Inspect What You Expect

March 7th, 2009 by | Print



In previous posts and in different spots on my site, I recommend that you don’t go solo as a solopreneur. To best maximize the potential of your business you need to focus your time on your strengths while outsourcing coverage for the areas where you are weak. However, passing off parts of your business to other professionals doesn’t mean that you pass off the ultimate responsibility. You are still the sole guardian for your solopreneur enterprise. You need to inspect what you expect from your outsourcing vendors.


A case in point – one of the primary expenses that a restaurant needs to control to keep the doors open is food costs. Most successful restaurants operate in the range of 26% to 34% depending on the type of establishment. Food cost is calculated as a percentage of cost of food purchased divided by revenue from food sales. Period.


It is common in the industry for operators to outsource their accounting. I know of various horror stories where accountants use a different calculation for food cost percentage. Some will factor in sales tax, while others have combined in alcohol sales – because that is the way their programs work. Food cost percentages have a huge impact on decisions regarding menu options, ingredient selections, pricing and promotions. If the restaurateur isn’t savvy to the errors in their accountant’s calculation, they will soon find themselves upside down wondering why they failed.


Here are 5 steps to having a successful outsourcing relationship:


  1. Define your needs.
  2. Get referrals to an appropriate professional.
  3. Interview potential candidates to assess their expertise and fit for your needs. Ask for references.
  4. Detail agreed upon pricing, milestones, measurement criteria and deadlines.
  5. Meet regularly with your outsourcing partner to ensure that you understand the product that they are supplying to you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.


I am a realist. I now that you may be like most entrepreneurs in a hurry and only speak to one or two pros before choosing your outsourcing partner, especially if they are giving you a great deal. Although I strongly recommend that you take the time for all five steps listed above, the bottom line really comes down to the fact that if nothing else you need to inspect what you expect.


The great gain to outsourcing is you have a pro protecting your vulnerabilities. Don’t assume that they don’t make mistakes. It is ultimately up to you to make sure that you manage the output of this resource. You need to make sure that you understand what you are paying for – in quantity, in quality, in schedule and in a case like accounting – knowing what the data means and how it compares to industry standards.


All The Best,

Doug Dolan
The Solopreneur’s Guide


2 Responses to “Inspect What You Expect”

  1. Paul Says:

    Any advice for lower cost outsourcing for solopreneurs earlier in their business development, ie when they don’t have a large revenue stream yet?

  2. Douglas Dolan Says:


    I recommend that you network with other professionals that have different strengths than what you offer and are open to bartering services. For example, if you need accounting help; locate a talented accountant that requires a web pro. Agree on terms for a swap of services so the only cost to you is time. You can then further leverage the relationship for referrals on of future customers.

    You can find potential partners at various online communities, through your local chamber of commerce or networking associations like BNI (if they have a chapter in your area).

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