Time is the greatest asset a small-business owner can have.
But when you’re working around the clock on so many important tasks to keep your business running, you’re often left with very little time or energy to tend to the smaller things like household chores and administrative work.
Laura Vanderkam, author of “I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time,” studied the time logs of more than 140 women with kids who earn at least six figures to find out how they fit everything into 168 hours a week.
“It’s about having a good sense of value of your time and that, as a small-business owner, you’re trying to grow your business and grow the revenue, and thinking of things that free up your time and free up your mental energy as investments in your business,” she says.
You can outsource pretty much anything these days; you just have to use your imagination and some good judgment to figure out what you should and shouldn’t delegate to someone else. Vanderkam says the key is figuring out how you value your time.
Since most people work around 40 to 50 hours a week, to really get the most out of that time small-business owners need to focus on the things that are most likely to grow their business. And on the home front, what’s left over should be quality time spent rejuvenating and doing other things of value like spending time with friends and family.
Vanderkam suggests that when determining whether you should outsource a task, ask yourself, “How much time does this task take?” and “How much do I hate it?” Another helpful method is figuring out the monetary value of your time and comparing that with the cost of the service.
If you make $US45,000 annually and work 40 hours a week (that’s 2,080 work hours a year), that means your time is potentially worth about $US22 an hour ($US45,000 divided by 2,080).
So if you really hate grocery shopping and you can outsource it to someone else for $US20 an hour, what are you waiting for? Outsource that chore!
Here are some of the most valuable ways you can buy back your time.
In 2014, Americans who shopped spent on average 1.71 hours a day doing it, according to the Bureau of Labour Statistics. Americans also spent on average almost an hour each week grocery shopping in 2009, according to BLS time use data.
Katie Fang, founder and CEO of SchooLinks, uses InstaCart for her grocery needs.
'Shopping for groceries can be time-consuming,' she says. 'Driving to a local market, shopping for groceries, and driving back can take upwards of 30 minutes, which can be better spent on work.'
Delivery fees vary by amount of groceries (the more your spend on groceries, the less you spend on a delivery fee) and range from $US4 for two-hour delivery of orders over $US35 to $US10 for one-hour delivery of orders under $US35. Similar services include Peapod and FreshDirect.
Companies like Blue Apron take grocery delivery to the next level by providing step-by-step instructions for a specific recipe and doing all the measuring and shopping for you. Meals start at $US8.74 a person. Plated offers a similar service for $US12 a meal, as does Hello Fresh for $US9.08 a person.
For one-off items you need but don't want to waste time picking up at the store, Vanderkam recommends Amazon Prime. Shipping takes two days, and membership costs $US99 a year, but she says it's worth it for all the time you save simply by hitting 'order' on all those birthday presents and random items you want.
The Bureau of Labour Statistics reports that in 2014 Americans who cooked and cleaned up afterward spent on average 1.04 hours a day doing this.
Let someone else cook your dinner and deliver it to you.
Companies like GrubHub and Seamless are staples in the on-demand food-delivery arena, while startups like Postmates are quickly picking up steam.
Unlike meal-delivery services like GrubHub, Postmates approaches food delivery as a third-party service-provider, which means you can order just about anything from just about anywhere the service operates. If your favourite local burger joint doesn't deliver, no worries. Postmates can pick up and deliver that double quarter pounder for you.
Delivery fees start at $US5 and are determined by the distance from pickup to dropoff and the capacity of the platform. A 9% service fee is also applied to the purchase price of your order.
The Bureau of Labour Statistics reports that in 2014 Americans who managed the household by paying the bills and budgeting spent on average 0.69 hours a day doing this.
These apps give you a real-time, complete look into all of your finances, from bank accounts and credit cards to student loans and your 401(k), and they automatically let you know how much you should be spending.
In 2014, Americans who made phone calls, sent mail, or emailed spent on average 0.71 hours a day doing it, according to the Bureau of Labour Statistics.
Christian Sculthorp, CEO at Healthy.co.id, recommends the freelance marketplace company Upwork (formerly oDesk) for finding all kinds of virtual help. He uses the site for data entry, small website updates, content writing, translation, and bookkeeping, among other things.
'The best thing about Upwork is that I can hire them on an hourly basis and then just message freelancers with jobs as I have them,' he says. 'Upwork then tracks their work and sends me back screenshots of them doing the work. This keeps everything low cost and efficient.'
Rates vary based on freelancers' skills, experience, feedback, and work history.
Violette de Ayala, founder and CEO of Femfessionals, used Elance (now part of Upwork) to find her bookkeeper, marketing associate, social-media team, designers, and IT team.
'It is always best to hire an expert in certain fields and leave those roles to them,' she says. 'This allows me to continuously focus on the growth of our company and take the steps necessary to achieve our business goals.'
You could also go the old-fashioned route and outsource work on Craigslist.
Lysa Miller, CEO of Ladybugz Interactive Agency, says her company doesn't outsource anything that requires personal interaction. Apart from that, she recommends outsourcing virtually anything that will allow you to grow your business.
'This past year I realised I was spending a ton of time managing employee tasks, checking in, and checking on work, and it was taking time away from me growing my clients and my business,' Miller says. 'I had tried a few programs that I was not pleased with, but a colleague recommended Asana to me, and it has helped me cut my project-management time in half, keep my employees on task, and increased their productivity by almost double. It also alleviated the stress of worrying if everything is done.'
For social-media management, Ladybugz's Miller uses Hootesuite.com to automate posting on social media. Miller says she loves that she can still create and personalise the content while saving time that would be spent logging into social-media accounts throughout the day.
Small businesses normally pay around $US9.99 a month for the service.
You could spend $US27 per square foot to $US140 per square foot to rent office space in New York City, and that's not including paying for utilities and incrementals.
To avoid paying more for office maintenance than you'd like, Benjamin Koren, founder and CEO of Frameology, suggests opting for a coworking space as he does. Koren runs his New York-based company out of the coworking space WeWork, which he refers to as 'Zipcar for office space.'
'They take care of all of the cleaning, maintenance, and security of our office,' he says. 'They also provide things like coffee and water, which are included in the cost of the rent. Rent at WeWork is expensive given the space you get. But all of these services allow our small and growing team to focus on the higher-value-add core business activities.'
On-demand workspace starts at $US45 a month, while customised and dedicated spaces start at $US450 a month.
Check out our list of coolest cowork spaces around the country for more resources.
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