Acquire Or Hire?: The Skill Acquisition Paradox

No matter how badass of a multi-talented, multi-tasker, you are there will come a time when you don’t know how to to do something. For many this will be the inevitable website feature or function you have to build. The one widget that you need to take your site over the top. Or it might be editing your book, writing a biography, or creating a sizzle real for your crowd funding campaign.

You will come to face the same question that many of us have already faced,  Should I take a class and learn the skill? Now of course skill acquisition is going to be a compelling option for an ambitious go getter, but you will have to realize the total cost. Learning the skill means you will have it forever, but it also means you need to invest the time in building the knowledge and keep going back to fix the problem every time.

The other side of the coin is, Should I hire a professional to do this for me?  Again, there are a few things to consider… Hiring out, contracting, or what not should give you your time back, it will ease the burden of you having to get the task completed yourself but if you don’t have the cash to hire the best, then you will no doubt end up with one of two pivotal issues. Time or quality. If speed is a demand then it will come at a price, contractors and consultants are busy and if you want priority you will have to pay for it. Usually the firms that are sitting on your thumbs waiting for your call may not be top tier. At any rate, you take a risk whenever you hire out, even firms and contractors with rock solid reputations can drop the ball when bigger opportunities arise.

Pros and cons for this scenario are hard to nail down, but it is far more likely that you won’t have to harbor the burden of choice. Simplifying the factors could help here. Seek to find the difference in cost of your time (both to learn and execute), between the cost of a contractors time to do the job a la carte. If the contractor is less, go with them.

Keep an eye on your spend in this area and if you find problems rationalizing the cost later, then it might be time to acquire the skill.

This logic can be applied to business at scale as well. The CEO or business manager may have to decide between exactly these two options on a larger scale. Bringing on additional staff or acquiring a smaller business for their skills is the same as learning the skill for the solo-preneur.

Whether you are going to hire or acquire you have to work the same logic. Think of it as a tool, if you need a big truck pretty often for your work, just buy one, but if you only need a hammer every so often, maybe you can just rent one when you need it.

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