As a business owner, you wear many hats and make major decisions every day. It just comes with the territory. But no matter how energized, driven or skilled you are, you can’t be an expert at everything.
This is why business outsourcing is such a hot topic for small and medium-sized businesses. Done right, outsourcing certain activities will help you concentrate more of your best skills and limited time on higher yield activities or things you’re good at, improving efficiency and scalability.
As a business owner, you’ll excel in some areas and not so much in others. That’s just reality, so it’s important to know your strengths and weaknesses. If you treat all business tasks and processes equally, you’ll likely spend too much time working in your business and not enough time working on your business, and that can be costly.
But it’s important to understand that outsourcing is not simply handing work off. It requires strategic thinking and you need to map out what makes sense to outsource and what to keep in house. You also must create contracts, manage an invoicing system and have a clear understanding of the business-to-business relationship you will have with the company, or companies, you hire to do work for you.
That depends on the nature of your business. The obvious starting point is to outsource routine, replicable, time-consuming work that doesn’t grow your bottom line. Some popular outsource areas include customer service, sales support and fulfillment, inventory management and some human resource activities. Of course, outsourcing doesn’t just relieve tedium. It has much greater potential than that.
- Marketing: Leveraging web traffic, social media, search engine marketing (SEM) and content development are essential parts of the marketing arsenal for any small or medium business. With everything on an owner’s plate, these specialized, labour intensive tasks often get pushed off to a later date, if they get tackled at all. Scaling internationally requires strong, consistent communication, so unless you’re an active marketer by nature, outsourcing to experts in these areas could give you a big advantage over taking it in house. Of course, you still want to be closely aligned with the partner you’ve hired, to make sure your product vision is clearly understood.
- Website management: Given that most companies rely heavily on the internet to do business, ensuring the safety of your network, data, software and hardware is mandatory. A network breach or interruption can derail a growing company by bringing work and communications to a standstill, so protecting this area of your business is protecting your bottom line. The right outsource partner can make all the difference here.
- Accounting: Stating the obvious, bookkeeping and accounting are essential areas that can keep business owners sleepless at night. It may initially seem prudent to keep such important tasks like these in house, but you may find that beyond lost core business productivity, keeping these tasks in house might actually cost you more than outsourcing. Improved peace of mind, increased productivity and bottom line savings make a compelling case for outsourcing in these essential areas of your business.
While outsourcing offers great upside, you have to consider risk exposure. Security, consistency and accountability are all on the line. It’s important to research quality partners and perform due diligence, including reference checking, to mitigate the risk of outsourcing.
Finding the right outsourcing partners requires work. But the potential to boost your business growth eclipses the risk.
When you outsource the right business processes and focus your time and strengths on the right activities, you’ll be able to start to scale and grow in ways that you never could on your own.