'Outsource absolutely everything,' says CEO, to run your home like a successful business


When you think about it, your domestic life and your work life aren't all that different.

You perpetually check inventory (toilet paper, milk, eggs), you budget so that your spending doesn't exceed your earnings, and you delegate responsibilities among roommates or family members. Plus there's always the risk of the unexpected: Your refrigerator breaks, requiring an unexpected cash outlay, or a valuable member of the team like your child gets sick, slowing down productivity and affecting your bottom line.

"It's a good idea to have some overlap in the way you operate at work and at home," says Brian Scudamore, founder & CEO of 1-800-GOT-JUNK? who also has three children ranging in age from 7 to 14 years old. Scudamore wrote about how running his family like a business helped him maintain an efficient and fun-loving household.

Here are three systems and strategies he says can help you at home.

1. Outsource to increase productivity

Scudamore says the same idea applies at work and at home: "Why not outsource absolutely everything you can and save time for what you want to do?"

"When start-ups tell me, 'I can't afford an assistant,' I ask them to go through the tasks they need help with. Then I ask, 'If you could pay $20 an hour for someone to do that paperwork for you, would that free up enough time and allow you to bring in more money?' When you look at the economics of it, they think, 'Why wouldn't I hire an assistant?'" Scudamore says.

Why not outsource absolutely everything you can and save time for what you want to do?
Brian Scudamore

Outsourcing laundry, cooking, and cleaning will not only free up more time for your family, it will also make you more productive at work, Scudamore says, and "that's worth the money."

When you're figuring out what to outsource at home, bring your decision back to the bottom line, as you would at work. For instance, if you're deciding whether to spend your money on a convenience, like ordering in, or are trying to save for graduate school, determine your priorities, says Roger Ma, a certified financial planner at Lifelaidout.com.

2. Hold regular meetings

Once a week, the Scudamores have dinner together to discuss everyone's needs and concerns. At these "meetings," Brian often asks his kids how they could help around the house.

As a productivity incentive, each child, depending on age, earns an allowance. But the financial lesson doesn't stop there.

Scudamore and his wife gave each child three jars labeled save, share (donate), and fund (long-term goal). "The act of dividing their money teaches them to decide what they'll save for, and it teaches them that money shouldn't just be theirs to keep — they should donate some of it."

Brian Scudamore, 1-800-GOT-JUNK? CEO.
Courtesy Brian Scudamore

In addition, he points out that one day his kids will be paying taxes so they should understand asset allocation.

The Scudamores also use this time to make major family decisions, like whether or not to get a dog, or where to go on vacation. These meetings give everyone an opportunity to feel heard, and empower all family members to contribute to the "mission."

3. Set goals

"I always sit down with my team and talk about the top three priorities for the week, and I do the same with my family," Scudamore says. Figuring out your top three tasks will help you allocate your time wisely and will ensure you don't bite off more than you can chew.

Communication is also key for efficient business and family operations, says Scudamore. For example, he and his wife use technology, including a shared calendar and shared virtual to-do list. To make the process feel a little less businesslike, he says, they use a chalkboard wall to jot down notes instead of a whiteboard.

To maintain "good hygiene" when you're running a household, Ma also suggests taking regular stock of your finances and goals. "Check your net worth quarterly. Determine what extra money you have left to allocate to services, like a cleaner or ordering groceries," he says. "Decide what your financial goals are for the next three, five, and 10 years to help you figure out how to allocate your income."

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