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Indie Garden Club Week: The Curse of Self-Sufficiency

Image is owned by The Full Figured Chest

Image is owned by The Full Figured Chest

If you own a successful small business of any kind, you’re probably someone who has a fairly wide range of skills and a pretty kick ass approach to life. I say this because most people who don’t also don’t make it through the first two or three years of being in business – starting and growing a small business is all about learning new skills and being good at everything so you can get to do that one thing you’re crazy about. 

As you get bigger, it’s easier to outsource other things. All lingerie brands have to outsource production or take on a sewing staff at some point. Lots of people hire a PR company to make sure they show up on the latest blogs and in the latest photoshoots. Throughout all this lots of business owners continue to create their own content, because they started things that way and want to be self-sufficient. Being a kick ass and self-sufficient business owner is great, but not to the point where it hampers you. At some point, paying people to do things better than you can do them helps create growth.

I’ll admit that this is a case of the pot meet kettle, as I’m also a business owner who has trouble outsourcing things. I’ve worked hard the past few years to get past it: I now have an assistant as an integral part of my business, which has saved me tons of brain space and helped me see ways to help the business grow. I’ve never tried to do my own graphics because I can’t even draw a stick figure. I do my own social media management and SEO work because I’m good at them. If I can’t get my website to rank for “lingerie copywriter” why would anyone else hire me to help them?

Here are some common reasons why indie lingerie business owners feel reluctant to outsource:
1) Business owners believe that no one knows their business as well as they do. Therefore, no one is as qualified to help them with marketing as they are.

As a copywriter, I actually love clients who have strong ideas about their business. The worst client for a copywriter is one who doesn’t know their business from the inside out – I’d rather work with a strong willed business owner any day of the week. That said, copywriters are trained to do more than write – we’re trained to listen carefully as well. By developing a regular relationship with a copywriter, you’ll gain not only someone with professional marketing skills but someone who can replicate and refine your marketing voice. This gives you the confidence to focus on other aspects of your business that play to your strengths – like designing or fitting customers in your boutique.

2) Some indie business owners do want to outsource, but they haven’t found the right person and don’t have the time to look.
Your business is your baby and it’s hard to give up any control at all to someone who isn’t practically perfect in every way. I get that, because I feel the same way about my business. What this means is that you need to find someone who also understands the responsibility of dealing with other small businesses as well as the structure that makes yours work. You also need someone who understands your market, whether it’s mid-tier or luxury. Different markets have totally different buyers and there is no one size fits all way to deal with that.

Don’t be afraid to talk to multiple people and see if you click with them. In fact, most copywriters appreciate this! There’s nothing worse than geting halfway through a copywriting job and realizing that it just isn’t going to work out because you didn’t get to know someone before you started (been there, gotten the t-shirt). The best long term marketing relationships involve lots of communication and a genuine meeting of the minds. Personality is a big part of making this work.

What concerns do you have about outsourcing your marketing? Do you love being a self-sufficient business owner?

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2 Comments

  1. Great post! I run Esty Lingerie alongside a full-time job in marketing and whilst I’m reluctant to bring outsiders in (that ‘they don’t know the business like you do’ thing you mentioned) it sure gets difficult finding the time to do everything myself! I’m basically working 2 full time jobs 😉 I do outsource on occasion and have had good and bad experiences. Definitely agree you need to take the time to get to know someone before you hire them and more importantly, get them to know your business.

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