When you first start your business, it’s exciting when the phone rings – it might be a client, hooray. But as your business grows, it’s like the phone starts to interrupt your train of thought, so, you think, you’ve reached a point where you finally have the finances and workload to justify an employee or two.
So, you search and eventually you find a fresh uni-grad who’s just right for your business, full of potential, pluck and some skills your growing business could really use. They’re ready to be put to work! And you get them to answer your phone or do your books, filing, etc.
It’s not all the time mind you, the phone only takes up maybe several minutes an hour? Unless it’s about scheduling then maybe longer. Then sometimes if the person on the phone gets chatty, maybe a little longer again. And filing and reconciling might take a couple of days a month doing it as they go. But you’ve given them a solid, and let’s face it ambitious, list of business KPIs they’ve got to achieve for real contribution to your business, so it’s all good.
Now think back to how frustrating it was when you were trying to get important things done, only to be interrupted by the requirements of busy work. It takes up time – sometimes whole days. And whilst it’s time you’re not personally losing, great! But you’re now paying someone else, who’s likely just as overqualified, to spend, not so great.
Sure, everybody starts out doing grunt work, getting coffee, running errands is part of small business, everyone chips in. However, when you’re paying a qualified someone to help with your workload to take messages, etc, that’s not grunt work – that’s busy work. Sooner or later your smarty-pants keen-bean is likely to get bored and move onto better things. Glad for the experience, but not sorry to have redirected their last call or scanned/filed their last document. Thus leaving you in the position of going through the arduous hiring process yet again.
Stop wasting your resources! If you’ve got budget for one or two employees, make them count where it counts most for your business – revenue production. Get them away from busy work and contributing to top-line revenues – especially these days when it’s so easy to outsource the busywork at a fraction of the cost of actually employing staff to do it. If you can have someone producing three, four or eight times more than they cost – that’s a huge win. But if they’re weighed down by non-revenue-producing busy work, those hours are a cost, not a productive resource.
You’ve already figured out your time is valuable; so is your staff’s. Research has shown that it can take up to 25 minutes to get back to a train of thought when you’re interrupted. So, that’s half an hour of lost productivity per five-minute phone call. Add those up, and it’s possible it might cost you tens of thousands (even hundreds of thousands) in lost billable time.
Sure there are things that only you can do – and having staff do the busywork might free you up to do that. But think back to when you hired your last staffer, were there things you saw in them that maybe only they could do too? What if you outsourced the busywork and gave them an opportunity to really prove their worth? What might that opportunity be worth to your business?
What if you stopped and thought differently about time as a resource? Try it and see if it works better.
Roland Farrugia, SOI Virtual Receptionist & Virtual Office Solutions Advisor, Serviced Offices International