How to Grow and Scale Your Small Business by Outsourcing

Do you suffer from superhero syndrome? It's a phrase entrepreneur Chris Ducker coined, and it refers to the trap many small business owners find themselves stuck in: they feel like they need to do everything themselves. Their business is their baby, after all — and who could run and manage and understand it better?

It's tempting as a small business owner to want to do as much of the work yourself as you possibly can, but that mindset limits how fast you can grow your business. The truth is, there are likely tasks and projects that others could do faster — and, indeed, better — than you can. That's not a bad thing; allowing specialists and experts to play specific roles for your small business frees you up to do more of your best work.

You won't be so bogged down and strapped for time, and the outcomes might actually be better than if you try to do everything (and overextend) yourself. If you want to scale and succeed at a higher level, you need to learn how to strategically outsource. Here's how to get started.

What to Outsource vs. What You Need to Do Yourself

The thought of outsourcing overwhelms many small business owners. Right now, you wear all the hats — and it's not always easy obvious what hats to take off and give to other people. But there is an easy process to figure out what you should get off your plate. First, make a list of all the tasks and to-dos you tackle on a daily, weekly, monthly, and even yearly basis. (This will be easier to do if you already use a task manager, like Asana or Basecamp; simply pull up your app and you'll have a list of tasks.)

Then, sort your tasks into two lists: time-intensive tasks and skill-intensive tasks. Skill-intensive tasks are those that require specialization, expertise, or in-depth knowledge to accomplish. They're usually the sort of thing that you can't find simple answers for using a search engine; often they require strategic insight and advanced decision-making.

Time-intensive tasks are those that take time to do, but not necessarily any special training or knowledge. Think tasks like scheduling social media updates or blog posts, writing follow-up or pitch emails, research, file maintenance, and most administrative tasks.

Start with outsourcing time-intensive tasks to get more time for big-picture and skill-intensive tasks you excel at, like strategic planning, sales and business development.

Stop Doing Stuff You Hate and Stick to What You Know

The next things you need to get off your plate? The things you really dislike doing.

If there's something you know needs to get done to run your business but you absolutely hate doing it, hire help. For one, no one is usually great at tasks they greatly dislike, so chances are someone else who enjoys the task will do a much better job. They'll likely do it faster too, which makes outsourcing the stuff you loathe more efficient than forcing yourself through it.

There will likely also come a time in your business where it's more efficient to hire a professional for some tasks than DIYing. You might have bootstrapped your business to get it off the ground and taught yourself a lot along the way — but now, to grow and scale, you need to bring on people who are already experts and can take on complex or advanced projects for you.

Being open to learning new things is important. But you need to be selective about where you pour your time and energy when it comes to your business. Focus on your areas of expertise — and on work that will move the needle on growth.

Hire the Right Person for the Right Task

Once you have a list of tasks to outsource, the next step is figuring out who to outsource to. For time-intensive work, hire someone with experience in administrative support or contract with a virtual assistant for a few hours a week. This isn't the kind of work you need to pay a premium for, so don't waste any budget on hiring a specialist. These are things that take precious time but don't typically require any special skill or knowledge.

For complex projects or tasks that do require expertise, look for a contractor or freelancer who specializes in that particular area. For example, if you want to run a content marketing campaign, don't just hire a random marketing agency that "does it all." Look for a specialist who can create compelling content that converts.

So where can you find the right talent? Places like Upwork can help connect you with people to handle time-intensive tasks and administrative needs. For highly trained specialists, search on LinkedIn, ask for references in Facebook groups, or use a search engine to find firms and freelancers that have a specialty in a specific area.

And of course, don't neglect your own network. Your fellow small business owners likely have similar needs and challenges, and asking other entrepreneurs for recommendations on who to outsource to can yield great results.

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Monday, July 9, 2018