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Why you need to get over over the obsession to do everything (eventually)

DISCLAIMER: This article is sponsored by Sleek, an all-in-one platform that helps you manage things like automated bookkeeping and accounting, business account, and corporate secretarial services on your business’ behalf.

During the start of my financial journey, I adopted a mantra along the lines of ‘if you want to do things right, you gotta do it yourself.’ 

I say ‘along the lines’, because sometimes my goal wasn’t always exactly to do things right. Sometimes, it was to save as much money through whatever means possible. 

I cut my own hair, cooked my own food. Did my own housework. I tracked each and every expense on Google sheets. I completed writing projects single-handedly that typically required two or more writers.

This worked out pretty well for me. 

By doing everything myself, I saved a tidy sum of money – $200,000 in five years, to be accurate. 

Sometime in 2019, I started this blog with Wei Choon, and tried to run it as a business. Around the same time, I also opened a content agency that does white-label content. 

This was also the time where I found out that, ‘if you want to do things right, you gotta do it yourself’, did not work out so well for me.

Why?

Doing everything yourself ‘doesn’t scale’ 

‘Doesn’t scale.’

You hear this term a lot when there’s talk about running a startup or business. 

It simply means that a company can be profitable when it’s small, but when you increase the size of operations, it struggles to be profitable. 

The same principles apply to people as well. 

In the early stages of my life, doing everything myself made perfect sense. I could comfortably produce up to 10 articles a month. In my spare time, I could cut my hair, handle clients, and other money-saving activities. 

In the past, whenever I met with difficulty, my solution was to put in extra hours and grind through everything, burning weeknights and weekends. 

However, as workload increased, I found myself needing to write 50-100 articles a month. That’s more than humanly possible for one person. You only have 24 hours a day. 

Despite my best efforts, I could only manage 20 articles per month. Any more, and I would be mentally drained. I also did not feel particularly good about the articles I had rushed.

Like many businesses, my article-writing efforts don’t scale.  

Why you might be afraid to let things go

Even though I eventually hired a bunch of people to help me, I’ll be the first to admit that letting go is not easy. Especially if you’re used to doing all the things yourself.

Here are some of the concerns I felt uncomfortable about when I had to delegate – some more justifiable than others.  

Affordability (more for new entrepreneurs)

This is particularly felt if you’ve spent much of your life being unwilling to spend on things. Is it okay to actually hire someone to help? Spending money to hire means you earn less money per project. 

How I overcame it: In addition to saving up and having strong finances, I told myself that this was an investment to free up time, so I could make more money.  

Self-enhancement bias

Having the (inaccurate) idea that no one’s work can be better than yours, and that you are irreplaceable.

How I overcame it: Accepting that there are definitely better writers than me, and having them working for me, is better than having them on a competitor’s team.

Insecurity

What if this person that I hire is actually better than me? Would this diminish my own relevance?

How I overcame it: Actually, by not being able to delegate work, I was diminishing my own relevance. If I want to tackle larger projects, I need to move on from being arms and legs (a writer) to that of a brain (an editor).

How to decide which tasks not to do? 

After coming to terms that delegation was unavoidable, I moved on to see what tasks could be outsourced. Here’s some criteria for you to consider, if you’re facing similar challenges. 

Tediousness. 

Example: I can handle some of my business’ basic bookkeeping and financial reporting needs, but it can be mind-numbing and time-consuming. So, I outsource it to a corporate services company. I spend some money, but I can use the time to write more articles.

Suckiness. 

Example: I don’t know where to start on revamping my website, and doing it myself might cause significant downtime and errors. So, I text my friend who’s a web developer. Basic economics 101, specialisation and division of labour is the way forward. 

Timeliness. 

Example: There are 100 articles to write due in 30 days. I am confident that I will be able to write all 100 of them, but not in 30 days. Time is tight, and I should hire other writers. 

Don’t be penny-wise, pound foolish with time 

Delegating and outsourcing tasks can seem like you’re ‘cheating’ by not doing things yourself. 

However, if I could reframe it, I think it shows humility and wisdom.

For starters, you’re acknowledging that you’re not always the best person for the job. That’s difficult for people with large egos to do – hence the amount of micromanagers everywhere. 

Secondly, you’re freeing up what is indeed the most important resource available to you – time. 

Most of us start off in life trading our precious hours of our lives for money. We work jobs to earn our keep. 

But at the end of the day, time is truly the only resource that can be more valuable than money.

When it’s all said and done – with the money you’ve earned –  I can only hope you remember to buy all those hours back. 

Stay woke, salaryman. 

If you don’t enjoy accounting and all that other paperwork, consider outsourcing it to Sleek

While it’s important to understand how the different functions of your company works if you’re a business owner, we’re a firm believer of playing to your strengths. 

This means delegating tasks that you may not be good at or take the focus away from you doing the important stuff. 

If you’re anything like us and don’t enjoy filing reports and doing paperwork, consider checking out Sleek’s services. 

They are an all-in-one digital platform for SMEs to:

  • Manage the incorporation of your company 
  • Manage accounting & bookkeeping, corporate secretarial services, business insurance and employment visas 
  • You can now even set up a business account for free with Sleek when you sign up for their other services!

and more. 

If you’re interested in finding out how Sleek can help you and your business, click here. You can use TWS100 at checkout for $100 off your first purchase with Sleek for TWS readers exclusively! Valid until Dec 31st, 2022, for all services at Sleek.

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