Small Business

When You Can Afford to Outsource

Sure, paying someone to do things for you costs money. But it's worth it if it allows you to focus on growing your business

Written by Kat Tancock

As a small business owner, it’s easy to fall into a pattern of doing everything yourself. You certainly limit expenses by not paying for help. Besides, you’re the one who understands the business best, right?

This DIY mentality can be helpful in your start-up phase, and getting to know all aspects of your business isn’t a bad thing—in the beginning. However, for your business to truly grow, you need to embrace outsourcing.

We spoke with two small business owners for their tips on what to let go of—and when.

What’s your outsourcing ROI?

The first challenge is to ditch the idea that your time costs nothing. Even if it doesn’t feel like a big deal to, say, spend one Friday night a month writing cheques to suppliers, that extra effort is taking away not only from your valuable downtime—which will help you recharge and stay creative—but from your time for business development, too.

“A lot of our clients who are strong, seasoned entrepreneurs like to be in control and do it all,” says Cissy Pau, principal consultant at Clear HR Consulting in Vancouver. However, these are the same people whose efforts should be focused on big-picture tasks that drive the company forward, such as generating revenue.

Pau suggests simple math to calculate whether outsourcing is worth it. For instance, if you’re spending eight hours a month on bookkeeping, and it would cost $240 to outsource that task, could you generate more than $240 by spending those hours on bringing on new clients, instead?

Do what you love, outsource what you don’t

Another way to look at outsourcing is to let someone else handle the tasks that you dread, or that you just don’t consider yourself especially skilled at, so you can spend your time on the aspects of the business that you love.

Rosanne Tripathy, co-founder (with her sister, Rita) of Calgary-based Jelly Modern Doughnuts, knows she has strong design and presentation skills; Rita’s strengths lie on the business and financial side of the company. Neither of them, however, is especially tech-savvy, so that was the area they first looked for help in, bringing on experts to build their website and run their social media accounts. “As you grow, you have to channel your resources,” Tripathy says. “We try to constantly ask ourselves, €˜Does it make sense for me to be doing this?'”

It’s critical to be cognizant of those tasks that someone else is simply going to do a better job at than you, notes Pau, especially when it comes to specialized work like IT, web design and accounting. “The experts can do it better, faster and more accurately,” she says.

One step at a time

Outsourcing is a process, and tasks can be delegated one at a time, as your business—and your revenue—grows. What’s key is to build your team slowly, notes Tripathy, and gradually learn to let go of certain aspects of your day-to-day business. “You just do it slowly, and start by building your circle with people you trust,” she says. “As you see things work out, you get more confident.”


Have you outsourced parts of your business? What are you doing that you should delegate to someone else? Share your experiences and thoughts using the comments section below.

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