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Summary:

Ah, the age old business question: “Do I want more work?” The question, of course, is actually “Can I handle more work?” or even  “How much more work can I handle?” Do you know how much more work you can handle? Are you at that tipping/breaking […]

Ah, the age old business question: “Do I want more work?” The question, of course, is actually “Can I handle more work?” or even  “How much more work can I handle?” Do you know how much more work you can handle? Are you at that tipping/breaking point yet? How much more work will get you to that point?

And when you get to that tipping/breaking point, what then? Do you:

1. Learn to say “No” with a capital “N.” Say no to all subsequent offers of work, no matter how tempting, no matter how potentially lucrative, until your time frees up.

2. Learn to delegate smaller tasks. I’m talking about the busy-work that keeps you from doing the bigger picture thinking, writing, planning and working that ultimately brings in the bigger bucks.

3. Assemble a virtual team. Build a team made up of people who are strong where you are weak to help handle the load and to structure bigger deals with clients by offering a fuller suite of services.

4. Bring on an employee. Hiring someone as a part-time or full-time employee might defeat the entire purpose of being an independent Web worker so I’m still on the fence about this one.

5. Bring on a business partner. Partner with someone who shares not just the rewards but the risk as well. Someone who can be a business rainmaker and handle the heavy lifting alongside you.

So where am I in this whole process?

I’m getting a lot of work. I’m almost to that point where I am concerned that if I bring on a few more clients, I may not be doing any of them justice. And being the perfectionist that I am, I can’t bear the thought of sub-par work even though my sub-par is probably totally acceptable.

I’m almost at that tipping/breaking point.

What have I done about it?

1. I have said no with a small “n.” For the smaller deals, I’m referring them to trusted colleagues who are happy to get the work. For the mid-sized deals, I’m picking and choosing the ones that won’t interfere with the bigger deals I’m closing. I look at them as fun filler to keep the cash flowing but not to tie me up too much or to take me away from the bigger deals that needs my attention.

2. I’ve hired a personal virtual assistant and am farming out some of the busy work. I’m no longer afraid to delegate (you know the fear – the fear that nobody else will care enough about the job to do as good a job as you can do). I’m still trying to figure out the most efficient, effective way to pull all this process and information out of my head and transferring it in a coherent form to another person.

3. I’ve been working on a virtual team as their “Internet gal,” but someone else is managing the team. I’m worried about assembling my own team because I don’t think I have the brain capacity to manage that team. Ostensibly, we’d all be able to manage ourselves, but I hesitate going into a glorified project manager role. I’d have to have a project manager in the virtual mix. So I’m still contemplating this.

4. No to hiring someone as an employee. I don’t know about you, but I’m still running screaming away from the idea of hiring employees.

5. I’ve been talking preliminarily to some trusted colleagues who are my peers in my industry sector. They get it, they do it, they’re looking for a change from the corporate world. My company of one could actually become a company of two with the right person. But how would that be structured? The business and financial side of this still scares the heck out of me. You could say I’m more than a little gun-shy about having another business partner after past experiences.

Where are you at with your Web work? Are you a company of one, two or more? Are you part of a virtual team on an ongoing or as-needed basis? Do you have enough work to stay busy, pay the rent, and then some? What are your business goals? What are your struggles?

And when is too much work no longer a good thing? Leave it to me to ask the tough questions that even I can’t answer.

[This blog post was inspired by this great post about business models.]

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  1. I’ve said NO plenty of times.

    I still don’t have enough web work because most of my offers have been to work for a low fee or for free. I’ve chosen to keep my standards high, charge what I’m worth, and work a side job to support my family.

    Hopefully I will have too much work someday!

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  2. This article is very timely. I’ve been doing everything myself for so long, it’s challenging for me to let go, delegate, and trust.

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  3. I enjoyed reading this story and would agree that it is very timely. I operate my own Virtual Assistant practice and I have just made my first step to getting some help (delegating).
    I hired my own VA for my business so I can focus on client-based projects. It was a nice feeling and I felt like I had just stepped into the next phase of my business.
    As business owners and independent workers we have to realize we can’t do all things. So as you said to keep quality in tact and to do all the things I have planned for my business help is a requirement.

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  4. Saying no, especially to friends, is extremely difficult but crucial to my overall happiness.

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  5. Our company is in the same boat. We (my wife and I) have so much work we don’t have time to rebuild our own website (it doesn’t really even tell people what we do). We do use several contractors and are considering hiring 6 people over the next 5 years. That, of course, will present it’s own set of headaches and risks. But if you think about it, even being self employed has a set of headaches and risks. This is a tough call, and is a very personal decision for anybody in this business. Thanks for the great article.

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  6. [...] 24th, 2008 (2:50pm) Mike Gunderloy No Comments If you’ve reached the point of having more work than you can handle, there are several ways to handle the overflow. One of the easiest, in some ways, is to hire [...]

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  7. Delegating some of your non-income generating tasks to a virtual assistant is a wonderful way to get more done during the day without having to hire an employee. The hardest part is deciding what you are comfortable delegating and building the initial relationship with the VA (or VAs) you choose.

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  8. [...] course, if you simply have too much work on your hands, or if you’re not that interested in the project, then decline the offer and [...]

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  9. [...] add a new service or title under your name, you need to know that you’ll have time for it.  Do you have time to spare on new projects?  Do you have a system in place in case you receive an overwhelming amount of [...]

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  10. [...] overbook yourself. While we all want to increase our income, there is such a thing as getting too much work.  If you fill every waking hour with projects, there won’t be room for any unexpected [...]

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