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Kathryn Langsford, owner of Photos by Kathryn, right, brought in marketing consultant Crystal Munro, owner of Creating Excellence, to help with her marketing strategies


As 2011 is upon us, I thought it might be timely to explore what I'd say should be the top New Year's resolution for small business owners: Acknowledge when it is time to let go.

To be clear, I'm not telling you to let go of your business or your ambition for great things – but you do need to realize when it is time to let go of the everyday stuff that has become too big for you to manage on your own.

As companies evolve from startups to small and medium-sized businesses, it is sometimes incredibly difficult for the founder of an organization to bring in talent to help support areas that are important, but need more attention than the chief executive officer can give.

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Marketing strategies are a perfect example. A strong plan is instrumental to the success of your business, but if marketing isn't your strength and you're able to bring in someone to help, it might be time to do so.

"What's important to me is that I focus on what I'm good at," says Kathryn Langsford, a well-known photographer based in Vancouver who owns Photos by Kathryn Inc. "I recognized pretty early on that the things I'm not good at take too much of my time, and I get bogged down or frustrated with the details.

"The more freed up my brain is, the better my work looks," she adds. "So as soon as I was financially able to, anything I could outsource, I did – in order to be the best artist that I could."

Ms. Langsford has seen tremendous benefits since bringing in marketing consultant Crystal Munro as marketing director. Together they have implemented a complete re-branding, launched into social networking, and Ms. Langsford's business has continued to grow. Most importantly, they've created a strong, trusting relationship.

"I definitely see the importance of good marketing and I've seen my business benefit greatly from having her expertise," Ms. Langsford says. "I used to do it all myself…but I'm not trained."

Ms. Munro, who owns her own company called Creating Excellence, says that Ms. Langsford is the ideal client – one of the best she's ever worked with. That's because she has been very open about sharing relevant business information, she's flexible, and the two share great synergy.

But it isn't always that easy, Ms. Munro warns.

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"Some small-business owners want to hold everything close, and they are so scared to let go because their business that they have built is like their baby," she says. "To many, outsourcing is like sending a kid off to college."

But just as your child grows older and you have to stop the handholding, the same is true for a rapidly growing company.

"You need to be able to let go to take it to the next level. Otherwise, you'll get stuck at the plateau," Ms. Munro says.

The relationship she and Ms. Langsford have built is inspiring – and offers a great lesson for growing small businesses. Whether you hire a new staff member, outsource to a consultant or bring in a professional public relations or marketing firm, the benefit of a professional, fresh set of eyes for your marketing strategy will be huge. You just have to be willing to let it happen.

Special to The Globe and Mail

Mia Pearson is president of the Canadian region for Fleishman-Hillard Canada and its sister company, High Road Communications. She has more than two decades of experience in creating and growing award-winning communications agencies. Her experience spans many sectors, including financial, technology, consumer and lifestyle. She works in partnership with her clients to build brands, mitigate risk and shape communications strategies.

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