“Mayo started with the belief that we can and need to bring people closer together. The isolation bubble keeps getting thicker and thicker, Mayo is meant to change that.”
That is Allen Chan, the founder of Mayo. Mayo is a mobile app that gives its user the power to ask for or give tiny favors. Think: Does anyone have an iPhone charger at this Starbucks? Or I baked too many cookies, does anyone want one? Gluten-free! Or even: Is anyone nearby who can spare a cup of dog food? Garbanzo Bean needs dinner and I forgot to buy more! Mayo is meant for those “tap on the shoulder” moments.
The Quote of the Interview (QOI) with Allen is what this article is based on: “People are investments too.”
When Allen first thought of the concept of Mayo, he realized he had to make a fundamental decision almost immediately. “I already had ideas and the designs for the app, but I needed someone who was able to develop it.” This stage of his startup, building the MVP, was crucial for learning when to outsource.
Based on Allen’s entrepreneurship journey, here are four reasons you might need to outsource.
1. Lack of Expertise
The right time to outsource tasks in your startup varies as most startups aren’t running on the same timeline. As a User Experience (UX) designer, Allen said he didn’t know about the development process for building an app. Mayo began in 2018, but Allen had to decide if he should pick-up coding or outsource mobile development. For Allen, at the time, it made more sense for him to hire contractors. The alternative was to learn how to code and try to concurrently create a functional MVP with his new knowledge.
2. Time vs. Money
When Allen thought about some of his past decisions, he mentioned that he wished he had managed his time better. “Sometimes I would spend hours trying to find a free solution, instead of just paying $10 for a product that would fit my needs.” It’s understandable, as there are numerous free tools available. Even LystenNetwork uses free tools such as Trello and Slack, to stay organized and for team communication. However, if the free options don’t fit your needs, don’t hesitate to consider searching for a reasonably priced option. This is an example of an Opportunity Cost, where you can either save time or money, but not both.
Here at LystenNetwork, we suggest automating as many tasks as possible. That is why we partnered with Pareto, a virtual taskforce solution. With our partnership link, you can get a free trial using a platform currently utilized by Entrepreneurs from YCombinator, 1517 Fund, and Stanford University.
Your time is valuable and it’s up to you to determine what to do with it.
3. Delegation Becomes Necessary
Delegation is related to time, but in a different way than strictly Time vs. Money. As a startup founder, you must wear multiple hats. These include: Product Manager, Data Analyst, Product Designer, Marketing, Website Manager, Outreach, and the list goes on. It’s one of the reasons why prioritization is so important. Allen said he spent numerous hours completing manual labor because no one else on his team could. It would’ve been largely beneficial to know when to outsource certain tasks so that he could focus on other responsibilities.
If you are prioritizing your responsibilities, you’ll know when essential tasks are beginning to slip through the cracks. Did you forget to fix a broken webpage link a customer discovered a week ago? What about that product issue several customers have been emailing you about? If you’re unable to manage everything on your plate, it’s possible that it’s time to outsource.
4. Better Vetting
As mentioned before, right now Mayo is being developed entirely by Allen and volunteer developers. Allen emphasized that he loves working with his current team and appreciates their commitment to accountability and communication. “But”, he said, “I’ve met more than 10 different people who would reach out about working with Mayo and even be onboarded. But, in two weeks, they would ghost me and my team. It was a significant waste of time, from making the original connection to onboarding.” There isn’t a guarantee on contractors having the level of accountability that you may be looking for. However, sites like Fiverr, Upwork, Pareto, and TopTal may provide a better vetting process.
All things considered, Allen found that outsourcing, whether through official outsource sites or through volunteers, worked for him. Even still, as stated earlier, every startup is on a different timeline. As the leader of your startup, you must determine if and when to outsource tasks. Does it make sense for you, your startup, and your goals? Take into account the reasons we covered and make sure you understand your needs before outsourcing.