Should You DIY or Outsource to an Expert? Here’s How to Decide What’s Best for Your Business.

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When you start and grow a business, you have two currencies: your time and your money. How you choose to allocate these two currencies is critical to your success as a founder or business owner. I always tell my team that there is more money to be made; you can’t give yourself any more time. Once an hour goes by, she’s gone forever.

Many founders and entrepreneurs believe that the secret to success is to stick to your guns and do everything yourself. They often invest countless hours improving their expertise in key areas: reading books, listening to podcasts, and attending webinars. Anything they can do to expand their knowledge base. I speak from experience here. But most of the time, this DIY approach can take up your time unnecessarily. And time happens to be your most valuable and non-renewable resource.

Especially for young companies, your business is equal to the number of hours you can invest. Are you spending five hours setting up your website or chasing down bills? That’s five hours you’re not spending on higher-value work like hiring people, finding clients, or growing sales. This is true of any business, including corner shops, solo businesses, brick-and-mortar stores, e-commerce ventures, and venture-backed startups.

So what’s the best way to determine where it’s worth investing your time and where it’s best to delegate, partner, or outsource?

Be honest with yourself about your niche

A good place to start is to have an honest conversation with yourself about the opportunities you have to differentiate yourself in your field or market. Ask yourself what it is about your business that is well positioned for success and how you are uniquely positioned to seize the opportunity. In other words, where can you offer the greatest added value to a narrowly defined group of people? Being able to identify your niche will help you better explain what makes your product or service different from a variety of other offerings on the market. For example if you are a life coach like my wife Alexasia. Perhaps you have a unique perspective because you are a woman of color who has had to navigate American corporate culture. Or if you own a gym like my friend Wes. Perhaps your unique selling point will help New Yorkers with busy lifestyles find time to reach their fitness goals. Just remember that your niche doesn’t have to completely limit your options forever. It just needs to be a starting point to build your story.

Related: How to Know When to Outsource

Conduct your own SWOT analysis

It is also important to assess your strengths and weaknesses as an entrepreneur. Is selling your forte or do you prefer solving problems behind the scenes? For example, if you are starting an e-commerce business, what makes you different? Your exclusive access to suppliers? Brand? Customer acquisition strategy? Conducting your own SWOT analysis can be challenging as a small business owner or solopreneur. It’s wise to ask for help and clarity when you need it. For example, when you identify a weakness that you want to turn into a strength. Don’t be afraid to hire a coach to help you hone these skills. Or get a business partner or co-founder to add value in areas you are less adept at.

Read  How to Inflation-Proof Your Small Business

Do a pre-post-mortem

One exercise I found particularly insightful is participating in a pre-post-mortem. An opportunity to proactively anticipate what could go wrong in your organization (what I like to call productive paranoia). This includes imagining yourself throwing in the towel because after the first year your business stopped working. Then identify the possible reasons for this and repeat the exercise for years two through four. That forces you to list potential stumbling blocks and fears that might be preventing you from succeeding. You can then better position yourself to confront those fears and obstacles head-on, and find workable solutions that will help your business thrive.

Related: What not to do when outsourcing

Invest in external expertise

As a founder or entrepreneur, there is no shame in relying on external experts and coaches to help you gain more expertise or knowledge in a specific field. In fact, one TikToker I know suggests offering in-demand experts around 10x their hourly rate to maximize what you can learn in a few hours. After all, you’re not just paying for their time, but for the years of experience they’ve gained in their field. In this case, the trick is to know what you don’t know and bring in outside experts to fill in the blanks. This can be accomplished by making connections on LinkedIn and offering to compensate them for their time and advice. Or use a platform like Clarity.fm to pay for access to world-class experts in a variety of fields.

At my company, we understand that time is much more valuable in a small company than in a large company. One of the biggest time wasters is worrying about back office functions like accounting, cash flow, and bill collection. Here, too, founders have to decide how to allocate their time. Does it make sense for you to invest your time in your own accountant, or does it make more sense to hire a CFO, hire a part-time accountant, or use a platform like Lumanu or Pilot.com? Financial and payment requirements are certainly not unique or differentiated business matters. However, decisions about how best to meet these needs can ultimately help your business differentiate itself from the competition.

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Most importantly, knowing when the DIY approach isn’t serving your interests can help you make the most of the time you have available. If you decide to let go of the feeling that you have to do everything and either delegate, partner up or outsource, you can say you are making good use of your limited time.

Related: Every entrepreneur should outsource these 3 key tasks

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