When it comes to outsourcing stuff in our business, the equation is simple:
If we charge $100/hr for our time, and can pay someone else $40/hr to do something we find annoying and menial, (like bookkeeping), then we should.
Because it frees us up to do the work we can charge $100/hr for.
The return on investment in this scenario is pretty clear and makes the expense easy to justify.
We can’t expect to see such a clear-cut return on all business expenses like this, however. Sometimes we need to remember that investing in something that takes the pressure off and gives us back some much-needed headspace is worthwhile.
Because that head-space allows us to do the big picture thinking necessary to make our businesses more efficient and thus more profitable.
In the office that could look like getting admin help, or outsourcing phone support.
But … here’s the stuff no one ever thinks to outsource, but should.
Stuff in our home.
Let’s take the example of a typical business-owning couple.
Partner #1 is responsible for the majority of the thinking and doing in the business. They work in the office while Partner #2 works from home, doing general admin stuff, but also being available to their two school-aged children. (Someone has to do school drop-offs and pick-ups plus ferry the kids to extra-curricular activities in the afternoon.)
When Partner #1 gets home in the afternoon, there’s no time to chill out and decompress after a tiring work day. Partner #2 has been working all day too – running the household while pitching in with the business. They (quite reasonably) expect Partner #1 to pitch in help with whatever’s going on.
- Dinner needs to be made, and then cleaned up from.
- There are dirty clothes to be washed and clean clothes to be folded.
- The pool isn’t cleaning itself.
- Someone needs to run to the shops and grab some bread.
- The floors haven’t been cleaned in a week but look like they haven’t seen a mop in months.
- School permission notes are piling up in the corner.
For most business-owning couples, evenings are spent tag-teaming each other. One person does the kids’ baths while the other does the dishes. One person does the laundry while the other makes the next day’s school lunches. Once the kids are down to sleep, there are either more chores to be done, or undone work from the business part of the day that requires them to jump back on their laptops.
Is anyone having fun yet?
The worst thing about this is our easy acceptance that this is just how things are when you have your own business. But, the fact it, it doesn’t need to be this way.
Part of the household budget for any family, but particularly business-owning ones, should be set aside for household help.
- Evenings should be spent on the couch, not catching up on chores.
- Weekends should be spent as a family, not mowing lawns, cleaning out gutters and scrubbing grout in bathrooms.
- Most importantly, however, both people involved in the business (and relationship!) need downtime.
When those people get genuine downtime:
- They provide better service to customers.
- They make better and faster decisions.
- They problem-solve faster and more innovatively.
This all makes for a more profitable business.
Which allows them to buy even more leisure time. Time that allows them to do things like:
- Have a hobby.
- Look after their health better.
- Be more present with their family.
In short, it allows the business to work for their family and the lifestyle they desire rather than being a job where their boss (them) expects them to work 60 hours a week.
As Stuart Heritage points out here:
Chores aren’t video games. There isn’t a final level with a boss battle. The moment you’ve finished, they reset and start again.
If you’re running a business, you’re probably facing a lot of stress and pressure in the office. You don’t need stress and pressure in your home too. It’s so easy, and relatively inexpensive to get a bit of help in the home.
Give it a try.
Buy yourself some downtime.
It won’t just make your business life better. It will make your home life better too.
Which is handy given that’s probably the reason you went into business for yourself in the first place.