Johnson Cook

Atlanta tech investor. Entrepreneur.

Johnson Cook - Atlanta tech investor. Entrepreneur.

Grab a Wrench or Hire a Dude – Handoffs and Outsourcing Considerations

Editorial note: today I got a little winded… so I’m going to give those short attention span readers the entire summary in two sentences. – JC

The Short Version:

In your own ventures, when you do things yourself, you do them better because you have the true goal of Quality in mind. But doing everything yourself isn’t possible, so just keep true, deep down, meaningful Quality in mind as you make the outsource/handoff-to-scale decisions.

ZMM Mechanic - Outsource Sales or NotThe Value of Exploring Your Own Work

A lot of the ideas one takes from ZMM leave you with more questions than answers.  This one is no exception… but that’s kind of the point!

On our Motorcycle Monday topic from ZMM, let’s talk about whether you should hire a professional mechanic to fix your motorcycle or figure it out yourself. It’s not always an easy choice for those who are truly dedicated to Quality. In my mind, at least today, let’s use the dilemmas of outsourcing parts of your life and your company as you grow.  When do you hire a professional “mechanic” and when do you sit down and roll up your sleeves to do it yourself?

The default answer for the typical fast-paced-life entrepreneur is to outsource that which you do not understand, or that which you are not a high-performer. Maybe. But at what point do you outsource? Is it just a financial decision? Is it merely for capacity? What about your own need to understand the business, especially in the start-up phase?

I don’t think it’s purely financial, and I don’t think the decision is solely based on the fastest, shortest path between point A and B.   A, of course being a startup, no-revenue company, and B being a sustainable, profitable, mature organization.  Is the best way to build a sustainable company to get there the fastest?

Let’s look at both sides as Pirsig does.   The “professional” mechanic has been trained by someone on the exact steps to take to do his technical work. He is seeing many bikes each day and to him, they are all just work to be done. He knows the steps, the parts, the order, and he repeats his routines each day.

Consider the professional lead generation or “telesales” company. They are making calls, reading scripts, pumping through leads as fast as they can.   Sure both of these so-called “professionals” are equipped to do the job, but at what level of quality?   Does the mechanic actually know YOUR bike? Does he understand the slight variations, changes, and subtleties of what makes your bike different from the other 6 he saw in his day? Is he truly able to see, diagnose, and understand the intricacies of your motorcycle compared to the other ones?

Does the professional telesales guy really know what the value is of what he is selling?  Sure he can pump through many more, but at what cost to the future relationships of the prospects on which he is calling?  What experiences is he missing that could make him that much more valuable on the phone?

On the other side, there is the value of sitting down in a quiet room. Just you and your bike and GUMPTION. You know there is a problem to be solved, but you take your time. You aren’t rushing to a solution, you are “just fixing.” You are fixing the bike because you enjoy fixing the bike.   You may not have any clue where you are headed, where the problem is, or how to get there and diagnose it. But you take your time. One screw at a time. Slowly exploring, remembering the order in which things come apart…. and then making your own experiments to troubleshoot and diagnose the problems.

Consider this same approach if you are starting up a new company or new initiative for your organization. Rather than hiring a professional to plow through and rush to the end, how much more quality do you achieve through the process, if you take your time and “Just fix.” Selling is my example of the week… I know the quality of my conversations are so much higher than anything that will be ache vied by a professional telesales organization. I am learning through these conversations. I may not be the smoothest talker taking the shortest distance to a closed deal, but I am learning along the way. I’m in no hurry. I’m aiming for quality and sustainability.

Remember what I said about leaving you with more questions than answers…. here’s why. Being a startup entrepreneur, or really anybody with more than one thing to do in a day… we have to decide where to invest our time. And as much as a start-up entrepreneur would benefit from sitting down and doing NOTHING but making calls 12 hours/day… this wouldn’t yield much of a company. This is where teams come in. This is where careful resource allocation and planning come in.

My conclusion and encouragement for people who want to create something new and accelerate their pursuit of quality is to carefully consider quality when making these decisions.



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