Should Steve outsource his lawn maintenance? What did Tyler think of hiring house cleaners? And why is that so different from going to a car wash? Today, we talk about outsourcing in business and in life, and the tradeoffs of time and money it entails.
[00:00:00] Steve: All right. This morning I was listening to a podcast with Paul Ranieri. He was interviewing James Pollard about marketing, at one point they were talking about strengths and weaknesses and getting to know what your weaknesses are as a business owner, or as a financial advisor was their target, but I think this also applies to business owners generally. And Paul asked James, like so once you figure out your weaknesses, like what do you do with them? And his response was, um, just like, acknowledge that they're there, but don't try and work on them necessarily because they're still gonna be weaknesses probably. And like even if you get better at them, They're not going to become your strengths, perhaps,
I dunno, something like that.
Uh, but he caveated that with, if there, if your weakness would be deadly to your business, then that's a problem that you need to solve. And this could be something like I as a tax pro, if I am not good at explaining to clients, what is this aspect of the tax code that affects them, or why should you want to do this thing that you might not otherwise do because it would be beneficial to you? I've gotta be able to express those things to clients and teach them in a way that they can understand. So if I'm not good at that aspect of it, tthat's not's not something that I can outsource. I've gotta fix that myself and get better at that. 'cause that's a core thing to the business,
[00:01:34] Tyler: Or else what are you doing in that
[00:01:36] Steve: right? Exactly. Right. But all, all your other Things, all your other weaknesses, like you can outsource them probably. If I'm not good at marketing, I can hire somebody to do marketing and we can work together and they know the right questions to ask so that we can have a good, uh, a good product at the end of it. But I don't have to be the one that learns all of that stuff. Does that make sense?
[00:01:56] Tyler: Yeah, that makes total sense. Yeah. It reminds me of a quote I like by Peter Drucker, I can't quote it word for word, but the concept is to focus on building your strengths until your weaknesses become irrelevant. So
[00:02:08] Steve: Oh, okay.
[00:02:09] Tyler: focusing on what you're good at and becoming better at that. Instead of trying to repair things that you're not naturally good at.
Right. And I guess the caveat that you're bringing to the table with is, right. In addition to that is like, oh, unless like your weakness is uh, critical to your business succeeding at all, then you're gonna have to fix that.
[00:02:29] Steve: Mm-hmm.
[00:02:30] Tyler: Interesting.
[00:02:31] Steve: Yeah. I like that idea though, that the, like the value that you're bringing into the world is that the stuff that you're really good at, your strengths, like play that up. 'cause that's the value you're adding, eh?
[00:02:42] Tyler: And to your point, you can get help with the other stuff. Hire somebody or, or you know, whether that's as an employee or someone you're outsourcing to who is excellent at that thing, and then you're gonna be stronger overall.
[00:02:59] Steve: Hello there. Dear Listener, I am Steve.
[00:03:03] Tyler: And I'm Tyler. And this of course is, It's Not About The Money where we discuss a wide range of topics related to creating and running small businesses.
[00:03:11] Steve: Tyler and I both have small business owners, both. We both are small business owners. We have small businesses, and uh, the two of us are just trying to make sense of the world, one podcast at a time. And today I think we should talk about outsourcing.
[00:03:28] Tyler: I love that. Did you know that my day job, my full-time career is all about outsourcing? Like that's, I'm a vendor man-- I, I run a team of vendor managers, so we just hire people to do stuff that we don't do in house. So I'm,
[00:03:42] Steve: Oh, there you go.
[00:03:43] Tyler: to talk about
[00:03:44] Steve: Excellent. So we mentioned at the, in the intro, outsourcing things that you're not good at in a business context. Ha. Have you ever outsourced anything in in a personal context? I'm curious like how much of it translates over to.
[00:04:06] Tyler: Oh, the answer is yes. I have outsourced things personal things, and I've. I've been tempted to outsource many personal things, but never quite pulled the trigger on, on a lot of 'em.
[00:04:19] Steve: Okay.
