Most small to mid-sized enterprises, particularly start-ups, encounter this problem: How do you expand your operations with minimal risk at the least expense? How do you manage day-to-day operations without taking the focus off on core business activities?
For most of these businesses, time and money are always on the short leash. Most business owners try to micro-manage everything which can be helpful to ensure operations are working efficiently, but this approach isn’t sustainable in the long term as it will make you exhausted and overworked, it will also hinder your business from growing to its full potential as fast as it should.
Hiring employees usually solves the problem but the challenge is hiring ones that are talented and flexible enough to perform a variety of roles up until when you can afford to hire several team members. This is usually the set-up that works for most, but the downside is since you tend to hire employees based on their flexibility and adaptability, expertise for a specific role or function tends to be ignored or considered for a future hire, when things get better.
For example, most businesses now have websites and e-commerce stores to keep up with technology. Most retain an in-house web designer that performs a variety of functions to keep the site updated but will not be probably versed with managing or marketing the business on social media, an expertise a social media manager or marketing specialist or researcher should be able to perform.
So how can businesses expand and operate more extensively without spending too much and exhausting manpower?
The answer would be to hire services from outsourcing companies.
Before Outsourcing, Delegate and Talk with Current Employees
They key to being able to focus on core business activities is to delegate essential but non-core ones. Once you have delegated and are working with a few key employees, ask them what activities they need help on or which ones they feel they aren’t working as efficiently or they don’t know much about. Let them suggest which functions or roles they feel or foresee your business needs and will need in the future.
How to Save Time & Money When Outsourcing
Here are some functions you can outsource:
Outsource your accounts payable operations. This refers to bookkeeping. You don’t need to retain a bookkeeper in-house and your financial accounts remains updated and balanced – a great advantage come tax season. It will also give an objective view on what is the financial health of your business if your auditing is done by a third party.
Outsource human resources. Similar to APO, HR usually deals with payroll and hiring resource members. You don’t need to spend too much time working on payroll (an operation you might not even be fully versed in) and you save money too. Most small businesses usually pay penalty charges because of late or incorrect tax filings each year.
Outsource your research and marketing. Research plays an important role in strategizing business goals. This is a labor-intensive process that is usually done best on a per-project basis. Marketing is also an integral part of operations that cover traditional and digital aspects. With the growth of the Internet, the focus towards digital marketing is in demand as ever and since the industry is comparatively young, knowledge about the ins and outs of the industry constantly changes. It will be exhausting to try and keep up. Outsourcing to an expert will not only save you time, it will also save you money training yourself or an employee to become versed with the new industry.
Outsource your social media. Startups and small businesses don’t need to have a full-blown staff overseeing their digital channels, but it is a tremendous help to maintain a presence on the web to be able to grow communities and engage with customers. As with all things about the Internet, outsourcing to experts will be easier.
Outsource your IT needs. Information technology deals with everything you need in terms of technical aspects of your operations from automation, management and security. Outsourcing this need is a cost-effective solution since investing on equipment usually requires big capital and developing a software to automate your operations isn’t only costly, it is highly impractical since most providers have developed solutions that meet a variety of business needs.
Outsource your shipping needs. If you own a store, outsourcing to a provider not only gives you more free time to process more orders, it will also give you access to the efficiencies of expert logistics companies.
When You Should Outsource
Since we have demonstrated how you can save time and money when you outsource, the question is when should you decide to outsource?
Base your decisions on these three criteria:
1. The task is repetitive
2. You need expertise.
3. The task requires specialized knowledge.
Outsource so You can Focus on Your Business
It doesn’t mean that when you outsource you are not focusing on your business. It means you are delegating tasks that you don’t need to focus on to experts so you can focus on your business.
Outsourcing can give you what you need when you have clearly identified which parts of your business you need help with, which tasks can be delegated to providers and hiring the qualified outsourcing company to work with. At best, outsourcing companies should be partners, not just service providers.