“I could probably do that” may be one of the most-heard statements uttered around conference tables in small businesses all across the nation. With limited budgets and ever-changing needs, most businesses turn to existing personnel to take on tasks and challenges that creep up in the course of a work day. While this can be a great way to encourage employees to learn new skills and branch outside their comfort zones, sometimes it is NOT in the best interest of the company to try to do everything “in house.”
Let’s face it, most small businesses do not have all the skill sets they need. With a small, compact staff there may be many areas of expertise that go unmet: marketing, accounting, legal advice, writing, etc. can be just a few of the skill sets that the average small business just does not have access to within the existing staff structure. Need to make tax projections for the next two years? Consider whether it is really a good idea to have an existing staffer with no accounting experience take on the task or whether it might not be a BETTER idea to hire an outside professional or consultant to keep the company out of potential hot water.
There are those skills that can be taught and learned and where it might make the most sense to train an existing employee instead of going to an outside professional. An existing employee who is a reasonable writer COULD learn how to write marketing text and press releases, but there would need to be an investment in training and support. Of course it most likely would not make sense to send an existing customer service employee to law school just so there could be in-house legal advice: hire an attorney or legal consultant for the short-term instead.
It is important to consider whether or not to outsource jobs and tasks based on considerations other than just expense. Look at the long-term needs of the company to determine if it would make more sense to invest in hiring someone as an employee or consultant, or whether some additional training for an existing position would make the most sense. What overall resources do you need to develop within the company? Will the company be at a loss if a specially-trained employee leaves? If so, consider hiring an outside company, professional or specialist to fulfill the need and include the cost in the planning budget.
Don’t be afraid to hire a professional when necessary and keep in mind that taking the cheap “inside” approach may cost more money in the long term.