One of the first lessons that entrepreneurs learn when they launch a small business is that they can’t do everything themselves. The lesson they don’t always learn immediately is that they shouldn’t do everything themselves. The true answer to their dilemma is outsourcing. The practice of outsourcing—using external expertise to manage the internal functions of a business or organization—got a bad rap in past decades because the tactic was seen by some entrepreneurs as a concept reserved for large businesses. Still others found the practice of working with a remote expert or service in some way inauthentic compared to the traditional matrix of partners and suppliers.
How Outsourcing Brings Value to a Small Business
However, the landscape of tools and benefits that are accessible to small business has changed dramatically in recent years. It’s important that entrepreneurs and small business leaders understand the value that tactical outsourcing can bring. First, outsourcing is a more accessible tool these days. With the advent of communication platforms like Skype, Slack, and Basecamp—not to mention dozens of other worthy alternatives—it’s possible for virtual teams to work in real time with 100% effective communication. Outsourcing gives a small business access to virtual assistants and other qualified, trained professionals at a fraction of the price of bringing on even a part-time employee.
The value that outsourcing can bring to a small business can affect its bottom line in significant ways. Outsourcing can help a burgeoning small business control capital costs, increase efficiency, reduce the cost of on-site labor, and encourage leadership to focus on its core business and grow the company. Outsourcing also allows small businesses to compete more effectively with larger competitors, start new projects more quickly, and help reduce the risk that is internal to your organization.
When Should You Outsource?
It’s a good question, and one that requires some preparation. First, you need to ask yourself what you are best at in your business that only you can do. It’s important to ask this question from an empirical point-of-view so as not to color your perception of your own importance to the enterprise.
Next, ask what needs to be done for the small business that you’re not good at or don’t enjoy very much. Once you have determined what those functions are and have made a plan to transition those functions to an outsourced resource, then you can start implementing your plan.
Where to Find External Resources
It used to be that if a small business needed a resource, they simply hung a “Help Wanted” sign on the window or put an advertisement in the local newspaper. But today’s freelance professionals are much more sophisticated. Sure, you can still put an advertisement on Craigslist and see if someone qualified turns up, but to really access the international market, it’s better to use a more sophisticated service. Services like Fiverr, Upwork, and Creative Circle are all great resources for finding content writers, copywriters, web designers, and other creative professionals. Services like Indinero.com, Wagepoint or Intuit can help you off-load your bookkeeping and payroll functions to an external service—one that is less likely to make mistakes than you are. Finally, virtual assistant services like Intelligent Office can help you with scheduling, appointment-setting, and other administrative tasks.
By making a plan, really looking at how your small business functions, and then outsourcing the right functions to outside experts, you’ll not only improve the way your business operates, but also cut costs and bring value to your enterprise.