The Solopreneur's Dilemma: What to Outsource First

Feb 07, 2022

Entrepreneurship often comes with plenty of overwhelm, and when you're a solopreneur, that overwhelm can seem even more intense. You know you need to outsource something so you can focus on doing what you love—work with clients—but the question is what it makes the most sense to outsource. Should you bring on a virtual assistant to help with admin and operational tasks? Or do you need more of a marketing and sales person to help with those direct revenue-generating activities?

In this episode, I talk about how to choose what pieces of your biz to outsource first, including...

  • The two main types of tasks it makes sense for a solopreneur to outsource
  • How to identify whether you need admin support or sales and marketing support
  • How to figure out what you really need based on your situation
  • How to hire for the core problem you're facing...not another problem that's two or three levels removed

Today, we are going to be talking about one of the biggest dilemmas that almost every solopreneur runs into, once they feel like their business is going pretty well. They're maybe getting clients pretty regularly. They're feeling like their business is on the right trajectory, but they're also overwhelmed and overworked. You know you have to outsource something, but you don't quite know what it is you need to outsource, or maybe you suspect what it is you need to outsource, but you're just so overwhelmed with the whole process of bringing a team member on that you're kind of stuck in this state of paralysis. So you're so busy, and you know need to start handing things off, but perhaps you're not sure of what you need to hand off first. 

At this point in your business, there are really only two types of tasks that make sense to outsource at this point. The first is admin and operational tasks, so stuff like posting to social media, bookkeeping, answering emails, and general admin and logistical stuff that would be more in the realm of an assistant, someone who kind of supports you and takes some of the smaller, more menial tasks off of your plate. 

The second type of tasks where it makes sense to outsource at this point is sales-oriented tasks, so stuff like booking appointments, conducting sales calls, your organic social media routine, connecting with prospective clients, and starting those conversations on your behalf. And really, these two types of conversations boil down to stuff that keeps your business running and stuff that directly brings in cash. 

The stuff that keeps your business running is that admin and operations stuff, and the stuff that directly brings in cash is the sales-oriented stuff. So the question is which one should you be offloading first? Which one does it make more sense to start with? Do you start with someone who is more of an admin expert or someone who is more of a sales expert? The best way to decide which one makes more sense is, of course, based on the situation you're in, and the answer to this question: What is, at the present moment at least, your role in bringing cash into the business? 

Perhaps you fit into one of these situations: First, maybe you're bringing in business, business, and more business, and you're bringing in clients consistently, and you just need to focus on continuing to bring clients in and to work with them. In that case, it probably makes sense to bring someone in to manage the admin stuff, the stuff that actually gets in the way of you bringing in that cash, the stuff that detracts from those direct revenue-generating activities. The reason I recommend that, based on this particular situation, is that you're already producing results and bringing in revenue, so you've proven that you can do it and you can do it consistently, which means it makes the most sense to free up your time as much as possible to focus on those, like I said, direct revenue-generating activities. 

The second situation is that maybe you're not really bringing in as much business as you'd like and maybe think that if you had someone to handle that menial stuff, that it would free up your capacity to generate revenue. But honestly, don't believe that, because chances are slim that if you are not really successfully bringing in as many clients as you want, that having more time will enable you to do that. Because at that point, you have a sales problem, you have a revenue problem, and if you address that problem by hiring an admin person that doesn't directly solve the problem, it's like a level or two removed from the actual core problem, which is that you're not bringing in enough business in the first place. 

If that's the situation that you're in, if you do hire an admin person, it's really only going to be impactful if you legitimately use that time you freed up to generate revenue and you know that, if you have more time, you can and will generate revenue. If the answer to that is yes, then perhaps it does make sense to bring in more of an admin-focused person. Otherwise, if you're not confident that having however many hours freed up each week is going to help you directly generate revenue, then it probably makes more sense to bring someone in to help with those revenue generating activities, the sales stuff, such as booking appointments, conducting sales calls, organic social media stuff, and just generally connecting with prospective clients. 

And of course, you don't have to bring someone in to do all those things. For example, maybe you start with an appointment-setter, whose main focus is to book sales calls onto your calendar that you can then close. And, of course, the benefit there is that an appointment-setter is someone who has a direct bearing on your ability to bring in more revenue. 

But perhaps you're in this third situation, which is that you're just overwhelmed, and you might not even have clarity on what your main issue is at this point. In that case, bring in an admin person, but someone with sales experience, someone who can be the best of both worlds for you. Ideally, you would have this no matter what situation you're in, but I recommend this approach, specifically, if you're just feeling overwhelmed in general, because that's going to start to help you get clarity on what exactly it is that you need in your first or next team member. 

At the end of the day, just remember to hire for the problem that you're facing. If you have a revenue problem, hire to help with the revenue problem. If you have an operations or an admin problem, hire to help with the operations or admin problem and not hire for the problem. That's two levels removed from the actual problem. That's what I'm talking about when I say if you're telling yourself that “Okay, if I just have more time, I can focus on generating revenue,” but if you're not generating revenue in the first place, that's a sales problem. That's a revenue problem, rather than an admin problem. So make sure you're hiring for the specific problem that you have. 

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