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What not to outsource in your business: 11 critical things

September 13, 2022

Business Planning

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As a small business owner, even the idea of hiring can be both scary and exciting. Knowing why you should hire a team in your small business is one thing, but what do you hire FOR? This guide will help you understand what not to outsource in your small business. Because outsourcing the wrong stuff is worse than not hiring at all!

(P.S. Some of the links in this article are affiliate links – but I only recommend products I love and use myself. Because otherwise. Ew!)

What not to outsource #1 – Client meetings

Nice try, you thought you could outsource time spent with your clients? Not so much. As an online service provider, the key to maintaining client longevity comes with your relationship with the client. People sign up to work with you, not really your team. Don’t take away the reason people signed up.

I personally find client meetings to be my favorite part of my job so it is definitely a task I wouldn’t outsource even if I could. That being said, if client meetings are taking up too much of your time make sure you are including parameters for how often you will meet and for how long in your contract.

(If you are not using a contract – pretty please start using one! – I got mine from Solivagant Legal and they are awesome, easy to edit, and include so many things you’d never even think of).

What not to outsource #2 – Company Vision and Direction

You own your own business for a reason. Whether it’s because you wanted time freedom, financial freedom or just the ability to not have to take orders from someone. That is why company vision and direction is a task you should never outsource. While it’s great to get inspiration from other business owners, friends, and mentors; it is your business, and you ultimately need to make the call.

If you hire someone to come up with this for you? You are giving up your control and really the power that you should have as the CEO of your company. And I get it, it’s freaking scary as hell to have the weight of a company relying on you to come up with the right direction and vision for it.

It is also the opportunity to create a company that helps you live your dream life. You get to set the hours, the expectations, the pay, everything! I often see business owners get caught in the trap of just recreating the experience of what they had in corporate (if they ever worked there) because it’s familiar. But owning your own business should be the exact opportunity to question every single thing you know about how business has to operate and create whatever the hell you want!

What not to outsource #3 – Final say on hires

The irony here is strong. Please don’t ever give someone else the entire responsibility for hiring your team members. You should always have the final say because it is ultimately your company that will be affected by whether the hire is awesome or not.

Now, that’s not to say that you can never outsource any part of the hiring process. Finding, vetting, and initial screenings for candidates is actually a great opportunity to outsource. (If you are looking for help for this my girl Vanessa at is your gal!)

Hiring is expensive as hell – you have to train them, take time to check their work, pay them, etc. And every time you have turnover you have to do it all over again and your productivity takes a hit (also an indirect expense). So, hiring the right talent is important.

What not to outsource #4 – Customer Service / Customer Service Standards

what not to outsource customer service - woman speaking into phone stating "speak to representative"

Let me explain this one a bit further. I don’t mean that you can never hire someone to help with providing great customer service. I mean don’t hire a call center of randos to answer questions for your clients. Seriously.

I bet you’ve experienced this before, right? You start with a company that seems awesome and then they grow and all of a sudden you can’t actually speak to someone to save your life! And when you do you never get the same person and you have to repeat your issue over and over again – and then they transfer you – twice – and then your call gets dropped. Tell me I’m not alone here!

This is not the customer service you want to deliver. If you’re going to “outsource” this, then hire someone specifically to handle this in a personal and customer-centered way so that your clients can build an actual relationship with this person and feel like they know them.

Also, another task you think about when considering what not to outsource along this line is developing customer service standards. You should be developing these yourself so that you can be sure that if you do outsource this task, you have a clear direction for anyone you hire.

What not to outsource #5 – Signing off on expenses

While you will likely want to outsource the managing of your books and overall finances (hi, have we met? I can help with this 😊) what not to outsource is signing off on expenses. You should still know exactly why expenses are happening, and what they are for, and have 100% veto power on any of them.

Many entrepreneurs think that if they hire someone to do their books they will “lose track” of their finances. No! What it actually does is help you not have to get caught up in the day-to-day management of it all so that you can look at things like expense management, profitability, pricing strategy, and more because all the information is there for you to easily access.

What not to outsource #6 – New product/service development

If you are thinking about coming up with a new offer or service that’s all you boo. While you can hire someone to help you implement your idea (once you’ve vetted it of course) you need to develop the idea yourself. You know your target market better than anyone else. You know how this new potential offer will fit nicely into your product suite, how it will help your business grow, and how it will help you reach your goals.

The basic rule of thumb when thinking about what not to outsource is that you can’t outsource any of that strategy and your personal knowledge. Now when you are ready to launch the offer if you want some help that’s a great thing to outsource. And, as always, I have some recommendations!

What not to outsource #7 – Termination management

guess who's fired? what not to outsource in your business

Never a fun topic but crucial and one that people often miss when thinking about what not to outsource. Just as you should always have the final say on hires, you should also be the one who decides when it’s time for someone to move on. This is a task you should never outsource.

