To Outsource, or Not to Outsource?
That is indeed the question.
Outsourcing makes the news all the time—often in the form of discussions about whether it’s a good idea. There’s no right answer to that question, of course: sometimes outsourcing works, and sometimes it doesn’t.
In our personal lives, it’s mostly a good idea. In fact, pretty much everyone outsources aspects of their personal lives. And most of the time, they decide to do so based on a simple cost-benefit analysis of the answers to three interrelated questions.
1. How much is my time worth?
“Worth” can be defined either in dollars or in terms of how you’d rather spend that time (say, with your family or on a hobby). Once you have a sense of how much your time is worth, you can compare the hours spent doing a task with the cost of outsourcing it. Weigh the task against its time value to you, and you’ll see whether outsourcing it makes sense.
Some of the tasks that fall into this category include mowing the lawn, cleaning the house, and washing the car by hand. These are all tasks that most people can easily do themselves but often choose to pay someone else to do in order to free up their own time for something else.
2. Do I have the skills or equipment required for the job?
Making the decision to outsource jobs that require specialized skills or equipment is usually pretty easy. Most of the time, common sense (and a desire to avoid self-injury) plays a huge role in determining whether you should undertake a job yourself or hire someone else to do it.
Repair work is one frequently outsourced domain. If you aren’t handy with a pipe wrench, for example, don’t be penny wise and pound foolish: hire a plumber to fix a leak rather than risk seeing a simple $150 job turn into a $500 repair. Likewise you probably shouldn’t try removing your sixty-foot-tall oak tree without the proper equipment (and a comprehensive insurance policy!). And there’s a good reason people shell out money for someone else to cut their hair—a wrong snip with the scissors could have disastrous results.
3. Do I enjoy (or dislike) doing a particular task?
If you enjoy doing something, then you may prefer to do it yourself. (Believe it or not, some people love to vacuum and could not imagine hiring someone else to do it for them. And there are people who treasure the time they spend ironing shirts.) But when it comes to tasks you dislike, outsourcing may be the way to go—thus freeing your time and energy for other endeavors.
Personally, I hate to paint and prefer to pay someone else to paint a room rather than do it myself. Some people hold similar sentiments about yard work or housecleaning, for example, and therefore hire others to do those tasks for them. In these cases, outsourcing makes sense. The benefits of outsourcing clearly outweigh its costs.
Outsourcing and Business
Now that you’ve seen the role outsourcing plays in some aspects of people’s personal lives, apply these same questions to your business and see what it can do for your professional life. When considering whether to outsource a particular task or position, gather your data points and conduct a simple cost-benefit analysis.
In addition to those questions, however, you may wish to consider others that are particular to your business environment. At Mamu Media, for example, we also place a lot of weight on whether a particular task contributes to the growth of our core business. If it doesn’t, then we consider outsourcing it. You may evaluate outsourcing possibilities similarly, or in the context of issues that are specific to your own situation.
If you decide to outsource some of your business functions, be sure to do your research first! Warnings abound about which outsourcing pitfalls to avoid, particularly from legal perspectives. You’ll want to have a good strategy in place before you begin, and you should definitely take some time to sift through the mountains of useful tips compiled by those who have gone down the business outsourcing path before you.
Outsourcing isn’t for everyone. And it certainly doesn’t work in all situations and settings. Once you realize how important outsourcing already is in your personal life, however, you may find yourself finding ways to incorporate it—or least investigate the possibility of doing so—in your professional life.