So you’re growing a company. Great! Time to build your A-Team! And no, we’re not talking about the crack commando unit from the 1980s. Sadly Mr. T isn’t available for hire
What we’re speaking about is the business team that you surround yourself with as an early stage company. A business A-Team should be full of people with deep business knowledge. If you’ve ever worked for a startup you know that it makes sound business sense to outsource many, if not all, of your company needs to highly specialized individuals.
You see, outsourcing work to those who are experts in a specific area is a tried-and-true way to accelerate business growth and efficiently allocate time and other resources. But while it’s a widely accepted practice to outsource work to specialized people or companies, business owners and operators make a lot of mistakes during the hiring process. What’s more, some people think that they can take on all the work themselves, deciding to forgo the process altogether. What a waste.
To help, we’ve outlined the benefits of outsourcing work to A-Players as well as the drawbacks of doing it poorly. At the end, you should be able to surround yourself with an A-Team that catapults your business into your industry’s stratosphere.
The Benefits of Outsourcing to A-Players
“Outsourcing” has become a buzzword of late, so before we go on, let’s define it for our future knowledge. According to Webster’s, outsourcing is a way in which companies entrust business processes, functions, and operations to external vendors. If you’ve ever hired a lawyer for legal advice, a PR firm for marketing services, or an accounting firm for accounting and CFO insights, you’ve been a part of outsourcing.
And if you’ve employed third party vendors to help your company grow, you already know the benefits. The first and most obvious advantages of outsourcing work are cost savings and a reduction in overhead. Often times the monthly budget you invest in third-party services is less than what it would cost if you hired an in-house employee full time.
Think about it this way: An entry-level accountant may cost upwards of $5,000 a month, whereas an outsourced bookkeeper providing the same services would be a fraction of that cost, and that’s not even taking into account employer taxes, retirement benefits, and healthcare. And I don’t even want to get into the costs of office spaces and equipment for your full-time hires.
Second, outsourced vendors, while costing less, actually increase efficiency and expertise. Third-party vendors and firms specialize in specific areas of business, and employing them gives you access to a wealth of knowledge and experience. An outsourced CFO with twenty years of experience, for example, provides more value than a non-financial founder who tries to glean financial insight on his or her own. Further, with the monetary constraints of a small - but growing - business, it’s nearly impossible to hire a person with C-level experience, meaning that the alternative is a less qualified hire who needs to learn on the job at the expense of your company.
What’s more, the efficiency and expertise actually reduce risk to your company. It’s always better to have an experienced finance professional prepare your financials and provide tax insight. It’s usually a good idea to have a lawyer give you legal advice. Trying to do either yourself is risky business.
Third, it reduces confirmation bias. Many companies fall into the trap of hiring like-minded people, meaning that the team is comprised of “yes” people rather than A-Players. This causes business owners to place blinders over their eyes, increasing business risk and making it difficult to see potential company problems. Outsourcing specific areas of a business to third-party vendors allows an outsider to come in with fresh eyes and make recommendations that might have otherwise gone unseen. A financial consultant with affiliate marketing knowledge, for example, may find holes in your affiliate process that you didn’t, increasing revenue and making your business more efficient.
Finally, and possibly most importantly, outsourcing specific business processes to A-Players frees up the time of your existing team, creating an efficient allocation of internal resources. Too often people fall into the trap of trying to do too much, attempting to understand the legal environment of their industry, conduct monthly financial closes, and run the sales team, all without prior knowledge in any area.
While it seems like a good cost-saving strategy, the number of hours you’ll have to put into each area makes it extremely inefficient. How much is your time worth and where is it best spent? Better to stick to allocating your time toward the things you know, rather than trying to be the hero of the company and do everything at once. It quickly becomes a zero-sum game.
The Pitfalls of Outsourcing
The benefits of outsourcing to A-Players are numerous, yet few people are good at actually doing so. Notice how this section isn’t titled “The Pitfalls of Outsourcing to A-Players.” That’s because the major mistake of outsourcing is that B- and C-players are hired. Period. What’s the point of employing someone if they’re going to harm your business?
You see, people often think of outsourcing as a cheap way to get work done. Wrong. Working with a third party is a way to have the best work delivered and increase the efficiency of your business. However, too often do people try to outsource high-level work to a developing country or a person with little knowledge in their area of “expertise.” If you’re going to outsource, it’s important that you invest in A-Players that can help your business grow, not B-Players who end up being a money pit full of headaches.
Outsourcing business processes to underperformers results in a litany of issues. Deliverables are often late, hidden costs arise, and customer relationships are put at risk with a lack of customer-centric focus and increased exposure of confidential company data. When you trust someone to add value to your company, make sure that they’re worth the investment. Cutting corners as it pertains to third-party vendors results in bad business, not cost savings.
And those are only the pitfalls that arise if you hire B- and C-Players rather than high-performers. Even more problems arise if you try to do it all yourself, rather than outsourcing work to specialized third parties. Look, we understand that business growth comes with a lot of constraints. We’re sympathetic to your woes. But when a business owner or operator tries to do everything him or herself, it results in an unfocused business with little operational success.
Trying to do everything yourself results in a “jack of all trade but a master of none” scenario. It creates an inefficient allocation of time and effort so that the area of business that you’re best at, you know, the one that allowed you to be successful in the first place, falls to the wayside while you flounder at business areas you aren’t good at. If your area of expertise is revenue growth, give your accounting and CFO needs to an outsourced company and focus on building your book of business.
The bottom line is this: outsourcing is important, but people do it poorly. Hiring an outsourced team of A-Players reduces costs, increases efficiencies, and strengthens your business. Employing underperformers or even trying to do everything yourself results in a weak business that is headed for the scrapyard. Take it from us, invest in an A-Team.
In our next article, we’ll discuss the areas of business that should be outsourced. Until then, keep grinding and keep growing!