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Outsourcing gives control, rather than takes it

Outsourcing means getting someone else to do a task (or tasks) for you so you can spend time doing other things; as a sole trader it is pretty much mandatory to outsource to succeed.

Sounds like a strong statement?

It is a strong statement but that doesn’t stop it from being true.

Small business people have a lot to do

There are many tasks that need to be done to keep any business running – accounts, invoicing, customer service, marketing of some sort and general admin are the minimum. Then there’s the specific work of that business plus managing a website and additional marketing.

And the list keeps growing. With the introduction of blogs then social media (and more and more platforms), businesses have more tasks to add to the daily to do list than ever before. Even if you aren’t doing much on social media, you should be aware of it so you are deciding to not use it (rather than just ignoring it) and monitoring it is a good idea, too.

When there’s only you, there is a big pressure to stay on top of everything and be in control. Let’s face it, there is no one else to pick up any slack, is there?

Handing over tasks

conduting an orchestra

A conductor controls an orchestra without being the orchestra – outsourcing makes you the conductor of your business

Earlier this year, Jane Shelton blogged ‘You can maintain your sense of control by outsourcing many of the routine elements of your business.’ Outsourcing does not have to mean giving up control of your ‘baby’.

Think of tasks left undone or ideas not followed up on because there is no time.

Think of those tasks done in a rush rather than with care and attention because the to do list is so long.

Think of the last time you planned your week’s activities rather than swayed from one urgent activity to the next and hoped for a moment of breathing space.

Still think outsourcing takes away control?

Outsourcing simply means choosing which things to get someone else to do – either to save you from boredom, save you time or to gain expertise and skills you just don’t have.

For example, I outsource my filing (to my daughter!) which I find boring, my bookkeeping to gain back time and any design work as I don’t have those skills. So I can focus on writing for clients, advising clients and caring for my business.

Choose who you outsource to and you still control the outcomes. If you want, outsource most of a task and finish it off yourself if that feels better – but I bet you’ll soon give the entire task away!

What do you do?

List all the tasks you do for your business. Yes, all of them.

Long list?

Categorise them (the list Jane gives in the afore-mentioned blog post is a good system).

Now, sit back and imagine your business life if you had an extra two hours a week…

How would you spend another four hours a week in your business? How much would your profits grow by?

Want to keep that dream and feeling alive? Outsource something – just some little task so it doesn’t feel like you’re handing over your baby. Maybe get your account data entry done, ask for a blog post to be written or have your office cleaned by someone else.

Then you just have to keep on taking baby steps until you have outsourced enough to regain control of your business.

So the only question left is what will you outsource first?

Supplier control

Sometimes suppliers and clients don’t agree on the  best way to do something – that is natural and understandable. But if the client is paying for the work, I believe that the client has the deciding vote.

I have had situations where a client has insisted I do something a particular way against my better judgment as a professional writer. A few times, I have done what the client asked for and an alternative version the way I think it should be done and given both versions to the client. In all these cases, once they have seen it in context, the client has agreed with my version. Other times I have just done what the client asked.

But what happens when a supplier decides their way is correct, or at least better, and just implements it without even telling the client they are making that decision?

For instance, if a client asks for certain paragraphs to be in italics in a brochure their designer may disagree and not use italics. The client, trusting the designer to do as asked, doesn’t notice this omission until after the brochures are printed and is rightly upset because those paragraphs were quotes and need to look different.

A much more professional approach from the designer would have been to say “I don’t think italics is a good idea as they are harder to read” and then discussed it with the client.

Clients do not appreciate loosing control of their own projects, nor the suppliers who take that control. And once you do something like that, the client is likely to double check everything you do for them which is a waste of their time and goodwill – and not likely to get you more work or any referrals.

As a supplier, you can disagree with a client but you should never presume to control the project contrary to your client’s request. Remember, if the final result is not up to your standard because the client insisted on doing things a certain way, it reflects more on the client than you – their name is on it, not yours. Just don’t add the project to your portfolio!

Fear – the biggest time waster!

You might think surfing the web, playing games online or deleting spam are some of the biggest time wasters in your business, but I suggest that fear may actually be the biggest waste of all.

Think about it – if you fear making cold calls, you will suddenly find time to tidy your desk, sort emails and check links on your website! Or fear of a big project may make you procrastinate submitting your application, so much so that you do a rushed job and miss out.

Fear means we don’t get tasks done, and they stay in our minds so we can’t focus 100% on other tasks either. Although I don’t always do it myself, lol, I believe that the things we fear in business are the things we need to do NOW so we can get passed them. That doesn’t mean we won’t be scared of them next time they come around, but maybe we’ll know we can survive them!

As Michelle says in her ShelDesign blog,“if we let fear control our actions, it WILL steal our dreams.” And losing our dreams is a huge waste of our time.

How do you manage fear in your business? Do you find fear of failure or fear of success to be a bigger issue for you?