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Outsourcing Or In-house: Which Is Best For Your Business Workload?


Barnaby Lashbrooke

Founder and CEO of Time etc, author of The Hard Work Myth

8 minute read

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For any entrepreneur starting their own business, chances are you’ll be used to wearing many different hats and juggling dozens of tasks simultaneously. But as your business grows, there’s no escaping the need for extra pairs of hands to keep up with everything.

The decision to outsource or keep work in-house is a big one. Hiring freelancers and agencies can bring huge benefits, but so can keeping tasks within your internal team. Here's what you need to consider before making your decisions.

Benefits of outsourcing tasks

Let's start by exploring some essential benefits that outsourcing can offer businesses.

1. Access to a larger talent pool

The internet and remote working have opened up a world of opportunities when it comes to finding the right people for your project.

Recruiting for a full-time, in-house position usually involves searching for suitable talent that’s available within a commutable distance from your business, which may be challenging depending on your location or industry. Working with an external contractor or service means you don’t have to be limited by geography—you could hire someone on the other side of the world with as equal ease as someone just down the street. And more choice means you’ll be more likely to find a good fit for your needs.


In the case of freelancers, for example, they often specialize in one area, and offering a narrower range of services allows them to quickly master their skills and gain higher levels of expertise. Working with different clients can also equip them with a range of insights into the problems that companies deal with, as well as industry trends, and having this wealth of knowledge on your side can help take your tasks or projects to the next level.

2. Lower costs

One of the biggest concerns for small businesses is the cost of hiring staff, which can raise overhead costs significantly. One of the main benefits of outsourcing is the significant cost savings it can offer.

While it is true that hourly rates for freelancers and independent contractors may be higher than a full-time employee ($37 versus $30, for example), it is important to bear in mind that you only pay for their productive time completing your work, which usually works out as a much more cost-effective solution. If we take figures from recent research as an example—the average full-time employee is productive for 2 hours and 58 minutes each day—what could set you back $176 to pay a full-time employee would only cost you $89.10 for the same amount of productive time with a virtual assistant.

When you add up the costs of recruitment, a full-time salary for an experienced candidate, any employee benefits, office supplies, and equipment, the money you save by outsourcing could be as much as 90%. The money you save can then be reinvested back into your business, which could provide many more opportunities for growth.


3. Save time

According to recent reports, 66% of business owners work between 40-60 hours per week, with 19% working more than 60 hours per week! Not only that, 85% of entrepreneurs report working nights and weekends, trading quality time with family for long hours working on their business.

It’s common practice for entrepreneurs to wear many hats when they’re getting their business off the ground, but as your business grows, increasingly greater demands are placed on your time. With only so many hours in a day, even the world’s most organized and efficient person can only do so much! This is where outsourcing can come to the rescue.


If just one hour of low-impact tasks was taken off your plate and into the hands of a third party or independent contractor every working day for a year, the time that you would reclaim would equate to 29.5 eight-hour workdays or just under six whole working weeks.

Outsourcing can also help you save even more time by avoiding the time you’d need to invest in onboarding a new employee (experts say it takes about three months to successfully onboard a new hire into your workplace) or train or hand over to an existing one. Plus, if your existing team is busy with other projects and priorities, outsourcing could result in a faster turnaround and you can avoid your team becoming overloaded with work.

When a task should be outsourced

If you're on the fence about whether or not to outsource a task, here are three key indicators that it’s the right move for your business.

It’s not relevant to your field or industry

Think about your business and what you offer. Now think about the tasks that keep you busy on a daily basis. How many are directly linked to your objectives or your industry?


For example, the average entrepreneur spends more than 30% of their time on admin tasks such as email and schedule management. But just how many of their businesses will be centered around these areas? While there’s no denying these sorts of tasks need to be done, they don’t need to be done by you. As the head of your business, you should be focusing your time and energy on the core aspects of your business.

It eats away your time without an adequate return on investment

There is an often-quoted saying that "time is money." While both time and money are indeed extremely valuable, they are not the same. If you spend money, there will always be opportunities to make more, but once time is spent, it is gone forever. So it’s crucial that we use our time wisely.

If it lies outside your natural skills or strengths, it’s not essential to your role as the head of your business, or it doesn’t take you closer to your goals, you should consider outsourcing it.

See: 50 Tasks You Can Outsource To A Virtual Assistant To Save Time In Your Business

When a task should be kept in-house

So, how can you tell if a task should be kept in-house? Here are the tell-tale signs you should be aware of.


It’s essential to your business success

When it comes to your core operations and objectives, an in-depth, insider knowledge of your business is vital to see the best results.

Strategic planning, idea generation, and revenue-generating activities that lead to increased profitability and growth are best kept within your remit as the head of your business.

Keeping tasks that contribute to the company's success in-house is also a good way to keep your employees engaged and motivated. This not only shows them that you trust their abilities but also keeps them invested in your success.

It sets you apart from your competitors

There are many factors that contribute to a business's success, and each one is important in its own way. However, some aspects are more valuable than others.

Consider your business’s USP (unique selling proposition). Any tasks related to this are worth keeping in-house and handled by those with a strong understanding and commitment to your goals. This way, you can be certain your competitive advantage stays within your business and you maintain more control.

What’s the bottom line?

When you are looking to scale your business, there are many factors to think about before choosing whether to outsource or keep a task within your internal team.

Many businesses today would struggle to grow without a combined strategy of both models. Outsourcing tasks that are not directly aligned with your company’s core mission or do not take you closer to your goals allows you and your team to focus on what you do best. Dedicating your time and energy to these critical tasks is what will take your business to the next level.

If you're ready to begin outsourcing, the key is finding the right person — or people — for your business’s needs. But with so many options available, it can be difficult to know where to start. Your time is precious, and you need to spend it on more important things than sifting through long lists of candidate profiles.

Our mission at Time etc is to help entrepreneurs do more, achieve more, and earn more by providing the best virtual assistants for their business. We have a vast talent pool of assistants with a wealth of experience to tackle those tasks that are eating away at your time. We’re so sure you’ll be delighted with your assistant, we offer a complete lifetime satisfaction guarantee for all our members.

Try a virtual assistant for free or speak to our team to build a plan that’s perfect for you.

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About the author

Barnaby Lashbrooke is the founder and CEO of Virtual Assistant service Time etc as well as the author of The Hard Work Myth, recently recommended by Sir Richard Branson. Barnaby is a Forbes Columnist on productivity and is also an accomplished entrepreneur, selling more than $35 million worth of services.

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