The Reason Small Firms Fail (That No One is Talking About)

This article was contributed by Emily LaRusch, Founder of Back Office Betties, a boutique receptionist and intake company exclusively serving small law firms. She has an insatiable thirst for learning and is the happiest coaching and collaborating within the entrepreneurial community. She has been featured in Entrepreneur, Associated Press, BBC News and serves as an educator for Inmates to Entrepreneurs.

How did your business come into existence? Was it the result of tireless planning, brand positioning, and market research? Or was it initially a kernel of an idea that you just knew held the promise of an amazing business? More founders and business owners would recognize themselves in the latter than the former. For many of us, we had an idea we believed in, and then we worked to make that dream a reality. That’s to say, we’re the visionaries of our businesses.

Every business out there needs a big-picture thinker and also someone who can handle the details. Just having ideas is often not enough to create something. You need someone especially skilled at breaking down big ideas and putting them into action. If you’re missing either part of this equation, your business is likely to suffer.

Entrepreneurial Operating System “EOS” calls these two types of people the visionary and the integrator. Visionaries are ideas-driven innovators who are continually thinking of new ideas and ways of doing things. They’re creative and strategic. Integrators, on the other hand, are exceptional at taking those big ideas and knowing how to put them into practice.

Most people have a sense of whether they’re a visionary or an integrator. If you’re not sure, this quiz can help provide you with some clarity.

You’re not required to be one or the other; both types have their own strengths, and both are needed within companies. But what if you find you’re strong in one direction and don’t have anyone to fill the other role? Many creators might start thinking they need to hire a C-suite executive to take on those responsibilities, but that’s not necessarily the case.

For visionaries, a great virtual assistant can provide you with integrator support in as little as six hours a week. In fact, that’s how I found our integrator at Back Office Betties.

I spent years looking for a great integrator and came up short time and again. We hired a promising new virtual receptionist with years of experience at a competitor. She came into the most entry-level position we had and immediately began making suggestions for optimizing our team and our processes. I gave her a project to test her, and she nailed it — delivered early and with perfection.

Within six months, she was promoted to team manager. She took the visionary/integrator test linked above and came up very high on the integrator score. Within a year, she was our Operations Manager. This one role was the missing link to take us from chaos to sanity. I was able to cut my hours in half because of the work she’s done!

Part of being a leader is understanding your own strengths and the areas you may need more help with. No one can do it all themselves. Finding the appropriate help for the tasks you’re not naturally strong at will keep your business healthy for years to come. Check out this list of over 50 things a virtual assistant can implement and take off your plate.

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