Starting-up a new business venture is hard. Presumably, you’ve decided to put up with the hardships because you’re passionate about the products or services you’re providing to the world. Your time and energy should be focused on making the best products, providing the best services, and taking care of your customers. The vagaries of getting your business up and running should be someone else’s job. Now, we know what you’re thinking. Outsourcing costs money… money that I don’t have. Well, your time has value too, especially in the early stages of building a business. The early stages are critical because that’s when you start creating brand evangelists out of satisfied customers who become your best referral sources and promoters. It’s also when you must begin to protect your market share (because your brand evangelists have been doing such an excellent job and now others are finding out how great your business is). So while it may cost you a couple of shekels to outsource some start up tasks to experts, its well worth it. Below, we’ve been asked to create a list of some of the things worth outsourcing:
- Writing a business plan: A professional business plan drafter can help you to see the forest for the trees, and that’s invaluable. A business plan drafter will help you streamline your operation, focus on what matters, and, most important, craft a plan that rises above the clutter and forces potential investors to take notice of you and your idea. Many business plan drafters also coach you with respect to your elevator pitch for investors and, if you’re lucky, may even provide you with contacts to potential investors themselves.
- Entity formation: This is a step many entrepreneurs choose to skip initially in an effort to save money. In our view, that’s a mistake. Forming an entity allows you to separate your business assets from your personal assets. Unfortunately, we live in the most litigious country in the world. You have to insulate yourself from the prospect of liability stemming from your business endeavors. So don’t skip this step; while it may save you a few bucks in the short term, the risks are too substantial to ignore.
- Building a website: Would you go to a networking without combing your hair or putting on a sharp outfit? Of course you wouldn’t. Well, your website is your single most important networking tool. It has to look polished, from the layout and design to the photos and text. While much progress has been made the DIY website arena in recent years, one can still spot a DIYer’s website from a mile away. It’s boring, amateurish, and mistake-ridden. Pay a pro to set up your site and forget about it. (Note: It is now possible to maintain your website on your own, after a couple of lessons. We’re all for that.) Click here browse website designers from the Tin Shingle community.
- Protect you intellectual property: This is another one of those areas where emerging businesses and entrepreneurs often try to cut corners. While it’s true that you are entitled to certain common law rights simply by the act of creating and publishing your work, or by promoting your goods and services in the market place, you can achieve much stronger and more valuable rights nationally and internationally by registering your copyright and/or trademark (and, of course, by filing your patent). The failure to proactively protect and defend your IP, whether by complacency, negligence or just plain ignorance, may result in the dilution of the value of your mark or, worse still, the inability to use your own mark at all because a competitor has achieved stronger rights. Also, many investors won’t even consider investing in your product or service without first knowing that you have secured the necessary IP protections available to you. (Note: You should also consider making heavy use of certain contractual protections, such as confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements.)
- Insurance: Certain types of business should look into liability insurance as added protection (i.e., in addition to forming an entity to own the business assets). In fact, it is often a requirement in order to do business with certain vendors and/or licensees.
- Accounting: Look, someday maybe the tax code will be shorter and simpler than The Fountainhead. Until then, use an accountant. Paying an accountant to do your personal and business taxes should pay for itself in the first year. You’ll save time, psychic energy, and ultimately money by using an accountant. Click here to browse the Tin Shingle community for accountants.
- Information Technology: We did an audit of our office technological infrastructure and found that we could use online cloud computing, storage, banking, billing faxing, phoning… you name it. We now have more space, more mobility, fewer wires and a much lower bill for the various technological services we use. Could we have figured this out on our own? Maybe… but it would have taken weeks and our clients would have suffered during the transition. Click here to browse some techy-types in the Tin Shingle community.
Of course, you can’t outsource everything. Nobody is going to be as dedicated or knowledgeable about your business as you. But targeted outsourcing allows you to focus on what you do best without having to worry too much about all the other things that need to get done to make you’re business a success. Think of the money you spend in the services provide by outside vendors as an investment that should earn dividends quickly.