I never understood the impact outsourcing could have on a business until I did it. For most of us solopreneurs, the idea of outsourcing comes across as a preserve for large companies with massive operations. But in reality, you don’t need a huge portfolio or budget to start outsourcing. You should begin contracting out some aspects of your business operations as soon as you launch.
Before I considered outsourcing, I was so swamped with work that striking a healthy work-life balance was a challenge. Between meeting deadlines and taking up new clients and projects, sacrifices had to be made.
I know most entrepreneurs who have walked my path can attest to this. Though you might manage juggling tasks at the early stages of a business, it comes a time when you have to get help or risk burnout.
However, hiring all the staff needed (office administration, bookkeeping and accounting, IT, etc.) to run a business smoothly can be costly. From the recruitment costs to salaries and other benefits, office space and equipment, retaining permanent staff may fail to make financial sense for small businesses. For this reason, outsourcing becomes a handy alternative.
What is Outsourcing?
Before we get deeper into the post, let’s first understand what outsourcing entails. Essentially, outsourcing is the process of entrusting some of your business operations to external service providers. These could be professional outsourcing firms or independent contractors. For instance, you may outsource your accounting duties, such as bookkeeping, tax, etc., to an accounting firm or a solo accountant. The outsourced team could be overseas or within your locality, depending on the nature of the service and your preferences.
Sometimes you can find off-shore workers at a fraction of the cost you would spend on on-shore talent without compromising quality. Other times, the nature of the service may necessitate working with a local outsourced team that can easily access your physical location. For example, if you have contracted out IT services, you may require their on-site presence whenever you have a system issue that cannot be troubleshot remotely.
But even then, you don’t need to create working space for the staff. They usually show up, work on the issue and head back to their location.
How Can Outsourcing Benefit Your Business?
Outsourcing has been around for decades. In the 1970s, manufacturing companies leveraged outsourcing to increase efficiency. Later on, in the late 1980s, it was adopted by economists as a cost-saving strategy. Today, outsourcing is perceived as an integral business strategy that helps businesses increase productivity and gain a competitive advantage.
In summary, outsourcing can help you in the following ways:
Access Affordable Specialized Talent
As earlier mentioned, hiring an in-house team may not be a viable idea for small businesses. The cost of recruiting and retaining highly skilled workers is pretty high. However, outsourcing provides you an opportunity of building a competent team at a fraction of what you would spend on in-house hiring.
Increase Your Productivity
Handling every aspect of your business may initially seem like an excellent idea, especially in cost savings. But in actual sense, it may be slowing your growth. To meet the daily business demands, you may often find yourself multitasking. Studies have flagged multitasking as a leading enemy of productivity. Actually, it reduces your productivity by 40%. It also affects your mental health by impairing your cognitive ability, which is essential in attaining optimal productivity.
By outsourcing, you will have less on your plate to focus on, hence achieve higher productivity.
Free-Up Your Time
As your business operations increase, the support work involved increases alongside. With time, you may find yourself doing more support work and having less time to strategize on how to grow the business.
However, contracting out some services frees up your time to focus on what matters most – generating income. In short, it allows you to develop more strategies and explore new opportunities. If you have been having a challenge maintaining a work-life balance, you get the chance to create the balance.
Provide Better Services
Unless you’re really talented, with expert skills in every area of your business – legal, accounting, web design, digital marketing, customer service, etc. – you may fail to match the quality of services that a team of specialists would offer.
Building a team of skilled professionals through outsourcing can help increase the business’ efficiency and result in better services. This can boost customer satisfaction, attract repeat business, increase referrals, and ultimately improve profitability.
Build a Team to Expand Your Market Reach
Outsourcing helps you bring a team of like-minded professionals together without the hefty costs involved in running an in-house team. Remember, a contracted team is interested in your growth as much as you are since your success means continued business for them. This translates to increased efficiency, superior customer service, better strategies, and unlimited growth opportunities.
What Should You Outsource?
The services that require contracting out may vary depending on your day-to-day operations. You can start outsourcing the ones that take up most of your time then keep shedding off more as the business grows.
Generally, these are some areas that you should consider outsourcing.
- Content creation
- Customer service
- Data entry
- Digital marketing
- Office administration
- Web design
Tips for Effective Outsourcing
Once you have rallied the right team, you need a management strategy to optimize their effectiveness. Otherwise, you don’t want to spend all that money and fail to leverage the benefits. Below are handy tips to help you build an impactful outsourced team.
- Develop policies and procedures
- Create deadlines
- Cultivate open communication
- Promote accountability
- Monitor performance
- Encourage feedback
Outsourcing is becoming an integral part of doing business, thanks to the rich benefits it provides. It allows companies to fill up skill gaps while keeping human resource costs at a minimum. However, outsourcing is not a preserve for large companies. As a sole proprietor, you need to remain efficient and offer your clients better services without passing up growth opportunities. Juggling all these can be a frustrating uphill task. Hence, you should outsource most of the support work to focus on what matters most. That way, your business can achieve efficiency, increase profitability, and open up more growth opportunities. Otherwise, doing it all alone can impact your productivity negatively and put you at the risk of burnout.