It’s a well-known, but dangerous maxim that entrepreneurs need to “wear all the hats.” Often the founder is the person who sweeps up and takes out the trash, especially in the start-up phase of a business. However, the goal of smart entrepreneurs is to spend as much time as possible operating in their own personal sweet spot of talents and passing on other duties. Entrepreneurs who try to do everything alone and without support end up burned out and frustrated. In order to stay in the sweet spot we need to be able to do two things: delegate and access professional advice. Both tasks have unique challenges.
Early in an enterprise, we’re often reluctant to access professionals for advice or services because of cost concerns. So we answer our own calls and emails, clean our own offices and run our own errands. For some functions however it is far smarter to go to a professional. Hiring professionals, especially in areas that require special training or licensing gives us better results and keeps our businesses out of trouble. Attorneys, accountants, copywriters, web designers, architects, and other specially trained experts provide for us services and guidance that it might take us years to create on our own—if ever.
When you are seeking a professional service provider, look at three R’s: reputation, rates and responsiveness.
Reputation: Look for someone whose performance is known to be excellent. A good reputation is worth paying for, but this doesn’t mean never hire those new to the marketplace. Even without years of experience, a truthful and hardworking professional can be a wise investment. Consider character.
Rates: As an entrepreneur you should always be conscious of costs and quality. Make sure you’re getting a good rate, ask for breakdowns of costs on invoices, and don’t be afraid to barter when appropriate.
Responsiveness: The smartest expert in the world is useless to your business if she or he doesn’t listen to you or respond to your needs. Conversations that leave you feeling confused or disrespected mean you need to keep shopping for the right professional.