“I Can Do That” and the Mental Math of Outsourcing

“I Can Do That” and the Mental Math of Outsourcing

October 7, 2022

“I Can Do That” and the Mental Math of Outsourcing

For solo and small professional services firms, a major obstacle to their ability to build and scale their practice is too much DIY—do it yourself—and not enough outsourcing.

They’re doing their own bookkeeping or social media, just to name two examples. Instead of taking the time to explain to an associate how to do a particular task, they figure it’s faster to just do it and move on.

The DIY problem is not confined to a firm owner doing the work themselves. DIY includes outsourcing to poorly qualified family members to take advantage of their “free labor.”  I ran into a lady several years ago who had her husband doing the bookkeeping for her business. His qualification? He was a fireman. Because of his schedule, he had consecutive days off which allowed him to do the books.

The problem is captured in this thought: “I can do that.” It’s way too easy to look at a particular task, think “oh, I can do that,” and set more vital work aside momentarily (like the project you have for an important client, for example) and hop merrily down the bunny trail of that task.

Sure, maybe it’s faster and cheaper to act on the “I can do that” impulse, but only in the very short run.

What this mental math fails to capture is the cumulative effect of all those discrete “I can do that” decisions. You end up with a lengthy list of “I can do that” tasks that you forget to do. You get a few done here or there but you put yourself behind on some of the deadlines you’d set for yourself on more strategic aspects of your business.

When all those decisions pile up, you’re working way too hard in your practice on the wrong things, you end up with overwhelm, and you’re on the road to burning out.

One solution to this problem is to give yourself another mental prompt other than “I can do that.” How about “how can I avoid doing this?” or “who can I give this to?” Maybe your own version of these questions needs to be on a sticky note at your desk.

When you start getting honest with yourself and acting on the details in your business you need to quit obsessing over doing yourself, you’ll start curing a lot of other major problems. You’ll have more time to do client work, or work on business development, or spend time with your family. You’ll regain some of that joy you had when you started the business.



Image created using Craiyon (Formerly DALL-E Mini)

(This blog post was also posted on LinkedIn.)

©Ray Business Advisors, LLC and John Ray


About me: I help solo or small professional services firm owners with the confidence and positioning necessary to improve their pricing and change the trajectory of not only their business but their life.

I have a podcast called The Price and Value Journey, which features interviews with industry leaders and audio versions of my blog posts. You can find the podcast on your favorite podcast app.

I also have a book coming out in 2023:  The Price and Value Journey: Raise Your Confidence, Your Value, and Your Prices to Grow Your Business Using The Generosity Mindset.

For more information, go to PriceValueJourney.com

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