About a year ago I returned to work as a Real Estate Agent after having my second baby. As I went back to the 24 hour / 7 day a week grind that is agent life, our happy little family quickly began to crumble with the added pressure. After 6 months of trying to make it work, my husband and I sat down and agreed that things needed to change.
During my maternity leave I had started writing property listing ads for other agents. Writing has always been something I enjoyed and by writing about real estate I could remain in the industry. So with a new priority of finding better work/life balance, I made the decision to resign from sales and focus on launching “Write My Ad” – a copywriting and virtual assistant service for real estate agents.
With zero business start-up skills and two boys aged under 5 to juggle it has been a challenging journey to say the least. Looking back on the first half of my year as a business start-up – I’ve learnt some lessons the hard way. But the biggest lessons have come from time-management, or my lack of it. I wasted a lot of time doing tasks that weren’t productive to my business. I’d like to share 3 of them so that you can avoid these mistakes and be more productive too.
Fast Track Your Start-Up with These 3 Lessons
LESSON 1: DON’T SIGN UP FOR ALL FREE THINGS
Don’t get me wrong I love the word “free” especially if followed by the word “food.” But once you start in this business space, suddenly your Facebook feed becomes chock-a-block full of paid ads promoting “free” webinars, courses and training.
Some of these resources are absolutely bloody amazing! However, equally some of them can turn into a massive black hole of your time. One “free” webinar I sat through went for nearly 2 hours on a Monday night. As I was too polite to leave, I sat at my computer sneakily watching House of Cards under the table on my phone. Afterwards, I felt so deflated. I regretted the way in which I had wasted my time. It made me sick to think of all the other tasks I could have completed that would have been more productive for my business. But hey, at least I was all caught up on House of Cards.
So before handing over your precious email address for something free, do some research. Ask yourself the following 3 questions:
- Do I really need this “insert free thing here”?
- How will it add value to my work/life?
- Is the person/business hosting the “insert free thing here” reputable?
A quick scan of the socials and website of the presenter providing the training will give you a fair idea of the calibre of their content.
Lesson learnt: Free doesn’t mean it’s good
*For the record, Stevie Dillon from Stevie Says is the go-to for social media training. Business consultant, Angela Henderson from Angela Henderson Consulting has loads of free resources on her website for those in start-up phase. Whilst Kate Toon is the undisputable Queen of SEO. Take it from someone who’s sat through a gazillion hours’ worth of training – these women are highly skilled in their fields and deliver quality content – a good starting point for anyone new to business.
LESSON 2: WHEN JOINING GROUPS AND NETWORKS – CHOOSE QUALITY OVER QUANTITY
One of the great things about starting a business in this digital age is that there are so many online groups, networks and forums you can join in an instant. There are tonnes of online Facebook groups specifically for women in business created to connect and support each other.
But like signing up for free stuff, signing up to groups can be another huge time waster.
I know this for a fact because at one stage I was a member of every…single…one of them.
My phone would go flat from all the buzzing of notifications coming through from being a member of 10 million groups. Not to mention it was incredibly distracting.
Just like being selective in choosing the best webinars, when joining these groups ask yourself the same questions to ensure they are right for you.
[Hot tip: Some groups may ask you for your email and request you answer a few questions. This provides an excellent insight as to what the group is about. If you find yourself hesitating to answer any of these questions, then chances are this group isn’t right for you.]
Once you’ve found the right networks that suit your personality and your needs, the benefits of joining these groups are ten-fold. From online forums I have received some incredible business advice and tips and I’ve attended some fabulous courses and events.
Lesson learnt: Networks are important but choose fewer groups and be active within those groups rather than trying to spread yourself thin across too many.
LESSON 3: OUTSOURCE, OUTSOURCE, OUTSOURCE!
They say if you repeat things 3 times it will help you to remember. Picture me screaming this one through a megaphone from the rooftop: outsource, outsource, outsource!
I made the mistake of not outsourcing when I entered the start-up phase of my business. This was because I wanted to save money, but also because I wanted to learn how to do things myself. That’s why I attempted to create my own website, even though I had zero website making skills.
How hard could it be? I thought I’d watch a few online tutorials and BOOM – I’d be able to jimmy up a shiny new website. Fast forward to 3 weeks later. All I had managed to scrape together was a photo of a notebook and pen with “Write My Ad” scrawled across the image. *Cringe*
At that point, I was frustrated and admitted defeat. I outsourced my website creation and within a month (nearly the same amount of time I had spent on it) my new website was up and running – and it looked sensational! Ah, hindsight is a wonderful thing. Imagine what other business tasks I could have achieved in those 3 weeks if I hadn’t been messing around trying to DIY a website?
Lesson learnt: Save time by outsourcing the things you can’t and/or don’t have time to do.
Whether you’re in start-up mode, an established business or struggle with time management, I hope you’ve found these lessons helpful so that you can fast track your start-up for future success.
About the Author
Natasha D’Arcy is the Director of Write My Ad, a specialised real estate copywriting and VA service. She has helped agents from across the country to free up their time, allowing them to get back to what they do best – selling. A natural born stickybeak, Natasha loves looking at photos of houses and crafting unique stories about them – whilst wearing her activewear and eating chips.