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Debbie Rosemont, CPO
Certified Professional Organizer, Productivity Consultant & Productivity Trainer
Sammamish, Washington
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When Does It Make Sense To Outsource?

In these uncertain times people are looking for ways to save money and are analyzing their 'discretionary' spending. So when does it make sense to hire a service provider to help?
Written Oct 28, 2008, read 3921 times since then.
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In these uncertain economic times, many people are looking for ways to save money and analyzing their “discretionary” spending. We’re also entering a very busy holiday season and are looking for ways to save time and reduce stress. When does it make sense to hire a service provider to help? When does it actually pay to spend money on outside help or expertise? We’ll examine several instances in which outsourcing provides a return on investment that makes it the right choice.
 
When a task causes great stress or when the results are important to you, but you just don’t have the time: If there is a task that you avoid because you just don’t like doing it (ie: cooking, housecleaning, yard work), see if there is an affordable alternative out there. Can’t stomach paying for a weekly service? Squeeze it into your budget every other week to give yourself a break.
 
Does meal planning, grocery shopping and cooking stress you out? Several options are available to help you put healthy meals on your table with minimal effort. Consider local services such as Dream Dinners or Dinner’s Ready — you go once a month and assemble many meals at one time to bring home to your freezer. Many of the same services will assemble for you, and some even deliver. Stuck in a rut? Try a personal chef for a limited period of time to give you new ideas and take the load off your shoulders. Karen Rosenzweig, the Incredible Chef, advertises that it doesn’t cost much more to use her services than you’re already spending on groceries, gas, eating out, take out and fast food.
 
When you can’t be the expert in everything and mistakes could be costly: Think tax accountant, business consultant or financial advisor for examples here. It can pay to retain experts in matters such as these. Financial Advisor Dino Guzzetti with Edward Jones says, “paying the fees of a financial advisor can not only help you do the best things with your money, it can also provide peace of mind that you may not make costly mistakes do-it-yourselfers have been known to make, such as investing with their emotions.”

When your “bill rate” is higher than the cost of the service: If you work in a business, or run a business and can make your business $75 per hour at what you do, then it can make sense to pay someone else a lesser fee (a personal assistant, a house cleaner, an errand service, a bookkeeper) to get things done for you and free up your time to bill clients or bring in new business. In this example, when you perform assistant-type tasks, clean the house, or do your own bookkeeping, when you could otherwise be billing clients, you are essentially paying $75 per hour to have these tasks done!

When the service can save you money down the road or protect an asset: Paying to have an major appliance serviced, your roof cleaned and treated, your car maintained, or your home painted, are all examples of proactively spending money now to make something run more efficiently, cost-effectively and to extend the life of the asset (thereby saving you money on a replacement before its time).

When relationships matter: If spending money on a service provider can enhance or save relationships that are important to you, then that is a wise investment, in this writer’s opinion. Counseling services to repair a relationship or tutoring services to end parent/child homework battles are two great examples. Another is handyman services to take care of the “Honey-Do” list that may be lying around and cause for guilt or disagreement. Issaquah handy service, Shirey Handyman, even uses an advertising slogan, “saving marriages, one household at a time.” As relationships can sometimes be tested during the holiday season, keeping these resources in mind can be helpful.

When you want to learn to do something for the first time, more efficiently or more effectively: Investing in the services of a personal trainer can ensure you get the most out of your workout time. A professional organizer can show you how to set up and maintain systems for organization and productivity that allow you to get more done in less time. They can also save you money by making sure you can find what you need, when you need it so that you don’t buy duplicates. An interior decorator can give you ideas on how to rearrange some of the things you already have to change the atmosphere. This can be important during the holiday season if you want to save money by entertaining at home.

Learn more about the author, Debbie Rosemont, CPO.

Comment on this article

  • Writer, traveler, bon vivant 
Seattle, Washington 
Betsy Talbot
    Posted by Betsy Talbot, Seattle, Washington | Oct 30, 2008

    Excellent points, Debbie. I have Karen Rosenzweig as my personal chef, and it is much more reasonable than you would think. There are always healthy meals in my house, even when I'm too tired to think about what to eat.

    Everyone has their something, and the ability to eat healthy with our crazy schedules was important to me (though I'm still cleaning my own bathrooms - what's up with that?!)

  • Financial Coach & CFP™ Practitioner 
Seattle, Washington 
Mindy Crary, MBA
    Posted by Mindy Crary, MBA , Seattle, Washington | Oct 30, 2008

    Great article . . . and to reference your comments attributed to Financial Advisor Dino Guzzetti with Edward Jones, fees you pay for financial advice as well as tax advice may be tax deductible to you as an individual on your Schedule A.

    Obviously, businesses deduct this sort of advice easily, but a lot of people don't realize they can use these fees to contribute toward the calculation of their itemized deductions!

    So, that may help people feel even better about outsourcing :o)

  • Financial Advisor 
Sammamish, Washington 
Dino Guzzetti
    Posted by Dino Guzzetti, Sammamish, Washington | Oct 30, 2008

    Great addition, Mindy, thank you!

