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Be careful what you outsource

In the interest of work life balance, I'm all for outsourcing. If you're a small business owner, why spend hours struggling to keep your company's finances in order when you can outsource the bookkeeping to someone who is an expert at it? If you pay a bookkeeper $50 an hour and your time is worth $100 an hour, you're ahead of the game.

It's a classic, common sense approach to growing a business. But there's some danger in outsourcing and it needs to be pursued with discrimination.

Earlier this week, I attended the Women's Success Summit in Miami where a panel of successful women business owners told the audience they grew their business by hiring experts, delegating and mentoring their staff to free their time up for business development. But speakers throughout the day explained that certain functions can't and shouldn't be outsourced. 

Branding genius Bruce Turkel's advice was to never outsource marketing yourself. "People don't buy what you do, they buy who you are." He's so right! I bought football player Tim Tebow's book. I know it's not going to be a fabulously written piece of literature and I'm really not a sports nut, but I bought the book because I love Tim Tebow (a football player and former quarterback for the Florida Gators). 

Turkel says you don't have to don't have to be unique. You just have to build on what someone else already has created and make everyone like you. "Be really good at what you do but be better at selling who you are."

Lisa Sparks with Constant Contact, the guru of email marketing, also gave some advice on what not to outsource. These days, everyone is eager to have a presence on Facebook, Twitter and blogs. They want to reach out to customers through newsletters, too. Lots of people are hiring others to create content for them. Lisa urged us to do this cautiously. "This is an opportunity to show your quirks, tell your story. Your content is your voice to the world."

I was talking with New York Publicist Stephanie Wolf, owner of SWPR about outsourcing and she had some great advice, too. "Client interaction is the most valuable part of what I'm offering. I would never outsource direct communication." Stephanie says she is willing to outsource administrative tasks such as writing or media outreach. But she's reluctant to outsource billing. "People have told me to do that, but I have trouble letting control around billing. It feels too risky."

Are there certain functions of your business you consider too risky to outsource? Which functions are you willing to let go of to reclaim some work life balance?