One of the biggest headaches of an entrepreneur or small business owner is a work-life balance. It’s a challenge to juggle living a full and happy life while also growing and expanding your company. It can feel like you’re doing everything yourself and you’re still not getting anywhere. That’s where outsourcing comes in.
Outsourcing, or “contracting out,” is the term used for delegating specific processes to individuals or agencies outside of the company. The term “outsourcing” can be broken down into “out” and “source”: it is the strategic use of out-side resources. It is the process of delegating certain activities or functions to a third-party partner as a deliberate, strategic part of growth.
So how do you turn outsourcing into a fruitful strategy?
There are a number of reasons that companies outsource, all of which are related to efficiency and effectiveness.
Outsourcing can save costs and regulate expenses.
Outsourcing to external individuals or agencies generally has a lower cost of labor than hiring a salaried employee for that role. It can also save money on resources, overhead, training, and more.
Outsourcing frees up time within the company.
Studies show that multitasking can cause a 40% drop in productivity, which leads to increased stress levels and more time spent on projects. Multitasking is often a symptom of detail-oriented or repetitive tasks that are necessary for the business to run but aren’t contributing to its growth.
Subcontracting these duties frees up internal resources to instead focus on core competencies, development, and strategy. This helps to improve the company focus while also allowing for a better work-life balance for small business owners and other employees.
Outsourcing increases business partnerships and networks.
Outsourcing maximizes external resources. The right outsourcing partner will work with you towards mutual growth. You’re able to widen your network, and the wider the network, the wider the knowledge base and capabilities. You’re opened up to new service providers and business partners that can take your business to the next level.
Outsourcing can boost the quality of certain tasks.
Outsourcing opens your business to a third-party viewpoint—one that still has your company’s best interests at heart. This can boost innovation and improvement.
Additionally, you are likely outsourcing to an individual who is ultra-skilled at a given set of responsibilities—because that is what they do every day. This can improve the quality of that given task by streamlining and simplifying those activities.
What Should You Outsource?
Although outsourcing brings a lot of benefits, it’s not right for every role. In order to get the most out of subcontracting, you must first understand your business’ needs.
Generally, you should outsource tasks that are important but not vital. You want to outsource those activities that need to get done during the day but can be a distraction to the overall execution of strategy.
Do a cost-time analysis. How much are you currently spending time and resources on daily tasks? How much more money could you be making if you outsourced those time-consuming activities? Is it less expensive to have someone else do it rather than doing it in-house? Is it the same price, but keeping it in-house would drain other resources?
You should also outsource for one-time events or specialized skills that would call for significant training with little payout. For example, if you are building a website, you might want to temporarily contract a website designer. If you are looking to maintain security on your company software, you could partner long-term with a third-party IT company that specializes in security.
Examples Of Common Outsourcing Tasks Include:
- Content Marketing
- Administrative Tasks/Scheduling
- Computer Services
- Employee Training
- Certain HR processes
- Customer Service
- Web and Graphic Design
- Social Media Marketing
- Email Marketing
- Branding/Logo Development
- Content Development
It’s important to note that not all companies will outsource the same activities. For example, many large companies choose to outsource customer service. However, if your business’ competitive advantage is quality service, you should preserve that strong service in-house.
Another good rule of thumb: Outsource your weaknesses.
How Should You Outsource?
You shouldn’t hire an outside company, let them take the reigns, and lose all control. In order to get the results you want, you should treat the contractor as though he or she were an employee. For continuity purposes, you should always:
- Establish goals and timeline
- Communicate clearly, concisely, and often
- Schedule regular meetings, phone-calls, check-ins
- Establish standards
- Outline standard measurements in a contract
There are a variety of ways to find potential outsourcers. Think about the role you want to be filled, the type of contractor who would fill that role, and where those contractors hang out.
For example, you might choose to hire a virtual assistant to take care of administrative tasks. You can hire any VA… or you could hire one that also has photography skills so they can build your Amazon listing product imagery. Make sure you are clear about all the tasks you want your contractor to fill in order to find the perfect candidate.
Places to find outsourcers include:
- Freelance websites like Upwork, Thumbtack, Guru, and Freelancer.com
- Conferences and seminars in your field
- References in your network
- Outsource-specific staffing agencies
- Task-specific agencies (i.e. Support Ninja for customer support)
Fish where the fish are.
The Bottom Line
Outsourcing can grow your business by cutting costs, increasing the number of hours in the day, widening your business networks, and giving you the chance to focus on the core needs of your company. You’ll have more quality time and resources to grow your business—or to go home and see your kids after work!
Whatever your purpose and reasoning for outsourcing, be sure to do a thorough time-and-cost-benefit analysis to determine which tasks would be most fruitful if outsourced. Your subcontractor then becomes a valued business partner, so be careful to choose the right one for your specific needs. The right outsourcing partner will open up an entirely new world of development for your business.
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