If you are a business owner or leader, I can tell before I’ve even met you that you have high standards for yourself and don’t like to lose. Part of the journey of becoming successful not only in business but in life is learning to channel that high-achieving spirit into things that both matter and offer the highest return for your emotional and time investment. If you are a perfectionist type this can be a particularly difficult journey because it necessarily (as in always, as in no exceptions) means that you will at some point in your life need to delegate and/or outsource functions in order to maintain and grow. This transition, although inevitable, can be a struggle if you’re not prepared.
Depending on your circumstances, this is tough for various reasons. If you are a manager or leader, it probably means that you will at some point need to delegate functions to people who may or may not have your experience and skillset, may or may not be as invested in the success of the organization as you are and may or may not (although probably not) do things the way you do them. Most of us who have led individuals or teams have learned that peace of mind comes only when one releases oneself and one’s subordinates from the stifling yoke of perfection. Celebrating progress, effort and improvement the key to loving your job as a manager versus being continually frustrated and burned out.
If you’re a business owner or senior executive the premise is the same – if you want to grow, be successful, and/or have a life you can’t do everything yourself. Obviously entrepreneurs just starting out sometimes do have to wear all the hats, but if this keeps up indefinitely, you may be just a really overworked independent contractor.
Fortunately for all involved, we live in an economic period where outsourcing and freelance assistance is available for almost every function. This means that companies can focus almost exclusively on their core service or product and pay experts for whatever else they need. If you own a fitness business, or a sign-making shop, or develop software, you can focus just on that and pay others to perform HR, Financial Reporting, Payroll, Marketing, Accounting and Recruiting to name just a few examples. The beauty of the outsource model is that you can scale up or down as you need. There are providers for every size of business. For example, my business provides small scale talent searches for companies who need help with recruiting while my partner, Source2 provides high volume Recruiting Process Outsourcing for employers who are spending time and money on more than 10 hires a month.
I love the outsourcing models for a lot of reasons. As a coach and consultant, I love that it allows business owners and managers the ability to really streamline their core product, drive efficiencies and become leaders in what they do. It speaks to my coaching philosophy of playing to your strengths, because I believe that’s how you become exceptional. The alternative is usually becoming proficient at best, mediocre or even dangerously poor at performing tasks for which you have no skillset or passion.
Is outsourcing right for you? A good first step is to determine what is working for you right now and where you need help. Ignorance is not bliss here, by the way. If you are not doing anything at all regarding HR compliance, for example, continuing along this path is probably not in your best interest. Your pain point may be that a) you are constantly in a state of low level anxiety about what fines or penalties you may be risking or b) you are actively in danger of a lawsuit or audit. It really shouldn’t be a question of IF you are going to get compliant but how? Do you hire an HR person, learn it yourself or outsource? The answer depends on many factors.
Recruiting is another example. This is not most managers’ favorite activity (to say the least) and is usually not a manager’s strongest skill and yet finding good, quality employees is almost always on the top five list of strategic objectives of a company. If you only hire one or two people a year, you probably suck it up and go through the process of writing job descriptions, placing ads, interviewing and all that. Unfortunately, the more you need to hire, the more complicated it becomes and the less likely it is that you have the time, energy, passion and/or know how to utilize all the best practices like branding yourself as an employer, leveraging that brand across social media and job boards, qualifying applicants in a timely manner etc.
Sound overwhelming and like something that could pull you dangerously away from your core business? Guess what? There are providers for whom your headache IS their core business. At the end of the day, you only have so much time, energy and resources. It only makes sense that you, as a business owner or leader, should spend as much as possible of all of these on the things that you and only you are best suited to do. Forget about ‘rounding’ and instead keep your edges sharp and competitive by winning where it counts and adding other thoroughbreds to the stable when you need them.