When launching a new business, money is often a big issue. As in we don’t have any, or at least not enough to do everything we might want to do right away. There’s a common concept of bootstrapping a new business, meaning that you start it with little or no capital and grow the business only as revenue grows.
For many businesses, that is a very viable option. It keeps us out of debt, or at least keeps the debt minimal and if done right can let the business grow at a sustainable rate, rather than debt funded rapid expansion that may one day prove to have been an over-reach.
So we try to do everything ourselves. Aside from getting confused about what hat I’m wearing at the moment, trying to do everything myself may end up hurting the business. I made that realization many years ago filming a video series about home based businesses.
One business owner talked about how he designed and created teddy bears. He also packed and shipped them all by himself. He had figured out that he wanted to make $50 an hour for creating his teddy bears and was able to do that with his margins. But also knew that certainly didn’t apply to his time spent packing and shipping. The hourly rate there was more like $5 or 6 an hour.
The question then for him was, would he accept working x hours a week at that lower rate, or would he have someone else handle that for him, so he could focus on work that paid the higher rate?
Here are some other ways that not delegating or outsourcing some of the work in our business can hurt us:
- We end up wasting many hours trying to do something we have no skill, training, or interest in.
- We achieve second-rate quality attempting to do things we’re not good at.
- We add to our stress unnecessarily.
- We’re stealing precious time from doing the things we’re good at and enjoy.
- We hinder our revenue streams by focusing on things that don’t make us money.
The list could go on.
Fortunately it doesn’t have to end there.
Here are some questions to ask yourself to help determine whether it’s time to outsource a function or task:
- Is this function a core part of my business? For example, perhaps you are a podcaster, blogger, copywriter, or write articles or curriculum for a living. If so, you probably need services such as editing, graphic services, web design, etc. Your core focus is writing. So, let someone else take on those important, but peripheral aspects of your business. Chances are, they’ll do a better job than you can and leave you more time to write.
- Does performing this function make you money? Maybe you’re a startup business offering online training. You are a gifted curriculum developer and promoter but admittedly a lousy graphic artist! Having professional-looking material is important, but customers are buying your content, not the art. The graphic design is necessary, but it doesn’t make you money. This is something that should be outsourced.
- Can someone else perform this function more cheaply? In the previous example, you might argue that you can wing it and make do with your own graphic arts abilities. However, in the process you discover that to perform this function, you need a specialized program that’s expensive. Additionally, there’s the cost of having to learn the program and spend hours each week on graphic arts rather than curriculum development. Through a referral, you find a gifted graphic artist who costs a portion of what your hourly rate is worth. This is a function that should be outsourced.
- Is performing this function stressful for you? Let’s say that in your business, you provide creative content. And your content is featured and presented in various forms on the internet. But to do that you’ve got all the technical aspects of maintaining your website, setting up your store and means for collecting money, etc. But you’re not skilled in web design and find it frustrating and stressful. Do yourself a favor and outsource that work to someone who is good at it and enjoys it. Outsourcing this work will relieve your stress and you’ll be so much happier with the end-product.
- Is this function part of your wheelhouse? This is similar to the previous question, but with a different twist. Perhaps you’re easygoing and don’t mind working on a task for which you have no training or skill. The point here is, why spend time working on things you’re not skilled at when you could be producing more revenue-generating content? Outsource those functions that aren’t part of your wheelhouse and free-up more time doing those things that generate income.
- Do you enjoy performing this function? If you intend to be in business for yourself for the long haul, you’ve got to be doing things you enjoy. No doubt you love being in business for yourself. But if you’re honest, there are some tasks that you dread having to perform each month. Perhaps it’s the accounting or some other necessary task that you just wish you didn’t have to do. News Flash! You don’t have to do it! Outsource it!
Certainly, there are other considerations regarding to outsourcing. But often, we hold onto functions and tasks we shouldn’t be doing for far too long. I encourage you to take inventory of your business. What tasks, functions or services could you outsource? What would outsourcing those services gain for you?
For the teddy bear maker, that meant paying someone else to do packing and shipping, so he could use the hours he previously spent on that task focused on designing and building more teddy bears. That way he was able to increase his production and sell more bears, bringing in more than enough additional income to cover paying for a person to pack and ship those bears. In addition to improving the business results and his own profit, he was providing a (part-time) job for someone else.