Time is a entrepreneur’s most valuable commodity. Yet one of the biggest problems for small businesses and startups is that the founders are wasting their time trying to do it all. We euphemistically say we “wear lots of hats” but the truth is that entrepreneurs are often trying to save money by doing it all themselves.
This can be a huge mistake. There are some things that are better done by professional and are better delegated or outsourced. Whatever your area of expertise, it isn’t the 15 other things you’re trying to manage every day.
Plus, the burden of having to do all kinds of additional tasks takes you away from doing what you’re best at. Maybe that’s big ideas, sales, or producing a product, and those are all things that directly contribute to the company’s bottom line.
Plus, these days the “gig” economy means that you don’t have to bring on a full-time employee to get the job done. Maybe you don’t have enough tasks to employ a bookkeeper or accountant full time, but you could definitely handle having someone balance your books each month.
If you’re an entrepreneur or small business owner and you’re still trying (and failing) to do it all, here are 10 tasks you should consider delegating or outsourcing immediately:
Very few small business owners went to school for finances, bookkeeping or accounting, and these are very specialized roles with specialized knowledge, especially in places with lots of regulations. It can cost as little as $100 a month to hire a bookkeeper who can balance your books each month, and a little extra to pay someone to help you with your taxes at the end of the year. As you grow, these people can also make suggestions about tax implications and cash flow, becoming a sort of part-time CFO. The piece of mind alone is worth every penny.
Many very small businesses, especially internet-based businesses, seem to think they can get by without legal advice or proper contracts. But too often this comes back to haunt them later in very expensive ways. Services like CorpNet can help you register your business as an LLC and perform other legal tasks, and the website RocketLawyercan help you create simple contracts. If you have an unusual business or situation, though, it would behoove you to hire a lawyer to help you draft contracts and any other legal protections you need.
Unless you are legitimately a graphic designer, don’t try to do your logo, your website, your business cards, or any other graphics or art for your business on your own. You will end up looking unprofessional at best, and foolish at worst. Instead, look for professionally designed templates at the low end of the spectrum, or a freelance designer you can work with at the higher end. GraphicRiver offers templates for all kinds of collateral at very reasonable prices. And sites like Upwork are good places to find designers.
These days, anyone can create a very basic website that looks good and functions well, but if your needs go beyond static pages and perhaps a blog, it’s a good idea to find a good web developer. Even if you make something that works on your own, chances are there’s an easier, better, more stable way to accomplish the task that a developer will know. In addition, having a freelancer or developer on retainer you can go to when something breaks is priceless.
Is posting to your Facebook page and tweeting 20 times a day really the best use of your time? The problem with social media generally isn’t the time we spend posting, but the time we then waste going down the rabbit hole, looking at other people’s posts. But social media is one of the easiest things to outsource. There’s almost certainly a college marketing student in your town who would be thrilled for a part time social media posting job. I believe the posts and content should be yours, but the scheduling and posting can be done by someone else.
Sure, you can write the copy for your website, sales materials, and content yourself, but think about how much is riding on those words. When you consider that your sales — the lifeblood of your company — are riding on the copy on your website, for example, do you really want to leave that up to an amateur? Copywriters can be found at every different price point under the sun, and can often be found less expensive if you write the first draft and they edit the copy.
Chores at Home
This may seem like a strange item to include on the list, but imagine how much more you would enjoy your downtime from work if you didn’t have to clean the house, mow the lawn, do the shopping, or fix the leaky toilet? Outsourcing home chores can make your downtime more relaxing, which can in turn make you much more productive at work.
Filing, Data entry or Transcription
Any tasks that don’t require many specialized skills can easily be outsourced. Maybe you have paperwork that must be filed, loads of data to enter, or audio or video files that need to be transcribed. These are excellent jobs to outsource quickly and easily. I know of a small business owner who traveled frequently, and finally outsourced all his flight and hotel bookings to an assistant to free up his own time.
Again, unless you yourself are a marketing expert, this is a task best left to the pros — otherwise you could find yourself wasting lots of money for very little result. Everything from a direct mail campaign to email marketing or Facebook ads has people with specialized skills and experience who can make the process easier and more profitable.
IT and Data
Having a freelancer you can call or someone on retainer to phone when the computers go down is priceless. The more complicated your technology needs become, the more you need to invest in proper support for those technologies. As we move into the era of cloud computing, automation, and even AI and robotics, smaller and smaller companies will be able to make use of these tools — but that means they will need the support systems in place to care for them. Even the smallest business produces data, especially online, and a tool or freelancer to help you understand and interpret that data can help you make better business decisions, just like a larger business.