When I started my first real company, Single Grain, I was a one-man shop. I did everything that needed doing, whether that meant hiring virtual assistants to help with SEO, or carrying out the administrative work needed to support them.
As my company grew, I was also forced to start hiring. After all, there's only so much you can do on your own, and getting bigger meant bringing on a team to pick up the work I couldn't get to.
At first, I was resistant. Nobody knew my company like I did, and I struggled to understand what to delegate (and when), to maintain my quality standards and not go over-budget hiring outside help.
But once I actually started delegating, I could have kicked myself. As I shifted activities I wasn't really skilled at handling in the first place, I "won back" more and more of my time to spend on the ones I was. I couldn't believe I'd hesitated to expand for as long as I did.
Don't make the same mistakes I made. If you're an entrepreneur and you're still doing the three tasks below, it's time to make a change.
I've always been decent with numbers, so I figured I was doing fine handling my company's books on my own. And, to be fair, I never got audited, so I must have done OK.
But bringing on people with actual financial expertise changed the way I looked at my company's finances. With proper bookkeeping systems in place, I was able to better understand my cash flow and make decisions based on profit and loss statements -- not on gut feel. Having someone on my side who was knowledgeable about taxes and financial planning saved me far more than I spent, as well.
If you aren't ready for a full-time bookkeeper, accountant or CFO, no worries. Services like Bench.co can take bookkeeping requirements off your shoulders. You can also hire a contract, freelance or part-time financial pro on a more limited basis. Kris Merritt ofAccountingDepartment.com describes on his blog what one of these professionals can do for you: "A part-time CFO manages cash flow, reports financial information to management efficiently and performs other important finance-related tasks that can fall under the radar at busy small businesses," Merritt writes.
"A part-time CFO can also train qualified employees to do some basic accounting work."
Get the financial help you need. It might not be as expensive as you think.
Your company's legal needs are another place to avoid cutting corners. I've been sued before. And it stinks. While getting professional legal help won't guarantee that that will never happen, it can reduce your odds (or at least give you a ready ally who knows you and your company should the worst occur).
I don't care how new your business is or how little cash is sitting in your bank account. The following legal tasks all require legal guidance - which, again, you can get at reasonable rates, using services like Upcounsel:
- Your business's organization documents and initial filings
- Your contracts
- Your employee handbook (if applicable)
- Funding and fundraising
- Mergers and acquisitions
This list isn't comprehensive. A good rule of thumb is: If you think you might need a lawyer for something, you probably do.
3. Back-office work
Finally, getting administrative tasks off your plate is a no-brainer; it's a simple calculation. If I have 10 hours free, and I can use that time to either network with the contacts that will bring in business, or handle my companies' admin requirements, delegating my back office work represents a much better use of my time.
Of course, hiring out your administrative work to a real-world or virtual assistant isn't as easy as pressing "Post" on your job listing. As BiggerPockets founder andEntrepreneur contributor Brandon Turner noted: "Success with a virtual assistant doesn't come naturally. Like any skill, it must be learned, developed and mastered."
I've hired assistants -- both in-person and online -- that failed for different reasons. Now, when I'm in the position of needing administrative help, I ask myself the following questions first:
- What specific tasks do I expect this person to complete?
- What skills does that mean they need to have?
- How long do I expect these tasks to take?
- What's required on my part to get my new hire up to speed?
- What will a successful assistant look like in this role?
Whether you're looking to delegate out your financial, legal or back-office requirements, having a plan is critical. But don't get so hung up on developing a perfect plan that you never get around to actually hiring.
Your time truly is your most valuable resource. Make sure it's being spent in the right places.
This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Minor edits have been done by the Entrepreneur.com.ph editors