Outsourcing Your Weaknesses: How to Build Your Business by Admitting Your Flaws
As a business owner or entrepreneur, we often wear a lot of different hats—marketer, accountant, customer service rep, receptionist, hiring manager, and so on, and so on. However, just because you wear the hat, doesn’t necessarily mean that you can pull it off. (Some of us just don’t look good in a fedora, if you know what I mean.)
And yet, there’s often an overwhelming pressure to be a jack of all trades—to always be the best person for the job even if it falls well out of your core competency.
So let me, hopefully, take some of that pressure off and tell you this one thing: It’s not possible for one person to be good at everything, and it’s okay to admit that you have flaws.
If you find yourself banging your head against the wall trying to complete a task that could take a professional only a couple hours, then stop wasting your time. Eventually, as a business grows, everyone needs to ask for help. At some point or another, everyone has to learn to outsource or delegate—and to do so effectively.
So, with that being said, let’s talk about how to take back your time to start focusing on the things that matter.
Stop Being a Control Freak
First off, you’re going to identify the tasks that you both like doing and that you’re good at. Even if you’re technically proficient at a certain task, you may end up procrastinating or dragging your feet if it’s something that you dread. So, your first step is to identify where those two factors meet (enjoyment and technical skill). For everything else, consider handing off those tasks to someone else.
How much of your day are you spending on tasks that you’re just not very good at (whether that’s writing, marketing, bookkeeping, or any other number of secondary activities that come with running a business)? Be honest. We’re talking about starting off with nothing and ending with a high-quality, finished product.
Chances are, someone else could do that task and achieve better results in half the time it would take you.
So, ask yourself, how much do I value my time? How much is it worth to me, and what else could I be doing to actually grow and expand my business in that same amount of time?
This is your “opportunity cost.” This is the potential revenue/opportunities/advancement that you are missing out on when you insist on doing everything yourself.
Value your time enough to recognize when it’s being wasted.
The (false) belief that you’re the only one who can do the work will hurt you in the end. Yes, it may take some time in the beginning to find and train someone else to handle some of the tasks that go along with running your business. However, you’ll find that others are capable of doing the jobs you hate better and faster than you ever can.
Know When to Delegate and When to Outsource
Taking back some of your wasted time starts with doing two things: delegating and outsourcing.
If you have employees, you may be able to carve out more time in your schedule by delegating some of your tasks in-house. That means relinquishing some control to your employees, allowing them to take more responsibility over their work and giving them more ownership over the outcomes. Just make sure that the person you choose to take over the task is not only suited to it but also has the time and energy to do it well.
If your employees are already stretched thin or don’t have the expertise to do the job right, don’t give it to them. In other words, don’t just trust your intern with social media marketing because she has a nice Instagram page. (I mean, you can do that, but don’t expect great results.) Specialized experts are essential to helping you to keep up with rapidly changing industry trends and technologies. That’s when it’s time to call in some outside help.
A good rule of thumb is to outsource a task when it’s not related to your main business activities and the activity itself doesn’t warrant hiring an additional employee (for example: HR management, marketing, IT, accounting, web maintenance).
Find People You Can Trust
Successfully growing your business is all about assembling your team—the group of people wo understand your vision and can cover your weaknesses.
Think of it like your very own team of Avengers—different people with very different powers and viewpoints who work together and challenge each other to be the best versions of themselves.
With that being said, it’s obviously not always easy to find your figurative Caption America. The outsource workforce is growing rapidly, which while providing you with more choices, also means that there’s far more room for mediocrity. If you’re going to trust someone with your business, you need to get a feel for what they’re capable of.
Check references and previous work if possible, and before you commit to letting someone else handle a large project for your business, give your contractor or agency a test to figure out if their work is up to your standards. Assign them a small project, and see how they do with it. If they do poorly, move on. If they do a decent job, let them know if you have any suggestions for improvements, and pay attention to how well they take direction. While you’ll likely want to make some tweaks to the first assignment to adjust for your own personal preference and style, you’ll likely be able to coach your contractor over time. Gradually, you’ll find yourself needing to make fewer and fewer suggestions until you can basically trust them to handle large projects with minimal input.
Take Advantage of Technology
If you don’t have it in your budget to hire a personal assistant or if you’re just looking to outsource some small, simple tasks to make the most of your workday, some simple digital tools may be your best bet.
Automation is all about taking those little daily timewasters and create shortcuts in your processes. Just don’t mistake shortcuts for cutting corners. With a strategic approach and the right tools, you can automate much of your routine tasks without sacrificing quality.
Here are our top automative tech recommendations:
- Calendly: No more back and forth with clients to figure out availability. Simply sync your calendar and send a link.
- Natter: Create your social media content ahead of time, and schedule your campaigns to post automatically across all your social channels.
- Zapier: Create digital shortcuts in your online processes by instantly sharing information across applications.
- Leadformly: Gather more leads using interactive forms. Then, organize and filter them to your preference from one central location.
- Xero: Create and keep track of your invoices and expenses. Time-saving tools keep you from spending precious hours on accounting.
Play to Your Strengths
Finally, with all that out of the way, it’s time to focus on what you do best. Eliminating those little, headache-inducing tasks from your daily schedule leaves you with more time to put into large-scale ideation and execution (a.k.a. the things that actually help a business to grow and evolve over time).
If you’ve decided to build your own business, chances are that you never envisioned yourself spending your days doing bookkeeping (unless, of course, you’re in the accounting biz). As a business owner or entrepreneur, the best use of your time will always be on the “higher order concerns”—things like strategizing, building on skills directly related to your business, developing client relationships, and establishing your voice as a leader in your industry. These areas are where most of your results will stem from. (As they say, “80 percent of your results come from 20 percent of your work.”)
Yes, to those of you who are used to doing everything yourself, giving up control might seem a bit daunting. However, finding the right people and clearing your to-do list of all those little chores will ultimately lead to better results and more time to do the things you love (not to mention the things that make you money).