The Importance of Hiring & Outsourcing A Team
At some point in their career, every creative entrepreneur reaches a breaking point. The logistics of running a business mixed with endless to-do lists and late night work sessions coalesce into frustration (and burnout). Maybe you’re living this right now? Your business- once so exciting and passion-fueled- has left you exhausted and uninspired. You want to grow, create, and explore new horizons…yet you’re weighed down by everything that is resting on your shoulders.
I’ve been there. In my career I’ve made many mistakes but the biggest was NOT hiring and outsourcing a team sooner. For 14 years I ran my photography business completely by myself and I cringe at the amount of time I lost doing things I should have given to someone else. Just because I could do things on my own didn’t mean that it was wise…and I probably would have experienced even more success if I would have taken off some hats and unclenched my grip.
Outsourcing and hiring isn’t just for the industry-leaders, it’s for every photographer and creative entrepreneur who wants to run their business with a balanced, sustainable foundation. When you first start out, you run every aspect of your business out of necessity, but as time goes on it’s important to take a birds-eye view. Ask yourself– can I continue this workload for the long haul? Could I grow my business more if I wasn’t so entrenched in busy work? What could I do with some of these work hours back?
You’ll quickly find that, while outsourcing and hiring is an investment, it has the potential to take your business to new heights that you could never get to otherwise.
So what do you need to consider when outsourcing and hiring? Here are some hardwon tips and pieces of advice that I hope will guide you along your own path:
Being a jack of all trades is fun for a while, but it’s much more rewarding to work in your zone of genius. Most creatives are particularly talented in certain areas– maybe you’re great at shooting and connecting with your clients but loathe editing. Or you love curating image galleries but would rather do almost anything than write a blog post. When you spend too much time doing the things you dislike, the tasks you’re actually good at suffer because you’re not approaching them from rest, creativity, and inspiration. Outsourcing is important because it allows you to take some of those “dislikes” off your to-do list so you can pursue excellence in the areas that only you can do.
Beyond working in your zone of genius, you can’t trade time for money indefinitely. Sooner or later the tasks on your plate will be too much for you to handle and you can either choose to cut back or continue to grow (with outside help). Hiring a team allows you to scale your business, increase your income, and take on more work without adding more to your plate. Additionally, the added perspective and ideas that a team offers are priceless. When you work entirely by yourself it can be an echo chamber of your own thoughts and ideas– more people means more insight, knowledge, and expertise.
Speaking of expertise, hiring a team will instantly elevate different avenues of your business. Instead of pretending to be the expert in all areas of your business, you can actually hire experts who have mastered their craft. Your team members’ individual skill sets can benefit EVERY aspect of your business– a professional editor will perfect your photos. A professional copywriter will ensure your words are persuasive. A professional website designer will uplevel your brand.
Of course, there are seasons when it doesn’t make sense to outsource. In the beginning stages of business it’s important to get your bearings and ensure that you can consistently make an income before investing in a team. Like any startup, there are the months (or years) of ‘putting in the work’ so that you can reap the benefits later.
With that being said, many creative entrepreneurs are past the beginning stages and still haven’t outsourced out of fear. For me, one of the main fears was that no one could do my job as well as I could. Giving up control is hard (especially if you have perfectionistic tendencies) and it’s easy to slip into the mindset that you ‘should’ do all the things that you ‘can’ do. That mindset is a trap for burnout.
In the last 2 years, REFINED Co grew so much that I had to hire out of necessity and almost immediately I thought, “I should have done this a LONG time ago.” It turns out that other people can do some aspects of my job better than me and I can genuinely say: Hiring a team took so much pressure off my back, allowed me to focus on my area of expertise, and inspired me to push harder in other avenues. It was not easy letting go of control, but 110% worth it.
Another common fear is the expense. This was a big hangup for me because I pride myself in running debt free companies and with a busy, growing family my income was important to us. Giving up some of that income to pay someone else (for what I COULD do myself) was not an easy pill to swallow. But- when I took an honest look at my life? I was drowning in work, unhappy, and missing out on living life because all I could do was cross the next thing off my endless to-do list.
Time is money and we only get one life to live. As entrepreneurs, we need to start valuing our time and not just the hustle. Paying someone else to take care of a task cost me money, but it gave me back time, energy, freedom, creativity, joy, memories with loved ones, business growth, and so much more.
Feeling motivated to hire but not sure where to start? My outsourcing needs look a little bit different from photographers but I wish I had hired people when I was in the midst of my photography career. Specifically:
- When I was a wedding photographer I would have hired out editing. After a full day/weekend of shooting the last thing I wanted to do was edit and you can hire editors that use your presets of choice!
- Website Design and Copywriting are two areas that would have also served me so well during my photography days. Writing is a weakness of mine and it costs me more time than I have to get adequate words down. Constantly updating, redesigning, and worrying about how my brand appeared would have been solved by simply investing in an expert to design from the get go.
With REFINED Co, hiring a bookkeeper/accountant/CPA was huge for our first hire. I really wanted it to be done right and to be sure that as the business grew I had someone in my corner that could help me keep everything buttoned up for Uncle Sam.
Remember, your business is unique and where you decide to outsource should be based on your biggest needs. Make a list of your weekly, monthly, and yearly tasks and hire based on the areas that take up the most time. It’s okay to start small and pick one thing to outsource at a time– bringing on a new hire to an already established business is a process so you don’t want to do it all at once!
As you invest in your team you’ll find that there are two methods of payment.
Retainer: You reserve someone for a chunk of time (i.e. monthly, quarterly).
Hourly: You pay someone by the hour.
If you are nervous about the cost of outsourcing, I recommend starting with an hourly rate to see how the team member’s services add to your overall business. Retainers can feel scary because the number is usually big- but once broken down by the hour it makes sense and is great to have the commitment from a team member for a bigger chunk of time.
As a business owner who once believed that I could do everything, I now know that outsourcing and hiring is one of the smartest business moves you can make. REFINED Co currently has an accountant, CPA, Chief Marketing Officer, Social Media Manager and Copywriter as part of our team and I don’t know how I would run my business otherwise.
If you are looking for space, freedom, and growth in your business, the answer might not be to grit your teeth and do more. Look for ways to outsource and run your business with a more balanced, sustainable approach.
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