[00:04:20] Tyler: Like a simple ex, A simple example that comes to mind is I pay a monthly subscription for my local car wash so I can drive through whenever I want and get a clean car without doing anything myself, as opposed to, you know uh, you know, it's definitely more expensive than going to buy a bucket and some soap, some water and hose and things, you know, but that's something that I've chosen to not do myself as a simple
[00:04:44] Steve: Right. That makes sense. And I don't change my, the oil in my cars. I I go someplace and hire somebody to do that. I mean, that's a, that's a pretty common one that I think a lot of people would relate to. Like obviously I could do it cheaper if I wanted to learn how, and I bought the supplies, I could do it myself, but I just, I don't want to. And I would rather go to a place with professionals who do a really good job and also check out the rest of the car to make sure nothing is like on the brink of failing and needs to be repaired.
[00:05:18] Tyler: Well, now this is interesting. This is interesting. So I think this apply, this is an application of what we were talking about at the top of the episode, right? So maybe changing oil is not something that you're super talented at, or know how to do without watching YouTube, for example, if you're me. And, and your time could be better spent focusing on things that you're really good at, like, you know, preparing taxes, working at your job, and that the, there's like a big payoff for those activities, you know, for, for doing the activities that you're good at as compared to changing your oil and saving a few bucks, doing it on your own.
And by a few bucks, of course, I mean, tens and tens of dollars because I feel like oil changes are expensive, but, Or they can be, or I'm getting ripped off. I don't know.
[00:06:02] Steve: Well. Yeah, and there's all, you know, you, you are uh, in danger of getting upsold as well of, Hey, would you like us to replace your windshield wiper blades? Like, no, I know how to do that one. I'm, I can do that one myself.
[00:06:14] Tyler: I'm pretty sure my air, my air filter is now like a, a, a hazard to my health. Because of the number of times I've declined that upsell, but it's like six bucks at the, you know, AutoZone popping in myself. But anyway, this is not a show about how incompetent I am about maintaining my car myself, but it could be,
[00:06:33] Steve: Mm-hmm.
[00:06:33] Tyler: got a lot of material on that.
[00:06:35] Steve: So I think there's an interesting spectrum here of like things that I don't even think twice about outsourcing, like changing my oil.
[00:06:42] Tyler: Mm-hmm.
[00:06:43] Steve: On the other end is something like hiring a house cleaner, which I have never done, but it doesn't, it's not like that far off of hiring, going to a car wash and getting the car detailed. It's just my house instead of the vehicle I drive around.
So I'm kind of curious why I have a hangup about hiring a house cleaner where I don't, about getting my car detailed occasionally.
[00:07:06] Tyler: This is an interesting question. I love this question because I had never thought about it that way before. 'cause like, you're right, there's some things I outsource, if you will. Without a second thought, I. We've mentioned a few of those here and there's some things that are, I just can't do it.
You know? It just doesn't make sense to me, even though it's not that different from some of the things that I do outsource. So I wonder, yeah. Why is that?
[00:07:31] Steve: Mm-hmm.
[00:07:33] Tyler: I mean, I can tell you the house cleaning one specifically. I. It's because I think about how much it costs and it's like I could just stand up and go clean the house and it would take me an hour or whatever, and then I would've spent zero money and I would've achieve a similar result, you know?
But I actually did hire a house cleaner for the first time a few months
[00:07:52] Steve: Oh, interesting. Tell me about that.
[00:07:54] Tyler: it was amazing.
[00:07:55] Steve: Okay.
[00:07:57] Tyler: And I, I do clean my house on a regular basis, you know, dust, vacuum, bathrooms, all that kind of stuff. But I find that uh, I don't get. It clean to a level that maybe my, my mother would be proud of. You know, there's like the, the nooks and crannies that, that don't get cleaned every time.
There's kinda the deep cleaning stuff, right. I just,
[00:08:18] Steve: Uh, Oh, okay.
[00:08:19] Tyler: just don't like doing, and I know maybe this is I mean, look, I'm not, maybe part of it's embarrassing too, because like, this is stuff that I should be able to do myself or I could do myself or. It's hard to justify from, you know, paying for or whatever, but you know what?
I saved up. I paid for the house cleaners to come and do some of the things that I have been neglecting, the deeper cleaning things. First of all, they were super friendly. It was fun to talk to 'em, you know, they did an amazing job and my house was like, really clean. I was like, you know what? I'm not gonna do this every week or every month or every quarter, but I could see myself doing it like twice a year just for those deep cleaning things.
