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When Should Small Business Owners Stop “Doing it All”?

When we talk about the issues that plague small business owners, problems like recruitment and overregulation immediately come to mind. But could owners be making their own problems worse?

According to a 2016 report from the National Retail Federation, most small business owners are extremely prone to trying to “do it all” themselves. The report says, “A majority of retail small business owners (82%) handle recruiting and hiring themselves, 74% do their own marketing and advertising, 72% tackle benefits management, including employee healthcare and 56% maintain their own website…”

Yes, small business owners must be a jack-of-all-trades, but that’s … a lot.

And that list isn’t even complete. According to the report, more small business owners also personally handle the following functions rather than hand them off to someone else: (1) product development, (2) ordering supplies, (3) customer service, (4) data security, (5) payment processing, (6) payroll, (7) accounting, (8) legal issues and (9) taxes.

That’s not just a lot, that’s too much. Perhaps it makes more sense why 33% of small businesses fail within the first 5 years, as the Small Business Administration has found.

Trying to “do it all” has serious repercussions for the business. Certain tasks will be done poorly, because no one person can be an expert at everything. Meanwhile, core, revenue-generating work will be shoved aside by administrative and management tasks. The owner’s priorities will be constantly dictated by today’s emergencies rather than tomorrow’s goals.

But when do you stop trying to do it all? It’s when the value of your time exceeds the cost of the activity.

For every hour you spend on a non-core task, you generate $0 of revenue. If you pay someone $50 to spend an hour on a task, but you can generate $100 in revenue or increase your business’ value by $100 with that time, that’s what you should do.

Remember, too, that there are other benefits that come from finding helpers: whatever your core business is, theirs is the service they’re providing to you. They’ll produce higher quality outcomes, faster and at lower risk.

  • If you feel like you have no choice but to do it yourself, ask if that’s really true. Ask a mentor or another trusted, objective person for their perspective.
  • If you have to do it because there’s no one else, hire someone or find a vendor.
  • Try using virtual assistants or cheap freelance services for simple tasks.
  • Hire proven, well-vetted vendors or services to help with HR, marketing, accounting and other business functions that are high priority but not core business.

CoAdvantage, one of the nation’s largest Professional Employer Organizations (PEOs), helps small to mid-sized companies with HR administration, benefits, payroll, and compliance. To learn more about our ability to create a strategic HR function in your business that drives business growth potential, contact us today.  

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