Currently, I have both a start-up and a consulting business (self-funded), and having some trouble deciding when it is appropriate to delegate overhead tasks. The most common advice given to start-ups is to avoid employees and avoid costs. Little is said about deciding when it is best to incur them.
For example, the decision to have an accountant do all my personal and business taxes was a no-brainer: I estimated I would spend 20-25 hours on them and his quote was well below what I would make in the same amount of time.
Typically, I'm working 55-60 hour weeks. A portion of that (5-15 hours, it varies) is overhead in the form of accounting, correspondence, etc. The decision to have a friend build out my company website was more out of a need to save time - it wasn't so clear I couldn't get it done (but at a lower quality) and save money. It's difficult to gauge if I should spend time marketing or hire out, spend time running errands or hire out, etc. While I'm trying to figure this out, Seth Godin posts:
Self sufficiency appears to be a worthy goal, but it's now impossible if you want to actually get anything done.
All our productivity, leverage and insight comes from being part of a community, not apart from it.
The goal, I think, is to figure out how to become more dependent, not less.
...and he pretty much summed up my dilemma spot-on. There's a lot of pride in being able to do everything myself, but there's no problem in putting that aside if it brings me back my free time.
What are typical no-brainer investments/costs for a start-up that provide a great return on time/effort?
What are some overhead tasks that should be kept to yourself until you can justify the cost of employees to handle it for you?
It's one thing to spend 5 hours a week on overhead, another to spend 15 - obviously, there's no fast rule on this, but what's a good measure of what "typical" overhead should look like?