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Outsourcing vs. Doing It Yourself

When starting a business, it's important to know when to hold tight and when to let go.

Point: Startups should outsource noncore functions.
Each entrepreneur should focus on what he or she does best and outsource other duties to professionals, says David Zahn, president of StartUpBuilder.com and author of The Quintessential Guide to Using Consultants. "If you were hiring, it wouldn't be reasonable to ask the bookkeeper to also act as general counsel, so why would I assume that an owner is the most skilled person at any one niche? As a startup, I can't be expected to be the expert on every single aspect or facet [of the business]. I just need to be fluent in what the expert is doing." If you lack marketing expertise, for instance, it'll often be more expensive in the end to change your marketing than if you had hired a professional in the first place.

Counterpoint: Entrepreneurs should wear most of the hats during startup.
You're the one person who knows your product or service inside out, says serial entrepreneur Jack Siney, partner and COO of Advanced Public Safety, a software development company that specializes in serving public safety agencies. "You have the highest vested interest in the process, and as much as you try to find folks who have the same fire and desire as you, something gets lost with those you bring on board." Especially when crafting your company in the early stages, fundraising, marketing, PR, sales and product development all have to be aligned perfectly. It helps when you're hands-on with all those aspects. Says Siney, "It's just not enough to be great at one function of your business."

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This article was originally published in the February 2009 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Outsourcing vs. Doing It Yourself.

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