One reason why it’s such a difficult undertaking to run a company is the large number of entirely different tasks you need to do.
Most founders are drawn into the business by the most creative tasks. Creating the product, the brand identity, or the marketing messaging is great fun, at least for the first time around. Taking care of taxes and paperwork, the terms & conditions — that’s only interesting for a select few.
Having to learn a bunch of things in a short period of time can be addictive. And in other times, you need to be frugal and deal with everything on your own. But sooner or later always comes a time, when the tasks you don’t enjoy doing can be simply outsourced.
Outsourcing can mean many things, but it’s usually one of these:
- Procurement. You may be able to find a product or service out there, and just buy what you need. Purchasing something off the shelf is usually the simplest and easiest to do, if you can find a product that fits your needs exactly. Unfortunately it’s often prohibitively expensive to do so, or impossible for time constraints, legal or other reasons.
- Agencies and freelancers. For things that need to be more custom made, you’ll need to hire someone. Working with freelancers and agencies is a great option to get started, because it’s easy to scale it up and down. You can buy exactly as much as you need: hire someone only when you have more work to do. Without an employment contract or retainer, you don’t need to pay others when you can handle the work yourself.
- Employees. One issue with freelancers and agencies is that the people you’d like to work with might not be available when you need them. Hiring someone full time or part time solves the problem — and it also creates a few more, including legal obligations, management and organization overhead.
Of course there are many other options out there, and hiring help is not as black or white as this list makes it seem. To mention two more common options as an example, contractors are a crossover between freelancers and employees, and interns are junior employees with a huge pay cut. The takeaway here is that everything works, as long as you can align motivations, and keep everyone happy.
The long term dream is to be able to delegate everything other than your best work, but for now, start with a low risk task. Start small, and gradually work your way up. Don’t worry if outsourcing the first few tasks takes more time than it saves you. Consider that an investment. It will open the door to ultimately assign everything else to others, saving you all the time you need for even bigger projects.
Yours truly says this, and a bunch of other super smartypantsy things over at the Startups Magazine. We’re going to return the regular programming in the next post.