    There is such a fine line between keeping our expenses down and hiring a professional. Take tax preparation for example. How many hours it takes the typical lay person to figure it out, let alone the many tax saving strategies that get missed... only to save a couple hundred dollars.

    Thanks for your timely article Debbie, while most of us have our belts extremely tightened throught this global financial crisis.

  • Social Media Assistant for Small Businesses 
Cornelius, Oregon 
Kimberly LeRiche
    Posted by Kimberly LeRiche, Cornelius, Oregon | Oct 30, 2008

    These are all great points, Debbie.

    Sometimes these are just the pointers that are needed to get people to think about outsourcing as viable option to relieving stress or to getting tasks done that might not otherwise get done. I find that many people will seriously consider outsourcing when the pain of doing it all themselves becomes too much. However, your article shows that it makes sense to consider doing it before you reach that point.

  • Business Bio Expert and Get Known to Get Paid Mentor 
Bellevue, Washington 
Nancy Juetten
    Posted by Nancy Juetten, Bellevue, Washington | Oct 30, 2008

    Thanks for a very timely, informative article that already has me thinking about doing things differently in my business and at home.

  • Joint Venture Specialist 
Bellevue, Washington 
Louis Weiss
    Posted by Louis Weiss, Bellevue, Washington | Oct 31, 2008

    Well placed and organized article. Went down the laundry list of everyday items. All these decisions I make can hamper my profits if not done wisely with priority.

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  • Information Strategist 
Higley, Arizona 
Charlene Kingston
    Posted by Charlene Kingston, Higley, Arizona | Oct 31, 2008

    As a small business owner, I teeter totter on when to perform tasks myself and when to hire them out. Your list gives me a solid starting point outside of my own head. Thank you!

  • General Manager 
Bellingham, Washington 
Jim Carney
    Posted by Jim Carney, Bellingham, Washington | Oct 31, 2008

    We are one of those businesses that help businesses do just that. We have offices with everything in place including staff who can do those small jobs at 25.00 an hour. So we spend our time thinking it through... is this the thing that we want for the public or just for the tenants. We have the high speed copy machine that also scans to email and fax for example but we are not wanting the college campus to come and use it. That is for fedex kinkos down the street. We provide notary services free to the tenants and 5 bucks to the public and that is per visit not per document. So do we advertize as a notary or just as offices and conference rooms for the public as well as for your start up?

    And if it is a large enough project, do we hire a temp or simply manage to get it done while we continue our "reception" services for all who do business in our building.

    So we not only want to make a profit but we want each of our tenants to also be profitable.

  • Financial Advisor 
Sammamish, Washington 
Dino Guzzetti
    Posted by Dino Guzzetti, Sammamish, Washington | Oct 31, 2008

    I like your comments, Jim.

    Sometimes saving money by doing it ourselves keeps us from making money spending our time doing what we do best, which SHOULD be worth much more than the dollars we would be saving. If we spend our time saving money and not doing what we do best, maybe we need a different career?

    All I want to do is what I enjoy the most and make the most money doing. Helping others, not faxing. :)

  • Helping small business owners turn their ideas into words 
Tappan, New York 
Deidre Rienzo
    Posted by Deidre Rienzo, Tappan, New York | Nov 03, 2008

    Debbie- Really good article, and great tips on when to outsource.

  • International Software Guy 
Portland, Oregon 
Lynn Fredricks
    Posted by Lynn Fredricks, Portland, Oregon | Nov 04, 2008

    I think when you seriously consider this, you are really preparing for the next step in your business. We often find ourselves caught in this when that task we should be outsourcing isn't a specialty skill. Consider your core competency and its likely you started your business around it. Just think about how much more profitable and productive your business will be if you have more free time to pursue it?

  • Virtual Assistant, Blogger 
Port Hadlock, Washington 
Sharon Trombly
    Posted by Sharon Trombly, Port Hadlock, Washington | Nov 06, 2008

    Wonderful article Debbie, you managed to get the gears turning for many people.

    In my initial intake interview with a new client I always ask, "What tasks are holding you back and why are you still attempting to do them?"

    Reminding people that focusing on their core competency will lead them to success much quicker is, in my opinion, the best take-away from your article.

  • HR Consultant 
San Mateo, California 
Deb McClanahan
    Posted by Deb McClanahan, San Mateo, California | Nov 06, 2008

    Excellent article, Debbie. Great way to think about the trade-offs between time and money - something all of us small business people need to think about regularly. Thanks for sharing.

  • Buisness Owner 
Bloomfield, Connecticut 
Deb Prior
    Posted by Deb Prior, Bloomfield, Connecticut | Nov 09, 2008

    Debbie, I think your article is an excellent call to action for so many entrepreneurs who are trying to do it ALL.

    My clients who utilize the services of my bookkeeping company all say after a few months, things like "Why didn't I do this sooner?" and "My business is doing so much better since I no longer have this burden! I have a new life!"

    Thanks for writing this timely article.

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