It, it was great.
[00:08:56] Steve: I could see myself doing that of like for the purpose of deep cleaning, because I, uh, either don't want to do it or I don't. I just don't get around to it. And so let's hire somebody to do that for me. I.
[00:09:13] Tyler: And it was interesting because as I was talking to the cleaners I was, I was asking lots of questions like, you know, they're getting the hard water deposits off of the toilet or whatever. I'm like, wow, how are you? You know what, what? What's your secret? How do you do that? And they said, they said something that kind of, I don't know.
It made me feel good, but also like, why am I doing this? They're like, your house is actually pretty clean. I'm like, well, but then they got out a toothpick and they were cleaning out the little, like the front face of my dishwasher with a toothpick. And I was like, okay. See, I would never, ever do that. You know what I mean?
I don't know. It, it was an interesting, it was a bizarre experience for me. First time hiring a house cleaner. Yeah, it was interesting.
[00:09:55] Steve: Mm-hmm. And they bring a, a level of expertise that maybe you don't have on that,
Like, cleaning, cleaning the dishwasher with a toothpick.
[00:10:06] Tyler: Yeah, exactly.
[00:10:08] Steve: And as you get into more complex things like taxes I think are maybe kind of an outsourced thing. Like you could do your taxes yourself,
[00:10:17] Tyler: are. Yeah.
[00:10:19] Steve: uh, Or you can hire a professional to do it.
And there's good reasons to choose either one of those things. It really just depends on. Wants and needs.
[00:10:27] Tyler: yeah.
Lemme tell you some other things I've, I've come really close to outsourcing, but then I just couldn't, you know, I couldn't do it for whatever psychological reason. Laundry, I don't know what I was thinking I was too busy to do laundry. Like, I, it's not like I am Elon Musk or anything, you know, running giant business empires, you know, so it didn't do that one.
Car detailing haven't outsourced that yet. I do go, I do go to a car wash. Right. But like actual detail on the inside, I, I've continued to do that myself. Um, Although
[00:11:00] Steve: I, well, when you have, once you have little kids in the car, then
at, at a certain point it's like, Hmm, yeah, I can, I can do the vacuuming, but I don't wanna shampoo the carpet. Myself in this, in this van.
[00:11:15] Tyler: Does a dog count? Because I've got a dog now and that's kind
[00:11:17] Steve: Ah, the dog's not in the car very often in My car.
[00:11:22] Tyler: yeah.
[00:11:23] Steve: So that, that hasn't been a problem yet, but
I could see that.
[00:11:28] Tyler: my taxes. Um, And then one that I've toyed with on and off as, as far as free trials will get me is meal kit delivery services.
[00:11:38] Steve: Hmm. Okay, this is an interesting one. Go. Go ahead.
[00:11:41] Tyler: Well, that's it. So I've tried
like, you know, blue Apron, I've tried I don't even know what they're called anymore. HelloFresh was one I tried. And a couple others. Because I like eating food that's not fast food that I don't have to make and I live alone basically. Right. So that, that, that's a tough one.
And, and so yeah, I've, I've toyed with that. Like I said, I've done a lot of the free trials, sorry, companies, but you're the one that offered 'em. So and then I think I paid for HelloFresh for a while, I for like a few weeks. Yeah. Which is the kind, so Blue Apron is like one of the kind where you ha, they send you the ingredients and a recipe, right?
And you still have to make it. And I think HelloFresh, the other one that I tried is more like they just send you a pre completely pre-made meal and you like microwave it basically.
[00:12:29] Steve: Okay, but that's a good fit for what you're describing. Like is single portion. You want some food that is, uh, a step up from fast food, but that you didn't have to do a whole lot of preparation. I.
[00:12:43] Tyler: Yeah, and for me personally, and look, I know like when it comes to money and it comes to budgeting and it comes to outsourcing, it's all about trade-offs, right? So none of these things are right or wrong for anybody. It just depends on what your priorities are. And what's important to you. And so I, you know, it's been fun to kind of experiment with these things.
