I run an employee benefits firm, and while I don't call myself an "expert," plenty of other people do. "Call Frank, call Frank!" they say, because I'm the go-to guy when they need something related to employee benefits.
But here's the thing: Even though I'm an entrepreneur and a five-time startup founder, I'm not an expert in all aspects of business.
I don't want to do my own taxes, so I hire a CPA. When a contract needs reviewing, I refer it to my lawyer. And even though I could probably cut my lawn and trim the shrubs, I partner with a landscaper to ensure it's done right.
It can be tough to know when to bring in help, especially when you're in the early stages of building your company. Years ago, when I first started my business, I thought I had to do it all. (Spoiler alert: I didn't, and neither do you.)
Hindsight is 20/20, and I can tell you with great certainty that over the years, I've learned the most important aspect of personal and professional success is alignment -- with your values, talents, experience, and core competencies. If something aligns with your expertise or your company's, it'll come fast and easy to you. But if it's incongruent with your strengths, you'll work twice as hard for half the results. You'll also exhaust and frustrate yourself unnecessarily.
If I could go back in time, here's the one question that I would have asked myself (that you should ask yourself now) to see if it's time to bring in an outside expert:
Does this align with my core competency or my business'?
If you answered 'yes'
Congratulations! This task, service, or product falls within your wheelhouse and is best suited to handle in-house with your existing talent. When you have alignment, you're likely to have success.
If you answered 'maybe'
This is a tricky gray area, but it is certainly worth exploring, especially if you're trying to scale.
In the beginning, I kept my company's focus narrow. But as we looked to expand our portfolio of services and products, we tested the waters with new offerings. Some of them were huge successes, others not so much. But even a "failure" results in learning along the way. Quite frankly, the ones that didn't work did not align. But when we found a way to successfully add something new, we also made sure to gain the expertise to ensure its alignment with our company's core competencies.
If you answered 'no'
This is your green light to hire an outside specialist to help take your business to the next level. And remember, "hiring someone" isn't limited to a full-time position. Based on your needs and budget, you can engage the services of a contractor or consultant on a project basis or even bring in a fractional CXO to get the benefit of 100% of their experience for a small percentage of their time and fees.
Enlisting the help of an expert who is knowledgeable on the subject matter and can do the job better and more efficiently (read: less time) than you could is a worthwhile trade-off. Plus, it frees you up to put your talents to their highest and best use wherever you are an expert. Even better? You'll likely feel a tremendous sense of relief and greater peace of mind knowing you have an experienced professional looking after your business.
Remember, you're not always the expert, nor do you have to be. However, by staying true to and aligning with your company's core competencies, you can better gauge the right time to bring in help.