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Entrepreneur: When Time is Thin, Outsource

It’s early morning, maybe just before your alarm normally goes off. You’ve been developing a habit lately of waking up before that familiar beeping, and while you’d like to catch a few extra Zzz’s along the way, you know there is so much to do.

You crawl out of bed, throw on a robe, and trudge down the hall. You wipe the sleep from your face as your hands fumble to try and make some coffee. You just don’t function well until you’ve had at least one oversized mug of coffee.

You stroll to your front door, grab the newspaper that’s found its way (once again) into the bushes along the side of the house. You scan the dark, sleepy neighborhood and plan to call the newspaper and complain (once again) about the delivery, but you know that won’t happen.

You settle in at the kitchen table, coffee finally brewed and in hand, and begin leafing through the paper. You don’t read much more aside from the headlines anymore, but you like to pretend you’re keeping up with current events. You simply don’t have the kind of time you used to.

You’re an ambitious and driven entrepreneur and while the rest of the house is still sleeping, you’re getting your energy flowing through your veins in the form of that rich, flavorful coffee.

You finally set down the paper after about 15 minutes of the same news stories, just different names associated with them, and grab a pen and pad of paper you keep nearby. You begin scrolling out your list of things you need to do today. When you went to bed last night you might have thought about 5 or 10 to-do items for your list, but once you begin actually writing them down you’re remembering a whole list more of them.

Soon your to-do list is looking like a month’s worth of work that you’ll have to get done in the next … (you check the time) … 10 hours. That’s right, you’re an entrepreneur and your working day is not like any other job you’ve ever had. Even that last salaried job, the one you knew how much you’d earn every week because you didn’t qualify for overtime, was relatively fixed with regard to hours.

Once you started this entrepreneurial venture things changed. One day you could find yourself putting in 6 hours and having enough time to spend with your family, but more and more often lately you’re throwing 10, 12, and even more hours into it every single day.

You keep wondering what’s happening to the time during your day, but you know the answer.

You’re wearing too many hats!

What it means to ‘wear too many hats.’

If you’ve never heard of the expression wearing many hats, then let me take a moment to explain it to you. Back not too long ago, people wore hats and each one was for a different trade, or purpose. You had your policeman’s cap, train conductor’s hat, business hat, and much more. People would be able to look at your hat and know what you were supposed to do (or what you did for a living).

Today most people wear hats for fashion and not function, though there are still numerous professions that rely on hats, like the aforementioned police officer, but the expression basically means you’re doing many different jobs at once.

You’re wearing many hats means you have taken on a lot of different roles within your organization (or job). Is that a bad thing? It could be. It all depends, though. A lot of people have a tendency to believe they can do anything they need without any help. It’s a matter of pride, really. When you’re taking on so much that you don’t have time to get them all done, then it’s going to hurt your business.

That’s when you need to think about outsourcing; relying on other people to help you get at least some of the basic work done.

How to outsource.

The word outsourcing can have so many different connotations to it. Some people see it as a cheap alternative for businesses looking to maximize their profits. Others see it as a valuable resource, especially for smaller businesses and entrepreneurs.

There are many different options available to just about anyone today with regard to outsourcing. It all depends on the reason why you might need to think about outsourcing.

Would you need help with web design?

What about the content?

Do you need to put together an ad campaign? Press release?

Or perhaps you need some advice about how to take your business to the next level.

First you need to define what your needs happen to be. Here’s a major problem a lot of entrepreneurs run into when first starting out:

They have a tendency to try and do everything themselves. They pick up a book on web design and begin tinkering around with it. Maybe you purchased a template on WordPress or some other site because you’ve heard it’s relatively easy to set up your own website.

Then you begin getting into the back room stuff and realize that things are not as easy as they first seemed. You have to figure out the configuration, fill it with content, add images, videos, and the list goes on and on. Before you know it, you’ve spent 20 hours just trying to understand the basics and even though you launch that site finally, it doesn’t look great, doesn’t take into account psychology of the average visitor, or professionalism, even.

Why not outsource?

What about the content. You know, the text you’ll see on your site. It could also include videos, podcasts, and more. Content is what drives success. You can have the best, most professionally designed website on the world but if the content is poorly written or created, then you’re not going to be converting too many people into customers.

People want to immediately know they’ve found the right site for their needs. They want to feel comfortable that you, the owner, are an authority on this particular topic. Whether you’re selling fitness equipment, health supplements, tools for the home, car parts, or anything else, your potential customers will only choose you if they feel they’re not just getting the best deal, but the best service and support.

How do they determine that? By reading the content.

By getting a sense of the person behind the mask, so to speak. You convey that through the content you create. As I’ve written previously, it’s one thing to be able to write sentences because you had to in order to get through high school, but it’s a completely different creature when you need to convince people about something.

Quality content is about following a specific path, understanding that people continue reading for one basic reason: because the content interests them and they believe it will answer a question they’ve had.

There are so many so-called ‘writers’ out there who don’t have much experience actually creating quality content, but they are often more skilled than the average entrepreneur at understanding basic ‘story’ structure (and keep in mind that you need to structure everything you create for your site like a story).

Not only could you be doing harm to your business potential by creating content by yourself, you could be losing a lot of time in the process. Time is money, as they say, and each day, week, and month that you’re missing out on potential sales and new customers is going to be hurting your business.

Find a quality writer, someone with experience, who can mold the content to maximize your online presence and potential. You can find a number of web designers, writers, and other professionals on freelancing sites like Elance, Freelancer, and Guru.

You may also want to consider hiring a consultant, someone who understands exactly what it takes to make a business successful in today’s modern environment, with the Internet driving traffic and first time visitors.

There are so many how-to books and other bits of advice that you should certainly devour whenever you get the chance, but relying on someone who has been there and done it before can help you not only answer important questions you may have along the way, but it will also help you avoid some common mistakes that have befallen other entrepreneur’s through the years.

You may also need to consider hiring an assistant. It could be a person who is right there in your own town, someone who can come to your office regularly, of even a virtual assistant. A virtual assistant can help you answer emails, field calls, and even provide a number of basic services.

How much would all of this cost? That depends on the service and providers you choose. Keep in mind, though, the less you’re willing to invest (not spend), the less you’re actually devoting to your business’s success. The key is to find the right balance between high quality and value.

Joseph Soares is globe-trotting serial entrepreneur, author-blogger, strategic communications expert & business coach. You can connect with Joseph via Twitter, Facebook, or his website.

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