Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Just Because You Can Doesn't Mean You Should

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In a world where everyone is trying to do more with less and endless YouTube videos showing how "easy" things are to do it's no wonder that people in general have started believe that they can do more things than they thought they could. Most of the time they probably can. Anyone can follow the directions. Right?

We want to say yes. After watching a home decorating show I want to go buy some lumber and "simply" make a shelving unit. Or grab some fabric and recover the dining room chairs. I'm inspired, I'm creative, it looks so easy to do. So why don't I? Because I won't. 

As much as I know I could do those things there are a few realities that I have to face.

Time - They have a whole day or week or however long they are taping to get the item just right. They do this without the kids demanding their attention, without a 40 hour week job that makes them tired (because this is there job) and, sometimes, with the help of a crew. I have just me, my kids and husband and my work. By the time I get to the project I'm already tired. 

Experience - The people making these items often have years of experience as carpenters, seamstresses or doing whatever they are claiming is a simple project. For them this is simple. For me - the person who has never done it before - it takes twice as long and doesn't look nearly as good. Why? Because I'm not experienced and don't know the tricks or have the specialized equipment to make the job easier, neater, and better. 

While I may have the skills to be able to make the project, it's not always in my best interest to do so. In the case of the bookshelf, I have to ask is it worth spending the money on materials and equipment to make one bookshelf that will probably be less sturdy then one that I purchase and assemble at home? If I only need one then the answer is probably no. It's better that I get someone with more experience or find one that is pre-made. 

This same principal applies to business. Many small business owners know that they have the skills to run their business. The problem comes in when they try to do things that really require a specialist or someone with more experience in that field. Knowing when and what to outsource is critical to avoid costly mistakes and avoid paying for things that weren't really needed. 

When looking over what you want to outsource make a list of the skills you need for your business. Now put those skills in order by your level of expertise. If your a CPA then bookkeeping should be near the top. If you have no skills in financial matters, then it will be at the bottom. Be honest with yourself. If you are worried about the paying for outsourcing then work with the vendor to determine what you can do to lower the costs. Using the finances example maybe you can handle the day to day financials and need the account to only help with taxes. 

Start from the bottom of the list and determine what will be outsourced, partially outsourced and done by you. Remember to assess this in terms of not only what you can do, but also by how well you can do it. Determine if you ability and time to do it is going to be the most efficient use of your limited resources.