Many startup founders have a very difficult time delegating work to others. The fear that no one else is going to do it as well as you can be crippling; giving up any control over a business that you’ve grown from the ground up is no easy task.
In our dealings with our clients, we’ve noticed that it’s easier for entrepreneurs new to the game to delegate tasks or hire out then it is for people that have already seen some form of entrepreneurial success. The newer an entrepreneur is to the world of business-building, the less resistance there is to outsourcing certain tasks. Entrepreneurs who are first starting out don’t have much to lose because they haven’t built anything yet!
There’s a happy medium between spreading yourself thin across every aspect of your business and blowing your entire budget on Upwork. You have a third choice. First, learn the basics, then hire out once you are certain you need the extra help and have a good understanding of what needs to be done.
This sounds like a pretty basic concept, but we’ve seen this strategy make a massive impact on entrepreneurs’ ability to start and scale successful businesses. Here are six elements of your business that you should at least attempt to DIY before you run off to Fiverr to delegate the grunt work.
Branding can make or break your business. Your customer’s overall impression of you is a direct result of branding, and that impression has a massive impact on their decision to buy your product or service. Colour schemes, font choices, and logos might sound simple and low priority, however, these small things add up to the look and feel of your business. Don’t worry if you’re not a professional graphic designer; you can put together a good starting point for your branding with free or paid services like Canva. There are thousands of templates to get the creative juices flowing, and the drag-and-drop interface is easy enough for your grandmother to operate.
If you’re going to be handing over thousands of dollars to a digital marketing agency, don’t you want to know how it works? It’s not magic, and it’s not as complicated as marketing agencies make it sound (they do that on purpose). Learn how things operate on the backend and get a feel for what tools you have at your disposal. Knowing what your CTR is and how it affects your ROAS might sound complicated, but with some basic research, you’ll learn the lingo and have a good understanding of how these campaigns work. You aren’t going to run a highly profitable ad campaign on your first try after watching a few YouTube videos, but you will be able to understand the basics enough to understand what’s going on. There are a lot of moving pieces to an ad campaign, so most people will find it worthwhile paying someone else to manage this. If you are not technically inclined or detail-oriented, this can be a hard one to pull off solo… but not impossible!
Learn what customer service entails before you hop on Upwork to hire someone for $4.00/hr to handle all of your customer service. Customer service is not fun, but it is the make-or-break element for thousands of startups. If you don’t have a thorough understanding of what kind of questions your customers are asking and how to best address common issues, how can you expect to hire someone to handle it for you? Don’t pass up a valuable opportunity to figure out exactly what your customers are complaining about so you can fix the issue rather than putting a band-aid on the problem with outsourced customer service.
Only after you have experienced the full spectrum of what kinds of customer support your business needs to provide can you start to outsource customer service. Building a bulletproof SOP for customer service and hiring a small inexpensive team is one of the biggest time savers for startups. Don’t jump the gun by outsourcing before you have a complete understanding of every curveball you can expect your customers to throw your way.
Going to school for engineering or design is probably not your best use of time as an entrepreneur. If you’re working on a hardware product, you will inevitably need to part with your hard-earned capital to pay a professional designer. But give them a place to start!
Sketching out your ideas on pen & paper is better than nothing. You don’t need to have an art degree to go through 10 iterations of what you think the final product should look like! The more information you can give a designer/engineer/developer, the better the final result, and the faster you will get there. Twenty crude sketches can save you thousands of dollars and weeks of your time. A picture is worth a thousand words; give your product designer a fighting chance. The farther along in the design processes you get, the more beneficial it will be to work with a designer that has experience with DFM (Design for Manufacturing). This will make sure that your product is designed in a way that can be easily manufactured. You don’t want to end up paying for a beautiful design that is impossible to manufacture.
We’d recommend hiring a professional for this step of the process. If you have the time, we recommend setting up a video shoot of your own to get a feel for what you’re looking to get out of a product video. You can easily do this with your phone’s camera to start planning out the different kinds of shots/settings/storylines. Is it going to be as good as a $600/hr studio? Absolutely not! But you will learn enough about videography to be able to articulate exactly what you’re looking for when you do end up hiring a n experienced pro to do the job for you. It’s also a good idea to collect as many example videos and photos for what you want your final product to look like.
This is the voice of the company. From the eye-catching ads to the soothing return policy- someone has to write it! The voice of the company should always come from you when you’re first starting. There is an authenticity to copy that is written by a business founder that is hard to capture elsewhere. There are hundreds of free resources for learning how to write fantastic copy. Spending 2 hours every day for 2 weeks writing compelling copy is going to improve a skill that you will use every week for the rest of your life.
It doesn’t always have to be a one-man show. Hiring your first freelancer or employee is a huge step in the world of entrepreneurship. As you start to scale, one of the first things you should delegate is routine tasks. If you have the capital and you have a routine task that is easily explained in an SOP and has minimal variables… delegate it!
Experts are expensive to hire but often worth it. Calculate your ROI on hiring freelancers whenever you can. You should always make sure that you learn enough about the task/role to be able to give clear direction and make sure to hire out only when it is critical to the growth of your business.