Running a One-Person Business mentors Paul & Sarah Edwards respond to thefollowing question from an user:
I have started a one-woman consulting buiness. I work about 12 hours a day but can't seem to manage my day so that in the long run I have enough billable hours. The problem is not that the work isn't out there, it's that I can't mananage sales and marketing, accounting, office work, and all the other tasks that seem to come up in a day. Do you have any advice, including books to read, and other reference materials?

Paul & Sarah Edwards' response:
A steady diet of 12-hour days is a formula for burn-out for most people, but even before that happens, you risk compromising the quality of energy you can devote to your two most important tasks: client work and the marketing to produce billable hours. Other tasks, such as office work, can be purchased almost always at rates lower than your time is worth. Having an employee or using outside office support services is what most people do. Yet another alternative, particularly if you are operating from home and either do not want or cannot accommodate an employee in your home is to make use of a relatively new resource: a virtual assistant.

A virtual assistant (VA) is typically not an employee. Virtual assistants are self-employed and serve several clients at the same time. This means that they are responsible for their own benefits -- relieving you of a burden.You negotiate the number of hours your VA will work and the kind of work your VA will do for you. While a virtual assistant does the kind of work an office assistant or secretary does, including handling meeting and travel planning, acting as a project manager, and handling all types of nitty-gritty office details, some clients also use their virtual assistants to manage their daily lives.

Working with a VA gives both of you a great deal of flexibility and VAs are usually more motivated than an employee because they are serving you as a client, not as a boss.

You can find a virtual assistant locally or on the Web. is a virtual temp agency, listing VAs in 56 categories of expertise.

Because many people face issues like the one you are experiencing, we wrote Secrets of Self-Employment. In the chapter entitled "Having the Time of Your Life and Getting the Business to Run Itself So You Can Do What You Do Best," we go into other ways you can use OPE -- other people's energy.

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