The Art of Outsourcing

I regularly speak to solo foodie entrepreneurs and like many other small businesses, one theme that keeps popping up is perfectionism.  Quite a few of you acknowledge that you are perfectionists and have trouble letting others help you in your business.
 
Perfectionism can be great asset in your business, it means you are creating quality products, caring about what you do.  But it can hinder you if you want to grow and need to let go of some tasks to make room for others.  For most business that sell physical products, there comes a point where to make more you need to get help, you can only make so much of your product by yourself. 
 

Time is often your most limiting resource.

 
But hiring staff or outsourcing can be scary, you don’t want to let down your customers or damage your reputation.  Getting prepared and feeling in control of the process can help you overcome some of these fears and one of the first steps to take is to work out what you would actually want to either hire staff for or outsource.
 
 

What should you outsource or hire people to do?

 
 
I have six questions I get people to ask of themselves when deciding to get help with their food business, whether it’s by hiring someone in or outsourcing an activity and any business can use these same questions.
 
 

Sit down with a piece of paper and ask yourself these two questions:

 

  1. What do I love doing in my business?
  2.  

  3. What do I hate doing in my business?
  4.  

 
Then make a note next to the tasks that take you a lot of time taking you away from doing what you love versus quick jobs that you only do every now and again.
 
Once you have these written down and noted if they are quick to do or time consuming then pop them in the following matrix:
 

 
This then gives you a great framework to consider what to outsource and when to hire staff:
 

 
The aim is to keep you doing what you love and are good at and stop doing what you don’t like.  You may need to hire someone to help you with what you love but to keep you in love with your business, it is great if you can keep doing the creating you love.
 
 

This is a fairly simple model and there are some additional questions you should ask yourself:

 

  • What tasks make your business unique?
  •  

  • What tasks do you do that generate the most sales?
  •  

  • What do you think it would be easy to find someone to do that you would also feel comfortable trusting them to do?
  •  

 
 

Looking at these 3 questions in more detail:

 

  1. What tasks make your business unique?
    This is what makes say your sauce stand out from others in the market?  You are probably going to want to keep mixing the secret recipe in house as much as you can. Or maybe you make beautiful  templates for social media graphics for clients – that creative process that is uniquely you.
  2.  

  3. What tasks do you do that generate the most sales? 
    By this I mean, what tasks do you do that actually bring you customers and get them handing over the cash?  Are you great at demonstrating to new clients that you understand their needs and are ideal to provide the services they need?  Then you may want to keep discovery calls in house while hiring staff to follow the process of getting contracts signed and the client onboard.
  4.  

  5. What would it be easy to find someone to do?
    This question has three elements:
  6.  

  • What do you feel you can document well in your business where decisions don’t generally have to be made on a case by case basis by you?
  •  

  • What activities are often outsourced or staff hired in to do by other businesses and so it is going to be easier to find someone who already has skills.
  •  

  • Is the task big enough to outsource or hire someone to do?  If something only takes you half an hour per week then finding someone willing to spend half an hour a week on it and the hassle of actually doing contracts is probably going to outweigh any benefit of outsourcing or hiring.  And in some places, hiring laws may mean you can’t hire someone for such a small amount of time.  But if you have a group of similar small tasks then you can look at bundling.
  •  

 
My final caveat on this matrix is that you need to do the big picture strategic stuff in your business, regardless of how you feel about it.  Hire a bookkeeper to do your books and a tax accountant to do your tax return.  But you need to be reviewing your results, seeing how much you’re making with which products or services, and making decisions about how to take your business forward.  Hire someone to do your social media, but make sure you set the tone and values of your brand that you want them to promote.
 
There is one other area of outsourcing that you might want to think about to gain more time; outsourcing jobs in your personal life.  Want to spend an extra hour on your business?  Then maybe hiring a cleaner would work for you or hiring a cook to make your meals for the week.
 
 

Get creative with where you need help and spend time doing what you love!

 

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Caroline Wood

Caroline is a foodie accountant who specializes in helping foodie entrepreneurs to scale up and grow at the Ingredients of Business. She combines her food knowledge from being a catering officer in the Air Force with the business skills gained from working as an accountant. When not helping foodie entrepreneurs to grow their food businesses, Caroline is busy hanging out with her pups, knitting, eating great food and finding the perfect coffee.
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