I meet with a fair amount of entrepreneurs and small business owners every week and one of the common topics that comes up often is how busy they are. Generally when I dig a bit deeper, it turns out that they are busy with things I call Time Sinks.

What are Time Sinks?

It’s basically stuff you are doing that takes up a lot of time but doesn’t really add much value to your life or your business. For small business owners, this is often stuff like responding to emails, administrative paperwork, book keeping and social media. Most people tend to do these things themselves instead of paying someone else to do it. They always think they can do it faster and better. After all, it is their business and they know it the best. What is really happening is that they are working IN their business instead of ON their business. This generally means they are really self employed instead of business owners, it also means that they think they are saving money, but don’t realise they are actually wasting time AND money. This is why I advocate outsourcing as much as possible right from the beginning.

Why should I outsource?

If you are serious about the business game, then you will need to outsource or delegate eventually. Richard Branson owns Virgin Airlines, but you don’t see him piloting the planes. Jamie Oliver is a hugely successful chef, but you don’t see him cooking at his restaurants every night. A business can only scale if delegation and outsourcing is implemented. As long as you insist on doing everything yourself, you will never have enough time to do it all. A friend of mine wrote an excellent article on knowing when to outsource your business tasks, you can read it here.

What are the first steps?

So how do I start outsourcing? The very basic step would be to start tracking the time you spend on different tasks each day and figure out where you are spending most of your time. Making use of an app such as RescueTime or TimeDoctor will help track what you are spending your time on. Alternatively, you can make use of a paper and pen to log what you are doing in half hour intervals.

Once you have figured out what you are spending your time on, the next question to ask is how much are you charging per hour and would you pay someone else that amount to do the work you are doing. A simple example is this – Say you are a life coach who charges $150 per hour for coaching services. You are currently spending 3 hours a day researching articles to post on social media. You could hire someone at $15 per hour to do the same thing. Instead, you are giving up the chance to earn $450 in order to save $45. Does that make sense to you?

So you need to look at your list of time sinks and figure out which are the things you can start outsourcing and delegating. This will in turn free up your time for you to focus on the more important strategic elements of your business such as business development and partnership opportunities.

If you still think that you are saving money by doing everything yourself, do the above exercise and see if you still feel the same way after.