Launching a business is always filled with uncertainty. For small business owners or those with limited capital, mitigating risks is a top priority. Thus, lean management is the preferred approach. Small business owners would want to streamline costs to a point that further reductions would not result in a decrease in productivity. One of the best options is to outsource services to third party providers such as virtual assistants. You can always source virtual assistants from reputable agencies.
But there have been small business owners who are resourceful enough to outsource services to friends and family members. There are obvious advantages to this strategy:
- – Familiarity; because of their history, the business owner can qualify the best candidate among his family and friends.
- – Logistics; it will be easy to communicate and collaborate with a family member or a friend.
- – Flexibility; a family member and a friend should be more understanding and accommodating.
- – Social Responsibility; the business owner would be able to help a family member or a friend who needs financial assistance.
- – Aligned values; as family members, the likelihood of having aligned values is very high. Aligned values lead to greater productivity.
As the business owner, you would want to devote most of your time managing tasks that fall under the core function of your enterprise. But at the same time, running a business requires managing other areas of the enterprise that do not fall under its core function but nonetheless keeps operations going.
These are referred to as non-essential tasks; generally administrative or supportive functions that serve to organize all of the transactions of the enterprise.
If you are planning to outsource services to a family member or a friend, it would be best to start out with non-essential tasks that do not require technical expertise.
This is not to say that family members and friends do not possess technical skills. Of course they do especially if they have professional work experience. But when you are starting out and aiming to get traction, operations should not be complicated. Starting them out with non-essential tasks is also a great way to assess their performance and build a working relationship.
The tasks outlined here comprise the basic functions of a business. These are manageable, fairly easy to conduct and not time- consuming that you can outsource them to the busiest person in the home: Mom.
#1. E-mail Filtering
For many business owners, a great deal of the morning is spent going through e-mails. Not all of these are business- related or urgent.
Outsourcing e-mail filtering gives you more time to fit in appointments or meetings with prospective clients. Keep in mind that some of these e-mails maybe sensitive. You need to make sure you can trust the person who will view its contents.
And who else could you trust more than your own mother? This is a fairly easy job where the procedures are cut and dry. If you want a response made, you can draft a template and have Mom change the addressee.
#2. Database Management
In any business, managing the database of customers or subscribers is a very important task. Information and status reports must always be updated. Data management is a tedious and time-consuming task.
If you have an older brother who is in between jobs or is looking for part- time work, this could be the task for him. It will keep him sharp and focused as data entry requires the agent to be accurate and detail- oriented.
#3. Phone Handling
When you are working, the last thing you want is to be interrupted by a phone call. Most business owners put their phones away or keep the mobile phone in silent mode so they can work without being disturbed.
But incoming calls are part of everyday business. Even with Caller ID it is not possible to know the origin or intent of every incoming call. The best option is to outsource phone handling. And Mom is the best Virtual Assistant!
Moms are the most courteous people when it comes to receiving calls. Moms never fail to ask the caller to leave their names, contact numbers and a message.
#4. Appointment Setting
Setting appointments is another time- consuming activity that is needed in every business. After all, how do you expect to land clients if you don’t get to meet any?
But if you’re dealing with Business to Business or B2B clients you will have to go through the dreaded gatekeeper. These are the receptionists who screen all incoming callers who want time with their boss. Some of these gatekeepers are resilient; they function like a fortress and screen every caller strictly.
Again Moms make the best candidates to handle the job because they are more resilient than anyone we know. There is nothing our mothers wouldn’t do for us.
Moms are so tough they will go through the most hazardous weather conditions to make sure we are home safe and sound. They can certainly break through the sturdiest gatekeepers and get you an appointment!
#5. Writing/ Blogging
A friend of mine who started a content marketing company shared that when business picked up the volume of work increased so fast, he could not hire enough writers. He was the type who wanted to work with all candidates and assess their writing styles before he gave them assignments.
But because it would take time to qualify a writer, the first person he contracted was the one he spent most of his time with; his wife!
He identified the content marketing jobs which fell under his wife’s experience: publishing, sales and finance as well as interests: entertainment, music and religion. He spent four hours in the day time honing his wife’s writing skills to make sure her articled qualified and met the standards of the client.
His wife now works full-time in his company.
Writing and blogging are powerful tools for online marketing. It is the centerpiece of content marketing. But it is not enough that you know how to write. You should be familiar with the use of keywords, understand the basics of
#6. Social Media Campaigns
You’ll be hard- pressed to find anyone in your family from Grandpa to your 15-year-old niece who doesn’t have a social media account.
Managing a social media campaign is a highly specialized task. You need to have experience in social media marketing to be able to design campaign strategies. But implementing the strategies is another story.
Many business owners who don’t have the time to follow a social media marketing calendar use a software program like Buffer to carry out the posting schedule.
Why not just hire your sister or younger brother to post your blogs and articles according to schedule? It won’t take much time and you’ll only pay them for the total hours they’ve worked. Buffer requires a monthly subscription.
Your younger siblings have a greater understanding of social media and its culture. They also absorb technology like a sponge.
#7. Accounting and Payroll Management
This is another task that you should outsource because it is time- consuming and needs attention to detail. When you compute for payroll, you have to accurately account for hours worked and keep track of deductions due to absences and tardiness.
In the family, the person who usually manages the books and balances the budget is Mom. She is the person who makes sure there is money to pay for monthly services such as household work and gardening. You can be assured your Mom can do a great job preparing the payroll.
An associate of mine shared this story of outsourcing accounting work to a friend of his who is a Certified Public Accountant in the Philippines but could not land a job when he migrated to Canada.
To help out his friend, he asked him to register a small business in Canada. Then he outsourced all accounting work to him to get his business started. When his portfolio started to grow and he passed the licensure test in Canada, he was able to land more clients and build his business.
Every business needs to constantly invest in research because market conditions are always changing. You must always be updated in developments in your industry.
Again a brother or a friend who is in between jobs would be an ideal candidate. Research is a job that demands patience and attention to detail. All facts and figures must always be validated. A job in research will keep your brother sharp and well-informed.
#9. Past Client Marketing
One of the best strategies to grow your business is to capitalize on your contacts or clients list. You should try to generate additional business from past clients. If they were happy with the previous experience of dealing with you, they should be receptive of receiving new proposals or offerings.
Your mother or sister can help you implement past client marketing because they know you better than anyone else. This is where having aligned values become of paramount importance. If your sales people know who you are, they will easily subscribe to your purpose and vision.
Your Mom or sister can ably represent and relay any new business proposals you have to former clients. In turn, your former clients will accommodate them as openly as he would accommodate you.
#10. Customer Support
In business, it’s not enough that you generate new sales. You also have to retain existing markets because business has grown very competitive. If you do not provide care and support to your clients and customers they can easily be poached by your competitor.
Thus, it is important to have reliable customer service available. But customer service will only be effective if your people can actively engage with your customers.
When you have aligned values, it will be easier to establish connectivity with clients because your interests are protected and represented well. And who else can do this except family?
When Facebook started out, Mark Zuckerberg asked help from his family to oversee the fledgling company. Spanx founder Sara Blakely started her designs with her Mom and ran the first few years of the business with her then- boyfriend.
These are among the most successful start-up companies in the world and prove you can count on your family and friends for love and support even in business.