For me. I've never stuck with a meal kit delivery service because it seemed expensive for what I was getting. And, you know, at the end of the day, it's, it, it hasn't been an insurmountable challenge for me to like, go grocery shopping or do takeout if I have to, you know, so
[00:13:18] Steve: Right.
[00:13:19] Tyler: became not, not worth it, the trade off for me long term.
[00:13:22] Steve: But it's useful to think about especially the time value of money if you are. If you're just a W2 employee, like you're getting paid whatever it is for your eight hours of work a day, and then you have time to cook, so then it's about whether you want to or not, and maybe your job is, is more demanding than that, and so it's worthwhile to pay for takeout or hire a personal chef or whatever it might be uh, along that spectrum there.
[00:13:54] Tyler: You know, and it's one of the things you hear about a lot related to this topic. Is, why would you spend time doing things like cleaning your house, like preparing meals when you, when you're worth $200 an hour or whatever it is and, you know, you could spend that time earning money and like, I get that, but I don't think I am quite in a place where I'm outsourcing things so that I can spend that time earning $200 an hour doing something else.
You know, I, that's an interesting, I think that applies more to the business side of things personally,
[00:14:24] Steve: Right. I agree. Like I'm not going to spend the, the two hours in the evening where I could be cooking and cleaning my house. I'm not going to be doing work during that time anyway. So it's, that's kind of a useless argument in that situation. But on the business side, like you say there you can get a better leverage out of hiring an expert to do something that maybe you're not good at or that. Is, or that you could do, but that is worth less than the higher value work you could be doing instead.
[00:15:01] Tyler: I like the word that you used there. Leverage. We've been saying outsourcing, but I guess that's just another term for this, that, that, that evokes a different set of thoughts for me because, We leverage all kinds of things, like even you and I on this podcast, right? So we pay a certain amount of money for a service that helps us record this podcast and edit this podcast and host it, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
There are more do it yourself versions, workflows, I guess you could say, than the one that we use that are cheaper potentially. But for both of us who, you know, we're busy, we have jobs, we have businesses, we have families and stuff, you know, it's like totally worth it. Totally worth it to, to leverage the technology.
So I, anyway, sorry. I like that word, leverage and I think it's, it's a form of, you know, outsourcing doesn't necessarily mean having another person do something for you. It could be leveraging technology as well.
[00:15:56] Steve: Mm-hmm.
[00:15:57] Tyler: Like I outsource most of my thinking, not my thinking, but like my memory to like a to-do app and a calendar app.
[00:16:06] Steve: Oh, okay. Yeah, that's an interesting way of thinking about that because that makes a lot of sense. I, I don't have to keep all that stuff in my head because I know it's in the calendar or it's in the to-do list or it's in the Instapaper queue. And so when I need that information, I know where it will be, but I don't have to keep track of it.
[00:16:25] Tyler: you're not expending any resources in your brain remembering anything, right?
what about you? Sorry, I've kind of gone on and on about things that I've tried or thought about trying. Is there anything that that comes to mind for you in your life personally or in your business that you've outsourced or, or leveraged?
[00:16:42] Steve: Hmm. One that comes to mind that I think I've mentioned before on here is That I use a software platform called Ignition for billing and accounts receivable. And it's like all stuff that I could do myself with QuickBooks and email and maybe Stripe if I needed that. I. Like, I could, I could do all that stuff myself.
I could even build the integrations between them if I really had to on the backend with Zapier or with writing actual code. Like I, I can do all of those things, but I would rather pay for the software that does that really well so that I don't have to think about it. I can just plug in the information that. Needs to get in there and it will take care of everything else for me.
[00:17:35] Tyler: Yeah. And that's interesting because, you know, not only could you do all of that stuff, but something tells me you might enjoy doing all of that stuff if I, if I know you, you
know. Uh, But, but what are your clients paying you for? That's interesting.
know, they're not paying you to have an efficient payment processor.
They're paying you for tax advice and, you know, filing their taxes and things like that. I like that. It kind of gets back to what you said earlier about, you know reducing the number of lower value activities that you personally are doing or spending time on to increase the level of higher value activities.
