In the initial days of my company, I did everything myself. I spoke to customers; I interacted with investors; and wrote business plans. At the same time, I cleaned my office and went long distances just to deliver legal documents somewhere. I spent a lot of time on those tasks which were not strategic or something that contributed to my customers. I did everything because I had nothing better to do. If I hired someone else, I would pay them and I’d have to sit idle!
As a small business grows, and as the scale at which a task is done increases, you have to find ways to get the time to focus on the bigger picture. If you don’t, you will get caught up in myriad routine activities, and can’t progress on strategic areas of your business. You have to make time to steer your business in the right direction. And you can do that by delegating work to others, by outsourcing, and at times, it’s as simple as asking other party to visit your office instead of you visiting them!
My startup has been growing gradually. And some of the rules I had learnt in the initial days are obsolete already. Though I saved precious dollars in the initial days doing all the routine work, time and again, I found myself asking myself, “Why am I doing this? How does my customer benefit from it? Should I not be working on something that enhances value to my customer?”
So now I do what is strategic and outsource many activities like coding for my website, marketing material work, accounting, graphic design, etc. In areas I do outsource, I am glad I do because it led to a lot of progress. On hindsight, the decision to outsource my work to others has greatly paid off in the following ways:
1. Where it was not my core competency, I rode on other’s competency and made wonderful progress.
2. When the project (such as product development) was over, I had the ability to scale down the activity reducing the “burn rate” without having to fire employees (had I hired them).
3. I was able to save time and could focus on the strategic aspects of the business.
But I must say that there still are areas where I think I could have outsourced to a person who was more competent.
Outsourcing has its limitations. What you should outsource depends on whether the other party can do it better (and whether “doing that thing better” is necessary); whether your time has alternate and better use to it; whether delegating to a full time employee (but not outsourcing) is a better idea for that task.
Here are a few resources about delegation and outsourcing that you might find interesting:
- The 4 Hour Work Week
- Tips For Outsourcing Small Business Needs
- The Benefits Of Outsourcing For Small Businesses
Coming back to the bigger picture: If you want your business to grow, you should not become the bottleneck. You must learn to delegate and outsource.
* * * * *
Chaitanya Sagar is the Co-Founder and CEO of P2W2, an online marketplace for services like writing, software, graphic design, virtual assistance, business consulting and research. Chaitanya blogs at p2w2 Blog. He is fascinated by entrepreneurship and the difference technology can make in people’s lives.