Four Creative Ways To Outsource
Running a business is no joke. No matter if you are only taking on a few clients a year, or a few clients a week, it's a lot to juggle and manage. And especially if you are also managing a household and caring for a family, you probably feel like you are constantly swimming upstream, head barely above water.
Everything in business (and life) comes down to time, or money. Some of us have lots of time, a few of us have lots of money, but I think we can all understand that saving money almost always costs time, and saving time almost always costs money. It's easy to just tell someone "hire an assistant!" but it's often not actually that easy. It can be hard to justify the added costs, but you really need to think about the cost in your time by not doing it. Thankfully this is a lesson I learned early in my business, and nearly every time I've done my research and chosen my time over spending a little money to get more of it, it's been worth it. Today I wanted to share with you four ways to creatively outsource things that you maybe haven't thought about before - or if you have thought about them, maybe this is the push you need to get some help and find a little more breathing room.
Automate as Much as Possible
I have to admit that I resisted this one for far too long. I had systems in place, but very few of them were automated in a way that saved significant time. It wasn't the money holding me back on this one. Ironically, it was the time it would take to get the systems set up that I had a hard time making happen. I've tried (and wasted money on) so many different things, but what changed wasn't finding the "perfect" set of systems, but rather forcing myself to really look at the big picture, long term goals I had, and taking one less client for short periods of time and investing that time instead into a few systems. What those systems are don't matter so much as that you have them and use them.
I read a book recently reminding me (once again) that done is better than perfect. I waited so long, tested so many different ways of doing things, waiting for just the perfect thing. Which is a load of crock - there is no perfect system. There is just a system that is good enough, and gets done. I see a few gaps in my current systems that I'd like to change, but it's still a heck of a lot better than how I was doing things a year ago. So yes, automate as much as possible - spend the money on the subscriptions (after using the crap out of the free trials and doing your research!), and spend the time getting it set up - but more than anything, remember that done is better than perfect.
Hire an Accountant
We hired an accountant for personal reasons in 2011 or so, and it was one of the very best non-business, business decisions I've ever made. He's saved us so much money, and more than that, he is am incredibly valuable resource. The very first year we used him he saved us nearly $2k in personal taxes (I didn't have any business income that year). Now that our taxes are even more complicated with my business income, he's such an invaluable source. Both in terms of the money he saves us, and the time he saves us, but also in the peace of mind he gives us. He's available to me all year long, and if I ever have a question about business taxes, expenses, income, or anything else, he's just an email or phone call away.
People always ask me what's the best photography purchase I've ever made is, and while he isn't a photography purchase, I do think of him as a business expense and he is without a doubt the best one I've ever made. I'm even setting up a Solo 401(K) for my business retirement this year, which is a huge thing for me, and I'm finally making that jump because I have his advice and expertise making sure I do it right so I can maximize my investments and do it legally.
Hire Someone To Do a Specific Business Task
I see people recommend that others hire an assistant, and I think that is great advice - if you have a clear idea of what that assistant will do. But lots of times, it can be so overwhelming thinking about on boarding a new employee, that you just get paralyzed and don't do anything. So instead of saying "hire an assistant", my advice is to hire someone for a very specific, repeatable task. Blogging and social media scheduling are probably the easiest examples. Don't just hire an assistant, hire someone to handle your blogging editorial calendar for you. Yeah, they are an assistant - but it might just be the mental trick you need to get over the hurdles and get yourself some help.
And get creative with this! Blogging and social media are the obvious choices, but what about someone to set up those systems I mentioned above? Or someone to package up client gifts and products a few times a month? Or even some one to just write thank you notes for you? Or hiring someone to write and schedule your newsletters for a year - or even better, saving money AND time by purchasing a set of newsletters that are ready-to-go. Think about the tasks you like doing the least, and pass them off. You'll free up your time, and more importantly, the valuable mental energy you are putting into resisting the thing, or beating yourself up with guilt over the thing.
Hire Someone To Help At Home
Yup - the natural extension of that last one is to do the same thing at home. You're likely just as busy with your family and home life as you are your business life, and there are probably things you can do at home that have a roundabout impact on your business. For example, I have a housekeeper who comes every other week. She cleans my house in 3 hours, costs me $45 dollars, and is worth every single penny. One, she does a hell of a lot better job than I could ever do, and two, that's three extra hours I can work. My average income works out to $75-200 per hour, depending on the task and how closely linked to a specific client it is. Do the math - she saves me a ton of time and frees me up to make way more than I'm paying her. Even if I was just starting out and I wasn't average enough per hour to make more than I was paying her, it frees up so much mental energy, makes my marriage better because we aren't fighting over who's turn it is to clean, and it just makes me SO happy to be in such a beautifully cleaned house when she is done. Those things aren't as quantifiable, but they are just as important.
If cleaning isn't your kryptonite like it is mine, then find your thing that is, and get creative about how you can hire someone else to do it. Running a business is a full time job, even if you aren't doing it on full time hours yet. It takes SO much mental energy. Same with running a household and caring for a family. Trying to juggle two full time things is HARD. There is no shame in asking for help and outsourcing what you can.
Have you found a few creative ways to outsource tasks and free up your time? I'd love it if you shared them with us in the comments!