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Archimedes Would Have Liked Outsourcing – Seriously!

Location: Company HQ – Reading Time: 8mins

This is a Guest Post by Adrian Swinscoe of, where he writes excellent articles all focused on Growing Your Business and making it as an entrepreneur – I sincerely suggest you check him out at his blog, after you’re done reading this one and commented here!

“Give me a lever big enough and I’ll move the world” – Archimedes

Entrepreneurs tend to be visionary in that they are able to spot an opportunity to solve a particular problem and find a market for that solution.

Entrepreneurs are known to be the ones who do whatever it takes to get something done and they don’t give up.

However, there is more to business than having a good idea and being determined.

In building a business, very little of the hard work involves coming up with the idea. Most of the effort goes into developing the key systems and processes that go into delivering the entrepreneur’s vision and making a business successful. Marketing, finance, project management, new product development, customer service and customer relationship management, all of these things are key to the entrepreneur’s ability to scale and replicate the business.

However, entrepreneurs are not always the best at building the processes, systems and teams that are needed to create a growing, sustainable business. Therefore, a problem that many of them face is that they caught up in the day to day activities of the business when these may not be the best use of their time.

There is a huge difference between working ‘in’ your business and ‘on’ your business.

Many struggling entrepreneurs make the mistake of spending a significant proportion of their time working in their business and not on it.

Unfortunately, there are only so many hours in the day at the disposal of the entrepreneur, which is why time should be spent on building teams, systems and strategies to support the entrepreneur and allow them to concentrate on solving the problem they have identified.

This was beautifully expressed by Jose Mourinho in an interview before the recent Champions League final between Inter Milan and Bayern Munich, when he said:

“Some people work hard and well and some people just work hard.”

Although it was not mentioned in a business context, I think this quote has a lesson for every entrepreneur. Some entrepreneurs work ‘hard’ and run out of time but some work ‘hard and well’ and leverage other people and systems to help them concentrate on the most value adding aspects of their business.

What does this mean? Simply, if you want to grow your business you have to learn how to delegate. Whilst, the traditional route would be to rent an office and hire some employees to help you this can prove to be risky and a high cost route. Some entrepreneurs balk at this idea, particularly in the current climate, and look around for lower-cost and more flexible alternatives. One of the best and most cost effective alternatives is to use an outsourcing partner like the one that Chris runs, the Live2Sell Group. [Chris: Thanks for the plug, Ade!]

Whether you hire someone directly or you engage an outsourcing partner to help you with some of the tasks that you would like to delegate the process is the same. Here’s some simple steps to help you if you are considering delegating a task to a team member or outsourcing a function to an outsourcing partner:

1. Define the task and output clearly

Think carefully about what you want to delegate or outsource. Remember, when you delegate or outsource something you are giving someone else responsibility for delivering that task. This, however, should not be an excuse for you to abdicate responsibility for things that you, as the entrepreneur, should be taking care of. So, think careful about what you should and what you should not be delegating. Finally, make sure you spend time defining clearly the task to be delegated and the expected outcome. The more work done at this stage will reap dividends and minimise mistakes and misunderstanding later down the line.

2. Delegate to the right person or partner

This can be one of the most difficult steps as its about trust, judgement and taking a risk. It can take time to find the people or outsourcing partners that fill all of the criteria for a successful relationship:

  • The right skills
  • A great attitude
  • Great track record
  • References

3. Prepare and Provide Process Maps, Detailed Instructions etc

When delegating or outsourcing, it is important to get as much of your understanding of how you do things and how you want things to be done on paper so you can share it with who you are delegating to. This documentation has to clearly outline the details of the work and provide all of the necessary information to be able to complete the task. But don’t leave it at that. Once you have shared all of this information, take time to review it and answer any questions that may arise to make sure that each party has the same understanding of what is required.

4. Set Targets to Manage Expectations and Be Able to Provide Feedback

You’re not done yet. When you’ve found your team and have delegated or outsourced the work, you’re job’s not over yet. Set targets and monitor progress to ensure it’s being done correctly and to your specifications.

5. It Won’t be Perfect First Time Out and Things Will Change

Getting it right first time is rare. So, be ready for the time when you will need to tweak what you as your needs change. On a regular basis, take a look at what you have coming in and who you are delegating to in order to determine if you need to outsource more work and possibly expand your team. By making this a regular evaluation process in your business, you will be able to anticipate needs and be ready to handle changes as they occur.

I hope those steps make the process of delegating or outsourcing more straightforward. It’s important to remember that outsourcing or delegating a key task is a key ‘lever’ in an entrepreneur’s arsenal of tools that can allow them to focus on delivering growth. Smart and effective use of these levers would make Archimedes proud of you 🙂

Finally, a question for you… As entrepreneurs, what have you been putting off delegating or outsourcing? I look forward to your thoughts.

Coming on Wednesday – My May 2010 Virtual CEO Monthly Report!

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