DIY or Outsource? Actionable advice from The Business Sergeant

DIY or Outsource? Actionable advice from The Business Sergeant

Get it done, or get the right it done? Learn and take on a new skill, or farm it out to the experts?

I know most of us already know the correct “book” answer, right?

But why is it that most entrepreneurs operate with the same, “Screw it. I’ll just do it myself” attitude?

Because, to put it simply, we know what we can do, but we are unsure about what others can do. And in that lies the big rub in business — How should I be spending my time? What should I be outsourcing? What is the greatest value that I bring to this business? How can I optimize my daily efforts at my business?

You only have so much time for your life and in your life is your family, your friends, your business, your hobbies and your community endeavors. How you spend it is almost always up to one person, you!

I have not mowed my lawn in several years and here is why: The company that I pay to mow the lawn charges $40 per hour to make my lawn look great. I make a bit more than that, so when I put them on the job, they have the right equipment, the right skill and the outcome is certain. I only pay a small percent of my hourly rate to pay for the privilege of spending my time working on much higher rate activities. (Even if I can’t assign a dollar amount to it, like playing guitar or shooting BB guns with my sons for an hour or two, which in my world is absolutely priceless.)

If I were to think, “I know how to mow this lawn. What If I mowed it and saved an hour and, more importantly, $40 dollars?” What I wouldn’t be taking into consideration is, “As busy as I am currently, how can I possibly outsource spending time with my family or friends?” or “How can the guy who cuts my lawn figure out how to increase my gross margins?” or “Can he recruit the sales leader that we need to take this company to the next level at my business?”

When I use questions like the latter, it seems almost comical why anyone would do that. But then again, here we are doing pretty much that same not-so-humorous thing day-in and day-out. So let’s just call it out so we can be more aware of those types of distractions.

Outsourcing business tasks

Next, let’s discuss where is the best place to put your efforts and when you should outsource expertise. As a rule of thumb, it’s best to outsource expertise when the cost is less than either your time, or than if you were to gain the expertise needed to get the job done.

What I have learned throughout my journey, and through many other entrepreneurs’ experiences, is that you only have so many hours in the day. What you choose to do everyday pretty much decides how successful and happy you’ll be in business, and in life.

So, if that’s really the case, this next bit is really important.

I coach business owners and their leaderships teams from $1.2M to well over $500M in annual sales. And below is is what I continually see regardless of scale:

  • The owner and senior leaders are professional problem solvers. (EVERYTHING has to be vetted by one person or very few!) I heard somewhere that the bottle neck is at the top of the bottle. Chew on that for a minute…
  • The owner simply thinks that they can continually “Figure it out.”
  • When things are in growth mode, owners easily trade more important things in their life to the business because they can justify it with a “someday” sales figure, or a profit target in their mind.
  • Owners ask unqualified people at their business to “Learn this” or “Just figure it out” rather than getting someone who actually fully understands the task, and has the expertise from day one versus whatever results they’ll get from their staff during a ramp-up period that may never happen to the degree that they and their clients need, deserve and expect.
  • Owners are solely focused on the costs associated with bringing in an expert and fail to see the growth and scaling potential in an activity that they are currently working on a regular basis, and don’t or can’t see the need to delegate.

My point is that with just a few common examples, if you’re really interested in working smarter and harder to grow your business, think about what you could outsource, and what you absolutely need to have in-house. Getting this delicate balance right is often the difference between profit, loss or high employee turnover on a yearly basis.

I’ve created a couple tools for you to use at your company to take this from “General Business Advice” to “We are going to use a tool to change our behavior and reap those lauded benefits.”

I’ve provided two of the tools from my book “The Business Sergeant’s Field Manual: Military Grade Business Execution Without the Yelling and Push-ups” where I go much deeper into this mind-set.

The Business Sergeant's Field Manual book

The first tool is called the “Strategic Partner Selection Worksheet,” where you’ll answer some questions that will help you with selecting the right expert partner to help your business grow with you, squarely in the sweet spot of your talents and unique ability at your company. Again, very few could possibly do what you do, so you don’t try to outsource everything, just what you can.

Download Strategic Partner Selection Worksheet (PDF)

The second tool, the “90-Day Strategic Partner Review” is to make sure you get the right results and provide the best possible service and experience to your treasured clients. Just because your partner did a great job last quarter doesn’t mean they will this quarter. These relationships, just like your in-house ones, need to be evaluated carefully with adjustments being made at least every 90 days to ensure the best possible fit for your organization and your clients.

Download 90-Day Strategic Partner Review (PDF)

Utilizing these two simple, yet powerful tools to vet your next strategic partner will allow you to do much more in the same amount of time. Because that is truly one of the easiest ways for you to do more and to create the space versus only wishing for things to slow down or saying “I’ll get to it later,” as most others routinely do.

I’ve often seen teams that have had a bad experience with a bad strategic partner close their minds to this idea in the future. Make sure that you are not judging this concept with limited data. The right partner should make you think, “This is awesome! I’d pay even more if they asked, I just hope they don’t.”

In summary, you can only be in one place at a time. One if the best quotes that I’ve ever heard is, “The amount of time you spend with your children when they are young, determines the amount of time they will spend with you when you are old.”

Choose wisely. You only get one or two shots to get it right, so make it count!

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