An important part of creating a successful business is to build a team of people around you who help you to be successful, either by doing things for you by providing a service, or by supporting you by creating accountability and mentoring and coaching.
Some of the advantages of outsourving are that you can get people to do things that you don’t do very well or that you don’t want to do. Or you can find people who can do what needs doing more cheaply than if you do it yourself, freeing you up to be able to take on other tasks that are much more important for you to do. Then you can focus on what you really need to be doing as the business owner, rather than getting bogged down in everything needs to get done in order to run the business.
Often it can be hard to get started with outsourcing, particularly if you started by bootstrapping your business and you’ve been used to doing everything yourself. You’ll probably mostly have kept what you do in your head. After all, you have no need to share it with anyone else as yet!
Get Your Processes Out of Your Head
In order to get other people to help you, you need to get your processes out of your head in a way that you can be confident that the things that people are now doing for you are being done to the standard that you want.
And that, in itself, can be a problem.
One of the keys to being able to take advantage of outsourcing effectively is to get really clear about what you want the outcome of the work to be, but not necessarily being interested or focused on how that gets done, depending on the skills and knowledge of who you choose to outsource to.
Often when you’re the entrepreneur who’s built the business, you can procrastinate on outsourcing any of it because you don’t believe someone else can do it as well as you can.
Well, often, other people can do it better than you, but you might never know if you don’t get around to outsourcing that particular thing!
Often we try and outsource something to be done exactly the way that you’ve been doing it all along and actually what you’re really interested in is the outcome, the end result being the way you want it. How it gets to that may not be as important to you as you think it is.
It’s quite a transition to go from being really hands on as the person who’s set up and run everything in your business, to being somebody who’s coordinating other people to do the things that you need to get done. One of my past mentors, Brett McFall, talks about needing to be the general of an army, rather than being the soldier in the trenches!
Get Other People to Help You
So, one of the key transitions as a business owner, as you start to get your business in to the sort of shape that you want it to be, and then it starts to grow, is to make that transition to getting other people to help you.
In fact you can do that right at the beginning, but often people choose to start everything themselves and then start to outsource as the business develops. At that stage, if you don’t outsource, often you’ll end up being the bottleneck in your organisation and you won’t be able to grow or develop your business in the way that you want.
What To Outsource
Once you understand the need for, and the advantages of outsourcing, the next question quite often is what you should outsource. And, actually, it’s easier sometimes to think about what you shouldn’t outsource! You shouldn’t outsource the stuff – at least to begin with – that absolutely plays to your strengths and is what you really want to do – of course that will be different for everyone.
Some of the areas of your business that you might not want to outsource are things like building important relationships with people, whether that be other business people, partners, and so on.
In most cases, you don’t want to outsource planning and strategy for your business, and you probably don’t want to outsource the areas of your business that are your core competencies and you definitely don’t want to outsource those that differentiate you, as a solopreneur, from your competitors.
Other than that, almost anything else can be outsourced.
How Much Is Your Time Worth?
One of the ways to think about this, and get confident in doing it, is thinking about what your time is worth, and working out how much things that you’re doing at the moment are costing you.
So, if you decide that your time is worth £100 an hour, and you can pay somebody less than 100 pounds an hour to do a task that you have in your business, then it may profit you to outsource that particular task. That will give you time to spend on the things that you’re really good at that will grow the business and make more sales, while your outsourcer does the things that are less valuable, though no doubt essential, tasks.
You can outsource your website, your email marketing, finding guests to come on your podcast, copywriting. You can outsource other things in your life to enable you to spend more time in your business, for example, getting a cleaner so that you can spend less time cleaning your house in order for you to spend more time on your business.
A lot of people don’t outsource because they think it’s going to cost them too much money, and that certainly is a consideration to begin with. Clearly when you’re first starting up, cashflow is really important and you don’t want to build in a load of expense for your business. That’s why you end up doing most of it yourself to begin with but, as you start to work out the tasks that you don’t need to be doing that are taking up lots of your time and actually stopping you doing the more valuable tasks, then you can start to think about taking the plunge.
Advantages of Outsourcing
At that stage, if you can find people to outsource to who don’t cost you too much money and who can take on a big chunk of the admin that’s taking up your time and stopping you doing the more valuable tasks in your business, then you and your business will really benefit.
And, chances are that once you’ve done it you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner!
Some of the things that I outsource are posting content on to websites, sharing my podcast, now actually editing my podcast (that took me a while to outsource!), writing show notes for my podcast.
Those things that are very routine and happen week in week out are usually fairly easy to outsource because there’s a process behind them already. It’s harder to outsource more ad hoc tasks and the level of competence you need in your outsourcing team grows as the tasks become more ambiguous.
Certainly, if you’re looking to outsource tasks where you don’t really know how those tasks will be done, where you just want that end result, then you’re probably going to be paying more for your team, because they’ve need to have skills that you don’t have in order to deliver that service.
So there’s a bit of a sliding scale where if you’re outsourcing very standard admin tasks and you know exactly how you want those things to be done, then you’re probably paying less for that than you would be if you’re outsourcing something that’s a lot more ambiguous and you need the outsourcer to determine the method and use their experience and knowledge, rather than yours.
How Will You Liaise With Your Team?
Once you have made the change to outsourcing, it changes the way that you work in your business and you do need to be aware that, even if you’re not an employer with PAYE staff, you still need to think about how you’re going to work with, lead and manage your outsourced team.
- how they’re going to get their tasks allocated
- how you’re going to give them feedback
- how you’re going to reward them
- how you’re going to work with them to keep them loyal to you
- how you’re going to stop yourself from interfering in what they’re doing because you think you can do it better!
- And most importantly, how you’re going to move away from the doing of those tasks and actually spend your time doing the more valuable tasks that we’ve talked about
And then it’s about letting go, trusting your team to do those things and you moving on to working in a much more strategic way within your business, continuing to outsource as much as possible, so that you can continue to work at that higher level.
Start Small and Build Your Confidence
Learning to outsource is a crucial part of your development as a business owner. You don’t have to start with something big, you can start really small. You don’t have to start with a full-time virtual assistant, you could start with somebody just doing a few hours a month for you.
Pick off some of those discrete tasks where you have a specific outcome and they happen every week or every month and then get really clear about the process and start with those. Then, once you get more confident, and you notice the benefits, you can start to move on and outsource some more comprehensive, potentially ambiguous, tasks that will free you up even more to do the things that you need to be doing, ie the things that you’re best at.
I’ve been outsourcing for many years and I still don’t outsource enough, and I still don’t outsource quick enough.
And, once I’ve decided to outsource a job, I have to go through a process of creating a process or refining a process and then creating the outsource instructions including perhaps videos and instructions and to do lists and that sort of thing, and so I still procrastinate on doing that, because it just seems like too big a job. And then once I’ve done it, I always, without fail, wish that I’d done it sooner.
I Can Help You to Get Started
If outsourcing is something that you’re interested in trying, you might want to get in touch and join my membership Power to Live More CALM, where one of the 5 fundamentals that we work on is ‘share’ and that includes outsourcing.
I can help you to outsource (one of our members has just done that!), and in the membership site there are tons of resources and materials that you can use, including a whole load of templates to enable you to outsource more easily and more quickly. If you go to POWERtoLiveMore.com/GetCALM and use the code, MY1TRIAL, then you can get the first month for £1 to get you going quickly and easily!