In my opinion, the only real reason to have a business is to help others. There are countless ways of doing this, of course, but no matter what business you’re in, on some level you’re striving to help someone else. (Even the least ethical businesses are striving to make money to help themselves…so there’s that…) But you, the ethical business owner, are looking to help more than just yourself. You’re selling a product that makes things easier: solving a problem, providing a valuable creative service, excellent communication and client experience.
In the voice-over world, each time we complete a project, we provide a valuable service that helps others, whether we add professional VO to a marketing video, create a friendly voicemail for a client’s customers to feel heard and helped, or narrate an audiobook so an author can get their story to more people.
We already help our clients solve problems on a daily basis, so why are we often resistant to letting others help us? I see this all the time with freelancers – we hate asking for help. We think we can do it all on our own, or for some reason, we can’t “afford” to get help.
This is utter baloney friends.
Of course, right at first when you’re just starting out, maybe you can’t afford to hire any help and you really are a one-person show. But AS SOON AS YOU CAN, start to think about how you can hire help. Asking for help is crucial to building a successful business, and it frees you up, as the boss, to spend your time doing what you love.
Also, outsourcing some tasks means you get another avenue to help others by PAYING THEM TO DO WORK. There is nothing more satisfying than paying someone talented to do their thing. Being a boss is awesome.
As I see it, there are two ways to outsource. You can outsource to another person or to your future self.
Let’s start with outsourcing to others. Within this category I’ll break it down into three parts:
1. What’s your least favorite task?
What is not at all your skillset that you’ve been struggle-busing through so far? What do other people do well and enjoy? For me, my first outside hire as a voice-over artist was an easy decision. Audio editing. Of course, I still think every voice-over actor should know how to edit basic audio, but as I began booking more and more audiobooks, I realized the editing was a major chunk of my time. I knew I could book more work if I found a brilliant editor. Luckily, I know some people. My friend Josh Bangle is also a voice-over actor, but loves editing audio as well. He said to me, “I miss editing hours of audio”. Bless his heart. To me – no thank you! To him, it’s soothing. I may think he’s a little crazy, but I’m SO grateful.
There are some bonuses to hiring others — first off, you’re no longer alone. Even though Josh and I don’t often meet in person, I have someone I’m in communication with and working on projects with, as a team. It’s great to be part of a team – I was getting tired of being a lone voice-over wolf. Second, any work I get isn’t just for me anymore. I get to share the wealth and am even more grateful for each audiobook project we get because now both myself AND Josh get some money. He and his wife just had the CUTEST baby. Supporting other artists is what I always wanted business to be about and now I get to do that tangibly and I LOVE IT.
How you spend your money as a business owner is important – why not invest in yourself AND others at the same time?
2. What could you teach someone else to do?
Another angle for finding new team members is to think of something that you could, within a day or two (of paid training – no point in being a stingy boss here) easily teach someone else to do for you. For me, this was answering inquiries and running my social media pages. After I realized that, then the next hire was a no brainer. The incomparable Courtney Mentzel, currently getting her MFA in acting in NYC, had perfect space in her schedule for a part-time job with flexible hours. She’s a super talented actor herself who I’ve been fortunate enough to collaborate with in the past. She has experience running social media professionally and has a daily public transit commute during which she can help me answer inquiries. And presto – more of my time is freed up to do the things I love and generate more business for us!
3. Who can help you grow?
I’m super lucky to be part of a thriving artists community here in Dallas. When I started wanting to veer into different projects and build something new (COMING SOON!!), I didn’t even have to think about who to hire because the brilliant Cain Rodriguez is already one of my best friends. A writer, videographer and tireless encourager. Freelance artists and small business owners NEED COMMUNITY. People are WAITING FOR YOU to find them and make awesome stuff together.
As a boss, you’re a leader of a community. When you start hiring people to help you out and expand your team, you’re creating the kind of workplace you always imagined.
The other way I outsource regularly is to my future self.
Sometimes today is not the day to accomplish a task. Around the middle of each day, I look at my schedule and see things that could easily be pushed to a future date. Then, I schedule time on my calendar specifically for those projects and stick to it rigorously, ensuring that everything gets done. Rome wasn’t built in a day, folks. You can’t do it all in 24-hours. Let the future be there for you as a friend, helping you out and taking a few things off your plate. Your future self will be better rested than your current self, will be able to solve that problem, find the voice for that new character, nail that audition that’s not due until Friday anyway, craft the perfect email to send to that author. Trust your future self and let them give you a hand every now and then.
Caroline Cole is a voice-over actor, copywriter and coach based in Dallas, TX. Learn more at carolinecolestories.com or join in by following @carolinecolestories on Instagram and @ccolestories on Twitter.