Outsourcing dilemma? Have you often thought, “I could get it all done myself but I just don’t have the time…”?
It may be that the time has come to pay someone else to take tasks off your plate and free up your time. But how do you know? When is outsourcing the best choice for your business?
Here are 4 questions you can consider carefully to help you decide.
1. What Would You Outsource?
First things first, before you think about your budget or more practical concerns, start by asking yourself, “What would I outsource if there were no obstacles?”
The answer to this question will help you analyze your business’s needs objectively.
Start by making a list. Think about the tasks where your own skill is lacking, as well as those that cause you to feel irritation, annoyance or dread. List all the tasks in both categories, then review the list and rank the tasks, in descending order, of your desire not to do them again!
You may be surprised at what you can outsource these days. Not only commonly delegated tasks, such as bookkeeping and accounting, but also more creative tasks, such as:
- Copywriting—blog posts, website updates, newsletters, etc.
- Images—finding, downloading, optimizing, editing, uploading to website, creating social media graphics
- Social media—finding items to share and crafting updates/tweets, scheduling shares, managing accounts
- Administrative tasks—writing/managing emails or other correspondence, organizing digital files, researching purchase options for specific products or services for your review and decision, making travel arrangements, etc.
You can also outsource specific projects, either by task or as a whole to a project manager.
Finally, look at non-business tasks. Often, it’s not so much that we run out of work hours to do work “stuff,” but that home obligations keep getting in the way. Household chores and personal errands are often easier for anxious solopreneurs to delegate to others.
The risk is low, the cost is generally less than for skilled labour, and who among us really loves cleaning up anyway? Maybe hiring a cleaning service twice a month can free up ten or more hours that you can use to better benefit.
Take another critical look at the list, once it’s completed, and make sure that each task is one you’d be willing to hand control over in exchange for removing it from your overcrowded plate.
Finally, cross off any tasks that you feel you must keep doing yourself, for whatever reason.
2. Would Your Business Benefit From Outsourcing?
Now move on to a wider perspective by considering how, specifically, your business would benefit from outsourcing.
For instance, you may have recognized a need to get out and make more local contacts in your area in order to grow your business. That’s clearly something that only you can do—but if you’re spending all your time writing content and optimizing images for your website, you’ll never find sufficient chunks of time to get out there and network.
Also, consider the issue from another perspective: If someone came along and took the top three tasks on your list off your hands, what would you do with that time? Look at your list of business goals for the year. Is there a project that you’d love to start on, if only you had the time and energy?
Considering the benefits before the drawbacks—i.e., cost and control—will help you gauge your real level of interest in outsourcing, as well as free up your intuition to guide you to the right answer.
3. Can You Afford to Outsource?
Once you’ve examined the benefits, now look at your budget. It may seem odd to consider the financial side of outsourcing only now, but it saves you from making a very common solopreneur mistake: viewing budget as an obstacle that permanently blocks your way, as opposed to a challenge to be overcome.
For instance, some tasks pay for themselves—or could, with a slight adjustment. Are there some tasks you can outsource on an as-needed basis only, possibly with a slight increase in your fee to cover the cost of outsourcing whenever a new client project comes in?
And don’t neglect to account for the cost of your time in this analysis. For instance, you may be adequately skilled at, say, writing blog posts, but it takes you twice as long as it would take an experienced copywriter and blogger. By outsourcing that task, you’re actually coming out ahead, assuming you’re paying the copywriter even slightly less than what your time is worth per hour!
(Do be careful, though; with many outsourced creative tasks, such as copywriting and blogging, you are very likely to “get what you pay for”! If a blog post costs you $10, but is almost unintelligible or is filled with content scraped from someone else’s site, it’s not going to help your business, but rather may damage it.)
4. Can You Afford Not to Outsource?
After looking at all three aspects—the tasks to be outsourced, the benefit to your business, and the costs of outsourcing—you should have a significant degree of clarity about whether outsourcing is right for you at this time.
The old maxim that “you have to spend money to make money” is true in many cases, after all. By outsourcing certain tasks, you gain the time you need to be your business’s CEO and engage in all those high-level planning and marketing tasks that have been given low priority while you struggled to keep your head above water.
After all, every solo business is a juggling act, but nobody ever said you have to handle every single ball yourself!
So long as you use the time you save on productive income generating activities that you love to do, you’ll be able to cover the cost of outsourcing and have a lot more fun.