Outsourcing: You Have To Drive the Bus

One of the great things about starting a business today is the number of smaller consulting firms that can help you. These outsourced partners can serve as an integral resource for your team at an early stage but there is a catch.

You can’t do it all so that’s why you hire the experts. This is what we do at Acceleration Partners and along with other service providers who excel in the marketing, legal and financial aspects of helping to start a business, we are able to help fill the “seats on the bus” for the founder or founding team. This gives an early stage company the level of expertise it needs without the need for long term commitments or having to make permanent hires at an early stage without a real sense for what resources and skills will be needed in the long term. It’s the equivalent of renting an apartment in a new town if you aren’t sure which neighborhood you want to live in.

Consultants or interim resources are a great “extension’ to you team, but you should not look to others to provide the inspiration or overall direction for your company. Someone on your team needs to wake up each and everyday wondering what it is going to take to make the business a success and have that be their sole objective. Using Jim Collins’ bus analogy again, it’s fine to ask for directions or move the seats around and it’s even okay to ask others to hold onto the steering wheel for a few seconds. However, it’s never a good idea to ask a consultant or outsourced partner to drive the bus. The only exception is if you are planning on grooming them to take over as the permanent driver sometime soon.

The bottom line is that you simply can’t outsource the passion for your idea and every successful new business needs someone who is passionate and driven by what the company does. Consultants tend to be functional experts, while founders tend to be subject matter experts. Consultants can help you ground, improve, guide and direct your business, but they often don’t have the same passion for your industry or have the purpose driven ambition that caused you to start your business in the first place

So my advice is to fill the bus with good people, but always keep your own two hands on the wheel. Once you hit the highway and you have momentum, you can always look to getting a more qualified manager to take your place, but make sure they are as invested as you are in the outcome of the business.

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