They say a good ship captain knows every weld of his ship. He recognizes every nook and cranny, each angle and curve, and can tell you how everything works (and why something stops working). A good entrepreneur has that same passion and fervor for a new business. After all, when you build something from the ground up, you know it intimately because you’ve assembled every piece.
I love that never-give-up, hard-working attitude! Indeed, it’s the type of work ethic that often separates the wheat from the startup chaff—a necessary ingredient in a successful emerging enterprise.
Until it’s not.
Sooner or later, that kind of possession over every aspect of your business must make room for an extra set of hands. Otherwise, your quest to handle everything leads to a heavier load than you can manage—and that can spell disaster for any entrepreneur.
Look for outsourcing opportunities
Outsourcing is nothing new of course, but the latest technological advances means certain functions can be farmed out more easily than ever. The talent is plentiful as well: More than one out of every three workers in the United States are freelancers, according to Betterment’s 2018 “Gig Economy and the Future of Retirement” report, with an estimated increase of 40 percent by next year.
Kansas City is also blessed with a number of small agencies and firms focused on providing outsourced functions—many specifically for startups and small businesses. As you review your company and its operations, look for tasks that could be handed off, such as:
- Accounting and book-keeping functions
- Data entry
- IT support
- Marketing, including writing, editing and social media
- Shipping services
- Customer service
If you’re used to handling everything yourself, relinquishing this control can be daunting, but as Ben Walker explains on Creator from WeWork, it’s crucial to success:
“Even though outsourcing can be a scary thought to some entrepreneurs and startups, in most cases, it just makes sense. Let the outsourcing company assume and manage the risk in their areas of expertise for you, so you can return to your desk with a clear vision of where your business is and where it needs to go in the future.”
Benefits of outsourcing
Be sure you’re really thinking through how outsourcing can help. Yes, outsourced services aren’t always cheap, but the long-term payoff can more than make up for it:
Boost your business – In the beginning, your company needed your hands in everything to ensure your idea was created the right way. But once it begins to really take off, outsourced experts can give it that extra propulsion you wouldn’t be able to provide on your own.
Elevate a team’s skill set – Your in-house marketing person might be doing fine but may not include a solid writer, for example, who can truly nail your message. Outsourcing that function energizes the entire team and allows all of them to up their game and integrate their efforts more effectively.
Avoid the résumé rut – Maybe you’ve realized you need to hire an IT expert to manage some back-office data functions. But unless you’re experienced in the technology realm, you may feel unsure how to even evaluate candidates. Outsourced firms come ready to hit the ground running, which prevent you from spending too much time learning how to find the right candidate in a field in which you’re not an expert.
Save some hard-earned money – Outsourcing can be a cost-efficient option, especially when you compare it to the combined expense of hiring, offering benefits, training, etc. And if the task is more project-based, hiring externally can be even more attractive.
The biggest benefit? Working with experts in their field who know what they’re doing and know how to help startups. I admire entrepreneurs and their desire to tackle every task and really be a jack of all trades; indeed, you have to. But to take your company to that next level, you’ll need a strong crew at your back.
And that just makes you a better captain.
Marshall Dougherty is a partner of Target Hill Capital, a venture capital firm dedicated to building scalable growth companies and investment opportunities backed by unmatched due diligence to exceed VC success rates and investor IRR. Share your thoughts on Facebook, Twitter or on LinkedIn.