Small businesses are big time commitments. Self-made millionaire Grant Cardone suggests entrepreneurs should expect to work 95-hour weeks. Payroll provider OnPay found HR and payroll, which many entrepreneurs tackle themselves, take almost 40 hours per month alone.
That sort of schedule might be sustainable for a few months, but you’ll eventually burn out. Before that happens, you have two options: Hire a whole department — which, frankly, few fresh entrepreneurs can afford — or outsource.
In 2019, nearly everything can be outsourced. Where should you start? With an assessment.
Deciding What to Outsource
There’s no sense in contracting out your strengths. Instead, when deciding what to outsource, consider:
1. What You Struggle With
Every company has an Achilles’ heel. Does your design look like a child did it? Is HR a week-after-week headache? Can nobody on your team write a newsletter? If you can’t objectively evaluate yours, ask a trusted peer.
Decide whether to outsource those areas based on two factors: First, can you hire an internal team member for less than the cost of an agency fee? And if so, do you know someone who’d do at least as good of a job as the prospective partner? If you can’t answer “yes” to both questions, then outsource it. Spending the time to recruit for a role you can barely afford isn’t a bright bet.
2. Expertise You Don’t Have
Your small business might not have the budget to hire a head of engineering, but it might be able to retain an experienced individual as an outside advisor. Especially if it’s part-time work, many professionals are happy to have a side hustle.
If it’s an outsourced CMO, CFO, or CISO you’re looking for, know that entire agencies are built around those services. What if you don’t know an expert in the given area? Check SCORE, a network of mentors and semi-retired professionals backed by the U.S. Small Business Administration. Just remember to vet c-level help more carefully than you might a casual advisor.
3. Mundane Tasks
Mundanity is another not-so-sexy part of every company. Be sure neither you nor your best workers are spending time on tasks that don’t fit their skillset or level of expertise. Automate what you can, and outsource the rest.
Billing, scheduling, data entry, and basic customer assistance are the sort of tasks that virtual assistants do all day. If you can convince a friend to take them on for less than $25 per hour, do it. Otherwise, check sites like Priority VA and Somebody 2 Hire. If your company is growing, you might even be able to use the prospect of a future full-time role as a bargaining chip.
4. Creative Work
Say your company needs to develop some short branded videos. You or your VA could do it in a pinch — but amateur content doesn’t get companies off the ground. It might cost you more, but your best bet is to pay a specialist.
To find the help you have in mind, turn to niche sites. In the age of the internet, creative talent isn’t limited to the bounds of agencies. If you need a logo designed, for instance, 99Designs will give you dozens of options for as little as $299. Strong blog content might cost you as little as $75 per post.
Outsourcing may add to your balance sheet, but it’s hardly a waste. Every penny and minute you save as a small business owner is another you can spend elsewhere. Talk to enough entrepreneurs, and you’ll realize: Sooner or later, you’ll be glad you did.