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WHEN SHOULD YOU OUTSOURCE?
There is a common theme in the entrepreneurial world that we feel we should do all the work ourselves and only outsource when we finally run out of hours in the day to complete all the work.
This is actually the wrong way to think about it, and often business owners are hampered by not outsourcing early enough in their business.
Not only are you at more risk of burnout from trying to do it all and working stupid hours to complete the work, it will actually make delegation itself harder as you won’t have the time and space to do it strategically.
If you are at much more than 80% capacity and haven’t yet outsourced, it is time to start looking it as your next step to allow you to continue to grow your business. In fact, you should outsource as soon as you can afford to!
The trigger you should be looking for is a consistent income; once you have regular income at a maintainable level that is slightly more than you need to cover your expenses each month, start looking at outsourcing. It does not need to break the bank and there are many VAs (Virtual Assistants), OBMs (Online Business Managers) and SMMs (Social Media Managers) who welcome smaller monthly contracts over large ones. £100-£200 per month invested in to your business will have a much higher ROI (return on investment) than keeping it as profit or taking it as fun money.
What should you outsource
Just because you can do certain tasks, doesn’t mean you need to and outsourcing them to someone else frees up your time to focus on the income generating work that is your core skillset.
When you are looking at what you should outsource, start with tasks that you struggle with or that could be done better by an expert, and tasks that take unnecessary time and do not require your intellectual input.
Typically, business owners start outsourcing tasks such as bookkeeping, social media management, and diary management as these are all areas where time can be saved by having someone else take the reins.
The benefit of having a bookkeeper or accountant take over your financial admin, is that often they do more than save you the time it takes to manage it; they can help to optimize your business set up and financial set up to ensure you are making the most of your tax allowances, will keep an eye on your expenses to make sure you are not wasting money and will remove a lot of the stress that comes with tax season!
Social media management and email marketing is another great way to have an expert help you drive your business forward. Not only will they save you time in creating graphics and posting to your social media profiles, they will also make sure this is done in the best and most optimal way for your audience. They will also make sure your posts are done according to a marketing strategy, with a specific end goal in mind each time.
Who should you outsource to?
Trust is the hardest step of delegating, and so finding the right person to outsource to is hugely important. This is another reason why we should be outsourcing early, because we need to have time to follow the process rather than having to make a panic reactive decision.
Once you have decided what you are going to outsource, you can start asking your network for referrals. This is always my first place to look for someone as they have been tried and tested by someone you know and trust, and are recommended. A referral acts as a quality assurance.
I don’t, however, recommend going with the first person you are told about. Everyone is different and it is important that you gel with the person you hire; they can be perfectly good at the job but if communication between you is not easy, it will become a strained relationship. You should be speaking to around 3 people, more than that will be overwhelming but too few doesn’t give you enough to compare.
When speaking to people, ask them about; their process, what sort of work have they done in the past, what are their preferred communication channels, how much input do they need from you at a minimum, what is in scope/out of scope for them. Trust your instincts, you will know whether you trust this person or not. They don’t need to be your friend, but you will need a friendly relationship.
Ask each person you speak to, to send over a proposal document with a quote and their terms of business; it is hugely important that both parties are protected by a contract so if one is not in place this is a huge red flag to avoid. When making your decision, remember that it is a business decision and should never consider “hurting people’s feelings” as part of the process.
Once you have them
Once you have someone on board, the hard work is not necessarily over. It can take one or two months for them to settle in and it is important that you enter this process knowing that your own productivity may take a dip initially.
Although this seems counter intuitive, twice the people should mean twice the work done, the time you will spend training and on-boarding will inevitably take time away from your other work. This is totally normal and much easier to manage when you have expected it.
Delegation can be particularly hard when we have done something for a long time as it can be easy to fall in to the “my way is best” trap. When you find yourself micromanaging, consider whether your way is actually best, or whether its just more familiar. As long as the outcomes are being reached, the method of reaching it doesn’t actually matter!
Outsourcing is a valuable tool in the entrepreneurs toolkit, it is an essential part of growth and it is better to do it with forethought than with hindsight.
You should plan to outsource tasks as soon as you are financially able to do so, know what you are outsourcing and have a delegation plan in place.
You get what you pay for is a piece of advice that really does fit here; you can hire a less experienced person for less money but you will need to spend more time training and guiding them. This is a great option if you have the capacity as they will grow with you and will learn your way of doing things.
Alternatively, if you need things off your plate without too much interaction, and/or you need an expert to teach you or uplevel your processes, you will need to pay a higher price but will get with it their skill and experience.
need some help with this?
What about booking a VIP day with me?
We can identify your business growth strategy; focussing on mapping your areas for delegation and where you can truly optimise your outsourcing.
I can also teach you about interviewing people to outsource to, how to recognise talent and how to nurture that talent without harming it or breaking boundaries!