As we’ve talked about in the past, there’s a time to hire consultants and a time to hire virtual assistants. However, how do you know when you should outsource something in the first place?
The answer is actually very simple – you should outsource any task that can be done by someone else for less money than it would cost you.
For a startup, that means determining the hourly wage of your key players and, if someone else can do something for less, paying them instead. This way your founders and key partners can focus on value-add projects, rather than constantly putting out fires.
What types of projects/positions should be outsourced?
I’m glad you asked! The following three categories are the areas where it may be more beneficial to outsource than to use a full-time employee (or try to do yourself).
Executive or Professional Expertise
A startup may not be able to afford a full-time CFO or marketing executive, but you may be able to pay for one to come in on a biweekly or monthly basis to provide insights and confirm that appropriate progress is being made.
For many companies, it may be more effective to hire a high quality bookkeeper and an exceptional CFO consultant, then find a mediocre full-time CFO. The bookkeeper will be happy with a lower rate than someone with a CFO title. Meanwhile, the bookkeeper can learn from the CFO consultant and perhaps become the full-time CFO when finances and expertise permit.
Don’t assume that you have to settle for mediocrity because of your finances. Instead, determine the areas that absolutely require expert oversight and outsource those – assigning the less essential tasks to a competent low-level professional.
Projects Requiring Specialized Knowledge
The obvious people who fall into this category are your lawyer and CPA. You meet with these partners on occasion, but as an early-stage startup you would never expect to bring these individuals on as full-time employees.
But there are many more professionals that may be worth hiring on an independent basis. Bringing IT, accounting, marketing, and other professionals on as consultants, rather than employees, allows you to get things done without increasing your payroll. It’s also a lot easier to stop working with a consultant than it is to fire an employee if quality drops or finances get tight.
As your start transitioning complex tasks away from yourself, consider hiring specialized consultants rather than Jack-off-all-trades assistants to manage the more complex activities.
Finally, anytime you or someone on your team seems to repeat the same project over and over, it’s time to look at outsourcing the work. Data entry, accounts payable, and shipping inventory could all fall under the umbrella of repetitive tasks worth outsourcing.
Small companies that are strapped for cash will have key team members picking up the slack and taking on these simple time-consuming tasks under the misconception that it’s saving the company money. In reality, they’re actually costing the company money by having innovators, communicators, and strategists spend their time responding to emails or sealing envelopes.
Allow your team to specialize on what they do best by outsourcing the simple tasks that could otherwise consume their days.
Never outsource purely for the sake of outsourcing. However, when it’s clear that outsourcing is the most cost-effective way to grow your business, don’t try to save money by avoiding it.
When you constantly analyze your schedule, and outsource tasks as soon as possible, you’ll ensure that your spending time working on your business rather than in your business.