Entrepreneurs often feel they need to be capable of handling every business need themselves. This isn’t an entirely negative impulse, as we’ll discuss below, but there comes a time when being your own jack-of-all-trades becomes detrimental to your company’s growth and revenue potential. In this article we’ll look at how to identify that tipping point, what sort of expertise you should be outsourcing, and how to manage your expert help. Remember, as an entrepreneur your job isn’t to do everything – it’s to establish and grow a successful business!
Assess your own effectiveness
In the early stages of a startup company, it may be possible to handle all legal, accounting, marketing, and operational tasks yourself. But if your objective is to grow the business, this isn’t going to be possible for long. As an entrepreneur, ask yourself whether you’re losing money or growth opportunities due to drags in effectiveness. Entrepreneur and internet marketing expert Neil Patel suggests entrepreneurs never hire help simply because they’re busy; rather, wait until you find yourself turning down work, ready to capitalize on new revenue streams, or starting to get customer complaints. These are signs that the opportunity cost of being “entrepreneurial superman” are starting to outweigh the fiscal costs.
Business needs change, and so should your expert help
So maybe you already have a few experts in law, accounting, or marketing who have been helping you get your business started. As your company grows, seriously consider whether the outside help you started with is still appropriate to your current business needs. Lawyers and accountants who advised you on startup issues, such as how to define and establish yourself, may not be best suited to advising on how to expand and structure a growing business. Getting expert help from a specialist in raising startup funds is not going to be nearly as useful when your business objectives shift to scaling and structuring a growing business.
Investment in the right people pays off in the long run
As a new startup owner hiring outside help can be intimidating. Experts aren’t cheap, and taking on a full time employee with a specialized background is a significant investment. If hiring someone full time is too big a risk, or if you’re still not certain of how much expert help will really boost your company’s performance, consider testing the waters with a consultant. A short term work contract with a consultant can show you whether you’re really ready to make that hire, and help you project how well it will pay off.
Entrepreneur.com recommends evaluating consultants and experts based on their understanding of your industry and business, experience, ability to communicate, availability, rapport, cost, and references. It may feel disloyal to stop working with the experts who got you off the ground. However, at the end of the day the true basis of your relationship with an expert is the health of your business, and if that’s not being supported as effectively as it could then it’s time to find new expert help.
It take expertise to utilize experts
The blessing and curse of outside experts is that they are, well, experts. By definition that means someone who is specialized in a specific niche. A financial controller won’t have the expertise to assess and address issues as an auditor or tax expert would, much less make comprehensive financial plans that neatly fit your marketing or legal needs. The key is to know enough to ask the right questions so that you receive appropriate and effective help, and understand all aspects of your business clearly enough to make sound decisions yourself. You don’t have to be a tax lawyer yourself, but you should be brushing up on tax law enough to be able ask questions and communicate capably about your business’s tax law needs.
Another way to think of it is that as an entrepreneur wearing different hats to help your business grow, you should continually hire and then fire yourself to do different jobs. Identify a need, try it out and do some deep learning, and then hire someone to do it more effectively than you can.