Every business – at its core – is a people business. Your customers are people. The more you treat them like people, the more loyal they will become.
You are a business owner, but you’re only human too. You can’t do everything. There comes a time when you need to know when to delegate work or when to do it yourself.
You need to outsource some tasks in order to free you up to focus on your core business.
Outsourcing is a big decision. Thought it might end up being a relatively small expense in the grand scheme of things, again these are still people you are hiring.
Hire the wrong help and it can bleed your company dry with wasted overhead and sloppy work. Hire the right ones and your business can take off in ways you never even imagined.
Now as important as it is to hire the right people, you need to make sure you’re hiring them in the right roles.
There are many, many tasks you can and should hire out in order to grow your business. There are also many that you should never farm out.
When to Delegate Work and When to Do it Yourself
Here is a list of tasks you should be outsourcing.
If there is something that needs to be done over and over again, in much the same manner, week after week, chances are you can easily train someone to take this over.
Some examples include things like running monthly routine reports or processing payments or sending out bulk emails.
Anything that’s one step away from your computer being able to do it on it’s own is ideal for outsourcing.
Low Skill Level:
Excuse me, but aren’t you the CEO of your own company? Then why are you spending your valuable time buying office supplies or painting your conference room?
If the task is something that you can easily hire a responsible high schooler to do, you shouldn’t be doing it yourself, nor should you be paying one of your higher level people to do any of these things.
Outsource it to someone who doesn’t require a substantial hourly wage. If it makes you feel any better, purposely schedule for yourself important tasks that only you can do during that time.
By exchanging this ‘free’ time to work on growing your company, that outsourcing expense will feel like money well spent.
New, Complex Skills:
On the surface, this recommendation completely conflicts with the Low Skill Level kind of outsourcing I mentioned above. I’ll give you a concrete example.
This kind of outsourcing opportunity often crops up when a business owner realizes they need to evolve out of the brick and mortar universe and develop a presence online.
Say you have built an incredibly successful accounting practice.
Dozens of clients, a growing staff, thousands of billable hours every month. Someone finally convinces you to stop relying just on word of mouth referrals and instead establish a compelling website to attract new business.
So – you being the successful go getting entrepreneur that you are – decide to dive headfirst into learning how to launch a website.
You watch YouTube tutorials on Photoshop and site design, you buy books about coding. You’ve often been told you’re the smartest guy in the room.
You know that through brute force and ignorance, you will launch your own website, and maybe you can — but why on earth would you?
You shouldn’t, unless you are planning on opening up the world’s first ever accounting and digital art shop ? (Call it Left n’ Right Brain Inc.!)
Schooling yourself on a skill set that you will likely never ever use again isn’t just silly, it’s potentially dangerous to your business.
By trying to pinch some pennies and boost your own ego with the DIY route, you are sacrificing your most valuable business asset — your time.
Farm that stuff out. Pay the money, get a talented hired gun to come in and knock it out.
Now that we have established what categories of tasks you should definitely outsource, let’s talk about what you should keep in house, always.
These Are Some Things You Should NEVER Outsource:
Your Financial Planning:
Now I’m not saying you can’t or shouldn’t hire a bookkeeper. In fact, unless you really are an accounting firm, that’s probably one of the first roles I’d recommend outsourcing.
But that’s not laying out a financial strategy or actually budgeting for your fiscal year. A bookkeeper simply balances and tracks your profit and losses. They man the calculator and run the reports.
The financial planning is something that only you and your closest advisers should be doing.
Bringing a perfect stranger in to work on your budgeting is like bringing in a perfect stranger to recommend a parenting plan for your children.
Only you know where more (or less) is needed to give the business what it needs to grow.
Even if you later just rubbers tamp the checks that are brought to your desk, you still need to be the one to carefully plan out where that money is being spent in the first place.
Your Customer Service Scripts:
Hiring someone to answer your phones, yes. Hiring someone to determine what a customer’s first impression is of your company?
Absolutely not. Tempting as it is, you should never lean on anyone else to set the tone of your team’s phone manner. This is especially true when it comes to sales calls! Put your words in their mouths.
Your Social Media Voice:
Speaking of tone and first impressions, you are going to need to keep an extremely close eye on your social media efforts.
Again, I’m not suggesting you live on Facebook all day every day. (Heck, with all the automation tools available about there, I wouldn’t even suggest that the person you hire to manage your social media daily posting live on Facebook all day, every day.
No need! Tools like HootSuite and Curalate can schedule out a month’s worth of posting within one afternoon.)
But you can’t let this social media manager completely determine the voice, tone and topics of your social media efforts.
Content marketing and social media engagement require a deep understanding of your customer and what they do and don’t want to hear from you.
My suggestion is hold a monthly social calendar huddle with your social media person.
They can suggest a cadence and even some playful verbiage but its you who must determine the ‘meat’ of what you are talking about with your customers every day!
Vision and Values:
Finally, the absolute worst thing you can try to outsource is your vision and values.
All too often I have witnessed small business owners ignite a business and run it passionately for the first year or two.
Then the inevitable burnout creeps in and it just seems natural to bring someone in to “tell them what to do next.”
I’m not talking getting help with your marketing strategy or brainstorming new tactical ways to accomplish your goals.
Consultants are great. Agencies and creative partners are fine, but you have to tell them where you want to steer this ship in the first place!
At the risk of mixing my metaphors: this is your baby. Only you know the real direction you should be heading.
It’s okay to lean on others to help refine your marketing plan or inject new ideas into the mix. Go ahead and outsource the research.
Outsource the copywriting. Just hold tight to the reins when it comes to vision. Keep the “north star” crystal clear in your head, even if you need to take a break in order to regain it.
If you are coming up short with where you want your company to be in the next year or two, better to take a restorative breath for now.
Better to hold off on planning for a bit than to hand the reins over to someone who might not understand your customer as well as you do.
So what should you be outsourcing, right now? What’s stopping you? Is it really budget or is it possible that you’re a bit of a control freak?
Where’s your favorite place to find reliable team members? Any cautionary tales for other business owners?
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