Getting Started With Outsourcing
We all have the same amount of hours in a day as Beyonce, but the key is she has a staff and we don't. But we could! Ok, maybe not a full-time chef and all of that, but we can get a few things off our to-do lists.
Here's a great way to figure out where you're spending your days, and what makes the most sense when it comes to outsourcing.
First I'd like to give you a real-world example. A couple of years ago my husband decided to hire a lawn service. At first, this felt extravagant. We don't have a huge yard, so was this just a waste of money? Nope!
Where we live it's possible that on any given weekend it could be raining the whole time. This would mean my husband wouldn't get around to mowing at all. Then we'd either have to let it grow another week and hope it could get mowed next weekend, or it would move to my to-do list during the week. He realized if he worked just two hours of overtime in a month (which is common) then it would easily pay for the two cuttings done by a professional. And my husband would have his weekends back.
There are a lot of ways we've outsourced in our lives already, and we don't even realize it. Most of us aren't baking our own bread each morning. We don't cut our own hair, or change our own oil. We hire professionals to do these things, and happily pay them.
If your to-do list in your business is growing out of control, do the following things to get your time (and sanity) back:
Do a time audit.
Much like looking at household expenses before planning a budget, it's important to look at where you actually spend your working hours. If your weeks are pretty similar, do it for one week. If it varies, do it for two. Without any judgement or intentional moderation of your normal routine, document where you are spending your time during the day. It might be painful to realize how much time you spend scrolling Facebook or watching Instastories, but at least you'll know. It will also illuminate other things, though. Does it take you two hours to complete that weekly newsletter? Are you spending 10 hours a week photographing new inventory? How about doing follow-up emails or batching social media content? Make sure you know exactly what you're doing and when you're doing it.
Then, look at what you want to keep doing and what you want to eliminate completely.
It may seem like you absolutely have to keep doing the things you're doing in your business, but there might be some things that you can absolutely stop doing. Each of us and our businesses are unique, so it doesn't make sense we'd all be doing the same list of tasks each week, just because "so and so" does them. Once you see what's left, highlight the things you really enjoy doing and can truly only be done by you. For instance, you can't outsource your weekly Facebook Live in your Facebook group. That has to be you.
Next you'll want to create a master list of all the things you don't love and put them into groups.
You can do this on a sheet of paper, on Trello, or in a Google doc. Be sure to group similar tasks together. For instance, posting on your Facebook page, in your Facebook group, and on Instagram are all going to be under the category of "social media." Managing your inbox, creating graphics, and sending out invoices can be done under general admin services. If you have things that must be done in-person (photographing inventory, wrapping and shipping items), give that it's own category.
Now you get to decide where you are going to get the most bang for your buck, both literally and emotionally.
When I sold clothing I would hire my friend's daughter for two hours each week to photograph new inventory. She was 16 at the time and I'd give her $20. We'd listen to music in my office, and I'd work on other things that needed to get done. If I sold just one item of clothing all week, it paid for her, and it freed up that time. Plus, photographing everything felt like drudgery, so it actually gave me energy knowing it wasn't on my to-do list each week. Maybe for you it would make sense to hire a social media manager or a general virtual assistant. Whatever you are choosing to outsource, just be sure you're being intentional about it.
If it takes you two hours to write the weekly newsletter because you are multitasking the whole time, maybe you just need to be more diligent and focus for 30 minutes to complete it. Create a template to work in so you aren't staring at a blank screen each time you sit down to type it. If you need help on creating content, check out this post. But if it's really taking you that long because you struggle with writing and you overthink it, it's probably wise to hand it over to a professional.
There's way too much to go into in terms of hiring, so I'll save that for another post. Just remember that nowadays nearly everything can be outsourced in a business. You just need to know what you are doing week after week, and what is crushing your spirit with frustration or monotony. Because if you keep doing those things week after week, it's sure to lead to burnout eventually, and nobody wants that. For other tips on dealing with burnout, read this post.