As a business owner, you’ve gotten used to managing tons of different roles and activities. But multitasking isn’t the way to take your business to the next level.
Sure, you could do everything — but you definitely shouldn’t have to. Dividing your time, energy, and attention doesn’t help you build a dynamic and focused brand.
These days, business outsourcing is more than just a quick solution for staff shortage. Outsourcing is the key to your company’s expansion!
Outsourcing is the contracting out of any task, operation, job or process that was originally performed by employees within your company to a third party for a significant period of time. These outsourced functions can be performed by the third party on-site or off-site. Hiring a temporary employee while your secretary is on maternity leave is not outsourcing. — The Balance
My Experience With Outsourcing
Business outsourcing was a no-brainer for me.
Instead of handling all the daily tasks (including writing and marketing) for my business on my own, I started outsourcing some of those tasks to specialists.
Specifically, I’ve outsourced my social media management and web design tasks. Both sucked the soul out of me — so after a bit of hesitation, I gave them to someone skilled in those areas.
It was a win-win! I had more time to develop better strategies and got way better quality designs and promotion for my company!
The best part? Everything just appears in my inbox, hassle-free.
I’ve found that outsourcing can promote your business growth in many areas:
- It saves money that you can invest back into the company.
- It incorporates experts who will market your brand for you.
- It allows your full-time staff to address the core business functions — which ultimately increases productivity.
Outsourcing Work To Companies vs. Individuals
When approaching various outsourcing companies, these are the 3 basic steps involved with business outsourcing:
- Request for Information – You’re trying to learn more about the contractor’s skills and experience. You do this when you’d like to collect data from the person, but you aren’t ready to engage them in the project specifics.
- Request for Proposal – Once you have a distinct vision for the task you need to outsource, it’s time to clarify the things that you specifically “need” (using words like “will”, “shall”, “must”) versus the things that you “prefer” (using words like “optional”, “can”, and “may”).
- Request for Quote – At this point, you’re giving the contractor access to project details and specifications, after due diligence has been met.
A formal approach like this is common when you outsource work to outsourcing companies.
When you’re hiring an individual, the process is less formal — and more unpredictable.
It happened to me (more than once, unfortunately) that someone I hired not only missed the deadline, but actually became unreachable when I was expecting deliverables from them.
To keep on the safe side, I’ve chosen to work with outsourcing companies whenever I can’t get the specialist I need through personal contacts. They will find a qualified contractor (virtual assistant) for your project and they will guarantee their services!
Here are some popular outsourcing companies that provide excellent outsourcing services:
- Infosys – for digital insights and business transformation consulting
- Accenture – for software integration and information technology
- LYFE Marketing – for social media, web design and SEO analytics
- TextBroker – for freelance copywriting and blogging services
- Intelligent Office – for cross-functional administrative solutions
Deciding What To Outsource
Once you’ve narrowed down an outsourcing strategy for your business, the next step is choosing which activities to outsource and which ones to perform in-house.
When making this decision, first look for daily repetitive tasks.
For instance, a number of administrative duties can be performed by a virtual assistant — taking a big load off you and your team.
Here are some examples of administrative functions that are commonly outsourced:
- Sorting through emails
- Updating blog content
- Preparing invoices
- Performing data entry
- Responding to voicemails
- Keeping track of your schedule
- Creating reports, forms, document templates
- Conducting online research
- Managing projects
- Answering inquiries
- Filing & database management
When picking other types of work within your company to outsource, there are 2 questions to explore:
“What is the strategic importance of this task — will it offer my business a substantial competitive advantage?”
“What is the task’s impact on my operational performance — how much disruption will it cause if executed poorly?”
If a job is necessary but not in your wheelhouse or doesn’t directly contribute to the bottom-line, it can be outsourced to a reliable and proficient contractor or virtual assistant.
But if a job has weighted influence on how smoothly, efficiently and successfully the business operates, you’ll want to keep it in-house to ensure both control and consistency.