While the idea of letting someone go actually should be unpalatable to you it is a necessary component of running a successful business. Sometimes people are a great fit and then the company outgrows them – or they outgrow the role and performance suffers. There are many reasons why hanging on to underperforming people hurts not only your profitability but also your client experience and your company culture. This brings us to…

What not to outsource #8 – Company culture

When thinking of what not to outsource, culture was top of mind for me. Culture is as unique as a fingerprint. It doesn’t come from a mission statement, vision statement, or logo. It comes from all the unspoken, unwritten rules that people within the community of work follow and agree to. And those rules can be good or bad.

For example, people can “just know” that you don’t offer suggestions in meetings because the boss only likes their own ideas. This is a negative culture in action. Or you can cultivate an environment where people openly question processes and practices regularly in the name of innovation. You could see this as either an exciting place to work or as an insane one depending on your preferences.

This is why having a clear understanding of your company culture, both as it is and as you are trying to mold it to be, is so important when deciding who to hire. And you can’t hire some HR expert to “develop” company culture and then leave.

Culture is a living and breathing organism that requires continual attention and intention if you want it to be positive and supportive.

What not to outsource #9 – Sales

This is pretty similar to that call center customer service example, but I feel like this task is its own beast. Sales are considered a “what not to outsource” because it literally sets the tone for your entire client relationship.

I know there are advertisements for this service too. Don’t be deceived. No one knows your service as you do, no one else can explain the benefits and why it would benefit that particular client in a way that makes them say YES. In addition to this, if you outsource your sales, you also pass on the opportunity to screen out potential clients that look good on paper but put off a weird vibe. (You know what I’m talking about right? Like until you meet them you think they’ll be great – and you realize your personalities just don’t mesh…)

Sales calls are like dating – you can’t outsource compatibility. If you aren’t comfortable with sales, then you need to find a method that works for you because if you don’t sell you don’t have a business. People are not going to just throw money at you. As nice as that would be when you offer a service people want to get to know the person before they book. So, a sales conversation is just one of many that need to happen during the sales cycle.

And building that rapport and connection is one of those things you should not outsource.

What not to outsource #10 – Marketing Strategy oversight

what not to outsource quality control

I almost hesitated to put this one on the list but I’m doing it anyway. There are so many areas of marketing that you can outsource effectively; however, the overall strategy is something that you as the owner should never let go oversight of. That’s why it’s on the list of what not to outsource.

What do I mean by oversight? We’ve already talked about how you should be in charge of the culture, vision, and direction, and marketing strategy is a component of the overall company plan. How will you market? What channels will you focus on? Where will your main “hub” be that you want to drive traffic to? Will you blog? Podcast? Do mostly social media? There are many options for marketing but being intentional about what to focus on and why is your job.

Because let’s be real, there is an expert out there you can hire for any of these options – but which one do you need? That’s why you have to determine your marketing strategy instead of just hiring willy-nilly because someone says “x, y, z marketing tactic” is the way to go. No! Be intentional and do some market research to figure out where the heck your ideal clients are even likely to find you!

What not to outsource Bonus #11 – Quality Control & Responsibility

I couldn’t help but throw in an extra “what not to outsource” that I think is really vital that you may not even think about. One of the biggest what not to outsource is quality control or responsibility.

Now you may think, how could I even outsource that? It could be as simple as, not having quality checks in place for your team (no matter how many times they’ve done a task there are always possibilities for error – it’s not about mistrust it’s about ensuring a quality service delivery). It could also mean blaming your team for mistakes when a client is unhappy.

The buck stops with you. You are the owner. Any mistakes, any errors are your fault. #sorrynotsorry. This is what it means to take responsibility for your business. That’s why quality control and checks are so vital. Because if shit hits the fan your clients won’t be looking to anyone but you for answers.


I hope this has given you something to think about and hopefully made you realize that there are just somewhat not to outsource in your small business. Like it or not, if you want your business to run well and be all that you want it to be you have to have your hands in it to some degree.

If you are looking to outsource your books we would love to hear from you! Contact us

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Hey, I’m Sarah, Your Numbers BFF

I help take the confusion out of finance . 

I've spent more than 15 years working in both the corporate and small business sector helping businesses both large and small find creative and new ways to save money while increasing value and profits. 
And nothing gets me more excited than helping small business owners create more profitable businesses.
Why? Because I know exactly what that means for you. It means more time to call your own, more trips, more time with your kids, less time worrying about money. 
I founded Leo & Vern in honor of my grandpa, my favorite person ever, who used his knowledge as an accountant to leave a legacy behind for our family. So to me, carrying on his legacy of helping others create their own legacy? Priceless.

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