The most valuable resource you have as a business owner is time: it’s easy to waste and you can’t make more of it. Often it seems like there are never enough hours in the day to get it all done which is why learning to outsource some of your work is key to the success of your company.
When you’re starting a new business, it can be tempting to do everything yourself, both so you can learn how to do it, and so you can save money. But this “do it all” attitude may be hindering your success. According to Business News Daily, companies of all sizes are now turning to outsourcing to “disrupt the market, improve their efficiency and better serve customers.”
Delegating tasks isn’t just an important skill for CEOs of big tech companies, it’s actually just as important for small, service-based businesses. Letting go of some of the small tasks that may be impactful, but don’t move your business forward, usually allows you to find more freedom and flexibility to live a life you love while building a business that fits into your life.
But spending money you’ve just earned (or don’t even have yet) is easier said than done. The important first step is to shift your thinking from “I’m spending my earnings on something I could do myself” to “I’m using my earnings to spend more time serving my customers.” After all, a task that may take you 4 hours to complete, a specialist could complete in 1⁄2 the time, freeing you up to talk to more customers, engage on social media, or any of the other tasks on your list.
And luckily, with today’s resources, you don’t need to hire someone full-time to start reaping the benefits of outsourcing. There are many part-time resources you can start utilizing now.
Thinking about outsourcing? Here’s how to start.
Pepperlaner Lozelle Mathai, Accountant & Finance Manager
Identifying What to Outsource
The first step in outsourcing is to determine what to outsource. When hiring help for your small business, focus on tasks that are:
- Labor intensive – These are the sort of tasks that can be a major time suck for you and can often be easily delegated to someone who has an affordable hourly rate. They’re the “chop wood, carry water” sort of tasks that every business needs, but aren’t all that glamorous. Think of tasks like data entry or prospect follow-ups that you could quickly teach someone else to do who loves to do that type of work.
- Outside your scope of expertise – Consider which tasks will either take you an extremely large amount of time to learn, or are things that are best left to the experts to pay for a good end product. Sure, you could probably teach yourself accounting, but are you going to do it right? And is it worth spending 30 hours of your time learning versus focusing on big-picture issues? The same is true for tasks like photography, legal work, marketing, and graphic design, which Bench agrees are great tasks to outsource. The good news is we’ve got a list full of talented Pepperlane members to support you!
- Anything you hate to do – We all have things that we just don’t enjoy doing, maybe for you it’s administrative tasks, photography, or writing blog posts. You’ll want to outsource these tasks to save your time and sanity and focus on the things that you love to do, or you’ll reach burnout fast!
Pepperlaner, Brea Chislett, Photographer
Building Your Team
Once you’ve identified which tasks to outsource, it’s time to hire the right people for the job. It may be tempting to put off hiring someone because they won’t do it as well as you would, but if you’re overstretched on time, you may not be able to give the tasks the attention they deserve anyways. Focus on hiring talented people who you connect with and you’ll start to build a successful team who can take your business to the next level.
To find the best candidates, as this Entrepreneur article suggests, ask others in your network for referrals so they can do the vetting for you. And if that fails, begin by outsourcing things that don’t need 100% perfection and start with a trial run on a part-time basis. As Pepperlane member Tania Shah points out, “there is way more affordable help now than there was when I started 19 years ago. I am amazed at the outsourcing resources that are available now at such affordable rates versus to what it was like when I started.”
These days you can hire a contractor to get done exactly what you need to. What’s more, this is a great way to support other working moms and will help you dip your delegating toe into the world of managing and hiring with minimal risk.
Pepperlaner, Phoebe Cusack, Marie Kondo Consultant
Outsourcing For Home
Outsourcing doesn’t have to be limited to your business. Time freed up in your personal life will mean more time to build your business. Our Pepperlane community has lots to say about how to outsource on the home front. Across the board Pepperlaners love outsourcing grocery delivery and getting support with housekeeping!
As Pepperlaner Brandyn Campbell stated, “I fully committed to having my groceries brought to me.” Fellow member Rachel Moyer added that getting grocery delivery has saved her 207 hours of grocery shopping this year alone! She added, “Instacart may not take into account the extra time needed to grocery shop with children.” That’s an understatement! And why stop at grocery delivery? Look into services in your area for meal prep to take the whole effort off your plate, so to speak.
Can’t afford to hire right now? Get creative and ask family members to help out, or even better, organize a trade with another Pepperlaner! Member Renee Bordner outsources her lawn care and dishwashing duty to her son and laundry to her daughter and member Erica Desper outsources dinner and food shopping to her husband.
Although it can be daunting and may seem counterproductive, outsourcing can be a great step in growing your business and increasing your profits.
1 Simple Act: Track Your Time
If you’re not sure how to get started or what to outsource first, start by creating a time log.
Keep track of how much time you’re spending on tasks you hate doing, tasks which you’re not the best at, or tasks that are repetitive. After a week of tracking, go back and look at what patterns emerge.
Pick the task that really makes you groan and consider outsourcing that first. Keep in mind that everyone has different strengths and weaknesses and there’s someone out there who will love to do the work you loathe. Once you have a handle on what would make the most impact, focus on outsourcing that first and see how much time you can free up to pour into the success of your business.
Looking to outsource work to an amazingly talented group of women? Check out our member profiles and take meal prep, home organization, home management, party planning and so much more off your plate!