And there we go. I think to me, that's the principle, whether it's your business or your personal life, because you know, Sitting down to play a board game with your family could be a higher value activity than washing your car by hand. I don't know. Whatever it is for you, right? It's not necessarily monetarily a higher value activity, but it's higher value.
[00:18:30] Steve: Mm-hmm. And I have wondered about like outsourcing lawn maintenance for that reason of like, I don't really enjoy mowing the lawn, but it has to get done because I live in an HOA, uh, and if I don't, they'll come after me. And I want it to look nice, you know, reasonably, reasonably nice. Not as, not as pristine as, as my, my dear neighbor.
But but yeah, I haven't pulled the trigger on that one yet because it feels like I can, I can do this. I have the equipment to do it, and I am capable. I just don't like, super enjoy it. And I could use that time to play with the kids instead and just be there for them instead of saying uh, nah, I gotta go mow the lawn.
[00:19:16] Tyler: Ooh, this gets really complicated, I think, and I love it. So like, yes, that's true, but also you could argue that seeing their dad mow the lawn is like a, a good teaching
[00:19:25] Steve: Hmm.
[00:19:26] Tyler: Or you know, you know, how old are your kids? Like, when are they gonna be the people that get to mow the
[00:19:30] Steve: Well, yeah. Yeah, my oldest son actually is interested in it now, so uh, he can't do the edging yet. I've, I've been trying to teach him how to do the edging, and that's the part he hasn't got down yet, but he can do the lawn mowing.
[00:19:43] Tyler: Awesome.
[00:19:44] Steve: It did. You know, there's still like little spots that get missed and whatever, and that's fine.
You know, he'll get better at it. Hmm. That's a good point.
And I, I'm wondering now that you say that how much of my hangups about outsourcing lawn maintenance are that I saw my dad mowing our lawn and like that's the thing that, that your dad is supposed to do. Like, that's my job now as the dad in the house is I'm supposed to be in charge of making sure the lawn looks nice.
[00:20:12] Tyler: yeah. I mean there is something to that. I mean, now we're getting into like family traditions and family culture and you know, you know, all great stuff. I still think it can all be described in terms of like higher and lower value activities.
[00:20:23] Steve: I like that framework, whether it's monetary or not. It still, it still works both ways. Very interesting.
[00:20:32] Tyler: Yeah. I hadn't thought about it that way before and I like it. Food for thought.
You know, you could outsource raising children with a nanny. That's the thing that happens.
[00:20:46] Steve: That's true.
[00:20:47] Tyler: That's a level I don't think I'm at or will be at, but
[00:20:53] Steve: Yeah, like
[00:20:56] Tyler: I don't even know if that's how it works, if it's really outsourcing ways. So maybe nevermind, but
[00:21:00] Steve: Well,
that's true. I, I feel like that is in a, a, that is a thing that occurs in a social strata that I have no visibility into. Or it occurred in the Victorian era,
[00:21:11] Tyler: Yeah.
[00:21:12] Steve: but, but
it, it probably
[00:21:13] Tyler: Poppins, then it's worth it.
[00:21:15] Steve: Exactly. Mary Poppins! Um, Yeah. But in a sense we are doing that by putting our kids into school or into even preschool
[00:21:28] Tyler: Yeah.
[00:21:29] Steve: where, so that the parents can work or have time and space to be adults without kids around so they can think
[00:21:38] Tyler: You're not, you're not teaching 'em math and history and science and all that stuff. You know that that'd be a lot of, well, unless you're homeschooling, of
[00:21:44] Steve: right? 'cause you could homeschool,
uh, And, and most adults, you know, would be capable of doing that. They, they have the knowledge and skill to teach
children those things at, well, I don't know, maybe I shouldn't say most adults, but,
[00:21:59] Tyler: Whether they do or whether they don't, it happens. Let's just put it that way.
[00:22:03] Steve: right. So, so uh, you know, even that is a, is a choice. That's a trade off that you're making of, do you put the kids in school? Hmm. I don't know. Interesting.
There's a lot to think about here, but I think the, the highest leverage things that you can get from outsourcing are probably more on the business side, unless
[00:22:31] Tyler: Are you com How, how, how committed are you to that statement?
