Just Because You Can Does Not Mean You Should

Writer's block concept

The universe keeps sending this phrase into my life perhaps as a warning. First, in an episode of Grey’s Anatomy I saw during a Netflix binge last weekend. The next day from a friend who is a successful entrepreneur giving me business advice on focusing my company’s services. Then finally, from someone I work with whose well-crafted response to me sharing that I had crashed my website while trying to migrate it from Local by FlyWheel to Ionos, “You should really hire people for that!”

In the spirit of transparency, I must admit that I often take a do-it-yourself approach when it comes to my business. I know, I know the audacity of a consultant to not consultant an expert though she encourages the same!

Shocked African American girl and boy amazedly looking in camera at cafe
Avoiding a Hostage Situation

I worked for an entrepreneur who constantly felt he was “being held hostage” by his employees because he didn’t know how to do the work that they did. At the time I didn’t understand it and quite frankly thought it was paranoia but working for him really improved my process documentation skills. See reader, there’s an upside to everything.

In starting my business, I have truly come to understand and embrace his philosophy. I’ve done everything on my own without hiring experts for several reasons:

    1. Let’s be honest, I’m bootstrapping this business. I don’t have any angel investors on the sidelines funneling capital into my business. Necessity is after all the mother of invention.
    2. I’m an aspiring expert-generalist and this approach helped me to determine what services I truly wanted to offer. My full work history reads more like a career resources handbook for high school students with experience in customer service, sales, copywriting, hospitality, academic research, real estate,legal research, technology, finance, accounting, and even alumni relations! I was not lacking in marketable skills when I started this business but rather unsure of what skills to market. Tackling everything on my own helped me to see what I enjoyed doing most not just what I was capable of doing.
    3. When completing a process on your own, you learn exactly what it details and the time it takes to complete. This gives you an appreciation for the task at hand and helps you to set reasonable expectations of your vendors and employees. This experience also reminded me the grueling path potential clients were facing.
    4. When considering outsourcing a task that you’ve done on your own, you can compare the pricing to the cost of your time if you complete the task yourself. For example, if your bill rate is $200 per hour and outsourced project costs $75 per hour, it is more efficient to have the consultant work while you focus on billable hours.
    5. When you understand a process, you are able to make changes on your own without relying on someone else. Not only does this save you money, but it also keeps your business from being held hostage.

When to hire an expert

If Pinterest has taught us anything, its that DIY is not always the best option. There are times when hiring a consultant or freelance expert is imperative.

    1. The task requires skills that are outside of your wheelhouse and mistakes would threaten the business’ existence. This applies to accounting, taxes, payroll and legal documents. Paying someone to repair a problem is more expensive than having it done correctly the first time.
    2. Sometimes you complete a task on your own and realize it is so grueling that you never want to do it again! This is where the intrinsic value of not having to do something plays into its cost. Hiring a professional might cost more than your billable rate but peace of mind is priceless.
    3. Your current customers are complaining or you’re turning new business away. The core function of any business is to attract new customer and retain the customers you have. Outsource back-office processes and operations roles when they begin to interfere with providing quality service.

“If you want to do a few small things right, do them yourself. If you want to do great things and make a big impact, learn to delegate.”

John C. Maxwell
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Nicole Lane
Nicole Lane

Nicole is the Founder of Cocoon Advisors.


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