When you are in start-up mode, you’re almost certainly answering your own phone, handling email, and emptying your trash bins. That goes with the territory.
But what happens when your business or medical practice develops beyond infancy?
A key challenge to handling business growth is whether you are able, and willing, to give up control and delegate certain business tasks to others who are:
• More skilled at the task
• Able to complete the task at a lower hourly rate than you
• Easily trainable to do the jobs that you dislike or are no good at.
Here is a quick down-and-dirty to figure out your own “hourly rate”.
Let’s imagine you want your business to gross $300,000 in 2008. And you plan to work a 40-hour week (good luck if you can get away with this!) for 48 weeks in the year.
Your hourly rate is $300,000 ÷ 48 = $6250, and $6250 ÷ 40 = $156.25. In order to make $300,000 in a year, you need to be bringing about $156 an hour in revenue. That means that when you are answering your own emails, you are costing your business roughly $156 an hour to do so.
Yikes! This has gotten me thinking as I write this!
Here then are the top four “MUST DELEGATE jobs” for smart physician business owners:
1. Housekeeping. A surprisingly large number of women business owners who work from home feel compelled to do their own housecleaning and laundry. Unless you have hours to burn each day, with only three items on your to-do list, you should not be cleaning your home or doing any office maintenance work. And even if your schedule were that light, you’d be better off using that time to gear up for your stellar marketing campaign to attract and retain all the business you can handle.
2. Bookkeeping. This is one of the hardest areas to cede control, but it is one of the most practical and useful. Unless you are a numbers whizz and cannot bear to give up your passionate enjoyment of balancing columns, you need to hire someone, even for a few hours a week, to do your books. You will have cleaner numbers, more accurate reports, AND fewer hassles at tax time.
3. Administrative support. Even if you are a small solo practice, with a micro-practice model, it’s important to decide if you should be handling calls, scheduling, and responding to all emails.
One of the joys of a solo owner business is not having employee headaches and extra tax hassles to cope with, but the trade-off can be very expensive (Remember what your time is worth. You are your business’s most expensive employee!)
Fortunately, there are great alternatives in the form of Virtual Assistants (VAs) – independent contractors whose businesses are geared to supporting your administrative needs at a distance. With today’s technology, just about every task can now be handled remotely. Ideally, you want to work with a VA who is backed up by a team of VAs, so that your needs can be handled in a timely manner.
Here is an example of a VA who supports medical practices along with a list of the services that are offered (disclaimer – I don’t know this business at all). And here is an example of my own team at My Business Assistant.
4. Managing technology. No matter how much fun and tempting it is to learn and then play with new technology, it is seldom a revenue-generating activity. It is a support function. And using a knowledgeable techie and/or VA for anything to do with computers, applications, and website management is a wise investment. I don’t know of many tech support people charging and making $156 an hour!
Here are the three “MUST DO jobs” for which you have to take responsibility (they are also fundamentally the revenue-generating activities):
1. Strategy development and business planning. As a business or physician practice owner, you are the futurist with the Vision, the torchbearer of the Mission and the person accountable for setting the Goals agenda.
2. Marketing. Until you are a $5 million business that can afford a marketing director to whom you can fully delegate your marketing, it’s up to you to develop and oversee the implementation of the marketing plan. Yours is the carefully crafted message that your target market needs to hear. You create and nurture your brand and Compelling Unique Benefit. You share your business’s Attention-Getting story.
Here is a paradox to get your brain around: your revenues are generated in your business’s marketing and selling efforts. As soon as you have to embark on delivering the service or product, your real costs begin.
3. Content creation or program development. As the “subject matter specialist” in your business, it’s up to you to formulate the content and deliverables of your services or products. These may be your medical services, your group programs or your consulting packages. Others may be called upon to deliver the content (a Nurse Practitioner, an associate coach, a subcontracted consultant) but it is the distinctiveness and expertise of the content you produce that will set your business apart.
Here’s to happy delegating!