Bringing Up Business | Outsourcing 101: How to Determine What and When to Outsource | Kansas City Wedding Photographer Merry Ohler
I am drowning, but how do I throw myself a life line?
If you are an entrepreneur building a business on your own, you will likely recognize your own feelings reflected in the sentence above.
I've been there. I hear you. Juggling responsibilities is no cake walk when you are a wife, mama, industry expert and wedding photographer. Based in Kansas City, my business is often celebrated for my unique vision and ability to pull out as much emotion as possible from every subject, but what others don't always see is the constant work, the many roles I fill and the feeling of near panic that can ensue when I'm overworked.
When we are the sole person working our business, that often takes a front seat to other more important things in life...such as self care, rest and family time. We are the owner and entrepreneur, yes, but we are also the marketing department, sales department, customer service, graphic design, social media manager and moderator, employer and employee. While we know we can not continue to fulfill all of these roles forever, we struggle with relinquishing our grip because we have put so much into growing our business. We know that we are capable of fulfilling each role, and this makes us wary of handing off any of our tasks.
First, we must understand the difference between what we can do and what we should do. When you find your business growth stalling, stop to examine where the gaps lie. Are you struggling to put together content for social media? Do you create content, but lack the time or energy to figure out the best time to actually schedule your social posts? Perhaps you are handling your content and social shares like a champ, but creating graphics or answering emails is proving to be your challenge.
No matter where you are as a solopreneur, know that you can follow these simple steps to determine which tasks you should be delegating and whether the time is right for you to take this step.
1. First, make a list of your daily, weekly and monthly tasks.
Create an Excel or Google Sheet and list every task required to conduct your business. Make a separate tab for daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly tasks. Don't forget to include things like scheduling client meetings, attending client meetings, sending welcome packets and client gifts, updating your website with new work, administrative tasks, emailing clients, etc. Now, go through and note the number of hours you estimate to be required every week to complete each task. (For example: content creation - 3 hours weekly; blog planning - 4 hours quarterly, etc.) Figure out your time, then break it down to the number of hours required per week and list that number beside each task.
2. Determine where your time is best spent.
Next, go through and highlight all the tasks that you enjoy doing in light green. After you've done that, go back over those highlighted tasks and change the highlight color from green to yellow on each task that you rarely, if ever, complete in a timely or efficient manner.Your "green" list should be getting smaller. Last, go through and examine your list, taking note of the tasks you do which set you apart and only you can do. (Think client meetings, editing images, graphic design, client phone calls, blog posts, video content, whatever it is that you actually do, which no one else could do for you.) Change the highlight from green to yellow on any tasks which do not require that you personally complete them.
3. Evaluate whether you can complete these tasks in a 35 hour work week.
Now, you should have a much shorter list of tasks which you and only you can complete. How much time is required on a weekly basis to complete those tasks? How many hours do you want to work in a week? (If you are at a loss here, plan for 35. There will always be something that comes up, so it is wise to plan for the unexpected.) Will that many hours allow you to complete the tasks on your short list in a timely, efficient manner? Will you have any time left over? If so, add back an item or two from the previous step, being careful to consider how much time each task will take. Will you need more time? If so, consider dropping something else from the list.
4. Decide what your time is worth.
What is the value of your time? Is paying someone who is great at scheduling content $15 an hour for 4 hours a week worth the ten hours it would take you and the peace of mind you'll have in knowing you have one less task on your list? If you could use those ten hours to make better content or to provide more custom service to your clients, won't you be delivering a better experience and ensuring your customer will be so happy they'll refer others to you - which will in turn increase your income? Could you use those ten hours to take on a more lucrative project? Or what if you could use those ten hours to spend more time with your family?
5. Determine if you are ready to bring on help.
Do you find that you have enough work that you are struggling to complete it while maintaining your social accounts and emails? Do you have trouble responding to clients in a timely manner because you are so busy actually doing the work? Are you absent at home because you have to fit working hours in on nights and weekends? Do you find yourself wondering if you are approaching burn out?
If you answered yes to any of those questions, you are likely ready to outsource some of your tasks. Whatever happened to the "I work for myself so I can set my own hours and be my own boss," mentality, anyway? I mean, everyone wants to be their own boss, but wouldn't you rather be someone else's boss so you can enjoy your life, too? Stop messing around and decide whether you are ready to grow your business or not, but don't complain that you work all the time if you aren't willing to take the simple steps required to change that.
6. Figure out what you can spend and hire someone.
Start small if you need to, but take the steps and start digging yourself out of the hole you've created. Decide whether you are comfortable with a virtual assistant, or whether you want to train someone personally, then spread the word! Post it on your social channels. Ask fellow entrepreneurs who they use or where they sourced help, then start interviewing! Make sure you have a list of the tasks and job description you want to fill, and get your legal ducks in a row. That way, when you find the perfect person, you will be ready to bring them on board.
All the love,