[00:22:34] Steve: Hmm. Do you have a counterpoint?
[00:22:38] Tyler: I don't know if I have a counterpoint, but what we talked about earlier about you know, well, look, I don't wanna compare apples and oranges, you know, it depends on how merged your, your personal and work life
[00:22:50] Steve: That's true.
[00:22:51] Tyler: But, I think to your point, a lot of the obvious examples definitely apply to the business world or, you know, small business world.
Like I, we've listed a bunch here and, you know, they're low hanging fruit almost. Right? But I do think there is value in the concept that we, we talked about earlier in the non-monetary things and your personal life.
[00:23:11] Steve: Hmm. Okay. Yeah.
[00:23:13] Tyler: at the end of the day, depending on what you care about, I, I suppose like those might provide more richness to your life than outsourcing anything for your business ever could potentially.
[00:23:23] Steve: Yeah, that's a good point.
[00:23:26] Tyler: I don't know that we've hit on anything particularly profound. Like essentially what I hear us saying is life is about trade-offs. Which is true. And actually that in and of itself can be profound if you think about it. Right. But, but yeah, and I, I think I would encourage anyone who, who has the means to maybe kind of experiment with this idea a little bit.
And I think we all have the means, even if not monetarily, like to try some of these things. Right. Or even just, or even just changing your, the way you think about it in, you know, you think outsourcing, like, oh, I'm gonna hire someone to claim my house. Basic example. Right. But in terms of some of these other things that we've talked about, you know, encouraging your children to mow the lawn or
[00:24:10] Steve: yeah. Well, and, and thinking about it in the framework of what's the higher value option here. And it might be I'm going to continue to mow the lawn so that the children see me do that. And then when they're old enough, I teach them how to do it. And then we never have to hire a lawn company because
[00:24:28] Tyler: Ooh.
[00:24:30] Steve: in-house and they, and they're learning how to work from it. Like that could be, it could be that that is more valuable for my family, or maybe not. Or maybe we say it would be better for me not to have to spend the time on that. And so let's do hire somebody to do it.
[00:24:46] Tyler: Yep. And, and you know what, both are totally, there's great arguments for both of those. I think what's crazy about this specific example is like, not only could it potentially be good for a family, but society, if you, if you're raising kids that learned how to do a job and get paid for it, as opposed to not doing that, they're gonna grow up and go out into the world with those experiences and their interpretation of those experiences, you know, so,
[00:25:11] Steve: For sure,
[00:25:13] Tyler: No pressure, Steve.
[00:25:16] Steve: and I, I love the idea of raising entrepreneurial kids because I, my wife and I both got that from our upbringings, like our families are all interested in entrepreneurial things or entrepreneurial adjacent things. And so we kind of have that in our blood already. And I think you can have a lot of impact in the world with that sort of mindset, whether you go out and start a business or not.
There's, there's a whole lot of things you can do with that skillset, uh, besides just running a business.
[00:25:51] Tyler: absolutely. In fact even in like a corporate setting, those are my favorite types of people to hire and to work with because yeah, they're not starting their own business, but they're applying that entrepreneurial mindset inside of, inside of an existing business. Business unit, and that is just super valuable.
They innovate, they tend to innovate, they tend to, you know, notice problems and solve them in efficient ways. So, yeah. Agreed.
[00:26:16] Steve: Very nice. I think I may have run out
of things to
[00:26:21] Tyler: I'm out of ideas. I'm out of ideas.
[00:26:24] Steve: Yeah, I love this idea of uh, life is all about trade-offs. And think about even if just a thought experiment or maybe actually trying some of these things of what what are the higher value uses of my time and money, given the things that need to happen in business and life.
[00:26:44] Tyler: Agreed. I think it's worth it as a thought experiment. I think anybody who does this thought experiment will definitely experience some kind of inspiration or spark an idea that could help them improve their life just a little bit, unique to them.
[00:27:01] Steve: Yeah, it's all it, it's all gonna be specific to your own circumstances as well. Great. Well thanks everyone for joining us on this rambling uh, meandering exploration of outsourcing trade-offs.
[00:27:24] Tyler: Yeah, and we will catch you on another episode of, It's Not About The Money.