All of us have limited time and energy. You and I are both human and require a balance of work and rest.
When side hustling, it’s important to remember our purpose and also our goals for our work. If we are looking to create, grow and scale a business, at some point, the question needs to be asked, “should you do the work yourself or outsource it?”
This seemingly simple question has a little more too it than you might think, and in this post we will explore this.
In addition to this exploration, I will be sharing with you my experience (which is happening this month – more like this week!) with outsourcing and offloading work, and discuss when I think it’s appropriate to do the work yourself or outsource the work.
Should You Do the Work Yourself or Outsource it?
First, with a lot of these side hustle and business discussions, we need to set the stage. For the purpose of answering the question of “should you do the work yourself or outsource it?”, we need to establish some guidelines.
Let’s get this one out of the way: if the revenue is there, outsourcing is generally a good thing to pursue – be it in a digital business or physical product business.
Many of us (myself included) would love to build a business which spits out money each and every day. Wouldn’t it be great to be on the golf course every day and not have to work? 😉
The answer is pretty obvious if golfing is your ultimate goal: outsource everything and hope the economy keeps rolling.
Unfortunately, not everyone is in the situation above where they can outsource everything and are just starting. So let’s reframe the question because concluding the article here wouldn’t be interesting.
Instead, let’s frame this question and answer in terms of a growing business. This growing business is a business where you have launched, but are still working a 10-20 hours (if part time) a week trying to get sales, make tweaks, perform operations, and grow the business.
This business might be digital or it might be physical. In my case, I’m going to talk about both sides of the spectrum.
Again, let’s keep in mind we are talking about a growing business where you have a lot of things to get in place, and at the same time, a lot of things to continue to do on a daily basis to ensure operations go smoothly.
When you should do the work yourself
As I mentioned in the first line of this article, we all have limited time. Each week, if we are trying to build a business on the side of our day job, we probably have, at a maximum, 30 “solid” hours of work that can get done on the business.
Many of us have kids, family, and other responsibilities, though, so this number can get crunched over time.
Since we all have limited time, my recommendation is always that you should always do what you enjoy and want to do with your time.
If you enjoy doing the daily tasks and operations, then by all means keep doing that!
At the same time though, if you find yourself dreading doing the accounting and finance, or possibly the social media marketing, then it might make sense to look to work with someone who enjoys doing those things.
In addition to asking yourself what you enjoy doing, there’s also a factor of cost that must be considered. When starting a business, making sure you don’t run out of money is incredibly important.
If you aren’t bringing in any sales or revenue, then doing the work yourself is probably a better choice until the cash register starts ringing.
Also, another thing to consider is if you have the expertise to do the work. Many people don’t do their taxes by themselves and hire an accountant or use a tax software because the tax code is complex. Similarly, with a business, there might be tasks you don’t necessarily know how to do but are necessary (contracts with a lawyer for example).
All these are things you can consider when deciding if it makes sense for you to do the work.
When you should outsource the work
Outsourcing requires energy upfront, but in theory, should be less work and energy spent later on as other people or technologies are helping you complete your tasks.
As I mentioned in the last section, outsourcing the work makes sense when you don’t necessarily like what you are doing, but are getting paid to do it.
For example, I’m not the biggest fan of doing social media marketing, and if I can focus in on doing what I love (web design, customer service, and content creation), then my product will be better. Finding a good social media marketer would be very beneficial and something that I now have done for my business.
There are pros and cons to each, but if you do decide to hire someone, you can hire them as an employee (which comes with a whole mess of laws, costs, and regulations) or as a contractor (less regulated but with a lot more risk because there’s not much skin in the game for the contractor).
For a physical product, which I’m trying to build a business around, to scale, it’s almost critical to outsource if you don’t have the know-how, warehouse, and time to source, package, and ship efficiently.
This is where I am right now, and I want to share what I’m currently doing with you right now.
An Outsourcing Discussion in Real-Time
Currently (like literally this week in the middle of August), I’m talking with a few fulfillment centers to discuss the outsourcing of my kombucha tea subscription kit business.
I’m doing this for a few reasons:
- To scale, with a physical product, since I don’t have access to a warehouse, outsourcing to a dedicated fulfillment center with the technology to do this efficiently is a great choice
- I need to prepare for the Christmas season.
- Last November and December, I ended up getting about 40 orders which took a significant effort on my part (and also significant space in my house) to fulfill the day before New Year’s Eve.
- I’d like to explore eCommerce and One-Time Purchases
- This is something that I can’t do in my current work because of the time and space commitment
Right now, my product margins are pretty solid, but this doesn’t consider the work I’m putting in.
Currently, I estimate the profit margin at about 30%, but again this doesn’t consider the hours I’m putting in, the storage and energy costs, and a number of other things I’m ignoring because I’m doing the work for free.
Unfortunately, I only have pricing from one of the fulfillment centers (I’m still waiting on a few other quotes), but with this quote, my margin would still be around 20%. I’m definitely in favor of doing this, but am still going to wait to make sure it’s the right choice.
How do you outsource your work?
In the past, and currently, how you go about outsourcing your work is dependent on the work you want to outsource!
For fulfillment, I was performing Google searches and looking at a number of sites. My target was a company in the United States and a company that is focused on helping small businesses.
We will see how the next few weeks go, but I’m definitely excited for the future here! Being able to step away from the daily operations and focus on growth will be exciting and a completely new endeavor for me. In the coming months, I’ll definitely share this progress with you and give you my recommendations and takeaways from this process.
Concluding Thoughts on Doing be Work vs. Outsourcing Your Work
At the end of the day, determining whether you should do the work yourself or outsource it is a personal question. Do you enjoy doing the work? All of our time is limited. Do you have the capital and expertise to hire out the work? It might make sense to do that if your time is limited and your bank account can handle it.
I’m still exploring this path more and more, but with outsourcing, I do believe scaling becomes a little bit easier as you’ll be able to continually focus on what’s next and not fall face first when an unexpected rut in the road comes into your path.
Readers: in your side hustle endeavors, have you looked to outsource your work? Do you like doing the work? What’s your take on this question?
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