Anyone who has their own business knows how difficult it can be to stay on top of the many small, niggling tasks that have to be taken care of on a day to day to basis. But what if, instead of trying to keep all the balls up in the air by yourself, you stopped juggling altogether and handed the balls over to someone else? In this article, we take a look at some of the advantages of outsourcing aspects of your work to outside companies, which work should be outsourced, and also offer some tips and hints on how you can find the right people to work with.
Knowing your Limitations
When you’re deciding whether or not to outsource your work, the first thing you should be doing is looking inward. It’s about looking at your company as a whole and analysing your strengths and weaknesses. For example, you might be really good at getting new leads for your business, but struggling when it comes to actually executing an order. This is not an easy process, especially as it’s difficult to see what our limitations are if we’re too “close” to the company, as it were. If necessary, it might be worth getting an outside company to analyse your company. In other words, your first outsourcing task might be getting someone on board to determine whether you need to outsource work.
Small Team, Big Players
If you’re a small business, then the biggest appeal of outsourcing will be that it will allow you to function as if you were a much bigger company. You won’t have the capital to compete with the really big companies, who have their in house teams to deal with the tasks that are holding your company back. But by outsourcing your work, you can almost operate at their level. Essentially, outsourcing allows you to gain access to the best talent pools as and when it’s needed. This is why it can beneficial to outsource across many different areas of your business, not just those that you’re struggling to keep up with. While those areas will free up more time for you, getting expert help even in areas you’re fully competent can help take you to a level that would be beyond you if you were working on your one.
It might not seem like it initially because you’re spending money on tasks that you probably could do by yourself, but outsourcing is actually a cost-efficient way to operate a business, for a number of reasons. For starters, you’ll be saving many man hours of labour within your own team. For example, if you’re having IT trouble then having someone on your team who isn’t an expert at IT would save you money on IT consultancy fees, but what about the person you’ve assigned to the task? You’ll be paying them a full wage to do something that they don’t really have the skills to do to the standard necessary. If you bring in outside help, the other team member can get back to doing whatever it is he or she is actually good at, and you’ll get the best IT help possible at the same time.
When to Outsource
This won’t sound particularly helpful, but it’s true: deciding when exactly to outsource is different for each company. Generally, there are a few different times when you should call in the outsiders, however. When there are too many tasks to be handled and you can’t cope alone; when you’re gearing up for a project and need other help to make sure it runs smoothly; and when you need expert help to kick your company onto the next level. Small companies should usually make use of outsourcing almost straight away, because there’s too much to do and those teams are usually too small to compete to a standard they need to be competitive at. Medium companies will outsource more sparingly. Those are just overall guidelines, however: if at any point you’re drowning in tasks that could be easily solved with outside help, call it in.
The Annoying Details
Now we’ll get to what kinds of tasks companies should be outsourcing. The most obvious answer to this is, ‘the annoying details’, the tasks that every company has to go through but which take up far too much of your time. If you’ve already made up through the first year of life in business, then you’ll know that these tasks are commonly linked to finances, and is chiefly: tax. Of course, it is possible for you to do your own tax, but in reality, you will almost certainly not be able to dedicate the amount of time to looking over your tax return to really do the job as well as possible. And as you’re probably already aware, tax is one of those areas that can be great if you get it done correctly, or a nightmare to untangle if it’s not done properly.
Staying Ahead Online
Aside from the annoying details, you should also be looking to outsource the tasks that can really pay to get absolutely right. You’ll know how to manage your social media accounts and your website, but remember that you’re competing against, well, more than a billion websites for the attention of internet users. The best SEO companies can make sure that you’re visible on search engines and that your website, as a result, gets plenty of hits. And in the online world, that’s exactly what you should be looking for – even more than Facebook interaction and the like. In any case, your rivals are almost certainly hiring companies just so they can get ahead of you, so if you want to stay competitive then it’ll be one task that should be a necessity.
Keeping the Team Motivated
There is another angle when it comes to outsourcing, one that goes beyond just saving you time or making sure your company is getting the essential details exactly right. You can also outsource to make sure your team is motivated, well organised, and operating as a fully functioning team. It might not seem like the most natural thing to get a “work coach” in to work with your employees, but don’t discount the idea out of hand, because it’s your staff who can make or break your company. And if they’re giving a leg up by an expert who challenges them and takes them to the next level, then you’ll see a positive correlation when it comes to the bottom line.
Payroll and Bookkeeping
There are too many companies out there who continue to take care of their own payroll and bookkeeping, even though these are two of the easiest tasks to outsource. This of course can save money, but it’s more about freeing your company from one of its non-core tasks and making it that all the hands on deck in the office have a purpose that moves the company forward. It’ll also help streamline your business, as you’ll have one of the big tasks taken care of right on time while you’re left doing the stuff that really matters.
For the Leaders
If you’re a business owner, then it’s probably been a pretty hectic time for you. It always is when you’re in charge of an organisation, however big or small it may be. That’s why you should be looking at getting an assistant, be it a “real” one or a virtual one. They’ll ensure that you always know exactly what’s going on and can also answer your phone calls, screening out the ones that will waste your time in the process. If you invest in an assistant, you’ll soon find that you’re “set free” to focus on all the tasks that you always wanted time to complete, knowing that the essential ingredients of your day to day life are not being neglected.
Finding the Right Help
Of course, outsourcing a task isn’t just a matter of picking someone out of the phone book. You’ll have to spend time making sure you find a company that you feel really comfortable with, because ultimately they are soon to become part of your organization, if only temporarily. And just as you wouldn’t hire a new member of staff without following a rigorous hiring procedure, you shouldn’t hire an outside company without really thinking it through.
The Bigger Picture
In the end, outsourcing is about much more than just getting help with some tasks. It changes the nature of your company, making it more open to change and outside help. If you’re a hands on (/controlling) boss, then it might take some getting used to, but in the end it’ll almost certainly be beneficial to your business, and that should be the only thing that really matters. There are a few downsides to outsourcing, but no killer bullet that should stop you from exploring the option . Done correctly, you’ll be stepping up your company and raising the bar for what can be achieved with your business.