Outsourcing vs. DIY

To outsource, or to do it yourself - that is the entrepreneurial question for many small business owners. The dynamic between wanting to rock on-point branding, a great website, and flawless accounting vs. the harsh reality that you can't be good at everything is the bane of the biz owner's existence. And of course it's not only about being good at everything, it's also {more often than not} a question of cash flow and affordability. 



Based on the fact that you can't be good at everything, the answer is clear: you need to outsource some of your business tasks and operations. Based on the fact that you probably don't have unlimited funds, there are a few options to consider. But first things first - what are the tasks that business owner usually outsource? There's copywriting {the type of writing that is done to promote or advertise, like your website or ad content}, and also building a website, graphic design, accounting, marketing, and administrative tasks. Each of those categories will have several tasks associated with it, some a one-time thing and others recurring. 


When deciding whether to outsource or not, you start by making a list of tasks you're either not good at, or don't enjoy doing. Then, for each of those tasks, you ask yourself how long it would take you do complete it in a way that meets your own standards and looks/is professional. Are there skills you have to learn? Software or hardware you have to buy? How much time will it take and how frustrated will you be? Then comes the most important question: how much money can you earn while you're outsourcing a task to someone else? If you hire someone to write a monthly newsletter for you and you pay $100 for that, consider this: how long will it take you to make $100, and how long would it take you to write that newsletter yourself? Let's say it would take you 2 hours to earn $100, and it would take you 3 hours to write and format the newsletter, then your time is better spent working and outsourcing. {P.S.: things always take longer than you think - so you might end up spending 4 hours on that newsletter.}


Different levels of outsourcing

Once you have a list of tasks you want to outsource, you can look at different options - within your budget. Let me give you an example. The bane of my entrepreneurial existence is graphic design. I use the premium version of PicMonkey to create blog images and edit social media images, but when it comes to creating a layout or my logo etc., I am completely lost. I have spent many hours trying, and while I was starting out and had no money to spend, I eventually gave up and had no logo - which would be the first level: Sometimes it's better to just do without, rather than spending too much of your precious time. {That'll fly for website and graphic design, not so much for accounting.} Another option on the first level may be to barter - if you know someone who has the skill you need, and they need what you have? Why not?! {But, make sure you have a clearly outlined agreement!}


If you actually have money to spend, then you can move on to the next level. In terms of graphic design {let's just stick with that example}, it means you buy a pre-made logo in an etsy shop or on Creative Market. Your logo may not be unique, but there are some good options for small budgets. Another option for a small budget is Fiverr. When my husband started his business {Merritt Plumbing Services} in 2014, I was still logo-less myself, but we knew he needed a logo right away. Getting a divorce over a logo was out of the question {which would have been the outcome if I had tried to come up with something}, so we looked for inexpensive options and ended up getting a logo and business card design for a total of $45 on Fiverr. The experience with this options was good for us, because we read about how the service works and adjusted our expectations accordingly. We knew there was a long lead time, and there was quite a bit of time commitment on our part. While we didn't have anything to do with the actual design of the logo, we did have to find other logos online that we liked, and settle on a colour scheme and font. 


In 2015, I was ready for my own logo, and I decided to work with a graphic designer. Hiring a pro to work with you one-on-one? That's the third level. I hired someone who I was collaborating with for some of my clients already, and the process was similar to working with Fiverr, but more in depth. I completed a detailed questionnaire, and she sent me the link to different websites to select colour schemes and fonts. Then I got several suggestions, which we tweaked and narrowed down, until I finally had my logo. I received a brand identity sheet and all files I wanted in online and print quality, and paid about $1,000 for everything. The files included overlays and graphic elements I wanted to use for different things, and the investment was well worth it. If I had to create all those files myself? I don't even want to go there.


The three levels of outsourcing work for pretty much any and all business tasks you don't want to tackle yourself. If you have a specific task you want to outsource and don't know where to start? Let's chat about it!


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