If you are at your maximum workload capacity and are looking to bring someone on to lighten your load, make a list of your current work-related responsibilities and how much time each of those responsibilities takes each week. You can use a tool like RescueTime.com to track your computer usage and tell you what applications and websites you spend the most time using each week to automate this process. After you have your list of responsibilities, highlight the ones that you don’t like doing, the ones that you are not particularly good at and the ones that aren’t a good use of your time. The responsibilities that get highlighted are the tasks that you should try to outsource or hire a team member to do first.
For example, let’s say that you hate doing your company’s bookkeeping, processing invoices and paying your company’s bills. Like most entrepreneurs, you’re also not very good at these tasks either. These three responsibilities would be very low hanging fruit to outsource or delegate, because they are not one of your core competencies and you can easily hire someone to do them for you. You could easily group these three tasks together into a single part-time position or you could hire an outside accounting firm to do these tasks for you on a contract basis. Hiring a bookkeeper/accountant was one of the best early hires my company made. By having someone else who knows what they are doing keep the IRS and my state’s taxing authorities at bay, I don’t have to worry about filing dates and whether or not I’m going to screw up a government form and can actually focus on running my business.
Of course, there are a lot of different things that you can hire an employee to do or have someone do for you on a contract basis. In the online business world, you can hire a personal assistant to manage your email, schedule appointments for you, book travel for you and complete other basic administrative tasks for you. You can hire a customer service person to handle the incoming customer support requests that your business receives. You can hire a designer to do graphic and web design work for you. If you want to add custom functionality to your website or create a mobile app, you can hire a developer. You can bring on additional writers to supplement the content that you create. However, there are some things that you should never try to outsource or delegate too.
What You Can’t Delegate or Outsource
Never try to outsource or delegate anything that is a core competency of your business or is one of your business’s competitive advantages. Core competencies are fundamental components of your business that you need to know better than anyone else in order for your business to be successful, such as marketing and product development. For example, if you were to create a business selling the finest hand-made watches in the world, you wouldn’t be able to outsource watch manufacturing because it is the primary core competency of the business. If you are going to be a watch manufacturer and are going to have someone else do the actual watch manufacturing for you, your business doesn’t need to exist. You simply cannot successfully outsource the components of your business that you need to know better than everyone else for your business to succeed.
Here are some things that you should not outsource in your online business:
- Vision, Mission and Culture – As the owner of a business, you must design the vision, mission and culture for your company. You are the captain and no one else can steer your ship and set a course for your company but you. What your business stands for has to come from the top and it has to be communicated to your team and your audience over and over again so that it sticks. You can’t hire someone and make them responsible for the culture and overall direction of your business, unless you plan on firing yourself and making them the CEO of the company.
- Marketing – Don’t hire a general marketing agency to do the marketing for your online business. They may be more than willing to take your money, but they probably won’t take responsibility for the results of their work. Try asking a marketing agency to work for you on a performance basis—all of them will say no. You need to take primary responsibility for the marketing of your business, learn the strategy involved, be able to test different marketing channels and measure your results. You can hire a designer to design ads and other marketing creative for you, but you need to take primary responsibility for the success or failure of your marketing efforts.
- Product Creation – You have to own the vision of your digital products and take primary responsibility for putting them together. You need to be the person that outlines your digital product, creates the majority of the content and markets your digital product to your audience. You can certainly get help with the design, layout and technical aspects of creating a digital product, but you need to own the message and marketing of your digital products. If you outsource the core of your digital products, it won’t have the same passion, enthusiasm and insight if you were to create it yourself. It also wouldn’t be your digital product, because you weren’t the one that created it!
- Early Content Creation – You have to write at least the first 100 articles on your website yourself. By creating all of the content early on, you are establishing a voice and vision for your brand. Until the vision, mission and values of your brand are firmly established, you shouldn’t bring on anyone else to create content for your business because they won’t know what your business is all about, how you write, what kind of content your readers expect and what level of quality work they are expected to produce.