As a business owner, you know that you eventually want to scale your business — but how? A big part of scaling is outsourcing some of your work! In this article, we’ll look at how to know when to outsource versus doing it yourself, how you can start going about it, and what some of the benefits are.
What is outsourcing?
Outsourcing is when one company hires another company to do work for them. The alternative is that you handle that work in-house. If you’re a newer business owner — especially a freelancer/solopreneur — you might outsource some of your work to another freelancer, since it’s cost-effective.
For instance, I own a blogging and SEO agency. A few years back, my bookkeeping and accounting became complicated enough that I could no longer manage them on my own and do a good job. So, I hired someone to do it for me.
When to outsource: How do you know it’s the right time?
As a business owner, it’s too easy to fall into the mindset of, “Well, I can just do this myself,” especially because that means you don’t have to spend money for someone else to do it.
But there are absolutely times when it’s smarter to invest in outsourcing instead!
Here’s the simplest scenario: If you have run out of hours in the day, then your choices have become:
- Stop growing your business because you have no more time, or…
- Keep growing by outsourcing and paying another person for their time.
Now, what if you still technically have time left in the day? Should you still outsource? Quite possibly. When I’m considering outsourcing, I ask myself two questions:
- Will this save me time, which means it’ll also save — or make — me money since I’ll have more time to focus on growth?
- Is there someone who can do this task way better than I can?
If you answer “yes” to either of those questions, then it might be a good time to outsource.
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Let’s talk about that first question. Let’s say, as an example, that you have a social media management agency. Maybe you spend five hours a week solely editing video content for YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok. That’s a lot of time editing videos! Imagine you hire a video editor and clear up those five hours. You just saved yourself a decent chunk of time. You can then allocate those five hours to sourcing leads and reaching out to potential clients. Now, you’re in a place where you can make money, all thanks to the fact that you outsourced that time-intensive video editing.
Let’s move on to that second question next. Yes, you know your business better than anyone else. But let’s consider our video editing example again. There are professionals who focus entirely on this skill. So, it’s safe to say that they’re probably more adept than you are (and that’s how it should be). So, in this case, not only are you saving time, but the work they’ll produce is going to be of a higher quality, which means your clients will be happier, which means you might even be able to charge more for that content.
This is the magic of outsourcing!
When shouldn’t you outsource?
The simplest way to look at it is this: If outsourcing something won’t give you any sort of return, then it’s probably not a wise idea.
That return might be time, which is incredibly valuable. Or, the return could be money.
So, before hiring someone to help you, ask yourself, “Will outsourcing this save me time or money, or make me money?” If the answer is “no,” rethink your strategy.
The benefits of outsourcing
We’ve already touched on these, but let’s do a quick recap!
- Outsourcing can save you time, and time is your most valuable asset. You can then use this now-spare time to grow your business, be with your family, or better prioritize self-care.
- Outsourcing can improve the quality of your work. Hire people who are better at that task than you are!
- Outsourcing can make you money. Use that spare time to focus on growth, and your business is going to have new opportunities.
I know that outsourcing might seem like an expense. And you might be thinking, “Well, if I just do this myself, then I save all that money!” However, you need to remember that outsourcing is an investment because it’s going to provide some sort of return.
How to start outsourcing
This could be a whole article in and of itself, so I’m going to stick with a few basic tips to get you started with outsourcing.
- If possible, start with low-hanging fruit. Outsourcing can be scary, I know. Pick something that’s low-maintenance and less sensitive. For instance, video editing is less sensitive because your video editor will only be communicating with you — not your clients or your general online following.
- Begin small. No one is saying that you have to outsource everything at once. In fact, you probably shouldn’t. Focus on one or two tasks at a time.
- Shop around. Don’t immediately go for the cheapest option, because remember that if that person or company produces low-quality work, you’re either going to have to spend time fixing it yourself, or pay them (or someone else) to fix it for you. Compare your options to see who’s both cost-efficient and high-quality.
- Consider trialing two people/companies. I learned this one the hard way. Sometimes, you have to try outsourcing a few times before you find the right fit. If you can manage it with your budget, consider narrowing down your outsourcing options to your top two picks and see who performs better.
Finally, I want to leave you with this, as a gentle reminder: Even if you’re not doing the work, as the owner of your business, you’re still responsible for it. So, should the client not be happy with that work, you have to own it. “The person I outsourced it to messed up” definitely won’t fly! Yes, have a conversation with that person. But as far as our clients and customers go, it all comes down to us, the business owners — whether the end result is good, bad, or downright ugly.
When to outsource: It’s intimidating but worth it
If you’re thinking there’s a learning curve here, you’re right. Outsourcing means you’ll have to learn how to interview, hire, submit payments, train people, and manage them. But once you get over that hump, the benefits of outsourcing make it all worthwhile.