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How to Know When You’re Ready to Get Help

As makers, we’re all pros at DIY when it comes to our product but that mindset of “I can do it all myself” needs to be altered when it comes to our business.

You know how it’s better to be a master of one trade than a jack of all of them?  It’s true when it comes to running your business as well.  You only have so much time in the day and if you have to divide it between making, answering emails, writing blog posts, packaging, shipping, tweeting, and a hundred other things, you hardly make any headway in your business.

You spend so much time dealing with the issues of right now that you can’t make any moves for the future.

And guess what, it’s only by looking ahead that you can expand your business and its profits.

I know it’s hard for you to even THINK about letting someone else take over some of your tasks.  Little voices pop into your head telling you things like:

  • “They won’t connect with my customers like I do.”

  • “They can’t package as well as me.”

  • “They’ll learn all of my secrets.”

  • “I can’t afford an assistant.”

I hope those all sound a bit silly to you too but let’s tackle them some more.


“They won’t connect with my customers like I do.”

If you’re worried about letting someone else answer your general work emails, think of this: What do your customers truly value from your business?  I would put big odds on it being the thought and effort you put into your product and NOT your name at the bottom of your emails.  Having someone take care of general emails frees up a ton of time and your customers will see you as a truly thriving business.  For example, when you contact Kari Chapin, the awesome writer of Handmade Marketplace, you don’t expect her to answer.  She’s too busy collecting stories and advice for her next book!


“They can’t package as well as me.”

Unless you compete in those holiday wrapping contests, it’s not too hard to train someone to package (and mail) your products.  I’m also betting you’d rather be making new creations than standing in line at the post office, especially during the holidays.


“They’ll learn all of my secrets.”

This is only EVER a problem if you’re a big company like Nike and someone discovers your new sweat-wicking fabric formula.  As a small business owner, it’s not just WHAT you make but what you put into it that draws in customers.  They buy because of your passion, your personality, your voice.  That is something that can’t be copied.  And if your product doesn’t have any of those, chances are YOU are the making-secret-stealer or a trend follower.


“I can’t afford an assistant.”

I want you to think about this in a different way.  If you always look at hiring an assistant in terms of, “It’s going to cost me $100 a month to have someone help me,” you will never hire anyone.  If, instead, you think, “Having someone help me would allow me to ____________,” you’ll begin to see how much money you will MAKE thanks to an assistant.  If you didn’t have to spend an hour a day checking emails, packaging orders, and driving to the post office, what could you do with that hour?  Would you create a new line?  Would you finally have time to write a newsletter for all those people on your mailing list still waiting to hear from you?  Would you have time to pitch wholesale shops?

I’ve worked for several people as a virtual assistant and the one thing they all have in common is that their businesses exploded as soon as I started handling their basic tasks.


How do you know when you’re ready to move from doing it all yourself to asking for help?

If you are never getting ahead in your tasks, despite working from sun up to sun down, you’re ready.  If you haven’t been able to expand your business or add new revenue streams in the past six months, you’re ready.  And if you want to spend less time doing ‘busyness’ work and more time creating, then you’re absolutely ready to reach out for the help that will help you grow and mett your goals in 2013.

{image by Toma Estudio}

Megan Eckman

Megan Eckman has written 146 posts in this blog.

Megan Eckman is a quirky pen and ink illustrator who never outgrew her overactive imagination. Her work merges the style of old fairy tale illustrations with modern fantasies. When she’s not drawing (and giggling all the while), she can be found pacing her apartment writing more stories to go with her artwork.



Great advice, thanks.
Another way of looking at this is to think about what you can give/teach a young assistant. Maybe someone who has passion and skills but is struggling and could benefit from a bit of guidance.
You could even take someone on short-term as an unpaid intern, and in return for their time/work, teach them everything you know about running a business.
There are lots of creative people out there who would revel in an opportunity like that, and it would give you the help you need as well as take your business to a different level.

Megan Eckman

You definitely need to look up the legal issues in your country for unpaid interns. In America, unless you’re giving them credit for college, it’s generally seen as illegal. Besides, they’re doing work that deserves to be paid for and you should acknowledge that as a maker yourself. So please always pay your interns!


Fair comment! 🙂 I’m not suggesting taking advantage of a vulnerable person and not paying them what they’re worth. If the ‘unpaid’ part was to happen it would be based on a mutually beneficial agreement that you’d come to with the person.
My point is just that we can also think about what we can give to others (aside from or in addition to money) rather than worry about what they might take from us. Probably not very business-minded of me, just something to keep in mind.

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[…] If you want to grow your business, you can’t stay in the DIY mindset.  That’s why Create and Thrive discussed How to Know When You’re Ready to Get Help. […]

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