Outsourcing - When is the right time?

Whilst not specifically about photography this article is based on a subject which many sole traders find intriguing. I’ve been in business as a Brand Photographer for well over two years now and one of things that I hear most often from my peers in various networking groups is that we...

“A little knowledge is a dangerous thing”


Whilst not specifically about photography this article is based on a subject which many sole traders find intriguing. I’ve been in business as a Brand Photographer for well over two years now and one of things that I hear most often from my peers in various networking groups is that we are not only professionals within our own industry but we have to be experts too in Accountancy, Marketing, Sales, I.T., Office Design, Web Design and many more beside. How do we find time to do the actual work when so much of our daily schedule is spent doing all the other things associated with running a business?

The difficulty is two-fold. Not only are we limited with the time available to us but we are also inhibited by our own belief that we can do EVERYTHING. Let me explain.

When I set up, I had a limited working capital, I didn’t have the luxury of being able to pay for a professionally designed website for example so I figured I’d do it myself. Now in fairness I didn’t make a bad fist of it, cosmetically it looked the part. I became fairly competent at WordPress and I was able to edit the site regularly and efficiently. The problem was that I hadn’t a notion of how the back-end of the website worked and how crucial that was in ranking my site on Google. I recall telling the world how great my site was without ever realising that the site wasn’t working for me the way it should. It took a meeting with an expert in Google AdWords who pointed out the futility of me spending a fortune on an ad campaign if clients were directed to a site that was too slow, too big and didn’t rank well. As the business started to establish itself and turnover increased, I accepted, as part of a bigger relaunch, that a new website, designed by a specialist web company, was imperative if I was going to generate any online business (check out the new site!)

Before I go on however, I’d rewind back to the beginning and ask you to imagine what would have happened if I had started the business with a lump sum to set myself up. What if I had €50k in the bank when I got going? Well, I, like most, love spending money and as the old saying goes, a fool and his money are easily parted. Had I started with a healthy bank balance I would have bought everything going. I had just joined the Kildare Chamber of Commerce and there were plenty of great businesses there that would have provided many useful services and products that would have helped. I look back and think to myself, I would have bought 500 Rosettes to present to clients I had yet to meet. I would have printed pens, mugs, mousepads, you name it to give as thank you gifts for clients who hadn’t booked me yet and I’d have installed CRM systems for a non-existent client list. You get the idea. I’d have wasted so much money on stuff I didn’t need at the time, partly because I felt a need to support my colleagues but also because I would have thought all this stuff would aid my own business and would impress any potential clients. Needless to say, I wouldn’t have been long spending the €50k if I had had it.

An example was the €400 I spent in Month 2 on Facebook and Google Ads. Why? I knew nothing about how they worked, I just stuck a load of what I thought was relevant info in and hoped for the best. That was €400 down the swanny you might say.

I wouldn’t be foolish enough to suggest that people should start businesses without a healthy equity, obviously that is neither feasible nor sensible for most, but there is one crucial thing that I have benefitted from that I would have missed out on had I began with that €50k in the bank and that is experience. I am now wise enough to accept that I am no expert in Accountancy or Sales and Marketing and I think we can safely say, Web Design, but having said that I have gathered a significant amount of experience in all those fields over the last couple of years because I had to....and that little knowledge will be invaluable as the business continues to grow. I’m so grateful to all my colleagues within the Chamber and the Business Network Academy who have shared their knowledge with me and helped me mature as an individual and a business. As Celtic Photography continues to grow so I invest the money in areas which need attention. As a result, I now have an accountant, I now have a business coach, I now have a new website and hopefully as it continues to thrive, I’ll be able to outsource more and more of the aspects of running the business so I may concentrate on actually taking the Photographs that bring the money in.

Essentially whether you’re a sole trader or a director of a big multi-national the principles are the same...you have to learn to delegate, you cannot do everything yourself so place trust in others to do what you cannot. If you can’t afford it, then wing it until you can, the experience you get will be worth it.

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