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Grow Your Own Way

Outsourcing can provide continuity, operational expense control and risk management. It can also improve your work/life balance.

Michele Chiappetta
March 28, 2019

Ever heard the saying, “Work on your business, not in it”? If you’re a small-business owner, you probably have heard or read this truism many times. But there’s a good chance you’re not doing it effectively.

Many of us, when we go into business for ourselves, become fixated on that word — self. We feel like we have to do it all. It’s easier to hold on to all the responsibilities than to let go and trust someone else to do them. And when we’re just starting out, we may not have the funds to hand off some tasks. It’s not unusual to meet small-business owners who wear every hat.

But there are only so many hours in a day, and only so many of those hours can be spent working. We need to eat and sleep, after all. Eventually, those of us who run a small business have an important realization: We can’t keep doing it all. We need to delegate.

Yes, that can be hard. It’s not exactly easy to entrust to others the things we care most deeply about. And it can seem overwhelming at times to try to figure out what to delegate and what to keep doing ourselves.

It’s not unusual to meet small-business owners who wear every hat. But there are only so many hours in a day, and only so many of those hours can be spent working.
It’s not unusual to meet small-business owners who wear every hat. But there are only so many hours in a day, and only so many of those hours can be spent working.

So, to help you make a start at deciding what to delegate or what to do yourself, here are some areas to evaluate.

Keeping track of daily income and expenses, sending out invoices, and balancing your checkbook can be tedious, especially if you don’t love numbers. But there are apps and software programs to help make this easier for you. Consider how much bookkeeping you do, and compare it to the costs of hiring someone to do it for you.

Business taxes can be complicated and involve potential issues down the road if you don’t do them properly. And a good small business accountant should know all the details about what you can deduct and how to maximize your return. CPAs can also keep you on track with important payments like quarterly taxes and sales taxes. It’s probably best to hire someone for this unless you yourself are a CPA.

Social media management
Social media for a business involves a lot more than a quick post to Instagram here and there. You’ll want to make a plan — when to schedule, what to talk about, what kinds of images and color schemes to use, when and how you’ll use videos, and much more. There are advantages to doing it yourself, because no one knows your business as well as you. But a good social media manager can save you time, review analytics, and schedule posts for you. As you grow, this is a great area to delegate.

Project management
Some types of work, such as home remodeling, require many steps and a lot of oversight. If your business requires juggling a lot of balls on a tight timeline, it may be worth it to invest in a project manager to keep a view of the big picture and make sure things stay on task.

Design and copywriting
Most people are not as good as they think they are at creating an attractive website, attention-grabbing mailers, and persuasive messaging. But professional artists, designers and writers are well-trained in what colors, words, and imagery will help your business send the right message and draw in paying customers. It’s almost always easier and faster to pay someone to design and write for you.

Sales and lead generation
When you’re just starting out, marketing is something you will have to do yourself. And even as you grow, you might want to hold on to this task, especially if you’re good at it and enjoy the personal contact with people. If that’s you, then you might want to hire employees to perform the services you’re selling, to free up your time to keep marketing.

But I’ve seen it work the other way too — there are businesses where the owner performs the services, and hires employees to do the marketing. This seems more common if the service is creative, such as design.

Administrative duties
This can encompass any of the little daily tasks that make a business run — answering phones, filing, taking notes, sending out correspondence. These little to-dos are necessary but time-consuming. Ask yourself: What can I easily let someone else do for me? Which of these tasks can be done affordably for me through a service like Fiverr?  

Delegate or DIY Quick Guide

Ask yourself these questions to help pinpoint whether a task is better off being handled by you or someone you hire:

  • How much time does it take you to do it?: If you delegate the right things, you can save time for work that produces more income. So, use a simple formula: How much will it cost to hand off a task, compared to how much you can make if you use the time to make your product or offer your services? If it’s twice as much or more — delegate.
  • How much do you like to do it?: One of the great advantages to being a business owner is getting to do a job you love every day. Why not maximize that by giving yourself more time for what you love to do and delegating what you don’t enjoy as much?
  • How much can you afford to pay someone to do it?: Some tasks can be purchased for a reasonably low cost. Fiverr and TaskRabbit, for example, are good places to browse for a cheap typist or other low-level tasks that are easy to hand off. Social media management, by comparison, costs more to hand off but can be worth it if you feel it will generate more income for you.

I’d love to hear your suggestions for what I should investigate over the next several months in terms of entrepreneurship in Tulsa. Feel free to message your ideas to Preview 918 on Facebook (which I can see anytime), or email me, or share ideas on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtags #lovethe918 or #tulsasmallbusiness.