Serial Entrepreneurs: Avoid Hero Syndrome and Outsource
Know When & How to Outsource The Right Way
Founders are always crunched for time. Always. The difference between “making it” and not is often, time management; prioritizing tasks so you can complete the most important action items first, and then get to the less critical ones later.
However, sometimes there isn’t enough time to get to everything. You only realize this once you start missing emails, or keep forgetting to follow up with strategic partners and investors. This can be a big problem. Founders who don’t try to remedy this have what we call “Hero Syndrome” – or the mindset that one can do everything themselves and leveraging others is a sign of weakness. It’s actually quite simple. You are not weak. You have hit your capacity, your business is scaling and now you are ready to delegate. This a fantastic sign of growth!
There are a number of ways to delegate to help scale your business. Each has a cost, which you must measure against it’s value. Here are your 5 options:
Intern – This is the cheapest option, because interns will generally work for the prospect of future employment, or in the case of a student, school credit. WARNING: Be weary of a free intern as your delegation method of choice. Laws around interns are quite strict and commonly violated. Although the intern may want to work for free, you may be putting yourself at risk by offering him the internship. See the following group if you remain unconvinced.
Cheap Outsourcing – There are also countless discount outsourcing options, which often are a juggling act between employees of overseas mega-shops. Generally, this is a pretty inexpensive option, and it will usually can get the job done. However, if mistakes are made (which commonly happens because of poor training and/or language barrier), you can end up paying that same company again to correct their own error. Even worse, if the errors are moderate to severe, you will have to pay a major premium to correct them with option #3 (see below) because it takes more time to forensically correct mistakes than get them right the first time from a more knowledgeable vendor.
Professional Firm – Solid contract work is really a great hedge between cost and value. Yes, it’s more expensive than some of the outsourcing options on the internet, but you get the experience of a full-time employee and peace-of-mind that he/she will execute without the long term commitment of option #4. You also save yourself the massive amount of time it takes to find, interview, and vet solo practitioners since the firm has already done this for you.
Solo Practitioner – The big draw back here is you can spend a ton of time trying to find someone qualified, because solid 1099s are not on every street corner. But when you find the right person, oh does it feel good.
Junior/Experienced Full Time Employee – The final way to delegate is to hire someone to take over that function, or reassign an existing hire. This is undoubtedly the best option in terms of value-add, but its also the most expensive (salary + equity + benefits + long onboarding). WARNING: be certain that is a long term need because hiring someone is not a short term commitment.
In conclusion, founders have a tendency to use their time poorly – understanding the value of their time and when to pay a premium or outsource is critical, because mistakes will pile up. Identify the problem, and find the proper solution that fits your business needs.
And lastly, do not fall victim to outsourcing abandonment. When people do outsource, their other mistake is not remaining involved. Outsourcing should be treated as a partnership and educational experience. Learn from your provider, understand what they’re doing, and make sure you’re getting a good quality product.