The ultimate test to settle the “hire or outsource” debate

By Louanne Ward | 17 Nov 2021 View comments

When it comes to delegating work in your business, you can approach it the same way you would a relationship. Do you keep your options open and outsource to the many finding freelancers experienced in specific areas to fulfil different tasks? Or do you put all your eggs in one basket with an employee? How we approach business is often the same as how we approach our personal life. Dating the many or committing to the one?

Investing in help as needed, or finding permanent talent to fill a gap is a tough decision to make, and it all comes down to a balance of time, energy, capacity, and future goals.


As opposed to the long-term investment that comes with a permanent team member, outsourcing is a great option for small businesses and start-ups.

Like a “professional fling”, outsourcing is “no-strings-attached” and can deliver a stronger return, faster, with instant gratification and no future obligation.

The pros of outsourcing in an SME

When is the best time to consider a contractor or freelancer?

  • You have a one-off project
  • It’s not part of your core business model
  • Can be carried out remotely
  • Requires an expert’s touch with a specific skill set
  • When you need to delegate small tasks are taking up valuable time

Why outsourcing isn’t always the best option for SME

You’re up against

  • Competing with the freelancer’s other client base
  • Having less control over their process or work produced
  • Needing to give more communication and oversight
  • Relying on others to deliver on tim

With this in mind, “dating around” by hiring experts on an as-needed basis is ideal for brands in their infancy looking for small-scale support on a one-off project.

Are you better off hiring?

Sometimes it pays to put your trust into hiring someone with core essential skills. But beware, unlike short-term outsourcing, hiring is a long-term commitment just like a marriage. It requires extra attention, communication, working through issues, and an investment into the longer-term outcome.

The long game strategy to onboarding staff:

  • Improves efficiency and reliability.
  • Reduce overheads long-term (as employees are more cost effective than one-off freelancers).
  • Instill greater consumer retention and customer satisfaction.
  • Can be trained to overseas many facets of your SME.
  • Allow you freedom to take time out.

What you are up against :

  • Takes a longer time to see a return.
  • Require more attention and training in the early stages before efficiency is improved.
  • You can become dependant on the support.
  • Harder to break ties if you’re not happy.

Taking it all into account, making the commitment to invite someone into your business takes the same care and consideration as inviting someone into your personal life.

Questions to ask, things to remember

Before making the big decision, consider the following:

  • Is the cost of hiring, training, onboarding, and committing to one hire worth it for the current and near future plans?
  • Do you have the time and energy to wear all the hats required as an employer and be responsible for another mouth to feed?
  • Is there enough ongoing work and  potential for the business to grow?

Are you ready for the commitment? Or are your current business needs more suited to diversifying?

It all comes down to an intricate balance of understanding what needs and goals can be met, and by whom. Whether it’s your life partner, a long-term employee, a variety of love interests, or a small Rolodex of freelancers, commitment comes with responsibility and sometimes it’s just not in the best interests of your SME to commit.

This article was first published on Inside Small Business, a sibling publication to Inside Franchise Business Executive.