The Proverbial Nephew

Nearly every client of mine went through what I call “The Proverbial Nephew” phase before we worked together. They look at the many moving pieces of their business, find a piece that needs attention, and shop around for someone who can help with that piece. Inevitably, their shopping considers the easiest and cheapest option, “I’ll just have my nephew do that!” Let me be the one who breaks the news to you: you get what you pay for. If your business has grown to the point where it needs to outsource, that’s a great problem to have, but you need to consider your needs before hiring just anyone. Ask yourself this one question: what level of quality do I need for this?

Ask yourself this one question: what level of quality do I need for this?


If you need the highest quality, then you are probably focusing your efforts on something that requires a specialized set of skills from someone. Your nephew might have 20 years of experience in the relevant field and several credentials specific to what you need. Experience, credentials, and a portfolio are usually the easiest way to measure a specialist’s skills. There are several contractors just a click away on websites like Upwork and Fiverr.  


 If you need a specialist for a one-time project, you’ll likely face a contract with a term. The term of that contract could be long or short, and some even let you pause them as needed. This can be great, but you’ve got to be careful. One of my clients used this method of outsourcing, and the contractor self-engineered “errors” in order to keep the contract going. The projected cost was around $5,000, but it ended up costing over $10,000! One risk to working with a specialist is that they understand the subject and you don’t. Always consider maintenance when reviewing contracts. Clear communication and constant connection are important when working with any team, but both of those are difficult when outsourcing with specialists.


If your business just needs to “get it done,” then just about anyone with general skills could probably provide you with the necessary product or service. Your nephew who is juggling high-school relationships, homework, and family functions could lick envelopes if that’s all you need. Anyone with time on their hands fits the criteria. You can probably use word of mouth to find this kind of help. If you need to outsource generalized labor, you’ll probably enter into some sort of retainer agreement. The simplest version of this is an agreement to pay your nephew an allowance. This might sound convenient, but cutting costs comes with concessions like overbearing administrative tasks. 


Just remember, all of the aspects of your business are connected.


What happens when 10,000 envelopes are mailed to the wrong address? Will you ask your sister to ground your nephew? Will he even care? One of my clients had his wife manage his calendar and plan his travel. When he had to travel to and from an event in one day, everything went fine until he had to leave. The return flight was booked so tight that he missed out on a projected $4,000 of revenue and priceless referrals. A good contingency plan and followup marketing are both solutions that would have captured that revenue, but the quality of work to do so wasn’t available because he was outsourcing to his wife. 


Every business eventually outgrows itself and needs to outsource. Please don’t use the proverbial nephew! I don’t have anything against your nephew, but what happens when your business grows again? Either you handle it, pass the buck to your nephew (whose plate is already full), or hire your niece! How many nieces and nephews do you have? I’ll let you be the one to tell your brothers and sisters that you need more “employees.” Instead, ask yourself the one, simple question: what level of quality do I need for this? Unless you need someone with highly specialized skills for a one-time project, you probably aren’t looking at the highest quality. You probably don’t want to scrape the bottom of the barrel either unless you’re just trying to outsource generalized labor. Many businesses need solutions that are somewhere in the middle. 


 Once your business has grown to a certain size, the many moving pieces need to work together, communicate, and stay connected. If you don’t have that cohesive environment, flaws from an outsourced piece can create multiple issues someone else has to clean up. Consider outsourcing to a small team who have a diverse set of skills, wide range of experience, and passionate interests. If you’d like to discuss your business needs, let’s schedule a call! Send an email to


Talk to you soon,

-Tim Schulz