Running a small business is a lot of work, especially if it is a one man job. Somewhere between playing CEO, secretary, technical support, CFO, lead marketer, copy-writer, and office funny guy, you are bound to run into something you either don’t know how to do, or something that someone else can do much more efficiently. When that happens, it’s a good time to look into outsourcing the work.
Knowing when to outsource work
I love running my websites. It’s an excellent creative outlet, I’m constantly learning something new, and I’ve met dozens of great people. As a nice bonus I’ve been able to turn my websites into a business and make a few bucks along the way. But I haven’t had all the answers and I haven’t been able to do it alone.
Realize you can’t do it all. When I started this website a little over 2 years ago, I had no clue how to run a website, create graphics, design a website, manipulate databases, etc. I struggled to try and do it all. For the first year I had an ugly site, struggled to write articles, network, and learn everything else that goes along with running a site. It wasn’t until I got in with a great network of other bloggers that I learned it’s OK to ask questions and rely on other people for help.
Recognize your strengths and weaknesses. In the early days of running my business pretty much everything was a weakness as I struggled to learn everything I could about running a website. As I continued to build my sites I began to learn which areas I was strong in and in which areas I needed help. Now that I have a good understanding of my strengths and weaknesses, I don’t hesitate to go calling on help – even if that means opening the checkbook.
Don’t focus on the cost, focus on value. If you’ve read my site for awhile you know how much I love saving money. I love finding deals, making money, etc. It’s a part of who I am. But I let that distract me in the early days of running my websites and I focused on how much money I could save if I just did it myself. I was often able to get things done, but it usually took longer and the results were often lacking. The cost in terms of hours spent, frustration, and lower quality job made me realize that the better value would be to outsource some tasks. Less frustration, quicker turn around, and higher quality results are worth spending money on.
Reinvest in your business. My websites first started as a hobby and I was reluctant to put too much money into something that was generating a positive return. After I began making money from my websites, I decided that the only way to take my sites to the next level was by reinvesting some of my income. And learning to outsource tasks to someone more efficient than me was the first step. Reinvesting in my business was the second best business decision I ever made. The best was starting my business.
Now I prefer to outsource when possible
It took me a long time to realize I can’t do it all and it took me even longer to realize that the solution is often to outsource work. Now I try to play to my strengths and outsource in areas where I am weak. You may find it also makes sense to outsource mundane or repetitious tasks, or tasks where a professional is clearly needed.
Here are some examples of when I have recently outsourced work for my business:
Taxes. I understand the basic concepts of self-employed retirement accounts, and I have a solo 401k. I also understand deductions, expenses, income, etc. But when you put it all together, throw in business and tax planning, add personal taxes, and place a deadline on it, things get more complicated. Instead of struggling through the tax codes, I determined it was in my best interest (and sanity) to hire an accountant to do my business and personal taxes.
Blog theme design. My knowledge of web design is limited. I know basic html and css, but not enough to custom design a theme. I could probably learn most of it, but it would take more time than I am willing to invest, and more importantly it would take me away from my family and core business functions. I contacted Larry at Empty Cabin Media to help custom design my Thesis theme. Larry also offers blog coaching and consulting and is a pleasure to work with.
Interested in the design of this website? Be sure to read about my theme design.
Blog logos. I don’t have an eye for design, and I am not skilled when it comes to designing logos or working with Photoshop. Thankfully, I know someone who is. Pete is a good friend and he also designs website logos. He designed the logos on Cash Money Life and Money Saving Deals, and I have contacted him to design the logos for several more sites that I run.
Blog consulting. I recently had to upgrade my web hosting service. I used LunarPages for the last two years, but my websites finally outgrew their shared hosting service. I decided to move to Media Temple when I determined I needed a new host, and so far the move has worked out great. The problem was that I didn’t know how to move all the associated databases and information to get it set up properly and minimize downtime. Again, I could probably learn, but I was in a time crunch and decided this was a task best left to outsourcing. Ms. Crafty @ BlogCrafted offers blog consulting, blog setup, blog migration and other services. She was a great help in keeping my websites running during the transition, and I couldn’t have done it without her.
Outsourcing is one of the best business decisions I’ve made
There are only so many hours in the day that one can devote to their family, business, recreation, etc., and you need to determine how much time and effort you are willing to spend on your business. Outsourcing costs money. But so does time. In the long run, outsourcing may prove to be the least expensive and most efficient option.