Time is money. It’s not just a saying – there is a physical limitation on how many hours you can work in a week. Many entrepreneurs are workaholics, but often it’s because we try to do too much. We think success will come just by putting in more hours. Instead, we need to consider how to work smarter, and a key element to that is to determine which tasks you can outsource and finding a reliable resource to handle that work.
Reducing the number of tasks on your to-do list, especially “grunt work”, can lead to increased profitability for your company, and a better quality of life for you as an individual.
So how do you choose what to hire out?
Play to Your Talents and Strengths
The most important consideration when choosing tasks to assign to others, is your own abilities, talents, and strengths.
You know the old proverb “stick with what you know”? It’s doubly important in business. If there are things you don’t know how to do, you’ll either need to learn them or hire them out. You may also choose to outsource tasks that are simply not enjoyable.
Your time is limited, so consider what’s the best use of your time. If your business takes 10 hours a week for packing and shipping, but your expertise is in marketing, is that 10 hours better spent on driving new customers to your website? Which tasks drive a higher return on investment?
So think about your strengths.
Are you best at selecting products, writing their descriptions, and marketing and presenting them?
Or do you handle customer service extremely well, showing courtesy and care to your shoppers either in person, over the phone, or by email?
Perhaps company vision is your strength, and your business requires this kind of full-time leadership…in which case, you want to outsource almost all of your day-to-day tasks, from sales to fulfillment and service.
Next, think honestly about what you’re NOT good at. No one excels at everything they do. If you aren’t a people person, then have someone else handle your customer service. Technology not your wheelhouse? Hire a company to build and maintain your website. Or if you have physical limitations, use a fulfillment company or hire people to deal with your warehousing needs.
Consider the Physical Requirements
Speaking of physical requirements, that’s often another big consideration when deciding which tasks you want to let someone else deal with. In addition to physical abilities, location also comes into play. For instance, you may choose to use a fulfillment service, such as Fulfillment by Amazon or any number of other similar services. In this case, you’ll obviously be outsourcing certain tasks, including:
- receiving inventory
- picking, packing and shipping orders
- receiving and accounting for returns
However, if you wish to keep your inventory local, you’ll be faced with the choice of either doing it yourself, or having one or more employees in charge of the tasks above. You’ll also need space to store your inventory and to pack orders, so keep in mind the cost of rent and utilities too.
As with other decisions, consider whether dealing with your physical product is the best use of your time.
Learn to Balance Cost and Reliability
You may choose to outsource tasks that are inexpensive. For instance, hiring a photographer to take product images is going to cost more than hiring someone to do your filing. That’s because a photographer generally has a larger skill set, and one that took more time to develop, than someone to just file papers. If your budget is limited (and whose isn’t?) you’ll want to outsource the tasks that take the most time but require the least amount of money to get someone else to do.
The flip side of this is reliability. It doesn’t do you any good to hire a bookkeeper who screws up your finances! If the person or company you hire to do a task doesn’t do it well, you may end up paying them and still spending your time fixing their mistakes. Start by getting recommendations for the vendors or employees you’re considering hiring. Then allot time to teach them and review their work to make sure their performance is up to par. If not, you may need to do more training, or you may have to find a new resource to handle these tasks.
Managing resources is an ongoing process. As time goes by, you should reevaluate your business needs and your own schedule to see what can be optimized. The better you become at this, the better chance you stand at making your ecommerce business a raging success!