Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Mathematics of Expertise

Today, I was reading a post over on FreelanceFolder on The Mathematics of Freelancing. Laura Spencer was talking about what I refer to as "critical mass equations"---those times when in order to make the happy buck, one has to send off a ton of stuff. Spencer was also talking about good bookkeeping practices---something that a lot of freelancers seem to ignore.

To the examples that she mentioned, I would also add "mathematics of expertise." This is how to figure out when it is cheaper to pick up the phone and call an expert in to do a job that you can do yourself.

It is something that I learned from my father. He was a big DIYer (do-it-yourself-er). But every once in awhile, he would pay someone else to do a task for him.

For the record, I am not a big DIYer. I am sort-of a kluntz. There is also the fact that I have no desire to know how to fix my own car---not that I own a car---but all men in my family are supposed to know how to fix one. There are a lot of things that I have no desire to learn how to fix.

For instance, one of my father-in-laws (my wife's biological father) believes that I should invest in some tools and do all the plumbing repairs that homeowners eventually need to do. In his mind, I should not be picking up the phone and calling in a plumber to do the job for me.

I disagree.

There is actually math involved in my reasoning for doing this.

When you add up all the time, it takes me to figure out what DIY book to read, the time it takes me to go to the hardware store, the time it takes me to screw up the first attempt to fix the problem, the time it takes me to figure out what the bloody hell I did wrong (sorry about swearing there), the second trip to the hardware store, plus the time to redo the job and hopefully finally get it right, when you add up all that time and grief, and compare it to the amount that I make as a freelancer, you discover something important.

I almost always lose more income than I saved by doing the job myself.

An actual expert not only can do the job quicker, and get it actually done right, than I; but they can do it for a cheaper price than the amount of income I would lose if I attempted to do the job myself.

For me, that is something inportant to know. After all, in my family, men are supposed to do all the repairs and never call in an expert to do it for them.

And as a freelancer, the logic extends to editing, advertising, etc.

Honestly, I would rather pay the experts to do their job while I focus on the area of my expertise. And that is why I will never be considered a "real man" by my father-in-law.

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