When to outsource?

One of the advantages about being a maker is the willingness to try everything. One of the disadvantages of being a maker is the willingness to try everything. Accounts? Marketing? Fixing the plumbing? Decorating? Changing the oil in the car? I’ve done all these things, some more successfully than others. And there’s only one of me.

Why am I doing the accounts (which I dislike), when I could be doing something I do like – such as making? In my early career the answer was usually ‘money’. I couldn’t afford to pay someone to do something I could do. I was time-rich and cash-poor. As other demands claimed my time, I realised I couldn’t do it all – there were two options:

•Outsourcing – giving tasks to individuals or companies outside of your business

•Delegating – giving tasks to other people within your company

When you’re the only person in the company, the choice is easy: I would have to outsource some things. Richard Branson said: “Everything in your business can be outsourced – if you’re not emotionally attached to doing it all.”

I was not emotionally attached to doing the accounts – although I did still want to understand them. I outsourced them. When they came back, I found mistakes and things not claimed for that should have been. My accountant’s response, when I politely asked him to explain or where I had gone wrong in my calculations? “Wrong degree maybe?”
I took the accounts back in-house and did them myself. I would rather spend days swearing at a spreadsheet, than pay someone to do them AND THEN spend days swearing at their spreadsheets.

It took me a long time, the feeling of being overwhelmed, and a personal recommendation, to be brave enough to try another accounting firm. This time, I have not been disappointed. They explain everything clearly, and the lack of stress, grumpiness, procrastination, and worry that came at the end of my tax year has gone. I am very happy to pay them to do the job.

So yes, Richard Branson is right – “Everything in your business can be outsourced,” but finding the correct person or company requires careful consideration – and that takes time. Personal recommendations, online reviews, availability, ethics, and cost
are things I look for.

Engaging the wrong firm can end in more wasted time and expense than doing it yourself. But, when it works well – that’s when you and your business can grow.

This story is an excerpt from HackSpace magazine Issue #14. Interested in regular updates from the world of making? Join thousands of other readers in becoming a HackSpace magazine subscriber.

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