Fact: All entrepreneurs have weaknesses. Knowing what (and when) to outsource can oftentimes be the difference between success and failure.
Six years ago, when I launched my first business, I was a one-woman team.
With a heart and a dream, I took the leap — but it didn’t take long for me to learn that being a dreamer isn’t enough to keep a business running. One of the first things I realized (and the toughest to admit) was that I had weaknesses.
Along the way, I learned that it was vital to outsource the tasks that were not my strengths in order to sustain the operational needs of my business.
My epiphany is a common theme in the story of almost every entrepreneur. Truly successful entrepreneurs take stock of their weaknesses and sludge through them long enough to get by. But sooner or later, we all come to a fork in the road: Either hire a team member or outsource.
But how do you know what to outsource?
First, take stock of your own strengths and weaknesses. Then, decide what your top priorities should be and which you can delegate to someone else.
Below are just a few functions that entrepreneurs typically outsource.
Technology is making it easier than ever for entrepreneurs to embrace all facets of this adventure we call business ownership. From basics such as Internet connectivity and email access, to more complicated issues such website maintenance and security, tech support is a good outsourcing choice for many entrepreneurs. With so many tools available, we can work remotely, communicate from anywhere, update our websites day or night — the list goes on…and having good tech support is key.
Accounting / Bookkeeping
Many people take this task too lightly. When you’re running your own business, it’s not okay to have a shoebox full of receipts as your bookkeeping system. So, how can you keep your records under control? I recommend purchasing software, hiring a team member, or outsourcing your accounting needs to help you manage your cash flow. Another bonus: Enlisting support will help you understand how to maximize whatever dollars, small or large, you have at your disposal.
Marketing / Advertising
Chances are, you have great vision and passion for your work. But if you are the best kept secret because you don’t have a marketing or advertising strategy in place, then no one will be able to experience what you have to offer. Remember: You are not Kevin Costner, and this is not the Field of Dreams. In real life, it’s not enough to simply think, “If you build it, they will come.” The fact is that it takes more than passion to grow a business.
I just can’t say enough here. Yes, there are online resources that allow you to download and purchase specific types of legal forms. However, each state and city has its own rules and hiring legal support is your best bet for navigating these often-tricky waters. Legal matters also include issues such as contracts and accepting or making payments, so be sure your legal support is up to par.
I still remember when I realized that it was time to hire someone to help with administrative tasks. This person worked 8-10 hours a week for just a bit above the minimum hourly wage rate — and I was freaking out! But I was working like crazy and felt relieved to delegate some of my work to someone else. Making the decision to hire someone was tough, but in order for me to do the tasks that only I could do, I needed to use my time wisely. At the end of the day, you are only one person, and in addition to work, you also have a life. Enlisting administrative support is a wise strategy.
You don’t have to do this entrepreneurship thing all by yourself. Personally, I’ve found that the journey is so much more enriching when you have a team surrounding you.
Pay close attention to the tasks that you struggle with and when you’re able to do so, consider hiring or outsourcing to get you the support you need. Your weakness does not have to be your business’ downfall.
In fact, if you leverage it wisely, it might just become your strength.
About Emily D. Tisdale, Founder & CEO
Meet the brains — and heart — behind LEAP for Women. Emily is LEAP’s guiding force, committed to supporting women entrepreneurs at every stage in their journey.
She loves LEAP because:
A resident of Indiana, Emily prides herself on being a transplanted Hoosier and enjoys watching Colts football and spending time with her husband and their two children.