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  • Writer's pictureYoram Solomon, PhD

Make vs. Buy: Should you do things yourself or hire someone to do them?


As a professional speaker, my business is pretty much all me, which is sometimes scary. You may be in the same position. The business is you, and there are never enough hours in the day to do everything, but as a one-person business, you really do have to do everything. When I teach entrepreneurship to young kids, even in elementary school, I tell them that one of the traits of a successful entrepreneur is that he (or she) is not afraid to get their hands dirty. Sometimes literally. But, as many of my professional speaking colleagues tell me, do what only you can do and pay someone else to do the rest. Well, the truth is that this is not really black and white, and there are nuances to it. It can’t just be “make it yourself or pay someone to do it.” In this article, I will share my thoughts about how you make those decisions, and I hope this will help you in making decisions.


The Functions

The first step in making the decision is to break down your business into all the independent functions. Your business most likely has different functions than mine, even if you are in the same business as I am, professional speaking. Here is a sample list of the functions of my business:

  • Content development

  • Content delivery

  • Research

  • Making sales calls

  • Preparing and formatting presentations

  • Writing (books, articles)

  • Editing

  • Publishing

  • Videography and photography

  • Recording podcasts

  • Video/photo/podcast Editing

  • Marketing and digital marketing (SEO, ads, etc.)

  • Web design

  • Online course production


The Alternatives

For each of the functions, the alternatives are not limited to “do it yourself” (Make) or “pay someone to do it” (Buy). Here, I listed eight possible alternatives. There could be different selections that are better for various functions.

  • Do it yourself

  • Contract someone/intern (part-time) and tell them precisely what to do (“hired hands”)

  • Contract a professional who knows how to do it, probably better than you

  • Contract a company that does that and has multiple resources

  • Hire a full-time employee

  • License it (such as images)

  • Partner with someone (bring a partner to your business who will cover part of it)

  • Use Artificial Intelligence tools

  • Hire a coach to teach you how to do it

  • Don’t do it at all.


The Decision Criteria

For each function of your business, you must choose one of the alternatives. That decision will be different for different types of businesses, and for different people. Sometimes, you can combine alternatives and break the business function into smaller pieces. Here is the list of criteria. You may think of more.

  • Timing. How soon do you need it? Turnaround time?

  • Do you have the logistics, space, and tools required?

  • How much control do you want to have over the final product?

  • Do you have the time to do it? Can you afford to spend that time?

  • Could you do something else in that time?

  • Can you afford the cost of someone else doing it?

  • Do you have the required creativity, if needed?

  • Do you have the required skills?

  • Do the people you are considering hiring have the skills?

  • What are the quantity and frequency of this function?

  • How considerable is the effort? How long will it take to complete it?

  • What are the quality requirements?

  • How important is it to your business?

  • Will the results justify the investment (time and/or money)?

  • Will you enjoy doing it? Will it be fun?

  • Will doing it enhance your other functions?

  • Are you willing and capable of learning?

  • What is the learning curve?

  • How far is it from your comfort zone?

  • Can you trust the other person to do it?

  • Will it require a lot of management, verification, and communication?

  • Will they have the required knowledge of your business to complete the task?

 
 
Dr. Yoram Solomon

Dr. Yoram Solomon is an expert in trust, employee engagement, teamwork, organizational culture, and leadership. He is the author of The Book of Trust, host of The Trust Show podcast, a three-time TEDx speaker, and facilitator of the Trust Habits workshop and masterclass that explains what trust is and how to build trust in organizations. He is a frequent speaker at SHRM events and a contributor to HR.com magazine.

 

The Book of Trust®, The Innovation Culture Institute®, and Trust Habits® are registered trademarks of Yoram Solomon. Trust Premium™, the Relative Trust Inventory™, and The Trust Show™ are trademarks of Yoram Solomon.

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