Other Business Outsourcing Examples
In addition to the administrative tasks mentioned above, other common outsourcing services include:
Payroll and Bookkeeping
- Accounts payable
- Budget preparation
- Management reports
- Accounting software set up
- Bank reconciliations
- Online payments
- Tax preparation
Social Media Marketing
- Creating a Facebook page
- Scheduling and promoting Facebook posts
- Creating a Twitter account
- Growing Twitter followers
- Uploading videos for YouTube
- Creating a Pinterest account
- Scheduling pins on Pinterest
- Planning and creating content ideas
- Creating branded images for social posting
- Engaging with followers across channels
- Managing social media ads
Graphic Design and Web Development
- Designing a company logo
- Assisting with brand identity
- Creating banners, headers, and web icons
- Formatting and designing eBook covers
- Designing infographics
- Creating landing pages & sales pages
- Performing updates to the website
- Designing an e-commerce website
- Cloud hosting
How To Hire A Contractor Or Virtual Assistant
It’s critical to find the right person who:
- Aligns with the company culture
- Is familiar with the industry
- Can accomplish the task based on your standards
In other words, don’t hire that former college roommate who dabbles in photo editing or writes essays and occasional blog posts on the side.
Rather than hiring novices for a dime a dozen, invest in professional service providers whose portfolio exhibits talent and credibility. You want to build a strong relationship that will benefit your company long-term.
According to a report by Deloitte, 89% of businesses leverage their current outsourcing providers for additional services — getting some discounts on the way.
When picking a contractor or virtual assistant, stop yourself from hiring the first one you contact right away. Take time to compare the strengths and quotes from different business outsourcing providers.
Here are the most important factors to consider:
- Experience – Has the company been around long enough? Do they specialize in exactly what you need?
- Location – Will this work relationship have any costs for travel? Will you be able to communicate effectively in a timely manner?
- Reviews – Is there a history of positive reviews for the contractor’s services? Do any of your friends or business partners have experience working with them?
- Hidden payments – What tax requirements do you have to follow, according to the contractor’s state laws? What legal fees do you have to pay when negotiating and drawing up a contract?
Depending on your scope of work and above mentioned factors, you may end up placing your business outsourcing across the globe. Don’t let this discourage you — it’s a pretty common practice nowadays.
I’ve outsourced the majority of web development to a company in India who provides high-quality work at a much lower price than you’d find in the UK. I’ve outsourced web hosting and management to a company in the U.S who specializes in optimizing websites for speed, doing a far better job than I could do myself. Finally, I’ve outsourced content creation and promotion to a UK-based freelancer I’d worked with previously. This is vital because she understands the local market. — Ian Wright, CEO of British Business Energy
Benefits Of Outsourcing
Aside from reducing stress and balancing your workload, the main benefit is reducing overhead costs. In fact, 59% of companies who outsource choose to do so because it’s affordable. Hiring a contractor is less expensive than recruiting and retaining a full-time employee.
Another benefit is more time. A project can be started immediately since you don’t have to wait until other tasks on your agenda are finished. A contractor will prioritize the assignments that you would’ve had to keep on the back burner.
In return, this increases efficiency — which means a higher revenue, greater customer reach, and overall competitiveness in the long-term.
Finally, outsourcing mitigates the amount of risk for your business by ensuring the quality of deliverables produced. Whatever the contractor specializes in, they know it better than you. They see which risks are worth taking and which should be avoided.
The best part about hiring a pro? You will have top-notch solutions for your business that you would never think of yourself!
Here are some insights from other business owners who’ve decided to outsource:
[Outsourcing] has given our team a good idea of what we like and don’t like in a potential hire when we bring certain roles in-house. Had we looked to hire these people immediately without outsourcing. we would have made a lot of mistakes. — Sam Mallon, CEO of Bizdaq
The No. 1 tech task small business owners should outsource is their e-commerce website design development. Designing and developing a professional and reliable modern e-commerce website takes years to learn. — Lisa Chu, owner Black N Bianco
Hiring a third party to handle your company’s social media is a great (and safe) way to outsource. As long as you establish the topics you would like to cover, platforms you would like to be present on, and any subjects that you definitely want to stay away from, a social media agency can handle everything else for you. — Evan Harris, cofounder and CEO of SD Equity Partners
The Bottom Line…
Outsourcing is an innovative tool for any entrepreneur — whether you’re launching a startup or running an established company.
The demands on a business owner are rigorous. When you feel you could be spending your time more efficiently, consider alleviating pressure by enlisting the services of a professional.
Share the workload — that way, you’ll be able to focus on the core operations that serve your customers and drive a profit!
Samantha Engman is our guest writer. She’s a creative millennial with a keen eye for brand management and marketing. When she’s not hitting the keyboard hard, she is running another 5-miler.