Play To Your Strengths – Outsource Your Weaknesses

I ran across a quick video that talks about playing to your strengths in your small business. Let me point out that the information is much more widely applicable than just small business (so please watch it even if your aren’t a small business owner)… but I agree that small business people are among the worst abusers of this. I know because I see it every day in my business community… and because I have to fight this tendency in myself… and sometimes I win. 🙂

Take a look at this video and we’ll talk more afterwards.

One of the things that I would like to emphasize even more than he did is the delusion that you are doing the work for yourself for free. He talks about how it can be more expensive than hiring it out, but Iwant to make sure you understand why.

Most small business owners view their time as “free”. (Now, I know that not all of them do, but they are the exception… and probably aren’t the ones making this mistake to start with.)

But doing something that drains life from you because you aren’t willing to spend money on it is a triple cost.

  • It is a cost in energy. (Remember, it drains you, not energizes you?)
  • It is a cost in terms of your time. You are spending time on it instead of on the things that build your business and increase revenue. (So it may also be costing you revenue.)
  • It is a cost to the business community because you aren’t supporting other small businesses who are looking to companies just like yours to stay in business. And they are better at it than you are.

I got to put this into action recently. I am a card-carrying geek. (I can’t help it. 30 years in and around IT can do that to you.) But, I don’t really like messing with hardware. I’ve done it. I’ve upgraded desktop computers with more memory; replaced hard drives, CD players, and modems (back before cable and DSL). I’ve done similar things to laptops. I have played tech support to my family.

But when my laptop started making clicking noises when the cooling fan came on, I was reluctant to tear into it. It wasn’t because I couldn’t. I knew exactly how to take the laptop apart to get to the fan. But, as a business owner, I recognized that it wasn’t a good use of my time… and certainly not using my strengths.

Lo, and behold, about the time I made that decsion, I ran across a small, local business that does computer repair. (That serendipity is something we will have to save for another post.) The owner gave me a quote and I jumped on it. I did because it was incredibly cheaper than I could do it myself (in terms of time, labor, parts costs, and more.)

He had sources for parts that I didn’t have. He had the equipment and workbench dedicated to it. It was going to take him half an hour to do it. It would eat up hours of my time to find the part, get it ordered, tear the laptop apart, make the switch, and put it all back together. On top of all of that, I would have disliked the work, while he enjoyed it.

Obviously, if you don’t have the cash flow and the capital to outsource an activity that is a weakness for you, then you do what you have to. But you should have a goal of improving revenue as quickly as you can so you can devote your energies to you strengths. After all, you got into business to use your strengths, not your weaknesses.

Have you had a weakness that you should have outsourced? How did that work out for you?

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