketing, or a lack-lustre website, you’re usual small business bottlenecks. So yes, these are all very different problems, and they require a vast knowledge base to know how to address them, so I can see how it seems unfocused. I need to be pretty up to date on a lot of topics.
However, I don’t have to be the best person for the job, I just need to know it’s possible to address, and how much it will cost to do it. The responsibility of doing the job doesn’t fall on my shoulders, but I do need to make sure it is done well. So yeah, I thought I was pretty focused, since that is what is happening.
However, I can’t go into a business at the moment and say “we specialise in bookkeeping” or “we specialise in e-commerce websites” because at the moment, I’m not really sure what I’m good at. I’m also not sure where demand is, I think I need to spend some time trying things out before I decide on my focus. I’ll get better at pricing projects and I’ll hone my ability to know the best business development events to go to, but I’ve been away from this game and this country for a while now, and I firmly believe I need to relearn everything.
So that means that Virtual Assist is a bit of a passion piece for me at the moment. Yes profit is important, but if something takes me a bit longer to do because of my inexperience (such as drafting a proposal) I’m sinking those costs. What the business does for me is allow me to meet new people in my new city. I’m over playgroups (yes that’s right I said it), I don’t drink, I’ve stopped going to the gym since none of them have a creche these days, so Virtual Assist gets me out of the house, talking to very intelligent business owners, and I’m really enjoying it, way more than an entry level job.
So this week I was told I need focus when I thought I was, (or at least close to it) and was really enjoying the process of growing my business, I’m now feeling pretty deflated. Once I’ve figured out this whole focus conundrum, I’m sure I’ll feel a lot better.
I’m assuming I’m not the only one out there feeling like they are lost in their business’ direction, so here are some steps I’m taking after researching the subject at length this week (and sifting through lots of “take power naps” recommendations that weren’t at all helpful). So here they are:
5 Stages to Keep Your Business Focused
- Choose a business’ focus – This may not seem very realistic, I know it doesn’t feel like that for me right now. I’ve been working with small businesses, and as I said, they generally need help in every area of their business. I’ve also been out of the game for a while, so I wanted to try a few things out before I commit.
So what are you good at? What do you want to get out of bed for everyday? What makes the most money? These are what you should be asking in order to find your focus.
- Have a business plan – I don’t have enough room to explain the importance of business plans, particularly their effect on focus, so refer here. Business plans are game changers, and once your business’ focus is on paper, it’s easier to stay on track.
- Prioritise your business’ focus– You may be approached to help with a problem that is out of your realm of expertise. You’re interested in it and want to try it out, but the fact is, it probably isn’t the best thing for your bottom line.Saying no and concentrating on your focus is for the best. It’s the only way you can efficiently provide a service for maximum profitability. If you do want to branch out once the original focus is ticking over (think Elon Musk – Space X, Tesla and the Boring Company) then that’s another subject, but one thing at a time.
- Engage a business mentor – There are a lot of mentoring programs available because it works. I incurred a one off administration fee, and of course I’ll have to invest the time, but that is it. For how much it will pay off, it’s definitely worth it.Be clear when you sign up what it is that you’re looking for, and be open and honest or it won’t work. I can assure you it is a very hard process having someone looking into everything and holding you accountable, but it will help you focus and be profitable, and let’s face it, without profit your ‘business” is actually a hobby.
- Join a business Facebook group – This may not appeal to all, but I found it really helpful. I joined a few virtual assistant (VA) groups and it allowed me to see how specialised some VA’s were, and this got me thinking about my own speciality.Obviously you would have to find some that related to your core business, but I was also able to ask questions about how they found their focus, as well as network with potential contractors. It really worked for helping me find my business focus, and it may help you.
So although I’m still on my journey in finding focus, I know the above list will help me achieve it and remain accountable for it. It will help my business’ profit and allow me to grow it to where I want it to be, and hopefully it helps you to do the same thing.