Knowing How, What, and When to Outsource: For Startups

Startups are always on the go, building the company from the ground up, but with a bootstrapped budget, startups can’t afford to have a deep talent pool in all the areas needed to succeed.

In order to grow, these small businesses need to rely on outsourced support, interns, and freelancers – so knowing how, what and when to outsource is an invaluable asset for all startups and small business owners.


Is There an Opportunity Cost?

Whether you’re a huge company with dozens of employees or your coworkers are just a couple buddies you’ve hired, you need a return on investment on your employees. When your staff is working on assignments, signing clients or networking within your community, they’re directly contributing to your core business growth. You’re paying them and they’re making you money. Conversely, when they’re scrubbing your floors and dusting your desks, they’re bringing very little value to the table.

opportunity cost

As a student, my first real marketing gig was interning at a Montreal startup digital agency. Early on, we had a rotating schedule where every week two employees would stay after work to dust, broom and mop the office. It was long, tedious and it cut into time that could’ve been spent networking, meeting clients or attending community events.

For this reason, the partners eventualy decided to hire a local office cleaning company to take this distraction off of our plates. Sure, the hourly cleaning services come with a price tag, but when they’d factor in the amount of extra time the team could then allocate to supporting the business’s growth, they realized that they were actually saving money.

I mean, can your business really afford to skip out on important tasks just to tidy up your office in the name of “saving money”? Probably not.

How Urgent is it?

Picture it: You’ve got a big project, a tight deadline and a tough client. Your work needs to be exceptional the first time around, and you’ve still gotta finish the other assignments you’ve got going on. You can either drop the project, tell the client you just can’t take it, or you can see it through with your team and potentially burn the deadline.


Maybe your client will be lenient, or maybe they’ll vote with their feet and take their business elsewhere. Or maybe you can make a couple phone calls to some freelancers who’ll throw their hat in the ring and help you beat the deadline and satisfy client expectations.

More helping hands means getting the job done quicker, and probably better. A big advantage of freelancing is the ability to bring on someone who has an area of expertise that your team might not have. Getting your copywriter to conduct market research, or getting your project manager to work on your client’s SEO might not have the desired outcome, and if you’re looking to get a project done on time and in the best way possible, outside help is key here.

How Does it Fit into Your Core Business Model?

What’s really your core business? This is another question you have to ask yourself.

If your company specializes in a specific field, your clients or customers are paying you for that specific reason. Sure, businesses will grow, diversify and expand to new fields of expertise along the way. But your web development company isn’t going to learn how to shoot a television spot halfway through a project, and your accounting firm isn’t going to suddenly learn how to run a successful marketing campaign during audit season.

none of your business

Often times, allocating too much time to picking up new tasks deviates your company from its core business — i.e. your company’s unique selling proposition. The advantage with an outsourced service provider, however, is that they come in when a job’s needed, and leave when the job is done. You’re saving money by not having to hire a full time employee as well as by focusing on your core business.

Money Spent: Beyond the Dollars

Freelancers cost money, of course. At the end of the day, when you’ve got an SEO guy, a print ad person, an accountant and a couple other mercenaries on your payroll, you can end up footing quite the bill.

But when you take a look at the money your employees are making for you by doing what they’re good at, the money you’re making from client retention, as well as the fact that you’re running your core business and not wasting time on auxiliary tasks, you’re definitely growing your bottom line.

So the next time you’re faced with an option to freelance, don’t forget to ask yourself these three questions:

  1. Is there an opportunity cost?
  2. How urgent is the deliverable or project?
  3. How does that project or deliverable fit into your core business model?


4th year University student; graduating marketing major; wannabe musician and incessant dreamer. The PH is a V, and the struggle is real.

The First Machine Learning Marketing Platform
Built to Scale Search for Local Resellers & Agencies

Automate, optimize and track more campaigns, more profitably.